September 30, 2018 at 8:50 am
Growing hostas can be very satisfying for a gardener – they’re beautiful, hardy, and grow in a variety of climates. But sometimes, these perennials can grow enormously large, which is when you start thinking, “Maybe I could split this plant to fill in a different spot!” This, of course, is called “dividing”, and it’s a relatively simple task for any gardener and one that I have done countless times in my own garden, over the years.
Hostas are tough and will survive division just about any time you do it, often without much wilting at all. However, hostas divided in the spring or summer often fail to make handsome garden plants until the next year. They’ll show signs of the inevitable damage to buds or leaves all season, which is why the end of summer (at least a month before your first frost) is the ideal time to do this job. The plants will have ample time to develop new roots before winter and will unfurl unblemished leaves in the spring.
To divide a hosta clump, begin with a shovel or spade, cutting all around the clump then prying it from the ground with a digging fork. Shake off as much soil as you can, then move the clump where you can rinse all the soil from the roots with a hose. Removing the soil makes it much easier to see where you could make your divisions with minimal damage to leaves and roots.
Start by dividing the clump in half. If the hosta is a spreading variety, it should be fairly easy to pull apart by hand or to pry apart using two digging forks back to back. If it’s the sort that makes a tight crown, use a knife to cut down into the crown from the top. Be sure to steer clear of the large stems and don’t cut so far that you slice off roots beneath. Once you’re nearly through the crown, you’ll be able to pull it apart.
If you want more divisions, rinse away the soil in the exposed center of the plant, and divide the pieces in half. Proceed in this way until you have the number of pieces you want, right down to single shoots. As you work, cover the divisions with a damp cloth to keep the roots and leaves from drying. Replant the divisions immediately.
How many divisions should you make? Well, hostas are among the few perennials that are happiest and look best if never divided. So if you’re dividing the hostas to develop a new planting scheme, divide the clumps into just two or four pieces so the garden will have a finished look in a year or two. Single-shoot divisions can take several years to regrow leaves of full size. I have a five-year old clump grown from a small piece whose leaves are only half the size of a mature specimen planted next to it at around the same time. Your smallest divisions, especially the really tiny ones that inevitably break away are best planted in a nursery bed to grow on to full size.
If you take care to do the work carefully, dividing a hostas plant can help you spread the beauty of this hardy beauty to other corners of your garden. And if you need further help doing this work without damaging the plant, check out this Youtube video that features the entire process from beginning to end.
August 2, 2018 at 11:36 pm
When you find that some of your favorite perennials did not survive a bad winter, leaving your garden with a big bare spot, you don’t have to wait to bring color back. You need to find a fast growing perennial that will bloom as early as possible. Fortunately, there is a large variety that are fast growing and will produce flowers in the first season. There are fast growing perennials that can be used as ground covers, borders, bedding plants and vines and the blooms come in every color on the spectrum. You can find fast growing perennials from cold zone 2 to warm zone 9.
Ajuga – Chocolate Chip is hardy in zones 3 to 9, grows to about 4 inches high and 18 inches wide. It has blue flowers and in the fall the foliage turns chocolate brown. It makes a great ground cover or container plant and does best in shady areas.
Aster – Sapphire is hardy in zones 4 to 1, grows 15 inches high and 24 inches wide with lilac/blue colored flowers. It will bloom in August and September, likes full sun but is tolerant of a bit of shade.
Black-eyed Susan – Goldsturm is hardy in zones 3 to 9 and is deer resistant. It grows to 24 inches high and 24 inches wide, like full sun and had bright yellow flowers.
Russian Sage – Little Spire is hardy in zones 4 to 9 and grows to 36 inches high and 18 inches wide with lavender flowers and silvery colored leaves. It loves the heat and sun and is drought resistant.
Sedum – Angelina is hardy in zones 3 to 1, grows to 6 inches high and 14 inches wide with yellow flowers and golden yellow leaves. It needs well drained soil.
Sedum – Neon sedum spectabile ‘neon’ is hardy in zones 3 to 9, blooms in the fall, grows to 24 inches high and 24 inches wide, likes partial sun and has pink flowers with light green leaves that turn yellow in the fall.
Veronica – Royal Candles Speedwell is hardy in zones 3 to 9 grow to about 15 inches high and 18 inches wide and have blue flowers with deep green leaves. This one has a long growing season, from June to September
Hollyhock – Peaches ‘n Dreams is hardy in zones 2 to 8, produces double flowers that are peach colored with tints of raspberry, pink and apricot. They need full sun and well drained soil.
Geranium – Tiny Monster is hardy in zones 4 to 11, grows to about 12 inches high and has a spread of about 40 inches and magenta colored flowers that turn bronze and purple in the fall.
January 5, 2018 at 8:30 pm
As you may already know, a gazebo is a multipurpose freestanding structure that can be used in gardens, out on a lawn or as a covered gathering area in some other location, such as a park. When gardening in or around a gazebo, there are several factors to take into consideration. This includes how much light is available and where the light occurs, as this will affect which plants will thrive in the garden.
As a general rule, full shade plants should be in an area that receives more than 6 hours of shade. Meanwhile, partial sun/partial shade plants require an area that gets less than six hours of sunlight a day; while a full sun plant requires a minimum of six hours a day of full sunlight. Of course, there are also exceptions such as certain plants may only require full, but indirect sunlight.
Climbing plants require the use of a structure, either man-made or natural, to thrive. Climbing plants generally cannot support themselves and thus will rely on a secondary structure, such as a gazebo, for support. Various ivy vines, morning glories and climbing hibiscus plants are all options. However, be sure to choose a climbing plant that suits your specific region and its weather, as well as the specific type of soil, light and watering that will be available to the plant in your yard.
An annual plant is defined as any plant that can complete an entire life cycle-from seed to full grown, reproducing plant-in a single growing season. Annuals can thrive in full sun, full shade or part sun/part shade. Examples of popular annual plants include wax begonias, impatiens, dwarf salvias and coleus; all of which thrive in shade. Annual plants that thrive in full sun include cosmos, geraniums, zinnia and rose moss.
Perennial plants are plants that live through several growing seasons. Most perennials will experience some type of die back during the winter, but will regrow during the following season from the existing original root system.
Like with annuals, some perennials will prefer full sun while others prefer full shade or a part sun/part shade combination. Examples of full sun perennials that can be grown in a gazebo garden include the garden peony, the daylily, the bearded iris and the blanket flower. Meanwhile, full shade perennials include bleeding heart plants, lilies of the valley, wild violets and wild ginger.
Surprisingly, many will find that depending upon the climate, some perennials will act like an annual, just as some annuals can act like perennials. For example, the Black-Eyed Susan will perform like an annual plant in Louisiana while up in Ohio, that same plant would grow like a perennial (notes from the Aggie Horticulture department at Texas A M University).
Lastly, if you own any pets, especially pets that are allowed outdoors, be sure to choose plants that are pet-safe. Check out the ASPCA’s Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant database, though keep in mind that not all plants are listed and be sure to research your specific plants to ensure your pet’s safety.
References: Texas A M University: Annual, Perennial, Biennial? | University of Missouri: Annuals for Sun | University of Minnesota: Gardening in the Shade by Deborah L. Brown