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.
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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.
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May 12, 2018 at 9:50 am
There are a number of indoor plant problems that can plague your garden. Bugs, fungus, and mold are the most common issues that develop in an indoor garden. These indoor plant problems often go unnoticed because of today’s efficient hydroponic setups. It is not necessary to hand-water and inspect your plants as much if you have the right timers and pumps. Checking your crops periodically for the following indoor plant problems will help prevent a major infestation in your garden.
Why they occur
Growing conditions for indoor gardens are quite different than those found outside. Outdoor crops must face a variety of weather conditions, from gusting wind to extreme heat. The challenging environment makes outdoor plants stronger as they go through the various seasons. Indoor plants do not get the benefit of these environmental stressors, which makes them more vulnerable to damage. Compounding the problem is the controlled, warm environment of most indoor gardens, which is perfect for fungi and bugs.
Inspect the leaves
Check your plants’ leaves first as this is the most obvious place to find indoor plant problems. Dirt or other debris on the surface of the leaves can interfere with the plant’s ability to receive sunlight for photosynthesis. If you are able to remove individual plants from your indoor garden, it is best to wash off any dirt or dust in the sink. Use a slow stream, so you do not blast the plant’s leaves with water. A watering can with a sprinkler-type faucet also works well for cleaning off your plant’s leaves, especially if you cannot easily take the plants out of your indoor garden setup. Make sure to wash the underside of the leaves as well, since many insects lay their eggs there.
If you have seen signs of bugs or damage on your plants, you need to figure out what type of insects you are dealing with. Different insects require different types of removal or insecticide. Removal by hand and a thorough cleansing will be safer for your plants than using chemical-based pesticides, but this is very time-consuming and may not keep insects from returning if you have a major infestation. After picking or scraping off the insects by hand, rinse the underside of the leaves with a moderately forceful stream of water to remove any eggs. Scrape off any eggs that remain on the leaves, if you can see them. Some insects lay eggs that are too small to see with the naked eye. You can use a magnifying glass to
The soil itself may be the source of your indoor plant problems. Some types of infestations work their way up from the soil into the plant’s roots. Flushing out the soil is the only way to get rid of these infestations without transplanting the entire plant. Thoroughly drench the soil with water and let it seep out the bottom. If your plant needs nutrition, this is a good time to add a bit of diluted liquid fertilizer.
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March 4, 2018 at 12:12 am
When it’s bitter cold outside and there’s a foot of snow on the ground, it’s difficult for most of us to think much about our backyard vegetable gardens. But to the true garden enthusiast, sitting next to the fireplace with the new seed catalog that just arrived in the mail is a great way to spend a blustery winter evening, and the thoughts of what and when to plant are a source of pure enjoyment.
Even the novice gardener may be aware of the fact, however, that in many parts of the country, the garden soil can be worked as early as late February and certainly by mid-March. If they get that “green-thumb fever,” they may be curious to know what types of plants can be started early, even if they have to wait until after the last frost before setting out most of the regular crops.
Here’s the good news…
The good news for those who just can’t wait to have something to tend is that there are some cool weather plants that actually do quite well in late winter and early spring. In fact, some of these need to be both planted and harvested before warm weather comes around. Obviously, setting plants out and burying seeds will always be subject to the complete thawing of your topsoil. Where the ground in the garden can be worked in early March, however, here are a few ideas that might work to satisfy those eager gardeners who can’t wait to get started:
1. Onion Sets. Most types of onions do quite well when they are planted directly in the garden as onion sets in mid-March. At the garden shop, the small, partially grown bulbs are usually packaged as bundles. For most backyard vegetable gardens, one or two bundles of each onion color will be plenty.
2. Radishes. Radishes can be a great fix for the gardener who is so anxious to get the season started. Planted as seeds in a shallow furrow, radishes love the cool weather, and are good selections for March gardening. Both the round red varieties (like the Cherry Belle) and the long white root types (like the Icicle) radishes can be purchased in seed packets at the store.
The gardener will want to watch these closely, however, because these guys will germinate, grow, and be ready to harvest in a short time, often as quickly as three weeks. But that’s another great advantage. Plant as many as you like without worrying about garden space. Radishes are harvested so soon after they’re planted, they will be out of the way before it’s time to work with the warm weather plants.
3. Lettuce. Leaf lettuce is a wonderful cool weather garden crop that can be seed-planted in March. The garden shop will probably have several varieties to select from, but Black-seeded Simpson is probably the most popular. Lettuce won’t be ready as quickly as the radishes were, and may take around 45 days before the gardener can begin to rob the plants for a fresh salad. You may want to consider staggering the planting of the leaf lettuce rows by several days, so the entire crop doesn’t mature on the same weekend.
4. Spinach. Another garden crop that can be planted from seeds, spinach grows well in the cool weather. A fresh salad with a mixture of spinach leaves and some of that leaf lettuce from the next row can be a real treat when those early garden crops are ready to harvest. The garden store will likely have several varieties to choose from, but Olympia and Bloomsdale are two of the more popular types, and will be ready to eat in about 48 days.
5. Carrots. Gardeners may want to wait until the latter part of March for planting carrots, but direct seeding about three to four weeks before the last frost will provide a wonderful homegrown treat in about 80 days after planting.
6. Peas. The list of crops that can be planted directly into the garden in late winter or early spring should always include peas. Peas are tolerant of the occasional frost and extended periods of cooler weather that are typical for the season. Assuming that the seeds will reach maturity after about 60 days of growth, the gardener may wish to set out several sections of peas, a week or so apart, in order to have more than one harvest when the time comes.
7. Others. While the short menu of plants mentioned here are varieties that can be placed directly into the garden in March, a great many others can be started indoors under a grow light, and then set out when the danger of frost is nearly gone. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, beets, and even some early-maturing tomatoes can be transplanted to the backyard garden bed when the weather is more favorable.
This is so true…
Regardless of where one lives, gardening can be a year-round project. Even in the colder months, planning and preparation for the busier season can keep the enthusiast occupied. For many, however, seeing something green pop out of the ground in those early months is the only absolute cure for garden fever. That is why a mini greenhouse investment in your front or backyard will definitely give you all possibilities without compromising losing any of your crops.
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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
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