Friday, August 29, 2014

The Blooming Plants of Dog Days of August


As the summer draws near to the end of the Dog Days of August, most eastern and Midwestern gardeners are gearing up for the fall with a wonderful variety of plants to herald in the cooler weather and showy displays of color. Western gardeners, alas, have another month to go in the 3 digit temperatures as The Dogs Days of summer drag on to their delirious end. On the other hand, as we see the temps dropping ever so slightly the plants recognize this change and are waiting with their heads held high for their most glorious blooming period, enter the Fall. I have taken pictures of the sturdy plants still blooming and living despite the summer long intense heat. God Bless those hardy roses.
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There is not another plant I know of that will bloom in the hot August sun like a zinnia.  They hold there little faces toward the sun and cheerfully bask in it’s glorious heat.  Notice the little varmint on this one?
The red roses I have (7) seem to not mind the heat, they bloom regardless, that goodness for the roses, when everything else stops blooming they take up the sword and march on.
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This particular zinnia likes to look at itself in the small fish pond. The flowers just seem drawn to the water.
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I grow my “love lies bleeding” plant into tree forms.  Growing love lies bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus) can provide an unusual, eye catching specimen in garden beds or borders. Drooping panicles of deep red to crimson purple appear as the love lies bleeding flower blooms in summer. The love lies bleeding flower, also called tassel flower, and is an interesting way to utilize open space without a perennial commitment. The panicle on this plant looks like an elephant truck, very unusual.
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Sheer Bliss (HT) and  Great Century (HT)
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Double Delight (HT) and Brandy (HT) and gillardia mix 
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Lady Jane Gray and Frederick Mistral (Romantica Series)
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Purple and Yellow Zinnia are my favorite combinations
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The ever faithful and ever producing Nicotania and coneflower, 2 self-sowers
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What would a summer garden be without a melon patch, even here in Las Vegas we can grow a bumper crop, these are self-sowers, I never know where they are going to pop up.
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Lantanas, the staple of most western gardens because of it’s heat loving endurance and abundant flowers
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Friday, August 8, 2014

What is the Right Time to Plant Irises

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Most bearded irises are easy to grow, but they do have specialized needs. Plant and divide every 3 to 4 years in summer or early fall, splitting them into individual “fans” with the rhizome attached, or into divisions with a few fans. Trim leaves back before planting to make up for root loss. They grow best in full sun or very light shade and average to rich, well-drained soil. Barely cover the rhizome and point the leafy end in the direction you want it to grow, ideally out from the center of a group of three to five of a kind.
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In fall, remove dead, dry leaves, which often carry borer eggs, and destroy badly infested fans in spring. You can also crush borers in the leaves by pinching toward the base of the telltale ragged-edged leaves or by running your thumb between the leaves and squashing any borers you find. They are also vulnerable when you divide the clumps; check every rhizome for this pest. If you find a few borers, try cutting them out, but destroy badly infested rhizomes.
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Landscape uses: Smaller bearded irises are perfect in rock gardens and along paths and beds. For mid- to late-spring bloom, plant taller ones in a perennial border, or in a separate bed to provide optimum conditions. They also look splendid among garden ornaments and along patios.
  
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Friday, July 18, 2014

How to Care for Asiatic and Oriental Lilies

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"...but I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these." -Matthew 6:29.
Lilies are magnificent flowers that command attention wherever they are planted. Lily flowers are valued for their very showy, often fragrant flowers. At home in both formal and naturalistic settings, lilies also can be grown in containers.
Lilies are one of the truly great garden plants for their flower form, diversity, extended season of bloom, graceful stature, and reliable disposition. Their bulbs can be planted in spring for bloom the same year, or in fall for bloom the following year. The sequence of bloom begins in early summer with the colorful Asiatics, Martagon Lilies (also called Turk’s Cap Lilies), and pure white Lilium candidum, and then continues until late summer with other species Lilies and three tall, fragrant groups: Orientals, Orienpets (hybrids between Orientals and Trumpets), and Trumpets. They all make wonderful cut flowers.
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By carefully blending early, mid-season, and late varieties into your garden, you will enjoy their bewitching blooms and seductive scents from spring through frost.
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Planting

  • Plant bulbs in autumn. Loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches. The deep planting encourages the developing stem to send out roots to help stabilize the plant and perhaps eliminate the need for staking.
  • Note: Lilies do not thrive in Zones 9 to 10 without a period of refrigeration; they need a cold, dormant period.
  • For dependable blooms, lilies need six to eight hours of sunshine a day, yet they prosper in the presence of other low plants that protect their roots from drying out.
  • Water trapped beneath the scales may rot the bulb, so a well-drained site is essential.
  • Most of the popular varieties prefer acidic to neutral soil, but some are lime-tolerant or prefer alkaline soils (e.g., Madonna lilies).
  • Grow in soil enriched with leaf mold or well-rotted organic matter.
  • Dig a hole 2 to 3 times as deep as the bulbs are high and set the bulb in the hole pointy side up. Fill the hole with soil and tamp gently.
  • Space bulbs at a distance equal to 3 times the bulb's diameter.
  • Water thoroughly.

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Care

  • In active growth, water freely and apply a high-potash liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks.
  • Keep moist in winter.
  • Apply a thin layer of compost each spring, followed by a 2-inch layer of mulch.
  • Water plants in the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week.
  • Stake tall lilies.
  • As flowers fade, cut back the stalks to the base of the plant.
  • After bloom, divide lilies. Replant using compost and bonemeal.

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 Pests

  • Gray mold is sometimes a problem, especially in a wet, cool spring or summer.
  • Viruses, spread by aphids, may be troublesome, although some cultivars are virus-tolerant.
  • Red lily beetles, slugs, and snails may occur.
  • Deer, rabbits, voles, and groundhogs may eat entire plants. Consider a wire cage for bulbs if this seems to be an issue where you live.

       

USDA Hardiness Zones: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Sun exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun
Soil type: Loamy
Flower color: Red, Pink, Orange, Yellow, White
Bloom time: Spring, Summer, Fall
Recommended Varieties
Of the nine divisions of classification, Asiatic and Oriental are the most popular with gardeners.
  • Asiatic lilies are the earliest to bloom and the easiest to grow. Hybrids come in pure white, pinks, vivid yellows, oranges, and reds; heights are from one to six feet. Intense breeding has erased much of the Asiatics' fragrance, but in spite of their lack of perfume, they are a favorite with floral arrangers.
  • Oriental hybrids bloom in mid- to late summer, just when Asiatic lilies are beginning to fade. From tiny two-footers to towering eight-foot-tall giants, Orientals are always a striking choice (the shorter ones are great for patio beds or container gardens). Adored for their intoxicating fragrance that intensifies after dark, Oriental lilies produce masses of huge white, pink, red, or bi-color blooms. They make wonderful cut flowers that will fill even the largest of rooms with their spicy scents.

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Credits
photos: J. Kopittke
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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Love Lies Bleeding a Plant Worth Growing

DSC02116Love Lies Bleeding is an old fashioned Cottage Garden flower grown by our grandmothers but rarely seen today. It is an easy plant to start from seeds, just scatter them around your flower bed and soon you will see dozens of small plants popping up. It does not kike to have it’s roots messed with, keep that in mind if you decide to transplant. You will never find it sold in a local nursery, why I don’t know for it is a lovely and unusual plant to grow.

Last summer I pruned one plant into a tree that grew 6 ft. tall and got so heavy with ropes it split into.

 

 

 

 

In most of its range, it is planted as a summer annual. In temperate regions, (zone 8-10) plants can be started indoors in early spring and transplanted outdoors after the last frost. In zone 9b the arid dessert of Las Vegas, once started it becomes a perennial plant. The plant can be grown either upright or as a spreading annual or short-lived perennial. In the picture below I grew seeds in a hanging basket and the florets spilled over almost to the ground. The plant has yellowish green leaves and long ropes of

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drooping, crimson tassel-like racemes of tiny flowers in summer and autumn.   In most of its range, it is planted as a summer annual. In temperate regions, plants can be started indoors in early spring and transplanted outdoors after the last frost. Love lies bleeding seeds grew in and around my garden pot.

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A. caudatus can grow anywhere from 3 to 8 feet in height, and grows best in full sun. It can handle a variety of conditions, both humid and arid. It is easily grown from seed.

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Park Seeds

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Wayside Gardens

Wayside Gardens