Friday, August 8, 2014

What is the Right Time to Plant Irises

iris garden (1)
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.
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.
iris tradesecret_web1     

Friday, July 18, 2014

How to Care for Asiatic and Oriental Lilies

"...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.
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.
yellow lilies                   red lily


  • 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.



  • 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.



  • 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.

Special Features     Attracts Butterflies

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


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.


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.


Sunday, July 6, 2014

4 Essentials for Attracting Hummingbirds

The essentials to attract these adorable little winged creatures is the same essentials for humans. Give them good food, plenty of water, comfortable surroundings and a secure habitat.

There are three ways to provide tantalizing food for hummingbirds: through plants, feeders and insects.
  • Plants: Hummingbirds feed frequently on nectar-rich flowers, and planting flowers specifically to attract these flying jewels is an easy way to make any yard a perfect hummingbird habitat. While the color red is very attractive to hummingbirds, the most important factor is that the flowers must produce plenty of nectar. Bleeding hearts, impatiens, petunias, salvias, bee balm, columbine, cannas, viburnums, honeysuckles and many other flower, tree and shrub species will attract a variety of hummingbirds. Birders who prefer non-red flowers can add an instant touch of attractive color with red or purple gazing balls that will attract hummingbirds as well.
  • Feeders: Nectar feeders are one of the most common ways to attract hummingbirds to your yard. A wide range of feeder styles is available, including gel packs, inverted tubes and saucer dishes. Feeders may come with wasp, hornet and ant guards, and they are often colored red to help attract hummingbirds. Commercial nectar concentrates and mixes can be used or birders can fill their feeders with a homemade hummingbird nectar recipe.
  • Insects: While hummingbirds are most well known for their fondness for nectar, they also eat a large quantity of insects, including spiders. To attract hummingbirds to backyard insects, avoid using pesticides or insecticides that will kill off this food source and choose flowering plants that are also attractive to insects.
Not all birds will visit feeders, but they are all attracted to water. Hummingbirds prefer moving water sources such as sprinklers, fountains, waterfalls, misters and drippers. They will often perch in a spray or fly through moving water to cool off or bathe. Water sources should be kept fresh and clean, and positioning the water near nectar-rich flowers will make it even more attractive to hummingbirds.


When they aren’t feeding, hummingbirds look for perches to rest and preen. Providing perches such as slender poles, clotheslines, thin vines, trellises, wires and multiple levels of shrubbery will give birds suitable shelter. At the same time, because many hummingbirds are very aggressive, they will prefer perches that also have good fields of view to protect their territories. Position perching plants and shrubs near food sources for the best results in attracting hummingbirds.

Nesting Spots
Unlike many backyard bird species, hummingbirds will not use birdhouses or nesting boxes. Instead, they build their double-lined, cup-shaped nests in trees and shrubs, though bolder birds may build their nests along wires, clotheslines or poles. Providing sheltered, safe areas of native plants for the birds to nest will make a backyard more attractive. Birders can also supply suitable nesting materials including fine cotton, small lengths of string and animal fur to attract nesting birds.


Like all backyard birds, hummingbirds are wild animals with basic needs. Birders who understand how to attract hummingbirds by satisfying those needs can be rewarded with dozens of beautiful hummingbirds in their backyard.

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Park Seeds


Wayside Gardens

Wayside Gardens