GardenWise – Container Plants that Don’t Defy Odds
We love a quick Q&A, especially when the question involves some- thing a gardener sees with their eye that actually doesn’t match with what’s really happening. Here’s the question:
Q. I have a dracaena spike plant that is in a porch-railing container outside. I am amazed that it’s still alive and looking great. I read an article that said it will stay evergreen in zones 9-10, but I live in zone 5, and we have had some very cold weather. I have the plant facing west and I haven’t watered it since late fall. Do you know why it’s still alive?
It’s so important to remember that the best way to avoid wilted plants and dead plants duirng winter is to bring ’em in, which we wrote about earlier. We’re afraid that the Dracaena is frozen and just appears to be alive. Once warm weather returns, it will start to deteriorate. Many folks have had this happen with dracaenas and many other plants left outside during winter. They looked good, and as you observed, appeared to be alive. But in spring the plants wilted and turned to mush once they thawed.
Now is a good time to think about how you want to fill that container, and do yourself a favor . . . add a note on your November 2011 calendar reminding you to bring in your containers!
Attention All Pansy Fans!
These TRAILING PANSIES are a “must have” for anyone with even the slightest attraction to pansies. They survive very cold temps, they trail, and they bloom from Fall to Spring. They also are an ideal choice in a setting where uniformity is important.. And these hybrids are trialing, which makes them perfect for hanging baskets and containers.
The colors will make you smile from ear to ear — a great way to celebrate Spring and Summer .
Don’t call the fire department because that’s not a fireball in your garden! The Dwarf Burning Bush (Euonymus alata “Compactus”) is a low-care, beautiful shrub. With its upright, bushy and vase-shaped habit, it’s a Fall garden’s best friend with its brilliant and intense fiery scarlet Red foilage. Your guests will do a “double take” when they see your Burning Bush as it really is that visually appealing. It is such an incredible garden wonder, it can serve as your Fall focal point.
The Burning Bush ranges from 6-10 feet high, and 6-10 feet wide, and it’s insect, disease, drought, heat, AND deer resistant, and tolerant of shade (but for the most intense fall color, plant it in full sun. ) It’s also versatile enough to use as a hedge screen en masse, so you can block an unsightly view while setting your landscape ablaze with color!
This weekend it’s all about September Gardening. There are so many things to do this month that we’ve decided to make it a three day event. Today, it’s all about water and your garden spaces.
· Maintain the water level in your water garden. Keep fountains and water features properly maintained. As we approach winter, be sure your water features and are in good working order before you drain them and turn them off as the colder weather approaches.
· Replenish mulches around trees and shrubs, and water every two to four days, three times a week if possible.
· Late summer. Mature trees can lose hundreds of gallons of water daily through transpiration; unless this lost moisture is replaced, the trees will lose fruit and leaves. Be sure to water the trunk of your trees and the upper canopies as well. Water generously this month, especially after the hot summer we had this year. Mow around the trees to remove vegetation that can use the trees’ moisture. Mowing also creates a smooth surface for harvesting.
·A dry month. September can be very dry, so keep a close eye on the moisture in your container plants. It doesn’t take but one severe wilting of the plants to ruin the quality of the container display.
This week and weekend it’s all about September Gardening. There are so many things to do this month that we’ve decided to make it a three day event. Today, it’s all about planting.
· Fall is a good time to select and plant trees and shrubs. Fall planting encourages good root development, allowing the plants to get established before spring. Plant deciduous trees on the south and west sides of buildings to provide summer shade and to allow the winter sun to warm the buildings.
· Plant spring-flowering bulbs from late-September to late-November. Add bone meal or bulb fertilizer into the planting hole, as you prepare the soil.
· In a well-prepared bed, seed radishes, spinach, mustard, collards, arugula, beets, broccoli, carrots and lettuce in early September for a fall crop.
· Plant new strawberry plants at the end of the month.
· Lightly till soil and plant wildflower seed mixes now for spring displays. The key to success is to make sure plants have enough time to germinate and establish before the first hard frost. That’s usually about eight weeks. They are naturally adapted to and benefit from fall rains and cold winter soils. Mixing wildflower seed with an equal or larger volume of sand will help you sow them more evenly.
· For areas left open until next planting, consider a cover crop to be turned under in the spring to help improve the soil.
· Winter pansies, snapdragons, pinks, flowering kale, flowering cabbage and fall mums may be planted now to give a little color to the garden when the summer’s flowers have faded away.
· Lift and divide crowded perennials. Amend the soil with organic matter before replanting. Set the divided plants back into the soil at their original growing depths, water well and mulch. Give extras to friends.
· Check to see if potted tropicals like hibiscus, allamanda, ixora or mandevilla need repotting before bringing in for the winter. Gently ease the root ball out of the pot. If the roots are visibly matted around the bottom or sides of the root ball, it is time to pot into a larger container.
· Cool-season turfgrasses, like Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue and creeping red fescue can be seeded September 1 until November 1. All established cool-season lawns should be fertilized once this month. Do not fertilize warm-season lawns (Bermuda and zoysia) now. Over-seed old lawns with fresh seed to help fill in the bare spots and crowd out weeds and mosses. If you over-seed your warm-season lawn with a temporary winter lawn grass like annual ryegrass, the optimum dates to do this are September 1 until November 1.
· Plant some spring-flowering bulbs in pots to enjoy over the winter. If you intend to force early blooming for the holidays, put your bulbs in the refrigerator now.
A Tasty & Fun Garden Project – Edible Flowers!
I think the best first garden project for Spring should always be a fun small side project that you can successfully complete in a short period of time that will yield quick results. It’s such a confidence booster to have a great success under your belt as you prepare to undertake larger garden projects over the next three seasons. An edible garden is a great small project to think about for Spring that will become a favorite gift that keeps on giving.
It can be difficult to find edible flowers to purchase, but they’re easy to grow yourself. And there’s no greater personal touch when cooking for family and friends than adding edible flowers grown right in your backyard. Lavender, Marigolds, Thyme — they’re all edible! For the freshest tasting goodies, your edible flowers should ideally be harvested in the cool, morning hours. If you’re not going to use the flowers immediately, cut them with the stems intact and keep them in water. You can also store them in damp paper towels in the refrigerator.
Some tasty edible garden delights:
Lavender has a sweet floral flavor, with a hint of lemon and citrus. Use as a garnish for sorbets or ice cream. Lavender also goes well with savory dishes.
Violas give a sweet perfumed flavor. The tender leaves and flowers can be eaten in a salad. Or the flowers can beautifully embellish desserts and iced drinks.
Sage flowers have a more delicate taste than the leaves, so be sure to be careful when pruning. Sage can be used in salads or as a garnish.
Lemon balm is indigenous to Southern Europe but is now cultivated worldwide. Lemon balm flowers have a gentle lemon scent and can be used as garnish.
Oregano can be found growing wild on mountainsides of Greece and other Mediterranean countries where it is an herb of choice. Oregano flowers can be used as you would the herb; it’s a milder version of plant’s leaf.
Marigold flavors range from spicy to tangy. Their sharp taste resembles saffron and the plant is sometimes referred to as poor man’s saffron. Their pretty petals can be sprinkled on soups, pasta or rice dishes, and salads.
Nasturtium blossoms have a sweet, spicy flavor similar to watercress. Their leaves add a peppery tang to salads. Use the entire flower to garnish platters, salads, and savory appetizers. Nasturtium seeds are edible as well when they are young and green and have been likened to capers when pickled.
Like sage, thyme flowers have a milder taste than the leaves. Use as you would the herb — the flowers also make a beautiful garnish.