Wilted Plants, Dead Plants – It’s Avoidable

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!

 

Plants that Survive in Clay Heavy Soil are GardenWise

Clay-Heavy Plants that Survive & Enchant

A favorite part of my job that I enjoy very much is  landscaping — figuring out which plants will work best in a particular garden, based on amount of light, soil type, water availability, and many other factors.  I work a lot in Northern Virginia, an area which is notorious for clay heavy soil.  I’ve been working with this type of soil for over 20 years, and through all my adventures, I’ve come across some fantastic plants that do incredibly well.  For those who have hit their wall with their clay heavy soil, here are some of the most beautiful clay soil champs available.  Blue Cornflower, a Kennedy favorite, is guaranteed to take your breath away.  Below are some flower suggestions for those with clay-heavy soil, beginning with the irresistable Blue Cornflower.

Blue Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) These brilliant flowers are what memories are made of — rare among “blue” flowers as they are actually blue.  They are delicately fragrant and drought tolerant.  This flower has a lot of history — it’s the national flower of Estonia,  was used in Pharaoh Tutankhamunand’s funeral wreath, and was President Kennedy’s favorite flower, worn by John Kennedy Jr. at his wedding to honor his father. 

Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) These plants (herbs, actually) do very well in clay-heavy soil, are drought tolerant,  and come in a variety of colors – the  purple blooms will stop you in your tracks.  They will break up soil as they grow, and are a favorite among those who practice herbal health as they have been known to boost the immune system. 

Daylily ( Hemerocallis) A must grow for anyone with clay-heavy soil, they do well in a wide range of soil conditions, come in a variety of wonderful colors, and are rugged.  They also establish quickly, grow vigorously, and survive winters with little care.  

Liriope (Liriope muscari) With spikes of tiny violet-blue flowers, this grass-like plant is named after the nymph Liropie, mother of Narcissus.  The plant is a member of the lily family, has dark green, ribbonlike foliage that  recurves toward the ground, and does very well in soil with clay.   

Coreopsis Verticillata or Tickseed is a plant that is very tolerant of clay and its disc florets and ray florets are bright yellow that will make you smile from ear to ear, even on a not so sunny Fall day. 

• Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) is the Maryland state flower and a cheery perennial with bright yellow petals that surround black centers. It’s a striking flower that does very well in clay soil. Plant them en masse and enjoy the show!

Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum) With its classic daisy appearance of white petals around a yellow disc, they are attractive to bees and birds, and are drought-tolerant.  They do well in clay-heavy soil and have cheery blooms.

They Thrive in Clay

GardenWise on Clay-Heavy Survivors

I work often in the clay heavy soil of Northern Virginia, which means I have the  opportunity to share  some of the most beautiful clay soil survivors, with blooms that will take your breath away.  Blue Cornflower, a Kennedy favorite, and more are guaranteed to take your breath away.  Below are some suggestions for those with clay-heavy soil, beginning with the irresistable Blue Cornflower.

Blue Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) These brilliant flowers are what memories are made of — rare among “blue” flowers as they are actually blue.  They are delicately fragrant and drought tolerant.  This flower has a lot of history — it’s the national flower of Estonia,  was used in Pharaoh Tutankhamunand’s funeral wreath, and was President Kennedy’s favorite flower, worn by John Kennedy Jr. at his wedding to honor his father. 

Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) These plants (herbs, actually) do very well in clay-heavy soil, are drought tolerant,  and come in a variety of colors — the  purple blooms will stop you in your tracks.  They will break up soil as they grow, and are a favorite among those who practice herbal health as they have been known to boost the immune system. 

Daylily ( Hemerocallis) A must grow for anyone with clay-heavy soil, they do well in a wide range of soil conditions, come in a variety of wonderful colors, and are rugged.  They also establish quickly, grow vigorously, and survive winters with little care.  

Liriope (Liriope muscari) With spikes of tiny violet-blue flowers, this grass-like plant is named after the nymph Liropie, mother of Narcissus.  The plant is a member of the lily family, has dark green, ribbonlike foliage that  recurves toward the ground, and does very well in soil with clay.   

Coreopsis Verticillata or Tickseed is a plant that is very tolerant of clay and its disc florets and ray florets are bright yellow that will make you smile from ear to ear, even on a not so sunny Fall day. 

• Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) is the Maryland state flower and a cheery perennial with bright yellow petals that surround black centers. It’s a striking flower that does very well in clay soil. Plant them en masse and enjoy the show!

Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum) With its classic daisy appearance of white petals around a yellow disc, they are attractive to bees and birds, and are drought-tolerant.  They do well in clay-heavy soil and have cheery blooms.

The Snow’s a Big Mean &#*!

GardenWise on Winter Garden Repairs

As the snows piles high, frigid weather  wraps  stealthily around us, and your gardens must  sleep  through  the bombardment of winter. But our work is never done.  As more snow  storms approach many areas, here’s a short list of what you can do right  now  to  repair  snow  damaged gardens and  prepare your  garden  for the  post-winter months:

• After wet snow or high wind, check for broken branches and cut them off to prevent the further tearing  of  bark. And remember to sharpen your tools before using!  Sharp tools make  cutting  easier  and they are less apt to tear at the at the bark when cuts are made. 

• If possible, drain any garden puddles that stand more than a few hours. Do not walk on garden soil when soggy, and  avoid walking on water-saturated lawns. 

• Check mulch for disturbance by squirrels & birds, and repair as needed.

 Make notes of possible garden improvements, additions, or even deletions as you walk around the garden.  Contemplate what you will need for these improvements and make a schedule for the spring.

 See more winter landscape images 

Gardens Gone Wild!

How Thristy Are Your Plants? 

There was a great Southern Living feature that I need to run because it had so much great information on plants and their water  needs.   Pamela  Crawford, an expert on growing beautiful flowers while saving water, money and time, ranks nine popular plants according to their individual water needs.   Teetotalers — those stalwarts never take a drink, Moderate Drinkers  who require water 3x a week, and Problem Drinkers who require watering almost every day.  Which plants do you have, and which will you introduce this year?  Keep in mind, by adding Teetotalers, you can save money on your water bills while updating your garden space. 

Click below to enlarge the picture.

 

 

Gardenwise on Winter Garden Repairs

Gardenwise On Winter Garden Activities 

The snows piles high,  frigid weather wraps stealthily around us, and your garden must sleep through the bombard- ment of winter.  

But our work is never done.  Here’s a short list of what you can do right now to repair show  damaged gardens, and prepare your garden for the post-winter months:

• After wet snow or high wind, check for broken branches and cut them off to prevent further tearing of bark.  And remember to sharpen your tools before using!  Sharp tools make cutting easier and they’re less apt to tear at the at the bark when cuts are made. 

• If possible, drain any garden puddles that stand more than a few hours. Do not walk on garden soil when soggy, and  avoid walking on water-saturated lawns. 

• Check mulch for disturbance by squirrels & birds, and repair as needed.

 Make notes of possible garden improvements, additions, or even deletions as you walk around the garden.  Contemplate what you will need for these improvements and make a schedule for the spring.

 See more winter landscape images