Category Archives: Garden

Aloes

Aloes are made up of rosette(s) of succulent leaves that range in texture from rubbery and maleable to very stiff and liable to break if bent. The leaves range from rough textured to so smooth they are almost like polished plastic. Some are distichous (leaves in two planes only) either when young (commonly), or for the life of the plant (less commonly). Most have leaves with marginal teeth that often are very sharp, though some have miniscule, harmless teeth and some even have none (rare). Some have leaves that also have a lot of thorns on them (just like the marginal teeth, but called thorns if not along the leaf margins) either only when young, or sometimes for the life fo the plant. Aloe leaves can be a variety of amazing colors, though green or blue-green are the most common. Many are spotted, speckled, striped or blotchy.

Typical rosette (Aloe broomii); Aloe suprafoliata, so named because the leaves are stacked upon each other in a distichous fashion when young; Aloe lineata showing more than just typical juvenile distichous leaf pattern when young (both these aloes form normal rosettes as they mature)

Aloes compressa and inexpectata are species that have distichous leaf patterns their entire lives.

Aloe affinis showing rather typical, though extremely sharp, marginal teeth; Aloe betsileensis with smaller, dark red marginal teeth; young Aloe excelsa covered in thorns (most lose these as they mature).

Aloe striata, a common species and one of the few with no marginal teeth; Aloe parallelifolia has only a few itty bitty teeth near the base and tip of each leaf.

Internodes are the spaces between the leaf bases- Aloe speciosa with almost no internode space; Aloe striata with exaggerated internode space labeled; and juvenile Aloe arenicola, also showing exaggerated internodes.

Many aloes spread by growing suckers- some from the base of the plant as in the Aloe distans in first photo, and some at the end of long roots as in the Aloe maculata in second photo (where the suckers show up several feet or more from the main plant); Aloe brevifolia in third photo has suckered so much there is no way to tell which is the original plant.

Aloe with true spots, and one with spots/striping, and species with speckling.

Aloe belatulla hybrid with super-fine speckling; Aloe aculeata looks spotted, but really has thorns with white bases, so not really considered a spotted species.

Aloe rubroviolacea and glauca both have a glaucous bloom on the leaves (you can see where some has rubbed off) that is protective against harmful solar radiation.

Aloes are usually identified scientifically by their flowers (often small details in the flower morphology, which, frankly, is a bit beyond my expertise) as many Aloes otherwise can look alike. As you will see below, sometimes even flowering aloes can be impossible to tell apart. The following are some photos and terms used to describe flower shape and structures. I recommend becoming familiar with some of these terms if you want to be able to tell some similar aloes apart.

That Gardening is so Rewarding and Gratifying

I lived in suburbia all of my life but often spent weekends and summers with my my elders in the country. I grew up around farmers and people that grew plants as both a means of income and a way to feed their own families. They also grew flowering plants as a way to brighten their days.Most were plants with no value as a food or a sale crop but nonetheless, they earned their place on valuable land.

How I wish someone would have shared the joy of placing that single seed in the dirt so I could have seen what it could do and what it would become! That single seed goes through so much change in its life whether it is a short life or a long life and it completes its own circle of life. If it’s cared for and nurtured, it thrives and knows exactly what to do. Even if tossed aside or dropped on the dirt, it may still go on or it may struggle and possibly even die, but it doesn’t know that it should just give up! It was not taught to quit.

This is something I’ve tried to share with my own children. Sometimes no matter how much we care or try, things may have a sad ending. Other times, over caring for things can cause them hardship. More times than not, that little bit of time giving and nurturing, will give us back something worthwhile and maybe even something spectacular.

Although pulling weeds may not be fun, it is necessary for the life of the plants around them. Sometimes it is a burden to drag the hose across the yard in the heat of the summer but the fish in the pond, the small animals we raise and the plants we are growing, need that water to survive. Even though we have to feed and water the animals in the rain, snow, heat and dark, they give us back manure that is good for the plants. They teach us to be responsible and to take the time to say hello or give them a little nuzzle. Taking two minutes to carry coffee grounds, egg shells and vegetable waste to the compost are worthwhile because we can feed that compost back to the plants and make their lives better. That makes our life better and it makes our life easier.

Anything we do no matter how big or small, to make life better is worthwhile. And it’s rewarding!

I often think of a time a few years ago, when I was outside rooting coleus. I let the extra leaves and stems drop to the ground. My eldest daughter was fairly young and she grabbed up the little pieces and leaves, asking me why I was throwing them on the ground, almost demanding that they had the right to live. I told her those little pieces and leaves would not grow and showed her all the cuttings that I had already started and told her how they would all be likely to survive as I had chosen the best plants and the best parts of those plants for rooting. She would not give up. She got her own cell pack and her own seedling mix and planted all those cast offs I had deemed unworthy. She watered them dutifully and kept them in the shade and checked them often. I think every single one of them rooted, grew and flourished and they were her plants. I learned that day that I did not know everything and also that I didn’t give them a chance to be what they were.

While this might not be worthwhile for growing on a large scale, it did show me how awesome life can be if given a chance and not to discard things so quickly. I also came to the realization that she had her own ideas about things and that would not change just because I tried to discourage her.How neat it must be to see things through the eyes of a child and to be open to the wonders of the unknown!

Life is busy and crazy when you have children and often there is not much time to slow down and listen and enjoy the simple things. When they are interested, I try to take the time to hear them, encourage them and let them learn things on their own and help them when asked. The hardest part is not interfering when they do not want my help. I let them start their own seeds, do their own planting, choose their own crosses and I let them chose to pull weeds and water, or not. It is a wonderful way to teach them to nurture what they have and encourage them to seek out and learn about other things. They’ve learned also learned what happens when things are neglected because we were too busy or had something more important to do.

I’ve learned many things myself. Sometimes I am the teacher and sometimes I’m the student. I do not know everything. Some things cannot be learned in a book or on the internet. Kids that do not want to pull weeds should not if you want to keep plants around them. Kids love to look at catalogs and have opinions about what would or would not be good to grow and trust me, they feel very strongly about it! Mostly I’ve learned to listen to what they say as well as what they don’t say.

You have already planted the seed and it has started to flower. Raise that gardener on their terms and see just how spectacular it can be! Now is a great time to get started with all those wonderful catalogs sitting there. My children love to look at those beautiful catalogs and make thousand dollar wish lists that make me cringe. I make my own thousand dollar wish lists that make me cringe! They know and I know, we can’t possibly buy them but that is why they are called wish lists! It’s the stuff that dreams are made of and sometimes dreams come true.

Imagine all the things we could do or might have done, if no one had said it was not worthwhile!

Dooryard Garden

The entryway garden is typically the most visible of a homeowner’s gardens. This garden should capture the attention of the visitor, and passerby alike, as it draws one’s attention to the main entrance of the home. The front door is the focal point of the entryway garden hence the name dooryard garden. The goal of a dooryard garden is, not only to add curb appeal, but also to guide the steps of the visitor to the front door. Keep this in mind as you plan the dooryard garden and frame it so it will conduct the visitor along a direct, but enjoyable path, toward the door rather than sending them along a meandering tour of the front yard. Notice the photos below. This is a perfect example of a dooryard garden which frames the pathway to the front door of the home. This garden is obviously planned as a multiple season garden. The Autumn garden is truly colorful and draws the eye up and along the path in an enjoyable walk to the front door. The warm season garden is more muted, but still adequately frames the path to the front door. Also note that the design of the gardens matches the style of the home.

Before planting the dooryard garden take into consideration the style and scale of the home. A neoclassic or upscale home would appear dilapidated with a profusion of rambling cottage-style plants as a dooryard garden. This style of home would be given a touch of elegance with the clean lines of evergreen topiary flanking either side of the entryway. An under planting of blooming annuals would work nicely as an accent to the elegant topiaries.

This marvelous chateau would seem ridiculous with a cottage style garden planted along its entryway. However the elegantly manicured evergreens are formal and quite appropriate to the scale and architecture of the chateau.

o we see that the type and size of plants to use in a dooryard garden are determined by several factors one being the dimensions of a home. There are many resources available to the gardener simply do the research to determine the best plants for your particular home’s style. Keep in mind that guests will stop amid your dooryard garden to ring the doorbell so put in a variety of lovely plants for them to gaze at as they wait for you to answer the door. You might also want to toss in a miniature fairy house, a gazing ball or other decorative statuary to impress your guests as they admire your dooryard garden.

The graceful lines of a Grecian statue surrounded by the fern-like foliage of the Falsespirea, Sorbaria sorbifolia, as in the photograph would be an attractive addition to a dooryard garden. The Falsespirea grows to a height of 5′-10′ tall and nearly as wide, so it is better suited to a large dooryard garden.

A pretty garden bench for people to rest on adds beauty and practicality. Give it a backdrop of fragrant flowers and your guests will never want to leave.

To create atouch of romantic ambiance in your dooryard garden plant fragrant climbing roses to frame the front door, at the entrance to the porch or even on an arbor or fence within the garden. The delicate sent of roses will waft into your home each time a guest enters. That is to say, if you can get them out of your beautiful dooryard garden and into the house.

If you haven’t the room for, or the capability to care for, a dooryard garden then try container plants as an alternative. Containers make wonderful additions to a porch, the front door steps and even look well flanking the front door. The overall look is dependent upon the type of planter you choose. ~For a whimsical touch try a trash to treasure container.~

Beautiful Blooms on a Budget

Several years ago, I started adding daylilies to my new garden beds. I fell in love with some of the named cultivars, but I soon realized that my budget wasn’t going to allow me to fill my garden as fast as I’d like. I saw people offering their extra daylily seeds on the Seed Trading Forum, and I thought that was the perfect solution! I put my named daylilies along the front of my daylily bed, and I grew out my seedlings along the back. It worked out so well that I’m doing it again. I’m planting out my second round of seedlings this year.

The first thing to know is that growing daylilies from seed is easy. They’re tough plants, and they’re not fussy about germination or culture requirements. The second thing to know is that you’ll have to be patient. It will take at least until the following year, sometimes longer, before you will see a bloom and know just what it is that you’ve grown out. Several more years may be needed to really evaluate a new seedling’s potential.

As with many plants, daylily genetics can get complicated. The blooms of an offspring may look almost exactly like one parent or the other, or you may get something quite unique. Other characteristics are also passed along, affecting foliage, height, flower form and substance, bud count, and so forth. It’s a gamble. If you like the parent plants, you’ll probably like most of the seedlings, too. Some may be truly exceptional, and some may be “dogs,” with muddy colors or other undesirable traits.

Give your daylilies a good head start by germinating seeds in winter and growing them under fluorescent lights. Many people start seeds simply by sowing them in moist potting mix. Since my space under the lights is limited, I don’t like to have any empty spots, so I germinate seeds before planting.

To pre-sprout daylily seeds, soak them in water with a little added hydrogen peroxide (1 tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide per quart of water). You can soak seeds in a glass, or you can soak them right in their little labeled zip-top plastic seed bag, leaving a little air space in the bag. When you see a little “tail” of root forming, the seed has germinated and is ready to plant.

I like to use deep 36 cell “sheet pots” that are about the size of 2 inch pots. Each cell gets planted with 1 to 5 sprouted seeds of a given cross. I’ve also planted 1 seed per cell in a 48 cell flat. Some people have good results using 16 oz plastic cups with holes poked in the bottom for drainage, planting as many as 20 seeds per cup.

Fill your chosen pots with slightly moist, good quality soil-less potting mix. Plant your sprouted seeds 1/8 to 1/4 inch below the surface of the potting mix. Water in with a little weak chamomile tea or peroxide water. Bottom water thereafter, to help prevent damping-off and other problems. Place them under lights, as close to the bulb as possible.

The first time I grew out seeds, I didn’t think I’d manage to keep track of specific crosses all the way from soaking and germinating seeds to transplanting into pots and then into the garden. And frankly, I didn’t think I’d get any new plants worth getting worked up about. So I threw all the seeds together into one big jar. Two years later, when they started blooming, I was amazed at how beautiful some of them were!

Although parentage isn’t strictly necessary information for registering a daylily, most breeders and growers prefer to know the parentage of named varieties. I didn’t end up with any I really thought were worthy of registration, but I do wish I knew the parentage of a couple of my nicer ones.

Last year, I started some more daylilies from seed. Some of my seeds again came from trades, and I also purchased a few from a DGer selling on the Lily Auction site. I am looking forward to being able to purchase seeds for next year from Dave’s new auction site!

I made use of the lessons learned from my first seedlings. This time, I did keep track of the crosses, so I know the parentage of these seedlings. I used an Industrial Sharpie marker to write on a plastic tag that’s in the pot and will later be buried with the plant. I also used a metallic silver Sharpie to write directly on my black nursery pots. When the daylilies get planted out in my garden, I’ll add a metal marker with an Avery clear laser label.

When those first little seedlings were planted directly out into the garden three years ago, they didn’t look all that different from a tuft of grass. Some of them almost got themselves pulled up as weeds! This time, I wasn’t taking any chances. After hardening off the seedlings last spring, I potted up the seedlings into trade gallon pots on my patio. They overwintered just fine in a sheltered location near the house and will be planted out this year.

I’m not sure my garden could have too many daylilies. Growing them from seed means I am limited only by my own impatience as I wait for those first blooms, not by my budget. For blooms like these, I’m willing to wait!

 

Garden Design Thief

When it comes to garden design, I’m not too proud to admit that I don’t have too many original ideas. I like to steal. Yup, I steal ideas and make them a reality in my garden. Sometimes I steal a whole idea, sometimes just a piece of an idea. When summer rolls around, I’m in thievery delight as I pick up ideas from neighborhood walks or visits to design centers and public gardens. This method of inspiration is augmented by design books and Internet pictures, but there is really nothing like heading out to a local garden to see the beauty for yourself.

Last year I took a trip to Cantigny Park in Wheaton, Illinois. Cantigny is a really unique park nestled in the western suburbs of Chicago. Within the park are many sights: the historic Robert R. McCormick Museum, the First Division Museum, Idea and Formal Gardens, including a rose garden, a golf course and more. I particularly enjoyed the Idea garden, but stole ideas from all locations.

Every year I also delight in new display beds at a local garden center (Hornbaker Gardens in Illinois). In display gardens like these, I discover how plants behave in different environments. I know that places like this have much more money to invest and more youthful staff to contribute to the display than I have, but the results are always inspirational.

Of course, nothing beats a neighborhood garden walk to see how real people with similar resources develop their gardens. Several years ago I got to steal ideas from participants of a Pond Tour. This was particularly helpful because I just could not imagine what I wanted my pond to look like! I certainly came away with a better vision for my garden.

Specific Plants

Sometimes you see a plant that just speaks to you. When you find such a plant, gather what information you can. Start with a name. Most garden centers and public gardens will have items marked. If not, find a helpful staff member to assist in the identification. Note in what soil and light conditions this plant grows. Be sure to discover other growing factors such as irrigation and support. When you are home, research the plants bug and disease susceptibility as well as other plant needs.

Plant Combinations

I’m amazed sometimes at plant combinations. When you see a combination first-hand, then you really can understand design terms such as color and texture. All of these combinations are found at Cantigny Park.

Locations

Often you might have fallen in love with a plant but really don’t know the ideal place to put it. If you have the right sun and soil conditions in several places but you just need that “right” spot, gather ideas from others.

Garden Art

This is a tough category because there are so many tastes out there. From the subtle to the whimsical, there is something for everyone. When you see a display garden using art, you can take note of the way it is paired with plantings or left on its own. Your mind begins to churn with ideas for your own yard.

Structures

Most of the time when I see structures in a display garden, I can only dream about how wonderful it would be to have these. Some day I’d like to report back that I’ve installed a version or two of what you’ve seen here.

Ponds

Ponds are springing up everywhere. From the small to large, the variety is astounding. I knew I wanted to add water to the garden, but how? I considered options, but was not really sure until I took a pond tour. There were many types of ponds. Some I Iiked, some I just did not care for.

 

“Good luck in stealing the BEST ideas for YOUR garden.”

Romantic Garden

My garden is a haven. On a languorous evening, strolling among favorite plants, listening to the mockingbirds, or the great horned owl, it can give me a great sense of peace – and romance.

Not all these factors can be controlled. The owl only visits when he is in the mood, and the plumeria bloom when they feel like it. Sometimes there is no wafting breeze and the moon is occasionally hidden by clouds. But many factors can be determined by me, and to make a garden ‘romantic’ does not require a lot of work. I personally associate ‘evening’ with romance so my garden is geared to be enjoyed in the evening.

Consider what we need:

An inviting space, peaceful, and with aspects that appeal to the senses.

We want a space to sit, a place for two a lovely old wicker or wrought iron bench for instance, or a rocker with floral cushions placed strategically, maybe facing the setting sun. Put a small table nearby, for a place to put your glass, or a candle. Nearby could be a water feature, a little stream that trickles, or a pond or birdbath that will invite the songbirds to visit.

Behind the bench, or maybe over it, I see an archway, arbor or trellis supporting a vine or hung with orchid pots. A sweeping tree with blossoms which overhang. A shepherd’s crook with hanging baskets overflowing with trailing plants. Then a path that meanders and disappears into a dark space. A statue could be placed there, or a piece of very individual garden art. A small windchime, a gazing ball to reflect the moonlight.

Our space should be away from the road, private, even secluded, shielded from prying eyes by a hedge, a few fragrant bushes or a fence. The word ‘fence’ does not immediately conjure up ‘romance’, but with some artful touches, maybe painted a restful color, some hanging pots, a cosy corner can be created.

Consider plants with foliage that catch the moonlight. Glossy dark leaves will do this, as will bright variegated foliage, and the aptly named ‘moonflower’ or other white flowers. Obviously any night blooming plants are good choices, especially those as dramatic as night blooming cereus, or – with the added bonus of fragrance – night blooming jasmine. Butterfly ginger truly can look like eerie ghostlike butterflies in flight in the dark.

Hang some lanterns in the trees, to be lit at a moment’s notice, or place candles in mosaic glass holders or terracotta pots on the ground. Light up a palm tree’s trunk with a strategically placed light fixture.

Maybe a favorite flower has just come into bloom, or you have a story to share about your day. Plan a regular visit, or just spontaneously decide to go for a stroll together. Whatever you do – when you enter your romantic garden, enjoy the mood, be unhurried, plan to linger, let your senses be filled with the impact of what you have created.

Here is a list of suggested plants (geared to my zone 10, but obviously similar plants can be chosen for your particular climate):

Night blooming jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum)

Night blooming Cereus (Epiphyllum oxypetalum)

Moonflower (Ipomoea alba)

Roses – especially white.

Orchids

Butterfly ginger (Hedychium coronarium)

Palm trees

Sky vine (Thunbergia Grandiflora)

Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)

Plumeria

Sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritime)

Dianthus

Lilies

Bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis)

Wisteria

Missouri Botanical Garden

Plants are the main reason to visit, but today I’d like to share some of my favorite places at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

One of my favorite places to visit in St. Louis is the Missouri Botanical Garden, known by many of the locals as Shaw’s Garden. During my visit today with my good friend Beth, I decided to focus on garden structures and art. Small touches in the home garden often make the difference between a nice garden and a garden with real character, never lacking at MoBot.

This palm is striking against the geometric patterns of the Climatron. It was late morning and the sunlight took away the color of the palm and made this shot look like a black and white photo. Watch the light in your gardens to see how different it looks as the daylight changes.

The Floating Onions were kept at the garden after the Chihuly exhibit last year. In the evening, lights make the onions glow, a very different look when compared to daytime. Remember to use lighting in your home garden for evening enjoyment.

I didn’t think that this fence and archway could ever be improved, but the addition of the Chihuly glass takes it over the top!

This is a view of the Climatron, as you come around a bend in the path. Built in 1960, it replaced the Palm House that was built in 1914.

Boy With a Flute, one of the special sculptures tucked into the garden. He gives this section of the garden a quiet feeling. Imagine the lilting tune from the little boy. A small water feature can add music to your garden.

Found in the Temperate House, you come upon this courtyard as you come around a thick planting, a delightful surprise. It is a wonderful example of color that can be included in a garden with materials other than plants. We sat here for quite awhile. Despite many other visitors to the building, this area is very serene and private. I’ve been tempted to try to paint my patio to to match the tile here, but that might be pushing my luck with my dear husband’s understanding ways about my garden habits.

This lovely hillside has lots of low plants with leaf texture as well as flowers, very pleasing. The stone draws your eye down the slope, tempting you to wander to the next path.

Yes, even the Botanical Garden has dandelions!

It makes me happy to see that I’m not the only one.

As you can see from this small tour, there is more to a garden than the plants. Adding small surprises, a decorative fence or even a large stone will give your garden personality!

No visit to the Missouri Botanical Garden is complete without lunch on The Hill for the best Italian food in the city. Yum!

Simple Ground Covers For Garden

These are the simple plants that can fill that space, look classy, and perfectly fit that space in the garden.

BugleweedAjuga have shiny leaves that form a tight and wonderful mass of color close to the ground. From early in the spring to very late in the summer, they will reward you with towering spikes of color, mostly blue but some white flowering varieties are in the market. They can take full sun in the northern areas but need some shade to grow well in the south. It is a wonderful plant that can be easy to grow and maintain in the garden.

Cotoneaster

This wonderful plant is great for all but the coldest and warmest parts of the world. The evergreen leaves fill in quickly and stay weed free once established. The flowers are almost not there but the berries are wonderfully red and, if the birds don’t eat them all, they are wonderful to leave on for winter snows.

Crown Vetch

This fast growing part of the pea family is perfect for slopes and impossible to mow areas. This is not the plant to share garden space with other plants, but the blooms are stunning and a wonderful pink. They love sunny areas and can take full sun and have a low water tolerance in many areas.

Euonymus

Also called wintercreeper, this plant, when mature, will have several differently shaped leaves on the same plant. This will at least give the illusion of several plants in the area with only one plant being there. The leaves turn dark purple from the first cool breeze of fall until the first warm days of spring. The colors and growth patterns make this a wonderful plant in the garden. This just might not be the best plant if you have a desire to plant in the same area again any time soon.

Ivy

Its wonderful, evergreen leaves will stay with the plant year round. Be careful to keep this plant off trees and bricks or it will creep up the sides and mark the area forever. Ivy grows in sun and deep shade and will take little to no water once established. This plant will never, ever leave your garden once it is there, so plant well and think about your long term plans for the area.

Juniper

Creeping juniper might be old fashioned but it is still nice in the garden. It is easy to grow and simple to keep in check. When you want to plant something else in the area they are simple to remove and replace with other plants. They are also long lived and, if taken care of, they will be a staple in your yard for years to come.

Mondo Grass

This simple grass will grow to a uniform height, stay deep green, and needs little help to grow year after year. Long lived and simple to divide are among the added benefits of this simple plant. This plant is also wanted by so many new gardeners that when you are ready to plant over you can easily give the call and have the area dug out for you by others.

Periwinkle

Known also as Vinca Minor, this running plant is well known and loved in many areas. The blue to purple flowers are stunning and will bloom well in most areas with a little added water. This is a rapid spreader that grows and fills the area fast in both sun and shade. The plant can be found now with white or pink blooms.

Wild Strawberry

It is simple to gather new wild strawberry plants and it is often a pass along plant. The plant has runners much like its garden cousin and is simple to grow. It grows in partial shade only and has white blooms and red fruits that are well loved by the birds.

Growing Osteospermum

Osteospermums are a member of the Asteraceae family, just like Shasta Daisies and Zinnias. They like sunny, well-drained conditions and are considered a tender perennial. This means that in an area where the winters are frost-free, Osteospermums will live and grow without protection from the cold. The cultivars with the dark blue centers will stand some frost, and will be perennial in gardens further north. African Daisy is another name for Osteospermum. The plant originates in South Africa and is sometimes called Cape Daisy. A wide range of colors are available with pinks and purples being the most common. New cultivars are being introduced all of the time with the palette ranging from pale yellow and orange, to white, pink and purple. The petals vary from smooth and regular to dipped and spoon shaped.

The Osteospermum does best when situated in sunny areas. The flowers open fully in direct sun, and close each evening. They bloom best when the nights are cool. During periods of the summer when the nights are quite warm, there will be a period of reduced blooms. When the nights cool off, they will perk back up and put on a fresh show. Osteospermums are hybrids, so saving seed is not recommended. The resulting seedlings will not resemble the parent plant. If it does not matter what color or shape that the flowers are, then the best way to start seeds is to sow them on top of well drained seed starting mix. These plants need light to germinate and prefer cool temperatures. The common practice of putting seed trays on a heat mat isn’t desirable for these plants. They need cool temperatures in the 64 to 68 degree range.

The best way to propagate Osteospermum is to take cuttings from established plants. Here is an example of how to take and root cuttings. Prepare a tray of sterile seedling mixture by damping it with warm water until it feels like a well squeezed sponge. Mix that is too wet will promote the growth of mold, and the cuttings will rot before they root. Osetospermum. Either pinch the buds out, or select shoots where no blooms have formed yet. The cuttings do not need to put energy into forming blooms before they form roots. The cuttings need to have at least two sets of leaf axils and be a two to three inches long.

Cut the shoots with a sharp knife or scissors just below the leaf node, and strip the leaves off of that joint. Dip in rooting hormone to promote the growth of new roots. Most rooting hormone has an anti-fungal also. It helps prevent the cuttings from rotting. With a pointed instrument, make a hole in your mix that is just a little bigger than the stem. Carefully place the stem in the hole and firm the potting mix around it. The cuttings will root best with temperatures between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Put them in a bright area, but out of direct sunlight. Grow-lights indoors are fine, or on a sheltered porch. The cuttings should form roots in 3 to 4 weeks. When they start to put on new growth, they have rooted, and can be hardened off for planting in the garden. These cuttings will branch out and form side shoots if they are pinched back after a couple of weeks.

Osteospermums will grow happily in the garden or in containers. They only ask to be kept well watered. Make sure that the growing medium is well drained though, as they do not like wet feet or soggy conditions. A general purpose fertilizer for blooming plants is helpful every month during growing season, and dead-heading will promote continuous blossoms. By pinching out the growing tips a couple of times during the summer, a compact, bushy plant will result. These are plants that can survive under harsh conditions by wilting and dropping top growth. During periods of drought, they will appear dead, only to spring to life once the rains return.

When choosing Osteospermums at the garden center, select plants that are compact and well branched. When planting them, dig the hole the same depth as the roots are, and place your transplant at the same level. Firm the soil around the plant and if mulch is used, leave an area between the stem and the mulch. African Daisies are a good value in the garden, rewarding you with abundant blooms throughout the summer and fall. All they ask is for a sunny spot with regular watering. They thrive when pinched back, and the cuttings can be turned into more plants quite easily. They are a lovely little flower that is becoming more popular each season and deserve to be included in the garden

Addicted Blue Pot Plastics

We each have our own secret addictions. This is my confession: I am addicted to blue pots. Plastic, clay, terra cotta, stoneware, even the styrofoam ones look pretty good to me.

When you look at the picture on the right, you might see any one of a number of things. You might see that the garden hose has been carelessly left in the picture, and that the pot needs to be washed off and you would be right. You might notice that those impatiens really aren’t happy in that much sun, and you’d be right again. You might be able to tell that the picture was taken at a funny angle – right again. You might even think the impatiens should be healthier and flowering more. When I look at that picture, I only see one thing, my beautiful old blue pot.

I used to do ceramics as a teenager, and the one pot I was always trying to throw was a pot for plants. The one glaze I was trying to mix was the perfect blue glaze. I never did manage to throw the perfect pot for plants, drainage hole, matching saucer and all. (I think my dream pot was a little bigger than my talent.) Nor did I ever find the right recipe for any one of my favorite colors of blue. But I started collecting pots.

Now I’m older, much older. I know that good pots are expensive. Every once in a blue moon, I’ll splurge and buy a new blue pot.

Some years it will be a heavy, stoneware pot like this one, to the left, which has weathered many New England winters without complaint. Last year I went crazy and bought a whole bunch of beautiful bluepots at a local craft supply store. Although the pots were very pretty, they were notweatherproof. Some even had blue stripes, which I liked, although not everybody was fond of them. The seams between the stripes were the first things to go when it froze.

I even painted some pots blue. First I tried spray painting some plastic pots blue. But I did it quick and dirty, not carefully, the way Melodyrecommends in this article about refurbishing old pots. As you can see, that didn’t work very well.

But then I swiped some blue latex paint on a plain clean terra cotta pot with a sponge. I liked the way that came out, and since there’s a tender plant in it, it comes in for the winter anyway. Someday soon, I’ll paint its sibling, the bigger matching plain terracotta pot.

Once I got to thinking about bluepots, I started thinking about the some of the blue pots my friend has.These lucky pots are never subjected to freezes and thaws, because they’re in California.

I like to think that having so many bluepots gives my container plants a unified look, but maybe not. There are still a lot of motley other containers mixed in, mostly because people give them to me. I know I shouldn’t admit this here, on Dave’s Garden, but some days the plants are just there to fill up the pots. Of course that doesn’t explain all the plastic pots overflowing with plants; there it’s the other way around. As long as they are blue plastic, of course!