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27 Jun 2018

Getting “Reel” With Fiskars Composting Tools

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There is a wealth of information out there about composting methods, tips and techniques as well as laundry lists of compostable items. However, when it comes to the tools you can use to help you in your composting endeavors, the information, unfortunately, is a little on the lean side. I like to compost green and brown yard debris, which is essentially a mix of green grass clippings, leaves, and flowers intertwined with brown twigs, leaves, and dried grass. Fortunately for me, Fiskars has all the composting tools I need to create and collect all this yard debris and get the job done.

Manual Reel Mowers

A reel mower is a lawn mower that requires no gas, cords or batteries – hence, no carbon footprint, no odor, and no smells! I know…I know. It sounds like something that hearkens from an episode of The Waltons (or maybe they had a goat?). Anyhow, I assure you that today’s reel mowers, such as the Fiskars StaySharp™ Max Reel Mower, are very sophisticated and powerful. I call the Fiskars model a “feel good” piece of equipment, because it feels good to use from an environmentally mindful standpoint and literally feels good to mow with. I found it very easy to push and it was easy on my hands with its comfortable cushioned grip. It is also a “feel good” for the mechanically challenged (like me) who get frustrated easily and call in reinforcements to finish the job. The assembly itself was easy – roughly 15-20 minutes out of the box, completed all on my own, with no tools required. Adjustments, such as cutting height, are also easily made.

Grass Shears

I actually swore off grass shears a long, long time ago. I regard the grass shears of yesteryear more of a hand grip exercising gizmo than a functional practical hand tool. They were heavy in the hand, jammed up a lot and each squeeze on the handle literally made you grimace as you tried to work the squeaky blades. The Fiskars Shear Ease® Grass Shears actually turned my notion about grass shears on its head. They are lightweight, engineered to prevent jamming, and feature sharp precision-ground steel blades with a head that rotates 360° making them very ideal for edging and trimming decorative grasses around flower beds, trees and sidewalks.

Rakes

Have you ever experienced a lawn or garden rake that started to seem heavier and heavier the longer you used it in a raking session, slowing down your momentum and perhaps even your will to continue? I’ve “been there done that,” temporarily abandoning a raking job in order to give my weary arms a much needed respite. Thanks to Fiskars, I can now perform raking activities with a lot more ease and endurance due to the lightweight, yet durable, design of their rake product line, which helps me to provide fodder for my compost pile in no time flat. With their aluminum handles and strong resin heads, you can make fast work of jobs not only in open expanses, such as with the leaf rake, but also those in tight spaces, with the shrub rake. The garden rake, with its aluminum handle and 14 hardened steel tines, is ideal for loosening up and leveling soil, as well as removing weeds and dead grass from lawns and gardens.

Garden Forks

No discussion on composting tools would be complete without the inclusion of a garden fork because, hey, you do need to turn over that compost pile once in a while! The Fiskars Ergo D-handle Steel Garden Fork helps to make light work of the heavy tasks with an ergonomic angled D-handle that minimizes wrist strain and pointed boron steel tines that pierce through dense, hardened soil easily.

So there you have it. An overview of some of my essential composting tools. Be sure to check out Fiskars for these and many more tool options to fit your needs!

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21 Jun 2018

Lantana Plant – How To Grow and Care For Lantana Bush, Trees [GUIDE]

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The lantana plant, a bright, sun-loving plant, producing flowers in abundance and rewarding you with lots of color.

Mastering lantana care is not difficult. Made to order for any bright patio with lots of direct sun. Lantana plants are basically tropical plants requiring lots of warmth.

Plant the Lantana bush in your outdoor garden as soon as all danger of frost is past.

In warm areas where frost seldom if ever occurs, the lantana plant can grow all year in the garden. Where they will flower constantly, attract hummingbirds, perfect for the butterfly garden and need only occasional trimming.


Lantana Plants Verbena Relatives

Lantanas belong to the verbena family. They grow much taller than the well-known annual verbena, but the small clusters of tubular blooms on this flowering plant look similar, and they bloom as freely. Lantana flowers come in red, orange, yellow, white, pink or lavender.

One variety with yellow flowers turns orange as they age and creates a striking bicolor effect.


Lantana Bush Size and Growth Rate

The woody, deciduous, perennial Lantana produces rather bushy growth which feels rough to the touch. As a whole ornamental Lantana plants will produce a bank of pleasing deep green.

Garden centers begin stocking plants around May, planting outdoors depends on the weather since lantana plants cannot handle frost.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the common Lantana plant variety grows well in USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11.

Most Lantana dies back when temperatures fall below 28 degrees (Fahrenheit). Most grow back from their root system when warm weather returns.

Some of the new hardy lantana cultivars grow well in USDA zone 8.

When growing lantana, know the primary use for the plant, since you’ll basically find two types or varieties of Lantana. Upright varieties are varieties better suited for use primarily as a ground cover, as bedding plants or even hanging baskets, reaching a height of 16 to 30 inches.


The Lantana Tree Looks Great In Large Pots Or Tubs

The upright growing varieties, if allowed to grow can reach heights of 5 to 7 feet and look great growing in large tubs or pots. When grown as a “tree form standard” the lantana tree makes for very attractive container subjects on a patio, terrace or a front entry.

If you have room in a greenhouse or sun room to over winter them, growing lantana in a decorative tub or large pot is the way to go.

How To Grow A Lantana Tree

lantana tree

To start a lantana tree, plant a small lantana in spring, into a larger container. Begin shaping the tree as soon as new growth begins.

Attach the stem (sometimes multiple stems) to a support like a bamboo stake, then begin trimming away any new side shoots.

Once the “tree” reaches approximately 30-36 inches, cut out the growing tip to encourage branching.

Continue to remove all growth below the branching top and begin to shape the top of the topiary.

I’ve grown several Lantana trees started from cuttings to a height of 4-5 foot tall and almost 4 foot wide.

This post shares some images on how it’s done, along with some other plants uncommonly grown as a topiary tree form style. This link shows 6 steps for growing a lantana tree.

Cottage Farms Sun Kissed Rose Lantana Patio Tree

The previously recorded video below not represent current pricing and availability. But it gives you some ideas of what a Lantana tree can look like!

Another bush or shrub that looks great when grown into a tree is the hibiscus.

Lantana Plants Attract Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds show their approval of lantana plantings at certain seasons by coming regularly during the early morning and late afternoon for nectar. For a thrill, note the hours they come and sit quietly to enjoy near the lantanas.


Lantana Bush Flowering and Fragrance

Who doesn’t want non stop flowers? Flowers that handle heat, drought and do not take a lot of work.

On top of it all, the flowers attract butterflies like a magnet.

However, they may not be deer resistant but deer has a tendency to stay away for Lantana. What plant can deliver all that color? Lantana!

nonstop-flowers-93020152403

From the stem tips sitting above the plant’s squarish stems, and rough leaves with a tooth-edge, emerge small clusters of tubular individual flowers with a small collar.

Flowers begin showing up, with an overall spicy fragrance when warm weather arrives, with non-stop blooms until the first frost burns it back. To keep the flowers coming, pick off seed balls – or dead flowers before they form seed.

Older mature plants bloom best, with colors ranging from orange-red, pink, yellow, purple, violet and bicolors.


Lantana Care – Light and Temperature

Grow or plant lantana in a warm, sunny position, they do very well in full sun. A west or south facing patio will produce the best-looking plants, with lots of flowers.

They will withstand the first light frosts of fall, but if you want to keep your old plants over for another season, dig them. More in the over-wintering section below.


Growing Lantana – Watering and Fertilizing

Even though the lantana plant is fairly drought tolerant, throughout the entire growing season water regularly. Lantana should never dry out.

In the spring when new growth begins, fertilize lightly using a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10.

A second application may be required during mid-summer. Lantanas respond well to a regular liquid fertilizing program and slow release fertilizers.

Be careful NOT TO OVER FERTILIZE as they may then produce excessive growth, weak stems and few blooms.


Lantana Plant Care – Soil and Transplanting

Lantana’s adapt to most soil conditions, use the same as bedding plants would grow in but they like a slightly acid (6.5 or lower), well-drained soil.

If planting in the ground in a heavy clay soil, thoroughly incorporate some sand or a coarse bark. If potted or planted in hanging baskets use a bagged commercial potting mix for best results.


Pruning and Grooming Lantana Trees

Keep your lantana in shape with selective pruning, removing old spent flowers, long or withered stems and unattractive branches.

Growing plants trained and shaped into a tree form makes for an attractive patio specimen.

Pinching encourages branching and production of flowering stems. Unpinched, the stems will trail and droop to greater lengths, with plentiful flowers. Whether or not to pinch growing tips is completely your choice.


lantana-orange

Propagating The Lantana Plant

Propagation from rooting a cutting will produce new plants the fastest, they can also grow from seed.

During the outdoor season, lantana plants may grow into small shrubs reaching 4 feet tall and sometimes more. In the case of overwintering, it’s easier to take cuttings in August than to dig and repot oversized plants.

Select cuttings with leaf joints close together. Make each cutting three or four inches in length, and when you cut, take a heel of wood from the main stem.

To root cuttings, first fill a small pot with moist, clean, gritty sand or perlite. I like a 50/50 mix of peat moss and perlite. I find less danger of fungus trouble using peat moss and perlite.

Remove the leaves from the lowest node, and set each cutting deep enough to cover the heel and the lowest node.

While Roots Are Forming

After planting, cover cuttings with a glass jar, or slip the entire container into a plastic bag. Set the container in a shaded, protected place, perhaps under shrubbery or indoors under grow lights.

Keep the rooting medium slightly moist. Unless the weather is unusually warm and dry, remove the jars for a while each day, or leave the plastic bag opened; this fresh air encourages healthy growth. When cuttings root, pot in moist soil as outlined earlier.


Pests On Lantana Plants

Few pests and diseases attack lantana’s, you’ll find them quite bug resistant. However, a handful of pests can impact the plant. Proper cultural practices limit most attacks, early detection and pests identification will speed up treatment and the recovery process.

Aphids – Generally found around the growing tip, buds and undersides of leaves where aphids suck sap from the plant and excrete a sticky substance called honeydew.

Plants heavily infested plants experience leaf drop, leaf yellowing, leaf curling and wilting. Check out this post for getting rid of aphids naturally.

Whiteflies – Small, white insects located on leaf undersides. Both adult and young feed on the plant.

Severe infestation causes leaf drop beginning with yellow leaf spots. Control with horticultural oil, insecticidal soap or other another natural organic insecticide neem spray oil.

Spider Mites – severe infestation during hot, dry periods are found on the undersides of leaves.

Look for plants lacking vigor, leaves showing a yellow to gray cast, and leaf drop. Control with  horticultural oil, insecticidal soap and other insecticides.

Lace Bugs – very common pest, feeds on the undersides of leaves, populations grow rapidly with high temperatures (90 degrees Fahrenheit).

On heavily infested plants leaves turn yellow and fall off early. Prune out severely damaged areas, treat with a systemic insecticide like acephate or imidacloprid. Provide sufficient nutrients and water to ensure recovery.

Leaf Miner – Feeds on interior leaves, leaving a whitish trail. Plants can handle a fair amount of injury before plant health comes into question.

Prune and destroy infested branches and foliage. In some areas parasitic wasps help control pests populations. Control with horticultural oil, insecticidal soap and other insecticides.

MealybugsMealybugs “hide” on the undersides of leaves and on stems, with damage similar to aphids.

Treat small outbreaks with a 50-50 spray of water and isopropyl alcohol. For larger infestations control with horticultural oil, insecticidal soap and other insecticides.


Lantana Plant Buying Tips

Start your lantana collection by picking up plants at the garden center or ordering new varieties online in the spring. At the garden center look of bushy plants, stiff stems and lots of buds.

Lots of color provided by the Lantana flower – Monrovia – via Pinterest


Uses For Lantana Bushes and Trees In The Landscape

Lantana makes a very colorful decorative plant for outdoor use on the patio or balcony.

Grow as a potted tree (my favorite), or planted as a bush and allow the stems to spill over.

The small ground cover varieties work well when planted in mass.

In my garden, lantana’s solved a seemingly hopeless problem spot – the space between a sidewalk and foundation, facing south.

The location stays not only hot but often dry. After planting the young plants and taking a few weeks to become established, they now thrive in this difficult situation.

NOTE: In some areas of the country you’ll find Lantana listed as an invasive species plant.


Overwintering Lantana Plants

After a summer of outdoor flowering, trim back the most woody stems when the pot or basket moves indoors to winter quarters, for fresh new growth.

If digging up plants, prune back roots and tops severely and pot in a moist well-drain soil or potting mix like Miracle Gro. Winter Lantana’s in a cool, sunny window, keeping soil on the dry side (but never completely dry).

Or store the pot in a cool (40 degrees) spot and keep it just barely moist. Keep the plant half-dormant and leafless, until late March or April – then start it growing again.

The all important annual pruning happens when moving plants back outdoors for the growing season.

Ruthlessly cutting back the entire top growth to six or seven inches will reward you with a brand-new, well-shaped plant for summer, with an abundance of the new wood on which the lantana produces flowers.


Lantana Varieties

Below are a few of the dozens of varieties and Lantana species available today. Most can trace their parent back to Lantana camara.

Lantana Confetti pruned into a tree via pinterest

Lantana ‘Confetti Tricolor’ – An excellent tricolor. The individual flowers in each cluster are yellow, pink, and a blending of purple. The effect is that of confetti on a green carpet.

yellow lantana flower

gold yellow lantana flower

Lantana ‘Cream Carpet’ – The masses of flowers are a heavy cream color centered yellow at the throat. The leaves are a particularly lush green and are very heavily produced.

Lantana ‘Gold Rush’ – Masses of solid gold Lantana flowers.

Lantana ‘Pink Frolic’ – Some of the flowers in the large clusters are creamy with a yellow throat, but most are two-tone pink.

Lantana ‘Spreading Sunset’ – Vividly colored yellow-and-red flowers; leaves are a very dark green.

planted landscape of yellow lantana varieties in full bloom – southern living – via Pinterest

Lantana ‘Sunburst’ – About the brightest solid yellow clusters – and large ones, too.

Family: Verbenaceae
Common Name: Weeping, Trailing Lantana



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15 Jun 2018

Learn About The History Of Pomegranates

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The history of pomegranates starts in the tree’s native range, from current-day Iran to the Himalayas in northern India. The trees were cultivated and the fruit harvested throughout the Mediterranean for centuries. It was even featured in Egyptian mythology and mentioned in the Bible and the Talmud. If you are interested in learning more about pomegranate history or pomegranate tree uses, read on.

Pomegranate History

Even if you’ve never grown a pomegranate tree, you’ve probably seen or even eaten the unusual fruit. It’s the one with the hundreds of tightly packed seeds, each surrounded by juicy pink pigments. The pomegranate tree (Punica granatum) is small, often topping out at 10 feet (3 m.). It grows many stems and is naturally dense, looking more like a shrub than a tree. However, pomegranates can be trained into trees with a single trunk.

The tree produces vibrant orange blossoms in spring and summer. These develop into fruits, filled with seeds surrounded by edible pigments and leathery white rind. Pomegranate history is long and interesting. The fruit has been cultivated for hundreds of years and carried by desert caravans for its juice. The Latin name, Punica granatum, translates to “seeded apple.”

Historians believe that the history of pomegranates and their domestication of the pomegranate began in Central Asia and Persia 4,000 years ago. Cultivation moved through India, Asia Minor and the Mediterranean coast. Spanish settlers brought pomegranates to North America in the 16th century. In modern times, pomegranates are cultivated throughout India and the drier areas of Asia, Malaya, the East Indies and tropical Africa. The biggest commercial orchards can be found in Egypt, China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, India, Burma and Saudi Arabia.

Pomegranate Tree Uses

The most important pomegranate tree uses involve fruit production. Many enjoy taking clusters of juice sacs from the rind and eating them. In countries like Iran, the juice is more popular than the fruit. Pomegranate juice is a popular beverage. It is widely used for grenadine in mixed drinks.

In the American South, gardeners make pomegranate jelly from the juice. In Saudi Arabia, the juice sacs are frozen for future use. In Asia, it is sometimes made into a thick syrup for use as a sauce. It is also often converted into wine. Pomegranate uses also include the making of spices. In northern India, wild fruits are used to make the spice called “anardana.” They dry the juice sacs in the sun to make the spice.

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09 Jun 2018

Adding Personality, or Starpower, to the Garden with Hollywood Hibiscus

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Hibiscus is a star in the garden. These flowers are showy, bright and lend a tropical flair to any patio, flower bed or indoor space. These are warm weather, tropical climate plants, but anyone can enjoy them indoors. Check out the Hollywood Hibiscus Collection to find your favorite varieties and to figure out which one best suits your personality.

 

Hollywood Hibiscus Collection

This special collection of hibiscus plants has been developed to provide an abundance of buds and blooms. They have also been grown for attractive overall plant shape and growth habit and disease resistance. The creators of this collection also focused on producing the most stunning and colorful flowers so that home gardeners and container growers get the best flowers with the least required maintenance.

The collection includes a number of varieties of hibiscus in a range of pretty colors. ‘Leading Lady’ is a bright yellow flower with a white center, while ‘Chatty Cathy’ is the same shade of yellow but with a bright pink center.

Jolly Polly’ is a solid pink flower and ‘Runway Beauty’ is a lovely shade of pink that fades to white at the edges. For something more unusual, try the rich orange of ‘Party Crasher’ or the orange and magenta of ‘Starlette.’

 

Take the Hollywood Hibiscus Quiz

If you check out the gallery of Hollywood Hibiscus flowers and find it impossible to choose, why not pick more than one. Adding a variety of colors to a container or bed just makes it even more stunning. The best way to find your true star of the garden is to take the Hollywood Hibiscus quiz.

This fun quiz will use your personality traits and preferences to determine which beautiful variety will speak to you the most. Find the plant that best matches your free spirt, your shy side, or your enthusiasm for life. There’s a flower, or more than one, for everyone.

 

How to Care for Your Hibiscus Plants

Once you have selected one, or two, or more hibiscus plants for your garden, it’s important to understand how to care for these tropical super stars. Hibiscus plants need warmth and are only hardy outdoors through zone 9. If you live in a colder climate, put your plants in containers and bring them indoors for the winter months.

Hibiscus needs at least six hours of direct sunlight per day, so be sure you have a good spot for it. These plants will grow four to five feet (1.2 to 1.5 m.) in height and need a few feet of space between them if planted outdoors.

Make sure the soil drains well and water regularly during the growing season. During the colder months, only water when the soil dries out. Use a slow-release fertilizer early each spring to encourage growth and blooms.

Growing hibiscus in the garden or in containers is rewarding and will provide you with months of cheerful, bright flowers. To find the best hibiscus variety for you, and the most carefully developed and healthy plants, Hollywood Hibiscus is definitely the place to go.

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03 Jun 2018

How To Plant, Grow And Care For The Canna Lilies

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The canna lily plant is a flamboyant summer flowering plant with a bold look. The plant grows from thick, fleshy bulbs. Canna is a genus in the banana family called Cannaceae.

These beautiful garden plants are low maintenance, easy to grow herbaceous perennials.

Canna flowers during summer time in various vibrant flowers in color of red, yellow or orange. They go in and out of gardening style.

Cannas are native to North and South America, ranging from Argentina to South Carolina and parts of the Caribbean islands. However, they grow in most parts of USA.

Canna flaccida – A small yellow flowered wild canna species native to South Carolina and Florida. It was a principal parent of today’s modern Cannas, through hybridizers can see little resemblance now.

Apart from being ornamental plants in the garden, but they have “other” uses as well. Canna lily seeds are hard and sturdy, brown/ black, when dry and pea-sized. The hard bullet-like seeds of Canna indica earned it the name “Indian Shot.”

Tip: When growing from seed, soak Canna seed in warm water, or notched with a file, to speed up germination.

The Canna Indica is used as a source of food as the bulbs or rhizomes contain starch, called achira. In Vietnam they use the starch to make high quality “cellophane” noodles. In Thailand the canna lily is a traditional gift on Father’s Day.


The Canna Plant

Introduced to Europe in the early 1500’s, canna species became popular tropical plants in the mid to late 1800’s.

Canna bulbs are perennial in nature. Individual stems have a thick rootstock or central stock which has on an average 10-12 leaves spirally growing around it. The plant leaf is generally emerald green but hybrids of dark bronze and maroon foliage colors, along with striping exist.

In the south, cannas are plant-em and forget-em. In cooler regions, they are grown as annuals. These plants can take plenty of heat and thrive in full sun. They require little care and continue to color your garden for years.


How To Grow The Canna Lily Flower

Location – when you plant canna lily bulbs, find a location with a well-drained soil and gets plenty of sun. Soggy soil is not generally favorable for these plants.

If the soil does not drain after 5-6 hours, choose another site, or layer a compost in the soil with improve draining properties.

Lighting – For greatest number of blooms and dark green bright leaves, plant them in a location where they get lots of sun.

Spacing – There are tall and dwarf canna varieties. When planting canna lily bulbs, plant taller varieties 2 feet apart. Plant dwarf varieties 1 foot apart and 4 inches deep in the soil for enough space to grow. Sow the rhizomes with their eyes, or growing points facing up.

Post planting – water plants well and enjoy heat for getting a good start. Roots sprout after a few weeks. If the temperatures are cooler in your area, they will take longer.

Water – When you water canna lily, the soil should remain damp but does not become soggy.

Pruning – In general, cannas do not require pruning. However, if you want to keep things clean, prune away.

Containers and Pots – When growing plants in pots or containers, fill them with a high quality well-drained soil. Any container or potting method works fine if drain holes are present.

Planting is just the same as discussed for open air planting. Container plants may need to be water twice per day during hot summers. Don’t allow plants to become root bound.

Tip: Grow Canna rhizomes planted in the spring after the weather warms. They are especially useful when planted one clump to an 18-inch redwood tub.

Container Gardens – Canna can be mixed with any other of plants to make a striking container garden. This works well as long as all the plants have the same temperature and water requirements.

The video below uses Canna Tropicanna canna lily to make an attractive container garden.

Easy Tips for Growing Plants in Containers

Canna Lily Facts… Did You Know?

  • Some countries use the canna rhizome as a rich edible starch
  • The foliage and stems are used as cattle fodder
  • Young canna shoots are be used in salads or eaten as a vegetable. The inner core is mildly sweet and crispy
  • The seeds are sometimes ground up to make tortillas
  • The seeds are used as beads in jewelry and rattles
  • The seeds have been used to make a purple dye
  • Canna indica small, black, hard seeds sink in water, and used as bullets, earning the common name ‘Indian shot’
  • Canna plants have been used to make light brown paper
  • In remote parts of India, cannas are fermented to make alcohol
  • In Vietnam, they use the starch to make high quality “cellophane” noodles
  • In Thailand, the canna lily is a traditional gift on Father’s Day


How To Care For Canna Lilies

Canna Lily Care – Canna’s require minimum care and are quite easy to maintain for years.

Canna lily plants like moisture. Water them well but make sure to plant the roots in a well-drained soil. Soggy soil can rot roots quickly. Apply mulch to retain moisture in dry areas.

The are heavy feeding and love compost and organic material like manure. Slow-release fertilizer with high phosphate contents on a monthly basis to help keep continuous bloom. A liquid fertilizer during summer also works for keeping plants healthy.

Deadheading the plants not necessary for continuous blooming. However, pruning keeps things tidy in the garden which helps with overall garden pest control.

Dig rhizomes in Zone 7b and north cold climates during the fall. Storing canna lily bulbs and rhizomes should be a part of fall care.

Only remove leaves once they turn yellow.

Plants rest in fall and winter and get ready for the spring season.

Canna Pest and Diseases

Japanese beetles and caterpillars will feed on the foliage. Read our article on controlling caterpillars for details on dealing with them.

Bacterial infections start early when leaves are rolled up. This can lead to infected foliage and flowers rot.

To avoid bacterial infections, select healthy plants spray dormant rhizomes with a Streptomycin solution.

In mild winter areas, plants can be left outside with a shelter. However, it is better to apply mulch for no losses in winter.

Store cannas from year to year after the last frost… they are prolific enough to have lots to give away.

Over at A Way To Garden (awaytogarden.com), Margaret Roach has put together a nice slideshow and info on getting those cannas ready to fill the landscape. Check out the slideshow via A Way to Garden

For severe winter conditions, simply move specimens to a warmer environment. Remove the extra foliage, stems, make the soil dry and remove surplus soil and store the plants in a frost free place.

The plants can be planted in a warmer condition and watered as required. This is called winterization and is the best winter care for canna lilies.

In winter, do not keep plants dry or saturated with water. Both conditions cause them to wither in autumn. Just enough water, fertilizer, sunlight are best to keep plants healthy.


Growing Dwarf Cannas A Personal Journey

Below Betty Brinhart shares her personal experience growing dwarf canna rhizomes in a Popular Gardening Magazine article back in 1961.

The hybrids – they’ve improved, but you’ll find some nice little growing tips from a time when people took special care of there gardens. This was long before cable, iPads, and the internet! Enjoy

Years ago, many houses were large with spacious lawns. Tall cannas were a popular item and widely used in garden landscaping. As houses and lawns diminished in size, giant canna plants, with their large foliage and massive flower clusters, gradually disappeared from the scene.

Hybridizers have brought cannas back to our gardens by developing smaller, dwarf cannas that fit into the landscape of the modern home.

New canna flower colors are brighter and more beautiful than those of the old taller varieties. And there are many pastel tints that blend well with any background. The dark green or bronze foliage, with each plant producing several unbranched, stately stalks shooting up from a single rootstock.

These lovely new dwarf hybrids grow from 2 1/2 to 3 feet tall. Compact in size they freely produce large, gladiolus-like florets on medium-sized spikes.

Uses For Dwarf Cannas

Plant several red canna lily beside a white garden gate to add a splash of color all summer.

On either side of the borders, plant them to frame the plantings as well as within the borders themselves, to provide accents.

Plant a few along a white garden fence as a background for low-growing annuals such as petunias, and set others out in front of evergreen plantings to add color.

I’ve also seen four cannas of the same cultivars planted in the center of a circular bed, surrounded with low-growing annuals of a lighter shade. This combination creates a striking effect on a smooth, velvety green lawn.

The popularity of dwarf cannas, fuels the development of new and interesting varieties.

Most find all of the dwarf cannas easy to grow. If you have a greenhouse or a large sunny window, buy divisions around the first of March and start them in 4 to 6-inch fiber pots for early bloom. Fill each pot two-thirds full of sandy soil. Lay the division down flat with the eyes pointing upward, then cover it with 1 inch of soil. Keep the soil moderately moist at all times.

Fill each pot two-thirds full of sandy soil. Lay the bulbs down flat with the eyes pointing upward, then cover it with 1 inch of soil. Keep the soil moderately moist at all times.

If you prefer, or if space is limited, plant all of your divisions in one large flat, placing 3 inches of sandy soil below them, and 1 inch above. Make certain the divisions do not touch, or rot may set in.

Cannas are tropical and subtropical plants and must have a constant warmth to produce growth. Keep temperatures around 70° night and day until sprouts develop.

When the sprouts are 3 inches high, transplant the plants into a larger container or into a sheltered coldframe outdoors until all danger of frost is past. If you want to increase your supply of plants take up the divisions and cut each into as many sections as there are shoots. Leave as much of the fleshy division with each shoot as possible and take care not to harm the small roots already formed.

Replant divisions individually into fiber pots, and placed on a sunny window sill until all danger of frost passes. Or transplant into a coldframe until outdoor planting time. If you do not want to divide the plants, leave them in the flat in a south window until they can be moved outdoors.

Leave as much of the fleshy division with each shoot as possible and take care not to harm the small roots already formed.

Starting canna early indoors does provide an advantage, but is not required. Plant unsprouted divisions in their permanent location outdoors as soon as the weather warms up. These will bloom by midsummer or earlier, depending upon variety.

Preparing Outdoor Beds

Prepare the outdoor beds well in advance of planting time. This allows the organic matter, lime, or commercial fertilizers time to broke down from the soil bacteria, and converted into food for the plants.

Since dwarf cannas are heavy feeders with massive root systems, deep cultivation and plenty of organic matter are the secrets of success. Spade beds to a depth of 18 inches, then turn in a reasonable amount of aged cow manure, peatmoss, compost, or leafmold, depending upon the needs of our soil. Rake the beds smooth and water them down well to settle the soil for planting.

If you do not have any organic matter on hand, you can use dehydrated cow manure with a 5-10-10 commercial fertilizer. Use this mixture only in the holes where the divisions, or plants, are placed.

After all plants sprout, top-dress the entire bed with this same mixture to help produce robust plants with plenty of bloom.

If you have established shoots growing in the house or in the cold-frame, harden them off by gradually placing them in the open by day and bringing them in again on cool nights.

A Canna Lily Grower Tip

In most areas, the first week in June is a good time for transplanting canna shoots into their permanent locations.

Place two handfuls of fertilizer in each hole and mix it well with the soil. If using fiber pots, place pot and all into the hole. When transplanting the divisions from the coldframe, take a ball of earth with each one and water well after planting.

Set unsprouted divisions 2 inches deep, 12 to 24 inches apart, depending upon the effect you wish to achieve.

Cannas are fast growers and need a great deal of water. Dry soil will retard growth, and deform the flower spikes. Water well at least twice a week during hot, dry weather. To help conserve moisture and to keep the soil in good tilth, mulch cannas with at least 6 inches of green grass clippings after the shoots have reached a foot in height.

To help conserve moisture and to keep the soil in good tilth, mulch cannas with at least 6 inches of green grass clippings after the shoots have reached a foot in height.

During the last week in July, just as the plants are setting their buds, mix up a liquid plant fertilizer made by stirring one-half cup of dehydrated cow manure into a gallon of warm water, using a quart per plant. If you prefer, you can give another top-dressing with a 5-10-10 commercial fertilizer instead of the liquid fertilizer. When using a dry fertilizer, water it in immediately with a fine hose spray.

Watch out for Japanese beetles bothering your cannas. Pick them off by hand. If any other insects should infest your plants, use an insecticide according to manufacturer’s directions. It is important to spray regularly as recommended until they all disappear.

Another pest to watch out for is the canna leaf roller. The first measure to control the larvae that feeds inside the rolled leaves is to consider Bacillus thuringiensis. Learn more about BT here and more about the canna leaf roller here.

When frost finally blackens the canna foliage, cut off the stalks, take up the rootstocks and, after drying them off, store in a dry, cool place until spring.


Canna Questions and Answers:

How Long Does A Canna Root Have To Rest?

Question: How long does a canna root have to rest? I would like to start them in pots in the house before setting them out later.

Answer: Start canna roots in March indoors and by May 1 you will have nice heavy plants ready to set outdoors. There is no advantage in starting cantles earlier than the middle of March for the plants would become too. large to handle in pots.

To start the new plants, cut each eye from the clumps. Each fat tip, a couple of inches long, will soon root and produce a new plant.

Cannas Have Lovely Foliage But Few Flowers

Question: I have some very old canna bulbs. Why do my cannas have lovely foliage but only is spike of a flower? Kansas

Answer: Old fashioned cannas were grown chiefly for their foliage. The newer hybrids are noted for their gorgeous flowers. It would be well to discard the cannas you are growing and buy some new hybrids in colors of your choice. No amount of pampering will make old strains of cannas bloom like the new hybrids.

Can You Start Cannas Indoors?

Question: Is it necessary to start cannas indoors?

Answer: If your growing season is short and cannas bloom just before killing frosts when planted directly outdoors, it is advisable to start the tubers in March in flats or large pots in a warm cellar or attic.


The Boldness of Cannas In The Landscape

Where a bit of striking color is desirable, cannas are the answer. Their foliage and blossoms are spectacularly bright. The thick leaves, which may be dark green or bronze, give a tropical feeling. Flowers are large and showy, most often in vibrant yellow and scarlet colors bring a boldness to the landscape and that never goes out of style.

The canna lily plant is a low maintenance, easy to grow, flamboyant summer flowering herbaceous perennial plant for long-lasting garden color. [LEARN MORE]



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