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26 Aug 2018

Top 5 Annuals For Shade


Perennials make up the bulk of many home gardens, and for good reason. Costs are lower when plants come back year after year, and many perennials are native and attract local wildlife. On the other hand, it’s hard to beat the spectacular show you get from lining walkways and surrounding beds or filling pots with vibrant annuals. If you have a yard with shade, but you long for the showy annuals that thrive in sun, here are 5 shade-tolerant annuals that will do the trick:

1. Fuchsia. This shade-loving flower is hard to beat for showiness, even when compared to annuals that thrive in full sun. With a nice, cool, and partially shady area of the garden, the fuchsia plant will give you gorgeous, two-toned pink flowers throughout the summer.

2. Browallia. Also sometimes referred to as silver bells, this is a less common shady annual, but it is well worth seeking out for your less sunny garden spots. They produce silvery-white to light blue flowers on stems about 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm.) tall. Browallia plants take well to pots and hanging baskets.

3. Tuberous begonia. The wax begonia is a very common choice for shady beds, but for something different, look for tuberous begonia at your local nursery. This is actually a bulb, but it can be grown as an annual. It produces rose-like flowers in rich shades of orange, red, and yellow.

4. Wishbone flower. Like browallia, this is a less common shade annual, but it produces stunning flowers, so if you can find it, you won’t regret buying it. The flowers may be white, blue, yellow, pink, purple, or two-toned with an unusual tubular shape. The stamens in wishbone flowers are fused and look like a wishbone, hence the name.

5. Coleus. Coleus is an annual is prized for its foliage rather than its flowers. It thrives in the shade and is available in a range of cultivars that provide varied textures, patterns and colors. The big leaves may be green and purple striped, deep red, or lime green, among other options. The flowers are small and insignificant, so trim them off to keep focus on the leaves.



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20 Aug 2018

Care, Propagation, Pest and Disease


The world of the peperomia plant comes in many varieties. Some you’ll find down at the local garden center in the houseplant section.

Others are strictly for hobby collectors.

Peperomias have long been favorite indoor houseplants due to their adaptability to the atmosphere of the house as well as their attractive foliage and compact growth habit.

Peperomia: South American Pepper Family Relative

Peperomia a perennial related to pepper plants, comes from a large South American family (about 1,000 species in the genus, a few from Africa). In fact, the name alone means “the plant related to the pepper.”

Their succulent, heart-shaped leaves distinguish peperomia plants them from other small potted table top houseplants.

Unique, succulent leaves both attractive and plants many find fun to collect.

Peperomia Care

Size and Growth

Generally, any of the 1,000 – relatively slow growing – peperomias along with many cultivars will only achieve an overall maximum height of 10-12 inches high.

Some varieties of Peperomia make good hanging plant specimens.

Flowering and Fragrance

The long flower spikes are covered closely with very tiny flowers have no scent.

Light and Temperature

These plants are easy to grow in the house. They like warmth, but do not need high humidity. They like bright light, but do not need direct sunlight. In fact, peperomia obtusifolia makes a good ground cover in shade.

Peperomias do not like deep shade or strong sunlight, two very big extremes. Grow them somewhere in between and you’ll be fine.

During the summer months, temperatures between 68 – 78 F. In the winter, temperatures should not go below 50 F.

Peperomia plant also known as the "Radiator Plant"

The peperomia plant was given the common name “Radiator Plant” by Bailey

Peperomia Plant Care – Watering and Feeding

Do not over-water these plants. Watering every 7 – 10 days should be enough, depending on time of year and temperature.

Peperomias resent overwatering and will rot off at the base. Personally, I like to let the soil dry completely between waterings. This will greatly help prevent root rot.

Apply a balanced liquid plant food every 3 watering during the “growing” summer months.

Soil and Transplanting

Generally, peperomias do not need repotting. In fact, they do better under potted than over potted.

However, repot when the plant becomes too large for its pot. When repotting, use a well-draining soil (50% peat moss /50% perlite).

Grooming

At any time of the year, if the plant gets scraggly or out of hand, it may require pruning.

Peperomia plant leaves, growth and foliage comes in many forms that are:

  • A single solid color
  • Shiny
  • Fleshy
  • Variegated
  • Smooth
  • Crinkled
  • Small pale green
  • Reddish foliage and stems
  • Oblong
  • Round
  • Corrugated
  • Trailing
  • Erect

peperomia-potted-05312016

Propagating Peperomia

Peperomia propagation is as easy as taking a few tip, leaf or stem cuttings. Using a very light rooting media and dipping the ends in a rooting powder, tips and leaves root quickly.

Learning to root peperomia cuttings will help keep plants in shape. They can, become straggly and “wild” over time.

root system of peperomia

A healthy peperomia root system

Soil For Rooting

Soil plays an important role in rooting peperomia. Since most peperomia plants have small root systems, making them excellent canidates for dish gardens, use a well-drained soil that gets lots of air.

A soil mix like a 50/50 mix of peatmoss & perlite, is simple and reliable for rooting and growing peperomias.

Leaf Cuttings

Most peperomias will propagate from leaf cuttings like African violets. The best time for propagation is spring, but rooting can also be done in fall.

  • Cut off leaf along with a little stem
  • Stick several leaf cuttings in one pot
  • Press or tamp soil down around cuttings after watering
  • Cover pot with a plastic bag or “soda bottle” – put several holes in bag or soda bottle
  • Leave pot in normal room temperature
  • Remove plastic bag or soda bottle regularly for fresh air and prevent rotting
  • New plants will start growing from leaf base
  • When plants are rooted well and big enough they can be repotted into individual pots

Tip Cuttings

Peperomia Pest & Problems

Peperomias belong to a unique group of plants which have few pests or diseases attacking them. They greatest enemy is probably neglect.

However, peperomias do have a few maladies.

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Fading Dull Leaves – When a peperomia plant has dull looking leaves, it is usually caused from light which is too strong.

Remedy – Move the plant to more shade.

Discolored Leaves and Flowers – This condition usually happens from over watering.

Remedy – Allow the soil to dry out and avoid getting water on the leaves which can sometimes cause them to rot.

Peperomia Questions & Answers

Leaves Of Large Peperomia Dropping Off?

Question: Can you tell me why the leaves of my large peperomia are dropping off? I have had it a number of years and would hate to lose it. Darcy Lincoln, Nebraska

Answer: Darcy, your plant may be taking a natural rest and signals its need by dropping the older leaves. If this is the case, do not water so often and withhold all fertilizer until new growth is obvious.

HOWEVER… If it has not been repotted in fresh soil in a long time, this may be the time to repot.

Be certain that the base of the plant has not rotted.

If this happens, the ends of the stems where they join the base of the plant turn to watery, tan colored mush.

Peperomias sometimes rot in this manner when overwatered, especially in soil that does not drain readily.

Your plant was originally potted in spongy, loose soil. However, over time the soil breaks down into smaller particles and compacts reducing its ability to properly drain.

If you diagnose the trouble as rot, spread a newspaper out on your kitchen table, tap the plant and soil out of the pot.

Shake the soil away and wash roots clean so you can determine what portion of the plant has rotted and what part is still healthy.

Using a sharp knife, salvage the parts of the plant that have not yet rotted.

Peperomias form many rosettes of leaves as they mature. To root one of these, remove the lower leaves and dust the cut portions with a rooting hormone like this (such as Rootone if you have it), and insert in moist, fresh soil.

Placed back in a sunny window, the cutting should root quickly and form a handsome new plant within a few months.

Peperomia Caperata – Mouse Tails

peperomia-550

Peperomia Caperata (emerald ripple), who flower axils resemble ‘mouse tails” (as do all peperomia plants) stand above the leaves are one of the most popular peperomia varieties.

Its origin – the Brazilian rainforest. Grown as a small houseplant, no more than about 8 inches tall, the plant is characterized by its dark green wrinkled leaves no “real” stalks.

The tiny (seen through a magnifying glass) yellow-white flowers emerge on the “mouse tails” standing above the crinkled, corrugated foliage.

Another popular variety is the watermelon peperomia – Peperomia argyreia.

This is a list of some available peperomias sometimes called the “baby rubber plant”. There are some beauties of stiff, upright habit. These are the dangling and spreading varieties, with a wide variety of foliage design.

Peperomia clusiifolia ‘Ginny’ – Know as ‘Rainbow’ or ‘Tricolor’ large medium green leaves, creamy white edges with rosy-pink blushes.

Peperomia clusiifolia 'Ginny' or Rainbow

Peperomia cubensis (rotundifolia, ‘Yerba Linda’) – Branching, red-tinged stems with pointed-oval, gray-green leaves divided by precise indented veins. The variegated form is dashingly splashed with creamy white.

Peperomia fosteri – Deep, dull-green pointed leaves with lighter veins; branches low and spreading.

Peperomia glabella – Glossy gray-green leaves tapering to a point, on lax, thin stems. The variegated version sports a white border.

Peperomia obtusifolia – pepper face – Popular florist, green leaf, dish-garden plant with thick, cupped leaves carrying an almost rubber plant like appearance. This plant evidently sports freely, because variegated, miniature, variegated miniature, albino, white-edged, and ‘Gold Tip’ varieties are available.

Peperomia polybotrya – coin leaf peperomia – large green heart-shaped glossy leaves, and very easy to care for. Keep away from cold, allow the soil to dry between watering. The green glossy leaves are sometimes circular on young plants. Grow outdoors in USDA hardiness zone 10.

the coin peperomia - Peperomia polybotrya 'Jayde'

Peperomia polybotrya ‘Jayde’ known as the coin peperomia – Image By Mokkie CC BY-SA 3.0, from Wikimedia Commons

Peperomia prostrata – Tiniest trailer or creeper with threadlike stems stringing together perfect little blue button leaves, etched with a pattern of silver. This one may be reluctant to move about, takes a while to adjust to any new quarters.

Peperomia quadrangularis – Low creeper with dull bronze-green leaves indented with yellowish veins.

Peperomia scandens – Sturdy trailer with glossy green, heart-shaped leaves.

Peperomia trinervis – Creeper or trailer with small pointed leaves marked deeply with parallel veins.

Peperomia ‘Ginny’

peperomia-ginny

Peperomia ‘Ginny’ also known as ‘Tricolor’ or ‘Rainbow,’ is a popular peperomia houseplant and a very tender perennial. It has a thick stem and leaves with green, cream & red color. ‘Ginny’ also has a slender spikes of tiny white flowers that occurs throughout the year on mature plants.

As with most Peperomias, ‘Ginny’, generally, is easy to grow and can add color to your garden. It is best in containers because of its large leaves and upright growth habit. Peperomia ‘Ginny’ can also be used as a groundcover with its ability to tolerate heat or shade.





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14 Aug 2018

Q&A with Kevin Vaughn, Author of “Sempervivum”


Kevin Vaughn has been breeding and growing Sempervivum since he was nine years old. From his hybridizing work, he has introduced about 80 cultivars to the market, including the award winning “Lipstick” and “Jungle Shadows.” These early experiments in plant hybridizing led to a PhD in botany and a career with the USDA. Since moving to Oregon in 2010, he has organized a yearly “Hybridizers Clinic” and produces from 4-6,000 new seedlings each year from his breeding efforts.  In his latest book “Sempervivum: A Gardener’s Perspective of the Not-So-Humble Hens-and-Chicks“, Vaughn covers their history, taxonomy, culture, propagation, hybridizing, and much more.  Read on to learn more and enter below to win one of two copies from Schiffer Publishing!


1. I have always had a penchant for “hens and chicks” but never knew them by their generic name “sempervivum” nor did I know just how diverse sempervivum was. How many cultivars and colors of sempervivum are there? How many of those cultivars are easily obtainable in the United States?

There are about 7,000 cultivars available worldwide. What is offered from nurseries in the US vary by year but there are probably ~1000 cultivars that are offered for sale in any one year. Colors range from yellow, top orange, red, purple and near black along with greens and silvers.

2. What are some of the best reasons for growing sempervivum and how does your book help us to successfully grow it? Are all cultivars of sempervivum easy to grow and propagate?

Sempervivum are VERY easy plants to grow. Almost any of these can be grown easily even on a balcony or patio provided there is good light. They are NOT house plants, however. A few cultivars are more difficult to grow but most are very easy plants once a few simple rules are followed.

3. Why are sempervivum magical to you? What are some of your favorite cultivars?

Symmetry of the rosettes has always appealed to me but for me the most fun aspect is being able to create new varieties. I have created ~80 varieties on the market and won international prizes when I was in my 20’s.

4. I have seen sempervivum being grown in some unusual places, such as shoes or boots for example. What is one of the most unusual places you have seen it grown?

Because Sempervivum require little soil they can be grown in all kinds of containers. The most beautiful were the huge living sculptures that Winnie Crane constructed out of huge pieces of driftwood, with Sempervivum being grown in the cavities.

5. Tell us some surprising or fascinating facts about sempervivum.

In Europe they are planted as charms against lightning. Emperor Charlemagne even ordered all of his subjects to do this! Because they contain a lot of water, there was probably some protection from fires on the thatched roofs.

Win one of two copies of Sempervivum!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight on Sunday, August 19th, 2018 (be sure to provide a valid e-mail address) in answer to the following question:

  Why is appealing to you about sempervivum?

Be sure to include a valid e-mail address. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualified entrants, and notified via e-mail. (See rules for more information.)

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08 Aug 2018

9 Common Poisonous Plants You May Grow


Poisonous plants – can you tell me which ones are?” That is a question I get all the time. Very often the email is asking for a list of poisonous plants for cats.

Most of the time our focus is on plants to provide color where it looks best – indoors or in the landscape. When we buy, plant or grow a plant we seldom think of the plant being some type of possible health hazard – beauty, color, form, function are what our focus is on.

I remember as a kid always being told never to eat the “rosary pea or castor bean plant – they are poisonous and can kill you”!
As adventurous as I was, the “peas and beans” were never tested.

The unfortunate side is that many plants you find in the garden and indoors may be poisonous – not the whole plant but parts of it in certain stages. Poisonous can be considered from fatal (death) to vomiting or mild upset stomach. Pets, children and even adults can all be at risk. Read on to learn more about these poisonous plants you grow.

9 Common Poisonous Plants

Here are 9 plants (there are many more) you are probably familiar with and carry some sort of “poison” label.

Now please do not assume that because these toxic plants are listed, doesn’t mean you should not grow them – just be aware. Let’s be realistic – there are many poisonous items in our home we use everyday… bleach maybe?

  • Hyacinth, Narcissus, Daffodil – The flowers and bulbs are the toxic part and have been know to cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, which can be fatal.
  • Rosary Pea, Castor Bean – The seeds of rosary pea and castor bean or castor oil plants are what to watch out for on these plants. The results can be fatal. It’s been noted that one single Rosary Pea seed has caused death. For adults just one or two Castor Bean seeds are close to a lethal dose.
  • Autumn Crocus & Star of Bethlehem – Again the bulbs are considered the toxic part which can cause nervous excitement and vomiting when ingested.
  • Iris – Underground stems considered highly toxic, severe upset digestive system but not usually that serious.
  • Oleander – The branches and leaves of this poisonous herb are extremely toxic. Has death, severe upset digestive system and affects the heart.
  • Wisteria – The toxic part is the seeds and pods. Many children have experienced the “poison” with a mild to severe upset digestive system.
  • Lantana Plant – Toxic, the green berries. Found growing “wild” in the southern United States, as a landscape ground cover or potted plant. The results can be fatal, affecting kidneys, lungs, nervous system and heart.
  • Jack-in-the-Pulpit – All parts of the plant but especially roots are toxic. Very much like the “Dumb Cane Plant” (Dieffenbachia) which causes burning and irritation of the mouth and tongue from the small calcium oxalate needle-like crystals contained in the plant.
  • Poison Oak – The acorns and foliage are known to be toxic especially when eaten. The symptoms slowly appear over days or weeks and can gradually affect the kidneys. However, it takes a large quantity amount for poisoning.

Also remember that some people may have reactions to plants and others will not. Plus humans are different than cats and dogs. Animals have their own tolerance for and to plants.

Always treat unknown plants with respect, and make sure you teach your children to treat unknown plants the same.

What plants do you grow that are poisonous?

Image: LittleDebbie11
Source: AgriLife Extension





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02 Aug 2018

Accentuating Garden Views with Bay and Bow Windows


You spend hours in your garden, making it look beautiful. And that’s half the fun, but the rest of it is sitting back and enjoying the results of your labors. For those times when you have to be inside, wouldn’t it be nice to have a better view of your beds and landscaping? With carefully selected bay or bow windows, you can create the perfect indoor retreat with great garden views. Milgard is a great place to start in your search.

 

New Windows, Better Views

Replacing old windows is often a smart move, both because it makes living in your house nicer and because it enhances the value. Old windows can have a number of issues: not well insulated, too difficult to open, won’t stay open, or they just aren’t big enough and don’t let in a lot of light.

A new set of windows can give you better natural light while also providing a better view of your yard and garden. You don’t have to replace all the windows in your home to get the benefits. Choose the best couple of spots where you’ll benefit from additional light and that will give you a pleasant panorama of the garden, like a breakfast nook or sitting room where you spend a lot of time.

 

Optimal Viewing with Bay Windows and Bow Windows

A bay window is a great option for your garden-perfect spot. Not only do these windows provide a sweeping look out at the yard, they also provide a seating area. Bay windows are large and usually have open panes, including one large central pane for unobstructed views. The bench area can be used for seating, storage, or just for displaying nice pillows, flowers, or potted plants.

Bay windows are great for a lot of homes, but often only the two side windows can open. With a bow window, you get four large panes with the potential to open all of them and get more air circulation, as well as the fragrance from the plants in your beds and on flowering trees.

Just like a bay window, this style can come with a bench area for seating, display, or storage and offers the chance to open up the view from any room into the garden. Alternatively, a bow window can be taller, going nearly all the way to the floor, with no bench seating and even more garden viewing.

In addition to giving you a lovely vista of your garden space, bow windows and bay windows have the effect of opening up the space in any room. They make a room seem bigger, lighter, and more open. They also add architectural interest, both inside and on the exterior wall.

When you put a bay or bow window into your favorite room, you will enjoy the view so much you may even find yourself planning next season’s garden around maximizing it. Check out the many options for durable, energy efficient, beautiful windows at Milgard.



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