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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).


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


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 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’ 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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27 Jul 2018

How To Make A Beautiful Backyard Pond From An Old Tractor Tire!

Many a homeowner would love to step out into their backyard to enjoy a pond, with the relaxing aura it can provide.

The steps of adding a backyard pond often times seem too difficult for homeowners. However, that’s not the case.  An old tractor tire comes in handy when creating this garden decoration and water feature.

In this particular case the tire functions as the “frame” for the pond liner to create a beautiful pond. It takes some work but well worth it.

The first step starts by finding a tire for your pond. The one pictured makes a nice size pond about 5-6 feet across.


Cutting the top or sidewall out of the tire using a reciprocating saw or something similar makes short order of this task. Below you can see the sidewall removed and the tire inside washed and cleaned out.


Roll the tire and place it in the location of your new pond. Outline the the area with a hose or spray paint. Move the tire out of the way and its time to start digging.


Everything dug out and ready to drop in the tire!


Tire in place, plastic “liner” installed and filled with water. From the picture this “liner” appears to look like black plastic film. Look for a pond liner material which can handle the exposure to the sun and able to withstand potential holes.


Soil filled back in on the sides as pond begins to take shape.


Two level waterfall installed, flat stones placed around edge of pond and solar lights added.


Backyard pond finished!


Below is a short video of the process titled: Redneck Fish Pond

Here’s another tractor tire pond via


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21 Jul 2018

History Of Yarrow – Learn About Yarrow Uses Throughout History

Every year, prior to the onset of summer, I review our first aid kit with a checklist in hand to make sure it is well-stocked. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen – check. Antibiotic ointment – check. Adhesive bandages – check. Sterile gauze pads – check. Yarrow – check. Wait. Yarrow? Did she just say yarrow? Why, yes! I did.

Common yarrow, a member of the Asteraceae (Daisy) family, is rated for USDA plant hardiness zones 3-9 and features rounded clusters of white or pinkish flat-topped flowers. Each dainty flower in the cluster is 3-5 mm. in diameter. The leaves of this perennial are described as finely dissected and are 1-6 inches (2.5 to 15 cm.) long and up to an inch wide. A single yarrow plant can grow up to 36 inches (91 cm.) high.

While yarrow today is regarded more as an ornamental or maybe even an insect-repelling plant, it is, indeed, a first aid plant and has been for centuries. The history of yarrow reveals that this plant possesses medicinal properties as a hemostatic (blood coagulation), analgesic (pain reliever) and antiseptic. Read on to learn more about common yarrow uses.

Yarrow Plant History

Greek Trojan War hero, Achilles, may be best known for his weakness (his heels), when really, he should be most renowned for his use of yarrow, which he applied topically to his troops’ wounds during the siege of Troy. Achilles medicinal knowledge of yarrow actually came from his mentor, the mythological centaur Chiron. Achilles does get a nod to his role in yarrow’s history via the plant’s botanical name (Achillea millefolium or Achilles’ Thousand-Leaved plant). And, due to the application of yarrow on the battlefields, it was commonly referred to as Herba Militaris (the military herb) in classical times. While Achilles has been credited largely for yarrow’s discovery and use, some evidence suggests that its use pre-dated Achilles and was possibly a part of Neanderthal culture.

Most sources support the belief that the early colonists introduced yarrow into North America while others ascribe to the notion that it is a plant native to Native America, given how the plant’s use was so deeply embedded in native American culture. The Native Americans embraced the medicinal properties of yarrow and used it to remedy a large number of external and internal ailments including wounds, burns, toothaches, arthritis, digestion and sore throats, just to name a few yarrow uses.

Given its reputation as an effective blood coagulant and astringent, you would be surprised to know that yarrow can actually elicit a nosebleed if a fresh leaf is inserted in the nostril and twisted. Who would deliberately cause a nosebleed, you ask? Well, the young and lovelorn, for one. In the book A Modern Herbal, authored by Briton Mrs. M. Grieve in 1931, girls were taught (or misled…ahem) that they could determine if their suitor’s love be true if their nose bled upon inserting yarrow while reciting a prepared rhyme. Nosebleeds were also induced by those who believed they cured headaches. A trade-off of one problem for another, if you will…

I’m sure that after reading about the history of yarrow, many of you are wondering how to use yarrow in a medical application. Fresh leaves can be chewed into a paste and used as a simple poultice on wounds. Leaves can also be dried and pulverized into a powder that can be used on bleeding wounds. Yarrow can also be brewed into a tea – those who suffer from menstrual discomfort, for example, may wish to try the tea. Some people even infuse yarrow into an herbal oil.

Yarrow is very easy to grow and, if this yarrow plant history is any indication, would be a valuable addition to the flora in your backyard because it is first aid within reach and in a pinch!

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15 Jul 2018

9 Natural Pest-Fighting Flowers To Plant In Your Garden –

Over time most gardeners learn which flowers to plant around the garden with the properties that invite beneficial insects or repel insects naturally.

Planting flowers for natural pest control, reduces pesticide use but also your workload.

Less pesticides equals more good bugs, to control bad bugs such as the western flower thrips (flankliniella occidentalis), aphids, tomato hornworms, flea beetles, parasitic wasps and other insect pests.

A bed of beautiful flowers is perhaps one of the simplest ways you can get to add more aesthetic value to your home.

This will remain the fact provided that the right selection of the flowers is made taking into consideration the aspects such as variety or the intended architectural beauty.

Flowers however do pose one “problem” – their beautiful scents do attract many insects and most of these tend to be pests. These bugs eat the leaves, suck them dry of nutrients, cause diseases such as powdery mildew, and bring enormous plant damage.

These bugs eat the leaves, suck them dry of nutrients, cause diseases such as powdery mildew, and bring enormous plant damage.

Applying pesticides, insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils and other chemical controls, on the other hand would be non-ecological approach as these will devalue the current trend which most homes are usually after – the “going green” living concept.

A more biological control for keeping the invading pests is by perhaps planting some natural pesticide plants and flowers. Some of these pest control flowers include:


This is perhaps one of the most preferred landscaping flowers used in many homes as well as real estate projects.



The beauty of marigold is that it is very effective in repelling invading insects and the advantage is that a home decorated with this beautiful flower will get to have its much needed aesthetic value without ever seeing any sign of an invading pest.

Other flowers are usually effective in repelling small-sized pests. Marigold is however an exception as it can repel as well as kill whiteflies and nematodes – which are among the most common invading pests.

Marigold flowers are available in different varieties which do come as either scented or unscented.

Though this flower can drive away many invading bugs, it will do little to keep away snails and getting rid of spider mites as the scent is actually appealing to these kinds of bugs.

Planting unscented marigold flowers is perhaps the only way for home owners who would like to keep off the spiders and snails.


These flowers are very appealing in that they do comprise flower heads which do exists in white, yellow or pink colors.


They do attract many butterflies and for homeowners who would want the magical colors that these insects do add in, chrysanthemums would be a wonderful option.

In fact, one of the aspects which make chrysanthemums to be highly effective pest-fighting flowers is that they contain a highly active ingredient which is to make pesticides for killing and repelling beetles.

Besides their effectiveness at repelling insects, these flowers do grow very quickly and this implies that their intended benefits can be felt within just a shirt time span.


The beautiful thing about Dahlia flowers is that they do exist in a wide variety of shapes and colors thus making them to be very popular option among flower gardeners.


The other really impressive bit about Dahlia flowers is that they do work great when it comes to repelling some of the common invading pests.

They can repel nematodes while at the same time ensuring that they get to serve their other purpose – keeping a highly beautiful and useful look in the home garden.


Homeowners in need of really large flowers will surely pick on sunflowers.

Their other benefit is that they will surely deliver the intended beauty aspect while at the same time serving their ecological function – acting as pollinator base mostly for butterflies.

In most of the times, the butterflies aren’t that many and this relatively small number will definitely help to add in some beauty to the flower garden. Sunflowers too are good at repelling pests especially aphids.




There are these pests which are highly destructive and within just a short time stint can destroy all the flowers grown in the vegetable garden – aphids, hornworms, cabbage worms, asparagus beetles and leafhoppers.

These pests do bore the essential parts of the flowers making them less attractive and to rid them, most homeowners will in most instances consider using pesticides and insecticide sprays. Petunias are however excellent at repelling these kind of pests as their juicy matter are strongly scented.

To utilize this yellow jacket repellent, simply soak cotton pads with the oil and strategically place them around the exterior of your home. Target areas where wasps like to build their nests and places where you have discovered their nests in the past. (..)


Besides being really attractive, the other upside of borage flowers is that they only attract the right kind of insects – bees which do serve the ecological function of acting as pollinators.

Borage flowers do grow very tall and do have some little scratchy hairs all over their bodies. Perhaps this is one factor which explains why these flowers are highly effective in fighting pests like cabbageworms and hornworms.

Their sprawling nature implies that they can cover the whole garden within no time thus ensuring that the invading pests are kept at a safe distance from even nearing the flower garden.


Lavender Flowers

Besides being beautiful, the other useful thing with these flowers is that will attract beautiful insects to the flower garden.

The other really good thing is that they can repel moths, whiteflies and fleas while at the same time; their rapid growth (not so invasive) does ensure that they cover the flower garden just at the right timing.

Putting flowering Lavender in the garden is a really beautiful idea in that their act of attracting pollinating insects, helps to add much to ecological sustainability. Lavender flowers also do give out some scented aroma which is very effective in driving away mosquitoes.

Owning a little vegetable garden at your home? The more you should be prepared for an even more pest invasive environment.

The reason why vegetables tend to attract many pests is that they do act as nutrients source and their presence will do little in preventing the food-hungry pests from streaming in.

You may have that little time to weed the garden but when it comes to regularly applying any required natural organic pesticides – that will of course a highly daunting task.

Vegetables attract pests like larvae, caterpillars, beetles, aphids, squash bugs and all kind of plants you can think of. These pests do pose an unsightly look to any flower garden. They invade and perhaps this is the last thing you would want for your home.

The best garden pest control in this kind of situations is by perhaps planting the above flowers and others like Nasturtiums and Four O’ Clocks (a favorite of Japanese Beetles) around your vegetable garden.  This process is called companion planting. Other natural ways for pest management include the use of neem oil and diatomaceous earth. To have more information on organic pest controls at home gardens check out the video below:

Image: source

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09 Jul 2018

Top 10 Questions About Tulips

Here at Gardening Know How we get lots of questions, and our goal is to provide answers to those inquiries to the best of our knowledge. When it comes to growing bulbs, tulips are at the top of the list. The following article includes the 10 most commonly asked questions about tulip bulbs and their care in the garden.

1. When to plant tulip bulbs?

In general, the best time to plant tulip bulbs is in the fall around the months of October to November in the Northern Hemisphere. If you live in a mild winter area, you could even wait until December. Keep in mind that those residing on the opposite side of the globe (Southern Hemisphere), like Australia, will have different planting times – such as late April to May.

2. Why are there no flowers on my bulbs, just green leaves?

There are a multitude of reasons why your tulips are not bearing flowers:

Lack of Nutrients: Tulips need phosphorus to form flower buds. Conduct a soil test to verify that your soil is phosphorus deficient. Consider fertilizing your tulip bulbs annually with a phosphorus rich fertilizer to provide a much needed boost.

Inadequate Growing Conditions: Were the tulips planted in a location that receives full sun? Is the soil well draining? Were the tulips planted at the right depth (tulips should be planted three times deeper than they are tall)?

Energy-Deprived Bulbs: Resist the urge to mow down the foliage after the tulip flowers are spent. Prematurely cutting down the foliage prevents the leaves from storing enough energy to form the flower bulb. Let the foliage die back naturally instead and snip off any spent tulip blossoms so that energy isn’t diverted to a tulip’s seed producing efforts.

Bad Bulbs: Sometimes the bulbs that we purchase are not healthy. Inspect your bulbs before buying and planting. Were the bulbs you acquired plump and firm? It is recommended when buying a load of bulbs to slice one open and take a peek to see if the flower bud in the center is brown and dried up.

3. Can you replant tulips that have already bloomed?

Assuming you are talking about replanting bulbs that have been forced indoors over the winter, yes, you can – however, you may or may not get another bloom off them because tulips don’t rebound very well after being forced. But, to give yourself the best chance for tulip reblooming success, allow the foliage to die back naturally and store the container in a cool, dry location until spring. When planting, apply some bulb boosting fertilizer to the top of the soil where you planted your bulb.

4. How to take care of potted tulips?

If growing the potted tulips for indoor enjoyment, they will need to be forced (refer to question #8 “How can I force tulip bulbs?”) in order to receive the cold dormant period they require. The care of forced tulips is easy once the foliage emerges. Simply water the tulips when the soil is dry to the touch and keep the plant out of direct light and drafts.

Tulip bulbs planted in containers that are destined for placement outdoors are planted at the same depth as their in-ground outdoor counterparts. Consider layering your bulbs, with 3-4 inches (7.6-10 cm.) of potting soil between each layer, to create visually dynamic arrangements based on tulip height and color. Those in zones 6 or below can store the pot in a cool sheltered area such as a garage or basement. Water the container about once a month and bring it back outside, with a dose of fertilizer, in early spring. Those in zones 7 on up will want to pre-chill their bulbs prior to planting.

5. When should you dig up and divide tulips?

Tulips should only be dug up and divided after their foliage has completely died back, which would make your target any time from mid-summer to mid-fall.

6. How can I store my tulip bulbs until planting?

When digging up tulip bulbs for storage, brush any excess dirt off of the bulbs. Obtain a cardboard box and newspaper. Layer the bulbs in the cardboard box with newspaper sandwiched in between each layer, taking care that the bulbs in each layer do not touch. Store the box in a cool, dry place such as a basement or garage. Inspect the bulbs periodically and toss any that become mushy.

7. How do I keep animal pests from eating my tulips?

Tulip bulbs can be ransacked from below ground by voles or above ground by squirrels, or even deer. While there are many methods proposed for combatting these pests, here are a few tips on protecting your bulbs from rodents:

  • Laying and staking down chicken wire over the planting area can be an effective deterrent for our squirrelly friends.
  • As for voles, you can try constructing and embedding a makeshift cage into the ground using mesh with half inch holes. Plant your bulbs inside these cages – the bulb’s roots will still have free reign to penetrate through the mesh.
  • You can also try lining your bulb holes with sharp textured gravel, which voles do not like burrowing through.

8. How can I force tulip bulbs?

Buy spring tulip bulbs in the fall for the express purposing of forcing. Store them 12-16 weeks in a cool dark place that is 35-45 F. (2-7 C.). After this chilling period, procure a container with good drainage. Fill it with good quality potting soil 3-4 inches (7.6-10 cm.) shy of the container’s top rim. When planting tulip bulbs in containers, the flat side of the bulb should face toward the outside of the pot with the pointy end of the bulb facing up. Bulbs should be spaced at least one inch apart. Fill the container with soil, leaving the very tip of the tulip protruding through the top of the soil. Place the pot in a cool, dark place and water lightly once a week. Once foliage emerges, place the pot in bright indirect light and you should be rewarded with blooms in 2-3 weeks. Tulips can also be forced in water.

9. Do blooming tulips need protection in winter?

Tulips and other bulbs in bloom are more sensitive to frosts and freezes than they are when their buds are in a closed state. And this is really more of a concern for periods of prolonged cold, lasting several days. However, to err on the side of caution, a bed sheet hovered over the plants, supported by stakes, is an ideal way to protect your plants.

10. How and when to fertilize tulip plants?

Fertilize tulips once a year in the fall using a slow release tulip bulb fertilizer with a nutrient ratio of 9-9-6. If you do not want to use or seek out pre-packaged fertilizer, you can concoct your own mix using equal parts blood meal, green sand and bone meal.

We all have questions now and then, whether long-time gardeners or those just starting out. So if you have a gardening question, get a gardening answer. We’re always here to help.

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03 Jul 2018

How To Grow and Care For The Passion Vine: Passiflora Plant

The passiflora known more commonly as the “passion flower vine” is one of the “new” vines introduced for spring color offerings available at garden centers.

If you’re ready to add a conversation plant or something really unique to the outside patio on a trellis, take a look at this Brazilian native.

To learn about care, varieties and catch some video, continue reading the rest of the post below…

Passiflora From Brazil

The purple passion fruit makes its home from southern Brazil through Paraguay and in parts northern Argentina. Before 1900, passion fruit was partially naturalized and flourishing in coastal areas of Australia.

Seeds of the passion fruit were brought from Australia to Hawaii and first planted in 1880. It wasn’t long, because of its fast-growing nature that the passiflora vine became popular in home gardens.

Passion vines prefer a frost-free climate. Some cultivars can take temperatures into the upper 20’s (F) without serious damage.

The “Blue Passion Vine” is pretty cold hardy and salt tolerant but the plant does not grow well in intense summer heat.

The yellow passion fruit is tropical and isn’t fond of frost. The purple and yellow forms both need protection from the wind.

They make quite a few products from the plant and fruit – Like tea.

Another interesting item about the Passiflora is that they are very popular with butterflies such as zebra longwing and gulf fritillary butterfly.

There are dozens of passion vines, both edible and non-edible. Our focus will be on the ornamental variety.

Question: Are the fruits of passion flowers edible?

Answer: Many species of passion flowers bear edible fruits. among them, Passiflora data, antioquiensis, edula, incarnate (the Maypop of southern US), laurifolia, ligularis, and maliformis.

Is The Passion Flower An Annual or Perennial?

The Passion Flower is a quick-growing perennial plant which spreads via root suckers. It is a climbing vine and can cover large areas above ground and spread far and wide below ground.

In climates that experience warm winter temperatures, it is a woody plant. In very cold temperatures, the above-ground vegetation dies off during winter and the plant is herbaceous.

Culture And Growing Passion Flower Vines

Location of Passion Fruitpassion-flower-vine-2

Care for the passion fruit vines requires full sun except during those very hot summer days, if possible provide some partial shade. The vine is a fast grower and can get out of hand, so if possible plant it next to a chain link fence or on a trellis. and

What Soil Does Passion Fruit Flower Like?

The vines grow in many soil types but make sure the plant gets excellent drainage.

A well-drained soil is still the best. Also, passion flowers grow excellently on soils with pH levels of 6.5 to 7.5.

How Often To Water The Passion Flower Plant?

If you want to keep the vines flowering almost continuously, regular water is necessary.

The vines are shallow-rooted and will benefit from a thick layer of organic mulch in the soil.

Passion Vine Pruning – Is It Needed?

Although the passionflowers don’t need pruning to encourage growth, prune the fast-growing vine to keep it in control and encourage branching.

Prune in early spring as this serves as the perfect time when new growth appears. Avoid cutting the main stems, just remove those unwanted twining stems.

Passion Flower Fertilizer

Passiflora vines are vigorous growers and require regular fertilizing. Stay away from just using a 20-20-20 liquid fertilizer.

This may promote good growth but possibly too much green and not enough flower. Use a solid fertilizer with a ratio more along the lines of a 2-1-3.

What USDA Hardiness Zone Will The Passion Flower Grow?

The Passion Flower is listed as hardy in USDA hardiness zones 5-9; however, it may actually struggle in zone 5 and may not survive very cold winters.

If you live below zone 6 you should plant Passion Flower in a sheltered area near a wall so and provide the roots with protection against the cold in the wintertime. [source]

To identify your hardiness zone, use this handy interactive USDA map

6 Things To Remember When Buying Passiflora Plants

  • Find out when your nursery receives new shipments
  • Look for clean undamaged foliage
  • Inspect the plants for good root systems
  • Don’t let them hang out the window on the ride home
  • Don’t let them sit in the car while you run into the store.
  • They must acclimate to their new environment

Video showing many varieties of Passion Vines

When Does The Passion Flower Bloom?

The Passion Flower blooms from mid-summer to early fall. It is typically in bloom from July to September. The flowers are attractive and fragrant.

They transition into edible, egg-shaped fruits called Maypops.

These fruits are fleshy and quite tasty. They are good for eating out-of-hand and for making jelly.

Fruits are called Maypop because they pop loudly when stepped on. [source]

Why Isn’t My Passion Flower Blooming?

As the Passion Flower has grown in popularity, it has found itself planted in a variety of conditions and in areas it would never naturally grow.

Even though (or perhaps because) the plant is essentially a vigorous wildflower, these unusual circumstances can interfere with its performance.

Here are four of the most common reasons Passion Flower fails to bloom.

Age of The Plant

Like many types of plants, some Passion Flowers need several years to become established and bloom. This is especially true if you grow your plant from seed.

Depending upon your climate, passion flower may grow as a woody plant or a tender perennial. Woody plants often have a “juvenile stage” which precedes maturity.

During this phase, the plant will not flower. Instead, it will produce lots of leaves and shoots.

This may go on for a couple of years, but if you will just be patient with your plant and continue to care for it, you will eventually be rewarded with flowers.

Too Much Fertilizer

Remember the passion vine flower is basically a wildflower. They do better with less care and less nutrition.

Pampering and excessive fertilizing can lead to lots of leaves and no flowers. This is especially true if you feed a high nitrogen fertilizer, which encourages vegetative growth.

Your best bet is to stop fertilizing and water your plant thoroughly to wash away as much nitrogen as possible.

Adding phosphorus (i.e. bone meal) to the soil may also help balance nitrogen levels.

Not Enough Sunlight

Like most flowering, fruiting plants, Passion Flower needs lots of sun in order to produce. Keeping the plant in the shade may result in lots of leaves and few or no flowers.

Not Enough Water

These plants are drought tolerant, but that doesn’t mean that they do their best in drought conditions.

If you want a plant with plenty of pretty flowers and fruit, you must plant it in well-draining soil and give it plenty of water.

Ample water helps deliver nourishment to the leaves and other plant structures so the plant can thrive and flowers and fruit can grow.

These four considerations usually account for lack of flowering in Passion Flowers vines and many other natives, and flowering plants.

When you keep your climate and the plant’s growth habits in mind and take care to provide the right amount of nourishment, water and light, your plant will surely produce pretty blossoms in good time. [source]

Exotic Passion Flowers Have Been Symbolized With The Crucifixion

Early missionaries devoted to botany saw in the flowers a religious symbol. The flower parts, indicated in image, suggested to them the Passion of Christ, and thus the flower was named.


These exotic passion flowers have been symbolized with the crucifixion and sometimes look like they resemble something from outer space.

  • 1 – Ten petals represent the ten apostles present at the crucifixion, Peter and Judas being absent;
  • 2 – Corona or crown represents the crown of thorns or thought to be emblematic of the halo
  • 3 – Five anthers suggestive of the five wounds or emblematic of hammers used to drive nails
  • 4 – Three stigmas representative of the three nails piercing the hands and the feet.

Not shown are the tendrils representing cords or whips and the leaves suggesting the hands of the persecutors.

The passion flower plant was one of the treasures found by the Spaniards in the new world.

Years later taxonomists classified the passion flower passiflora in a large family containing many species and a great number of hybrids.

Today, probably the best known hybrid is Passiflora alata-caerulea.

This passion flower variety has the largest and showiest flowers of them all and is a hybrid between Passiflora alata and Passiflora caerulea.

For more read Epic Gardening’s article!

Principal Passiflora Species & Hybrids

Passiflora alata, has winged stems, large fragrant flowers of crimson, purple and white, and yellow edible fruit about 5 in. long.

Passiflora ‘Alata-Caerulea’ – a hybrid between Passiflora alata and the blue passiflora caerulea, favorite with three-parted green leaves and fragrant four-inch flowers.

The petals and fringed crown combine pink, white, blue, and royal purple. Since the blooms are so large there are not as many of them.

Passiflora antioquiensis – Seeds are available for this South American species with five-inch red flowers, three-lobed leaves, edible fruit.

Passiflora bryonoldes – A vine with more slender growth. The foliage is three-to-five-lobed and more rounded than pointed.

The blue-and-white flowers with a rose-fringed crown are the same color as Passiflora edulis and each flower sets one-inch green fruit that ripens to purple-black.

The seeds are orange colored and they germinate well. The seedlings bloom the first year. It is a dainty and interesting vine to grow.

Passiflora caerulea – “Blue-crowned” passiflora with five-parted leaves and flowers in blue, rose, and pale green. The egg-shaped yellow fruit is edible. This is one of the more hardy species. Its variety, grandiflora, has larger flowers.

Passiflora cinnabarina – This Australian native has five-inch pebbly three-lobed rounded foliage and bears red, five-petaled star-shaped scarlet flowers, with a small yellow crown, followed by green aromatic fruits.

Does not appear to be a vigouous grower. The flowers are not as showy as many others passion flower varieties.

Passiflora sanguinolenta – also known as blood red passion flower which comes from Ecuador. It is a smaller type of perennial vine that can take frost.


Passiflora coccinea – Toothed oval leaves, free-flowering species with scarlet and orange flowers.

We are indebted to Dr. Ira S. Nelson, professor of horticulture at the University of Southwestern Louisiana (formerly Southwestern Louisiana Institute), Lafayette, Louisiana, for re-introducing this spectacular variety.

He shared in his writings that of all the material he collected in Bolivia in 1954, this is the most showy.

“The two-inch fruit is pulpy and tart with an exotic flavor and pleasing aroma. It is well branched and sturdy” and reported that the plant he collected bloomed in late August each year since it began blooming.

Passiflora coriacea – is indeed different. Its foliage suggests a bat in flight. It has been dubbed the “bat-leaf” passiflora.

The lovely Blue-green leaves are mottled with silver or off-white. The 1 1/2-inch twin flowers are a pleasing golden yellow, and have five petals and no sepals.

Cuttings root well and usually bloom even while rooting in water.

Passiflora edulis – passionfruits, or purple granadilla – Three-lobed leaves, two-inch flowers white and purple fruit about the size of a hen’s egg, fruit used in many recipes in the tropics. A good climber, grown as a commercial crop in Australia, incarnata (maypop) is a native; fruit edible; flowers white, pink and purple.

Passiflora exoniensis a hybrid between Passiflora vanvolxensi and Passiflora mollissima, has large showy flowers of brick-red and rose-pink.

Passiflora foetida – Three-pointed leaves; two-inch flowers pinkish, with three fern-like fronds below the sepals. Brillant red fruit used in dried arrangements.

Passiflora incarnata – maypop, May apple, purple passion vine, wild passion flowers. Passiflora incarnata or purple passion plant.

A southern native, hardy with light frost, with three-inch blue-and-white flowers and three-lobed foliage which is pointed with a center lobe is six by two inches.

Passiflora laurifolia (Jamaica-honeysuckle) has entire leaves, white flowers spotted red, and yellow edible fruit.

Passiflora lutea – Hardy, and often native from Philadelphia south; one-inch yellow flowers.

Passiflora manicata is a rapid and vigorous climber, suitable for outdoor planting in the warmer parts of the country. It makes a fine show with its profusion of bright scarlet flowers set off with a blue crown.

Passiflora mollissima – Three-lobed, fuzzy leaves; three-inch rose flowers.

Passiflora quadrangularis – giant (Granadilla) one of the chief species grown for fruit. It is a tall strong grower, with large fragrant flowers of white, red and purple, and yellowish-green fruits to 9 in. long.

Passiflora racemosa (princeps) – Four-inch crimson flowers touched with purple and white, deeply lobed leaves, is one of the best of the red-flowered species, and has been largely used in hybridizing.

Passiflora tomentosa – Fuzzy vine with pink and purple flowers.

Passiflora trifasdata – Known for its variegated foliage, which is three-lobed to one-third of the leaf, with irregular rose-pink bands along the midrib, shading to silver and other hues, depending on the light in which it grows.

This foliage is most colorful if it is located in less sun than the all green varieties. Undersides of the leaves are wine-red. The 1 3/4-inch flowers are white to yellow with petals recurved and fragrant.

Passiflora violacea – exquisite 3 1/2-inch flowers which suggest “lavender and old lace.” The rich violet-lavender filaments have curled tips, eliminating any stiff appearance.

Even the petals and sepals are flushed lavender and three sepals are tipped with small green balls, the size of a radish seed, in place of the spine some other varieties have.

Flowers are fragrant and foliage is three-lobed and pointed. This vine has been hardy all the way to Minnesota when growing near the house foundation.

Family: Passifloraceae
Common Name: Passion Flower

Source: Wise Garden Encyclopedia
Image: source

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