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09 Jun 2018

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


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


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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28 May 2018

Q&A with Darrell Frey & Michelle Czolba, authors of The Food Forest Handbook


Darrell Frey is a sustainable community development consultant and permaculture designer with nearly thirty years experience in the field. He is co-author of the Food Forest Handbook and the author of Bioshelter Market Garden: A Permaculture Farm (New Society Publishing 2011)

Michelle Czolba, M.Sc. co-founded the Hazelwood Food Forest and was co-owner of a Pittsburgh-based permaculture design business. She has extensive experience in the design and maintenance of perennial polyculture through personal and professional projects. Her formal training includes biology, chemistry, and herbalism, and she has earned a B.Sc. in Environmental Science and a M.Sc. in Sustainable Systems. After obtaining her Herbal Certification she founded a natural cosmetics company, and developed her own full line of handmade, wildcrafted and organic skin care products. You can find her as part of the team at threesisterspermaculture.com.

In their collaborative effort, “The Food Forest Handbook“, Frey and Czolba offer a practical manual for the design and management of a home-scale perennial polyculture garden complete with simple, straightforward instructions.  Read on to learn more and enter below to win one of three copies from New Society Publishers!


1. The concept of a “food forest” might be new to some. What exactly is it, in a nutshell?

A Food Forest is a perennial garden with up to seven layers of useful plants. Picture an apple tree,with smaller shrubs, such as currants around the edge of the tree’s canopy. Among the shrubs herbs and flowers can be planted.

Plants in the food forest are chosen based on permaculture principles and generally have more than one purpose, for example a plant that is both edible and attracts beneficial insects.

2. Why should we pursue developing a food forest? What are the advantages over other types of gardening?

A food forest is a good way to maximize small spaces. Shade loving plants can be placed on the shady side of the tree and sun loving plants on the sunny side. Instead of a single harvest of fruit from a tree, a perennial polyculture can provide provide a number of crops in the same space. Additionally, food forests include plants that provide for the system itself, such as plants that fix nitrogen, are used for mulch, or attract pollinators.

3. Can those in rural and urban areas alike develop and grow a food forest? Does it require a lot of acreage?

Some people do plant and manage large scale forest gardens, but a food forest design can be as small as a couple hundred square feet.

4. How does your book simplify the design and planning of a food forest?

Our goal was to write a book that takes the reader through a simple step by step process to study their land, make a plan and manage their food forest on a scale that the home gardener can tend to easily. We do not go into excessive details on specific plants to use, rather we wanted to keep it simple and focused on the design process itself.

5. What are some features of your book that readers will find particularly useful and helpful?

The Food Forest Handbook has a main focus on understanding basic permaculture concepts that relate to food forest design. We also provide a number of instructive and inspiring examples of food forests around North America. The reader can go from an empty piece of land, through the design process, to planting and maintaining their edible landscape with easy to follow instructions and language. One does not need to be a permaculture expert to understand the concepts.

Win one of three copies of “The Food Forest Handbook“!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight on Sunday, June 3, 2018 (be sure to provide a valid e-mail address) in answer to the following question:

Why do you want to transform your land into a food forest?

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.)

6 people are already talking about this.



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22 May 2018

How To Grow And Care For Marigolds


The Marigold, a cheerful and easy plant to grow, and the first choice among those who want a bright and splendid natural display for their homes! This annual plant flowers with radiant sprays of multi-colored brass, copper and gold flowers all throughout the summer season.

Marigold flowers, come in a wide variety of happy colors. Shaped like daisies, or heads that resemble carnations standing alone or tightly packed in ball-like clusters. Shades of yellow and orange, maroon, gold, crimson, and sometimes… blooms of white or dual-colored marigold. The size of the plants vary from a demure 6-inch (Signet Marigolds) to a sizable 2 or 3 feet tall (African Marigolds).

Marigold Plant Varieties

There’s quite a number of different Marigold plant species, but the most popular varieties include:

The delicate Tagetes tenuifolia, also known as the signet marigold thrive in signets and rock gardens. It can grow up to 12 inches tall. This plant loves dry areas and is great for landscape edging purposes. Tagetes tenuifolia has edible flowers for human consumption. They also give gardeners season-long blooms of fragrant flowers and even leaves unlike other varieties with pungent odor. Tagetes tenuifolia is also easy to grow, deer & rabbit resistant, and drought tolerant.

The French Marigolds (Tagetes patula) characterized by a bushy, compact size. Don’t let that fool you; tagetes patula’s elegant, dainty, demure flowers and plants growing anywhere from 6 inches to about 2 feet tall. French marigolds require full sun and a well-drained soil. They need to be planted deeper than the bedding container and six to nine inches apart from the other French marigolds seeds.

Desert marigold known for its daisy-like flower petals reaches from a few inches up to a foot high. Although it serves as a short-lived perennial, this plant of yellow flowers produce lots of marigold seeds.

The French vanilla, also called white marigold differs from the usual yellow and orange bearing varieties of marigold plants. The size of its pure-colored flowers spans up to 3 inches across.

On the other hand, pot marigold or calendula has cheery bright yellow, gold and orange blooms. Calendula’s citrus tasting flowers is used to make marigold tea and also serve as a good ingredient for culinary recipes. You can try them in salads, sandwiches and seafood too. You can also use calendula petals to add color to rice dishes.

Finally, Tagetes erecta,  the tallest of the Marigold group of plants and sometimes called the African marigold, with plants ranging anywhere from 3 to 5 feet. African marigolds also bear the name American marigolds or Aztec marigolds. The African marigold produces blooms of larger flowers. Among other well-known varieties like the French marigolds, this Tagetes erecta is more drought tolerant, loves the full sun, and seem to like a poor soil.

marigold flowers in full color

Marigold Flowers excellent plants for natural pest control.

How To Care For Marigolds Flowers

The Marigold plant, the equivalent of a no-fuss, easygoing person who brings a lot of color into your life.

It blooms some bright and extremely cheery flowers throughout the summer season until the first autumn frost arrives.

Marigolds flower and thrive in all USDA plant hardiness zones. Due to their resilient nature, plant them almost anywhere and they will start growing with little to no encouragement.

For the best looking Marigold flowers, plant marigolds in places where they get plenty of heat and sunlight.

They will continue to grow even when placed near paved surfaces, as long as you don’t forget to water them.

As far as marigold care, the plant can tolerate some partial shade, but only if that particular area gets a fair share of sunshine.

Plant marigold flowers in flower beds along with the other bright-hued perennials and annual plants.

Growing them in containers the marigold will grow in regular soil and will actually thrive in poor soil conditions!

Don’t water them too much, or apply too much fertilizer, as plants will grow too many leaves instead of the beautiful flowers.

How And When To Plant Marigold Seeds

Plant marigold seeds in your garden when weather is warm or sow seed into pots approximately 4 to 6 weeks before the last spring frost arrives.

Cover marigold seeds with ¼ inch of soil. Marigold seeds germinate easily but watch out for damping off issues as they grow. Separate marigold seedlings when they reach about 2 inches.

When caring for marigolds remember, they do not demand a special soil, but many gardeners recommend using a potting mix when putting their plants in containers.

When planting marigolds, use a loose soil, whether in the gardens or containers.

When planting tall marigolds space them about 2 feet apart, while smaller varieties space them approximately 1 foot apart.

Deadheading Marigolds

Marigold plants do not necessarily require intensive pruning, but deadheading actually aids plants in the blooming and suppresses the seeding process.

When deadheading, inspect plants for any dead flowers, and snip them off via your fingertips. Before you know it, healthy marigold flowers will grow and take its place!

Marigold Pest Control

The natural scent of the Marigold plant works very effectively, wards off various insects and some animals from your garden.

It also produces a substance known as alpha-terthienyl which helps in getting rid of root-knot nematodes. It staves off harmful microscopic nematodes and other pests for a good number of years.

More specifically, you can protect your precious other plants from the deer by adding the marigolds into the mix.

However, marigolds don’t find themselves entirely immune to pests though; white & green aphids and sap-sucking spider mites sometimes take a liking to the marigold plant.

A quick spray of water combined with an insecticidal soap or neem pesticide spray oil will usually solve the infestation issue.

Apply once per week until the pests are gone. Slugs may also find your Marigolds attractive during the wet season, but there’s nothing a bit of slug repellent options won’t fix!

Marigold Plant Care: Question & Answers

Question: Some gardeners suggest that marigolds will keep aphids away from other plants. Is this true? HZ, Illinois

Answer: If the weather is favorable for aphids I’m not sure anything except constant spraying will repel them.

For example, pyrethrum spray made from flowers of the chrysanthemum family is an effective control for aphids.

Yet aphids attack the chrysanthemum plants. A bench of marigold plants in the greenhouse has no effect as a deterrent to aphids on plants in adjoining benches.

 

 





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16 May 2018

Backyard She Sheds: Man Caves for Women, Only Better


Man caves are special sanctuaries where guys can go to kick back, enjoy a cold drink, watch TV, play video games or hang out with buddies after a long day at work. A guy lucky enough to have a large man cave may have an entertainment system, pool table or fully equipped bar. The sanctuary-like space of the man cave is like a little piece of heaven for guys, but it leaves women wondering, “What about us? Where’s our special place?”

 

Sorry, guys, but we ladies work every bit as hard, and 90% of the time we are the ones caring for the kids, cleaning up the house, doing laundry, carpooling after school, picking up groceries, helping with homework, cooking meals AND holding down a full-time job of our own! Seems to me that women could use a little space of our very own after a long day. So, if you’re feeling a little envious of your guy’s man cave and wondering how you can carve out a little space for yourself, I found a perfect solution. Online store SolidBuildWood.com has a variety of natural wood sheds which the company creatively calls, “She Sheds.” – FINALLY!

 

Don’t be discouraged by the name, though. SolidBuildWood.com garden sheds are really much more than simple “sheds.” These cozy little cottages are constructed from natural Norway spruce boards and built with elegance, style and durability in mind. Of course, you can still use the attractive garden sheds to store your mower, wheelbarrow and lawn tools, but why? They are just what we gals need, a place we can add our own personal style and turn into unique get-away – somewhere we, women, can go to for solitude, to grow plants, to write, to paint, or whatever makes us feel good and destress.

 

If you’re limited on outdoor space, that’s okay too. They offer various sizes to suit nearly any space, like the Douglas 10 x 8 garden shed, which provides plenty of space to curl up with a good book, paint, write, or share a glass of wine or a cup of coffee with friends. And if you’re a crafter, hobbyist, musician or artist with a need for more space and light, you can choose from several other sizes and styles. For example, their largest garden shed, the Bristhol 13 x 10, offers a cozy but elegant interior with extra-large glass doors to let in plenty of natural sunlight.

 

The Brightoln 10 x 10 shed has extra windows that not only provide plenty of light but allows you to keep an eye on the kids as they play. This way there’s no need to worry about where the little ones are or what they’re doing, because we all know how difficult it is to relax when we are left wondering about the kiddos. Face it, as women, we’re are always on call, but why should the guys have all the fun? We can still have a space of our own to relax – and we deserve it.

Whether you’re looking for a she shed, a pool house, a guest retreat or a space to house a sauna or hot tub, SolidBuildWood.com provides exactly what you need – in first class style. Larger sheds and cabins even have ample space to install a bathroom and small kitchen – a perfect office or home away from home. This company is committed to quality at every step of the process. All products are constructed from natural, high-quality wood with no toxic materials, plastic or plywood. Assembly requires little skill and no expensive labor is required.

Here is what Larisa from Westfir, OR said: “I am a 5’1” woman, and I assembled the shed by myself, completely alone, within about 4 or 5 hours. Of course, the shed kit we ordered did not have a roof, so that assemble time did not include roofing, but I still think that is incredible!!!!! I was very impressed, and my husband was even more impressed when he got home from work and saw what I had done!”

Welcome to your she shed!



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10 May 2018

37 Garden Border Ideas To Dressing Up Your Landscape Edging


This collection of garden edging ideas will help you define garden borders, highlight an area, add texture and dress up your landscape.

Often overlooked, lawn and flower bed edging can play an important role in your landscape design plan to improve your property’s overall curb appeal. Edging comes down to simply separating two distinct areas.

Not all of these landscape edging ideas will fit your garden. You may love the look but they simply are not practical, affordable or the style of your garden.

Keep in mind as with many things in the landscape and garden there are NO RULES. Landscape edging comes down to your style, creativity, materials and budget.

The materials used for edging come in a wide range of choices and combinations: stone, concrete, brick, wood, tiles, metal, plates, glass, gabion, logs, and all kinds of things recyclable items.

Let’s face it, upcycling is popular for use in the garden. Many of the garden edging ideas below incorporate some type of up cycled material and most of the ideas include sources to tutorials.  Let’s get started!

Concrete Edging And Curbing

broken-concrete-garden-edging-09302016

Broken concrete makes for great garden edging.

The word “concrete” can sound very hard and cold, but a concrete edge offers lots of design opportunities.

source: plantedwell.com

The arrangement of these flat stone or “broken concrete” around the corner of the house draws attention to the hostas and other foliage planted against the foundation border edge of the house. It’s always a good idea to install landscape fabric and edging in that order.

Poured Form Concrete Garden Border

source: pinterest

This edging comes uses concrete to form a curbing. The construction of these concrete designs is made onsite and very permanent. The concrete can also be stained or painted. It’s a nice way to edge around a tree.

If you’re curious on “how much does concrete curbing cost per foot”? HomeAdvisor estimates $4-5 per square foot.

Brick Garden Edging

When we think of edging materials in most yard landscaping projects we think of brick edging and as you’ll see, bricks and pavers can be used to create a landscape edge in many ways.

Neatly assembled stone tiles placed flat in a shallow trench make a garden edging which forms a nice barrier between the garden bed and grass. A neat clean look which provides uniformity to the landscape. A way to edge a flower bed with bricks that makes mowing easier.

source: flickr

What’s interesting about this garden edging idea is that it is very symmetrical. The square shapes made of 4 bricks makes the edging look clean and distinct. However, the center of each “square” carries a different design.

source: buzzfeed

How can you dress up brick edging during the evening hours is by having a rope lighting strip tucked away on the inside of a rock lawn edging. This is a very simple way to bring a lot of style to the garden.  It looks almost mystical in the way that it seems to generate light from nowhere.

source: thechicsite.com

We see bricks used as edging all the time to separate the lawn edge from flower beds. Turning the bricks on their side creates an entirely different look in the garden design and give yet another way to lay brick edging for front yard and backyard landscaping.

source: ny times

It is an old style look that has a new style when it comes to the brick. It almost looks like a wave that is leading the way for you.

source: pinterest

A beautiful eye-catching brick garden edging idea due to the symmetrical shape. The tiny blocks inside the edging give it a very suburban look.

Metal Landscape Edging For A Rustic Look and Feel

Manzanita Garden

By raising the height of the garden and installing metal landscape edging this winding “rusty” steel edging gives a contemporary look that calls your attention.

Corrugated Steel Panels Installed Vertically As Garden Edging

I love the neat look of this landscape edging idea. It gives a very minimalist feel and looks clean and simple. The colors are not too busy and makes the yard feel peaceful. As a bonus the panels used full size did not require any cut of the metal landscape edging.

Metal Edging Laid In A Zig Zag Pattern

The short and long metal edge gives it a very simple look. It’s nothing extravagant or eye-catching, but it gets the job done. Paint the thin steel edge sheets if desired.

Gabion Wall Used As Edging

This kind of garden edging called “gabion” offers lots of possibilities. It looks natural yet structured but blends in well with the natural environment. It’s also quite sturdy, and should hold up well.

source: plantedwell.com

This gabion garden wall edging works as a retaining wall holding plants and soil. This edging serves as a garden focal piece.

Garden Edging Stone

Stone edging ranks right up their with brick edging as a popular material to separate areas. Generally, stone carries a low cost but does require some “heavy” labor to get it all in place. However, stone edging does produce impressive results.

Stone and rocks come in so many shapes, sizes, colors, looks and textures. This allows the use of stone as a stand alone in edging or combined with different stones to achieve interesting looks.

Stacked Flat Edging Stones

source: hoselink

This shows a nice way to edge a flower bed using short flat tiled rocks stacked on top of each other. A simple design with a casual look and feel separates the lawn edge from the mulch and flower bed.

Stones Used As Simple Clean Edging Of A Deck

This uncommon way to differentiate the deck from where the garden starts, but adds a “polish” to the design.  The small rock border makes a world of difference when stepping out to take in the view.

 Crushed Rock Filling In Between Bricks

source: belmanliving

This lawn edging idea provides a contrast with brick and a wide strip of crushed rock. The small height of the stone but the sudden change of color makes it a clear boundary but doesn’t intrude in the landscape design.

The contrast of light and dark stones along with different sizes complement each other quite well next to the concrete stepping stones. It gives a concrete definition of where the walkway ends and where the border begins.

Stones Combined with Brick Edging

source: pinterest

This edging made up of smooth rocks and bricks gives off a very natural but not too manicured and perfect look. Simple yet the way it spirals gives it an impressive flair. As you can see… no complicated “install stone landscape edging” instructions. The stones were laid edged right up to the bricks and followed the garden path.

source: homebn.com

The graduated stone bed is an excellent contrast. The small stones create a nice transition border, while the large stones make up the bed. It’s a very pleasing way to implement a natural border.

Bowling ball size rocks compose this edging The rocks and plants make you feel walking to or from a beach!

Wood Landscape Edging

Wood like brick and stone comes in many form. The most common edging using wood is the raised garden bed but as you’ll see… more types exist!

Railway Ties As Garden Borders

This garden edging happens to be one of my favorites. Railroad sleepers placed at angles to the fence and ONLY one plant in each “growing area.” The biggest issue I see comes with maintaining the grass.

Vertical Railway Sleepers

source: kilgraney.com

These railroad ties cut at uneven lengths make this garden edging unique. It adds a casual look and feel.

source: pinterest

We often think of the garden edging being the accent. In a twist, this edging gets an accent with stones resembling two small feet next to each other. It shows how using the resources around you can turn simple into beauty.

This garden edging looks like a miniature fence. It does serve as a symbol saying keep out of my plants but in a playful way.

This garden bed looks similar to the uneven railroad ties, but uses a landscape timber and this edging does not vary in height but also deliver a very attractive and natural feel.

Scrap Treated Wood As Garden Edging

The mini boards from possibly a pallet of this garden edging are high enough to define the garden bed. Not my style but that’s OK.

Cut Tree Trunks Laid Out As Edging

source: hometalk

This edging you don’t notice due to the bottle walkway. Lots of detail when into the walkway bit the edging looks to me like an afterthought.

Garden Edging Made From Pallets

The look of this garden edging looks very “homey” as though the creation appears to be part of a project. The cut apart pallets give a very western feel.

Woven Garden Hoses Used As Edging

source: karapaslaydesigns.com

A unique and beautiful way to create a one-of-a-kind fence. The best part is breathing new life into old garden hoses destined for the dump.

Braided and Woven Vines

source: sad.co.ua

This woven garden edging gives off a rustic feel. A lot of work involved in thing edging idea.

Manufactured Landscape Edging

For some the easiest method to edge the flower bed or lawn sits on a shelf down at the local garden center. Pre-made, usually manufactured plastic edging makes for quick installation. All come with “how to install landscape edging” instructions.

EasyFlex No Dig Edging

source: amazon

This manufactured plastic edge material delivers a simple, minimalist look. Perfect for a quick fix and barely noticeable in any garden.

Grey Cobbled Stone Plastic Garden Edging

source: pinterest

This manufactured garden edging is thin, made of a plastic material with a brick edge design face. The extra room allows you more space to plant flowers and shrubs. The color does not take away from the beautiful colors of the plants and is easy to install.

Flexi-Curve Garden Edge

source: menard’s

The edging in this garden makes it look spotless. The beautifully crafted designs are very eye catching.

source: haddonstone.com

This manufactured garden edging looks beautiful in white. It almost looks as though it is made from marble. It has a bit of a slope where the plants lay on top.

Landscape Border Ideas We Can Only Call Unique!

Glass Bottles Recycled Into A Garden Border

Glass bottles catch the eye and help provide a landscape border to keep certain pests out of the yard. It’s a good craft if you have multiple, uneven-sized bottles – any size or shape can easily fit the wall! Not sure about the safety level though!

China Plate Garden Edging

source: 33barefootlane

These dinner plates make a very uncommon way to set up a garden border. Using plates that would otherwise sit in a china cabinet is an excellent way to make use of items that usually remain “off limits.”

Terra Cotta Pots Fashioned Into A Garden Border

source: om mig 

This garden edging is very different from others. The terra cotta pots laid out make for an interesting, whimsical look. The tubular shape also adds a nice effect.

Collected Bowling Balls Used As An Edging

 

source: beth evans ramos

Not much to say about this landscape edging design. Just an excellent example of quirky garden edging with no rules.

Collected Hubcaps Made Into Edging

source: beth evans ramos

This edging made from hubcaps is a great way to reuse and recycle. These hubcap flowers offer another idea. A fun conversation starter, and unique design. Not sure how much work it would take to collect them all!

Recycled Bicycle Wheels Used As Garden Edging

The bicycle wheels provide a great use for older bikes. They also ensure that plants along the border get enough exposure to the elements needed to grow. This edging would be a difficult “assemble” in many areas to acquire the bike rims.

These edging ideas are only the tip of the iceberg… just use your imagination!





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04 May 2018

Mitoyo Eggplant Info – Learn About Growing Mitoyo Eggplants


If you are seeking a sweet, densely fleshed, medium to large eggplant, look no further than Mitoyo. Picture chubby, round to oval, glossy, black-skinned fruits that are absolutely adorable and delicious. This variety is native to Japan and grown primarily in Kanonji and Mitoyo provinces. Not only is the flavor memorable, but the plant is striking and could be grown as an ornamental.

What is a Mitoyo Eggplant?

Mitoyo produces a commercially large, dark fruit. It was originally discovered in a market in Japan and seed was saved. It is now widely available to grow and has a milder, sweeter flavor than Western varieties.

Mitoyo eggplant info describes the cooked flesh as creamy and subtle. The fruits can be up to a pound (.45 kg.) in weight when fully mature. They can also be picked when smaller, but tend to have a hint of bitterness. The hefty fruits accept a host of flavors and work well in many ethnic dishes.

Eggplants can be steamed, fried, grilled, baked, pickled or eaten raw. Additionally, eggplant has been shown to be a brain food. It contains a phytonutrient called nasunin, which has been found to protect fats in brain cells. It is also a powerful antioxidant.

Mitoyo Eggplant Info

Mitoyo eggplants can grow waist high and produce fruit much like their cousin the tomato. Fruits hang from the stems in an ornamental fashion. The biggest complaint is the damage done by flea beetles to the large leaves and occasional attacks by Japanese beetles.

Eggplants produce the best fruits in late summer, but Mitoyo can produce wonderful eggplant into fall provided an early freeze doesn’t destroy the plants. Mitoyo eggplants should be left on the stem to ripen fully if you wish to save seed. The variety is also known to be a strong and vigorous producer of fruit. Mitoyo fruits look a bit like the classic Black Beauty variety but a bit more on the purple side and more rounded with creamy green flesh.

Growing Mitoyo Eggplant

Eggplants grow quickly from seed. Mitoyo eggplant needs 85 days from sowing to maturity. In temperate to cooler regions, it is best to start seed indoors 6 to 8 weeks before setting plants out. Seedlings do not react well to transplanting, so it is best to start them in small compostable cells or pots.

Keep soil moderately moist. Prepare the soil before planting out by adding plenty of compost and loosening it deeply. If necessary, perform a soil test for pH. Eggplants prefer a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.0. Space plants 3 feet (.91 m.) apart to allow plenty of air circulation and room for growth.

Fertilize every two weeks with compost tea or other organic liquid nutrients. If fruit becomes too heavy for the stems, stake them up to prevent breakage and keep fruit from soil contact where slugs and insects can damage them. Harvest fruit any time they are large enough to eat and enjoy.



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28 Apr 2018

Growing “Standard” Trees Perfect Plants For Balcony, Deck, Patio and Front Entry


Container gardening is very popular today, but it’s not new. People have been growing container plants for centuries, and there are favorites found in every culture.

One very popular “style” of growing container plants is using a shrubby or bush plant to create a “standard” tree.

To do this, you train a plant that has a natural shrub-like growth habit to grow as a small tree.

This technique is less intensive than creating a bonsai, but it has some of the same effects.

It allows you to enjoy a variety of plants in smaller, more contained settings, and it adds an element of art to your indoor, balcony and patio gardening.

In this article, we will explore the history of standard plants and provide advice on choosing and nurturing your standard creations. Read on to learn more.

Who Started The “Standard Tree” Tradition?

Unsurprisingly, this method of controlling and training ornamental plants began in Japan and China.

Because it is not as complex as keeping Bonsai, once “discovered” by western horticulturists, the practice quickly spread to France and England.

The small, symmetrical container trees became very popular as decorations for patios, terraces, foyers, and greenhouses.

Strictly ornamental trees and small fruit-bearing trees, such as dwarf orange trees, were popular choices.

Initially, keeping a standard tree was considered something of a status symbol. Only wealthy people kept these “exotic plants.”

However, it didn’t take long for everyday gardeners to pick up the technique and create their own attractive standard plants to adorn their entryways and outdoor seating areas.

Read More On Standard Trees

Which Plants Do Best As Standards?

Many types of plants will do well when trained as small trees. Here are five of the most popular choices:

Fuchsia

Fuchsia is easy to grow and very luxuriant. You can start it as a cutting. Remember to take your cutting from one of the upright varieties as you will be training it to stand up straight.

Once you have a small, established fuchsia plant, begin training it using a stake. Your goal is to establish in strong, straight, upright stem.

To do this, you must prune and pinch back shoots and upstarts diligently throughout the first year. Keep only the topknot of growth which you wish to encourage.

When your plant has reached its desired height (during the second year) trim back the topknot and keep it trimmed to encourage more bushy growth.

Fuchsia plants grown as standard trees

Chrysanthemum frutescens

Chrysanthemum frutescens (Marguerite) is a small shrub. Treat it as you would a fuchsia.

You should top the tree out toward the end of summer by trimming and pinching back the topknot to encourage bushy growth.

In the coming spring you will see a dense ball of green foliage, which will soon be adorned with white flowers.

Roses

All sorts of roses do well as standards, but you must start with wild stock and then graft on the type of rose you want to display at the top.

You can begin your wild rose bush (Rosa canina is a good choice) in the ground for the first year. Choose the most promising stem and stake it to train it to grow straight and strong. Trim back all the competition.

Allow the rose to grow for a year, keeping all extraneous shoots trimmed back. At the end of the first year, the chosen stem should be about a half inch thick.

When this is the case, you can graft your chosen rose onto your wild base at the end of the summer.

To do this, graft one bud of the rose you want to grow under the bark of the wild rose at the height of approximately three feet. Bind it in place using a rubber band.

 

If you are keeping your rose tree outdoors, you must protect the graft during the winter months in colder climates.

More Preparing Roses For Winter

To do this, before the weather becomes too cold, dig a hole and a trench on one side of the plant.

You should remove the roots on that side and lay the plant down in the trench.

Cover it with leaves, a layer of soil and some peat moss to protect it from the cold.

When springtime comes, and all danger of frost has passed, uncover your tree and stand it back up. Trim back all wild rose shoots and stake the plant securely to continue training it to grow straight.

The rose bud you grafted onto the stem should begin to grow as the spring weather warms up. This grafted rose will make up the top of your rose tree, so care for it by pinching it back to encourage bushy growth.

With good, consistent care, you should see blooms in the first year. When winter approaches, take steps to winterize your plant to protect the graft just as you did the first year.

Dwarf Korean Lilac

Dwarf Korean Lilac plant can also be grafted to a standard and grown in very much the same way as a rose standard.

In small tree form, this plant makes an excellent patio feature or garden accent.

Coffee Tree

To grow a standard coffee tree, you must start with an established plant from a nursery. Look for a small plant that is no more than eight inches high. Pay close attention to the shape and growth habits of the plant. Remember that you need a strong, central stem to attain your goal of a taller, upright tree.

Coffee plants like very bright, indirect light. They do not like the blazing sun. Begin by setting your plant in a comfortable setting with plenty of nourishing (not punishing) light. Pinch off lower leaves and shoots and groom the plant regularly and diligently to discourage unwanted side growth.

Be sure to catch the emerging shoots while they are still young and tender. If you have to cut back thicker stems, the injuries will leave scars on the trunk of your tree.

Continue pinching and trimming back unwanted growth for a couple of years. Staking is not necessary with coffee plants. The strong, central stem should grow straight and tall naturally. At the end of two years, your mini-coffee tree will have shiny, attractive leaves and pretty coffee berries.

Other Good Choices For Standard Growing

  • Red Hawthorn
  • Dwarf Orange
  • Oleander
  • Camellia
  • Wisteria
  • Hibiscus
  • Lantana
  • Butterfly bush
  • Azalea
  • Broom
  • Myrtle
  • Laurel
  • Ficus

You can try this technique a with any type of shrubby plant. In this video, the presenter trains a lantana plant, which he says will live happily for several years as an attractive little tree.

Training Plants into Standards

 

How Do You Over-winter Container Standards?

One nice thing about this technique is that it allows you to enjoy non-hardy plants as attractive trees in your outdoor seating areas through the spring and summer and then continue to enjoy them indoors through the winter months.

Be sure to prepare your indoor garden area in advance so that you can quickly and efficiently move your tender plants indoors and get them settled before the first frost. For most plants, the main objective is to prevent freezing.

Your hardier plants may do well on a sun porch or in a bright room that is not excessively heated through the winter. They need plenty of light, sparse watering and no fertilizing through the winter months. This type of care will allow them to rest before spring arrives.

Naturally, if your plants are more tropical in nature you may want to keep them as houseplants in a heated environment with more intensive care during the winter months.

It’s a good idea to give your plants a good pruning before bringing them indoors for the winter. This helps them fit in better and look better while indoors. It also facilitates healthy growth when spring approaches.

As the days lengthen and weather warms up, begin watering your plants a little more and give them a feeding of water-soluble fertilizer that is appropriate for each plant.

When the weather is reliably warm, begin transitioning your plants outdoors. If they are on a sun porch with windows that can open, just open up and let some fresh air in on warmer days.

Once all danger of frost has passed, move them out to a shaded, sheltered area at first and then transition them to brighter more exposed areas if desired.

What Growing Container Type Is Best?

Finding the right container is a very important element of your success. You want a container that will provide proper support and anchoring for your plant as well as good aesthetic value.

Consider the ultimate size and weight of your plant and select a container with a diameter that will coincide with the “drip-line” of the tree. This should ensure that it provides a good, stable base that will prevent toppling.

As far as looks go, your pot should not be prettier than your plant. Choose a style that will bring out the best in the plant with colors that coordinate rather than competing.

Standard Plants Bring Easy Elegance To Your Outdoor Setting

Mastering the technique of creating standards is a great way to establish an elegant and interesting garden, even if you have very limited space.

Container gardeners with only a small porch or balcony can enjoy interesting, beautiful plants of all sorts with this artistic technique.

This provides many of the aesthetic elements of growing bonsai without the arduous, decades-long effort.





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22 Apr 2018

Top 5 Plants For Dyeing


Throughout history, gardeners have harvested plants for many reasons other than their herbal or culinary uses. In times when mankind had to rely on only what Mother Nature provided for them, plant parts were used to make necessary fibers, stuffing materials, textiles, paper, rope, and natural dyes. One plant could be harvested and its different parts used for a variety of purposes. Today, many gardeners are turning back to this “waste not, want not” concept of gardening and experimenting with different plant crafts.

Making natural dyes from plants is one such plant craft that is gaining popularity. Natural dyes are made from various plant parts, such as fruits and berries, flower heads, foliage and roots. Different parts of one plant can sometimes yield very different colored dyes. For example, the roots of a plant may produce a very red to pink colored dye, while the same plant’s blooms may produce a bright yellow dye. In the dyeing process, mordants (like baking soda, salt, lemon juice, cream of tar tar, alum, and vinegar) are used to set and develop the dye color. Different mordants can result in different dye shades. Different fabrics can also alter the end results of the color. For instance, it may turn out brighter on cotton or silk than on wool fabrics.

To make natural dyes, plant materials are crushed, finely ground or chopped and then boiled. The amount of plant material used and the length of boiling can also affect the dye color. While the dye is being made, the fabric is soaked in the selected mordant for about an hour, then rinsed with cold water and wrung out. The fabric to be dyed is then placed to soak in the strained dye mixture. Below are listed the top 5 plants for making natural dyes:

1. Dandelion – The blooms of dandelion produce a bright yellow dye. The roots are used with mordants to create a magenta to reddish colored dye, while the entire plant can be used to make orange to red to brown dyes.

2. St. John’s Wort – The flowers of St. John’s wort will make a yellow to orange dye that can develop to a more orange to red color with certain mordants. The fresh stems and roots of this plant are used to make a reddish brown dye.

3. Hollyhock – The blooms of hollyhocks of almost all colors will produce a dye of that particular color. The exception is black hollyhock flowers, which will produce a purple colored dye. Hollyhock leaves and stems can be used to make green dye.

4. Elderberry – The berries of elderberry are used to create blue, purple and gray dyes. Mordants such as vinegar, alum and cream of tar tar affect this color. Interestingly, the elderberry was used in Ancient Rome to make a black hair dye.

5. SumacSumac berries will produce different shades of purple dye when used with different mordants. Their leaves and flowers produce a yellow-green dye, while their roots will produce a red to orange colored dye.

There are many types of plants, probably growing right in your backyard, that can be used to make different colored dyes. Trying new natural dye recipes can be a fun and rewarding craft.



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16 Apr 2018

African Milk Tree Exotic and Sometimes Dangerous


African Milk Tree (Euphorbia trigona) is a tall, rugged, easy-care plant with thorns. It should come as no surprise that many people think of it as a cactus.

The fact is, this thorny succulent hails from West Africa where it grows wild in dense, thorny thickets. In its natural habitat, African Milk Tree (aka: Abyssinian Euphorbia) has a variety of landscaping and gardening uses.

Euphorbia trigona – African Milk Tree – potted in rustic containers – image via The Borrowed Nursery

In the United States and other areas, it is grown as an indoor plant and used as an attractive addition to cactus and succulent gardens in warmer areas. In this article, we will discuss the characteristics, care, and uses of this interesting plant. Read on to learn more.

Why Isn’t Euphorbia trigona A Cactus?

African Milk Tree is considered a succulent even though it’s called the “candelabra cactus” because it has leaves. Cacti (with the exception of Christmas and Easter Cactus) do not grow leaves.

The leaves of the African Milk plant are small and short-lived. They grow along the ridges that make up the corners of the plant’s rectangular stems. Thorns also emerge from these ridges.

The thorns grow in sets of two, and single leaves emerge from between them. When grown outdoors, the plant may produce small white or yellow flowers. Indoors, it is unlikely to bloom.

Why Is The Euphorbia trigona Called A “Milk Tree”?

The African Milk Tree is a member of the Euphorbaceae family. All of these plants exude a poisonous white sap when cut or broken.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to keep them out of the reach of kids and pets and to keep your skin and eyes well-protected when pruning, repotting or otherwise handling the plant.

The sap can cause serious skin and eye irritation on contact, as well as severe gastric distress if ingested. [source]

Is Euphorbia trigona Really A Tree?

These big succulents outdoors are tree-like. They can grow as high as nine feet, and grow in a characteristic “candelabra” shape giving them the appearance of a tree. It may also explain some of the plant‘s common names – Candelabra Euphorbia or Cathedral Cactus.

You can control the plant’s growth somewhat by cutting or breaking off stems, which you can plant in their own pots, using a light, sandy soil to grow more “trees” to share with friends.

Propagating Abyssinian Euphorbia

Propagation of this hardy succulent couldn’t be easier. Visually survey your plant before you begin and decide which new stems or sections you want to reduce.

Be sure to put on rubber gloves and protect your eyes with goggles, then just break or cut sections of the parent plant. Sections used for rooting should be about three or four inches in length.

Don’t Try This At Home!

In this video, an intrepid gardener shows a very daring way to take cuttings!

Although he experiences no mishaps, you can see that he puts himself in great danger of having sap drip from a very tall and vigorous plant onto his bare skin and into his eyes!

Making Candelabra Euphorbia Cuttings

Luckily, this operation turned out alright, but it’s easy to see that these plants produce copious amounts of potentially dangerous sap.

When you take cuttings, be sure to have a damp cloth on hand to wipe up weeping sap. Wear gloves, goggles and long sleeves, and be careful not to let the sap come in contact with your skin or eyes.

Once you’ve taken cuttings, lay them on paper towels, newspaper or some other disposable, absorbent material.

Allow the sections to dry out and harden off for a week in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight. After your cuttings have hardened off, plant them in an airy, sandy, well-draining soil mixture that is not too fertile.

You needn’t worry much about pH level as Euphorbia trigona grow in acidic, neutral or alkaline soil.

Water when you plant the cuttings, keep the soil lightly moist until signs of rooting and growth appear. At this point, you can reduce watering and begin treating the cutting as an adult plant.

How To Care For An Established African Milk Tree

Once established Euphorbia trigona is an easy-care plant. It’s best to provide lots of sunlight and/or artificial light. If you’ve grown Euphorbia milli (Crown of Thorns) you’ll do fine.

These plants can do very well (like Euphorbia milli Crown of Thorns) as houseplants year-round in medium light settings and normal household temperatures.

By gradually transitioning the plant to more sun you can enjoy the African milk tree in the great outdoors during the spring and summer.

Transition the plant gradually, so it acclimates to more sun, air movement and temperature fluctuations. Choose a sheltered area that gets filtered sunlight or part sunlight for potted and container plants.

If you live in a semi-tropical or desert area where temperatures will unlikely to drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit and never freeze, plant Euphorbia trigona directly in the ground.

In this case, choose a fairly sheltered location that receives full sun or part shade.

If you need to move your Euphorbia trigona outdoors or repot as a container plant, it’s best to do so in the springtime. You can groom the parent plant and take cuttings while making the transfer. Remember to wear protective gear to prevent accidental stabbings and sap contact.

Grooming is easy with these plants. Just break or cut off stems that don’t seem to fit in. Remove any branch that protrudes and might break off accidentally as people walk past.

If accidental contact with sap does occur, be sure to wash well immediately to avoid irritation. If sap gets in eyes, it should be flushed out with running water, and a visit to the emergency room would not be overly dramatic. [source]

Water: Because these plants are succulents (not cacti) they do not tolerate complete drought. Keep the soil very lightly moist during the growing season (spring and summer).

If the top couple of inches of soil feel dry, a deep watering is in order. Just be sure the plant does not stand in water as this can lead to root rot.

Fertilizer: Provide a light feeding of balanced water-soluble fertilizer monthly during the spring and summer. Reduce watering and do not fertilize at all during the cooler months (fall and winter).

How To Deal With Common Pests and Disease

African Milk Tree is relatively hardy and resistant to disease and pest, as long as it is well-cared-for. Avoid waterlogging the soil and providing the plant with good sunlight and air circulation. This will go a long way toward preventing problems. Weakened plants may be susceptible to:

Mealybugs

If you see cotton-like threads forming on the plant, wipe them off with a paper towel soaked in rubbing alcohol. If you have a massive infestation, wipe the mealybugs off and spray the plant with a natural insecticide, such as a Neem oil spray solution.

Plant Scale

Scale insects: These tiny insects are covered by a nearly impenetrable brown shield. This makes it difficult to remove them.

Like the mealybug wipe them off firmly with a paper towel soaked in rubbing alcohol. If this doesn’t work, scrape them off gently with a knife blade. A Neem oil solution can be used to assure they are gone and prevent their return.

Fungal Infection Cork Disease

Cork disease is a fungal infection. If you see patches of cork-like material on the stem, it is an indication of overwatering and/or soil that is too rich.

If you’ve kept cuttings and have replacement plants, you are best to dispose off of the diseased plant.

If you are dead-set on saving it, prune the plant with a very sharp, sterilized knife or shears to completely remove the damaged areas and dispose of them in the trash (not the compost heap).

Paint the cut areas with a plant fungicide. Repot the plant into a cactus soil and keep it in a consistently warm and airy location.

Reduce watering. You may not be able to save the plant, but keeping it dry, warm and well-ventilated will give it the best chance of survival.

Rot or Fusarium Wilt

Fusarium wilt and rot is another fungal infection that comes from the soil. If your plant displays soft, reddish patches around the base of the stem, suspect fusarium rot.

Most of the time, it is fatal and disposing of the plant, pot and all is the best solution. If you keep the container, be sure to sterilize it before using it again.

If you must save the plant, follow the steps outlined for cork disease. [source]

Hardy Euphorbia trigona is Virtually Problem-Free

All-in-all, caring for African Milk Plant is amazingly easy. Begin by choosing a healthy plant (or cutting) with no soft spots or signs of pests.

If you acquire a potted plant, check to be sure the root system holds the plant into the pot firmly. Make sure the plant has not been sitting in water.

If you begin with a well-cared-for plant and continue to provide it with well-draining soil that’s not too rich, lots of sunlight and an airy setting, it should grow well and provide you with lots of healthy cuttings for many years.





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