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19 Mar 2020

Perennials That Make Striking Ground Covers


Perennial ground cover plants are invaluable in landscaping. 

From filling out empty spaces and adding texture and interest to the garden to stabilizing slopes and limiting weed growth, these low-growing plants serve several purposes in landscapes. 

Forming dense covers on the ground, these plants set an interesting and eye-catching foundation for your garden and give it a far more finished look than the bare soil. 

They also help maintain the soil temperature by forming a layer above the ground. 

This, in turn, helps protect the roots of other plants from getting damaged due to extreme weather. 

Groundcovers also work like mulch, helping the soil to conserve moisture for longer while also improving the soil quality.

When groundcover plants spread across the ground, they form a web of roots, which helps prevent soil erosion. 

Lastly, they also help attract many beneficial insects to your garden by providing an ideal habitat for them.

Since groundcovers are also inexpensive, generally easy to care for, and are available in evergreen and flowering varieties, they make excellent choices for adding visual interest to your garden, along with offering support to other garden plants.

A popular choice for growing in beds and borders, groundcover plants are available in a huge variety. 

Here are some of the best perennials for use as ground covers:

Hostas (Hosta spp.) 

Hosta plants are from a genus of herbaceous perennial plants, commonly known as plantain lilies, from the family Asparagaceae. 

Native to northeast Asia, particularly to China, Korea, Japan, and the Far East region of Russia, the plants are widely grown as ground covers across the world. 

In the United States, the hosta species are the most popular ground cover species due to their ability to tolerate low-light conditions and even full shade and easy care.

Hardy to USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9, the plants easily adapt to almost all soil types as long as they are well-drained. 

While the plants develop some drought tolerance when established, they appreciate and grow best in moist soil. 

In summer, hostas produce white, pink, or lavender flowers, which look great against the green foliage.

False Lamium (Lamiastrum Galeobdolon)

Lamiastrum Galeobdolon, now called Lamium Galeobdolon, is a large-leaved perennial species from the family Lamiaceae, commonly known as the sage, deadnettle, or mint family. 

The plant is native to Europe and western Asia and is generally known with its common names – yellow archangel, yellow weasel-snout, aluminum plant, and artillery plant.

Featuring large, ovate, toothed, and oppositely arranged leaves, the plant grows up to only 1’ to 2’ feet in height and forms a loose spreading mat of green foliage. 

Lamiastrum galeobdolon is an easy-to-grow and low-maintenance plant and is easily grown in a variety of soil types with moderate to low watering and partial shade to full shade. 

However, it grows best in moderately moist soils in partially shaded locations. 

In summer (June), the plant produces yellow blooms with brown spots.

Once established, the plant becomes drought tolerant and starts spreading through self-seeding. 

It is also deer tolerant.

Carpet Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans)

Producing highly attractive blue-violet flowers in mid to late spring or early summer, Ajuga reptans is a rapidly growing species of the Lamiaceae family. 

Ajuga Bugleweed ground cover in bloom

Featuring glossy, dark green leaves and long whorls of small but showy flowers, the plant displays a mat-forming growth habit and quickly forms a dense groundcover. 

The plant is native to Europe, northern Africa, and southwestern Asia and is commonly known as carpet bugleweed, bugleweed, bugle herb, blue bugle, bugle, common bugle, and carpetweed. 

It is traditionally known as the St. Lawrence plant. 

The name, however, is not commonly used.

Similar to most other ground cover species, bugleweed is very easy to grow. 

Grow it in moist, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade, and you’ll have a dense and attractive groundcover.

Several cultivars of carpetweed plants are also available and are grown for their varied foliage color.

The plant is deer tolerant, rabbit tolerant, and black walnut tolerant. 

However, it is not tolerant of foot traffic.

Blue Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides)

The blue Plumbago or botanically Ceratostigma plumbaginoides and commonly referred to as the hardy blue-flowered leadwort, leadwort, hardy plumbago is a flowering herbaceous perennial from the family Plumbaginaceae. 

Blue flowers of the plumbago plant

Growing up to only 20” inches tall, the plant displays a mat-forming growth habit. 

In addition to its undemanding nature and low-maintenance needs, the plant is widely grown for its late-season color.

The leadwort species has a long bloom period and produces bright blue to deep blue flowers from late summer to early autumn. 

Sometimes, its leaves also change color from green to red or purple before falling off the plant.

Native to western China, the plant is mainly seen growing in rocky foothills in Beijing, Zhejiang, Shanxi, Jiangsu, and Shi Henan. 

However, it is cultivated as a groundcover, for ornamental purposes, throughout the temperate regions. 

In the United States, it can easily be grown in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 9.

Green and Gold (Chrysogonum virginianum)

Hardy to USDA zones 5 to 8, Chrysogonum virginianum forms a highly attractive ground cover with bright yellow flowers scattered over a dense carpet of green leaves. 

Yellow flowering Chrysogonum Virginianum

A member of the Asteraceae family, the plant is native to the eastern United States, where it is seen growing from Rhode Island and New York State to Florida Panhandle and Louisiana in the south. 

The flowers of this rhizomatous, low-growing plant are star-shaped and daisy-like and bloom from May to October. 

Due to the color and shape of its flowers, the plant is commonly known as Goldenstar. 

Chrysogonum virginianum is also referred to as green and gold.

Goldenstar appreciates full sun in the morning but will tolerate partial to full shade. 

It will also tolerate hot and dry summer weather.

Dwarf Crested Iris (Iris cristata)

A rhizomatous perennial flowering plant from the family Iridaceae, Iris cristata is native to the northeastern United States – from Maryland to Oklahoma to Mississippi and Georgia. 

However, this close relative of iris lacustris (dwarf lake iris) is widely cultivated throughout the temperate regions of the world as an ornamental ground cover.

The narrow, sword-shaped leaves of this iris species grow from branching rhizomes and have a yellowish-green to medium-color. 

The flowers, on the other hand, grow on very short stems. 

The pale blue, lavender, or lilac flowers feature gold crests on the falls and are fragrant.

Strawberry Begonia (Saxifraga stolonifera)

Commonly known as the Strawberry begonia, along with many other common names, Saxifraga stolonifera spreads rapidly and heavily through red stolons (creeping horizontal stems), forming a striking ground cover of small, round, silver-veined leaves. 

Hairy, furry leaves of the strawberry geranium

The groundcover looks even more attractive in late spring when the plant produces small white flowers on about 2’ feet long plumes.

A member of the Saxifragaceae family, this herbaceous perennial species is native to East Asia – China, Korea, and Japan. 

However, it is also widespread in most of the temperate areas of North America and Eurasia. 

It is easy to grow and requires minimal care.

Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens)

Iberis sempervirens, also known as perennial candytuft and evergreen candytuft, is a mounding, woody, flowering plant with an average height of 12” inches. 

Flowering Iberis Sempervirens aka Evergreen Candytuft

The plant grows best in well-drained soil under full sun and is also drought tolerant. 

It is also fairly winter-hardy. 

Provided the right conditions, candytuft spreads quite rapidly and produces clusters of showy white blooms from late spring to early summer. 

The flowers attract some birds and butterflies, which also act as pollinators. 

The plant, however, is deer and rabbit tolerant.

 It is a great choice for people looking for an unusual groundcover. 

Robb’s Spurge (Euphorbia Robbiae)

Featuring dark green, shiny, and leathery leaves and beautiful chartreuse (lime green) flowers in early spring, Robb’s spurge is a slow-spreading groundcover from the Euphorbia or Spurges family. 

It is hardy and grows well in full sun, partial shade, and full shade. 

However, it needs to be protected from the winter wind.

While the plant is deer and rabbit resistant, you should also keep children and pets away from it, especially during and after pruning. 

This is because the plant produces a milky sap when pruned, which is a bit poisonous.

Pink Dianthus (Sweet William Flower)

Featuring blue-green leaves and beautiful and showy pink flowers (from May to July), Dianthus plant forms a stunning groundcover under full sun. 

Attractive flowers of the Sweet William Dianthus - Pinks

Ideal for rocky and drier sites, the plant cannot tolerate standing water and hence, requires well-drained soil. 

A member of the Caryophyllaceae family from Europe and North Asia, the plant has acquired an interesting common name – cheddar pink – due to its flower color.

Woodland Phlox (Phlox divaricata)

Phlox divaricata is a semi-evergreen flowering plant from the family Polemoniaceae. 

The plant is native to eastern North America, where it grows in fields and forests, and is prized for its attractive flowers. 

Produced on the stem tips in loose clusters, in spring, the flowers are tubular and slightly fragrant. 

But, what makes them highly valuable is their varied color. 

The flower color of woodland phlox can range from rose to lilac to lavender or violet to blue.

Easily grown in part shade to full shade, the plant has moderate water requirements and spreads readily. 

It is also known with the common names of wild blue phlox and wild sweet William.

Maiden Grasses (Miscanthus spp.)

Native to Africa, Eurasia, and some Pacific Islands, Miscanthus is a small genus of grasses from the Poaceae family. 

ornamental grass - Miscanthus

Some of the grass species are evergreen, while others are deciduous. 

Regardless of their nature, the plants produce spreading tufts and flower spikes bearing silky flowers from late summer to autumn. 

Mainly grown as ornamental grasses and groundcovers, the miscanthus species are available in several cultivars and hybrids.

Fountain Grasses (Pennisetum spp.)

Another genus of grasses from the family Poaceae, Pennisetum, comprises about 80 to 140 species, which are native to Asia, Africa, Australia, and Latin America, in particular. 

purple fountain grass - Pennisetum

Some of the species, however, have also become widely naturalized in many temperate and tropical regions of the world.

Fountain grasses are annual or perennial, remain small, or can grow up to 26’ feet tall. 

All the species, however, produce the same type of inflorescence – dense and narrow panicles with fascicles of bristled spikelets.

Pearl millet (P. glaucum), a species of frontier grass, is widely used as a food crop worldwide, whereas Napier grass (P. purpureum) is used to feed livestock in Africa.

Creeping Thyme (Thymus serpyllum)

Easy and quick to grow, deer and rabbit resistant, and low-maintenance, creeping thymes make beautiful groundcovers. 

They are also tolerant of foot traffic and helps prevent weed growth, once established. 

Members of the Lamiaceae family, the plants produce aromatic leaves and showy blooms during late spring or early summer. 

As opposed to their edible relatives, these plants are grown for their varying heights, textures, and flower colors.

Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis)

Helleborus orientalis, commonly known as Hellebore and Lenten rose, is a perennial species known for its large leathery leaves and attractive blooms. 

Attractive blooms of the Helleborus Orientalis - Lenten Rose Plant

When grown in moist and well-drained soil under partial shade, the plant produces large clusters of saucer-shaped flowers in pink, white, green, mauve, smoky purple, or primrose color. 

The plant typically blooms in spring, but can sometimes start producing flowers as early as February. 

It belongs to the family Ranunculaceae and is native to Turkey, Greece, and the Caucasus.

The sap of Lenten rose may cause skin irritation to some people. 

Therefore, it is recommended to wear protective gloves when working with this plant.

Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia Nummularia)

LysimachiaNummularia, sometimes also referred to as Lysimachia zawadzki Wiesner, is a flowering species of the Primulaceae family. 

Due to the shape of its leaves, the plant is commonly known as creeping jenny, moneywort, twopenny grass, and herb twopence. 

Nummularia also means a coin.

The small round lime green leaves make a striking background for yellow cup-shaped blooms, which appear on the plant in summer.

While the plant can easily tolerate partial shade, it produces the best flower color when grown in full sun. 

It spreads quickly through rhizomes and self-seeding and generally forms large colonies within a short time. 

Biokovo Hardy Geranium (Geranium Xcantabrigiense ‘Biokovo’)

An attractive natural hybrid Geranium varieties, Biokovo hardy geranium, was discovered in the Biokova Mountains in Croatia. 

Hence, it was named after the mountains. 

Featuring aromatic green leaves, which looks similar to coriander leaves, the rhizomatous plant forms low, but spreading mounds, eventually forming a dense groundcover.

What makes the plant even more attractive is the fall foliage color – the leaves turn coppery orange to red in the fall. 

To further add to its color and beauty, the plant produces clusters of white flowers, with pink stamens, from mid/ late spring to mid-summer. 

The flowers are also highly attractive to bees and butterflies, making it an ideal choice for gardens.

Creeping Raspberry (Rubusca lycinoides)

Rubusca lycinoides, also known as Rubushayata-koidzumii, is a low-growing species from the Rosaceae family. 

It produces a mass of thick, richly textured, and glossy emerald green leaves on long spreading branches. 

The leaves often turn raspberry-red during the fall, adding color to an otherwise dull garden. 

During late spring or early summer, the plant produces small white flowers followed by the production of salmon-red fruits. 

The fruits are edible, but not very flavored. 

Grow the plant in moderately fertile and well-drained soil under full sun or partial shade, and it will gradually spread to form a striking, durable, and pest-free groundcover. 

Established plants are also drought tolerant.

Dead Nettle (Lamium maculatum)

Lamium maculatum, commonly known as spotted dead-nettle, purple dragon, and spotted henbit, is a flowering plant species from the family Lamiaceae. 

Lamium flower aka Dead Nettle

Native to Europe and temperate regions of Asia, the plant is known for its varying leaf shape and size and flower color. 

It features erect and pubescent stems, which are only branched at the base, long, hairy, and toothed leaf blades in ovate-triangular to the heart shape, and small clusters of white, pink, or magenta hermaphrodite flowers. 

It is low-maintenance and can easily be grown in partial shade to full shade. 

Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)

Named after its sweet-smelling foliage, sweet woodruff belongs to the Rubiaceae family. 

It is native to most of the areas of Europe, western Siberia, Iran, Turkey, the Caucasus, Japan, and China. 

The plant has also been naturalized in some parts of Canada and the United States. 

Since the plant lies flat on the ground without support, it makes an excellent groundcover. 

The sweet-smelling foliage and showy and fragrant white flowers make it even more ideal for landscapes. 

Due to its large native range, the plant has acquired several common names over the years. 

These include sweet-scented bedstraw, woodruff, and wild baby’s breath.

White-Flowered Mazus (Mazus japonicus ‘Albiflorus’)

Producing small two-lipped white and blue or purple flowers on the flowering stems above a basal rosette of leaves, this Mazaceae species is known for its evergreen foliage. 

When grown in the right conditions – in consistently moist soil under full sun to partial shade – the plant forms an excellent groundcover. 

It is sometimes confused with Taraxacum Officinale (Dandelion).

However, the two are completely different species.

Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata)

Creeping phlox, also known as Phlox subulata, is a Polemoniaceae species native to the sandy and rocky location in the eastern and central United States. 

Creeping Phlox subulata

It has also been naturalized to some North American regions, including Quebec, in Canada. 

The plant features two types of stems – creeping and erect flowering stems – and produce showy, colorful flowers from April and May. 

The flower color varies from white to pink to pale purple.

While creeping phlox is a low-maintenance plant, it prefers rich, organic, acidic, well-drained, and consistently moist soil. 

It easily grows in full sun to partial shade and spreads by stolons, forming large colonies and thick foliage mat.

Foamflowers (Tiarella spp.)

Tiarella (foam flower) is a small genus of hardy perennial flowering plants from the Saxifragaceae family. 

White blooms of Tiarella Cordifolia -Foamflower

The plants are native to Asia and North America and feature rounded, toothed leaves and small star-shaped flowers in white, pink, or purple color. 

The flowers grow in clusters on long racemes, which extend way beyond the foliage. 

When grown in moist soils and shaded locations, the plants from great groundcovers. 

Several cultivars and hybrids of Tiarella species have also been developed over the years.

Heuchera Coral Bells

Heuchera also referred to as coral bells, is a clump-forming perennial with eye-catching foliage. 

Beautiful foliage of the Heuchera plant (Coral Bells)

It produces striking grey-pink leaves, which are prominently veined and form compact mounds of spreading foliage when grown in light shade. 

In late spring or early summer, small white flowers with purple tinge are borne on long stems, further enhancing the plant’s appeal.

Coral bells are fairly winter-hardy as well as highly attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds.

Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis scorpioides)

The Forget Me Not Flower is often found growing near streams, brooks, and other water bodies, Myosotis is a moisture and humidity loving plant which grows easily and spreads through self-seeding. 

Blue Forget Me Not Flower

The plant grows best in a shaded location but can adapt to full sun as well. 

Often producing healthy growth with minimal care, the plant is characterized by its stunning blue flowers with yellow centers, which grow on the plant from May till October. 

This low-maintenance plant is native to the United States.

Trailing Verbena (Verbena canadensis)

Verbena canadensis is also known as Rose Verbena, Rose Vervain, and trailing verbena is a low-growing Verbenaceae species native to the United States – from Virginia to Florida. 

Flowers of the Trailing Verbena variety - Verbena canadensis

Growing well in sunny areas in well-drained soil, the plant features pinnately-lobed leaves and colorful inflorescences, which look like umbel. 

Due to its attractive foliage and flowers, several cultivars of this verbena species have been developed out of which ‘Homestead Purple’ has gained immense popularity because of its purple flowers and long bloom time.

Snow-In-Summer (Cerastiumtomentosum)

This low-growing and spreading species of the carnation (Caryophyllaceae) family is native to alpine regions of Europe – Italy and Sicily in particular – and is characterized by its hairy (tomentose) foliage. 

Blooming the Growing Snow In Summer Plant (Cerastium Tomentosum)

It produces silver-grey stems and leaves and white star-like flowers in summer. 

When in bloom, the plant looks as if snow has fallen on the leaves. 

Hence, the common name snow-in-summer.

Cerastium tomentosum is not a demanding plant and easily grows in poor soils with minimal care. 

However, it grows best in well-drained soils and full sun.

The plant has also been naturalized in Frances, the United States, and Canada.

Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca)

A small size grass species valued for its early bloom and attractive foliage, blue fescue displays a clump-forming growth habit. 

The foliage is semi-evergreen and has a fine texture and an attractive light blue color. 

While the plant prefers moist, moderately rich, and well-drained soil, it easily adapts to a variety of soil types, including the poor ones. 

Blue fescue is also fairly heat and drought tolerant. 

The plant is native to Europe and grows in USDA zones 5 to 8.

Purple Heart (Tradescantia Pallida ‘Purple Heart’)

Pallida Tradescantia aka Purple Heart Plant

A tender perennial prized for its vibrant foliage and attractive flowers, the Purple Heart Tradescantia produces the best growth and color when grown in bright sunlight and moist soil. 

The purple stems, violet-purple leaves, and pink flowers make this spiderworts species an excellent addition to your gardens. 

Kaffir Lily (Clivia miniata)

Clivia miniata is a flowering plant of the Amaryllidaceae family and is native to the woodlands of South Africa and Swaziland. 

blooming clivia plant

The plant has also reportedly naturalized in Mexico and is widely grown in the USA, China, Japan, and New Zealand. 

An ideal choice for shaded areas of your garden, kaffir lily forms large clumps of foliage with yellow, red, or orange, sweetly-fragrant flowers, forming a striking groundcover. 

It is also water-wise.

Prayer Plants (Calathea)

A genus of the Marantaceae family, Calathea plants comprise neotropical rhizomatous plants native to the tropical Americas. 

Beautiful dark green foliage of Calathea Roseopicta

Their decorative leaves mainly characterize the plants; however, some also produce colorful inflorescences. 

The leaves of the plants tend to rise upwards at night, giving an appearance as if someone is praying. 

Hence, the common name prayer-plants. 

In addition to making striking groundcovers, prayer-plants also make ideal houseplants.

Recommended Reading


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04 Mar 2020

GKH Words Of Wisdom – Inspiring Garden Quotes We Love


Most gardeners find inspiration in something, be it
another garden, someone they admire, or inspiring garden quotes that provide
purpose. Many of us here at Gardening Know How have been
inspired by little words of wisdom too. They speak to us in some way and, as
such, have special meaning.

GKH’s Favorite Inspiring Garden Quotes

I have lots of garden growing quotes that I’m inspired
by, far too many to list here, but there are a few that I find most appealing.
The first, “It is not just plants that grow, but the gardeners themselves.”
(Ken Druse) – This cannot be any truer. I have grown as a person right
alongside my plants. Through gardening, I have developed a greater sense of the
natural world around me and where I fit into it. And then, of course, the one
with which I can totally relate: “I’ve never seen a gardener who hasn’t
room for one more plant
.” ((Lee May) – This is my guilty pleasure. I
mean can you REALLY have too many plants?

But it’s the words of wisdom from a fellow coworker
that inspired me the most. I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone sum up the entire
gardening experience as it relates to life quite like Kristi Waterworth when
she wrote, “Every plant in the vegetable garden is a little broken heart
waiting to happen. After all, you start them from seeds, nurture them through
their awkward teenage stages, and then hope, as adults, they’ll be fruitful
and, in some cases, even multiply

Bonnie Grant’s favorite quote comes from Alfred
Austin. “The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun,
heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the
” What makes this quote so special to her? “I think it speaks for
itself,” she says. “Don’t spend a lot of money. Some of the simplest things are
the best.”

Tyler says, “Someone once told me, ‘It is better
to underwater than overwater
.’ That has been a recurring theme on the
constant. Don’t be afraid to fail. Just keep trying. I have killed countless
plants, and will probably kill countless more. You just have to learn from your
mistakes and start over!”

Amy has a similar outlook. While she didn’t have any
specific inspiring garden quotes, she did offer up one of her own. “Dive
in. Gardening isn’t about perfection
.” What does she mean by this? It’s
simple. “Sure, you can strive for perfection, but half the fun is the journey in
getting there. Just know that you are going to make mistakes along the way, but
that’s life. We all make mistakes and, hopefully, we learn from them.”

I do not envy the owners of very large gardens.
The garden should fit its owner or his or her tastes, just as one’s clothes do;
it should be neither too large nor too small, but just comfortable
.” This
quote from Gertrude Jekyll sums up how Stacey feels about gardening while Liz is
particularly fond of the words spoken by A. A. Milne. “Weeds are flowers
too, once you get to know them
.” She says that “nothing makes me sadder
than seeing someone kill a dandelion. They’re beautiful, and bees need to eat,

And finally, “If your knees aren’t green by the
end of the day, you ought to seriously re-examine your life
.” (Bill
Watterson a.k.a. Calvin & Hobbs) – Heather loves this quote because, as she
puts it, “it so wonderfully sums up both how I live and how I think gardening
should make you feel. To me, this quote means that you should live working hard
at play. And for a gardener, there is no better work or play than gardening.”


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18 Feb 2020

Learn How To Grow Asplenium Nidus


The birds nest fern the common name for Asplenium Nidus (As-ple-nium nidus) is an epiphytic fern species.

Despite harboring large glossy fronds, the Asplenium is a fern belonging to the Aspleniaceae family and Asplenium genus.

Native to southeast Asia, Malaysia, eastern Australia, and eastern tropical Africa, these plants enjoy and thrive well in tropical climates.

An interesting thing about the birds nest is that while it is epiphyte species, it can also survive as a terrestrial plant, growing in the land!

In its natural habitat growing in the rainforest on tree trunks, the glossy fronds work to form a funnel at the center to collect rainwater and other organic tidbits eventually turning into compost for the plant.

As an indoor plant, with its large leaves and popping green color, Bird’s Nest fern is the ideal plant to add a little color as well as a distinctive look to your house – even as a bathroom plant!

Bird’s Nest Fern Care Instructions

Size & Growth

Asplenium ferns enjoy the attention, and its effects can be physically seen.

Birds nest ferns are recommended for USDA hardiness zones 9-11.

With proper care, the fronds turn into its light green leaves and dark brown or black midrib can grow to up to 2′ feet long or more with a width of around 6” – 8” inches.

Bird nest ferns grow in size from the new leaves constantly sprouting from the middle of the plant.

This eventually adds height and volume to the plant.

Asplenium bird’s nest is not the easiest of the plant to grow. It requires some maintenance.

However, with proper attention and the right growing conditions, this plant will produce spore-bearing leaves.

The leaves act as the heirs and can be used to increase the family of plants.

Flowering and Fragrance

Like all other fern spec, Asplenium does not produce flowers and does not have a fragrance.

Light & Temperature

Bird’s nest ferns are a demanding houseguest.

It is a huge fan of shade but indirect light and cannot tolerate direct sun.

In fact, it is best to keep it away from the windows.

However, these plants enjoy warm temperatures and cannot withstand cold drafts.

During the summer, the ideal temperature range for epiphytic Nidus fern is in the lower 70° degrees Fahrenheit. On the other hand, during the colder months of the years, maintain the temperature around the upper 60° degrees Fahrenheit.

Humidity is another important factor.

These ferns require high humidity to thrive and flourish.

If needed, frequently mist the surrounding areas to make sure the atmosphere remains humid enough for the plant.

Watering and Feeding

Bird nest thrives on water and humidity.

It is advisable to water well, but never allow the bird nest to completely dry out.

The soil must remain moist at all times.

During the summer, it is best to water Asplenium weekly.

If outdoors plants may need more water.

As temperatures drop during the end of the year, reduce the frequency, water only when required.

Accompany watering with feeding. The rule of thumb is to feed bird’s nest with a balanced liquid fertilizer every third time it is watered.

This will ensure it receives all the nutrients required to thrive and flourish all around the year.

Keep in mind that while this houseplant loves water, it is important to avoid overwatering.

Make sure that the soil is not waterlogged. Also, any saucer beneath the pot should be drained regularly.

Soil & Transplanting

Coarse potting mix or soil with loads of organic material works best for these plants. Use organic matter like peat moss or leaf mold.

Make a simple potting mix using:

  • 2 parts peat moss
  • 1 part perlite

Since Bird’s nest fern Asplenium grows up quickly, it should be repotted at least once every 2- 3 years.

However, it is advisable to transplant younger plants every year.

The best time to transplant or repot is during the spring.

Grooming and Maintenance

While grooming is not absolutely essential, it is a good practice to remove old, unattractive leaves and remove any debris from the rosette.

Sometimes, the edges of the leaves can turn brown. When this happens, trim the edges or remove the leave if it does not add to the beauty of this handsome fern species.

Related Reading: Hart’s Tongue Fern Care the Birds Nest Cousin Asplenium Scolopendrium

How to Propagate Asplenium Bird’s Nest Fern

Propagating ferns is not an easy job and can be a challenge but fun.

Commercially propagation of most bird’s nest ferns is produced from tissue culture.

But many fern lovers grow new plants from spores.

If the plant is mature enough leaves bearing spores may appear on the underside.

Cut them off and dry them for about a week. Make sure the leaves are dry and the side harboring spores faces up so the spores don’t fall off.

spores on underside of Asplenium leaf

Once the leaves are dry, crush them and sprinkle them over a layer moistened peat moss.

Whether you use a tray or a pot, once you have sprinkled the crushed leaves, water gently and cover the container with plastic or glass.

Place it in a warm spot to encourage growth.

Allow lots of indirect light but make sure it does not receive direct sunlight.

Also, it is essential that the soil does not dry out.

Keep in mind that bird nest Asplenium propagates slowly. After about a month, small sporelings may appear.

Leave them alone for a few months, allowing them to grow at their own pace.

Move the sporelings to individual pots, ensuring that the small ferns remain warm and have enough light.

The first real leaves will grow after about a month. With proper care, in just six months, you will have an entire collection of tiny ferns.

Bird Nest Fern Pest or Disease Problems

Asplenium is a fern susceptible to multiple problems. If the leaves of the plant are turning black, curling at the edges, maintain lower temperature and increase humidity.

This generally results from too much heat and lack of humidity.

Sometimes, brown or dark spots can appear on the leaves. This happens when the temperature is too cold or the fern is allowed to stand in cold drafts.

Again, try to maintain the appropriate temperature and move the plant away from the cold breeze.

Asplenium Nidus is also susceptible to scale insects that may cluster beneath the leaves.

The best approach is to use a toothpick to remove these insects as using an insecticide can harm the plant.

If the leaves start to lose their color, turning pale or white, the fern is probably not getting enough food.

It can happen if the plant receives too much light.

An easy way to tackle the problem is to move the plant to a shadier spot and add liquid fertilizer in the water.

Uses For Asplenium Ferns

The big glossy leaves make Asplenium Nidus an excellent indoor plant.

Moreover, it can be placed in darker rooms where many other plants are less likely to thrive.

Owing to its popping green color and large leaves, this plant looks attractive and can easily become the center of attention in any room or outdoors garden!


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03 Feb 2020

The Best Indoor Herb Garden Kits (Review)


An herb garden is the perfect way to liven up your home, with the added bonus of providing ingredients that can be used in your recipes. Anyone, even new gardeners, can grow an herb garden with a kit. Everything from seeds to pots to instructions, is included. 

When purchasing an indoor garden kit, you have to consider the basics, like what plants you want to grow, how big you want the pots or planters to be, and what gardening tools you need included in the kit.

With all of the factors to consider and all of the options out there, you need a well-informed source to guide you through your shopping experience.

In This Article:

Gardening Know How has saved you the trouble of searching. We have selected the five best garden kits using a variety of criteria.

Review Standards

We used several factors to evaluate indoor herb garden kits and land our top picks. We considered price, expected life of use, brand trust, customer reviews, features, and more.

#1 Click and Grow Smart Garden Indoor Home Garden

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The Click and Grow Smart Garden Indoor Home Garden comes with technology to make gardening easy. All you have to do is fill it with water once a month and turn on the LED lights, and the planter does the rest. If you have any trouble with your planter, you can contact the company for a free replacement of any pod that doesn’t germinate.

This kit doesn’t limit you to only growing herbs. There is a large range of pod options, including smaller vegetables like tomatoes.

Key Features

  • 9 starter pods from a selection of 50 pod types
  • GMO, pesticide, herbicide, and fungicide-free pods
  • Three color options for the planter: beige, gray, and white
  • Self-watering
  • Energy efficient LED grow lights

The Click and Grow Smart Garden Indoor Home Garden has earned an average of 4.3 stars out of 69 customer reviews on Amazon.

On June 2, 2018, Yulia said: 

Wonderful indoor garden perfect for my dark open space kitchen counter. After I got it I stopped buying flowers as freshly sprouted greens fully covered my need in something bright on the counter. I’m month+ in owning this garden. We already ate the salad (it was good) and my tomatoes are already blooming! My morning routine now includes garden “inspection” where I note how much everything had grown and some “bee work” as I pollinate tomato flowers with a brush. I also used basil leaves that I got after first trimming on pizza and it tasted good, can’t wait till basil plants get bigger!

Go online to check the price of this high-tech kit.

#2 Home Grown Indoor Herb Garden Starter Kit 

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The Home Grown Indoor Herb Garden Starter Kit is all about a high success rate. It provides both peat discs and nutrition packs, while most other kits only include one or the other, to ensure that the herbs get all the nutrients they need to thrive.

The seeds have also been extensively tested in the United States to guarantee growth almost every time. If your seed still doesn’t germinate, the company will provide a replacement seed for free.

Key Features:

  • 5 herb seeds: basil, mint, cilantro, parsley, and chives
  • GMO-free seeds
  • 5 peat discs
  • 5 nutrition packs
  • 5 wood plant markers
  • 5 reusable, bamboo pots and drip trays
  • Planting instructions

The Home Grown Indoor Herb Garden Starter Kit has earned an average of 4.1 stars out of 98 reviews.

On December 18, 2019, R. Bishop said: 

I’ve been wanting to start an indoor herb garden but figuring it out and getting it together just seemed like a hassle. This kit made it simple. It comes with everything needed, including cute little pots that take up very little space. I think it’s a great little starter kit. Maybe a little spendy but it is all inclusive.

Also, the day after it was delivered, the seller sent a “Planter and Germination” pdf. I thought that was a nice gesture.

Go online to check the price of this high-germination kit.

#3 Spade to Fork Organic Non-GMO DIY Kitchen Grow Kit 

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The Spade to Fork Organic Non-GMO DIY Kitchen Grow Kit prides itself on being environmentally friendly. Each piece of the kit, from the seeds to the soil discs, are certified organic to ensure that no damage is done to the environment with the product. 

The family-owned farm that sells this kit wants to stay in touch with you throughout your growing process, offering free replacements of seeds that don’t germinate or a full refund.

Key Features:

  • 5 herb seeds: basil, cilantro, parsley, sage, and thyme
  • 5 compostable peat pots
  • 5 soil discs
  • 5 wood-burned plant markers
  • Growing guide

The Spade to Fork Organic Non-GMO DIY Kitchen Grow Kit has earned an average of 4.3 stars out of 329 reviews.

On December 7, 2018, emmaleigh 3 said: 

What a fantastic kit! The packaging and presentation is beautiful — you can tell there was a lot of thought and care put into it; it would make a great gift. I love that the soil is packaged so you can do just one or two pots if you prefer not to do them all. We just put all the soil pods into a large bowl and added the recommended amount of water, then filled each pot (directions say to do one at a time). I did this with my kids and they LOVED it. The small seed containers made it very easy for them to plant the seeds (vs. dealing with individual seeds or a giant packet). We put the pots on a tray on the counter. There are printed instructions that detail how to care for each plant.

Go online to check the price of this eco-friendly kit.

#4 Garden Republic Garden Seed Starter Kit 

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The Garden Republic Garden Seed Starter Kit, created by a family-owned business, is tailored for tea lovers. The kit comes with four types of seeds to create the main ingredients in four common teas.

You can not only grow the plants, but also turn them into tea yourself. The kit comes with pruning shears and a stainless steel tea infuser, perfect for the first-time gardener who doesn’t already have these tools in their collection.

Key Features:

  • 4 tea seeds: chamomile, mint, lavender, and lemon
  • GMO-free seeds
  • 4 burlap grow bags
  • 4 peat discs
  • 4 bamboo plant markers
  • Pruning shears
  • Stainless steel tea infuser
  • Wooden gift box that doubles as a planting box
  • Instructions via a handout and CD

The Garden Republic Garden Seed Starter Kit has earned an average of 4.7 stars out of 111 reviews.

On August 22, 2019, Krickett said:

I have never gotten a set as cute and complete as this one. The large wooden box that is comes in is beautifully made. It has four cute burlap sacks that sit in the box that holds the potting soil and seeds after they have been planted. Not only that but it also comes with little clippers for the plants to clip for homemade tea. It has a round seeple for the plants to soak in hot water for tea. That is not all, it has a small guide to help you successfully plant your seeds and register them if they do not come up. You can’t go wrong with this adorable set. It would make a great gift for tea lovers, herb lovers and gardening lovers.

Go online to check the price of this tea-focused kit.

#5 Planter’s Choice Herb Garden Growing Kit & Comprehensive Guide

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The Planter’s Choice Herb Garden Growing Kit & Comprehensive Guide contains all the fundamental items to start an herb garden. Not only does it include pots, drip trays, soil, and markers, it also has the seeds of four herbs that are staples in any herb garden: basil, parsley, chives, and cilantro.

The kit is geared toward a beginner crowd with its moisture meter that tells you how much water to give each plant. If the water-measuring tool still doesn’t help you yield good results, the company offers a full refund.

Key Features:

  • 4 herb seeds: basil, parsley, chives, and cilantro
  • 4 reusable pots and drip trays
  • 4 soil discs
  • 4 bamboo markers
  • Instructional guide
  • Moisture meter to determine how much water to give

The Planter’s Choice Herb Garden Growing Kit & Comprehensive Guide has earned an average of 4.6 stars out of 14 reviews.

On December 17, 2019, Try it! said:

Great way to grow herbs. Very simple and all you need is right in the box. My herbs are already growing.

Highly recommended.

Go online to check the price of this water-measuring kit.

Things to Consider When Buying Indoor Herb Garden Kits 

What plants do you want to grow?

If you have preferences about the type of plants you want in your indoor garden, look into a kit that contains those seeds.

Do you plan on gardening in the future?

If you want to continue growing, consider buying a kit with reusable pots or planters.

Are you environmentally conscious?

If you prefer environmentally friendly products, choose a kit with GMO-free seeds or an all-organic kit.

What is your gardening skill level?

If you are new to gardening, consider a kit that comes with gardening tools you won’t already have, such as a water measurer or pruning shears.

How much space do you have for the plants?

If you want the plants to only take up a small area, such as a windowsill, choose a kit with small, individual pots.

What kind of company do you want to buy from?

If you like to support small businesses, buy a kit that you know was handcrafted by fellow gardeners like you.


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19 Jan 2020

How To Grow The Tradescantia Plant


The Tradescantia plant is commonly known as the Wandering Jew plant – an attractive vining plant whose distinctive leaves bear stripes of purple, white, green and silver. The botanical name for the tricolor wandering jew? Tradescantia zebrina!

The wandering jew, is a native of Mexico who earned its common name thanks to the plant’s ability to root easily, spread and thrive in a wide variety of conditions.

This plant comes from the spiderwort family (Commelinaceae) and is also known as Zebrina pendula or inch plant.

Another popular wandering jew variety is Tradescantia pallida – with deep purple leaves and goes by several common names like purple wandering jew, purple queen, and purple heart.

There are several other wandering jew varieties with green and white variegated leaves.

Tradescantia displays small 3-petaled pink, white or purple flowers.

In the “old days” before the advent of garden centers and nurseries carrying a wide variety of houseplants, housewives and gardeners shared cuttings of plants freely.

Cuttings of the wandering jew traveled broadly from home to home and proved itself adaptable and capable of thriving in almost any setting.

This reminded people of the wanderings of the Jews of biblical times, hence the nickname.

This easy-care plant grows indoors or out in a variety of settings.

In this article, we will provide best practices instructions on how to grow and care for Tradescantia pallida and provide some words of caution regarding another invasive species related to it, Tradescantia fluminensis. Read on to learn more.

Wandering Jew Care

The Wandering Jew does well in pots planted in a 60/40 peat moss and perlite potting mixture or with an all-purpose potting mix.

This indoor plant makes an exceptionally beautiful hanging basket plant.

Lighting can vary from medium indirect light to even full sun. Likewise, this hardy plant does well in room temperatures ranging from 55° degrees to 75° degrees Fahrenheit.

NOTE: Tradescantia Plants will achieve the most vibrant, bright colors in high, bright indirect light and at consistently warmer temperatures.

Like most houseplants, the Wandering Jew does not like soggy roots. Translation – Too much water leads to root rot.

Allow the soil to dry completely between waterings, then water deeply. If desired, use a general liquid houseplant fertilizer two times monthly.

Do not water directly into the crown of the plant. Doing so may encourage rotting of the stems and the roots.

These plants like humid conditions, so between watering, the leaf surface enjoys a frequent misting.

Continue misting through the winter, but cut back on watering. Generally speaking, watering once a week should work.

During the winter, reduce watering to two times monthly, and do not fertilize.

Pruning and grooming play an important role in caring for your Wandering Jew indoors.

These houseplants grow very quickly and send out long tendrils and stems on a regular ongoing basis. Keep these trimmed or pinched back at leaf nodes to encourage your new growth and fuller plants.

Propagation of this rambling plant is very easy.

Simply clip off the long stem cutting tips (3” length) during the spring and summer months and root them in potting soil or in water.

Growing Wandering Jew As An Outdoor Plant

Wandering Jew thrives in a temperate climate with fairly high humidity. Hardy in USDA Zones 9-11.

Tradescantia tricolor makes a good ground cover in spots receiving bright indirect light, such as around the base of tall trees which are shady areas.

They also serve as a great ornamental and basket plant.

Planting is simplicity itself. You can use four-inch plants in pots purchased from a nursery, or use stem cuttings from your houseplant for repotting or creating new starts.

You’ll get best results planting in rich, well-drained soil.

Be sure to cover the roots or sink your cuttings 3″ to 5″ inches into the soil. Keep a moist soil until the plant becomes established.

After this, weekly watering should suffice. Applying liquid fertilizer once a week will help to develop a healthy root system.

Keep plants pinched back and pruned to encourage them to grow bushy rather than spindly and trailing manner.

NOTE: Some people report skin irritation when coming in contact with the sap when handling cuttings.

More on the Wandering Jew Plant being Poisonous or Toxic.

Wandering Purple Jew plants will die back during cold winter months outdoors. Fear not, if you plant correctly and help establish a good root system they will reappear come springtime.

wandering jew flowers

Three Best Ways To Root Tradescantia

  1. Poke the ends of cuttings into potting soil and keep the potting mix moist for a few weeks. During the rooting process, keep plants in partial shade. Once rooted, transfer them to pots and water as you would a mature plant.
  2. Simply lay cuttings on the surface of moist potting mix. Press the joint of the cutting into the soil so that it makes good contact. Roots will form at the joint. Once the plant becomes established, transfer it to its own pot.
  3. Place cuttings in a glass or bottle of water set on a sunny windowsill. Once roots emerge, transfer cuttings into pots. Keep the soil moist for a few weeks until the cuttings adjust and established themselves in the soil.

Replacing The Wandering Jew Sometimes Becomes Necessary

This houseplant does not usually live for long periods of time like a Hoya the wax plant or grandma’s African violet plant. Luckily it regenerates itself easily.

If your Wandering Jew begins looking shabby, loses foliage easily and gets too leggy, you may want simply toss it into the compost pile and replace it with one of its offspring. Alternately, you could try cutting the foliage back to the roots to see if it will regenerate.

Pests and diseases rarely attack Wandering Jew, but occasionally you’ll discover spider mites and aphids on the leaves and stems.

When this happens, simply cut back the affected areas and dispose of the cuttings in a sealed plastic bag.

Spray plants vigorously with water to knock off any errant pests. Depending on the infestation this should take care of the problem.

If it does not, turn to natural insecticides for killing any remaining aphids and prevent reinfestation.

NOTE: Don’t compost diseased or pest-infested plants.

Beware Of The Wandering Jew’s Invasive Cousin!

So far we’ve discussed the wandering jew – Tradescantia pallid. Another variety known as Tradescantia fluminensis is solid green and produces white flowers.

This wandering jew variety thrives in USDA zones 9 through 11. In fact, it does so well it can quickly become invasive. You must take great care to prevent it from taking over your entire yard.

In subtropical areas such as New Zealand and Australia and in the southern United States it has become a serious invasive plant problem.

Wandering Jew Propagation:

It propagates itself with wild abandon, and new starts grow readily from stem segments.

Inclement weather only encourages this because the segments can float and travel far and wide to establish themselves in new homes.

Eradicating Tradescantia fluminensis or even cutting it back by hand may encourage the plant to spread.

Very often people regret introducing this “Wandering Jew” in their gardens. They often end up having to use a strong herbicide to kill it off.

Should The Green Wandering Jew Be Avoided Entirely?

Tradescantia fluminensis can be a good garden addition, and it does well as a groundcover in Brazil and Argentina from whence it hails.

If you want Tradescantia fluminensis in your garden, look for the Innocence variety.

It’s more attractive and less invasive than the common varieties. It prefers damper and shadier areas and thrives in lower shade with moister soil.


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04 Jan 2020

Birds In The Garden – 5 Tips For Attracting Birds To Your Yard


The chirp and tweet of birds
whirring and hopping through my yard is one of my simple pleasures. Birds of a
feather and all that, it turns out I’m not alone. More than 70 million people
put out bird food to entice our feathered friends. Putting out bird food is a
one way to lure birds in the garden, but what else can you do to keep them
flitting about? It turns out quite a few things. Here are my top 5 tips for attracting birds to the yard.

Landscape your yard with your bird
friends in mind
. This means incorporating plants
that create places where they can roost, raise young and find food. Depending
upon the type of bird, this may mean adding trees or creating a thicket of
dense shrubbery. Add shrubs that produce berries (such as holly, mulberry or beautyberry)
as well as fruiting trees and plants that produce seeds and nuts, and plant in
groupings to create a protected area.

Provide the birds with a water
. Sure, a bird bath
is an option, but instead of static water, add a bubbler, mister or dripper to
create motion. If you really want to go big, add a waterfall or pond. Don’t
forget the birds in the winter. While they can get their water from snow and
ice, if you want to attract them, add a heater attachment to a bird bath.

Put feeders in the right location. Bird feeders are terrific ways to attract birds, but they
do their job best when put in the right spot. Some birds are scared to visit a
feeder that is exposed while others like to take a flying leap across the yard
to the feeder. Situate multiple feeders so they can accommodate different types
of birds. This means placing one feeder near a large shrub or tree that offers
cover for timid birds and placing another farther away in a tree for the bolder
birds. Give bird species some space and separate individual feeders at least 3
feet (around a meter) from each other.

Give them a place to nest. Creating habitat in the landscape is a terrific way to
keep the birds around, but you can provide them with options by hanging
birdhouses or a roost box. Be sure to have nesting material available. Some
birds use detritus from the landscape while others may use man-made materials,
such as cotton or string, and still others make good use of Fido’s shed fur.

Vary the menu. Many people feed the hummingbirds
or put suet out in the winter for the birds, but if you want to get a variety
of avian wildlife, try varying the menu. Yes, hummers like a variety of
flowering plants to fill up on, but they will happily sip from a syrup filled
feeder. For a treat, you can even offer the birds a sampling of your menu by
feeding birds kitchen scraps such as pasta, rice, or bread. Don’t use the birds
as composters, however. It is much better for them to eat naturally occurring foods
so give them the previous foods only on occasion.


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20 Dec 2019

Growing, Maintenance, and Care Tips


Leucothoe [Loo-KOH-thoh-ee] is a genus of evergreen flowering plants, belonging to the family Ericaceae along with Calluna vulgaris

This genus has around 50 different species, including Leucothoe Fontanesiana and Leucothoe Axillaris.

All of these species are low maintenance and produce beautiful foliage to enhance the overall beauty of the garden, particularly in winter and autumn.

Leucothoe works well on dry slopes without irrigation and slopes near water. 

This plant is native to Madagascar, Asia, and the United States.

The common names of this plant include:

  • Coastal Doghobble
  • Drooping Leucothoe
  • Swamp Doglaurel
  • Fetterbush
  • Coastal Leucothoe
  • Rainbow Leucothoe
  • Mountain Doghobble
  • Scarletta Fetterbush

Leucothoe Plant Care

Size & Growth

This evergreen shrub is vase-shaped and grows about 3’ to 5’ feet tall. 

It spreads about 6’ feet or more. 

The stems of this plant are elegant and arching. 

The majority of the species start with vibrant green, bronze, or red stems, which turn into glossy or dark green as they mature.

The plant has spear-shaped or elongated leaves. 

The leaf color ranges from red, pink, pale yellow, or green, and changes to purple or bronzy during the autumn season. 

Some of the varieties also have variegated leaves.

Flowering and Fragrance

  • All the varieties of this plant produce bell-shaped, white flowers. 
  • The flower color might also be bluish in some species. 
  • These tiny flowers gradually transform into five-lobed globular fruits.  
  • The bloom time of this plant is between April and May.

Light & Temperature

This plant tolerates the full sun if there is a sufficient amount of moisture in the soil. 

Full shade to partial shade is required to develop vibrant leaf color and variegated leaves. 

The lighter spot you place this plant in, the more beautiful its color will become.

These plants are hardy to USDA Hardiness Zones 6 through 9. 

This plant is moderately hardy but requires a bit of protection during the winter season. 

Provide extra protection during periods when thawing and frosting occur regularly.

Watering and Feeding

This plant has the ability to tolerate short dryness spells. 

However, for healthy plants, you must provide it with consistent but moderate water.

Make sure the soil stays moist and ensure the soil doesn’t completely dry out between waterings. 

Keep in mind the Mountain Doghobble shouldn’t sit in standing water for an extended period.

Feed the plant with special Ericaceae fertilizer during the spring season to enhances its health and maintain the acidity of the soil.  

Soil & Transplanting

It grows optimally in well-draining and acidic soil. 

This plant is rather versatile and grows well in all types of soil, but make sure the pH level of the soil isn’t alkaline.

Grooming and Maintenance

  • Protect this plant from drying winds as it might damage the foliage. 
  • Apply a layer of organic matter or mulch all around the root area to prevent desiccation and weed. 
  • A bark layer also works well in maintaining the acidity of the soil and protecting the plant from drying out.
  • There is not much need for pruning unless there is a broken or errant stem. 
  • Enjoy new growth by taking out stems within a few inches of the soil, which will rejuvenate the old plants.

How to Propagate Leucothoe Plant

The propagation of this plant is done using half-ripe cuttings and seeds.

  • Sow the seeds in late winter in part shade inside the greenhouse. 
  • Be sure to cover the seeds lightly. 
  • Make sure the compost doesn’t dry out throughout the germination process. 
  • Once the plant is big enough to handle, take the seedlings out and plant them in separate pots.
  • Allow the plant to grow under light shade inside the greenhouse till their first winter. 
  • During late spring, transfer the plant in their permanent spot in the garden during the late spring season.

When propagating the plant using half-rip cuttings, make sure to take 2” to 4” inches of the cutting. 

  • Grow the cuttings in a frame during the summer season. 
  • Layer the plant with mulch in the fall season. 
  • Once the plant is big enough, transfer them out in the permanent position.

Leucothoe Plant Pest or Diseases

The Drooping Leucothoe is deer resistant and doesn’t experience any severe disease or pests problems. 

However, be on a lookout for scale insects, lace bugs, leaf gall, powdery mildew, tar spot, and Anthracnose spot

In a humid environment, the plant might experience a leaf spot.

Is Leucothoe Toxic or Poisonous?

This plant is toxic and might prove fatal if ingested. 

The plant also has a high flammability rating and shouldn’t be placed inside the house.

Leucothoe Plant Uses

This evergreen shrub works well as a single specimen when planted in containers. 

It also looks stunning when used with other plants in borders, woodland gardens, rock gardens, on slopes, or as a ground cover.

It may be used as an under-planting for bigger shrubs or as a foundation plant. 

The fantastic foliage of this plant looks wonderful with Checkerberry, Ling Heather, and Skimmia plants.


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05 Dec 2019

History Of Rosemary – Learn About Rosemary Herbal Uses


Cultivated for over 5,000 years, rosemary plant history is understandably steeped in legend, myth and folklore. Rosemary herbal uses run the gamut of medicinal remedies, culinary delights or even as a love charm. It’s really no wonder why its stimulating aroma and flavor has continued to enchant people for centuries.

History of Rosemary

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) has been used medicinally dating back to the ancient Greeks and Romans in 500 B.C. Dried sprigs of rosemary even showed up in Egyptian tombs from 3,000 B.C. Discorides, a contemporary of both Pliny the Elder and Galen, also wrote of rosemary in his opus De Materia Medica, the gold standard about the use and identification of medicinal herbs for 1,400 years.

Rosemary was cultivated by the Spanish in the 13th century where it became a popular condiment for salted meats from the 15th to 18th centuries. Actually, I suspect it was used less as a condiment and more to disguise the less than pleasant odor and flavor of rotting meat.

Its genus name, Rosmarinus, is derived from the Latin for “dew” (ros) and “belonging to the sea” (marinus) in reference to the warm Mediterranean region of its origin. The common name of rosemary is, of course, derived from the genus name but with a twist. Legend has it that the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, as she fled from Egypt, sheltered next to a rosemary bush. She threw her blue cape onto the bush and the white flowers turned blue. Because of this, the herb has long been called “rose of Mary” even if the blooms look nothing like a rose but are rather more like the mint flowers to which rosemary is related.

Additional Rosemary Plant History

Rosemary is associated with remembrance. Its earliest use was probably by Greek students. They braided garlands of the aromatic herb into their hair, which is where rosemary’s other common name “herb of crowns” comes from. I do something like this whenever I trim my rosemary – stick the herb into my sweaty, messy hair. I can’t recall if it helps my memory, but it sure does improve upon my aroma.

Rosemary is also symbolic of fidelity or, to put more romantically, love. During the Middle Ages, a bride would wear rosemary in her headpiece and the groom and guests would wear a sprig as well. Really prosperous wedding goers might receive a rosemary branch gilt in gold. The newlyweds would plant rosemary on their wedding day in the hopes that it would be a good omen for their future.

It was said if a person tapped another with a sprig of rosemary with an open bloom, they would fall in love. Rosemary was also incorporated into doll’s clothes to attract lovers. From all of these folkloric traditions arose the concept that rosemary was a love charm.

Rosemary Herbal Uses

Rosemary’s medicinal history spans centuries and was probably first used for respiratory issues. During the 13th century, the Queen of Hungary apparently was paralyzed, but a concoction of rosemary and wine fixed her right up. For years thereafter, the concoction was used to cure baldness and dandruff as well as other skin ailments. Rosemary was placed under one’s pillow to prevent nightmares and was hung outside homes to thwart evil spirits. Of course, rosemary was also used between the sheets to repel moths.

By the 16th century, the marital rosemary planted with such hope by the aforementioned newlyweds was being yanked out by husbands. Due no doubt to an old common saying “where rosemary flourishes, the lady rules” that basically meant women, not men, ruled the home. We have three rosemary bushes, just saying.

In successive years, rosemary was used to treat the Plague, melancholy, gout, epilepsy, arthritis and many other ills. Today, the herb is still used by many as a tea to treat sore throats, head colds and to freshen bad breath. Rosemary is often used in cooking, but that isn’t the herbs only use. The aromatic essential oil derived from the plant is found in many toiletry products. In fact, a food preservative derived from the herb is used in cosmetics and plastic food packaging.

From love potions to plastic packaging, rosemary has come a long way. Who knows what uses we’ll find for the herb in the coming years. Maybe scientists will discover that rosemary oil is a new biofuel. Could happen.


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20 Nov 2019

Succulents You See Them Everywhere Indoors


All types of succulent plants, you see them everywhere. In dish gardens, terrariums, pots, planters, on patios, even in modern foundation plantings. 

Succulents are plants without frills, geared to modern living. Functional plants that can stand today’s rapid pace.

If you are too rushed to water them, they fall back on their own reserve supply. 

Learn more about Watering Succulents from the Bottom.

If your air-conditioned room is too dry, it reminds them of their native warm-temperate or semi-desert home. If the children swoosh by too close, the pieces often root where they fall.

There are hundreds of different succulents. 

From tiny button sizes, you can grow in 1” inch pots to trees too tall to fit into a conservatory. 

But, beware. Once you fall under the succulent spell, you may find yourself searching for rare varieties to add for your collection. 

Dedicated fanciers hunt for succulents in nursery catalogs native to South Africa, Madagascar, and Mexico.

Growing Succulents No Green Thumb Required

Growing succulents does not require you to have a green thumb. Plant them in any good potting soil. Although we recommend a soil mix for succulents

If you mix your own, use a sandy loam and add some clean, coarse sand, and coarse leafmold or peat moss. 

Strive for an open, porous compost through which water will drain freely. 

Heavy soils drown plants by holding too much water around the roots. If the succulent potting soil is damp, don’t water the plants right away. 

And when you do water during the first few weeks, give them only a little so the soil will dry out again quickly. Healthy new roots start best in soil that is almost dry.

Spread out the roots and pot plants firmly. When using individual pots, small ones are best at the start. Later, as the plants grow, you can transfer them to larger containers.

Succulents Good For Decorations

Dish gardens of succulents make good decorations. For the best effect plant, many kinds close together in each dish. 

The bowls or dishes used for planting are usually glazed pottery without drainage holes, and excess water can escape only through evaporation. 

So never soak the soil. 

Give enough water to keep the plants plump but not enough to induce much top growth. Actually, the plants should be on the dry side most of the time.

Succulents enjoy the same light geraniums do. They want the sun, so don’t put them too far away from the window. Windowsills are perfect for cactus and succulents.

If you intend to succulents on tables where there is no direct light, keep them on the dry side – hardly water them at all – and they will keep in good condition.

Succulents To Consider For Your Collection

Here are some succulents you will want for your collection. You can see a number of them in full color throughout this article.

Agave striata (echinoides) – a dwarf century plant. Its many narrow stiff leaves have white threads on the margins. Young plants spring from the soil near the base. The tall, slender flower spike has inconspicuous flowers.

Aloe humilis – forms small, compact rosette clusters. Most aloes are from Africa and vary from small 3-inch rosettes to tall trees.

Aloe brevifolia – thick, blue-gray leaf rosettes covered with blunt prickles. Flowers are bright red on tall, slender spikes. Young plants grow around the base.

Aloe variegata – an old favorite called tiger or partridge breast aloe. The stiff, triangular, keeled leaves – pale green, blotched, and margined with white – grow in rosettes. In late winter, short spikes of slender, brilliant red bells appear.

Variegated Tiger Aloe with bloom stalk

Bryophyllum – also known as Kalanchoe. Produces many young plantlets at its leaf crenations.

Crassula argentea tricolor –  the sturdy, tricolored, jade plant. It will grow into a good-sized bush with a thick trunk, but small plants are more common.

Echeveria elegans  – commonly called Mexican snowball. It has thick, blue-white leaves in compact rosettes and spikes of fleshy pink bells. Grows in hot, dry places and is useful in dish gardens or carpet bedding outdoors.

Echeveria elegans growing in full sun in the landscape

Echeveria gibbiflora metallica  – a large rosette often a foot in diameter. Has bronzy-red leaves and a tall single stem that bears a spike of pale red flowers.

Echeveria pallida –  a Mexican plant with pale green leaves forming quite a large rosette. The flower spike is 2’ feet long with many bright red bells.

Echeveria setosa – commonly called Mexican firecracker. Leaves are covered with white hairs, and flowers, on short spikes, are bright red and yellow.

Echeveria sets the Mexican Firecracker with the fuzzy bristles on the leaves

Faucaria tigrina – called tiger jaws. This African succulent has thick green rosettes, each leaf white-flecked and rimmed with teeth.

Tiger's Jaw Faucaria succulent showing off it's yellow flower

Large, bright yellow flowers appear in autumn.

Gasteria verrucosa – a South African plant with thick leathery leaves, lying in one plane, covered with glossy white bosses, bears tall flower spikes with slender bright red bells.

Graptopetalum paraguayense – ghost plant. This handsome, long-lived species grows more beautiful with age. The stems of the mature plants tipped with their rosettes of thick, pink-white leaves, bend gracefully. The ghost plant thrives under adverse conditions.

Haworthia margaritifera – pearl haworthia. Handsome, and easily grown, it has a small rosette of thick, deep green leaves with many white bosses on the backs. Haworthia papillosa is larger and has larger bosses.

potted Haworthia zebra cactus (fasciata)
Potted Haworthia plants

Huernia pillansi – cockleburs, a member of the milkweed family, closely related to the starfish flowers.

Flowers of Huernia succulent planl

It belongs to a curious group of African plants called ‘dragon flowers’ because their blossoms are open mouthed. This is the only one that bears soft, hairlike prickles.

Kalanchoe marmorata – readily recognized as the pen wiper plant by its heavily mottled purple leaves. It forms a tall plant topped with a cluster of white flowers.

Kalanchoe synsepala – from Madagascar, has large obovate leaves of dark green. Flower spikes have thickly packed heads of pale pink blossoms. Produces stiff slender runners with young plants at the tips.

Kalanchoe tomentosa – panda plant. A fine plant from Madagascar. The leaves, densely covered with silvery wool, turn rich cocoa-brown at the leaf crenations.

Kalanchoe tomentosa - panda plant a well known variety

Pachyphytum oviferum –  thick, white-powdered ovate leaves that turn violet-pink during cold weather.

Details on Pachyphytum Compactum

Sansevieria – rugged plants that will do well under the most adverse conditions. There are many kinds, and the most popular is striped with yellow.

Sansevieria plants growing on a windowsill

Sedum rubrotinctum –  (S. guatemalense). This quick-growing species is very useful. Given poor soil and full sun, its leaves turn bright red; in richer soil and with more water, leaves turn bright, shiny green.

Close up of Sedum rubrotinctum - Jelly bean succulent

Sedum pachyphyllum – red tips. Has pretty yellow blossoms. If kept dry and in full sun, the leaves turn violet-rose tipped with red.


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05 Nov 2019

Learn About Upcycling Drawbacks And Benefits


Upcycling is kind of similar to recycling in that you are reusing an item. But with recycling, an item is often broken down in some way, making it less than it was before, whereas upcycling is just as the name suggests…taking an item “up” a notch and making it something more than it was before. While the benefits of living a sustainable lifestyle and repurposing our waste are being beaten into us, others see an awful lot of upcycling drawbacks. So, in order to provide the best information possible, we must include both sides – the pros and cons of garden upcycling.

Upcycling Pros – Reasons to Upcycle in the Garden

(Nikki’s viewpoint) I love to upcycle, especially in the garden. Why? Let me count the ways, as the benefits of garden upcycling are bountiful, and anyone can reap from these rewards.

Saves money and reduces waste. This should just be a given. It doesn’t cost much at all to improve upon something, but it will get costly having to haul it off to the landfill. Take my son’s old truck bed liner, for example. This large eyesore could have costed us some money hauling it off to the dump, but why spend money when you don’t have to? With some drainage holes and the addition of some beautiful plants, this became the foundation for a backyard tropical oasis instead. Same thing for those huge truck tires. Some paint, some plants and some ingenuity, and an attractive dinosaur garden was created. Simple things like this can greatly reduce waste in landfills and beyond.

Great chance to be creative. Upcycling in the garden also gives you the chance to let those creative juices flow. Don’t have a creative bone? Yes, you do. Everyone does. Don’t overthink it too much. You can make upcycling as simple or complex as your artistic abilities can handle. Got an old terra cotta container that’s cracked or broken and ready to be tossed? Give it new life and another purpose as part of a fairy garden. How about those wine bottles piling up? Sure, you could haul them to the recycling center, but why not turn them into unique edging or create a bottle tree with them instead? Anything goes – it’s your creation.

Visually pleasing conversation piece. Taking something used up, broken or downright ugly and sprucing it up into something beautiful and purposeful in the garden can be a visually appealing asset to the garden. It can also become an interesting conversation piece. I once took an old desk and refurbished it into a unique planter. Many people have commented on it as they pass by. I also have a teapot turned planter/wind chime combo – a gift my daughter-in-law made. Dresser drawers have found new life housing plants in the garden after a previous life storing clothes.

Preserves precious mementos. Another reason to upcycle in the garden is preserving memories, or maybe even history. I have old rain boots from my daughter and toys that once belonged to my son. They’re grown now, but these trinkets can be found amongst the plants in the garden, some even spilling out their own flora. Each time I’m out there, it brings me joy, as those fond memories of their childhood antics live on in a different way.

Cons of Garden Upcycling – Gardening Upcycling Drawbacks

(Amy’s viewpoint) I know that upcycling is supposed to result in turning our trash into something useful or even beautiful, but too often the results look pretty disastrous, pretty much like the rubbish they started off as. And that isn’t my only upcycling beef.

Upcycled items cannot always be recycled. Upcycling is touted as an extension of recycling. It is changing or customizing an item to reuse in a different way than what the item was intended for. Okay, that sounds pretty good, but the fact is that sometimes the objects that have been upcycled can no longer be recycled. For instance, if you upcycle toilet paper rolls and transform them into holiday napkin rings but in the process painted them with toxic paints and rolled them in glitter, are they still recyclable? I think not.

Most are not attractive and return to junkyard. Many of the dearths of projects for upcycling that can be found seem to be, well, pretty crappy, either designed for children or those without an iota of artistic talent or taste for that matter. Once you’ve created your upcycled masterpiece and realize it’s a piece of crap, what do you plan to do with it? How long are you going to hang onto it before it finds its way into the trash bin? The concern here is that upcycling becomes less of a green, sustainable activity and instead just a delay to the landfill.

There better ways to reduce waste. Really, when I think about it, the major upcycling negative is that it depends on our failure to reduce our use of things we now have to upcycle. For instance, is it really saving the planet by upcycling plastic bottles into feeders or planters? A better idea might be to quit drinking soda.

Acquiring more “junk” material is never ending. Also, it’s likely that the crafty upcycler will still buy new stuff, which is sort of a non-renewable idea. We often buy stuff just because we want it, not because we need it, which I guess perversely for the upcycling proponent just means more usable upcyclable material. In the end, I see upcycling as a rather twisted excuse.

Weighing the Garden Upcycling Negatives Against the Pros

You may agree with some of the upcycling negatives presented here but, overall, the benefits of garden upcycling seem to far outweigh any drawbacks. Sure, if you want to save the planet by minimizing your footprint, you can use less and be mindful about the things you purchase. If everyone gave a second thought before impulsively buying, there would be little need for activities like garden upcycling, let alone recycling. But that’s not realistic. There will always be “stuff,” much of which ends up in landfills or backyards taking up space and cluttering the environment. Recycling is great, but if you can put a creative spin to some of these items and find other uses for them in the garden, what’s wrong with that?


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