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22 May 2018
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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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10 Apr 2018

Smokey’s Garden Gift Certificate Giveaway


Daylilies are one of the most popular perennials in any flower garden, and it’s easy to see why.   They are beautiful, low maintenance and high reward.  This week (April 9 – April 11, 2018), enter to win a Smokey’s Gardens gift certificate and fill your flower garden with daylilies!  Two winners will score a $100 gift certificate and five winners will be awarded a $25 gift certificate!   Smokey’s Gardens is one of the largest daylily growers in the country and they ship nationwide! They grow over 3,000 varieties and five million plants on 70 acres in Coldwater, Michigan. A family-run company, they are dedicated to high quality, excellent customer service and great prices.

To enter, please do the following anytime from Monday April 9 through midnight Wednesday April 11:

  1. Go to the Gardening Know How Facebook page. Find the Smokey’s Gardens giveaway post pinned at the top of the page. Make a comment underneath this post with your answer to the following question: “Visit the Smokey’s Gardens website. Which Smokey’s Garden Daylily is your favorite?
  2. Share the Smokey’s Gardens giveaway Facebook post on your timeline.

The winner will be drawn at random from all qualified entrants, and notified through Facebook. (See rules for more information.)

Receive 15% off your order at checkout with coupon code “Gardening”.  Promotion expires on 4/30/18.






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04 Apr 2018

How To Care, Grow And Use Tomatillos


The Tomatillo plant, an odd-looking distant tomato cousin and one of the essential ingredients in Mexican cuisine, especially recipes of green tomatillo salsa.

These wild growing central American natives and member of the nightshade family are commonly found in local markets. Fresh tomatillos boast a sweet citrusy flavor.

Growing tomatillos and tomatoes sound close in name and both have similar growing needs, but that is all.

Ripe tomatoes come with bright fleshy colors, the tomatillo (pronounced to-ma-TEE-yo) looks much different with a dry, papery husk surrounding the fruit. Hence the name – husk tomato.

Tomatillo Plant Quick Growing Guide:

Scientific Name: Physalis ixocarpa and Physalis philadelphica
Family: Solanaceae (Nightshade)
Origin: Mexico

Common Names: Large-flowered tomatillo, Mexican groundcherry, Mexican husk tomato, Mexican green tomato, Strawberry tomato, Tomato verde, Jamberberries, Miltomate

Uses: Slightly tart green or yellow fruits are staples in Central American and Mexican cooking. Used in green sauces, salsas, stews, and moles (mo-lehs). Very popular for use in preserves and jams. Very high pectin content that makes them perfect for this use.

Height: 2-4 feet
USDA Hardiness Zones: 5-11

Flowers: Tomatillos bloom in a number of colors including Pale green, Yellow, Purple, White. Some flowers have purple splotches in the center. Anthers may range in color from pale blue to deep purple. The plants are not self-pollinating, so two plants for good blossom and fruit production.

Fruit: Each fruit is encased in a papery husk which is not edible. The maturing fruit gradually fills the husk and may split it open just before harvest time. When the fruit is ready, the husk becomes brown. Ripe fruit may be green, yellow or purple depending upon the cultivar.

Foliage: The thick, dark green leaves have irregular indentations along the margins. Some leaves are smooth, and some are slightly furred.

Tomatillo Plant Care Requirements: Tomatillo plants do well with average, well-drained soil. These hardy, tropical natives like full sun. Before planting, amend the soil with a balanced, organic fertilizer. Space plants 2-3 feet all around to provide ample room for growth and spread. Sow seeds indoors late in the spring. Set seedlings out after all danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed. Planting two seedlings per hole ensure good pollination.

Miscellaneous: Harvest tomatillos when the husks turn tan, and the ripe fruits begin to fall. Fresh fruits can be refrigerated for a couple of weeks. To keep them longer, remove the husks and freeze them whole. Wash them well before using as the husks tend to leave a sticky residue on the fruit.

Tomatillos may not produce much fruit until late in the season. If your fruits are not yet ripe before predicted cold weather, go ahead and harvest them anyway. Green fruits have a very tart, citrus flavor which many people prefer.

Tomatillos do well when planted alongside corn and sunflower plants.

In warm climates, they maybe self-seeding. [source]

Growing Mexican Green Tomatoes

These unusual plants can grow in a separate bed, a mixed garden or as container plants. As noted, it’s important to keep at least two of them close together since they are not self-pollinating and will not produce much (if any) fruit as individual specimen plants.

In the garden or a container, you need to give Mexican husk tomato plants plenty of room. Healthy plants can have a height and spread of three or four feet. This makes a pretty display with their interesting, fruits. A husk tomato border around your garden or a patio or deck can provide privacy, interest and good eating!

In warm areas (like Mexico) these plants grow year-round with an indeterminate growth habit. In colder climates, grow tomatillos as annuals and care for in the same way you would take care of tomatoes.

In very warm climates, they are self-seeding and/or you can sow the seed directly in the ground. In cooler climates, it’s best to start seeds indoors six or eight weeks before you plan to plant them outdoors. Be sure to harden seedlings off carefully to prevent shock and plant loss.

Begin by putting the young plants in a protected, shady area. Gradually move them into areas with more sun for longer time periods. Be careful to provide them protection or bring them back indoors if frost is predicted.

Fertilizing Tomatillos

These are not really hungry plants, especially when compared with their cousins, traditional tomato plants. Till a good, balanced (10-10-10) fertilizer into the soil before planting. This should be applied evenly at a depth of four-to-six inches and a rate of one or two pounds per hundred square feet of soil.

Water Deeply Occasionally

For the best crop, it is important to provide the right amount of water and to keep weeds under control. Deep water once a week during dry weather. The plants should receive 1-1 ½ inches of water weekly applied slowly at the soil level.

Don’t allow weeds to compete with your tomatillos for sun and water. Hoe around the plants regularly and/or provide a good, thick layer of straw, leaves or dry clippings to retain moisture, control weeds and conserve the soil.

Tomatillo Plant! Grow a staple of Mexican cooking in YOUR garden!

Tomatillo Varieties And Cultivars

These plants are available in several cultivars, so it is possible to create a very interesting and tasty collection!

  • Pineapple Tomatillo produces copious amounts of round fruits that are almost an inch in diameter. The plants tend to be short and to spread. True to its name, the fruit has a distinctive pineapple flavor.
  • Zuni hails from the northern part of New Mexico. Developed by the Zuni tribe of Native Americans it produces very tasty, cherry-tomato-like fruits.
  • Purple De Milpa produces large fruit with a very strong and pleasing flavor. The purple striped husks provide visual interest in the garden.
  • Verde Puebla continuously produces sweet/tart, green fruits weighing between one and two ounces each.
  • Toma Verde produces lots of large, sweet/tart, green fruit on vines. This plant is very easy to grow.
  • Purple Tomatillo is an enthusiastic producer of small, sweet/tart, purple fruit.

Tomatillo Pests and Problems

Mexican ground cherry is subject to foliar diseases and blights if the weather is very rainy and humid. This is why it is important to give plants plenty of space for good air circulation. If plants tend to topple or lean, stake them up. Prune crowded branches to promote air movement.

Always water at ground level and avoid spraying or foliar watering. Don’t allow water to splash up from the ground onto the leaves as this can promote fungal infections and disease.

Examine your plants regularly. If you notice any signs of fungal infection developing, use a good fungicide right away to prevent spread.

These plants are not typically susceptible to insects, but they are subject to infestation by slugs and snails. Be sure to stake the plants up as needed and don’t allow the fruits to touch the ground as this will attract these pests.

Cutworms may also be problematic. These are moth caterpillars that come up onto the plants from the soil. You can prevent them by setting up physical barriers around plant stems made of sections of paper-towel rolls.

Picking these large caterpillars off by hand is also effective. If you have a heavy infestation, use Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) which is a natural pesticide that only affects caterpillars.

Follow packaging instructions carefully, and don’t overdo it as you want to target the pest caterpillars and avoid killing butterfly caterpillars.

Harvesting and Storing Tomatillos

Growing tomatillo seeds is like growing tomato seeds. It takes between seventy-five and one hundred days from the time you plant your seedlings until your fruit is ready to pick. Watch for the husks to change colors from green to tan.

When this change happens, it is time to harvest. Of course, there is some variation in coloration depending upon the cultivar.

The best fruits are firm with tightly-fitting husks. If you prefer a tangier flavor, you may wish to pick your fruits a bit early while they are still green. If you like a sweeter, milder flavor, wait until the fruit has turned yellow or purple.

If you leave your tomatillos in the husk, you can store them in the refrigerator for as long as two weeks. If you remove the husks, they will keep in the fridge for up to three months. You can also freeze them whole or slice them and freeze them. [source]

How To Use Tomatillos

When preparing your tomatillos, be sure to remove the husk and wash the fruit completely to remove any dirt and the sticky residue left on the skin by the husk. Once the fruits are clean, prepare them for use by cutting off the stems with a sharp knife and slicing or chopping them as desired.

There are lots of wonderful Mexican recipes using tomatillos, and you can also simply add them to your usual, everyday cooking. You can eat tomatillos raw if you like. They taste tart and zesty, so they make a nice addition to a sweet fruit salad. When cooked, the flavor mellows to an herby, lemony taste.

For a simple dish, you can cut them into quarters and sauté them with onion, garlic and sea salt. They also add zip and interest to veggie dishes, soups and stews, or you can simply boil them and then puree them for use in sauces.





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29 Mar 2018

Dracaena Janet Craig


Summary: Dracaena Janet Craig is an interior workhorse, popular for decades, used frequently as a floor plant in interior situations or mass planted in beds. Survive low light levels, grows best in filtered light.

Janet Craig has been an interior workhouse and one of the most popular plants used indoors for decades.

dracaena-janet-craig-033114

Although this Dracaena can reach heights of 15 feet in its native Africa, plants grown for indoor use are much smaller in size.

Usually propagated as tip cuttings, 3 to 4 stalks or tips per pot. Janet Craig plant has shiny, solid, wide, dark green leaves, with wavy margins, measuring 3 inches wide and approximately 2 feet long.

Their long, tapered leaves, pleated like foliage, and rich green colors help make them attractive plants for interiors. Used frequently as floor plants in interior situations or for mass planting in beds.

dracaena-janet-craig-tips-cal

Most plants grown for interior use are 10 inch pots with 3 plants per pot, ranging in height of 24-32 inches. Some 14 inch pots are grown as well with 4 plants per pot and reach a height of 30-42 inches.

When purchasing a bush form of “Janet Craig” Dracaena look for a plant whose width is 50-75% the plants height.

Over the last few years we have seen the introduction of Janet Craig cane-type plants enter the market from some Hawaiian growers. We see some taller plant sizes produced reaching heights of 6 – 8 feet in very small pots compared to their height.

It should be noted, the correct botanical name for “Dracaena Janet Craig” is Dracaena deremensis “Janet Craig” and known throughout the plant industry simply as “Janet Craig”.

The history or “beginnings” of Janet Craig goes back to the 1930’s or so. “Janet Craig” is actually a ‘sport’ or a variant of Dracaena Warneckii and was named after the daughter of nurseryman Robert Craig, who lived in the Philadelphia area.

Light Requirements Indoors

As understory plants, Janet Craig Dracaena is an excellent low-light interior plant. Add her ability handling low humidity, air conditioning, plus infrequent care – you have the making of a very durable indoor plant. It survives low light levels, but grows best however in filtered sunlight.

Janet Craig Hates Heat – Temperatures

dracaena-janet-craig-cane

Dracaena deremensis cultivars do not like heat. This is very important to remember especially during summer months when plants have a tendency to discolor.

Recommended maximum temperature is 90 degrees. As temperatures increase above 95 degrees, problems with leaf discoloring and leaf notching may develop.

In the nursery Janet Craig grown in deep shade, not because the plants want low light. Growers shade Janet Craig more for temperature control than reducing actual light levels.

Below 70 degrees, Janet Craig shows little growth. Cold damage will occur around 35 degrees or if plants are exposed to 55 degrees or lower for a week.

Watering Requirements

Janet Craig needs a well drained potting medium. A mixture of peat and pine bark with perhaps 10% sand – stay away from perlite on Dracaenas because of fluoride problems. Fluoride is great for teeth but not for Dracaenas.

It is best to avoid wet or dry extremes. You will do much better keeping Janet Craig on the dry side. Janet Craig is an excellent candidate for sub-irrigation.

Allow the soil to dry between 1/3 to 1/2 down before watering. Do not let your plant sit in water.

Water thoroughly and remove the excess water from the saucer or bottom of the decorative container. If not excessively fertilized, the plant will tolerate considerable dryness.

While talking about watering, let’s look at the roots.

Janet Craig and Dracaena Warneckii have almost two root systems. The main root and the finer secondary roots.

If you want to maintain a good strong plant make sure the fine secondary roots are healthy. If the secondary roots experience problems, the plant quality will go down hill quickly.

Pruning and Grooming Janet Craig

The leaves over time will collect dust, using a feather duster regularly will help keep foliage clean. Trim brown tips and edge of leaves to a natural contour with scissors.

Fertilizing

Most Dracaenas grown commercially are fluoride sensitive, Janet Craig is are no exception.

The use of fertilizers indoors generally increase the possibility of damage from salts. Fertilizers leave salts behind in the soil.

Roots pick up the salts moving them to the leaves. These “salts” accumulate in the leaf tips, and over time the salt levels become too high, burning the leaf tissues and leaf tips turn brown.

Growers use special fertilizers to grow Dracaenas. I would recommend you DO NOT fertilize your Dracaenas unless you use the correct fertilizer and understand the plant completely.

Pests – Mealybugs, Spider Mites, Thrips

dracaena-janet-craig-mealy-bug-809

Janet Craig has relatively few insect pests. Scales, and mealybugs are occasional problems. Mealybugs are identified by their white, cottony masses, which may move slowly.

If you’re having trouble with insects or pests on Dracaenas and other house plants spend some time to learn some check out there pest control basics.

Varieties and Sports

There are several “new” varieties of Janet Craig which have been introduced over the past few years. Primarily these have come from the Hawaiian growers who discovered these new “sports” in the production process.

dracaena-lisa-cane-809

Dracaena Lisa

Also an excellent low-light plant, Dracaena Lisa at first look, appears like Janet Craig. After a closer look, you will see, the leaves of Dracaena Lisa are much narrower.

The lush dark green foliage of Dracaena Lisa are attached to its notable green trunk, which also distinguishes it from Janet Craig.

Lisa is an upright columnar plant usually reaches a height of not more than 8ft high. It has been grown exclusively in Hawaii and supply can be very limited.

The green trunks of Dracaena Lisa and the upright growth of the plant made them perfect cane plants.

“Exotic” Dracaena Lisa canes make a nice focal point in easily seen areas at home. A combination of Dracaena Lisa in staggered canes or various heights make them very attractive even in narrow spots in offices or buildings.

Dracaena Michiko

dracaena-michiko-hawaii

Dracaena michiko is one of the world’s most sought-after dracaena hybrids. This fabulous plant is imported from Hawaii and commonly known as Michiko cane because of its cane-like structure caused by its upright growth habit.

The leaves of this plant are held tighter to its trunks. This makes the plant a perfect plant to be put in narrow or tight areas or rooms with limited available space.

Dracaena Michiko plants grown in Hawaii seem to have greater life expectancy because of their extensive, well-developed root system. The large size, full-grown look in smaller pot sizes mean lower expenses spent on pots or decorative containers.

Michiko’s tall and upright or columnar growth make them excellent choices for areas with limited space. Expect to pay more for Hawaiian-grown Dracaena Michiko.

Janet Craig ‘Compacta’

dracaena-janet-craig-compacta-809
Janet Craig ‘Compacta’ is a very small bird nest-like plant about one foot tall with small leaves.

Compacta is similar to Janet Craig but much smaller. This variety is slow growing and very durable. It has been around for about 25 years. We see it grown more as a low table top plant in 6-inch pots and also in multiples of three’s in larger pots.





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