Daisies

Shasta DaisyThe easy to grow perennial daisy comes in more types and colors than just the classic white-petaled, yellow-eyed Shasta.

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 90-120 days from seed to flower
Height: 24 to 36 inches
Spacing: 12 to 24 inches apart in all directions

Home gardeners everywhere are growing daisies. The simple white flowers with yellow button centers stand tall, gracing our landscapes with abundant blossoms, long after other flowers are fading away (see Summer Flowers for Color).

Beautiful both in the garden and as cut flowers, daisies are hardy, drought-resistant, and provide years of gorgeous, old-fashioned blossoms. The popular Shasta daisy, a good variety for high altitude, low water locations, is probably what most people think of when they think daisy. Hardy perennial, 2-3 feet tall. (more…)

Dahlias

DahliasPlanting different types of dahlia tubers will guarantee a summer rainbow of blossoms for years to come.

By Kim Haworth

Late summer brings up some of my favorite flowers. The first growing dahlia I ever met was in a hillside house I rented in Mill Valley. We had moved in during the winter months and were enchanted by the multiple surprises the garden revealed as winter turned to spring, then summer. One of the lovely things about moving into an older home is the opportunity to see the garden unfold, it’s rather like a surprise package.

The dahlias in Mill Valley were bright yellow and the tubers must have been in the ground for many years, because the flowers were the size of a dinner plate. They were the spidery shaped blooms, called ‘cactus form’ that looked like sunbursts. Magnificent! When we moved, I tried to take the tubers with me, but I’m afraid I did the plant a disservice. It never regained it’s former glory after the transplant. (more…)

Cosmos

CosmosPlant different varieties from starts or seed for colorful blossoms and fern-like leaves that make cosmos a lovely choice for borders and background.

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 65-90 days from seed to flower
Height: 24 to 60 inches
Spacing: 12 to 18 inches apart in all directions

Growing cosmos adds beauty to summer gardens, especially when planted in informal beds or used in mixed borders. Flowers come in striking reds and oranges or paler crimsons and cream. For arrangements, cut flowers shortly after bloom and place immediately in cold water. Shorter varieties are perfect for containers. (more…)

California Poppy

California PoppyWispy, bright California poppies are suitable for xeric (water conserving) gardens and provide a spectacular display of long-lasting colors.

Sunlight: Full sun
Maturity: 55-75 days from seed to flower
Height: 4 to 12 inches
Spacing: 4 to 8 inches apart in all directions

Home gardeners growing California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) are rewarded with their fern-like foliage and lively orange, red and yellow flowers. Easy going, drought-tolerant plants are a favorite for use in cointainer gardens, mixed beds, rock gardens and water-wise landscapes. (more…)

Calendula

Growing CalendulaAlso known as “pot marigold,” this easy to grow, healthful annual with its edible orange-and-yellow blossoms lasts all summer.

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 45-60 days from seed to flower
Height: 18 to 24 inches
Spacing: 24 to 36 inches apart in all directions

Growing calendula (Calendula officinalis) provides a spectacular display of light yellow to deep orange blooms from early summer until frost. Sun-loving plants are usually low and compact with attractive double blossoms that can be 2-1/2 to 4 inches across. Start in flats for early season flowering or sow directly in the garden. Gorgeous in patio pots or mixed borders. (more…)

Begonias

BegoniasProtect them over winter and begonia tubers will reward you with their striking colors, in pots and in beds.

By Kim Haworth

We drove down to Capitola recently to take photos of fuchsias. Capitola isn’t too far from the Bay Area and there is plenty to see once you are there. My favorite nursery on the coast is Antonelli Brothers, located on Capitola Road just south of Santa Cruz. Antonelli’s specializes in fuchsias and begonias – I guess that’s why Capitola is the begonia capitol of the world. They have an annual begonia festival in town to celebrate these magnificent tubers. (more…)

Bachelor Buttons

Bachelor ButtonsA popular annual that does well in most zones, Bachelor Button looks good behind borders, in arrangements and, of course, worn as boutonnieres!

Sunlight: Full sun
Maturity: 80-95 days from seed to flower
Height: 12 to 36 inches
Spacing: 6 to 12 inches apart in all directions

Native to Europe and Asia, home gardeners are growing bachelor buttons (Centaurea cyanus) for their frilly blossoms showing in pale blues, purples, pinks and reds. Also known as cornflowers, these jolly plants bloom throughout the summer months and are perfect for cuttings with their long “silvery” stems. Hardy annual, grows to 3 feet tall.

Fact: Discovered in the tomb of King Tutankhamen who died in 1340 B.C. The 1-1/2 inch blossoms were woven into a beautiful wreath and given to the King to aid in the afterlife. (more…)

Container Gardening Tips

Container GardenWhether you’re new to planting in pots or a seasoned expert, our collection of 25 container gardening tips should help. Enjoy!

1. As a general rule, thinner leaved plants need more water, and thicker leaved plants will need less.

2. Consider growing dwarf varieties, they are almost always perfectly happy in containers.

3. Garlic, leeks and shallots make great container gardening plants. They have very few insect and disease problems, have shallow roots and take up very little space.

4. Plants should be sized to the container and containers should be sized to the area.

5. If you live in a hot climate use light-colored containers. This reduces heat absorption and helps keep roots cool.

6. Seed saving is fairly easy to do and it’s a great way to stretch your gardening budget! (more…)

Container Gardens with Altitude

Vertical GardensGardening requires lots of water… most of it in the form of perspiration. – Lou Erickson

Don’t have much garden space? Want to grow tomatoes, beans, peas, cucumbers, squash and just about any other kind of veggie on a vine? If so, consider vertical gardening.

Many plant supports, including trellises, nets, cages or stakes can be used to maximize your garden in small areas. Not only will you save valuable space, but growing container plants vertically can turn just about any nook or cranny into a beautiful garden spot.

Even if you have plenty of room, vertical gardens will help keep plants up off the ground. They can also be used to define landscaped areas, by creating interesting focal points and eye-pleasing boundaries. Advantages include:

  • Fruits and flowers are less susceptible to pest damage.
  • Cultivating and harvesting is easier.
  • More plants can be grown with less space.
  • Can be used as a privacy screen or to cover up unsightly views.
  • Provides better air circulation, reducing fungal problems.
  • Allows for more efficient watering.
  • Yields are generally higher.
  • Creates a shady spot in the garden.
  • Monitoring and managing pests is easier.

(more…)

Potted Plant Pests

Potted Plant PestsUnlike plants grown in the ground, potted plants enjoy a relatively pest-free environment. In most cases, they are potted in quality soils or soilless mixes, and are often grown closer at hand, so they are inspected more frequently. As a result, they tend to have fewer problems with insects and disease.

With that said, there’s no predicting what could attack your plants. Just because they are confined to pots does not mean that they will be excluded from pest problems. Insects can creep into any garden and fungal spores are present in the air at all times. While the chances of potted plant pests are much smaller with container gardens, you still need to take precautions. (more…)

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