Whether you’re planting bulbs, annuals or perennials, flower gardens add a beautiful splash of color throughout the season. While growing flowers is not difficult, there are many factors that must be considered prior to planting. The more closely these plans are based on meeting the needs of your plants, the more likely you are to be successful. Click on the blog articles below for ideas, guides and more.
All you need to know–planting, pruning, protecting from disease–to raise and care for beautiful roses.
“Of all the flowers, me thinks a rose is best.” – William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)
There’s something about roses. More than 1.2 billion cut roses are purchased in the United States every year, most of them on Valentines Day. (Mothers Day comes second.) Millions of gardeners cultivate roses, some exclusively. In fact, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of Rose Societies.
As the symbol of love, roses have inspired musicians, poets and authors. Shakespeare alone mentioned roses more than 50 times in his poems and plays. (more…)
No one said gardening is a bed of roses.
Your enthusiastic Planet Natural blogger writes a lot about the joys of gardening, how it enriches our lives, provides us exercise, and gives us measures of success. Sometimes those measures don’t exactly come in heaping spoonfuls.
Frustration and disappointment are part of gardening, too. Setbacks, mistakes, and out-and-out failure are part of every growing season. Gardening doesn’t promise you a rose garden.
This early in the gardening season (June before the solstice), after everything’s been sown and transplanted, gardeners face a dose of reality. Not every plant we set out survives to give us beautiful blossoms or a bountiful harvest. (more…)
Nutrient-rich fish and seaweed fertilizers make the garden grow.
Many of us are reaching that point in the gardening season — two weeks after plants emerge from the soil — when we’re ready to apply the first round of fertilizer. To a lot of us, that means applying fish fertilizer.
Now a lot of our gardening friends don’t think we’re in our right mind when we let our enthusiasm for fish fertilizers show. They’ll ask, why would you want to mess with that smelly stuff when there’s a granular, organic, slow-release nutrient formula that will pretty much do the same thing and with half the effort?
The answer, of course, can be found in the results. (more…)
Pruning and fertilizing of rose bushes rewards with rich, sumptuous blooms.
April is the time in many places to get your rose bushes prepared for the growing season. The spring pruning and feeding of roses is rewarded with vigorous new growth and blossoms.
Even if you live in an area where roses are showing signs of green growth and budding — and that happened early in some parts of the country this year — it’s not too late to clean them up a bit. Giving a rose bush shape and removing second-year growth (and older if your plants have been neglected) not only help strengthen the plant but increase it’s flower power in years to come. (more…)
Not able to grow your own? Here’s how to choose the best vegetable and flower starts.
Your friendly Planet Natural Blogger, in anticipation of the season that may have already arrived, has been going through Jim Fox’s excellent 2013 book How To Buy the Right Plants, Tools & Garden Supplies (Timber Press), particularly the chapters on choosing healthy nursery plants. Seems with recent life complications — we all have them, from health to weather to a family move — a lot of people didn’t get their vegetables started at home this year.
That’s okay. There’s actually still time to start even tomatoes and pepper seedlings indoors if you can supply the perfect conditions to encourage growth. But there’s an easier way: buy plants from a reputable nursery. (more…)
Refrigerate seeds before planting to improve germination.
It’s not always so simple as just sticking seeds in the ground. There are a number of techniques and treatments that encourage seeds to germinate. We’ve all soaked wrinkled-skinned pea and other big seeds to help loosen those skins and make water absorption easier. Or we’ve nicked hard skin seeds with a sharp blade or even a fingernail (scarification) for the same purpose.
Then there’s stratification, the act of simulating winter conditions — cold and moist — to prep seeds for their usual germination temperatures come spring. This can involve placing them in the refrigerator, usually in some kind of moist potting soil. Or it can mean storing seeds outside during winter in a sealed plastic bag or covered container, again with grow mix. (more…)
Easy-to-grow, beautiful perennials are an attractive way to fill-in landscape space.
Flowering perennials are a good-news, bad-news sort of thing when it comes to your flower beds. Most of the news about these attractive, inexpensive and easy-to-grow, self-sowing flowers falls into the “good” category. More good news: the “bad” side of the equation can be tamed with a little advance planning.
Flowering perennials are perfect for filling space in your garden. If you’re sowing them directly into the soil, they’ll come up in a crowd that gives a nice, natural contrast with the annuals we set out as single plants. (more…)
Lots of annual flowers take to seeding right in the ground.
We’ve made no secret that we intend to start more of our annual flowers indoors, under lights, to set in our landscapes once temperatures cooperate. And as we were putting together a list for an impending order, we realized that we should also consider the flower seed we’ll order to sow directly in the ground.
Direct seeding works well in places like borders or other patches where a number of plants are desired. And the best flowers for these borders are ones that germinate and mature quickly like cosmos, zinnias, or marigolds. (more…)
What to consider when planning borders and flower garden designs.
Considering my outdoor landscape and making some changes wasn’t an official New Year’s resolution of mine. But it’s the one I’ve kept. I’ve thought about outdoor containers for decks, patios and walkways, maybe building an arbor and a trellis or two, and of course, making my lawn more water wise or getting rid of it completely. Now I’m ready to think about adding a flower garden or maybe a border along the fence or against the hedge.
Where to start? What’s to consider even before you start to think about where your flower bed might go? (more…)
How to grow bitter herbs, greens, and roots organically.
The seed catalogs are coming in and that gave me and my brother-in-law something to talk about over the holiday weekend. Since when did mega-seed selling Burpee stop selling dandelion seed? We couldn’t find it in the 2015 catalog. Brother-in-law went over to his shelf and pulled out the 2014 catalog. Nope. (Full disclosure: They do have dandelion listed online. Go figure.)
This seemed strange because growing bitter herbs, dandelion among them, is once again all the rage because of their reported health benefits. Besides dandelion’s super-rich vitamin content, it’s also — like most bitter plants — known to be a digestive aid and de-toxifier. It’s said to give a healthy boost to the immune system. Dandelions have something of a cult-following among gardeners, the health-conscious, and gourmets who cherish the greens in the same way they cherish radicchio, another bitter plant. (more…)
Our friends have pointed out that we seem fixated on poinsettia and holly this time of year. Looking back over our ever-growing gardening blog we’d have to agree. These same friends point out that a visit to our home shows that we give equal space, if not more, to another colorful indoor plant: the Christmas cactus.
We kept a wonderful Christmas cactus, started from a cutting by our grandmother, for years until, until…well, we’ll save that story for later. The Christmas cactus left behind!
But let’s get down to the matter at hand. Is it a cactus, as its name implies? Or a succulent? (more…)