Thursday, July 28, 2011

Autumn Joy Sedum Growing Tips

Shrub-like appearance:  Autumn Joy Sedum

Autumn Joy Sedum is an upright shrub-like plant that produces large showy flowers from August to October.  The flowers will change in color from rose pink, to pink-bronze and then copper red.  Grow sedum in containers, or in the ground next to a sunny garden path or in a rock garden.  The autumn joy sedum is eye appealing all season.

Autumn joy grows well in a sunny location that has well-drained soil.  If you reside in zone 3 to 9 and your summers are hot with little rainfall then autumn joy is a plant for you as it is drought and heat tolerant.  My summers are extreme with temperatures well into the upper 90’s to mid 100’s.  I do not have to water my sedum every day, however I do water it 1-inch per week and the plant foliage is green and healthy.  

The best time to plant is in the spring after the danger of frost has past.  Decide if you are going to plant sedum in the ground or in containers.  For growing in the ground you would ready the garden by removing the grass and then loosen the soil to 18 inches with your spade or tiller. Whenever I prepare a garden I remove all of the rocks and debris then I work the soil with my hands to remove the clumps.  A fine soil texture is best when rooting new plants.  Another thing that I do is amend the soil with organic matter; compost or manure. 

Plat the autumn joy sedum by digging a hole that is the same depth and width as the nursery container.  Gently remove the plant from the container.  You may need to lightly tap the container to remove the root ball.  Set the plant in the center of the hole.  Spread the roots so that they grow outward.  Fill in the hole with soil and water well.  Keep the soil evenly moist but not wet for the next 10 days.   If you intend to plant more than one sedum then allow a two foot space in-between plants.

Apply two inches of much around the stem.  The mulch will help deter weeds and will improve the soil.

Autumn Joy sedum flowers attract butterflies.

You may transplant sedum anytime during the growing season provided you keep the ground evenly moist until the roots take.

Instead of cutting back after a hard frost, apply two inches and mulch and leave the plant and the dried flowers.  The autumn joy sedum Will add winter interest to your yard and garden. 

Fertilize autumn joy sedum the end of July and you will have beautiful blooms in fall.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Easy to Grow Elephant Ears

Elephant ear garden by pond
Elephant ear is a tropical plant that is grown from a bulb.  This plant earned its name because when the stem grows upright out of the bulb a large elephant ear shaped leaf will unfold at the tip of the stem. This ornamental plant comes in many colors; green, purple or black and some leaves have white veins. 

Grow elephant ear in a container
Elephant ear container
Mature elephant ear plants will grow to the height of 2 to 10 feet with a leaf spread of two feet. Because of their large size and spreading habit the elephant ear is a good choice to grow along a garden path or grow as a group as a privacy screen for your patio or outdoor living space.  

Growing Tips

Grow elephant ear as perennial in warm humid climates or grow as an annual during the summer when the temperature is an average of (68 to 88)   Choose a garden site with part sun and shade. Elephant ear grows well in moist to wet soil that has organic matter.  If you have a pond then plant the elephant ear in the moist soil along your pond.  If not grow elephant ear in an area where the soil is evenly moist.  

Ready the garden site

One bulb will require a space of 36 to 60 inches. Allow space for the elephant ear to spread.  When you know how much space is needed for your elephant ear garden, you would then clear the garden site by removing the soil and then use a  tiller to loosen the soil to 10 inches deep.  Work the soil by breaking up the clumps so that the soil is a fine texture.  Improve the soil by adding compost or manure.  Also add a soil that will aid in retaining moisture.

Planting Elephant Ear

Dig a hole that that is 8 to 10 inches deep. Plant the bulb; flat side down.  The top of the bulb should be planted no deeper than two inches below the soil.  Water well.  The plant will emerge in approximately 2 to 3 weeks.  

  • Provide the elephant ear with its growing needs; part sun and shade, rich organic soil and evenly moist soil and the plant will provide you with beautiful foliage and a summer flower.  The elephant ear is a great plant for a beginner gardener because it is easy to grow. 
  • Grow the elephant ear in the ground or as an accent plant in a large container.
  • Set up a soaker hose or drip irrigation to provide the elephant ear with water.  Install a timer on the faucet so that the plants will be hydrated automatically and you will not need to worry about turning the faucet on or off.
  • Refrain from allowing the soil to dry out as this will cause stress on the plant and the leaves will wilt. 
  •  Elephant ears can become invasive when growing in tropical climates. If this occurs then divide and transplant them in the spring or divide them in the fall after you lift them from the ground.
  • Lift the bulbs in the autumn after the foliage has died back and before a fall frost.  Store the bulbs in a cool and dry area until it is time to plant them in spring.
Image Credit Elephant ears grown in masses

View video to learn how to care for elephant ears during the winter months.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer Watering Tips – When to Water Gardens

Summer is a season when the temperatures can be extremely hot and gardeners will need to water their flowers however there may be water restriction and so one needs to water their gardens in the morning when the weather is cooler and the water will not evaporate.

Before you water your gardens check the plants to determine which plants have deep roots and also check for plants that have roots close to the soil surface.   Deep rooted plants do not need to be watered daily.  They benefit  from deep one inch watering on a weekly basis. By providing deep rooted plants with one inch of water each week the plants will have stronger roots and they will be healthier.  

For plants that have roots close to the soil surface they will need water on a daily basis.  Many people water these plants with a light mist several times a day.  This method is not advisable because the water tends to evaporate in the heat of the day and the plant does not benefit.  It is better to water the plants early in the morning.  I prefer to water my garden from 5:30 to 7:30 am.  In the early morning the temperature is cooler and the water will not evaporate. 

Another time to water your garden is late afternoon.  Afternoon watering is acceptable provided the gardens have ample time to dry before nightfall.

The best way to water your gardens is to set up a soaker hose The slow drip emerges from the entire hose and hydrates your plants at the soil line and thus gets to the roots and nourishes the plant.   

Tips and Warnings

Consider installing drip irrigation and a faucet timer. Set the timer so start and stop automatically. This watering system is great especially if you work outside of the home.
Avoid getting the leaves wet as it will attract pests or disease.  Gardens that are watered at dusk or at night will attract pests and fungus.

Watch for Powdery Mildew on leaves due to watering the leaves.

If your city has a water restriction check with your city ordnance to find out when you can water and if it is acceptable to provide one inch of water to plants and shrubs weekly.