Saturday, June 30, 2012

Where to Grow Creeping Rosemary


Creeping rosemary herb is a delicious and fragrant herb that will cover your ground quickly with its trailing stems.   You can grow creeping rosemary on a slope, in a container, on in a rock garden provided the plant has ample space to grow. Fully grown rosemary will trail to three feet. 

A few years ago I decided to grow the rosemary in a metal wheelbarrow because I liked how I could move the wheelbarrow around to different areas of my yard.  If we were having friends over to relax on the patio I would move the fragrant and abundant rosemary wheelbarrow close to the outdoor living space and all could enjoy the aroma.  

The rosemary grew in quickly and consumed the wheelbarrow to the point that I need to prune the stems.  I also needed to water more because the wheelbarrow dried out too quickly.  Planting trailing rosemary in a wheelbarrow was eye appealing however I did need to maintain the plant.  

The best plant container  for this trailing rosemary would be heavy ceramic or clay large freestanding pots, self watering hanging container or large window box. 
Creeping Rosemary Rosmarinus Prostrata 4" Pot


Growing tips for Creeping Rosemary
Choose a garden site where the soil well drained, and there is a minimum of 6 hours of full sun per day and part sun during the hottest part of the day.  Soil should be evenly moist but not wet.  Water rosemary plants, in the morning throughout the growing season.

For small yards grow creeping rosemary in containers gardens.  As long as you provide the herb with ample sunlight and medium soil as well as hydration when needed you will be able to successfully grow creeping rosemary in a patio container.  You will need to plant in a container that allows the rosemary to creep; consider a hanging container or large  pot, one that will allow the rosemary to cascade down the sides.
Mature Creeping Rosemary


When you shop for containers for rosemary make sure that they have adequate drainage holes.  Check your containers and if you have none or if you have small holes you can make holes with your drill.  Improve your water drainage by adding pea gravel to the bottom of the container.  

I usually add an inch and a half.  The gravel is a good way to prevent the roots from getting wet.  Then mix your potting soil with some compost or manure and fill your container.  Stop the soil an inch from the top. This will allow the water to stay in the pot and not fall over the rim.


Plant the rosemary by digging a hole that is the same size as the nursery container. Set the rosemary herb in the hole and back fill the soil.  Firm the soil around the stem and water so that the soil is evenly moist.  





Tips:
        Creeping rosemary is a fast growing evergreen herb.  The entire plant; leaves, stems and pale blue flowers are very fragrant which is why I love this herb.   When the herb blooms in August the blue flowers cover the stems.  Creeping rosemary grows well in zones 7, 8,9 and is hardy to 20 F.  Before a hard freeze bring rosemary indoors and continue growing by a southern window.
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Keep your creeping rosemary healthy by watering in the morning with drip irrigation or soaker hose.  Also apply organic mulch around the plant to aid in keep the soil moist and deter weed growth.  

Fertilize in spring and early summer with organic herb food.  Prune rosemary after the flowers have bloomed. 

Creeping rosemary can be trained to grow up a trellis or onto the metal topiary. 

Rosemary has many uses; you can cook with the leaves, or make potpourri. I like to cut springs of rosemary for my garden wreaths, herb arrangements and for my natural rosemary soap.  The aromatic rosemary has an invigorating fragrance that appeals to my senses.  



Friday, June 29, 2012

Cover Ground with Roses


If you have a yard with a sunny area that has a slight slope then cover the ground with roses and your yard will be eye appealing all summer long.  There are many varieties of roses but my favorite is the profuse blooming climbing fairy rose.  The rose flowers bloom in clusters and all seem to open at the same time.  The branches have more thorns then other types of roses so it is best to choose a garden site that is a good distance from where your children play.  

My home is located in the foot hills of the Mountains and I needed to cover the ground with a hardy plant that did not require much care, would return every year and could be planted on a slope. I searched online for the best price for bare root plants and purchased 1 dozen climbing fairy roses.  If you intend on planting the fairy rose in masses it is best to buy bare roots however if you have a small yard or you want to grow roses in containers then buy a rose bush in a nursery container that has sprouted leaves.

Planting the Roses
Determine how much space you will need for your rose garden.  If you intend on planting roses as a ground cover you would need to space plants 3 feet apart. 
Choose a rose garden that has well drained soil and 6 to 8 yours of sun and is in an open area that has good air circulation.  

The best time of the year to plant roses is as soon as the ground warms in spring.  Get the garden ready for planting by tilling the area.  Remove the sod and any rocks and then break up the clumps of dirt. Amend the soil with compost or manure.  

Plant the  roses by digging a hole that is the same depth as the nursery container and for a bare root dig a hole that is the same depth as the roots plus two inches. Set the rose bush in the center of the hole.  Hold the rose bush with one hand, and back fill the hole with the soil to the swollen knob where the rose canes grow.  Water the rose bush well. 

Apply three inches of organic mulch around the roses.  The mulch is a good way to keep the soil from drying out and to deter excess weed growth.  Water your roses once a week in the morning with a soaking hose.  Water roses at the soil line to prevent the leaves from getting wet. Roses need one inch of water a week.

Here is a YouTube video that will show you how to transplant a climbing rose.

Other Tips
  1. Feed rose bushes in spring and in summer with fertilizer formulated for roses or other flowers.
  2. Remove all spent blooms as this will encourage new blooms.
  3. Fairy roses grow best in USDA hardiness zone 4 to 10
  4. Watch the leaves for powdery mildew.
  5. Prune roses after it has stopped blooming or leave it to cover the ground
  6. The fairy rose can be trained to grow up a trellis or to cover an arbor.



Monday, June 25, 2012

Green Panda Bamboo Growing Tips

Green Panda bamboo is a hardy evergreen plant that can be grown as a single accent in a feature garden or in masses as a living privacy shrub.  This fast growing plant will grow six to ten feet in height with a similar spread in USDA zone 5 through 9.  Bamboo is easy to grow indoors in a container or outdoors in the ground.

When I moved to our home in the central states I was lucky because this home had a mature green panda bamboo growing directly next to our entrance. The bamboo was mature and the culms (plant stems) had grown to the height of 10 feet.  The bamboo provided privacy to our dining room window, we could see out through the leaves and found that the plant kept the room shaded and thus it was cooler during the summer months.  The green panda bamboo with its exotic green foliage provides interest to our landscape and shade.

Growing Bamboo
Bamboo has a fast growth rate and grows very well in sun to shade.  It is best to plant in a location where it is protected from hot afternoon sun.  Also if you have bitter cold winders with ice consider planting next to a privacy fence or foundation.  The culms  will weaken under the weight of heavy snow.   

The bamboo will stay evergreen and keep it’s leaves throughout the winter unless the temperatures dip to the single digits.  

 My bamboo lost its leaves when the winter was bitter cold, temperatures -7 for a week.  We did not cut back the bare culms in spring.  The leaves slowly grew back  and by summer the bamboo was healthy again.








Growing and Caring for Bamboo
Choose a planting site where this evergreen will have ample room. In the spring the bamboo produces new growth and these shoots will fill in quickly.  Within a few years the bamboo will enhance your landscape with a living privacy screen.

This past spring I transplanted six shoots.  I used care to dig up the runner and transplanted in soil that was mixed with compost.  I covered the runner with 4 inches of soil, and firmed the soil around the base of the shoot.  I applied mulch and watered well.  When the bamboo was planted I fertilized with Spray-N-Grow liquid fertilizer. I mixed with water and fed the bamboo once a week
 and in no time the leaves on the stems had filled in and it had tripled in size.  


It is important to keep the soil evenly moist throughout the summer months.  A mature bamboo is semi drought resistant but a new plant needs water.  It is helpful to set up a soaker hose and water daily in the morning.  Deep water to the roots is better than a light sprinkle.


Growing tips for Green Panda Bamboo
  1. Green panda bamboo can be grown indoors in a container or outdoors
  2. Trim in the fall to any height that your prefer.
  3. Bamboo is cold hardy, drought tolerant and considered a low maintenance plant
  4. The Green Panda bamboo is a clumping bamboo that has a non-invasive root system.
  5. Bamboo will make your yard and garden more interesting..  Bamboo has graceful movement and would add interest to a sensory garden. Grow next to a pond or water feature and your garden will be very relaxing.




Saturday, June 23, 2012

Herbs that Attract Butterflies


Herbs will enhance foods flavor and many herbs can be used to heal the sick but some herbs are beneficial to bees and butterflies.  When you grow specific herbs and allow them to flower these herbs will attract bees and butterflies to your yard and garden. 

Choose a section in your yard to grow a fragrant herb garden.  An area that is close to your outdoor living space will be appealing as watching the butterflies foraging the nectar is relaxing.  A Butterfly garden A great way to unwind after a day at work.

Plan a garden that will include a water feature to keep butterflies hydrated and a resting or hibernation box.  You may want to set the water feature to the side and add a small stone path –patio that is large enough for a garden bench.  Then plant the herbs according to their growing needs.  Some herbs require direct sun so plant them in an area where it is hot.  Others may need part sun in the afternoon and an overhang of a shade tree would be ideal.  You do not need to plant you butterfly herb garden in one area, be creative and plant groupings of fragrant herbs throughout your yard.

Grow herbs outdoors in a garden that has full sun to part sun in the heat of the day, with soil that is well drained.  Keep the garden weed free and apply organic mulch to help in retaining moisture.  

Maintain your butterfly herb garden by making sure that the soil does not dry out.  Install drip line irrigation or a soaking hose and water in the early morning.  I have my irrigation system set on a timer and it starts watering at 6:30 and ends at 8:00 a.m.  You may water in the late afternoon as long as there is a few hours of sunlight. Night watering is not recommended as the wet soil will attract garden pest

There are many fragrant herbs that attract butterflies.  Many of these fragrant herbs also can be used for herbal tea.  Here is a list of herbs that I grow in my yard and gardens.

Red and Fuchsia Bee Balm
Echinacea Coneflowers
Garden Mint
Lavender
Chives
Fennel
Evening Primrose
Chicory
Comfrey
Chamomile
Lemon Balm
Meadowsweet
Sage
Thyme
Yarrow
Valerian


My herb garden photographs:
Echinacea
Bee Balm
Garden Mint

Lemon Balm

View You Tube video on how to grow herbal tea garden.  These herbs also attract butterflies.



Friday, June 22, 2012

Growing Tips for Hawthorn Trees


Hawthorn is a large shrub or a small tree that is in the rose family. The tree will grow on average one foot per year. This  three-season ornamental tree features lovely flowers in spring, red fruit in late summer and beautiful fall color.  Plant the hawthorn as an accent tree close to a picture window as you will want to view this tree in spring summer and fall. 


Accent your landscape with flowering Hawthorn Tree:  Image Credit


Choosing a Hawthorn Tree:
Buy a hawthorn tree from a nursery or garden center.  Look for a healthy 2 to 4 foot tree with branches and green leaves.  

Where and When to Plant
Plant the tree in early spring or as soon as you can loosen the soil with your shovel. Hawthorn trees prefer to grown in an area that is rich in limestone with a sandy loom. However, the hawthorn will tolerate ordinary soil also. A location with full sun with well drained soil is agreeable to the hawthorn tree.

How to Plant a Tree
Dig a hole that is the same depth as the container and is the same width.  Loosen the soil with your hands to remove all of the clumps and to make texture of the soil fine.
Remove the tree from a plastic container or if the tree is wrapped in a 100% burlap wrapping then release the burlap from around the tree trunk and pull back.  Otherwise set the burlap covered root ball into the hole.  As long as there is not wax coating on the burlap covering the roots will grow through the covering and growth will be fine.

Back fill the hole with soil.  Pack the soil so that there are no air pockets.  Water the tree well.

You can grow hawthorn from a seed.  It is best to start tree seeds under a grow light indoors in late winter.  Your hawthorn seedling should grow an average of 1 foot in the first year.  Keep seedling in pot until it is approximately 12 inches then transplant outdoors in early spring after the threat of frost has past.  

Care for Hawthorn Tree
Fertilize the hawthorn tree with water mixed (10-10-10) solution. Pour fertilizer around the base of the tree or fertilize with organic tree stakes.  It is best to fertilize hawthorn tree Every other spring and your tree will grow healthy.

Apply three inches of organic mulch; pine needles, grass clippings or chipped trees around the tree.  Do not use synthetic mulch.
Keep soil evenly moist but not wet throughout the growing season.  If you autumn season is warm then continue to water the new tree until there is a hard freeze.  

Learn more about the hawthorn tree by viewing this You Tube video:

Points of Interest:
  1. Branches with berries look great dried and added to floral arrangements.
  2. Hawthorn tree brings luck to owner,
  3. Cedar apple rust can be a problem.
  4. Branches have sharp thorns and children should avoid the tree.
  5. The winter red hawthorn berries provide a reliable food source for the birds and in the spring the tree will provide shelter for nesting birds.
  6. Bark is gray and smooth.
  7. Mature hawthorn trees are 16 to 49 feet tall
  8. Jesus Christ wore a crown of thorns made from branches from the hawthorn tree.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Growing Peppermint From Seed


Peppermint herb is aromatic as it has high menthol content. The leaves of the peppermint are bright green and are pointed; the peppermint produces a flower in mid to late summer that attracts bees and butterflies.  Mint looks wonderful grown in masses and it can also be grown in a container.  I like to grow peppermint in containers .  I arrange assorted sizes of containers and set them on my patio and along my gravel path.  The aromatic peppermint  repels mosquitoes and other flying insects and it freshens the air.  Peppermint is also a good way to repel stray cats.

Many people grow peppermint for it medicinal properties; peppermint is a natural treatment for indigestion, heartburn, headache, nausea and the oil of the peppermint will heal acne.  You can also use peppermint to sweeten beverages , and to garnish many culinary dishes.  The benefits of peppermint are many so it is wise to plant some peppermint seeds in your garden or indoors on a sunny southern exposed windowsill garden.
Peppermint flowers by: work by Wikipedia



Growing Peppermint from Seed
Decide if you want to grow peppermint from seed or from a nursery grown plant.  Seeds must be started indoors 7 to 8 weeks prior to the last spring frost.  Plant seeds in fertile soil.  Set the seeds onto of the soil and then press the seeds into the soil with the eraser of a pencil.  Plant the seed one inch below the soil line.  Water so that the soil is evenly moist but not wet.  Set the container next to a sunny window with party shade in the heat of the day.  Watch the soil so that it does not dry out.  Peppermint prefers evenly moist soil that is well drained.  Peppermint will not grow well in wet soil. Wet soil will kill peppermint.

Planting tips for Peppermint
A nursery grown peppermint should be planted outdoors after the danger of frost as past.  Choose a garden site that has full sun to part sun and soil that is fertile and well drained.  Clear the growing site by removing the sod and working the soil with a tiller or with a shovel.  Mix the soil with organic compost or manure.  Dig a hole that is the same depth as the nursery container.  Set the peppermint plant in the center of the hold and back fill the soil.   Allow 18 inches in-between plants.  Water newly planted peppermint.

Care for Peppermint:
  • Keep roots cool by adding a pine bark mulch or leaf mulch around the peppermint.
  • Water mint at the soil line in the morning and keep the soil evenly moist.
  • Peppermint will bloom in mid to late summer
  • Divide and transplant in the spring to prevent overcrowding.
  • For small yards or apartments grow peppermint in a container and set next to a southern exposed window or under a grow light.
  • Watch for rust; patches of orange red on the back of the leaves.  Remove all rust infected plants and get rid of them.  Watering mint in evening will cause rust so don’t do it.
 

Learn more about growing mint here:

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Chrysanthemums Growing Tips


Accent containers with yellow Chrysanthemums
Accent containers with yellow mums
Chrysanthemums are autumn’s official flower. This flower is widely used in floral arrangements container gardens and many are planted in feature gardens.  Most people refer to this fall  flower as the mum. This colorful flower will bloom late summer through the first hard frost. Which means the chrysanthemum, will brighten yards and interior home decor from late September through November. 


I planted yellow mums along my flagstone patio and every June through mid July I need to pinch off the buds so that the plant will grow fuller and the buds will bloom in the late summer and early fall.  The first year I planted decorative mums and they did not grow well and then I learned that there are two types of mums, there are decorative mums they are annuals and are what florists use and then there are mums that you grow from a seed or buy from a nursery.


Buy healthy mums that have many buds. Check the nursery grown plant for broken branches and brown tips on the leaves. Find a mum that has lush green foliage and has a full appearance. If roots are growing out of the pot, it is a good sign that it has a rigorous root.

Start the mums by growing from seed indoors 8 to 12 weeks prior to the last frost in spring or you can buy a hardy mum that has been grown in a nursery pot.  If you intend to plant mums in the autumn it is best to buy a plant in a nursery pot and plant 6 to 8 weeks prior to fall hard frost.

Select your garden site wisely. Mums grow best in a sunny location with part shade in the afternoon.  They also grow well in rich garden soil that is well drained.   Grow mums away from a rock wall, foundation or privacy fence as they need good air flow.

Ready the garden by removing the sod, weeds and us a dig a hole that is the same depth as your nursery pot plus three inches.  Remove the soil from the hole and put in a wheel barrow or bucket.  Work compost or manure into the soil.  Next fill the hole with enough soil to make a small mound in the center of the hole.  This mound will lift the mum up and will aid in proper drainage.  Set the mum in the center of the hole on top of the mound and back fill the soil into the hole.  Firm the soil around the mum stem.  Water the newly planted mum.





Caring for Chrysanthemums
Apply two inches of mulch around the mum.  This mulch will aid in retaining moisture and will deter the growth of weeds.

Water Chrysanthemums in the morning; provide them with moisture up to one inch per week.  If the summer is hot then water the mums three times a week so they do not dry out.

When buds appear in late July or early August remove the buds.  The mum will then continue to grow full and bushy in appearance.  Feed mums in late summer with spray n grow.  Feeding them will produce healthy and large fall flowers. 

 When the weather turns bitter cold the plants will die back.  Cut them down to 1/3 their size and then apply three inches of mulch.

Tips:


  1. Divide mums every 2 to 3 years
  2. Water mums at the soil line with soaking hose.
  3. The chrysanthemum flower attracts bees and butterflies.
  4. Aphids like to nest in mums during the fall season.
  5. Plant a nursery grown chrysanthemums them in September and keep the soil moist but not wet and enjoy the end of summer and early autumn flowers.
  6. Unlike other fall blooming flowers the chrysanthemum is very hardy and a light frost will not affect them.
  7. Decorate your home with mums by adding dried mums to garlands, wreaths or swag for your door or create a colorful mum and greenery floral centerpiece for their foyer or dining table.  Mum’s are also planted in feature gardens or in containers and are set next to a bail of straw or along the side of pumpkin. 


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Growing Hosta in Shade Gardens


Shady areas in your yard are the perfect location for a hosta garden. They grow well under shade trees, in containers and in woodland gardens.  Hostas are Plantain Lilies and are native to China, Japan and Korea. Gardeners grow Hosta for the unusual leaf, the variety of colors, and the texture. The plants are very attractive mid spring through frost. 

Photographs of my hosta shade gardens:


I have been growing hosta plants since 1994.  Presently I have 40 plants.  It is safe to say that I love my shade garden.  Every year I look for a new plant to add to my collection. If you would like to add hosta plants to your garden I would suggest that you buy a plant from a reliable nursery, buy healthy plants in a container.  

Most plants grow 1-3 feet tall with similar spread.  There are a few varieties that will grow 3-5 feet tall and wide, I have a giant blue hosta, the leaves are very large.  It took three seasons for the plant to mature and grow to four feet wide.

Growing tips for Hosta

Rich organic soil is needed to be successful in growing Hosta. The bed also needs to be moist and well drained. Hosta will tolerate humid hot summers as long as the soil never dries out. You will need to be water 1 1/2 inches per week throughout the growing season. 

Fertilize the 3-4 times during growing season. Use very light mulch or pine needles to control slugs, to retain moisture, and to control weeds. Don’t mulch over 2 inches as it may increase the garden pests; vole, slug and snail.  

Remove pests by hand daily and repel pests naturally with coffee grounds. Scatter the spent coffee grounds around the plants. Coffee will also deter cats from your hosta garden.

After the first frost the plant will die back. Cut back the leaves to the soil line. Weed the bed and then cover with 2-3 inches of organic mulch. 

In the spring after the danger of frost has passed. Fertilize your hostas to encourage the plants to awaken from their winter sleep. I use spray n grow  once a month during the growing season and I am pleased at how healthy my hosta plants are.

Tips:


Hosta can be grown with Astilbe, Fern, Ajuga, and Lily of the Valley and toad lilies.

Deer are attracted to hosta foliage.

Hosta will grow and multiply but never become invasive.  Divide  clumps every 3-4 years in spring.

Do not plant  in an area of dense shade as they do need some light from the sun to grow well.  My hosta garden gets part sun in the morning and all are very healthy. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Growing Culinary Herbs Outdoors

Every summer I grow herbs for cooking and for tea.  I use to grow herbs for healing but when I moved my space for growing herbs outdoors was limited as there are too many trees in my yard.  

 My husband suggested that I grow herbs year round in the greenhouse where we have grow lights. This of course is always a good idea as you do not have to worry about groundhogs eating your parsley or the brown grasshoppers.  It is the best to grow in way to grow healthy and organic herbs, however the bees and butterflies are not able to forage off the basil and rosemary blooms.  

I watched the sunlight in my yard and found that a small section received 4 hours of morning sun, followed by part shade in the afternoon and at 4:00 pm the section had full sun for another 3 hours.  The sun was enough and I decided to plant a small herb garden.
  

Photographs of my small culinary herb garden:


I set my herb garden up with a rock boarder.  I laid a thick newspaper lining to keep the grass and weeds from growing into the bed and then I added two inches of pea gravel mixed with sand for proper drainage and on top of that I added 12 inches of top soil mixed moisture control beads and equal parts compost.  I then planted; dill. African Blue Basil, Honeydew sage, oregano, Rosemary, chives, cilantro, Italian parsley and lemon mint. 

If you are contemplating growing herbs outdoors then here are some tips for growing herbs outdoors.


Grow Herbs in the Ground
  1. Use a tiller to break the ground and loosen the soil to 18 inches.
  2. Remove grass and rocks
  3. Break up soil lumps so that it is fine in texture
  4. Add organic compost to the garden soil and mix well
  5. Add slow release fertilizer

Grow Herbs in Raised Gardens
  1. Raised garden beds get more sun and dry out quickly so it is wise to set the raised garden in an area that is close to a water source; rain barrel or sprinkler head.Choose a flat surface for the raised garden.  A leveled garden will provide a good water balance.
  2. Buy a raised garden kit and set it up according to the directions.
  3. Fill your raised garden with a mixture of Scott's miracle grow moisture control garden soil, Scott’s compost and course sand. This mixture will provide your raised garden with hydration, nutrients and drainage.
  4.  Another way to fill your raised bed is to mix half organic compost with half potting soil.  Add water pearls to help retain moisture. .

Grow Herbs in Container Garden

  1. Drill holes on the bottom of the container to aid in water drainage.  For large containers you may want to drill holes on the side close to the bottom of container.
  2. Fill your containers with all purpose potting soil mixed with compost or manure.  Add water pearls to help retain moisture
  3. Fill soil to one inch bellow container top. This will prevent the water from draining off and will also allow you to apply peat moss or mulch around the herbs.

Tips:
  1. Herbs need a minimum of six hours of direct sun to grow.
  2. Plant herbs after you have installed your patio, walkway. Once planted it is best not to disturb the soil.  As compacting the earth for patio or walkway will shift the earth from the herb roots and cause the plants to suffer.
  3. Water herbs daily; for containers and raised gardens, water in the morning and early evening.
  4. Avoid allowing soil to dry out.