Plants that Bloom in Mid Summer

The Tuscorora Crape Myrtle. Is this gorgeous or what?  Bright, dark pink blooms that will last about 4-6 weeks.  Dead head the expired blooms during the summer season for an extra shot of blooms again.  Plants that Bloom in Mid Summer

Myrtle carp Tuscorora

 

Red Verbena – Bright red blooms that will last all summer long.  They will come back the following seasons.  Great for rock gardens and desert type landscape.  Put them in containers with other colorful annuals or perennials.

Red Verbenma

Dynamite Red Crape Myrtle – Bright red blooms that will make you say “Ohh My!” Dead head the expired red blooms to extend the colorful flowers.  They will grow to about 15-20 ft. tall and about 10-15 ft. wide.

Myrtle Dynamite carp

Vinca Perwinkle – Easy ground cover color.  Reds, purples, whites and lavender color petals.  Water thoroughly througout the summer months.  These are considered annuals in places where temps get below freezing.  They get about 3-6″ tall and can withstand the hot blazing heat.  Plant them in masses for a great affect…they do well in containers.

Vinca PerwinkleDallas Red Lantana – They will bloom all summer long.  Once established they are moderate watering.  However, you should water everyday during it’s first two years of growth.  Growth rate is about 3-4 ft. tall and wide, sometimes larger if placed in the right area.

Dallas Red Lantana

Coleus – Not just brown and purple but the lime green and varigaeted darker colors will give you some added foliage color in your garden or landscape design.

 

Coleus  ColorsCalifornia Poppies.  Yes these poppies will thrive in host sun but they do need lots of water during the hot weather.

More Plants that bloom in mid-summer

California Poppies

 

 

California Poppies New Mexico
California Poppies in New Mexico

The Red Bird of Paradise they will bloom all summer long. No dead heading, just plant, water and see the fantastic bright red and yellow flowers all summer.

red bird of paradise plant

Petunias – Especially the Wave petunias.  They can tolerate the hot mid summer sun.  Use them in containers so you can move them around.

backyard2

Bougainvillea – Hanging Bougainvillea are a great way to add color in your patio or front entrance.  Don’t be afraid to trim Bougainvillea’s during summer.  They will respond fast after being pruned.  Water and fertilize about every 2-3 weeks.

Hanging Bougainvillea

 

The mid summer heat can be brutal on many plants.  They will get stressed and not bloom or look like you want them to.  My advice is to water more, and fertilize every 2 weeks or so.

It is hard to over water if you have good drainage.  Don’t forget to check your plants often for insects as they love new plant growth.  Diseases is another thing to look for.  Powderly mildew, fungus, spotted rust can make your plants look like they need more water.

 

 

 

Plants to help clean and filter indoor pollution

Peace Lilly Plant

Is your home or office environment void of indoor plants?  Did you know there are hundreds of plants that help clean and filter out indoor pollution.  The EPA blog says plants can help reduce chemical toxins indoors.

Materials such as treated wood, glues, paints, varnishes and a multitude of other household materials give out a heavy dose of toxins inside your office or home space.

The soil in these plants can also help clean up the air.  According to a NASA article one plant can actually reduce the toxins in the air.  Read article here. Below is a quote from the article.

NASA researchers suggest efficient air cleaning is accomplished with at least one plant per 100 square feet of home or office space. Other research has shown that micro-organisms in the potting mix (soil) of a potted plant remove benzene from the air, and that some plant species also contribute to removing benzene.

How do plants clean up the air?

Plants will absorb the carbon dioxide and in turn release clean oxygen and humidity into the room.  The leaf composition allows them to photosynthesize well into household light.

Which plants are the best to use?

Almost all plants will help but below is a list of plants that can do the job. These are just a few but these are good ones to start with.

Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)

Weeping fig or (Ficus benjamina)

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia maculata) – Wonder why they call it Dumb?  Anyone know?

Dumb Cane Plant

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii)

 

peacelillySnake Plant also called Mother in laws plant (Sanseveria trifasciata) – Sharp pointed spike can easily poke your skin…hmmm now I now why it’s called the Mother in Law Tongue Plant!

mother-in-law2

Schefflera (Schefflera actinophyla)

Money plant (Epipremnum aureum) – I’m still looking to see if it will grow money?

Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)

Rubber plant (Ficus elastica)

The Rubber Plant

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

Pothos Plant

In addition to helping clean the indoor air these plants add symmetry, color and softens the indoor decor of any office or home space.

The Pothos, Chinese evergreen and Rubber plants are easily maintained and should be used for those who are just starting out.

You can view images and instructions on how to care for these plants by following these links.

Indoor Plants page 1

Indoor Plants page 2

 

 

How to start a container garden

Planning Your Container Garden

 The first thing you need to decide when planning a container garden is whether you’d prefer to grow your plants indoors or outdoors.  A lot of people think container gardening is only for indoor growing and patios, but containers can actually be useful for any garden situation.

Containers are great for growing almost any type of plant, because they offer great versatility.  If you plant your garden in containers and you need to move it later, it’s easy to do it.  Not so if you have a traditional garden!

If you’re expecting very bad weather, you can temporarily move containers to a safer location, like indoors or into a garage or basement.  But there isn’t much you can do for a traditional garden.

If you find your plants aren’t doing well because the space you chose is too sunny or too shady, there isn’t much you can do with a traditional garden, but you can easily move potted plants to a better location.

If you choose to have your container garden outdoors, you need to be sure to choose a good location for it.  You’ll want to choose a place that has the proper amount of sun for the plants you wish to grow, but it also needs to be a place that’s very accessible.  It’s easy to lose motivation to work on your garden if it’s several hundred yards away from the house!

Be sure to locate your plants as far away from streets as you can.  Pollution from cars, as well as the dust they kick up, can damage your plants and contaminate them.  You don’t want to be eating all of that pollution, so locate plants as far away from those roads as possible.

If you have your plants indoors, you’ll need to be sure to select a very good spot.  Most plants need to be fairly warm, so you’ll need to choose the warmest spot in your house if you use air conditioning.

Many plants won’t do well in very chilly homes, so you might need to choose a room for your plants and keep the vent closed in that room so it stays warmer there. If you can, choose a sunny room with a lot of natural sunlight.

Plants thrive best with natural light.  If you don’t have a room with a lot of sunlight, you’ll have to use special plant lights for your plants.  You can’t use just any fluorescent lights, because plants won’t thrive.

You need to use lights that are specially designed for growing plants.  They contain a broad spectrum of light, which is closer to natural light than standard bulbs. You may also have to adjust the humidity in the room with your plants.

Some plants thrive better in higher humidity, and others do well in lower humidity.  You may need to invest in special equipment to adjust the humidity if you’re raising very delicate or picky plants.  You probably won’t have to do this unless you’re growing exotic varieties.

Next, you’ll need to choose which plants you want to grow.  Be careful!  Too many people choose to plant far too many varieties, and end up frustrated.  Don’t grow anything you can easily pick up cheaply at the grocery store!

Stick to growing fruits and vegetables that you really enjoy and have a hard time locating locally, or those you find too expensive or too low quality.  Tomatoes are a favorite for home gardeners, because their quality in stores if often very poor.

Finally, decide whether or not you want to grow your plants organically.  If you’re growing indoors, this will probably be very simple to do.  But if you’re growing your plants outside, you may find the frustration of dealing with pests is just too much for you.  Don’t feel guilty if you find organic gardening too difficult.  You can always try it after you have more experience.

Getting your plants ready for winter

 Here in the Southwestern part of the U.S. the summer and fall seasons are long.  As we know fall in this part of the country produces some of the best eye pleasing color for all to enjoy.  Getting your plants ready for winter should be done every year.

The fall colors in the Southwest are awesome.

Texas Red Oaks, Chinese Pistache, and Raywood Ash trees produce eye popping red colors.  I also love the fall weather as it is cool and the wind is almost non-existent.

Colorful tree
Beautiful Chinese Pistache Color

I am often asked “what and how do I get my landscape ready for the winter season”.  Here are a few tips to help you do just that.

First you got to keep abreast of the weather in your area.  Now days it’s really easy with the advent of smart phones and t’s a snap to tune in for weather reports.  TV, Radio and of course the Internet will give you the latest information about freezing temperatures or inclement weather.

Getting your plants ready for winter

It is best to fertilize almost everything before the onset of winter.  This will keep your plants strong and hardy before the spring seasons.  Fertilizing in mid winter is not recommended.

Frost tender plants such as Lantana’s, and the Red Bird of Paradise should be trimmed down to the ground.  It’s best to cover these plants with mulch to keep the root thriving throughout the winter season.

The desert bird and yellow paradsie plant are best left alone during winter.

red-bird-paradise

What about Roses?

Roses for the most part should be left alone.  Only trim if you have a good reason to trim.   Here is a great post on how to take care of roses.  Rose Care.

Palm trees during winter.  Do not trim off the yellow palm tree fronds as this helps protect them from the freezing temperatures.  Kind of like leaving a coat on for winter.

Do trim off the fronds during the spring, and summer seasons.  Palm Tree care post is here.  More Palm Tree Care. 

california-fan-palm

You will need to cut down on your watering once mid-November comes around.  Do water about twice per month until spring.  Once you see small shoots coming out of from the bottom of trimmed of roots it’s time to go back to regular watering.  Basically every other day during spring summer and fall.

barbara-karst-bougainvillea

The Bougainvillea plant should be taken inside unless you planted them in the ground.  In that case it’s best to trim back and cover it with a thermal or insulation plant blanket.  Yes, these are sold at local nurseries.  If you live in climates that do not get below freezing they are best left alone outdoors.

You should cut down your watering for trees and plants that are well established.  This usually occurs about the third or fourth year.

Do Native Plants need water during winter?

Water Native plants less frequently I would suggest about once per month.  Do not water Ocotillos, Cactus, or Agave during winter at all.  The Pinon tree should only be watered about once per month.  Texas sage (lecuophyllums) should be watered about once per month during winter.  The true sages need about once per month also.

The argument about not watering native or drought tolerant plants at all is valid. But only for those who do not care about growth and looks.  These plants tend to look better, grow faster and produce more blossoms or flowers during their peak seasons.

Citrus plants should be brought inside unless you live in an area where there are no freezing temperatures but again, keep your eye on the weather.

What about Lawns?

Warm season lawn grasses such as Bermuda will go dormant once the cold weather hits your vicinity.  This means turn the water sprinkler off during winter and do not fertilize it.  You are wasting your time, money and effort if you do!  However, if you have Bermuda overseeded with rye grass then I would continue watering throughout the winter months.

Cool season grasses such as Fescue, and Kentucky blue grass should still be watered about once per week.  If you want your Fescue lawn to look good during winter…fertilize it.  A good 16-8-8 analysis will work great.

It’s important to note that if you live in a warmer climate where temperatures rarely go below freezing there are different set of rules.  Southern California and Arizona rarely have temperatures below 32 degrees farenheit.

So, it’s best to call your local nursery and ask for advice.  I would not call the big box stores as the majority of nursery employees are not as well informed in the gardening field.  Need to find your local gardening zone map?  Just follow this link.  Southwest Garden Zone Map.

Fall is a good time to observer your plants.  Look for diseases, insects and be sure to call or visit your local nursery folks and ask for advice.

Many folks consider spraying for insects in fall as a waste of time and money.  They may think “The winter freezes will kill them anyway”.  This is true!

However, It’s best to do this any way and here is my reasoning.  Most insects will produce larvae and eggs in fall.  These eggs will fall to the ground lay dormant througout the winter seasons. Once the warm weather comes back around they will hatch and you will have more insects to contend with.

Got questions and or comment about our “Getting your plants ready for winter” article?  Just type it below.  We answer all comments or questions!

How to start seeds indoors

Article by: by By Diane Linsley Check out Diane’s outstanding website at: Dianeseeds.com– Diane’s Flower Seeds Heirloom flowers, rare perennials, daylilies and

Starting Indoor Seeds

This is a lot easier than it sounds. Even inexperienced gardeners can start seeds with just a bare minimum of equipment.

There are as many ways to start seeds as there are gardeners, but the following tips have always worked for me.

Equipment Needed:

Plastic flats — I prefer the cheap ones with the separate cells. If you have a choice, buy flats with white trays rather than black. The black heats up in the sun, which is nice for germination, but when the flats are placed outside later in the spring, it can overheat the seedlings. Watering more frequently can help to counteract this problem. You can reuse the same trays and pony packs for 2-3 years before they fall apart.

Just wash them in the bathtub with soapy water before reusing them. Sterilized seed starting mix — This works much better than potting soil, even though it’s a little more expensive. Never use garden soil or previously used potting soil. I don’t recommend using peat pellets because they tend to stay soggy, which can cause damping-off disease. A spray bottle — To remoisten the surface of the mix, if necessary, while the seeds are germinating. Seaweed fertilizer — Optional, but very helpful.

A little goes a long way! I use half the strength recommended on the bottle to avoid burning the tender young roots. I like Maxicrop kelp extract, available from Peaceful Valley Farm Supply. A rack to put the flats on — Rubbermaid makes a nice 4 tier storage shelf. It has enough spacing between the shelves for the flats to get adequate sunlight. Or you can attach grow lights, if necessary. A bright window, preferably south or east-facing — I set my rack in front of the sliding glass door in my east-facing kitchen. South-facing would be even better.

If you don’t have a south- or east-facing window, you could try west-facing, as long as you also supplement the plants with flourescent lighting. Hang the grow lights (or cheap flourescent lights) from chains 4″ above the tops of the seedlings as they grow. Leave them on for no more than 12-16 hours a day (plants need to rest at night just like we do). Now, it’s time to start those seeds. Don’t be scared off by all of the instructions — it’s really easier than it sounds.

How to start seeds indoors

Fill a flat with seed starting mix. Press it firmly into every cell, since the mix will shrink when the water is added and the air pockets are gone. Moisten the mix with warm water.

Don’t use cold water, because peat moss (the main ingredient) repels cold water. My flats usually require between 1 and 1.5 quarts of water. I pour it slowly over the flat, trying to put roughly the same amount into each cell without washing out the soil. Don’t use too much water — you don’t want to waterlog the soil.

When the mix is thoroughly moistened, lightly press it down to remove air pockets. Wait for a few minutes for the mix to become evenly moist before you start planting the seeds. If there is excess water in the bottom of the tray after 15 minutes, pour it off. Most seeds are planted about 2 times as deep as they are wide.

This means that tiny seeds like campanula are best sown on the surface or covered with just the thinnest amount of mix. Press the seeds lightly onto the surface to ensure good soil contact. A little spray of water with a mister will also help the seeds to settle in. Before sowing larger seeds, poke a shallow hole in the center of each cell.

Sow about 3 seeds per cell. For very tiny seeds, sow 5-8 seeds. Extra seedlings can be thinned later. But try to avoid the temptation to sow hundreds of tiny seeds into one cell. The seedlings won’t do well, and they become a thinning nightmare. It’s also a good idea to save some seeds for next year or for disasters (like your toddler pulling up the seedlings). Whenever I try a new type of seed,

I start some indoors and some outdoors to see what works best. For seeds with a high germination rate, just pull back the mulch, scratch up the dirt with a hand-held cultivator, scatter a few seeds over the dirt, then scratch them in and pat them down. Don’t replace the mulch, or they won’t germinate (mulch keeps weeds and flower seedlings down).

This method is less reliable for difficult seeds. When in doubt, it’s best to prepare a special seed bed in a place where the soil is good (like the vegetable garden), and turn in some weed-free compost or well-composted manure before planting the seeds.

Most perennials, except those with taproots, can be moved later to permanent spots in the flower garden. Leave annuals where they are sown — collect the seeds of hardy annuals in the fall and scatter them in flower beds. Back indoors: You must keep accurate records of what you planted. Believe me, you won’t remember in what order you planted the seeds by the time you finish planting them.

I sow one type of seed in each pony pack, writing down what I planted as I go. You may also want to mark the side of the flat where you started with masking tape, and write in your notes something like, “Starting from top left side, going down”…(followed by your list of seeds and how many pony packs of each that you sowed). Place the clear plastic lid over the flat. This retains the humidity for surface-sown seeds.

Remove the lid if the flat gets too warm sitting in the sunshine. As soon as several seedlings appear, remove the lid permanently, and do not use it again or you risk getting damping off disease, a fungus that kills young seedlings if they are kept too wet or don’t get enough air circulation.

I’ve never had this problem because I’m very careful to avoid overwatering (and there’s a heat vent in the floor nearby, which probably helps). Some people run a fan to ensure good air circulation. If you start seeds that require pre-chilling, such as columbine or penstemon, you should place the flat in your refrigerator for 3-4 weeks after sowing. When the time is up, place the flat in a sunny window, and the seedlings should begin to appear within 2-3 weeks.

I often start my columbine in part of a flat, then add the rest of the cells and seeds after the columbine is finished pre-chilling. Seedlings must be observed every day from now until transplanting time. When about half of the cells are looking dry, and the flat feels lighter than normal, then it’s time to give it a good watering.

Pour about 1 quart of water in the bottom of the tray. Watering from the bottom up is better for seedlings. Just be sure to drain off any excess water after giving it time to soak in. Unfortunately, some cells tend to dry out before the others (especially the cells in the corners), and they need to be watered more often. Do this carefully to avoid damaging tiny seedlings.

Before the seedlings germinate, I use a spray bottle to moisten the soil surface if it dries out too much. Once the seedlings have emerged, bottom watering is best to reduce the risk of damping-off disease.

After the seedlings have developed their second set of leaves (the “true” leaves), it’s time to use some seaweed fertilizer. Add the seaweed at half the strength recommended on the bottle. Fertilize about once a week, adding the fertilizer to the quart of water that you put in the bottom of the tray. When the seedlings are sturdy enough, use a small pair of manicure scissors to thin out the smallest or most gangly ones.

Don’t attempt to pull up the seedlings, which could damage the roots of their neighbors. There are some things that don’t require thinning, such as sweet alyssum. Avoid thinning weak seedlings like snapdragons until they are well established, since the fragile stems frequently break, leading to a sort of self-thinning. About 3-4 weeks before the last frost date, start introducing the seedlings to the great outdoors. Just set the rack outside on the east side of your house or in the dappled shade of a tree. Only do this for half an hour or less on the first day.

Watch the seedlings closely for signs of wilting, and don’t put them out on cold or windy days. Slowly increase the amount of time that they spend outside each day until they are staying outside all day and only coming in at night. During the hardening-off phase, plants will need to be watered as often as twice a day to keep them from drying out.

It would be wise to transplant the seedlings on different days, just in case of disaster. And, of course, water them frequently until they are well established. Adding seaweed to the water for the first one or two waterings will encourage stronger root development.

Don’t give in to the temptation to transplant them into the garden before the last frost date, no matter how nice the weather seems. One year, I planted out 100 seedlings a few days before the last frost date (May 15 here in northern Utah), and two days later the temperature suddenly dropped to freezing.

I placed pots over as many seedlings as I could, but I still lost about half of them. Don’t be shocked and dismayed if up to 10% or more of your seedlings die before they grow up. This happens to even the most experienced gardeners. Just enjoy the plants that make it. Once you have successfully started your first plants from seed, you’ll be hooked for life!

Above article by:  Diane Linsley Check out Diane’s outstanding website at: Dianeseeds.com– Diane’s Flower Seeds Heirloom flowers, rare perennials, daylilies and herbs.