Monday, May 3, 2010

An Impression of Appleblossom Grass

More than anything, I must have flowers, always, always.
--Claude Monet

Though it's doubtful he knew of it, Appleblossom Grass would have delighted Monet.  Native to Texas and Louisiana, it produces tall stems to 24" bearing white to pink flowers resembling apple blossoms which flutter like butterflies over the landscape from summer to fall.  Their fleeting, impressionistic quality is enchanting.

Appleblossom Grass was formerly known as Guara lindheimeri, but is now included in the genus OenotheraOenothera means "having to do with wine."  It has been suggested that the name comes from the fact that the root of the edible species, Oenothera biennis, was once used to flavor wine.  (I can't imagine why.)  The species is named in honor of Ferdinand Lindheimer, German botanist, revolutionary and political exile, who collected plants for Asa Gray of Harvard University.

For native plant enthusiasts, Appleblossom Grass is a natural.  The species is beautiful enough, but new varieties including 'Siskiyou Pink', 'Whirling Butterflies' and 'Passionate Blush' are growing in popularity.

Appleblossom Grass is perfect for naturalizing in wildflower meadows, being deer resistant and drought tolerant.  It's perfect for xeriscaping.  It also adds charm to perennial gardens.  'Passionate Blush' blossoms last longer than those of other guara, so are better for cut flower arrangements.

Appleblossom Grass thrives in USDA climate zones 6 through 9.  Plant in full sun to partial shade.  Average well-drained garden soil with pH ranging from 6.6 to 8.5 is fine.  Plants can be set any time you have a trowel handy.

Before planting, take a sample of your garden soil to your local Cooperative Extension Service office.  They often provide collection bags.  With each soil sample, indicate the type of plant you intend to grow in it.  For the most basic recommendations, you may be charged a nominal fee.  For more information such as micro-nutrient and organic content you may be charged more.

Prepare the planting bed by cultivating at least 8" deep, removing all traces of weeds.  Adjust soil pH according to soil test results.  Your soil sample report will also include fertilizer recommendations.  Following instructions is always a good bet.  A fine all-around practice is to mix 5 tablespoons of 10-10-10 fertilizer per ten square feet area.  Be careful that fertilizer does not come into direct contact with plant tissue.

Appleblossom Grass looks great planted with cosmos, coreopsis, coneflower, daylily, black-eye susan, yarrow, salvia and mullein.  If you live in a zone where Appleblossom grass can be grown, add it to your garden for a very special impression.

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