Tuesday, July 14, 2015

My creeping phlox died. What, if anything, can be done?

Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata)

Q. I planted creeping phlox in May. I lost some within the first few weeks. I figured I would loose a couple, however every one of them died. I'm not sure why they died, the flower bed has a sprinkler system and it waters early morning and late evening. I thought phlox was a hearty plant. What, if anything can be done? Thank you!

A. I'm sorry to hear that your creeping phlox didn't survive. You said that they were watered twice per day. I'm sure your phlox drowned.

The soil condition for Phlox subulata should be well-drained to dry. The sun exposure should be "full sun." You didn't say whether they were planted in full sun. Should you think about planting phlox again, make sure they get full sun. You'll also need to reduce the irrigation significantly. Otherwise, I recommend you consider ground covers that will tolerate moist soil and partial shade.

Lysimachia, for example, thrives in full sun to partial shade in USDA climate zones 3 through 10 in moist soil. Because it needs consistent moisture, partial shade is recommended in the hottest climates, though heat itself is not the issue. Recommended soil pH ranges from 5.6 to 7.5.

Acorus gramineus thrives in moist to wet soil in partial shade to full shade.

Carex grows in wet to very moist soils but prefers evenly moist, well drained, loamy, sandy or clay soils. It may tolerate shallow standing water for awhile, but never dry soil. Depending on the species, they like partial to full shade. Some tolerate full sun.

Mazus reptans produces blue or white flowers. It is cold hardy in USDA climate zones 4 to 9, thriving in consistently moist soil in full sun to partial shade. Some protection from the sun is appreciated in very hot climates. Recommended soil pH is 6.1 to 8.5. Plants spread rapidly, rooting as they go. Small, plug-like portions can be dug and re-planted elsewhere.

These are but a few suggestions. I hope this helps.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Must-Have Plants: Blue Pacific Juniper

Juniperus conferta 'Blue Pacific'

Must-have plants are among the best plants for appropriate garden situations. When you need great garden plants for ground cover, naturalizing, wildflower gardens, perennial borders, butterfly gardens, hummingbird gardens, herb gardens, heritage gardens, cutting gardens, woodland gardens, shade gardens, bulb gardens, container gardens, bog gardens, water gardens, rain gardens or xeriscaping, look for the best among our must-have plants.

Juniperus conferta 'Blue Pacific', also known as Blue Pacific Juniper, is a big improvement over the well-known Shore Juniper because the height is shorter and foliage color is better.

Name(s): Juniperus conferta 'Blue Pacific', Shore Juniper.

Flower Color: Not applicable.

Bloom Time: Not applicable.

Foliage: Evergreen, blue-green, needle-like.

Height/Spread: 6 inches to 18 inches x 36 inches to 48 inches.

Climate Zones: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

Sun Exposure: Full sun.

Soil Condition: Well-drained to dry, average to poor, pH 5.1 to 7.8.

Features: Drought tolerant, deer resistant, salt-tolerant.

Uses: Xeriscaping, massed planting, ground cover, erosion control, coastal gardens.

Comments: The foliage of Juniperus conferta 'Blue Pacific' is needle-like. Mature height is 6 inches to 18 inches. 'Blue Pacific' spreads to 48 inches.

'Blue Pacific' prefers full sun in USDA climate zones 4 to 9. Average well-drained garden soil is fine. It adapts to a wide variety of soil types and pH levels, and is salt-tolerant.

Juniperus conferta 'Blue Pacific is an excellent ground cover solution for medium to large areas. It performs well in coastal gardens, and dry, sandy soils. 'Blue Pacific' is superb for erosion control.

Return to Juniperus at GoGardenNow.com.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Leucojum - White Violets of Spring and Summer

Leucojum aestivum in Peaches Garden

Leucojum species, members of the Amaryllidacea family, are native to Europe, the Middle East, the Caucasus region, but you will find them naturalized almost everywhere. L. vernum is hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9. It blooms late winter to early spring. L. aestivum is hardy in climate zones 4 to 9. It blooms late spring to early summer. Of the two, L. vernum is shorter, growing 6 inches to 12 inches height. L. aestivum grows from 12 inches to 18 inches.

Leucojum comes from Greek words "leukos" and "ion" meaning "white" and "violet." The Latin word "aestivum" translates "summer."  "Vernum" means "spring."

"But," you might say, "they're not violets." True, if you're thinking of Viola species or African violets. But, African violets aren't Violas, either.

By now you've learned I like to study names (onomatology), wondering why things are dubbed so.

Apparently, Leucojum was named "white violet" because there was a time when "violet" was applied to many adorable plants and daughters. Peter Lauremberg (26 August 1585–13 May 1639) aka Petru Laurembergius, in Apparatus plantarius: de plantis bulbosis et de plantis tuberosis, opined, "Vox Violæ distinctissimis floribus communis est. Videntur mihi antiqui suaveolentes quosque flores generatim Violas appellasse, cujuscunque etiam forent generis quasi vi oleant."

Not knowing much Latin, I went to Google Translate which rendered: "The voice Violets distinctissimis flowers is common. It seems to me the old sweet-scented flowers men generally Violas appealed, irrespective of the kind that would force oil." There you have it. However, not even that clarification ended my wonderment.

There's also the issue of common names. L. aestivum goes by Summer Snowflake, Dewdrop and Snowdrop. L. vernum is called Spring Snowflake and St. Agnes Flower. Why these?

Galanthus species are also called Snowdrops. Leucojum and Galanthus (meaning "milk flower") bloom near the same time and they do look somewhat similar, therefore that may explain the shared names.

So, when Wordsworth wrote,

"LONE Flower, hemmed in with snows and white as they
          But hardier far, once more I see thee bend
          Thy forehead, as if fearful to offend,
          Like an unbidden guest. Though day by day,
          Storms, sallying from the mountain-tops, waylay
          The rising sun, and on the plains descend;
          Yet art thou welcome, welcome as a friend
          Whose zeal outruns his promise! Blue-eyed May
          Shall soon behold this border thickly set
          With bright jonquils, their odours lavishing               
          On the soft west-wind and his frolic peers;
          Nor will I then thy modest grace forget,
          Chaste Snowdrop, venturous harbinger of Spring,
          And pensive monitor of fleeting years
!" - To A Snowdrop,

there's no telling which he was musing about.

Why St. Agnes Flower? Probably in memory of Agnes of Rome (c. 291 – c. 304), a virgin–martyr, patron saint of chastity, virgins (traditionally females, but not necessarily so), holy innocents of both sexes, gardeners (who are always pure in heart), engaged couples (men and women who should be chaste until their weddings), and rape survivors.

Tiffany, in her Family At The Foot Of The Cross blog, wrote, "Some people refer to snowflakes as St. Agnes flowers because she holds a winter feast day." Snowflakes are usually considered to be pure, until they touch the ground. Leucojum seldom bloom as early as the Feast of St. Agnes (21 January), but if you look into an open Leucojum flower and use a little imagination, you'll see the shape of a snowflake.

Voilà! or maybe Violà!

Plant Leucojum bulbs in full sun to partial shade, in slightly moist to well-drained garden soil with pH ranging from 6.1 to 7.8. Planting hole should be 4 inches deep or 2-1/2 times the height of the bulb. Space the bulbs 4 inches apart.

Leucojum species are good for cutting, bulb gardens, perennial borders, container gardens, rock gardens, naturalizing, theme gardens, shade and woodland gardens.

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