Wednesday, March 27, 2019

FAQ: What is the advantage of plants in 3-1/4 inch pots over 2-1/2 inch pots?

Asiatic jasmine in 2-1/2 inch pot and 3-1/4 inch pot

Q. What is the advantage of buying plants in 3-1/4 inch pots over 2-1/2 inch pots, or vice versa?

A. The advantage has more to do with your circumstances and choice than with the pot sizes themselves. The better choice is subjective.

I'm including a picture of Asiatic Jasmine - Trachelospermum asiaticum - in a 2-1/2 inch pot (left) and 3-1/4 inch pot (right). Beside the obvious difference in pot size, you see a larger plant and larger root mass in the 3-1/4 inch pot. You should expect that the larger plant will establish itself and spread faster than the smaller one.

But there are other considerations for you: time and money. If you have a lot of area to cover, and your budget is limited, you might do better with plants in 2-1/2 inch containers. Sure, it'll take a little longer to achieve the desired coverage, but you'll have more money left in your pocket.

However, plants in larger containers may be planted farther apart. Then it'll take them a little longer to fill in the space. Soooo, you might end up spending the same if you buy the larger plants, and increase the spacing.

On the other hand, the difference in time to achieve coverage might be negligible, depending upon their actual rate of growth. That depends on many factors: climate, soil, care.

Large plants are more noticeable in the landscape from the get-go. If that matters to you, go with the larger plants.

If I had all the money I wanted, I'd install the larger plants cheek-to-jowl, and get instant coverage. But I don't. So I, as you, would make my decision based upon the present circumstances. What do you have more of? Time or money? How would you compromise?

Dear Reader, I'd like to know what you think. How have you handled these kinds of decisions? Let us know in the Comment section. I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Better Homes and Gardens Promotes Some Of My Favorite Easy-To-Grow Perennials

Naturalized Daylilies

Better Homes and Gardens published a very helpful gardening article a few years ago promoting some of my favorite easy-to-grow perennials. I enjoyed it so much that I want to share some excerpts with you.

Coneflower - Echinacea purpurea

First on their list was Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). "Hot, sunny weather won't stop coneflower from producing armloads of flowers from early summer until fall. This purple-flowering native is a snap to grow... ...The nectar-rich flowers will also attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden."

Coreopsis 'Moonbeam'

Second was Coreopsis. "Equally at home in containers or the landscape, Coreopsis is a must-have perennial for novice and experienced gardeners. This cheerful plant puts on a nonstop flower show from late spring to fall..."

Rudbeckia 'Goldstrum'

Black-Eye Susan (Rudbeckia) was also praised. "The more you cut the bold daisylike flowers of black-eyed Susan, the more blooms these prolific perennials will produce. Susan thrives in full sun and can tolerate drought. It’s also a bee and butterfly favorite."

Hemerocallis 'Autumn Red'

Daylily (Hemerocallis) was honored. "Talk about easy! With daylilies, all you have to do is plant them in a sunny spot and stand back. After that, these rugged perennials need very little care..."

Catmint (Nepeta), of course, is favored by cats and their fawning humans. Better Homes noted, "Also called catmint, Nepeta is so easy to grow. Sporting graceful stalks of blue, white, or pink flowers in the spring, Nepeta will quickly rebloom if you cut the plants back after the first flush of flowers fade. The flowers are highly attractive to bees and butterflies. Nepeta also has fragrant foliage..."

Sedum 'Lemon Ball'

Sedum made the list. How I do love sedum! "Stage a colorful fall finale in your garden by including a generous supply of sedum. ...Sedums are prized for their showy, nectar-rich flowers that feed hordes of hungry insects in the late summer and fall. And, when not in flower, you can still enjoy the plants’ brightly colored fleshy foliage."

Heuchera 'Palace Purple'

Heuchera is hot nowadays. It seems growers can't get enough of coming up with new colors. Better Homes said, "Do you remember the scene in the movie The Wizard of Oz when the entire landscape magically goes from black and white to color? Well that’s what will happen in your own shady backyard when you let Heuchera steal the show....Heuchera makes an excellent groundcover or container plant."

Achillea 'Coronation Gold'

Yarrow (Achillea), storied in legend and song, was mentioned. "Some perennials seem to thrive on neglect. Yarrow, for example, blooms its head off even in poor soil or during times of drought. The plant's fragrant, ferny foliage supports a midsummer explosion of gorgeous flowers... It's deer- and rabbit-resistant, too." All true!

Better Homes and Gardens listed several more perennials worth your attention. Be sure to read the entire article and view the slideshow. Easy-To-Grow Perennials.

What do you think? Do you have some easy-to-grow perennials you'd like to rave about? Let us know in the comment section. We'd love to hear from you.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Strolling Around To Discover Deer Resistant Plants

Big honkin' buck captured by my game cam

I'm frequently asked about deer-resistant plants. A customer who lives on Skidaway Island, Georgia declared that "deer eat absolutely everything" in her yard. (I'm sure they don't, for I've explored Skidaway Island since my youth, and the island is far from denuded.) Of course she wanted to know what deer won't eat.

The first thing anyone needs to understand is that very hungry deer will eat practically anything. They're almost proverbial billy goats. They won't eat tin cans, but goats don't either.

I was on Kiawah Island working on another project. Kiawah is much like Skidaway, so, inspired by her query, I decided to take a stroll to see what plants deer hadn't touched.

Viburnum odoratissimum

The first ornamental shrub I spotted was Viburnum odoratissimum, aka Sweet Viburnum. There was nary a nibble from it. V. odoratissimum is native to Asia. It is evergreen, grows to about 20' high, and as wide, and is at home in USDA climate zones 7-9. I don't know why it was untouched. Perhaps it smells better than it tastes.

Palm frond

Then there were palms. Lots and lots of palms of various species. Some were native; some were not. Palms are wonderful ornamentals, from the lowly Serenoa repens - aka Saw Palmetto - to the stately Roystonea regia - aka Royal Palm. Palms are typically considered to be for tropical to semi-tropical climates, but the Rhapidophyllum hystrix - aka Needle Palm - is cold-hardy to zone 6a. I suppose palms are deemed inedible by deer because they are stringy and hard to chew.

Persea borbonia

Redbay - Persea borbonia - was untouched even though deer reportedly like it. I didn't spy any damaged by ambrosia beetle, either. Redbay isn't often used as an ornamental, but it could be. The leaves are fragrant when crushed. It's a small, evergreen tree. Folks used to use the leaves for seasoning. American Indians used the leaves as a medicine to induce vomiting. I would guess that deer know of that effect, so avoid it unless needing an emetic.

Ilex vomitoria berries

Moseying along, I came upon a stand of native Yaupon holly - aka Ilex vomitoria. It was unmolested, perhaps because it is also a strong emetic. A beverage of the leaves will make you vomit. It appears, however, throughout the South as an ornamental shrub or small tree in compact, multi-stemmed, and weeping forms. The berries are very appealing.

Cycas revoluta

Sago Palm - aka Cycas revoluta - is practically ubiquitous in these parts. It's native to Japan, but you'd think it was native to the Southeastern United States. It's not a palm. It is a cycad, related to the deer-resistant native Zamia integrifolia or Coontie. No wonder deer don't eat it; it's poisonous.

Farfugium japonicum

Farfugium japonicum - aka Ligularia, Ragwort, Leopard plant, Leopard's Bane - has grown in popularity in recent years. It's a fine perennial plant for partial shade to full shade. It was obvious to me that deer don't like it, perhaps because they somehow intuit that the plant contains tumorigenic alkaloids. Glossy, evergreen leaves - sometimes spotted - are gorgeous. The yellow flowers are mighty attractive and daisy-like. It's in the  Asteraceae family.

Juniperus conferta

Soon I spied some juniper ground cover - Shore Juniper (Juniperus conferta). It's an ideal choice for a coastal garden because of its salt-tolerance. Deer will eat junipers, especially Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana). You can see evidence of that as you travel along interstate highways. But Shore Juniper has awl-like foliage which can put a hurtin' on the tongue.

Daniella tasmanica

Dianella tasmanica (Variegated Flax Lily) was uneaten. I don't know if it's supposed to be deer-resistant, but it certainly appeared so. It appears with growing frequency in perennial borders.

Cortaderia selloana

Cortaderia selloana, commonly known as pampas grass, was untouched. I understand exactly why. The sharp leaf edges will discourage anyone or thing from intruding. It's a stately grass, and certainly deserving of a place in the large landscape. It tolerates a wide range of temperatures, and is requires very little maintenance. Good thing, too. It's too sharp to handle without gloves, long-sleeves and trousers.

Illicium parviflorum

I saw some Illicium parviflorum - Yellow Star Anise - that had been abused, but not by deer. It's a fine shrub, and grows to a large size. The leaves are fragrant when crushed. Unfortunately, these individuals were planted in a hedge, expected to remain compact, and the foliage had been chopped up by a hedge-trimmer. Large-leaved plants do not look good when eaten up by a hedge-trimmer.

Yucca spp.

Yucca had not been touched. Understandably so. The sharp-pointed and fibrous leaves render it inedible for deer. It's a fine ornament, though, especially when in bloom.

Loropetalum chinense

Loropetalum chinense is a fairly new introduction to the landscaping community. It seems that new ones are released every year. It is known to be deer-resistant. This planting was no exception.

Eleagnus spp.

One of my least favorite landscape shrubs was undisturbed by deer - Eleagnus. I've hated it since I was a child. My mother made me prune hers into large globes, and I swear I could hear them growing as I walked away. I must say, however, that I did enjoy eating the fruits when no one else seemed to care. I've seen Eleagnus planted beside highway overpasses and in cloverleafs, probably to stop runaway traffic. They'll do that, for sure.

Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) was ignored by hungry deer. Though considered by some folks to be a nuisance vine, it makes a nice ground cover. It also covers stone walls very well. The scarlet fall foliage is gorgeous.

Afternoon shadows were lengthening. It was time for my saunter to end. I hoped that my impromptu discovery hour turned up a few plant choices for my friend to consider.

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Saturday, March 2, 2019

FAQ: Are there any special requirements for bare root?

Asiatic Jasmine - Trachelospermum asiaticum - Bare Root

Q. Are there any special requirements for bare root? Want to purchase but need to know what I’m getting into.

A. Good question. Since there is no soil around the roots to provide protection, they must not be allowed to dry out. When the plants arrive, set the bundles upright in the box. Protect the package from exposure to wind, sun, freezing temperatures. Keep slightly moist.

When planting, do the same. A few minutes exposure can be damaging.

Have the soil prepared and the holes "punched" in the ground before you begin. Cover the roots after planting each one. Water well after planting to set the soil in contact with the roots.

Do not allow synthetic fertilizer - especially dry granules - to contact the plants above or below the soil line.

That about covers it.

I hope this helps. If you have more questions, don't hesitate to ask. If you have anything to add, we'd love to hear from you. Let us know in the comment section.

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