Category Archives: Perennial Flowers

Flowers for the 4th

The garden is starting to really bloom and here are some of my favorites.

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Magellan Zinnia

Cheyanne Sunset Echinacea

Cheyanne Sunset Echinacea

Hibiscus

Hibiscus

Mandeville

Mandeville

Cleome

Cleome

Flowering Thyme

Flowering Thyme

Trumpet Lily

Trumpet Lily

Trumpet Lily

Trumpet Lily

Passion Flower

Passion Flower

Heliotrope

Heliotrope

Some Blooms for the Start of June

The cool, wet weather of April and early May has finally come to an end. It’s June 1st and the flower garden is starting to come to life. Here’s a sampling of what’s in bloom!

 

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Salvia

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Salvia Close Up

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Iris

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Red Knock Out Rose

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Pink Knock Out Rose

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Calibrachoa

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Lantana

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Chives

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San Francisco Begonia

 

Flowers from the Mid-July Garden

‘Tis the season for a lot of the flower garden to be in full bloom.

Some of the best blooms are on the daylilies. This year, with lots of moisture and not too hot temperatures, has led to one of the best daylily displays in a long time.

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Another plant that’s looking especially good this year is the rudbeckia or black eyed susan. This little patch of flowers has been self-seeding for over a decade and they’re back again this year.

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And here are some of the other flowers that caught my eye:

Marigold

Marigold

Hibiscus (Rose of Sharon)

Hibiscus (Rose of Sharon)

Dahlia (Grown from Seed)

Dahlia (Grown from Seed)

Agastache

Agastache

Cosmos

Cosmos

 

Want Bees? Grow Lavender!

Everyone understands the importance of having pollinators in the garden. If you’re growing fruit trees, squash, cucumbers and other crops, you need insects to pollinate the flowers so that the fruit can set.

lav1I’ve never been very intentional about attracting pollinators to the garden. They always just seem to be there. But I’ve always noticed what plants seem to attract these insects. One of the best plants for bringing bees the to garden seems to be lavender.

This easy to grow perennial is a bee magnet. When the lavender is blooming, one plant can easily be swarming with over a dozen bees. The lavender plant that’s in bloom right now is especially attractive to bumblebees. While a nearby russian sage has honey bees flying around its blooms, the lavender has nothing but bumblebees visiting its flowers.

Lone Bee the Found the Borage!

Lone Bee the Found the Borage!

I also have a volunteer borage plant growing near the lavender. Borage is supposed to be a great plant for attracting bees but when there’s lavender nearby, the bees ignore the borage and head straight to the lavender!

Growing lavender is easy. While starting it from seed can be a challenge due to slow and sporadic germination, if you start with a small plant from a nursery, it’s hard to go wrong. Lavender likes full sun but doesn’t need a lot of fertilizer. It’s ignored by rabbits (yeah!) and the only thing it can’t tolerate is heavy, wet soil. If you want more plants, you can take cuttings and root them easily. And when the plant starts to bloom, you can cut some of the flowers and dry them for potpuorri or to use as dried flowers.

lav5After seeing how well the lavender has grown and how the rabbits leave it alone, I’ve planted a small bed of lavender near the front door. The location is warm and sunny and the plants should make an easy to maintain “hedge” that will draw in the bees.

I’m also thinking about taking some cuttings, rooting them and planting them in the vegetable garden. It certainly can’t hurt to have a few more bees working in the garden.

So if you want bees, try some lavender – it’s sure to bring them into your yard.

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Blossoms for Memorial Day Weekend

Here are a few of the things blossoming in the garden right now:

German Bearded Iris

German Bearded Iris

German Bearded Iris

German Bearded Iris Bud

German Bearded Iris

Spiderwort.

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Ajuga

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Tomatoes. I’ve never had tomatoes blossom this early but planting them in a cold frame gave them a good head start this year.

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And while it’s not a bloom, I had to share this picture of the bane of my existence – the rabbit! (Note the chicken wire around the rose bush in the background; that’s all because of this critter!)

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Propagating Perennial Hibiscus

I’ve written before about the Southern Belle hibiscus that I have growing along a fence. The plants grow well and are covered with huge blossoms during the summer.

Southern Belle Hibiscus

Southern Belle Hibiscus

I have three plants but I want a fourth to fill in an empty pot along the fence. I grew the plants that I have from seed but I’m finding that Southern Belle is a variety that’s no longer readily available as seed. I considered dividing one of the clumps but that seemed like it would be a lot of work – the mass of roots and stems of the existing hibiscus is large and well established.

Then it hit me – take a cutting. Many plants can be propagated by taking a cutting of a stem and rooting it. The hibiscus shoots are just beginning to grow and I thought that these shoots might be perfect for rooting. Herbaceous plants are usually easy to root as long as the stems aren’t too woody. The hibiscus shoots that are coming out of the ground are far from woody; all of the tissue is very new and soft. If any part of a hibiscus should root easily, it should be these shoots.

So I cut a shoot, trimmed off the bottom leaves (these shoots are so young that the leaves aren’t even full size) and put it into a peat pot with sterile potting mix. As an added help in rooting, I dipped the cut end of the shoot in rooting compound. This compound contains the chemical indole-3-butyric acid (IBA), a plant hormone that stimulates adventitious root formation. While the mechanism isn’t well understood, IBA has been used for years to propagate plants, particularly woody plants. I doubt the hibiscus cutting needed the IBA but figured it couldn’t hurt!

Hibiscus Cutting

Hibiscus Cutting

After potting up the cutting, I put it into a Ziploc bag and placed it near a plant light. It’s now been about a week and the cutting is growing and when I tug on the stem, I can feel a little resistance, a sign that roots are beginning to form. I’m optimistic that this attempt at propagating a perennial hibiscus will work. Between the young shoot, the IBA and the season (propagating plants in the spring is often easier than other times of the year), I expecting to be able to plant this cutting in the garden in a few weeks. The plant will be smaller than the other hibiscus, but it’ll catch up with them in time.

Who needs Southern Belle seeds when there are shoots of existing plants that can be propagated?!

Grecian Windflowers and Other Anemones

A few years ago I ordered some anemone tubers to give this plant a try. The kind of anemone that I planted was Anemone blanda or Grecian windflowers.

The plants have been a nice surprise. The tubers were small brown little blobs that looked like old raisins. There was no way to tell which part of the tuber was the top and what part was the bottom so I simply spread them above a bed of hyacinth bulbs.

Anemone blanda

Anemone blanda

The plants are only a few inches tall but the daisy-like blossoms that emerge early in the spring are a good addition to the garden. This anemone blossoms in shades of pink, blue and white but most of the tubers that I have are blue.

They tend to bloom at the same time as the hyacinths and the two plants make a nice combination.

Since planting them, I’ve learned a few things about anemones. When you plant the tubers in the fall, it’s suggested that you soak them in water for a few hours before planting. I didn’t do this but given the way the tubers looked when I planted them, it probably would be a good idea to do this.

Seeing the small clump of plants that I have, I’ve realized that this flower would look even better if it were grown in mass – i.e., hundreds of tubers in a large area. I could see these growing in a rock garden or planted between daylilies or other perennials. They would blossom early and then be out of the way when the perennials started to bloom.

A pleasant surprise is that every part of the anemone is poisonous so rabbits aren’t interested in eating them. For me, that’s always a plus!

Anemone coronaria (from http://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/)

Anemone coronaria
(from http://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/)

I hadn’t realized how many different varieties of anemones are in cultivation. There are spring blooming anemones that grow from tubers and others kinds of anemones that are fibrous rooted perennial plants that blossom in the fall. The tuberous rooted plants include the kind that I’m growing and also the larger Anemone coronaria which is the kind of anemone that you’ll find in flower arrangements. The fibrous rooted perennial plants blossom in September and October with white or pink poppy-like blossoms. Unlike the low growing Anemone blanda, these plants can grow to three feet tall and provide flowers during a time of the year when the choices of blooming plants is limited.

Fall Blooming Anemone (from http://www.csmonitor.com/)

Fall Blooming Anemone
(from http://www.csmonitor.com/)

I’ve been impressed with the Grecian windflowers and I think I want to try some of the other anemones that are available. They seem to be a sturdy species with a lot of variety. I’m especially interested in the fall blooming plants – it’d be nice to see something other than chrysanthemum blossoming in the fall flower garden!