Lilac Chaste Tree

Lilac Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus) is a full sun tree that gets covered with long blooms in mid-summer- attracting butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.

This tree loves hot afternoon sun and is extremely drought tolerant.  I bought one last year and it has thrived in a location that gets 10-12 hours of full sun, most of it afternoon sun.

It needs well-drained soil and some watering after initial planting to help it get established during the first season.

Here is a picture of this tree in my yard:

Here’s a close-up of the blooms- taken by someone else of their more mature Chaste Tree.

Purple Butterfly bush Buddleia (oops, not!)  It's a Vitex plant

Once this tree matures, it has enough shade underneath to plant some ground covers and perennials underneath- prune to shape after bloom period has expired.

Please share any questions/experience you have had with this tree.

Happy Gardening!

Moving a Shrub

One of the hard lessons we sometimes learn in the garden- planting something in the wrong place.

Maybe I didn’t realize _______ fill in the blank…

Whatever the reason- the plant/shrub is dying- leaves burning, falling off, or maybe it just isn’t growing like it should- and I start to wonder- can I move it?

I talked with some other gardeners and they told me- it is risky but if you know the plant/shrub might die if you keep it where it is- sometimes it is worth the risk to go ahead and do it.

So, I moved my Camellia ‘Elizabeth Ann’ and my Black Knight Butterfly Bush over the past month.

Here’s what I did, I dug holes in locations where plants were going to be moved early in the morning (before the sun was too hot), I got a tarp and dragged it over to where the shrubs were presently planted.

My husband and I got shovels and dug a wide ball around the plant and then we lifted together and placed shrub on the tarp and lifted the plant and tarp to carry it to the new location where we gently placed it in the hole, amended the soil, and watered thoroughly.

Here are some pics of the shrubs:

All these pics were taken post-move.  So far no plants dead, new growth on one Camellia.  I will keep you updated.

Here is an article I wish I would have read BEFORE moving these shrubs- very helpful tips.

Can I transplant my Boxwood?  Tips from the Grumpy Gardener

Happy Gardening!

Perennials that Live for Decades

Want to snatch up some flowers that will live in your garden for years and years and years?  Me too!

Here’s a list from one of my favorite gardening books:

Tough Plants for Southern Gardens

by: Felder Rushing

Yarrow– full sun, any well-drained soil, grow a foot or more tall and wide.
Yarrow

SoapWort (Saponaria)- full sun to part. shade, highly adaptable as long as well-drained, ground- cover.

Soapwort (a.k.a bouncing bet)

Iris– bloom late summer to early spring, full sun to part. shade, likes well-drained soil, will not tolerate heavy clay, must amend the soil.

Iris

Daylily– full sun, the more sun the better- adaptable with soil, but don’t like wet feet.

Daylilies

Daffodils– like full sun and well-drained soil, they bloom in the spring.  Comes in many different cultivators with various heights and spread.

Daffodils

Amsonia– full sun to part. shade, can grow three feet tall and wide, adaptable with soil.

Amsonia tabernaemontana var. salicifolia

Artemisia– full sun to light shade, spreading groundcover, must have well-drained soil.

Artemisia michauxiana

Liriope– (also called Monkey Grass or Lily Turf) Heavy shade to moderate sun, any well-drained soil, leaves are evergreen.

Liriope

Phlox-full shade to full sun, cultivators range from 5 feet tall plants to ground covers, like well-drained soil but are adaptable.

Phlox Diffusa

Violets-shade/winter sun, winter is really their time to shine when most other things are dormant. They like being planted under deciduous trees, they like soil high in organic matter and well-drained.

Viola odorata

Canna-Sun or very light shade, cultivators can get 2-4 feet tall, like moist soil but very drought tolerant once established.

Canna paniculata

Crinium-full sun plant that has flower stalks up to four feet tall and strap-like leaves about a foot and a half high.  Well-drained soil preferred, like to be planted and left alone-flower better after years of being in same place.

white crinium

Hosta-shade plant, mulch around these to keep them cool and dry, only water in drought-like conditions, well-drained soil.

Hosta

Liatris-sun or light shade, thrives in nearly every soil type, highly attractive to butterflies, flowers in summer to early fall.

Liatris pychostachya PRAIRIE BLAZING STAR

Summer Snowflake (Leucojum)- likes winter and early spring sun, can use as a cut flower, prefers well-drained soil, blooms in the spring.

Märzenbecher / Snowflake / Spring Flowers

Aspidistra– dense to light shade, well-drained soil, grows to three feet tall and one foot wide.

Garden tours at GWA2010

Ferns– shade to part. sun, need well-drained soil, height and width depends on type.

Fern

Stormy Seas Coral Bells

Heuchera sanguinea 'Splendens' Coral BellsStormy Seas Coral Bells (Heuchera ‘Stormy Seas’) is a shade perennial with a lovely purple to bronze-green colored leaves.  They do very well in morning sun with afternoon shade when the heat is more intense.

Average Water Needs, likes well drained soil but does well in our clay soil that I slightly amended to promote good drainage and no standing water. Do not overwater.

This plant is resistant to deer- though as fellow gardeners have shared- sometimes deer seem to eat everything- even the plants that are not as attractive to them.

Seems very disease resistant in my experience.  I have had this plant for over a year, and it has thrived in the morning sun with afternoon shade.  I do not ever water it- the only water it has gotten is when it rains.

If you have any other questions, comments, let me know.

Happy Gardening!

Heuchera

Lantana

I love Lantana. (lantana above is on south side of our house)

Drought tolerant, heat tolerant, sun loving- gorgeous, butterfly attracting- tough, disease resistant plant.

If you have a spot in full sun (even 8-10 hours) plant this gorgeous gal, water every once in a while till it is established- (maybe once every 2-3 weeks unless there is rain- then none at all) and watch amazed at how this plant thrives in the humid and hot southern summers.

I just picked up 3 more lantana plants this year, they have some lower growing varieties too- and there is now purple and white blooms as well as the more traditional orange, yellow, and red.

The surest way to kill lantana- over-water it– does not like wet feet- does not like too much water- make sure it is a well-drained site.

For those of you new to Lantana, here is a run-through of several of the more popular cultivators.

Lantana Camala- purple variety– I think this is typically low growing…

Lantana camala

white lantana,(montevidensis)

**White Lantana** (Pentax SP F

lantana camara,

lantana camara

lantana camara ‘Dallas Red’,

Lantana (Dallas Red)

lantana camara ‘Gold Mound’,

Lantana 'Gold Mound'.004

lantana camara ‘Confetti’

Confetti Lantana

lantana ‘New Gold’,

New Gold Lantana

Texas Lantana (lantana horrida),

Texas Lantana

Lantana camara ‘Miss Huff’,

12 Days of Christmas Butterflies - #1 Eastern Tiger swallowtail

Hope this helps as you decide which lantana cultivator to get for your yard, just keep in mind- lantana likes the hot, humid southern areas- it may not be a perennial in your area.  Make sure to check that out before purchasing the plant.

Happy Gardening!

Mexican Petunia

Ruellia tweediana

Mexican Petunia (Ruellia brittoniana)

I was so excited when I found this Mexican Petunia for $1.50 each at our Grower’s Outlet.  It has been on my short list of plants for the perennial bed- and now I have two of them newly planted (as of this morning) and I am so excited to watch them grow!

Mexican Petunia is also called Mexican Ruellia, and some of the varieties are Chi Chi (pink blooms), and Katie (purple blooms).  I have ‘Katie’ in my yard.

Attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, and evening hawk moths.

Can easily propagate in water.

Not picky about soil, just likes it to be well-drained- prefers full sun but I have heard people say they do alright in part. sun too.  My two plants are in full sun (5-7 hours each day).

Will grow 3 feet wide by 3-4 feet tall– will sometimes grow taller in shade.  This is a plant which some consider “invasive.”  So, if you want to control how far it spreads, place it in a pot or use edging or a border of some kind to keep it contained.

Divide plants at any time but cut back tall plants if dividing in the summer.

Very hardy, drought tolerant and heat tolerant.  Flowers from late spring till frost.

mexican ruella

Plant Some Seeds- 6 week update

Here are some pics of our seeds at the six week mark from planting- they were all planted in the beginning of April.

To check out the earlier posts:

Plant Some Seeds

Plant Some Seeds- An Update

Here are the sunflowers:

Here are the Zinnia:

Here’s the Cosmos:

The Purple Coneflower and Shasta Daisies are still very small- I will post an update later in the summer for those seeds.

The only seeds that have had bug problems were the Zinnia- they had inchworms eating on their leaves- I removed and killed them and they are still growing very well- so keep an eye out for damage caused by bugs- holes in the leaves was the first sign that I noticed.

Happy Gardening- Plant some seeds!  It is fun to watch them grow.

 

 

Grow An Herb Garden

We just recently moved into a new house- so I am once again starting over with a yard that needs a lot of work.  I am hoping next year to plant an herb garden- but I wanted to do a little research to see what herbs are perennials and hardy (requiring little work to keep alive).

Before you start planning an herb garden, consider first what herbs you like to have on hand.  Next, depending on the soil you have in your yard, you should plan on either a raised bed or putting herbs in pots- this helps minimize and control weeds as well as the different fertilizing needs/soil needs of different plants.

For my first herb garden, I am planning on planting the following:

  • Rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Mint

I want to start small, b/c this gives me the ability to fully focus on caring for and learning about these plants before I add others.

Rosemary:

Rosemary

Caring for this hardy perennial is relatively easy, it is not picky about soil- just make sure it drains fairly well and amend if you have rocky or clay soil.  Rosemary likes full sun and a relatively sheltered location, so if possible plant where it gets some wind protection and if you live in a colder climate, you may have to winter indoors.

Rosemary grows very easily from cuttings, just snip a portion and place in water till it roots- and share with a friend. This herb grows fairly quickly into a shrub-like size- so make sure you leave room for it to grow.

Lavender:

Lavender-Avonview-1010

Check out these two links about Lavender.  I live in the southern US, so I will probably plant either Lavendula angustifolia – Common or English Lavender or Lavendula dentata – French Lavender.

Click here and here for more info about Lavender and how to grow it where you live.

Lavender likes full sun and well-drained soil, it is not as cold hardy, depending on variety- so you need to check that before deciding what cultivator to grow.

Sage:

Sage in bloom 032

Sage is also a perennial that likes full sun.  Evergreen with a shrub-like habit sporting woody stems, grayish leaves, and blue to purplish flowers.

Sage does not like wet feet, if you water it too much, you will kill it.  Sage thrives in dry conditions with little or no care, so neglect it. :)

You can use generic potting soil, just add a little sand to make sure that it drains well, do not use a moisture control potting mix that holds a lot of moisture in the soil.

Thyme:

Thyme

Thymus vulgaris, common thyme is a shrub-like perennial.

Handsome low-growing plants. Zones 5-9. Gets 6-12 inches tall.

Thyme prefers a sandy, dry soil. Avoid planting in heavy, wet soils. Nutrient requirements for Thyme are not heavy, so soil should only receive a moderate amount of fertilizer.

Harvest thyme just before the flowers begin to open; cutting the plant one to 2 inches from the ground. A second growth will develop but this should not be cut. This would reduce the plant’s winter hardiness.

Every spring cut thyme plants back to half its previous height to retain the tender stems and bushy habit.

Mint:

Mint

Mint can be an invasive plant, grown by underground rhizomes- some are a foot or more tall.  Grow mint in full sun– you may want to put it in a pot to keep it from taking over your herbal garden or yard.

Some of the most popular mints are black stem peppermint (Mentha x piperita vulgaris) very strong fragrance and vigorous- can be invasive.

Lemon or orange mint (M x piperita ‘Citrata’) which is not as aggressive and makes a great tea.

Curly leaf mint and julep mint (M. spicata ‘Crispa’) and ginger mint (M. x gracilis).

Mint loves moist soils, another good reason to keep it in a container where you can water it often and keep it moist. Coffee grounds are a great fertilizer for this plant as it likes nitrogen rich fertilizers.

You can root pieces of mint in water if you wish to share or propagate from a friend.

As I get my herb garden going, I will update on my successes and struggles- please share if you have an herb garden and give some recommendations based on your experience.

Here is a great conversation that you can read about herbs- esp. perennial herbs on gardenwebs forum.  I found it very helpful.  Click here.

 

Butterfly Whorl Gaura

Butterfly Whorl Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri ‘Siskiyou Pink’) is a shrub-like perennial that gets 3.5 feet tall and wide.

Very drought tolerant- blooms spring to fall, adaptable about soil, but does not like to be soggy- so be sure the soil drains well.

Full sun to partial sun– I have two planted in my perennial bed- one gets about 9 hours of sun, the other about 6- both are doing very well and showing new growth.

Cut back often to keep this perennial full and to promote new growth.

Pink flowers on foliage that is green with red at the tips- very beautiful and unusual.

Attracts butterflies.

Hard to find a good pic- will hopefully post one of my own once it gets a little bigger. The blooms are very delicate- it has a wispy kind of look to it.

There are several blooms on each stalk that comes from the base of plant.  This pic below is just one single bloom on a single stalk.

11.326 - pink gaura

Flowers, Flowers, Everywhere!!!

We had a sale going on at our church on Friday.  Several ladies who are in the local gardening club and go to our church had plants from their gardens.  Here’s what I have so far.

Lady Crinium Lily- this is a bulb, gets up to four feet tall, blooms spring through fall depending on variety.  Won’t tolerate standing water, so needs well-drained soil- flowers best after being in the same location for at least 3 years. Plant in full sun.
white crinium

Penny Mac Hydrangea-make sure to prepare the hole well for this shrub- make sure the hole is much wider than deep.  Only light soakings and occasional fertilization needed later- this shrub seems to do best with morning sun only- esp. in the deeper parts of the south where the sun’s heat is more intense.  Be careful about pruning hydrangeas- they all have unique pruning instructions.

Hydrangea macrophylla (Thunb.) Ser.

Obedient Plant-not obedient at all.  Can be invasive- hummingbirds and butterflies love it- plant in full sun to partial shade- can grow 3 feet tall and will spread and spread, and spread some more. Likes well drained soil, needs very little care after planted.  Good plant for an area where you can let it fill in a large space, easy to divide any time of year.

Obedient Plant

Tartarian Aster– (big green leaves) These Asters bloom in the fall and have football-sized clusters of purple flowers.  Very tough, can plant in clay soil and walk away, requires very little care.  Full sun- even 10 hours of sun and these plants will thrive and spread.

 Aster tataricus

Fall Aster or Aromatic Aster – (not as big more upright habit) Very hardy like the Aster above, a fall bloomer, again, full sun, very little amending of soil necessary- some water and once established will flourish with little or no care.

fall asters

Becky Daisy– (toothed leaves) Spring bloomer with white flowers growing up to 3 feet tall – attract butterflies and are great cut flowers.  Like well-drained soil, a little fertilizing will help their flowering- too much fertilizer can damage plants. Divide plants any time.

Comin' up Daisies

Jasmine– (little leaves- looks more like a shrub- smells good, likes moisture and part. sun) I know very little about Jasmine.  I bought it on the recommendation of one of the ladies from the church who loves gardening.  I will have to post again once I have had this plant for about a year and get a sense of how it does through the seasons.  I don’t know what color the blooms will be.

**Note: The info in parenthesis was helpful for telling the plants apart and some basic info on where to plant them.

Winter jasmine, II

Excited to see how everything does throughout this growing season, will post more pics as my own plants mature.  Happy Gardening!