Category Archives: Look for this plant

Pruning Time: Red Heart Rose Of Sharon

Big soft pink snow-ball buds bloom into giant white discs.

The last to come back, you may think it failed to survive the winter. But wait. Be patient. It will blooming in its own good time.

Before the branches begin to green up, prune them heavily, February is the ideal time.

 (Hibiscus syriacus ‘Red Heart’)

Summer long saucer-sized blooms

Red Heart Hibiscus, Hibiscus syriacus ‘Red Heart’, is an upright-growing shrub with large, single, saucer-shaped flowers of pure white with a scarlet center.

  • Mature size: 6-10′ wide, 8-12′ tall.
  • Flowers bloom from July until frost.
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 5 – 8
  • Few serious insect or disease problems.
  • Medium to Dark Green foliage
  • called both Rose of Sharons or Altheas.
  • Widely adaptable to many soil conditions.

 

Red Heart Hibiscus can also be used as a hedge or screen. Hummingbirds love the flowers.

Those tight green buds produce hundreds of seeds. Seedlings randomly appear near the 8′ tall shrub in my from yard. In the fall, I collected a lot of the seed pods.

Care: Prune back heavily in the early spring.  Annual pruning creates increased shoot vigor and larger flowers.

 

Insect damage when the bud was rolled tight, created a natural pattern.

Even growing on the same plant, bloom oddities are a regular occurrence.

The Bible calls You by many names
each one giving a glimpse of Your glory.
Like a cut diamond radiating in the sun
with every facet depicting a glorious
aspect of Your Divine Nature.
Today I have thought of You as
‘The Rose of Sharon’

 

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Wishbone Flower (Torenia hybrid)

Plant something new.

Wishbone Flower

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Torenia or Wishbone Flower, Catalina® Pink

Wishbone Flower as container plant

I grew the Midnight Blue variety. It looks so fragile, but it can really take the heat. This is a self-cleaning plant, which means no deadheading.

In the shady bed on the patio, it had room to spread out and filled in the space with continuous blooms and bright green leaves. I grew another color the next year.

The Catalina® Pink is a nonstop bloomer that gets afternoon shade on the front porch. It does best when consistently moist and well-drained. Hummers love it.

It’s growing with more sun, shaded only in the late afternoon. Growing bushy and full, Torenia is about 12″ tall and fills the 12″ self-watering container. Generously mulch this plant to help with consistent moisture.

Adaptable annuals

I like the wide range of ways I can use Torenias. In a hanging basket, Summer Wave® Large Blue Wishbone Flower seems to be a hummingbird favorite.

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Wishbone Flower fills the hanging basket with Summer Wave® Large Blue blooms.

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Wishbone flowers are more upright where there is more sun and less water.

Wishbone flowers have had no disease or insect problems in my gardens. They can take heat and more sun than I thought. Morning sun and afternoon shade are ideal.

Wishbone Flower (Torenia hybrid)

This plant is so much more versatile than I imagined. It was planted in shade, and in part shade – part sun. The low growing annual spreads out along the sidewalk, as a beautiful ground cover and splash of color that could compliment an endless variety of gardenscapes.

I like shopping at Independent Garden Centers. Money spent locally tends to stay local. The folks that work at the non-chain garden centers and nurseries know what they are talking about. Big box stores also have wishbone flowers.

This was a trial plant from Proven Winners. The Proven Winners website has a handy garden center locator. Just type in your zip code and it will find the closest local garden centers.

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Pollinators and hummers love this plant.

Get Local will help you find the information you need. I especially like their plant recipes. For example, I’m looking for red, white and blue plant combos. Just click on “patriotic” for lots of beautiful plant combinations.

Blooming summer til frost

I learned what a valuable landscape plant this is when I visited the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens.

Wishbone Flower (Torenia hybrid)

Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

A leader of environmentally sound community development, the Arboretum is an educational, recreational and cultural resource for the Kansas City region. It offers homeowners, landscapers and arborists an opportunity to view and evaluate a wide variety of hybrid trees and shrubs, native to this area.
8909 W. 179 St.
Overland Park, KS 66013
913-685-3604

Wishbone Flower Catalina® Grape-O-Licious

Wishbone Flower Catalina® Grape-O-Licious

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Today’s Harvest Basket

Today's Harvest Basket

Three squash: light green Clarimore, Golden Dawn yellow and dark green, almost black, Raven zucchini.

“Pot of Gold” Chard, 3 kinds of zucchini, Chinese cabbage.

 

Soon to be Green Rice, Zucchini cake, and Chinese chicken salad.

 

  • Chard, sweet, mild

This deep green chard with golden stems, is tender and never bitter. Plus, it is beautiful. I’m a chard fan and prefer it to kale. A favorite chard recipe is green rice. It is easy to double the recipe, make two casseroles and freeze one for fall.

Substitute chard for spinach in any recipe. Many versions of this old classic are on the internet. I’ve made many versions of what I call Green Rice Casserole.

Spinach-Rice Casserole inspired by the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. Serves 4 – 6

4 cups cooked rice (white or brown)
2 cups raw, chopped chard
1 or 2 cloves minced garlic
3 tablespoons butter (or, coconut oil)
4 beaten eggs
1 cup milk (or almond milk or, soy milk)
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar
1/4 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs like parsley, chervil, basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Saute’ onions and garlic, in butter (or oil). When onions are soft, add spinach or chard or kale and salt. Cook 2 minutes. (Or use drained, frozen chopped spinach, thawed)

Combine the onion mixture with the  rice, eggs, milk, cheese, herbs, nutmeg,  and chopped nuts. Spread into a sprayed casserole.

Bake, covered, 25 minutes at 350 degrees F. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes.

This is Container Chard, “Pot of Gold,” an exclusive from Renee’s Garden Seed. Chard is packed with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as magnesium, potassium, and iron.

  • Ah, Zucchini!

Zucchini, I’ve discovered, is much easy to keep at reasonable sizes if you growIMG_1357 container varieties. Look for specially bred zucchini plants designed container growing. Tender, small squash are perfect for lightly grilling or roasting.

Thin skinned, baby zucchini are tasty eaten raw. Perfect to include in a fresh Pasta Primavera.

  • Chinese Cabbage

Nappa Chinese CabbageChinese Cabbage will be a main ingredient in Chinese chicken salad, Kim Chee, cole slaw. Thanks to the milder summer weather and plenty of rain, I still have a couple for cabbages to harvest. It’s very unusual to have these plants so late in the season.

7/13

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‘Sugar Shack’ Buttonbush

Buttonbush Cephalanthus occidentalis

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Buttonbush adds a new, fragrant and unusual flowering shrub to the home garden.

‘Sugar Shack’ is a buttonbush that is a show off shrub from summer through fall. Buttonbush Cephalanthus occidentalis is a native pollinator plant.

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Lovely, unusual pincushion flower attracts butterflies.

White fragrant spherical flower heads are eye-catching and attract butterflies. Buttonbush is deciduous shrub with rounded habit. In its second year in my garden, it is about 5′ tall.

Sweet white flowers appear as spherical flower heads in mid-summer. Flower heads look like a pincushion and are very attractive to bees and butterflies.
Flower heads mature into hard, red colored, spherical fruits and stay attractive from late summer through the winter.

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A new fragrant perennial. Buttonbush Cephalanthus occidentalis

Plants will tolerate wet sites and excess moisture. Sugar Shack may also be grown in patio containers. Plants bloom on new wood so pruning is best done in early spring.

This is a Proven Winners plant that was sent to me for trial. I’m using this shrub as an anchor plant that provides a background for colorful annuals. The leaves are a full deep green, perfect to show off these unusual creamy white flowers.

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Wordless Wednesday

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Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday April 13, 2016

reblooming Darwin tulips

Spring blossoms promise summer fruits

Fruit plants produce some of the prettiest flowers

Peaches, blueberries and strawberries are blooming and beautiful this year. The raspberries and blackberries are not blooming yet.

The tree is covered with pale pink blooms.

The tree is covered with pale pink blooms.

You don’t need acres of land to enjoy home-grown fruit. My peach orchard is one dwarf tree. The blueberry patch is four containers on the steps of the deck. The strawberry field is a 4′ square raised bed.

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These soft pink flowers or the promise of peaches to come. Stark Saturn Peach is also known as a donut peach.

The donut peach is a white fleshed freestone, just 2¼-2¾” in diameter. Sweet fruit and heavy producer the years we survive long, harsh winters and late frosts. Even without a peach crop, this beautiful peach blossom floral display every spring is reason enough to own this tree.

I got my peach tree from Stark Brothers. The tree is about 8′ tall. Because it is a self-pollinating tree, Stark® Saturn Peach is a great choice for small space gardens.

Ozarks Beauty Strawberry plants are loaded with white flowers

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Imagine the berries.

Imagine the berries.

Scarlet red Ozarks Beauty is ever-bearing with a heavy, first wave of fruit. It should continue with a light production of berries through frost. After that early flush of fruit, strawberry production in my garden becomes occasional. Usually the wildlife score these occasional berry before I discover them.

I started with 25 plants in a 4′ x 4′ raised bed with one 3′ x 3′ tier. Plants were sparse. In this third year, the beds are lush and full of plants covered with blooms. It can take 2-3 years to really produce a good crop. So, this is the year! Maybe, in addition to strawberry shortcake, there will be enough for a small batch of strawberry freezer jam.

Get strawberry plants from Stark Bro’s, Gurney’s, or Jung Seed.

Blooming Blueberries

blueberry blooms

These beautiful white blooms promise to produce berries with that old-fashioned wild blueberry flavor.

 

Blueberries blooming in containers on the deck.

Blueberries blooming in containers on the deck.

Four containers of dwarf  Tophat Blueberry plants are growing on the steps of the deck. In the second year on the deck, we had a mild winter and the blue berry bushes are all blooming this spring. If I don’t cover them, I’m sure the berries will be bird food.

I’m looking forward to picking a few full size ripe berries while sitting on the deck. The plants will get no more than 2′ tall. I the fall, I’ll prune my spindly plants to encourage them to get bushy.

These plants are from Gurney’s . You can usually get the dwarf bushes, from Jung or Stark Bro’s.

 

Tastes like Summer

Picking a perfectly ripe, sun-warmed peach from the tree, gathering a hand full of the juicy raspberries, or popping a whole, sweet strawberry in your mouth is the essence of summer.

Home grown fruit is the best fruit you ever tasted. If you are fortunate to have extra fruit, make a jar of two of homemade jam. That  jar of summer jam will need little or no sugar.

Home grown fruit is grown for flavor. It’s fragile, and meant to be eaten soon after harvest. Fresh fruit is the most nutritious and tender produce you can eat.

Stark Bro’s has been around since 1816. I’ve bought several fruit trees from Stark over the years. It’s a reliable company that stands behind their products. The confidence-building growing guides will get you started with home-grown fruit.

During the Stark Brothers 200th Anniversary,  you can get some very good fruit trees and berries for under $20.

 

Wordless Wednesday

Love Lies Bleeding Amaranth

A rainbow of Zinnias

It’s a good zinnia growing year.

Zinnias, Zinnia elegans are the star of the summer flower show. For filler and contrast, try adding herbs, or coleus. It doesn’t always have to be leather leaf ferns or baby’s breath.

Red and gold zinnias with coleus in an antique watering can.

Red and gold zinnias with coleus in an antique watering can.

Summer-long blooms bring butterflies and pollinators to the garden. Zinnias meant “thoughts of an absent friend.” in the Victorian language of flowers.

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Zinnias and Russian sage. Cutting Zinnia, “Hot Crayon Colors” ↑ 

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Zinnias and mini marigolds. ↑ →

“Signet Starfire” marigolds. grown from seed. Little yellow and orange dwarf single marigolds keeps blooming until frost.

Shades of red:

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Red and white zinnias with coleus make a simple bouquet.

Zinnias and coleus.↑

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Zinnias and Nicotiana. ↑

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Zinnia and Coleus. ↑

Zinnias were named 1763 by Linnaeus in honor of Johann Zinn, a German professor of botany and medicine.

Pinks and lavender:

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Zinnias and coleus. ↑ Cutting Zinnia, “Berry Basket”

These crayon colored flowers are long-stemmed cutting flowers with long-lasting blooms.

To extend the life of cut flower blooms by trimming off the bottom of the stem, every few days. Replace the water with fresh every 4 days.

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Zinnias and basil. Cutting Zinnia, “Berry Basket” ↑

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Zinnias with oregano and basil. Cutting Zinnia, “Bling Bling.” These lovely cut flowers are bigger and brighter every year. Disease resistance has much improved through the years.

Pink zinnias and Queen Ann's lace.

Pink zinnias and Queen Ann’s lace.

If it’s been awhile since you’ve included zinnias in your garden, take another look. Zinnias are disease resistant rebloomers that will keep you in flowers until frost.

You might also like:

IMG_3335I got all the zinnias in this post from Renee’s Garden.

Best tomato plants for containers

Perfect for My Garden Post

Choose dwarf tomato plants

I am having big juicy tomato success on My Garden Post. These are the tomatoes that I am growing.

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The best choice for My Garden Post are plants that are less than 2 feet tall.

Determinate tomato varieties grow to a limited hight and usually do not  need staking and caging.

Choose dwarf or bush type tomato plants. Look for plants bred for containers.

Extended release or slow release fertilizer applied when potting the plant will be one less thing to worry about.

Two foot tall tomato plants

Bush 506. First full size tomato to ripen, 5-oz.

Bush 506. First full size tomato to ripen, 5-oz.

  • Bush 506 Container Tomato plants are less than 24″ tall. The thick stemmed plants easily support the 8 ounce fruits. These container grown tomatoes are early producers. The Tasteful Garden advertises tomatoes in only 62 days. It was the first regular sized tomato to ripen in my zone 6 garden.

I bought Bush 506 as a plant from The Tasteful Garden

 

New Big Dwarf heirloom tomato. The heaviest producer of full size tomatoes so far.

New Big Dwarf heirloom tomato. The heaviest producer of full size tomatoes so far.

  • New Big Dwarf Heirloom tomato is not really new. An heirloom first introduced in 1915, tastes like the old-fashioned beefsteak. The plant is only 2 feet tall but the fruits are full-sized 8-12 oz. Expect early tomatoes in about 60 days.

I bought the New Big Dwarf tomato as a plant from The Tasteful Garden

 

 Oliver’s choice:

  • Bush Steak Tomato is an easy-to-find small tomato plant or grow it from seed.

“I often recommend the Bush Steak tomato and suggests planting in the large planters. The Bush Steak Tomato matures at 20 inches in height, and produce a medium size tomato in large numbers,” says Oliver J Gardner, Director of Sales and Marketing, My Garden Post.

 

Endless sweet cherry tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes nonstop until frost

Cherry tomatoes nonstop until frost

  • Litt’l Bites Container Cherry Tomato – keep this early producer well watered and fed for tons of sweet cherry tomatoes all summer long. A compact, lush plant that is perfect for My Garden Post or hanging baskets. Litt’l Bites grows 20 inches wide and 12 inches tall.

Grown from seed. Exclusive. Renee’s Garden

photo by Renee's Garden

Litt’l Bites Container Cherry Tomato photo by Renee’s Garden

 

Learn more about My Garden Post here.

double_drip_with_caption__64178.1409012731.1280.1280My container grown tomatoes benefit from the easy-to-set-up and use My Garden Post irrigation system. It’s the best system I’ve used on the deck or patio. Adjust the timer to accommodate the season; longer daily watering when it is the hottest.

 

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