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Monthly Archives: December 2016

Fall Flowers for Garden

Whether its winter or summer, spring or autumn, a garden always blooms if cared for. However, to make your garden evergreen, implementing creative gardening ideas is essential. Usually, novices, make the mistake of not planting fall flowers. Thus, by winter time, the garden gets covered with layers of snow, which makes it look dull and white. And who doesn’t like to see a cozy, heart-warming and well pruned garden on a Christmas eve?

Asters
The arresting beauty of Asters, will make your garden come alive in the winter. Native of New England and New York, Asters are found in pink and deep purple. Plant them early in June, along the border of your cobbled pathway, to get the authentic picturesque look. They grow about 3-4 feet tall and survive well in moist soil. A good breed of asters will thrive well in the fall season. Plant them with supports so that they do not get too droopy.

Joe Pye Weed
This one is my favorite. You can make the best fall garden with Joe Pye Weed. The botanical name of this plant is Eupatorium. This plant thrives in moist soil and will grow well if you plant it by early summer. The deep pink color of these flowers is a great eye catcher! You can alternate, the pathway border with a purple Aster and a pink Joe Pye Weed, which will make your garden look brilliant!

Helenium
‘They flash upon that inward eye,
Which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.’

Couldn’t help quoting these lines. Helenium are total show stoppers! These daisy look-alikes, with their brilliance of yellow, will make your garden come alive. You should be aware of the various fall flowers in order to prepare the garden, and know when to plant these. If you plant them early in summer, these plants will develop a healthy cycle.

Some Gardening Tips

Weed Control
If you think weed only grew in monsoon, you are clearly wrong. Chickweed grows abundantly in winters. Remove these weeds to prevent them from growing all over your garden. You can also use some herbicide in case the problem persists for a long time.

Compost Pit
Withering of flowers and shedding of leaves is a characteristic of plants and trees in winter. Don’t burn these leaves or throw them away. Make a compost pit and put these leaves in the pit. This will give you some good manure by summer, which can be used for composting the plant so that healthy fall flowers spring up by the next fall.

Pale Purple Coneflower

Pale purple coneflowers are perennial plants, that can grow up to three feet in height. As already stated, the wild ones have a single main stem, whereas those in gardens have many stems. Usually, the stems are green in color, but some plants have shades of purple or red. The stems possess coarse hair, which are whitish in color. Most of the leaves are concentrated near the base of the plant. There are very few leaves on the stems, and the basal leaves have long stalks. The leaves have rough surfaces, parallel veins, coarse white hair, and tapering tips. The leaves of this plant can have a maximum length of ten inches, and a width of up to two inches.

Normally, a single daisy-like flower can be seen at the tip of each stem. The width of the flower can be between one to three inches, and the color of the petals ranges from pale rose to purple and white. In pale purple coneflowers, the petals are ray florets, that can be around 12 to 20 in number. They are slender, long, and drooping. The reddish-brown cone of disc florets in the center are surrounded by these narrow ray florets. The flowering season starts with the early summer, and lasts for at least three weeks. As the season ends, the ray florets shrivel away, and the color of the disk florets’ cone turns to black. The fruits, called ‘cypselae’, have angled edges. These plants have a deep spindle-shaped taproot system.

Range, Habitat, and Planting

The pale purple coneflower, which is native to the south central United States, is widely distributed in the states of Illinois, Michigan, Alabama, and Texas. Though found in the states of Tennessee and Wisconsin, it is a threatened species in these regions. Their habitat includes dry black soil prairies, savannas, abandoned fields, limestone glades, and open areas adjacent to railroads.

These plants are mainly grown for prairie landscaping, native gardens, roadside gardens, wildlife food, medicinal uses, etc. A seedbed should be prepared for planting the seeds. It should be firm enough to plant the seeds 1/8 inch deep. The seedbed can be subjected to chemical weed control measures. Most people prefer dormant seeds for planting, as they give good results. It takes about two months to break dormancy, provided the environment is cold and moist. Fertilizers should be used sparingly, to reduce the growth of weeds. Regular weeding is necessary for the healthy growth of the plant.

Plant Allium Bulbs

The onion genus, Allium. has more than 600-750 species plus and still counting within its genera in the Alliaceae family. It is a perennial bulbous plant with members like onions, shallots, scallions, leeks, garlic, chives, etc. Although it is mostly regarded as a vegetable or a herb crop, there are a few species grown for large bright colored flowers, too. This article is about these species. Native to the Northern hemisphere, mainly in Asia, ornamental flowering Alliums can be grown in most suitable regions around the world.

It is very difficult to describe this species, as each varies in height (about 5 to 150 cm), growth habits, with foliage that can either be long and narrow or slightly curled up. The only thing common is the flower. However, the flowers on each species may vary in color and stalk density. They form an umbel at the top of a leafless flowering stem known as scapes mostly shooting from the base. It is amazing to watch an inflorescence umbel flower, with the outside flowers blooming first and progressing to the inside.

Although, all alliums bear flowers, it’s species and hybrids such as Allium pulchellum, Allium senescens, Allium oreophilum, Allium caeruleum, Allium cowanii, Allium nigrum, Allium karataviense, Allium unifolium, Allium siculum, Allium hollandicum, Allium Firmament, Allium Globe Master, Allium schubertii, Allium rosenbachianum, etc., are the ones that have a high ornamental value and can be easily found in most plant nursery stores.

Plantation

Sometimes called ‘flowering onions’, these can be propagated through bulbs as well as seeds, with the former being more preferable, as they take long to seed and have a higher failure rate. They look better when mass planted in flower beds, borders, and edgings than in pots. You should ideally plant the bulbs around late fall or early spring.

Prepare flower beds by digging deep in the soil. Apply bulb fertilizer or organic compost such as bone meal, peat moss, well rotted manure, etc. Make sure you choose a sunny spot or at least one that receives 4-6 hours of sunlight everyday. Plant the bulbs four inches deep in groups of 4-5 bulbs spaced about six inches apart, leaving the tip lightly covered in soil. Water adequately. Mulch heavily with dried barks if there is fear of extreme frost and snowfall. The tall varieties can be stalked as it gets heavy during a full bloom. Allium bulbs flower mid-summer through late summer and in certain conditions, even in early fall.

These bulbs do not need much feeding, a single application when the flower buds begin to appear should suffice. There aren’t many pests that attack onion, the pungent smell of onion bulb mostly keeps away troublemakers. However, a few diseases like damping off, botrytis, onion smut, or downy mildew can damage the plant. But they can all be taken care of with effective and timely pesticide applications. It is recommended that the bulbs be left undistributed in the ground, and divided every 3-4 years.

Way to Harvest and Germinate Clivia Seeds

The beautiful clivia flowers with bright sunlit colors can light up even the dullest corners. This bright orange-colored flower is a genus of monocot flowering plants from the family Amaryllidaceae, which is native to Southern Africa. Presently six species are available along with a few hybrids that offer most shades and hues from the orange palette as well as some deep red-orange to pale yellow ones. Clivia seeds are borne in seed pods and must be removed from it at the right time, so that they won’t germinate, or will germinate into week seedlings.

Harvesting

These seeds take longer than other flowering plant’s seeds to develop and seed. Once the flower has been pollinated, it falls off, exposing a swollen round berry-shaped ovary. The seeds are developed within this ovary also known as pods (one flower bears one pod). The pod changes its color from green to yellow, red, or orange, and takes approximately 9 to 10 months to mature into a plant. Each pod contains no more than 4 – 5 seeds. Hence, harvesting clivia seeds properly is crucial. Once the pod has changed its color (it usually turns soft), pick it very gently. Cut it open carefully. The seeds are all held together within a soft pulp, which is held by loose fitting membranes. Remove the pulp and separate the seeds from it. Wash the seeds under running water, preferably one that is mixed with a germicidal solution. Experts recommend storing these seeds in sealed plastic bags with a few drops of water added to retain its viability. Left at room temperature, the seeds will shrink or germinate dry, but eventually die. Never freeze them, and do not store for more than two months. It is best to sow them fresh.

Germinating

For seeds to germinate successfully, they must be washed well. A few conditions that should be maintained are optimum temperature between 73° F and 77° F, high humidity, and sterile conditions that determine the seed germination success rate. Take damp compost with some perlite or vermiculite added to it. Put in a sealed plastic bag along with a few seeds, pressed slightly. The seed should be placed upwards. Place the bag near a warm dark place. The moisture in the plastic will facilitate seed sprouting which will occur in a couple of weeks. Move the seeds to a seed tray. One can place seeds in a pot with drainage holes and cover it with a plastic sheet. Once the seeds sprout, remove the cover and move the pot to diffused lighted area. Once the seeds have sprouted, like its first real leaf, transplant the germinated clivia seedling into its intended location.

Once the seeds have been planted, it is just a matter of time they will sprout plenty of new leaves. The clivia plant will bear flowers only after 2 – 4 years after planting.