This Plant of the Week often gets overlooked for the edible fruit that it produces. It is a wonderful shrub in of itself, but the fruit is just a bonus.
Pineapple guava will grow in full sun to part shade and in a variety of soil types, though it prefers a slightly acidic soil. It does well with minimal pruning and care and typically won't require much irrigation beyond normal rainfall. It has no major pest or disease problems.
It can easily be pruned to form a dense hedge or trained into a small tree with a single trunk. Left unpruned, it can reach up to 15 feet tall and 15 feet wide. For added interest, try training it as an espalier. The evergreen, egg-shaped leaves are 2 to 3 inches long and have silvery, slightly fuzzy undersides that often give the entire plant a slight bluish cast.
The flowers appear from April through May and are 1 to 2 inches across. The fleshy petals are white or a soft pink and the stamens are a striking burgundy. An extra perk is that the flowers are edible and can be added to salads and other dishes.
The fruits range from 3/4 to 3-1/2 inches long and vary in shape from round to elongated pear shape. The pulp is sweet, suggesting a combination of pineapple and guava flavors. The fruits fall to the ground when mature.
If gardening were an Olympic sport, pineapple guava might be a contender for best all-around shrub!
A question that gets asked this time of year is, “What kind of tree is that with the tulip like flowers?” Botanically it is Magnolia x soulangeana. Some of the common names include saucer magnolia and tulip tree.
The fragrant tulip-shaped flowers (sometimes cup and saucer shaped) vary depending on the cultivar, in colors of deep rose, maroon, or white, and appear before the leaves unfold, a trait of Asiatic magnolias. Its breathtaking flowers appear in mid-winter on bare branches.
These small deciduous trees, or large shrubs, can handle full sun to partial shade and need moist well-drained soil. Mature trees can reach as high as 30 ft with a spread only somewhat less.
The saucer magnolia is one of the earliest flowering trees to bloom. In the Deep South and similar mild climates, it blooms in late winter and as late as mid-spring in colder zones. The USDA lists it as a Zone 5 through Zone 9, which pretty much covers most of the United States except the upper Midwest and southern part of Florida.
It has some drought tolerance. Resistant to most pests and diseases, though it can be bothered by scale at times, and is not considered invasive.
The best time of year to fertilize trees is in the late fall after all of the deciduous leaves have dropped. Choose a slow-release fertilizer, such as 10-10-10.
Magnolias are easily damaged by overfertilization. Salt damage from fertilizers is recognized by leaf edges that look brown and burned. Trees should only be fed if growth is weak.
It has been said that this tree has outstanding ornamental features and should be planted more.
If you think that you have a brown thumb and have just about given up on gardening, don’t throw in the trowel just yet. This Plant of the Week really does thrive on neglect. They tolerate most
soils as long as they have good drainage, need only modest amounts of water, and rarely require fertilizer. Full sun is about the only other thing they have to have. Agaves are adapted to rocky,
native soils and won't need amendments. But they'll tolerate rich, loamy soil if it provides good drainage. If your soil is heavy clay, mix some pumice or gravel into the backfill and plant your
agaves on a mound.
With rare exceptions, agaves don't need feeding. In fact, fertilizing them may encourage flowering, which you don't want, since most agaves die after bloom.
The famous century plant falls in this plant family. It really does not take 100 years to bloom, 40-50 years is more common.
The only significant pest is the agave snout weevil. This insect tunnels into the center of the plant and lays its eggs. Infested plants show leaf wilt, followed by total collapse.
The one major drawback to growing agave is if you have young children or pets. Each agave plant consists of a rosette of long, stiff, spear-shaped, fleshy leaves often armed with teeth and tipped with a long terminal spine. It is extremely sharp and can easily pierce the skin, right to the bone.
So if you have lots of room and no insurance liabilities running around, the agave is a no frills, very stately plant.
You have probably heard of the Knock Out rose. Have you heard about its little sister, the Drift Rose?
If you're looking for a smaller rose to tuck into a container garden or a tiny corner of your landscape, then this could be the rose you are looking for. These roses are a cross between groundcover roses and miniature roses, and the result is a compact rose that's perfect for growing in containers, at the front of landscape beds, or as a groundcover. Individual plants will grow two to three feet wide and just one and a half feet tall.
They bloom almost continuously and offer flower colors that include apricot, peach, pink, coral, red, and pale yellow that turns to white.
Choose a spot that receives at least six hours of sunlight. They require good drainage and lots of organic material. Most benefit from periodic applications of fertilizer during the growing season. Shop for a product containing all or some of the nutrients in a slow-release form.
Drift roses are relatively problem free in many areas and have excellent disease resistance to rust, powdery mildew, and black spot. One of the major drawbacks is, the deer consider them candy.
Deadheading isn't required, but it will encourage reblooming and give the roses a nicer appearance.
With Valentine’s day coming up, instead of a bunch of roses, why not give her a rose bush? If you get my drift!
Lantana is one of those plants that you see all the time, but don’t really notice it. Commonly grown as a sun-loving flowering annual in South Carolina, there are a few cultivars that are reliably perennial throughout much of the state. Many more are perennial near the coast. All are tough, resilient plants that thrive in hot weather and bloom profusely from spring until frost.
Depending on the cultivar, lantana can be used as an upright shrub or a prostrate groundcover. Lantana works best in mixed beds and borders, shrub groupings or as a container plant. It can be mixed with most ornamental plants, but prospers well alone. Tolerant of a wide range of environmental conditions such as dry, rocky sites to sandy, seaside conditions, lantana can be planted in almost any site in full sunlight.
Fortunately, lantana is not prone to many diseases and insect pests. The most common problems are Whitefly, Lacebug, Aphids and Spider Mites. It is also considered Deer resistant.
The lantana flowers are born in dense clusters 1 to 2 inches across near the top of the stem. The clusters of flowers vary in colors, from yellow, orange, red, white, and pink, to purple and gradually change colors over the blooming period. Often, the different colored flowers are present on the same cluster. Butterflies love the different colors. The leaves are yellow-green, serrated and aromatic when crushed.
Poor blooming is usually caused by too much shade or excessive fertilization. Plants that set berries may decline in bloom. Trim plants back to encourage new growth and flowering.
Lomandra longifolia ‘Breeze’
We have discussed plants that are useful, easy to grow, and just about the perfect plant. This Plant of the Week covers all of those and more! It really lives up to its name in trying to grow it, a breeze!
This grass is a native of Australia. It is used there as a highway median plant to help block the headlights of oncoming vehicles, due to it being extremely drought tolerant. It can be used in containers, mass plantings, and as sidewalk hedge.
The Hardiness Zones are 7b to 11; Evergreen in Zone 8. They will die back in Zone 7, but can handle the hottest part of your yard and handle down to 20 degrees with no problem.
Light Requirement are Sun to Heavy Shade-it will be “pine” green in full sun; deep green in shade
Breeze can ultimately reach 3ft by 3ft after many years, but a good pruning every late winter will keep it a little smaller. Very tolerant of wind and salt, so it is great at the beach.
No real pest or disease problems and it is deer resistant. Do not bury the crown of the plant when planting
Water as required to keep the plant healthy; Do not over water; saturated soils can lead to crown rot, particularly in areas with high humidity.
Fertilize in spring and fall using a slow release fertilizer.
If gets better, it can grow in a wide range of soil from light (sandy) to heavy (clay) soil.
So if you have a spot in the yard that just begs for a tough, yet attractive plant, this suggestion is pretty much a “breeze”.
‘Soft Caress’ mahonia (Mahonia eurybracteata)
If you have ever wanted to plant something that has a little “Royalty” associated with it, this Plant of the Week is for you!
The Royal Horticultural Society, back in 2013, chose the Soft Caress Mahonia as the plant of the year! What is so great about this organization? They think about plants 24/7, 365 days a year and put on a little flower show, that you may or may not have heard of….the Chelsea Flower Show. It is probably the most prestigious flower show in the world!
No wonder this mahonia is also in the Southern Living Plant Collection.
What makes it so great?
‘Soft Caress’ is evergreen, compact (about 4 feet tall and wide), and easy to grow. It needs little pruning and is hardy to about 0 degrees. As its name implies, the narrow leaves are spineless. Small, bright yellow flowers appear in late fall, earlier than on leatherleaf mahonia, but they do not set berries. However, like other mahonias, it does need part to full shade and moist to normal soil.
It beautifully works in containers and in beds as a border plant. Deer resistant, hummingbird friendly, year round interest and a bamboo like look that could have come out of any tropical style garden.
If you are looking for a fruiting, easy to care for, useful tree, our Plant of the Week will really fit the bill!
Its neat habit and compact growth make the Coppertone Loquat an ideal specimen or patio shade tree, and it can be used as a residential street tree or median strip tree in areas where overhead space is limited.
Providing best fruit and form when grown in full sun, Coppertone Loquat can tolerate partial shade and a variety of well-drained soils. This plant should be well-watered until established, but can then survive periodic droughts. Do not overfertilize since this could increase sensitivity to fire blight disease. It is a rapidly-growing evergreen tree and can reach 25 to 30 feet in height in the shade but is frequently seen 15 feet tall with a 15 to 25 foot spread in a sunny location. The 10 to 12-inch-long leaves are rusty-colored beneath and have a coarse texture. Fragrant clusters of pale pink flowers are produced in fall, followed by the delicious, brightly colored, late winter/early spring fruit.
These trees are so useful, they can be grown in a container or above-ground planter; use them as an espalier against a wall; make into a hedge, and has been successfully grown in urban areas where air pollution, poor drainage, compacted soil, and/or drought are common.
When it comes to pests and diseases, and to reduce fireblight problems, provide good air circulation and keep away from other fireblight hosts, such as Pyracantha, pears, etc. If leaves and stems blacken from the top downward, prune back one-foot or more into healthy wood. Sterilize shears with a mixture of one part bleach to nine parts water between cuts. Pests are caterpillars and scales.
This will be the last Plant of the Week for 2015. We will start back up in January. It is our sincere hope that you have enjoyed this feature and we look forward to many more additions next year.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
A Christmas tree is a decorated tree, usually an evergreen conifer such as spruce, pine, or fir or an artificial tree of similar appearance, associated with the celebration of Christmas. The custom of the Christmas tree developed in early modern Germany (where it is today called Weihnachtsbaum or Christbaum) with predecessors that can be traced to the 16th and possibly 15th century, in which devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. It acquired popularity beyond Germany during the second half of the 19th century, at first among the upper classes.
The tree was traditionally decorated with edibles such as apples, nuts, or other foods. In the 18th century, it began to be illuminated by candles which were ultimately replaced by Christmas lights after the advent of electrification. Today, there is a wide variety of traditional ornaments, such as garland, tinsel, and candy canes. An angel or star might be placed at the top of the tree to represent the archangel Gabriel or the Star of Bethlehem from the Nativity
Christmas is a wonderful time to give people plants as gifts. There are many studies that show that houseplants are beneficial and healthy. Many are very easy to grow and have pretty, long lasting flowers. This week’s Plant of the Week have both of these attributes.
Anthuriums are tropical plants that can be grown as houseplants. They produce very beautiful flowers that last up to eight weeks, and even when not flowering, they work well as foliage plants.
Anthuriums should be potted in a soil that is coarse and well-drained. A mixture of peat moss, pine bark, and perlite works well. The root system should be allowed to fill the pot before the plant is transplanted.
These plants do well in high light, but not direct sunlight, it will burn the leaves. In order to bloom well, they should not have light levels that are too low either. This will halt flower production.
Water your anthurium thoroughly, but allow it to dry slightly between waterings. Over-watering causes root damage and yellowing of the leaves. If the plant becomes too dry it may have tip burn and root damage, but the soil should be dry to the touch before watering again. This procedure will also prevent the appearance of gnats. It does need a reasonable level of humidity in order to thrive. Regular misting will help with this, in addition to helping prevent dust from building up on the leaves.
If you want to fertilize your anthurium, use a very light solution, maybe ¼ to ½ strength, with a high phosphorous content. Phosphorous is the middle number on the bag. A high amount of this will promote blooming of the anthurium. Fertilize your plant about every other month.
One thing to consider if giving this plant or getting one for yourself is, they are toxic. Eating anthuriums could give you a painful burning sensation in the mouth that then swells and blisters. Your voice might also become hoarse and strained and you could have difficulty swallowing. They are also mildly to severely poisonous to cats and dogs. So please keep this in mind.
No flower says Christmas quite like a poinsettia!
It was introduced to the United States in 1825 by Joel Robert Poinsett, first U. S. ambassador to Mexico who obtained plants from the wilds of southern Mexico. The common name for the exotic plant, poinsettia, came from his last name.
If you obtain a poinsettia for your home, place it near a sunny window where it will have the most available sunlight. A window that faces south, east or west is better than one facing north. Do not let any part of the plant touch the cold windowpane because this may injure it.
Examine the soil daily and water only when it feels dry. Always water enough to soak the soil to the bottom of the pot and discard the excess water. If you don't water enough, the plant will wilt, and the mid to lower leaves will drop. If you water too much the lower leaves will yellow and then drop.
If you keep your plant for several months, apply a soluble houseplant fertilizer, once or twice a month according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Poinsettias are perhaps the most difficult flowering potted plants to re-bloom indoors. The best policy for handling poinsettias is to use them, then lose them! However, some folks are sentimental or maybe skeptical that people won't love them enough to give replacement plants next year. Regardless, the poinsettia plant you received for Christmas can be brought into color next year. The results usually aren't worth the effort since the flowers (colored bracts) you produce won't be of the same quality as the ones you had on the plants last year. There are many websites on the internet that will give you the information on doing it, if you insist.
According to the Parkland Poison Control Information Center, the average person would have to eat 500 to 700 poinsettia leaves before they would have a serious problem. Of course, some people are more sensitive than others. So, one leaf may cause some digestive problems to a very sensitive person. Poinsettias are a member of the euphorbia family and white, milky latex sap may cause eye and skin irritations in people sensitive to the sap. These plants are best classified as "possibly toxic" and not "poisonous".
Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis)
With the holidays fast approaching, many folks begin cooking feverishly! This Plant of the Week is probably a staple in your kitchen, so why not in your garden?
Rosemary is an easy to grow evergreen and it thrives in containers. There's no excuse why you shouldn't be growing some of your own.
Rosemary prefers a light, sandy soil of medium to low fertility. Rosemary likes full sun but will tolerate partial shade. However, rosemary will tolerate most growing conditions, as long as it is not waterlogged. Rosemary is difficult to grow from seed and is best bought as small plants from the garden center.
Rosemary requires very little attention. It should not need feeding as it thrives on low fertile soils and will tolerate very dry conditions, once established.
Rosemary flowers vary from white to pink to blue, and the blooming time depends on the selection. Plants that bloom in late spring or early summer attract bees; those that bloom in November and December are a delight during the winter holidays.
A slow-growing, upright, bushy herb, rosemary often reaches 3 to 5 feet tall after several years of growth. There are creeping selections that range from tiny small-leafed plants suitable for bonsai to large-leafed plants usable as a ground cover on a dry hillside. These rarely grow taller than 1 to 2 feet, with short, narrow leaves. They make excellent container plants, topiaries, or edgings for rock walls and terraces.
Make sure your container has a nice-sized hole so that surplus water can drain away; Rosemary can't stand to have their roots sitting in too-wet soil.
For fresh use, cut stems anytime. To dry the leaves, harvest just before the plant blooms. The flavor will be stronger, and it is the best time to prune plants. Dry stems on a rack, or bunch several sprigs and hang them to dry. Then strip the leaves from the stem. Rosemary sprigs also can be frozen or stored in vinegars and refrigerated oils.
If you have never attempted growing your own herbs, Rosemary would be a great way to start!
If you’re looking for something a little different to grow, why not consider the attractive snail vine plant. This unusual plant is an attractive evergreen vine in USDA zones 9 through 11 and will
die back in cooler regions for the winter. With just a tad of protection will stay evergreen in our zone 8.
This beautiful tropical vine, with lavender and white flowers, is native to Central and South America and thrives in full sun, moist soil and high humidity. It is also known as a snail bean or corkscrew plant and makes a very pretty addition in a hanging basket or container, where it will dangle up to 15 feet if permitted.
Snail vines grow quickly, once established, and will rapidly cover a trellis or a wall. Due to its rapid growth, the plant may need to be trimmed as part of your snail vine care to keep it under control.
Flowers typically bloom in late summer or autumn and, if pollination by ants is successful, seeds come soon after. Seeds grow inside pods, like pea pods. If the grower wants to cultivate them, pods should be removed from the plant while still green to prevent exposure to winter temperatures.
Two very different plant species are sold and cultivated under this one name, this is a good reason to learn botanical names and not rely on common names.
Both are climbing vines with very similar foliage. Common names for both vines include Snail vine, Corkscrew vine, and Shell Vine. The purple, non-fragrant, flowers of the “ Vigna Caracalla” are said to have snail or snail-shell shaped flowers, hence the origin of the common name. The multicolored, fragrant, non-invasive flowers of the Cochliasanthus caracalla are said to have corkscrew or nautilus-shell shaped flowers, hence the origin of that common name. Caracalla is related to caracol, the Spanish name for a snail. Other sources indicate that caracalla is a take off of Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. As far as the plant is concerned, it makes little difference. The plant is also called the snail bean by some as it is a legume, and the beans are edible. The other scientific name is Phaselous caracalla. This species is also called a snail vine, snail flower, or Corkscrew flower. It is also a legume and bears a close resemblance to pole bean varieties.
So, now that you are completely confused, I will leave you with this tidbit of information, Thomas Jefferson once called this plant "the most beautiful bean in the world". Are YOU going to argue with our third president?!
Cephalotaxus harringtonia 'Prostrata'
Spreading Japanese Plum Yew as it is better known as, is a versatile, problem solving shrub who’s long, dark green needles make it attractive for foundation or mass plantings. It is Excellent for filling under tree canopies and areas shaded by tall buildings.
Also known as Creeping Plum Yew, it grows best in well-drained sandy soils but will adapt to any well-drained soil. Where climates are cool during summer it can be planted in full sun, but otherwise prefers some shade, preferably in the afternoon. If you have a really tough spot in your yard that receives the above light situations, this plant will fill it perfectly. It is Deer Resistant, also Drought, Insect, Disease, Mildew, and Heat Resistant. What more could you ask of a single plant?
It is a tough plant, but will stay small…relatively. Topping out at only 2-3’ tall, there are reports of plants reaching 12’ across! However, it may be pruned at the end of winter if it is needed, to tame it back.
As you can see in the picture, it has glossy, dark green leaves; the new growth in spring is pale lime green.
Once established the creeping plum yew is classified as a very low maintenance plant. As a final piece of information, if you want to impress your friends, the botanical name is pronounced: seff-uh-loe-TACKS-sus hair-ring-TOE-nee-uh.
Blood Banana (Musa acuminata ssp. Zebrina)
For a little creepiness this Halloween weekend, we present a very pretty, but grossly named plant as our Plant of the Week.
Blood bananas are native to Java, Indonesia. They are notable for being one of the earliest banana subspecies to be spread by humans out of Southeast Asia. They are also one of the two ancestors of modern edible bananas.
Gardeners grow the tree for its mottled, red, blood like patterns on the foliage, rather than its fruit. Though, the small seeded fruits are edible. The plant reaches a short height of four to 10 feet and will grow in USDA hardiness zones 8 through 11. The Blood Banana makes an attractive alternative to more common ornamental plants, and gives you a tropical look and feel. Though it may appear exotic, the Blood Banana has only basic care requirements.
Give the Blood Banana a minimum of six to eight hours of sunlight. The more sunlight the plant receives, the brighter its foliage colors. If growing the plant outside, select a growing area that receives full sun or trim back surrounding trees and plants to expose more of the plant. If you're growing the banana tree in a pot, set it in an area that is exposed to sunshine.
Fertilize the Blood Banana tree weekly, April through October. The banana tree requires large amounts of nutrients to grow successfully. Whatever fertilizer you use, it needs to be one with a higher 3rd number, such as 9-3-27.
Water the banana tree thoroughly until the soil is moist. Allow the surface dirt to dry to a depth of one-half of an inch before watering again.
Every year, the banana tree will sprout new rhizomes, or stem nodes with their own roots, off of the side of the main tree. Chop off these rhizomes with a shovel and plant them in a new location to start more Blood Banana trees.
The only issues tend to be, leaves being torn by the wind. On occasion you might see a stray mealy bug. The good news is, deer usually don’t bother banana trees. That doesn’t mean they won’t, it is always a possibility.
This Banana tree can turn a neglected backyard corner into a lush jungle of stems and leaves. Clumping Bananas such as this are very effective fillers and background plants. They are perfect for Asian gardens and those with a tropical flair. Blood Bananas are equally at home around swimming pools and water gardens. It grows well in pots on porch or patio, to flank sculpture, fountains or specialty furniture. Plant with a bold hand knowing it won't overwhelm like the larger Banana.
Aspidistra elatior “Cast Iron Plant”
If ever there was a plant that had a common name that made sense, it would be the humble Cast Iron Plant!!
Growing in large, leafy clumps, cast iron plant is unsurpassable for dependable, dark green foliage in very lowlight conditions. It will practically grow in the dark.
Native to the Osumi Islands of Japan, this plant has a pretty much vertical growth habit, reaching heights generally of 2 feet..
Some types of aspidistra are variegated with creamy streaks or dots; some are shorter than others. The plants spread in clumps, vigorously but at a moderate enough rate not to be invasive or even troublesome. The flowers are produced close to the ground and never even seen unless one deliberately searches for them.
Cast iron plant is tolerant of a wide range of soils, from very rich to very poor. The variegated version of this plant needs fairly poor soil to retain its coloration.
They are drought tolerant and for the most part, pest and disease free. They will on occasion develop a leaf spot disease.
And while there are no “deer-proof” plants, these plants are deer resistant, even in the most deer-populated areas.
Feed with a general purpose fertilizer before new growth begins in spring.
Some places to consider using cast iron are: As a Houseplant, a Woodland Garden or they can provide an excellent background for low flowering annuals. It is also very effective as a mass planting when allowed to spread by underground stems into a groundcover
For a gardener with a brown thumb, this sturdy, long lasting plant can be used in shady, to very shady, areas where all else fails.
Viburnum obavatum “Mrs. Schillers Delight”
If you are into Native Plants for the southeast, this Plant Of The Week is right up your alley.
The species, Viburnum obovatum, is a rather rangy shrub or small tree native to South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. It generally grows anywhere between 6'&15' but has been known to grow to over 30' under ideal conditions in the wild. While the wild species makes an attractive plant, the selection named 'Mrs. Schiller's Delight' is an outstanding landscape plant.
Viburnum obovatum 'Mrs. Schiller's Delight' was introduced by Florida plantsman Steve Reifler for its tight, dwarf habit. It grows to about 3' tall by slightly wider with a fine texture and small, narrow leaves on a very tight bun-shaped plant. Being a very dense shrub and as such quite suitable for hedging. It tolerates hard pruning and could be made into topiary or formal hedges. The plant covers itself in clusters of white flowers in April but will often begin flowering in fall and continue sporadically until spring. Butterflies sip nectar from the flowers. The densely twiggy bush is a favorite nesting site for cardinals and other song birds. Flowers are followed by red fruits which become black and are highly favored by birds and other critters for food. In mild winters, it will remain mostly evergreen although often taking on purplish tones after frost.
In the wild, this plant often grows in boggy areas that are constantly moist. In the landscape, however, established plants have proven to be exceptionally drought tolerant. 'Mrs. Schiller's Delight' will flower best in full sun but will grow quite happily in shadier locations. This plant prefers the acidic soils typical of much of the Southeast and in more basic soils, the addition of organic matter will be beneficial.
This is an excellent landscape plant and is especially useful where native North American plants are desired in the landscape. It can be used as a foundation planting instead of dwarf boxwoods or Japanese hollies or clipped into a formal, low hedge. This selection can be planted as a specimen or in containers in damp or dry areas and makes an excellent addition to the wildlife garden. Its small size, tidy habit, tough constitution, and four-season appeal make 'Mrs. Schiller's Delight' one of the best all around native plants for the landscape.
Dianella tasmanica 'Variegata'
This week’s Plant of the Week, goes by a number of different names, including Blue Flax Lily, Tasman Flax Lily, Variegated Flax Lily.
If you have a shady area that needs a little color, this is your plant. The blades vary in color from green to blue-green and with white or pale yellow vertical variegation.
Dianella grows readily in our Zone 8 region in most well drained garden soils of moderate fertility or can be grown in a container for use in patio containers in regions with colder winters. These plants will tolerate periodic drought, but, prefer slightly moist soil.
To obtain best growth, particularly of the variegated forms, they prefer partial shade; however, normal growth can be maintained with adequate availability of moisture in sunnier locations. Damaged foliage should be removed prior to resumption of growth in spring. A location with good air movement minimizes chances for any real problems. Mildew and leaf spots are sometimes reported on the foliage, but do not appear to be serious. Flax lily grows in clumps, and reaches a mature height and spread of between 1 and 3 feet. Very small, light-blue flowers with prominent yellow stamens are produced from winter through spring. Flowers are occasionally followed by bright blue berries about the size of a pea.
Divide flax lily in spring to provide more plants for your garden or to pass along to friends.
This plant could be considered a workhorse in your garden, As accents they're wonderful texture plants that bring out flower colors and the whiteness of the foliage contrasts nicely with other greenery in a mixed garden bed.
If you have a very old friend, in age, not necessarily in time known, this week’s Plant of the Week is great fodder for a joke. The plant outlived the dinosaurs, and is quite likely to outlive you, too.
It is Horsetail Reed (Equisetum hyemale)
Horsetail grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 to 10 and is indeed a living fossil, having changed little in the last 350 million years.
It is dark-green, hollow, jointed or segmented stems 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick with no true leaves. Horsetail is a versatile plant that will grow in pretty much any waterlogged area. It makes a good filler for areas in the yard with poor drainage or as a pond grass in water gardens. Plant in soil-less substrate mixtures composed of bark, peat and perlite. Plant it in gravel. Or plant it in clay, loam or sandy soil. The horsetails prefer an acidic soil; peat will help lower the soil pH.
Horsetail does well in sun or part sun, but is not tolerant of shady areas. The reed-like plant is cold-hardy and is not affected much by changes in temperature. It grows deep root systems, which soak up nutrients from the soil or pond water. Extra fertilizer is not necessary, and in fact the horsetail will often react badly to extra fertilization. Mature height is only 3-4 feet tall.
Container planting is a good idea if you do not want the horsetails to spread. Homeowners are often more interested in learning how to eradicate this plant from the landscape than how to grow it. It is a very aggressive plant, which, if not preemptively restrained, will spread aggressively by branched, creeping rhizomes. Containers help keep it in check. If you plant the horsetail in a pond, submerge or partially submerge the horsetail in a tall container. Do not allow this to dissuade you from planting it. If you keep it in check it is a great looking plant. You can use cuttings in flower arrangements and in a vase for a formal look.
Do not plant horsetail in fields with grazing animals, as it is toxic to horses and cattle.
Even with all of the warnings, if you have a problem, wet, boggy area, or you are considering a pond or rain garden, this may just be the plant for you.
We usually try to do an individual plant for our Plant of the Week, but this group of plants is so large, so diverse, and it ties in nicely to our Pollinators Workshop we are having on Saturday the 26th that it will be a species POTW.
Salvias are a group of garden plants that includes annuals, biennials, perennials, and shrubs. Salvia contains at least 900 species and, because they readily cross pollinate, innumerable hybrids - both natural and manmade. The perennial salvias (a plant that lives for more than two years) are mainstays of the flower garden border. Another common name for this plant is sage.
Flowering salvias produce spikes of small, densely packed flowers atop aromatic foliage. These heat- and drought-tolerant beauties bloom from early to late summer in shades of blue, violet, red, pink, and white. Plants grow 18 inches to 5 feet tall, depending on the variety. So do a little research on the particular plant you are getting, it might get way bigger than you think.
Salvia can be directly seeded into your flower garden, or seeded indoors for transplanting later. Salvia can also be propagated by division, which is best done in the spring.
You can plant salvia in average soil in a full sun to partly shady location for most varieties. Full sun means six or more hours of direct sun daily. Partial shade translates into an eastern location. Requirements with watering, as with growing them, vary among the different salvias, but most prefer to dry out between waterings to ½ an inch deep. Fertilize plantings in the garden once a month with a balanced granular or water-soluble fertilize. Salvias aren't messy plants, but you may want to cut off spent blooms to keep the plants branching, to increase flowering.
The diseases and pests that can plague salvias are usually problems in the greenhouse for growers, not in the home garden. However, you might want to keep an eye out for white fly, spider mites, and aphids, all of which are greenhouse menaces.
Some major bonus’ are, not only do you enjoy the flowers, a great many of our pollinator friends do to, including Butterflies, Bees and Hummingbirds. Salvias are also deer resistant.
If you want a little bit of a different color in your yard, don’t be blue…well maybe in this case you should be!!
Even a little “Icee Blue” perhaps.
Podocarpus elongates ‘monmal’ or Icee Blue Podocarpus.
The first podocarpus tree with distinctive blue foliage! New growth is lime-gray-blue maturing to a cool gray-blue-green on this excellent specimen, lawn or screen tree.
This is a slow growing conifer with fabulous upright structure. It thrives in USDA Zones 8-11, in partial to full sun. If you can give it a little late afternoon shade, it would be happier. It likes regular watering, and more in extreme heat. It is slow growing, but will eventually get to be 15-25 feet, and 15-25 wide if you don’t prune it. Feed with a general purpose fertilizer before new growth begins in spring
This cultivar is pretty new on the market but the blue color should make it very popular and they have been seen popping up in several yards. It is nearly litter free, which is wonderful for swimming pool areas and vehicular conditions such as driveways, parkways and streetside boulevards. So, if you want to be a trend setter in your neighborhood, you should come by and select our latest, plant of the week!
Stomanthe sanguine ‘Tricolor’
There are some plants that produce food or beautiful flowers. Then there are plants that just "WOW" you with their foliage. This is one of those plants.
Native to rain forests of Brazil, it requires high humidity and warm temperatures to thrive, perfect for our Charleston summer!
It is a relative of the prayer plant (Maranta species) and is becoming more common as an unusual houseplant or seasonal annual. This is also a very unusual plant, not just in its coloration. It has short, creeping stems that can grow up to 5 feet tall under ideal conditions, but this cultivar remains much shorter (18-30 inches), especially when grown in a container. The 6-12 inch long leaves arise on long petioles from the crown of the plant. Each leaf has a mechanism for orienting the blade toward or away from the sun. The leaves fold up at night, making the rosy pink undersides more noticeable. By morning they face to the east so they will catch more of the early morning sun, but by midday, they move to a more upright position so less of the blade is exposed to the sun. It may suffer whenever temperatures fall below 60F, but this species tolerates temperatures down to 40, and outdoors the species has come back from below freezing temperatures. If moved outdoors for the summer, gradually increase exposure to the elements in the spring, waiting until all danger of frost has passed before leaving outside. In the fall the plant should be moved back indoors before frost.
Keep the soil moist but allow the top inch to dry out before watering again. Pot this plant in a well-draining houseplant soil or mix. Feed stromanthe with a balanced houseplant fertilizer during the growing season.
Stromanthe plant care includes providing just the right amount of limited sunlight or it can become a freckled, burned mess. Give stromanthe bright light, but no direct sun. If you see burn spots on the leaves, reduce sun exposure.
If you are needing a "pop" of color in a container or in your living room, ‘Tricolor' is just the ticket.
Asparagus densiflorus, as it is known botanically. Fronds densely covered with 1 in needle-like leaflets give this fern a delicate, feathery appearance, very much like a foxes tail. But, don't let
its delicate appearance fool you. In its native, warm temperature forests of Africa, this fern is an aggressive grower and can be invasive. It's not a problem, though, contained in a pot. You will
either want to bring it inside during the winter, or treat as an annual in the garden. Hardy to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, if it is in a very well protected area, and if it is not an extremely cold
winter, they may come back. It is an excellent choice for hanging baskets and containers.
Foxtail ferns are not really ferns, as they are multiplied from seeds and produce no spores.
They prefer soil that's moist and rich in organic matter, though they are drought resistant once established. You will want to Feed monthly spring through fall with a balanced fertilizer diluted by half, however, they develop underground nodules that store nutrients and, in essence, self-fertilize the plant when soil nutrient levels drop. If the foxtail fern's foliage starts to turn pale, the plant may need fertilizer. Leaf drop, is usually a symptom of too much sunlight.
If you want to Propagate them, divide overcrowded plants in spring. Remove the plant from its pot, or dig it up, and cut through the thick roots with a sharp knife to avoid pulling and tearing them.
Even though it is in the plant family that includes day lilies and edible asparagus Foxtail ferns are classified as deer-resistant. Which should be emphasized again, does not mean deer proof, if they are hungry enough, they will eat anything.
The American Beautyberry or botanically speaking, ‘Callicarpa Americana’. Callicarpa meaning beautiful fruit, which is where the common name beautyberry comes from. As a deciduous species (plants that drop their leaves in the fall) it is used as an ornamental planting in various parts of the United States. American beautyberry is a native woodland plant in the warmer areas of the southeastern states; it is considered hardy in Zones 7-11.
American beautyberry grows 4 to 6 feet tall and wide, but can reach 8 to10 feet under favorable growing conditions. Generally, these shrubs develop a rounded shape with long, arching branches and light green foliage.
The most appealing feature of this plant is the abundant and very showy clusters of purple berries produced in late summer and fall. Clusters of small, lavender-pink blossoms followed by clusters of green berries are produced on the new growth at each leaf axil from June through August.
Because the ripe berries turn bright purple, plants are often used as late summer and autumn highlights or focal points in a naturalized or wildlife garden. Beautyberry does well in mass plantings and can be used as screening plants, but allow ample room for the generally large and sprawling plants. The berries persist after the leaves fall to extend the colorful berry display on bare plants well into late fall. Ripe berries are a source of food as many as 40 species of many birds. Raccoons, opossums and small rodents also feed on them, making them popular for backyard wildlife plantings. White tailed deer consume the fruit in the fall after leaf drop. This might be a good thing or a bad thing if you have a deer problem. They might eat the beautyberry and leave your other plants alone, OR, you might end up attracting more deer.
It is adapted to moist, loamy, sandy or shallow sites and a wide pH range, however, it is very drought tolerant.
Flowers are produced on new growth so prune in late winter or early spring.
There are no serious insect or disease problems with beautyberry in South Carolina.
For a great, native to South Carolina plant, care free, pretty and useful, why not plant some this weekend?!
This week’s Plant Of The Week will bring a little “Sunshine” into your life.
Sunshine Ligustrum (Ligustrum sinense 'Sunshine') offers year-round golden foliage that flourishes in full sun. This sterile, non-invasive cultivar (I know our Master Gardener friends just breathed a sigh of relief) will not re-seed into the landscape. In fact, it doesn’t bloom at all, which is good news for allergy sufferers!
You can prune this privet to 1 foot tall, or leave it unclipped, and it will make a 3- to 5-foot bullet-shaped shrub. This is a very slow-growing variety, so don’t think it will reach max height in a few years; it will take more like 10.
In full sun this plant almost glows, thus its name ‘Sunshine’. If planted in shade, it is just a boring pale green. Winter color has gold and orange overtones.
Zoned 6-9, this patented, evergreen shrub, prefers well drained soil, but will adapt to pretty much any soil type. Fertilize in the spring with a slow release fertilizer. It makes an excellent border, filler and can be used in a mixed or small container. Deer Resistant, Disease Resistant, Drought Tolerant, and Salt Tolerant this plant is practically indestructible! So why not add a little “Sunshine” to your yard?!
EVOLVULUS spp. 'Blue Daze'
Don’t let this plant put you in a daze.
It is actually a member of the morning glory family. Before you panic, ‘Blue Daze’ is unusual because it does not twist or climb and is a hybrid derived from plants native to North and South America. The trailing stems of this tender perennial subshrub form a low, spreading mound. Both the stems and the small, oval shaped leaves are densely covered with short, downy hairs, giving them a silvery appearance. Many small, sky blue, funnel shaped flowers with five lobes and white throats cover the plants throughout the warm growing season. Each flower lasts only a day, but is quickly replaced with new ones the next day.
‘Blue Daze' thrives in hot weather and sharply-drained soil of modest fertility, but will also perform quite nicely in average, well-drained soil or potting mix. Full sun is preferred, but the plants are tolerant of a bit of shade. Water frequently, but avoid standing water or soggy conditions as these could cause fungus problems.
Grown in USDA Zones 8 - 11. This is one plant that likes it hot! In areas that get frost, blue daze is usually grown as an annual or in a container that can be brought inside. Specimens of blue daze may survive light frosts and freezes, especially if they have been mulched.
Some of the things this plant can be used for: Bedding Plant, In a Container, As Edging, Groundcover, Hanging Basket, In a Mixed Border or Rock Garden. The blue flower, which is a color that is not overly common, also attracts butterflies. AND, as a final bonus for this pretty little plant, it is on the list as deer resistant.
VINTAGE JADE DISTYLIUM
This lovely spreading shrub with dark evergreen foliage forms a low spreading mound in the landscape and offers a refreshing touch of green throughout the year. Distylium is a member of the witch hazel family, which is virtually unknown here in North America…at least in the landscape trade. This particular patented plant has petite red flowers which appear in the winter. It grows best in full sun to moderate shade with well-drained soil (on the acid side). The Vintage Jade variety of distylium was first developed by Plant Introductions, Inc and put into trial plantings back in 2005. Over the past several seasons have been subjected to some of the highest temperatures on record for their planting zones, (7-9) and extreme drought. Some were even purposely planted in very wet, moist soils. In all cases, the shrub has thrived and adapted itself while maintaining beautiful appearance with good growth hardiness.
It displays exceptional resistance to disease and insects. When it comes to deer resistance, on a scale of 1-10, ten being the most resistant, it ranks about an 8.
This adaptable plant is a good alternative for boxwood, cherry laurel, holly and juniper in foundation plantings or anywhere you want low maintenance evergreen shrubs.
With its compact, low-spreading growth habit, it will only be 2' by 5' after 5 years. It stays in neat, graceful mounds adding a touch of ‘formal wildness’ to your hedges. This is bound to be a favorite plant of landscapers and home gardeners soon. Don’t wait; get yours now before we sell out of our limited supply.
Welcome to our new weekly installment! We will highlight a different plant each week, explaining its growth habits, how to take care of it, what it is useful for and any other interesting points about it.
Our first plant of the week is "Muehlenbeckia axillaris", better known as Small Leaf Creeping Wire Vine.
A low creeping evergreen groundcover, it forms a spreading mat of wiry stems, with tiny rounded leaves and a glossy green finish. In the fall and winter it is an attractive bronze green. Grown for its foliage, it does have insignificant green flowers which become black-seeded white berries in late summer. Great for those large areas and stabilizing slopes. It has a vigorous growth habit. Space at 4 to 6 plants per square yard. You can just mow over it once a year in the spring to encourage thicker growth. It plays well with spring flowering bulbs. Tolerates fairly high foot traffic and dry conditions, once established. It is too vigorous a grower for the rock garden or perennial border. You also want to avoid planting between pathway flagstones as this may become a trip hazard.
The wire vine is considered an easy plant to grow, it can tolerate a wide range of soil types, full sun to partial shade, moist or dry conditions and only gets to be 2-4 inches tall. It can be used in containers, as a houseplant and is deer resistant. All of this is why, the Small Leaf Creeping Wire Vine is our Plant of the Week.
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