"Bittersweet October. The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter."
~ Carol Bishop Hipps
All Seasons Horticultural Spray Oil
All Seasons Horticultural Spray Oil is a superior type paraffinic oil that
may be used as a growing season spray, dormant spray (no leaves) or delayed dormant
(green tip) spray to control overwintering eggs of red spiders, scale insects,
aphids, bud moths, leaf roller, red bug, codling moth, blister mites, galls,
whitefly, mealy bugs and other insects.
Highly recommended for use on fruit trees,
shade trees, shrubs, ornamentals, roses and vegetables. Safe and pleasant to
For more information see the Bonide
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In the past, I have told you about the Giant Fritillaria called the 'Crown
Imperials,' and they are wonderful and magnificent to look at--but today
let talk about the miniatures because they are perfect for naturalizing. These
spring flowering bulbs grow naturally all over Europe as a wildflower. They begin
to flower when the guinea hens return to wet pastures and open fields, to start
the mating process and lay their eggs in the springtime. The closed flower buds
are the size and shape of the guinea hen's eggs, hence the name "guinea
The guinea hen's flowers are the most popular and most well-known spring flowering
bulb all over Europe. In America, their popularity is growing quickly and once
gardeners see them in a friend's garden they must have them in their garden too.
If you can find the right spot in your garden and the plant is happy it will
quickly and easily naturalize itself, spreading beautiful flowers all over your
garden for many years to come.
They love a shady spot in the garden, and a moist soil that is rich in organic
matter and well-drained. When you plant Fritillaria in your garden, be sure to
add a bit of compost, peat moss, or animal manure to condition the soil properly--do
it right, and it will pay off in the long run. If your soil is sandy, conditioning
the soil is a must. If your soil has clay in it, and stays wet during the winter
and early spring, plant something else because the bulbs will rot in the wet soils.
When the flowers open they resemble small lanterns or inverted cups. In parts
of Europe they are also called frog-cups or Lazarus bells, but to make it easy,
call them Fritillaria hybrids. The foliage looks a bit like the foliage of tulips
but smaller in size and a nice deep green color. Depending on the variety you
select these hybrids will grow from 8 to 18 inches tall and the flowers will
stay in bloom for many weeks, March to May.
I also want to tell you that the variety name (meleagris) means "a spotted
coat of feathers " like that of the guinea hen. Many of the flowers have
very unusual markings that resemble a checker board--no other flower family looks
like this. The flower colors range from white, through purple, green, red, yellow,
violet, mahogany, and many bi-colors.
Plant the bulbs as soon as you receive them, as they will dry out if kept
in storage for a long time. Always dig your hole three times as deep as the bulb
is tall, so the bulb has twice as much soil on top of it to grow in. Example:
if your bulb is 2 inches tall, dig your hole 6 inches deep so twice as much soil
covers the bulb. I suggest that you use Seaweed Kelp Meal as a fertilizer when
planting to help the roots develop more quickly. When the flowers fade in late
May, feed them again with Seaweed Kelp Meal to help the bulbs divide underground
and make more flowers for you next year.
Stay away from bone meal as it will encourage rodents to dig them up. They
will not eat the bulb but they will dig them up because of the smell of the bone
meal. Plant your guinea hen flower bulbs in groups of 5 or more per hole, spacing
them 3 to 4 inches apart between bulbs for the best show of color when spring
The Fritillarias will make noticeable seed pods, green and filled with seed.
Do not cut the seed pods from the plant; allow them to ripen, and once the pods
turn brown, they will crack open and drop the seed around the existing plant.
In 2 to 3 years these seeds will have grown into bulbs and your clump will become
larger, producing more flowers for you. These wonderful bulbs will do very well
in perennial gardens, rock gardens, in shrub beds in-between shrubs and also
under small trees like dogwoods and flowering crabs. If you have a garden on
a sloping hillside, plant them near the top and watch them spread down the hill
in the years to come.
Here are some great varieties to look for at your local garden center or on
Fritillaria Meleagris 'Checkerboard': with wonderful soft purple and white
squares on the flowers. They grow 8 to 10 inches tall with flowers 1 to 2 inches
tall and wide. This is the number one seller.
Fritillaria Meleagris 'Alba': a wonderful white version on the checkerboard
also growing 8 inches tall. The flowers have no markings and they look wonderful
planted in a clump of just white or mixed with the checkerboard variety for great
Fritillaria Meleagris 'Artemis': Purple and green markings on the flower make it
look almost grayish, and it almost glows. Taller growing 12 to 18 inches flower
Fritillaria Meleagris 'Aphrodite': This bulb will make larger white flowers
that will grow 8 to 16 inches tall. Look for the unusual green markings inside
and outside on the flower.
Fritillaria Meleagris 'Jupiter': This bulb has the largest flowers. The checkerboard
markings are deep red and white and the plants grow 8 to 1`0 inches tall, Very
Fritillaria Meleagris 'Mars': wonderful large dark purple flowers that are
solid with no markings and grow 8 to 14 inches tall.
Fritillaria Meleagris 'Pink Eveline': A new hybrid with light pink flowers
that will change color to white and grayish pink. They have wonderful checkerboard
markings on the outside of the flower and grow 18 to 24 inches tall.
Fritillaria michailovskyi: A newly discovered variety found in Turkey in 1983.
It will grow 8 inches tall with flowers that are very attractive and unique.
The flowers are solid red-purple with a yellow lower edge and a yellow inside
as well. The flower looks like a lily-of-the-valley bloom.
Fritillaria persica: a large flower variety from Turkey that can grow up to
5 feet tall! The flower is spike-like in appearance, almost resembling a Delphinium
with bell-like flowers that are dark purple, almost black, hanging bells. This
flowering bulb is very different looking from the other varieties of Fritillaria
and it makes a great cut flower also.
Try this family of bulbs this fall for unique flowers next spring. Tulips and
daffodils are nice but your garden will be the one your gardening friends
will be talking about. Enjoy!
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It's that time of the year again...when we must encourage our holiday plant
to begin making flower buds and flowers. If you have a Christmas cactus or poinsettia
that you kept over from last year and want it to bloom for you again this year, now
is the time to help motivate it to flower. It's easy and you can
do it if you follow these steps to the letter. Begin by saying to yourself, "I
can do this, it's not that hard!"
Let's start with the Christmas cactus, because you will need to provide this
plant with several things to make it flower. I have found that this plant will
flower easier if you keep it outside during the summer months, if possible. It
should stay outside until the temperatures begin to dip down to around 40-50
degrees at night. When you bring the cactus plant inside in the fall, place it
in a room that will stay as cool as possible--below 65 degrees.
I like a window that gets plenty of light but does not get mid-day sun, because
that will warm up the plant well above 65 degrees. Use your east, west or--better
still--your north facing windows that receive no direct sunlight but good light
all day and the room will stay cooler. Temperature is one of the determining
factors that will encourage flower bud production. If you have a room that is
not used often, turn off the heat (if possible) to keep the room at 50 to 65
degrees. At this temperature range, the plant will make MORE flower buds. Keep
the plant in that room until the flower buds begin to show color and then you
can move it to the room where you will enjoy it.
Now just as important, if not more, is controlling the length of the day light.
Christmas cactus is called a "Short Day Plant" in the greenhouse
trade, because it will need to have short days of daylight to make the flower
buds on the plant. When the sun goes down your plant cannot have any additional
light of any type--even the lights in your home--or it will not flower well or
at all. So the perfect place to keep this plat is in that unused room in your
home where you do not turn on the light when it gets dark out.
When you combine short days and cool temperatures your Christmas cactus plant
will have hormone changes and the plant will stop growing foliage and switch
to flower bud production. If you keep the Christmas cactus plant in your living
room and you watch the television set until the 11:00 PM news is over, you have
created an artificial environment. The lights that are on in the room have increased
the length of the day and your plant will not flower. That is why your plant
needs to be in a room with no light after sunset each day--but once the flower
buds have formed on the plant, light is no longer a factor, just cool temperature.
If you can keep the plant cool, it will also bloom longer for you. Keep it
near a window and the cold that comes through the window will help cool down
the plant better than if it were on a table in the middle of the room. During
the winter months water the plant sparingly; the soil should be lightly moist
at all times. Fertilize monthly with Miracle Gro or Blooming and Rooting fertilizer.
Christmas cactuses will drop their flower buds if they are exposed to stresses
like hot rooms, overwatering, moving the plant around the house several times
during the flowering cycle and not being fertilized. Also--when the plant finishes
flowering, feed it, and move it back into the cooler room with short days and
it will flower again for you in about 6 to 8 weeks--a real bonus for you. Just
repeat what you did during November for a second set of flower buds to form on
the plant. Again I want you to say "I can do this, it's not that hard." Enjoy!
Now, here is how to make your poinsettia bloom that you kept alive since last
Christmas. Like the Christmas cactus, I like to keep it outside during the summer
and bring it indoors when the temperatures drop to 40 to 50 degrees at night
around late September to early October. Hopefully you repotted the plant into
a large pot during the summer to help the plant grow better and increase the
size of the plant. If you did not re-pot the plant than you can do it next year,
no problem, but do not do it now!
Another thing I like to do during June is to cut the plant back by 1/3 to
control the height of the plant and stimulate the plant to make new branches
to become bushier. This pruning will also help create a stronger crotch where
it branches out, preventing breakage of branches later. Again, if you did not
prune the plant back, do it next year.
The Poinsettia is also a "short day plant" that will not flower
when the days are long. If you want to help make this plant flower for Christmas,
start right now by giving the plant short days. As with the Christmas cactus,
use the spare unoccupied room but this time keep it warm like the rest of the
house. Temperatures of 60 to 70 are best when the plant is preparing to "flower."
The poinsettia loves sunlight, so a south window exposure will be better for
the plant. If there is a street light in front of your house, or the room is where
you leave the porch light on at night for guests that may come, be sure to close the
shades at supper time to block out the light--yes, this little bit of light will prevent flowering.
To make flowers on your plant, you must have 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness.
If you walk into the room and turn on the overhead lights you just spoiled all
your work and it will not flower. This is what I do to make my poinsettia flower
and I don't have to worry about lights in the room. Take an index card or piece
of paper and write on it "poinsettia." Now tape it on your refrigerator
door near the handle.
At supper time, when you open the refrigerator door to make supper, it will
remind you to give the plant darkness. Place the plant in a closet or just cover
the plant with a BLACK trash bag or large box to block out the light. When you
get the cream out for your coffee in the morning, the note will remind you to
take the plant out of darkness and place it near a window for the rest of the
day. The plant needs sunlight to grow and it must be near a bright window from
breakfast to supper. The better the sunlight during the day the more color the
plant will have later!
Now keep the soil moist--but not wet--at all times, or the plant will lose
its lower leaves. Always use warm water when you water the plant, never cold.
The plant should NEVER sit in a saucer of water or the roots will rot and the
plant will die. Fertilize your poinsettia monthly all year for the best foliage
color and larger flowers. Use Miracle- Gro or Blooming and Rooting fertilizer.
Keep plants away from drafty windows and doors, especially doors that open and
The flowers on the poinsettia are small button-like growths on the tip of
the branches that will eventually turn yellow around Christmas. What we all enjoy
about the plant is called a flower "BRACT," which a leaf that is
able to turn color. This will take about 4 weeks of the short day process before
your plant begins to show color on the "leaf stems" near the top of
the plant. This is a sign that your work is paying off; when you begin to
see a bit of color on the leaves near the top, you can stop the short day process.
Now keep the plant in a south facing window all day and
as warm as possible 65 to 75 degrees to speed up the coloration of the plant.
As with the Christmas Cactus, say to yourself, "I can do this",
it will be fun , it will be a challenge." And just think about the " bragging
rights" you will have to tell all your gardening friends and family! Enjoy.
Click to print this article.
If you are looking for the easiest hanging plant to place near or in front
of your window at your home or even at the office, look no further than the Swedish
ivy. This hanging plant is the most popular of all the hanging indoor foliage
plants sold today, and it's the easiest to grow, no matter where you live or
what your experience level is with growing plants. The plant is perfect for the
beginner, for your first apartment, for the dorm room in college or even for a teacher
in a cool classroom--if neglect is likely, this is your plant. Think "foolproof"
and it will grow better with little attention; even thrive in your window if
you leave it alone except for a bit of fertilizer now and then and water when
it needs it.
I have no idea how this plant got its name, since it is not in the Ivy family
and is unable to climb an upright vertical surface as all ivies do--and it's
not even from Sweden, it's a native plant to Australia and the Pacific Islands.
It is a member of the Mint family but the Swedish ivy is able to cascade as much
as 3 feet over the side of a hanging basket, and if it likes where it is growing,
it will reward you with flowers in the late spring that will last to mid-summer.
Let me tell you about this plant. It will start as a bushy growing plant,
upright at first, and as the strong thick stems begin to grow longer, they will
fall over the sides of the pot. The plant does grow best in a hanging basket
so you can better see the wonderful foliage from all sides. The foliage is rounded,
the edges are scalloped and the edges have indentations on them. The foliage
is also glossy, medium to deep green in color and has 1 to 2 inch long stems
holding the leaf from the stem. You will also enjoy the deep veins running through
the leaf giving it additional character.
In the spring, flowers will develop all over the plant at the base of the
leaf and quickly poke their way thru the foliage often covering the plant. These
flowers develop in the shape of a spike opening from the bottom of the spike
first and slowly moving to the tip of the spike. These flowers will range from
white to pale lavender and are often spotted with lavender dots. The flower spikes
are short--2 to 4 inches tall--and attractive but not as showy as the foliage.
When the flowers fade, remove them, then cut back the plant to encourage
new branches to develop on the plant. The pieces you remove from the plant can
easily be rooted in a glass of water, or dip them in rooting powder and place
several 3 to 4 inch long cuttings into a container filled with fresh potting
soil. Roots will develop in just a couple of weeks in soil and a bit longer in
water. When the roots grow to 3 inches long in water, pot them up in fresh potting
soil and place 3 to4 rooted cuttings in a 4 to 6 inch container. You can cut
back the plant at any time of the year to control the size of the plant.
Keep the soil moist, but never wet, or the roots will rot in the wet soil.
Water sparingly during the winter months. The plant can stay indoors all year
long but it will do quite well outside from May to October if kept in a shady
location or in morning sun only. You can also repot the plant at any time of
the year; just use a potting soil that is rich in peat moss or compost. When
you repot the Swedish ivy, cut the plant back by 1/3 to make the transplanting
easier, especially if the branches are long. This will help encourage new growth
from the base of the plant and help thicken plants that have all their growth
over the edge of the container.
The Swedish ivy will grow best in moderate light all year long but tolerate
direct sun during the winter months. Indoors, keep plants at a temperature from
60 to 75 degrees and avoid drafty areas where doors open and close often. Fertilize
every 2 weeks from spring to fall and monthly during the winter months with Miracle-Gro
or Blooming and Rooting fertilizer. If your foliage is pale green and has darker
green veins that may even turn purple, it's a sign that the plant needs to be
fed more often. If you usually forget to feed your houseplants, go to your local
garden center, purchase Osmocote fertilizer pellets and feed the plants with
them. These fertilizer pellets will slowly fertilize your houseplants for 90
days or longer with just one application and help keep the foliage nice and dark
If you plants begin to get dull looking, bleached out in color, and droopy,
they may be getting too much sunlight. Move to a different window and fertilize
them to help bring back the foliage color and help make the plant strong growing
again. If your plant has never flowered or makes only a few blooms, change your
fertilizer to one with less nitrogen in it. A fertilizer with more phosphorous
in it has a higher middle number on the package--like Blooming and Rooting plant
Swedish ivy has two insects that can bother it--but not very often. The first
is mealy bug; this insect pest will make it look like the plant has small pieces
of cotton at the base of the leaf or under the leaf. The second is red spider
mite; this insect will produce a spider web-like material on the foliage and
between the stems of the plant. If you see this, move the plant away from other
plants and quarantine it at the first sign of a problem.
Spray the plant top to bottom and under all the leaves with a product called
All Season Oil. This is a wonderful non-chemical product that will smother the
adults and the eggs at the same time--killing them both. Repeat with a second
application in 7 to 10 days. During the winter months, these insects are more
of a problem. The oil spray is not toxic to you when you breathe it or even
touch the plant.
If you like unusual foliage colors, this family of plants has many new hybrids.
Look for the green leaf type that has a lovely bright white edge along the margin
of the leaf - called "Variegata."
Also available are varieties with as much white as green on the leaf and other
variegations. There is a wonderful green and pale yellow variegated leaf type
and both of these varieties will occasionally have new leaves on the plant that
develop with all white or all yellow.
Your local garden center may also grow the green leaf type with purple veins
on them and some also have a purple underside and so are the stems called "Purple
Majesty." I also love the new silver-gray leaf variety that seems to be
covered with fine hair like African violets have.
Also, if you're looking for something different for your outside planters,
use Swedish ivy in them instead of vinca vines next year. That will look wonderful,
especially when you use the variegated varieties in them.
Click to print this article.
Tour includes the Wisley Gardens, the Chelsea Flower Show, Tower of London, Roman Baths & Pump Room, Riverford Organic Farm, Garden House, Rosemoor Gardens, Lost Garden of Heligan, Village of Megavissey, Stonehenge, the Wilton House Garden Centre and more.
Click here for details.
Are you looking for a great gift for a gardener (or yourself)? This garden
journal helps make planning and organizing easy. This journal, autographed
personally by Paul,
makes a perfect gift for gardeners. The cover holds a 5x7 or 4x6 photo and a
heavy-duty D-ring binder.
- 8 tabbed sections
- 5 garden details sections with pockets for seeds, tags...
- Weather records page
- 6 three year journal pages
- Insect & diseases page - 3 project pages
- 3 annual checklist pages
- Plant wish list page
- 2 large pocket pages
- Sheet of garden labels
- 5 garden detail sheets
- 5 graph paper pages for layouts
- 5 photo pages, each holding four 4x6 photos in landscape or portrait format
Click here to order online.
This Week's Question:
The dahlia is popular worldwide for late summer and autumn color. Where is the dahlia from?
This Week's Prize:
Bug Beater® Stink Bug Trap by Bonide Lawn and Garden
Protects homes and gardens from the "population explosion" of stink bugs around the country.
- Use indoors or out
- Attracts and captures stinkbugs
- Lasts up to 4 weeks
- Attracts ALL stink bug species
- Protects your home and garden
- Comes with 3 disposable traps
Last Week's Question
Which part of the cinnamon plant is the spice made from?
Last Week's Winner:
Correction: Week before last, the winner was actually Pat Lavallee - sorry, we accidently put the previous winner (Patricia Mederios) in. Sorry, Patricia!
Last Week's Answer:
Last Week's Prize:
Bug Beater® Stink Bug Trap
One winner per question - we choose winners from the list of those who answer correctly. Winners must be newsletter subscribers. We'll ship you your prize, so be sure to put your address in the form in case you win!
What you need:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1-1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup canned pumpkin
- 1/2 cup fat-free buttermilk
- 1/2 cup egg substitute
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup applesauce
- Cooking spray
Step by Step:
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Combine flours, granulated sugar, brown sugar, pumpkin-pie spice, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.
Combine pumpkin, buttermilk, egg substitute, canola oil and applesauce in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Spoon batter into 16 muffin cups coated with cooking spray.
Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched in center.
Cool muffins for 5 minutes on a wire rack; remove muffins and cool completely on a wire rack.
Yield: 16 muffins