I would like to give a big thank you to my friend Jenny Rose who featured me as her guest author on her blog today! I’m so honored and flattered she chose my previous post “I’m a Worm Farmer!” to help spread the word about vermicomposting. Please check out her awesome blog at Dirtidigyou.wordpress.com and follow along. You can also follow her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/dirtidigyou and Twitter @Dirtidigyou. Thank you again Jenny Rose, and thank you to all of YOU, my followers and readers, for your support! Happy composting:-)
So, here we are again, summer of 2014 which means another trip to Columbus, Ohio to meet new friends, see old friends and of course check out the new plants for next year! Here are just SOME of the cool new things I saw for next year…check it out!
Digiplexis ‘Berry Canary’ from Walters Gardens. Last year the brand new Digiplexis ‘Illumination Flame’ was introduced to us, which is constantly pushing out new plumes in my container garden this summer. Now we have Digiplexis ‘Berry Canary’ as well as Digiplexis ‘Illumination Raspberry’ to choose from next year!
Petunia Glamouflage Blueberry from Hort Coutoure. Last year we saw Glamouflage Grape which had a brighter, more purple bloom. This year’s introduction features a more muted blue color blossom but still boasting that awesome variegated foliage.
Mimulus Fiesta Marigold (part of the Jelly Bean Series) from Pacific Plug & Liner. I’m super excited to try this new variety. I never have great luck with Mimulus, but this new variety looks to be more upright and maybe a little more sturdy.
Spreading Petunia Easy Wave Velour Series: Red, Burgundy and Berry from Ball Seed. I’m usually not a huge fan of Wave Petunias BUT these looked super cool with their velvety looking blooms. I wanted to touch them every time I saw them!
Scaevola Surdiva Variegated Blue from the Suntory Collection. Every year I like Scaevola more and more. It’s a low maintenance trailer that loves full sun and performs all season long. This new variegated variety might add a little more bling to my containers next year!
And because we need MORE petunias! These are just a few of the fun new colors and varieties coming out next spring. From top left going down: Petunia ‘Starlet Salmon’ from Selecta, Petunia ‘Salmon Ray’ from Danziger, Supertunia ‘Black Cherry’ from Proven Winners, Petunia Flashmob ‘Bluerific’ from Ball Seed/Burpee Home Gardens. Middle going down: Perfectunia ‘Orange Morn’ from Westflowers, Petunia Suncatcher ‘Blue Blast’ from Ball Flora, Petunia Hells ‘Fruit Punch’ from Westflowers. Top right going down: Petunia African Sunset from Takii & Co., Ltd., Petunia Cascadias ‘Autumn Mystery’ from Danziger, Petunia Flashmob ‘Pinkceptional’ from Ball Seed/Burpee Home Gardens, Petunia Happy Magic ‘Giant Dijon’ from Cohen.
And of course the new Surfinia Petunia for 2015 from Suntory: SUMO! What a fun introduction!! I’m a fan of the Surfinias – nice trailing habit with just enough volume. From the looks of things in the Trial Gardens at OSU, it seems to be a real performer…shocker!
One of the most exciting developments this year is the introduction of the Bounce and Big Bounce series of New Guinea Impatiens (NGI’s) from Selecta. These guys can grow in more dense shade and are more florific than the current varieties of NGI’s on the market. This should be a more reliable alternative to the regular bedding Impatiens that are still so susceptible to the Impatiens Downy Mildew disease – this has been a major problem here in the Mid Atlantic area, as well as many other areas throughout the country. TL: Bounce Violet, ML: Big Bounce White, LL: Big Bounce Lilac, TR: Big Bounce Red, MR: Bounce Pink, LR: Big Bounce Cherry.
I hope you’re as excited as I am about these (and more!!!) new plants for next spring. Did anyone try any of the new plants for spring of 2014? I’d love to hear your feedback and share my experiences with you too!
I definitely have my old stand-by’s that I like to grow every year, rarely do I replicate a planter combo from a previous year (except I did do one this year!! – You can see last year’s on a previous post “Who were your top performers” from September 2013 – Manihot esculenta ‘Variegata’, Stained Glass Works Coleus Burgundy Wedding Train, Purslane Rio Scarlet) – I usually like to try new combos and throw some different plants in the mix. I also love creating combos that also include a few plants that you just don’t see everyday – and of course I have my favorites in this category too, but this year I’ve really been trying some new things that I’m wasn’t familiar with until recently.
The photo banner above includes some of my absolute favorites. Typically grown for their AWESOME foliage, Acalypha adds fantastic texture to your container or landscape and is a great flower alternative. From left to right: Acalypha ‘Jungle Cloak’, Acalypha Tiki ‘Tropical Tempest’, Acalypha ‘Bronze Pink’, Acalypha ‘Kilauea’ (top right), Acalypha Tiki ‘Peach Whirl’ (bottom right). The following three photos are from my trip to Hawaii this past winter…it was amazing to see them grown as hedges in peoples front yard, and the middle photo was at the Botanical Gardens:
Another favorite of mine that I grow every year is Manihot esculenta ‘Variegata’, otherwise known as Tapioca. Yes, I said Tapioca, as in the pudding! Native to Brazil, this is another one with great foliage interest and can get very tall. Just remember when using it in your containers or landscape that even though it can look small and compact in spring, it’s gonna grow up–and you’ll definitely be impressed.
Manihot esculenta ‘Variegata’
The combo above I made last year at the garden center – Manihot paired with
Flowering Vinca and Acalypha Tiki ‘Tropical Tempest’.
Amaranthus tricolor ‘perfecta’, the ultimate hippie plant with that colorful tie-dye foliage! This one also gets pretty tall and likes full sun. I potted this one in a mixed container at the garden center and will share a pic on Instagram and Facebook later this week. Check in to see what I paired it with!
Lonicera nitida ‘Variegated Honeysuckle’. This one is new to me this year and so far I’m loving it more than I ever thought I would! This plant is perfect for your shade garden (but can take partial sun too) either as a mounding border or in your container as a semi-trailer.
Cassia alata and Cassia didymobotrya, a.k.a Popcorn Cassia. Where do I begin with these guys? Cassia alata I grow every year. It’s a great tropical foliage plant that looks superb in mixed containers. This is my first year with the Popcorn Cassia – so cool! This one does bloom and when you rub the foliage it smells JUST like buttered popcorn!!! In the evening the leaves close up on both varieties and then reopen in the sunshine the next day.
Anigozanthos kanga Pink and Yellow. You may have seen these before but they’re super cool nonetheless. They come in a few different colors so there’s something for everyone! This plant makes a great addition to any full sun container and also do well in the landscape in well drained soil. Also works as a great cut flower as well.
These are just a handful of the wild and wonderful things I’m growing this year. What new and unusual plants are you growing?
Wow! What a spring…or late winter!? Just when I thought I’d seen it all, this spring has surprised me again! So unpredictable, this Northern Virginia weather.
I’m curious, with all of this late snow this year and consistently low temperatures, did you do an early spring garden this year? Of course I couldn’t resist! I absolutely LOVE cool season annuals. Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re gonna say – cool season annuals don’t last very long…BUT they pack a huge punch for an early pop of spring color! And what else are you gonna do to put out some spring color and get your hands dirty after a long winter?!
I didn’t go crazy this year but I did do up some pots for my new front stoop (thanks to a certain talented handy man I know, we now have a beautiful new front stoop and walkway!!). While I potted my pots way back in mid-March, and at times had to scoot them into the garage because it was just too stinkin’ cold, my house has been the most colorful one on the block! My veggie garden (below) on the other hand got planted a few weeks later.
Thanks to all the late weather we couldn’t finish the front walk as early as we wanted to. And in case you missed my “Front Yard Veggie Gardening” post from last summer…I do my veggie gardening in the front yard right next to my front walk! I have to – my back yard is too shady for that stuff. So we were a little later than I wanted to get those veggies in but we’ll see how it goes!
Here are just SOME of my favorite spring bloomers:
Here’s what I put together for the front porch this year:
Yellow Ranunculus (the most gorgeous I’ve seen – my grower did such a great job, he
truly knocked my socks off with these!), Stock ‘Hot Cakes Mix’ (fragrant), Nemesia ‘Angelart Raspberry’,
Alyssum ‘Clear Crystal White’ (fragrant)
Tell me how you celebrated the arrival of spring. Please feel free to leave comment here or share a pic on my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/Petalpushin or on Instagram and tag me @Petalpushin. Looking forward to checking out your spring color creations!!!
Some of you may have heard I recently went to Hawaii ~Kauai to be exact~ to visit my oldest and dearest friend (that’s us above!). We have known each other since we were toddlers…and though we live thousands of miles apart, and have for many, many years, we still manage to stay in touch and pick right back up where we left off every time we see each other. It was a great trip and perfect timing to get out of the polar vortex in Northern Virginia.
It was all fun times catching up, reminiscing, meeting her friends and co-workers on the island, hiking, beach hopping…and, oh, the PLANTS!!!! Oh my goodness, the PLANTS! I pretty much went crazy!!! Well, yeah, crazy is probably the right word. I saw plants I know and love, plants I’d never heard of before, and plants I’ve only read about. Coming home with over 2,000 pictures (I’d say at least half of them of plants) it’s hard for me to narrow down what to share with all of you. But I did it (kind of – I still have a lot of pics here I just HAD to share)…
In this post I’m sharing plants I know–plants I grow every year, plants that I have currently in my “basement greenhouse”, and plants that I have grown in the past – all growing like crazy in Hawaii. Some of these photos I took at the Botanical Gardens, some I took growing near the ocean, some in the mountains and other higher elevations and some I took in other inland locations. It was truly amazing for me to see these guys growing big and beautiful outside year-round and how much bigger they can be when they have the chance to really mature year after year. Check ’em out!
I loved seeing this Nasturtium growing wild! One of my favorite herbs to grow in the summer in Northern Virginia – not hardy here so a real treat for me to see growing everywhere, including up the side of a mountain! This plant, along with the next six you’ll see here I found all growing in the Waimea Canyon area.
I found this beautiful Agapanthus (Agapanthus africanus) growing on the side of the road. Here in the Mid-Atlantic region this plant is a tender perennial but it was still pretty fun to see it growing randomly:-)
Fuchsia boliviana grows like a shrub in the Waimea Canyon area. I don’t carry this exact variety at the garden center but do get a couple different varieties that are very similar looking to this one.
Ahh, Brugmansia, one of my favorite tropicals. I’ve seen this plant growing in California before, but mostly as an ornamental tree form in peoples front yard. It was great to see this growing wild in the woods of the Waimea Canyon region.
Tibouchina urvilleana – my all time favorite! When I saw this growing along side of a dirt road I yelled “Stop the truck!!”. I HAD to get out and touch it. It’s almost as big as me! I winter over Tibouchina Grandifolia (a similar variety) every year in my basement greenhouse, but mine never gets this big!
Off the beaten path in a little marshy area near Waimea Canyon I came across the biggest Zantedeschia aethiopica, or Calla Lily, I’ve ever seen! The one pictured is one of the smaller ones but there were a number of them blooming and many almost as tall as me!
Okay, another one of my absolute favorites: Acalypha wilkesiana, a.k.a. Copperleaf. I am currently wintering over a couple different varieties of this fantastic tropical in my basement greenhouse. I’m a huge fan of this plant, and in my opinion, totally underused in container gardens and in the landscape in the DC Metropolitan area. In Hawaii this plant is often used as a hedge as seen in this picture at the Botanical Gardens.
Stumbled upon this pretty pink Anthurium. In most areas this is a house plant, MAYBE seeing the outdoors in the summer months. This and the following nine photos were all taken at Allerton Botanical Gardens and McBryde Garden.
Love this one! I have this Ginger growing in my basement greenhouse – for the third year! I scooped up this no name Ginger at the end of the season at the garden center. I believe it’s Alpinia zerumbet ‘Variegata’, a.k.a. Shell Ginger. I’m so in love with the variegated leaves!
Yet another one of my favorites (okay, can they ALL be my favorites?!?!). Cordyline fruticosa, or Ti Plant (pronounced Tee) is another one I have growing in the “greenhouse”. Often used as a houseplant in this region, but I always put mine outside in the summertime when there is no danger of frost.
Stachytarpheta mutabilis, a.k.a. Porterweed, is a super annual here in the Mid-Atlantic area, so I was particularly excited to stumble upon this guy growing wild! I typically found them growing along river sides and in some higher elevations as well. I snapped this shot while hiking along Wailua River.
Bougainvillea is a great tropical that I occasionally carry in the Annuals Department at the Garden Center. This plant grows everywhere in Hawaii – hillsides, mountainsides, beach-sides, the list goes on. It’s so bright and colorful!
My friend, Sue, who used to work at the garden center with me, gave me her worm farm a few weeks ago. I’ve never been a worm farmer before and by the looks of things so far, it’s not too hard! This is a super easy way to make your own organic, nutrient rich compost. The cool kids call it vermicomposting and you can do it yourself just about anywhere!
Some of you might be wondering just what exactly IS vermicomposting and why is it different from the compost pile in my backyard? Vermicomposting, to put it simply, is composting with worms. It can be done year round, inside and in small spaces too! With traditional composting you’re typically working with a large pile or a cool looking bin you can spin to turn – and you need heat. With vermicomposting there’s no heat or turning involved – the worms do all the work! They’re aerating and “turning” the soil for you! The best composting worms are Eisenia fetida, aka Red Wigglers or Eisenia hortensis, aka European nightcrawlers, also called bait worms. These guys are more surface dwellers unlike your typical earthworm who like to burrow deep into the earth. But be careful – these guys aren’t hardy here in the Mid-Atlantic area. It gets too cold in the winter for them to survive outside which is why you must keep your worm farm indoors – 59-77 degrees F is ideal.
So, wait, why have a worm farm if the worms die if it gets too hot or too cold? Easy, it’s actually the worm castings, or their POO we’re after! I know, sounds gross but it has great nutrients for our plants. And no, it doesn’t smell. My current set up is super clean and easy, and takes up hardly any room at all. It’s just a plastic storage bin and lid with small holes drilled in the top.
To make your own, start preparing the bedding by tearing newspaper into 1/2″-1″ strips. Stay away from colored print as it can be toxic to the worms. Dampen the newspaper strips and place into your bin – don’t flatten them though, keep them fluffy so they do not cut off air to your worms. If your newspaper ends up getting too wet you can always add some dry strips as well. Your bin should be about 3/4 full of fluffy, damp newspaper strips. Then add 2-4 cups of soil…pretty much any soil is acceptable (and depending on how large your bin is, you may want to add even more soil than this). Potting soil, soil from your back yard or garden, etc. Gritty soil is great for worms as they have no teeth and it aids in their digestive process.
Ok, now we’re ready for worms. Add your worms to the newspaper and bury food scraps under the bedding. Practically any type of kitchen scrap is acceptable…fruits, veggies, coffee grounds, egg shells, etc. Breaking it all up into smaller pieces makes it easier for the worms to eat. A few things to stay away from include bones and/or meats, oils and dairy. Also it’s important to limit the amount of citrus that goes into the bin. Some people are pretty scientific about the number or amount of worms they have and the amount of food they feed their worms. I’m not. I check on my worms about twice a week and if it looks like it’s low on scraps or newspaper, I’ll add some. I typically end up adding food about every 10 days or so and occasionally spray with water. It’s as easy as that!
Now to harvest. I’m still so new at this that I haven’t harvested any compost yet. Typically the time to start harvesting is 3-6 months after set up and the material in the bin should look like dark compost. There are a number of ways to harvest but the method I will probably do is a “hands on” method. Before harvesting it’s a good idea to stop feeding approximately two weeks prior. This method involves dumping the entire farm onto a tarp or a large area lined with newspaper. Separate the compost (which will also contain worms and possibly some unprocessed newspaper and food scraps) into a number of smaller, cone-shaped piles. Once the piles are exposed to light the worms will migrate to the bottom and you can remove the compost on the top – but you may have to also remove some of the unprocessed food and bedding. This process may have to be repeated a few times for each pile as the worms will migrate further down to the bottom of the piles the more they’re exposed to light. Finally you’ll be left with a pile of worms and a small amount of leftover scraps which you can then start a new farm!
Using your fresh compost is easy. Simply add it to your potting soil or bedding soil as a soil amendment or use it as a top dressing for house plants and bedding plants. And don’t feel like you have to use all your compost at one time. You can always save it as you would regular potting soil.
It’s as easy (and not smelly) as that! Happy New Year all and make a resolution to compost a little more and do something great for your plants. They’ll thank you for it.
Well folks, tonight is the night. Officially. IF you live in the DC Metro area and west. FREEZE WARNING TONIGHT!!! I’m sure my neighbors are so excited…between all of my plants and containers and all of Eric’s Maples, Magnolia, Paw Paws, Hickory, etc, we have a small nursery on our front driveway and back deck!
Every year I go through the painstaking process of deciding what I’m going to dig out of my pots and overwinter. Ok, to be honest, it’s not that much of a decision since the answer is always EVERYTHING I think will make it! So it’s really just a matter of DOING it. And every year it ends up being more stuff. But shhh, don’t tell my family! I definitely catch some flack for “cluttering the man cave”, aka the basement. The basement (my pseudo greenhouse for the winter) is also the second part of the “guitar factory” we have going on here – first would be the garage (the other area I take over for a short amount of time). So needless to say storing ALL of my plants along with all the amps, guitars, parts and accessories, etc., well, it can get kind of crowded down there. But hey, it’s all in the name of horticulture! Here’s a photo of my basement (this was taken before the Ficus and Philodendrons came in, so it’s a lot more full now!).
So here’s the run down for this year (only the big ticket items cuz there’s A LOT!):
I have 2 HUGE braided ficus trees and a philodendron, 2 actually, but one’s half the size named Phil, and the other that’s pretty large and in charge named Felicia…I know, so original! These guys stay outside all summer long but come in for the winter…obviously! They take up a pretty severe amount of space and I’ve debated giving at least one ficus away. But I just can’t bring myself to do it. I’ve had them so long they’re like part of the family! So I guess we’ll just have to continue living with our small basement jungle.
I have various succulents that I brought in. Unfortunately, my house doesn’t have a lot of natural light so that can make things difficult. They definitely need to go under the light in the basement and guess what happened two nights ago when I tested it…it blew! So a new one is on the way and it can’t get here soon enough!
My Gardenia that my good friend Regina (who also works in the Greenhouse) gave me. I’m actually super nervous about this one. Last time I had it in the house it dropped all it’s leaves and almost died! A combo of drying out too much between waterings and not enough light I believe. It’ll have to go under the big light for sure! The thing is, I’m pretty good with the outdoor plants, but indoor stuff is tricky for me…especially in my dark house! So wish me luck on this one!
Variegated Ginger – I tried this one for the first time last year. I got the last little (actually pretty big) miscellaneous Ginger. I LOVE this plant. I don’t believe this variety is a blooming variety (at least it hasn’t bloomed for me yet anyways) but the foliage is simply amazing. Unlike the plants listed above that I let grow as normal house plants, this one I kept cut back and watered VERY sparingly last year. Once I was ready to put it outside again I watered and fertilized on a regular schedule and it came back beautifully. Oh yeah, I repotted this guy in the spring as well because it was pretty pot-bound and he really needed to stretch his legs!
Tibouchina, a.k.a. Tibs. One of my absolute faves. I had three of these last year (potted together in the same pot) that came through successfully. I didn’t cut these guys back like I did the Ginger but I did water very sparingly through the winter. I cut them back to a third the height when I put outside as well as repotted and fertilized. This year I have those that wintered with me last year as well as about four more! Although I’ll probably do it the same way since I had luck with that, I will be cutting off any buds and/or blooms that may be on the plant currently to conserve energy. But I haven’t been able to bring myself to do that quite yet!
Mandevilla, another beautiful tropical! I brought two Mandevilla hanging baskets through the winter last year. A light pink one and a bright pink one. These guys didn’t worry me at all. I kept them cut back but and dry like the others, but would often have to snip a tendril. So although it really didn’t stay totally dormant, all was well and they let me know they were still here and ready to grow! And now this year I have four more white ones to add to my collection! And like the Tibs and the Ginger, I repotted and fertilized in the spring.
So, these are all the big guys that came inside with me this year. Along with numerous smaller plants from some of my mixed containers that I’ve not tried over wintering before. Namely Manihot, Alternanthera Little Ruby, Plectranthus Mona Lavender, Plectranthus Cervesa N’ Lime, Datura, Cassia, Cordyline and possibly some coleus cuttings that did really well this summer. I’ll let you know how it goes! Here are a few pics:
So that is what’s happening at home. This is what’s happening at work!!!:
This is in the basement of a house on the property. Here we have an assortment of Alocasia, Colocasia, Canna, Duranta, Eucalyptus, Dianella, Acalypha, Manihot and MORE! The Canna, Alacasia and Colicasia aren’t inside yet…We’re letting the frost take the foliage and then they’ll come in and stay totally dormant for the winter. Easy peasy!
- Plants typically need LESS water during the winter months. Be sure not to over water…especially those plants that are pretty much going dormant like my Ginger and Mandevilla, or if your doing any bulbs like Caladium or Canna. Last year I also tried to bring this huge pot of Lantana through. Things seemed to be going alright…it stayed cut back and dry. I watered one day, just to maintain, and must have been too much. It never recovered and rotted. It was a sad day but live and learn I guess.
- Make sure the plants that need light are getting enough light. Sometimes it’s difficult with these short days and the sun so much lower in the sky. If you have bright windows that’s fantastic! Or if you’re like me, you may have to get a light.
- Hands off the fertilizer! We aren’t trying to encourage any growth here, just trying to get these guys through the winter. Save the fertilizer for spring when we’re ready to start growing and stretching arms and legs again.
So, what are YOU wintering over this year?