PDA

View Full Version : Post something about gardening --please!


MollyM/CA
May 30th, 2005, 08:24 PM
Because:

I want to have an excuse to drag the name of this forum onto the PCis Garden boards!!

Question, observation, joke, all the above, and don't forget we have sections for wildlife (and pests, but never mind).

Judy G. Russell
May 30th, 2005, 10:50 PM
Okay... I have a question. I have some impatiens that have to be moved from some planters because they're getting too much sun. The flowers get moved; the planters stay where they are. But what can I put in the planters that would be (a) low maintenance and (b) long-lived as we now go into the summer here in Zone 6?

BettyB
May 31st, 2005, 09:22 AM
Okay....so why do my container grown azaleas sicken and die. They get some morning sun, afternoon shade, adequate water and fertilizer and words of encouragement from me. I've sprayed for insects but still they dry up and die.

Judy G. Russell
May 31st, 2005, 01:29 PM
Eeep. That reminds me. I have some new azaleas just planted this spring and it's been dry the past few days. But my garden hose is leakier than a sieve. I have GOT to remember to stop at Home Depot on the way home...

Judy G. Russell
May 31st, 2005, 01:31 PM
I also started a separate thread about some gorgeous rhododendrons I saw this weekend...

Dick K
May 31st, 2005, 07:31 PM
Okay....so why do my container grown azaleas sicken and die. They get some morning sun, afternoon shade, adequate water and fertilizer and words of encouragement from me. I've sprayed for insects but still they dry up and die.
Check the soil pH. Azaleas (like rhodies) are acid-loving, so they do not take kindly to soil which has been limed.

MollyM/CA
May 31st, 2005, 10:07 PM
OK, I collected all the messages and will ask. Fortunately ornamentals are not my thing so no one in GARDEN (no one that doesn't know me) should recognize the question I'll ask as a shameless blatant plug.

davidh
June 1st, 2005, 03:15 AM
I'm pretty sad. Not only do I have to give up CIS:TAPCIS
in May, but I had to give up my wild forest in the city.
My small consolation here is that I am attempting to post
a quick reply with console text-only LYNX browser. A real
computer program. Here goes.

MollyM/CA
June 1st, 2005, 05:00 PM
Okay... what can I put in the planters that would be (a) low maintenance and (b) long-lived as we now go into the summer here in Zone 6?

I took a look at my pictures from Longwood, about this time of year, and they had Salvias, a hen-and-chickens type of succulent with a cluster of yellow flowers, something I think was Thrift, and a blue something that looked a like Lobelia, but may have been a blue Salvia. (I was an even worse picture taker then than I am now)

On of the prettiest containers (half-barrels --harder to go wrong with those because they're handsome in themselves and set anything off well) I've seen had Snapdragons and Iceland Poppies (a little late for starting with those), Alyssum and Signet marigolds --those are the creeping ones with the tiny, pretty flower. The foliage is fine and dark green. I know they're easy because I can grow them! The white Alyssum is the stinky one --some of the dark blue ones are much milder (smell before you buy). Lobelia is beautiful, and is planted everywhere out here --containers and the ground-- so I take it it's easy for most people. As is Salvia, and it comes in all sizes and colors.

I love nasturtiums, myself, and there are some awfully pretty ones now. The Alaska (dwarf) and Amazon (trailing) types are very cool looking and the flower colors are nice. I usually hate variegated leaved things but I love the ivory-white and cool misty green of these. There are other names --since they're pretty as soon as they come up you could start with seeds and save a few pennies.

I like scented geraniums, too, and there are some newer kinds with very pretty flowers. The ones in the picture are from a specialist, but the Big Box stores often buy a few trays from specialists. Our WalMart has great plants and an astonishing variety. You can take starts from any geraniums in the fall and possibly keep them alive over winter. My father in law used to dig or pull the whole plant and hang it upside down in the basement or somewhere. He was always grousing because Wauwatosa chose the geranium for its town flower and they're not of course at all hardy.

Some of the violas --the teeny-flowered "johnny jump up" types, which have become quite sophisticated, do pretty well in our heat and I would think would go on nicely there.

Lots of herbs are very pretty in containers --and can give you tall and short accents. The Thai-type basils have purple stems and pink flowers --I like them better than the purple-leaved kinds. Taste better, too. Any basil is attractive, especially if you like basil, but I especially love the mini-leaved kinds. Some make an adorable ball of a bush. Until you start cutting them. Mine have been very good-flavored. Dill and fennel grow fast and have pretty feathery leaves --my best dill is from grocery store seeds! Don't know what the irradiation rules are nowadays, though. Thyme can be quite pretty --any kind, and there are hundreds, and so can marjoram and oregano.

I've seen Cosmos and Coreopsis used in containers for the tall accent. Both are easy here.

I've assumed you want instant color so have pretty well stuck to annuals (and forgotten a bunch, like Phlox drummondi), but you could stick any perennials you think might do in among them for a head start next year.

What I have no experience with is summer rain. Better check anything that catches your eye here with the Kahane, whose climate is probably even worse than yours for mold, rot and mildew. Who knows, he may have a container garden yet.

Judy G. Russell
June 1st, 2005, 05:09 PM
Thanks, Molly! I've been considering geraniums, both because they do give instant color and because I remember them fondly as one of the few plants that survived being planted and then neglected when I was growing up. But I will take a look at the others you've listed.

My biggest problem is in not knowing what's hardy enough plant and hope to still see in bloom in a month or two.

MollyM/CA
June 1st, 2005, 05:27 PM
Okay....so why do my container grown azaleas sicken and die. They get some morning sun, afternoon shade, adequate water and fertilizer ... I've sprayed for insects but still they dry up and die.

I'll vote with Dick K on the too-alkaline soil, though there may be some other possibilities.

One thing that happens in containers is that alkaline salts build up --from the fertilizer, from the water, from gremlins bringing lime and soda in at night...

And one thing you can do about that is leach the soil once in a while. Drastically, drastically overwater the pot ONCE --let the water run a long time and run out of the bottom of the pot for a while-- and then let the soil get back to normal. If the plant is in a saucer, make sure it can drain well. My new plastic pots (terrapots, now made by Fiskars) have a secret fit with the saucer so they might as well be swimming pools. I had to prop all the pots up with bits of wood. Really bad drainage not only kills plants in itself, with symptoms sort of like those you describe, and collects more salts, but percolates them up to the top soil layers where they're concentrated by evaporation and even more deadly.

The reason that being soggy kills plants is partly that the business part of the root is the root hairs --little caps of fast-dividing living cells on the tiniest threadules of root-- they need a lot of oxygen. Stagnant water has none. Some potting soils become an anaerobic pudding no matter what the drainage or how carefully you water, especially in big pots. I had one (expensive name brand too --was testing a bunch that year and don't remember which one) that looked and felt fine on top and was like soup down 8 or 10 inches. You might plunge an arm in and see what you think. For some strange reason, an addition of water crystals (buy dry in garden store) helps.

Azaleas and all their family are quite dependent on their symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi, that sheathe the roots and help transport nutrient and protect from disease and bad conditions. The mycorrhyzae like all the things above, and acidity. You can get special fertilizers for acid-loving plants (salts from them will still build up, at least here where the air's so evaporating they do, but not so fast), and you can get soil acidifiers. You can also get iron supplements --one thing that happens in sog or when the roots are cold (for that plant) is that the mechanisms that take iron into the plant are stalled. One of our Indiana garden forum members used them regularly --I haven't much experience with them and don't know if they can harm the plant if that's not its problem or you use too much.

One other possibility is spider mite. These are essentially invisible little nasties that make webs between dust particles on the undersides of the leaves and suck them dry. You can kind of see the webs sometimes, and if you put a piece of paper under a twig and shake the twig and some of the dust starts crawling around and makes a smear when you squish you thumb over it, you have mites. They're often encouraged by spraying a lot for other insects, because they multiply so fast and so much faster than their predators, and being tick relatives are naturally resistant anyway. One easy control, if you have time, is just to spray with water, especially the undersides of the leaves. They don't thrive in moist surroundings.

MollyM/CA
June 1st, 2005, 05:34 PM
Geraniums will probably be blooming when you get them. There are some awfully pretty ones now, and some that don't get so leggy as the kinds we grew up with (always easy to start new ones when they start to get ugly). Snapdragons will overwinter here so might last longer into the fall than some flowers --so do wallflowers, stocks, calendulas and pansies. If you can find calendulas or pansies, especially, in late summer it might be worh a try to stick some in between the geraniums, or where you couldn't stand the leggy ones any more and pulled them out. Alyssum is actually a perennial and a stand of it will hang on for years here, so I'd think it would last into fall a bit, too.

Judy G. Russell
June 1st, 2005, 06:07 PM
Great ideas, thanks. I think I'll stop off at the nursery on my way home...

Lindsey
June 2nd, 2005, 01:04 AM
Eeep. That reminds me. I have some new azaleas just planted this spring and it's been dry the past few days. But my garden hose is leakier than a sieve. I have GOT to remember to stop at Home Depot on the way home...
A garden hose that is leakier than a sieve sounds like a good candidate to be turned into a soaker hose...

Here's an easy way to plant azaleas that I heard from an azalea expert at a garden show lecture once: Knock the azalea out of the pot, put it on top of the ground, heap mulch around it up to the level of the top of the root ball. Keep mulch watered.

Note that this makes it easy to plant an entire bed of azaleas in a very short period of time: just arrange them on the ground the way you want them, and fill in with mulch.

--Lindsey

Lindsey
June 2nd, 2005, 01:21 AM
Okay....so why do my container grown azaleas sicken and die. They get some morning sun, afternoon shade, adequate water and fertilizer and words of encouragement from me. I've sprayed for insects but still they dry up and die.
From http://about-indoor-gardening.blogspot.com/ :

Azaleas Indoors

There are two types of Azaleas available as flowering pot plants. The Indian Azalea (Rhododendron simsii) is the most popular one. The second type is the Japanese Azalea (Rhododendron obtusum).

Both are dwarf shrubs which grow about 1' - 1 1/2' tall. The Indian Azalea blooms in pink, white, red or purple, and some are white-edged. The flowers of the Japanese Azalea are smaller, but the plant has the advantage of growing outdoors in mild winter climates.

Either type will thrive indoors if the soil is kept wet (not just moist), it's in a brightly lit spot away from direct sunlight, and the plant is kept cool (50F - 60F) at all times. Mist the leaves daily while the plant is in bloom and remove spent blooms to encourage additional flowering.

If your plants are dropping leaves, they are communicating their unhappiness with their new growing environment. They may be overheated, in a draft, or not getting the moisture they require. Try to find a more suitable spot for your new plants and they should perk right up.

Not all azaleas are suitable for growing indoors. What's a comfortable environment for people isn't always suitable for plants, and many plants find the inside of a house to be entirely too hot and dry for their liking.

Sometimes indoor plants can be perked up by encasing the entire plant, pot and all, in a plastic bag for a couple of days, with sticks inserted to keep the plastic off of the leaves. That gives them a nice humid environment that they react to the way people react to a nice sauna. But don't leave them there too long, or the leaves will start to mildew.

--Lindsey

Lindsey
June 2nd, 2005, 01:31 AM
Thanks, Molly! I've been considering geraniums, both because they do give instant color and because I remember them fondly as one of the few plants that survived being planted and then neglected when I was growing up. But I will take a look at the others you've listed.
Look for ivy geraniums: I think they have much nicer-looking leaves than the more commonly seen zonal geraniums, and they're very nice in planters. (See http://www.hmbuckley-il.com/Products/HMB/IvyGeraniumCult.htm ) The scented geraniums that Molly mentioned are quite nice, too.

--Lindsey

Judy G. Russell
June 2nd, 2005, 02:11 PM
Oh I like those ivy geraniums! They're very nice! I didn't manage to get to the nursery on my way home last night -- maybe tonight.

Judy G. Russell
June 2nd, 2005, 02:11 PM
What happened to your wild forest in the city?

BettyB
June 2nd, 2005, 06:27 PM
Thank you all for comments re azaleas. I hadn't thought about fertilizer specifically for acid loving plants but will try that. Also, spider mites are a definite possibility. And, will double check the watering.

Lindsey
June 2nd, 2005, 07:02 PM
Oh I like those ivy geraniums!
Ivy geraniums make beautiful hanging baskets, and because they have that nice cascading shape, they're lovely in planters, too. And I think the leaves are handsome even if they didn't have any blooms at all.

--Lindsey

Judy G. Russell
June 2nd, 2005, 11:42 PM
The leaves are nice, but it's color that I want! And there are some very pretty colors.

Guerri Stevens
June 8th, 2005, 10:27 PM
I'm coming late to this, but ... I could have sworn that someone told me that a) cat mint was not the same as catnip and b) cats will leave the cat mint alone.

Yesterday I bought some cat mint. No sooner was it in the ground than our older cat was sniffing at it. I shooed her away. Later on, our younger cat was chewing on it. This morning I took the wire cage that was protecting the catnip and put it around the cat mint. The cats can still eat it, but probably not enough to chew it to the ground, and they can't roll on it.

So what is the truth - are cat mint and catnip really the same? The tag for my mint says Nepeta mussinii. I know the catnip is Nepeta something but I don't know what.

Bill Hirst
June 8th, 2005, 11:01 PM
So what is the truth - are cat mint and catnip really the same? The tag for my mint says Nepeta mussinii. I know the catnip is Nepeta something but I don't know what.
The first site I googled said catnip was Nepeta cataria, another said the terms "cat mint" and "catnip" are often used interchangeably.

MollyM/CA
June 9th, 2005, 11:30 PM
That's why we have the binomials --the Latin(ish) names. Catnip, Nepeta cataria, is often called cat mint (and it is in the mint family), but what I found for "Cat Mint" was another Nepeta, N. faasenii. My cats certainly never bothered any N. mussini --smells kind of like turpentine or even pain thinner to me, and is low (yours is really low now!) which makes me wonder if it could have been mislabeled. Plants in garden centers often are --I've very seldom gotten a plant by mail order that I wanted to challenge. Mussini has small, roundish, wrinkled (rugose --one of my favorite words!) leaves, and cataria has toothed triangular (dentate and hastate) leaves.

The traditional wisdom is that you should plant catnip seeds rather than transplanting plants. Catnip's more attractive when it's wilted and transplant shock has a similar effect, so maybe the cats will leave the domed mussini alone after it's been there a while.

Once you get a catnip plant to where it makes seed, it will seed itself pretty enthusiastically --I have it sprouting up anywhere it's a little moist and the (other) weeds aren't too thick.

Guerri Stevens
June 12th, 2005, 02:59 PM
I just wandered out to look at my plants. What I bought as catnip (didn't write down the Latin name) and what I bought as cat mint (Nepeta mussini) appear to be the same. The leaves look alike. They are more or less triangular and toothed, but rounded near the stem. Both smell like mint.

I don't mind if the cats chew on the leaves a bit. The supposed cat mint is now protected by a little cage. The cat nip, no longer protected, appears to have had someone lie on it.

Some catnip that was planted in two containers, and which I thought was an annual, came up this year, and someone ate one of those to the ground before it even got started. The other was slower to come up and is surrounded by pansies (I didn't know it was there). It may survive if it grows enough.

I haven't seen any sprouting anyplace else, but then I haven't looked.

P.S. I just put the two leaves I picked, one from the "cat mint" and one from the catnip on a plate. My elder cat ate them both.

davidh
June 12th, 2005, 03:36 PM
Your cats are using these herbs medicinally or recreationally? The authorities may wish to investigate.

MollyM/CA
June 12th, 2005, 04:46 PM
Sure sounds like your Mussini isn't. My (classic?) catnip (N. cataria) has a longish spike of whitish flowers, widely spaced. Mussini should be blue-flowered.

I never knew there were so many kinds of catnip until I started looking for a pictures! made me wonder if MINE was labelled correctly, but the mussini (also found "mussimi") looks about as I remember it, though naturally the flower spikes of mine were never so dense or so deep blue as the pictures in the catalogues.

My N. cataria is perennial here and lives for years and years. My cats aren't great catnip fanatics. The ones that like it wait for me to cut it and present it wilted au pointe.

Wonder how those other catnips would do here... I forget what happened to the mussini --might even have forgotten it when we moved.

Guerri Stevens
June 13th, 2005, 09:14 PM
Interesting - both my plants (which probably really are the same species) have blue flowers. Now, does this mean they are both mussini or does it mean they are both something else but not N. cataria????

Guerri Stevens
June 13th, 2005, 09:17 PM
I don't know. If they lie on the plant and roll around, is that recreational use? Or is it medicinal because they need their exercise? <g>