Monthly Archives: April 2017

Happy Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! In honor of Earth Month in April each year, our local unit of United Methodist Women had a plant exchange at our April unit meeting.

Each woman was asked to take a plant or a cutting of a plant from her yard to the meeting. At the meeting each woman who wanted a new plant could choose one or more of the plants there. All gardeners love to share plants. I took three and picked three. Even if someone didn’t take a plant, she could still take one.

The Social Principles of the United Methodist Church call for us to care for and protect the planet that God provided for us to live. This requires us to be ecologically responsible. So consider not using styrofoam cups, using your own reusable bags for groceries, and buying locally grown produce. There are many other ways to protect our planet, but those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

 

Garden Bloggers Featured on Wayfair.com

I was recently asked by Wayfair.com to contribute a photo of my favorite planter, and to answer some questions related to container gardening  for their section on garden planters. Of course, I was thrilled to be among the garden bloggers invited. Here’s my photo that’s featured on their site:

The section of garden bloggers tips on container gardening went live today on Wayfair.com. Click right here to see it.

 

The planter in the photo was given to me for my birthday a year or so ago by my dear friend, Becky Witherby. She had put a red bromeliad in it. I had put that bromeliad in the ground in my back yard garden only a few days before Wayfair’s invitation arrived in my inbox. Perfect timing, as I then had an empty planter. I’m now waiting with baited breath for the bromeliad to bloom again.

I love the gorgeous blue of this planter. Becky made a great choice. Thank you again, Becky.

Wayfair provided this clip from their site for all of us to add to our blogs. If you enjoy container gardening, you may find it useful:

 

Walter Asks About Options for Flower Boxes Mostly in Shade

SunPatiens – hot pink

I received this question from Walter, an old friend from my high school years:

I’d like your opinion on the best flowers to put in my boxes on the porch this summer. I have flower boxes that I put on my porch rails that are about 3′ long and 5″ deep. They will get full morning sun for about 3 1/2 – 4 hours then total shade the remainder of the day.

I had impatiens in them last year and they did well for a while but began to fizzle out in July. I know they don’t like the sun a lo but I didn’t think that much would hurt them. Anyway I wondered if you had any ideas.”

I replied to Walter right away by e-mail, but I’ve just now had time to turn his great question into a blog post. So, here are my suggestions:

Off the top of my head, impatiens do seem like the best choice for planter boxes that get mostly shade. It was probably the intense summer heat that caused them to fizzle out last summer. Impatiens, petunias, and vinca tend to get long and leggy during the hottest part of the summer. I have found that, when they become leggy, cutting them back severely will encourage new growth, and helps them to bush out more. I haven’t had good luck with regular impatiens here in central Florida, probably because I have very little shade, but I’m creating shade as fast as I can. With my lack of shade, I have used SunPatiens (a brand name of sun-tolerant impatiens) and vinca instead, so I don’t have any photos of regular impatiens.  Below are some photos of leggy vinca, showing how beautifully they  recover from severe pruning of the “legginess”. The same effect can be obtained with impatiens.

Near the base of this leggy plant is a lot of new growth that can’t be seen in this photo. That new growth will be encouraged by removing those long, bare stems.

Below is some vinca that I cut back a few months ago. It filled out quickly, and looks better than it did before:

This white vinca in my backyard night garden has filled in beautifully after being cut back when it got leggy.

Another Shade Lover – Waxed Begonias

These waxed begonias would be a beautiful option for your planter boxes. They can take morning sun, but need to be shaded from the afternoon sun. They are available in this darker pink, a lighter pink, white, and red. There is also some variety in the colors of their heart-shaped leaves.

Waxed begonias have either these dark-colored leaves or a lighter, true green. Both are complimentary to your garden.

 

One More Shade Lover – Caladiums

Another good choice for an area of mostly shade like you described is caladiums. There are some newer varieties of caladiums that can take more sun than the older varieties. Below are some photos of my caladiums that can tolerate partial sun are Red Flash, Gingerland, and Florida Sunrise.

Red Flash

Florida Sunrise

Gingerland

These three caladium cultivars perform beautifully. You could combine them with impatiens for a little variety; and when your impatiens get leggy, the caladium leaves will act as a type of camouflage.

Caladiums in Winter

North of Zone 9, be sure to dig up your caladiums before the first freeze. Wash the bulbs to remove all soil. Lay them out to dry, then store them in a cool, dry, and dark place. A cardboard box or vented or net bag in your basement should be perfect. Replant them the following spring after all danger of freezing temperatures has passed.

A Substitute for Impatiens

Another option is vinca, which likes full sun, but does well in part shade, too — and it comes in lots of colors, just like impatiens. Here are some photos of vinca:

Vinca – hot pink with white center

Vinca – White

Vinca – Peppermint

Walter, be sure to let me know how the flowers in your planter boxes do this summer. See you in the garden.