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Home Garden Joy

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When Should You Start Tomato Seeds Indoors?

When Should You Start Tomato Seeds Indoors?

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive about seed starting is, “When should you start tomato seeds indoors?” Let’s take a look at tomatoes and how to start them from seeds. If you plant to grow just a few tomato plants in containers […]

New Video! How to Read a Seed Catalog

New Video! How to Read a Seed Catalog

You probably get seed catalogs in the mail at this time of year (and if not, what are you waiting for? Sign up for some!). Seed catalogs are more than shopping goldmines. They are a wealth of information about the plants you intend to grow […]

Garden Trends 2018

Garden Trends 2018

Just for fun, let’s take a look at the predicted garden trends for 2018. I’ve gathered a few of the most popular trends I’ve reviewed since December from a variety of sources: nursery and garden center reports, gardening media outlets, and even the Pantone color institute.

 

2018 Gardening Trends

  1. PURPLE in everything – this is a huge trend in both fashion and flowers and I don’t see it abating anytime soon. Pantone’s color of the year is “Ultra Violet” a dark blue-purple that’s very beautiful and flattering for most skin tones. In the garden, the prediction is that gardeners will also choose purple-hued flowers.
  2. RHODIES & ROSES: Monrovia Nursery predicts that rhododendrons and roses will be the top shrubs for 2018. Not surprisingly, rhododendrons are typically purple. I don’t see either of these plants as a trend per se since in my world they never went out of fashion. But perhaps homeowners will rediscover the joys of planting simple foundation shrubs such as rhododendrons. As for roses, I’ve shared about many types of roses including the David Austin English rose, miniature roses, Knock Out roses and more. I think the Knock Out rose series helped push roses back into public favor. They have the reputation, rightly so, of being fussy. Knock Out roses require less care and provide more bloom for the buck than older hybrids. They are worth a try if you love roses but don’t want to spray for black spot and other rose diseases.
  3. GARDEN AS COMMUNITY:  I think that increasingly, everyone is feeling more isolated. Social media, which promised to bring people together, has the opposite effect. The solution? Community gardens, garden projects, garden clubs, and simply enjoying time in the garden with neighbors has become the latest ‘trend.’ Trend isn’t the right word for this one, either, since it’s just a natural step back to what we all know – that we need a community of people around us to be happy. The garden is a natural space to cultivate that feeling. Entertaining outdoors, sharing plants, seeds and vegetables, and showing friends around our gardens is just fun!
  4. UNUSUAL PLANTS:  This is a trend that I’ve noticed and I’m not surprised that it is continuing. People seem to crave the unusual and they want what no one else has. Collecting unusual species, or finding just the perfect plant to complete a collection is all the rage these days. And I can relate, given my recent foray into the world of Echinacea. “I must have that one; it’s orange. Wait, there’s one with green flowers!” Yes, that’s me, I admit it. Plant collecting and finding just the right plant that will set your garden apart from the neighbors’ is a trend for 2018.
  5. PINES: Pines haven’t been in vogue for a while. Boxwoods, arborvitae, hollies and other evergreens always seem to take center stage while the humble pine remains a woodland plant. Recent trend reports indicate that interest in pines is on the rise. With so many species of pine trees available, it’s great that pines are back in the spotlight.

A few things I’ve seen listed as trends that I think are just silly:

  • Soil care: Since when is caring for your garden soil trendy? Composting, caring for soil, and proper maintenance of soil is simply a facet of good gardening, not a trend.
  • Tire gardens: It’s okay to plant flowers in discarded car or truck tires but please do not plant vegetables in them. The oils, chemicals, rubber, and road junk are absorbed into the tire material. Where do you think it goes? It dissolves into the water and then into the soil where it is absorbed by your plants. Flowers are fine. Anything you eat, not a good idea. Invest in a big container to grow potatoes, please.
  • Espom salt everywhere: It’s like a good idea gone really, really bad. Listen, I love Epsom salts just as much as the next gardener. They’re great to sprinkle around tomato plants to avoid blossom end rot disease. I soak in an Epsom salt bath after a long morning of gardening to ward off aches and pains. But Epsom salts are not, repeat not, the cure-all for every disease or nutrient deficiency in plants. Don’t just pour on the Epsom salts and hope for the best. Get a soil test conducted each spring at your local Cooperative Extension office and add your compost. That’s better than a heap of Epsom salts in my book.

Although it is still cold outside, spring will be here before you know it. Will you plant purple, rhodies or roses? Happy gardening, keep growing!

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Dream Away the Winter Blue with the David Austin 2018 Rose Handbook

Dream Away the Winter Blue with the David Austin 2018 Rose Handbook

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling cold and missing my garden. Here in south-central Virginia, snow blankets the ground and temperatures have remained below freezing during the day and in the single digits at night. And it’s time to take down the Christmas […]

Tips for Helping Wild Birds in Winter

Tips for Helping Wild Birds in Winter

Do you need to help wild birds in winter? Common sense tells us that of course, birds have survived for centuries without any human help during cold weather. In times past, people had a hard enough time surviving in the wilderness in sub-zero temperatures, let […]

How to Get a Poinsettia to Bloom

How to Get a Poinsettia to Bloom

I was able to get a poinsettia to bloom!

Well, it’s not technically a flower…but it still looks a lot like Christmas here in my office.

 

Poinsettias are ‘ditch weeds’ in their native Mexico, wild native plants that thrive in ditches, along roadways and meadows. They can grow up to 16 feet tall in their natural environment Thank goodness our Christmas plants don’t get that big!

Many people obtain a poinsettia at Christmas time, either as a gift or for holiday decorations. Look for poinsettia that has dark green leaves and colorful center leaves still intact. If there’s a little yellow dust on the leaves near the center, it’s a sign that the plant isn’t fresh – that’s the pollen emitted from the true flowers, those small yellow centers.

get a poinsettia to bloom
The closed buds in the center are actually flowers. The colorful “flowers” on a poinsettia are bracts or modified leaves.

Your poinsettia will need six hours or more of bright, indirect sunlight a day. Place them in areas that avoid drafts – they hate sudden changes in temperature. Steady 65- 70 degree temperatures, common indoors in most homes during the winter months, are fine for the poinsettia. Water frequently since the plants love moist, although not soggy, soil.

Get a Poinsettia to Bloom

Now, how do you get a poinsettia to bloom again?

From October 1 to December 1, poinsettia need a strict routine of darkness and light in order for the bracts to turn colors again. At dusk, cover the plant, or put it in a room that has complete darkness for 13 to 16 hours a night. You can cover the plant with a cardboard box or move it to a little-used room in your house where there are no artificial lights to disrupt the cycle. By December 1, the poinsettia should show its colorful leaves again.

Caring for Poinsettia

After Christmas, your plant should retain its colorful modified leaves, called bracts, for several weeks. These will gradually shrivel up and drop off when the plant puts its energy into growth.

Keep your poinsettia in a brightly lit room and water when soil becomes dry. In the springtime, when night temperatures remain steadily above 55 degrees F, move your plant outside. I keep mine on the porch where it receives bright but indirect light and daily water.

You can cut back the plant in March or April if you wish to keep it small. Pinch the plant back in June, July, and August to keep it nice and compact. To pinch, use your fingertips and gently “pinch” the tiny new leaves off of the plant. Cutting it back and pinching help it retain a bushy shape. I forgot to do that this year and mine looks a bit straggly.

My office poinsettia.

I don’t fertilize my poinsettia, but a light application of water-soluble 20-20-20 once a month should be fine. Stop fertilizing around October 1 to encourage those pretty flowers.

Poinsettia became the flowers of Christmas early in the 20th century thanks to clever California growers. Today, it’s one of the best-known symbols of the holidays. Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

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