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Perennial Flowers

African Violet Care

African Violet Care

By Michael Russell

african violetAfrican Violets are one of the most commonly kept indoor plants today. They are very beautiful and are not that difficult to keep. However, they do have a few care requirements that must be adhered to for them to survive.

When you are choosing your plant, make sure it looks healthy. The leaves are a good indication of whether or not it is healthy. Also, try to get one that already has some flower buds on it. African Violets can be found at nurseries as well as supermarkets. Nurseries will be more expensive than supermarkets, but they will also have more choices.

Next you will need to choose what type of pot you will keep it in. You can get a plastic pot, an unglazed clay pot, or a glazed ceramic pot. A plant in a plastic pot or glazed pot won't need as much water as a plant in an unglazed clay pot because the unglazed clay pots let water evaporate throughout the day. Glazed ceramic pots are the most expensive and plastic is the least expensive.

When you are ready to put your plant into its pot, you need to get a few things ready. You will need the pot, a saucer to put under the pot, soil, pebbles and plant food. For the saucer, make sure there is space left around all sides of the pot. Don't get a saucer that is too small. For the soil, make sure it is good quality soil. They even make an African violet soil, which is perfect.

Cover each drainage hole in the bottom of the pot with a pebble. Fill the pot about halfway with soil and put the plant in. Then fill up the rest of the pot. Press down the soil using your fingers and add more soil. Feed your plant at this time using the plant food you got. Now, to water the plant, fill up the saucer with water. Put the pot into the saucer and let it sit for an hour. After that, take the pot out of the saucer and empty the saucer if there is any water left.

The best place to keep your African violet is in a window. Even though they may look better somewhere else, they will not grow as well. An east window provides the best lighting for the plant. If your plant doesn't make flowers, that means that it isn't getting enough light. If the leaves start to get brown edges of brown spots, then it's getting too much light.

When you water your plant, never water it from above. You should put some water into your watering can and let it sit overnight; this will let any harmful impurities evaporate out. Before watering, stick your finger into the dirt. If the soil feels damp, then don't water it. Every time you need to water the plant, fill up the saucer and put the pot into the saucer for about an hour.

After you get used to the care that African Violets require, it is very easy to do. If you care for your plant correctly, it will grow very easily. You will enjoy its beauty every day!

Michael Russell

Your Independent guide to Gardening

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Michael_Russell

Bulb Planting in Autumn Ensures a Colorful Spring

Bulb Planting in Autumn Ensures a Colorful Spring

By James Kilkelly

In the spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. Whereas in autumn a gardeners fancy turns to spring. No sooner has autumn set in than we gardeners begin to think of spring and spring bulb planting. There is a wide selection of bulbs available for planting now and blooming in spring, the following is just a small selection those available…

  • tulip gardenAllium (flowering garlic)
  • Anemone (wind flower)
  • Crocus
  • Cyclamen
  • Galanthus (Snowdrop)
  • Hyacinth
  • Iris
  • Narcissus (daffodil)
  • Scillia (bluebell)
  • Tulip

Now, choosing the right bulbs involves more than just selecting colors and flowers you like. Bulb size and more importantly, bulb health are equally significant factors in selecting your spring garden bulbs. I suggest you carry out my personal quality test for bulbs before you go ahead and plant.

Healthy bulbs should be firm and heavy for their size. They should not feel overly dry or light. Certain bulbs (daffodils etc) will have loose and peeling skin, this is normal and nothing to worry about.

In the case of bulbs, "bigger is better", big bulbs usually mean a large amount of stored food to produce brilliant blooms the following season. Smaller, bargain bulbs may take two years to produce blooms good enough for your garden.

The color of the bulbs skin should be uniform with no dark or light patches. Any bulbs with weak or spongy areas should not be planted, this is often a tell tale sign of rot. If the bulbs you select appear to tick all the above boxes then you are well on your way to a colorful return from this season’s bulb planting.

Weather permitting; you should try to plant your bulbs quite soon upon arriving home from the garden centre. Bulbs continually deteriorate the longer they are out of the soil. If you cannot plant them right away, store them in a cool place such as your garden shed or garage. Never store them in closed bags as they might rot. Bulbs need to breathe; this is why you will see garden centre displaying bulbs in perforated or net bags.

James Kilkelly is a freelance horticulturalist and garden writer for four Irish regional newspapers. His forum, http://www.gardenplansireland.com/forum/ offers you free access to an incredible wealth of horticultural information specific to Ireland. He also regularly posts his expert advice to a gardening community at http://www.gardenstew.com/

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=James_Kilkelly

Guaranteed Gladioli, Summer Color that Returns

Guaranteed Gladioli, Summer Color that Returns

By James Kilkelly

gladiolusWould you like a summer bedding plant that you do not have to renew year after year? Well by planting hybrid Gladiolus corms, you can attain mid to late summer colour year after year with only occasional renewal.

Colorful blooms
Sometimes called gladioli bulbs (more correctly gladioli corms), these South African members of the Iris family are ideal for color impact. Most garden centers stock gladioli in whites, pinks, oranges, reds (best for impact), bicolor and the rare blue flowered varieties.

Planting
Most Gladiolus flowers last approx 2 to 3 weeks, so if you’re sneaky and stagger your plantings at weekly intervals you can stretch out the length of time they will be in bloom. Plant from the start of April till the end of May in an area that receives upwards of 4 hours of sunlight a day. Plant the bulbs 4 to 5 inches deep (10 to 12cm) and at an approximate spacing of 4 inches, ideally your soil will be rich with free drainage to prevent rotting of the bulb over winter. Group the bulbs in clusters of 5 or more of the same color for impact, except in a cottage garden where the mixing up of Gladiolus colors is quite acceptable. It is advisable to water well in dry weather as the foliage can be extremely thirsty. Look after the cultivation requirements and you will be rewarded by sword-like leaves topped by trumpet or funnel shaped flowers in vertical rows which bloom from the bottom upwards. The sword-like leaves inspires the Latin name Gladiolus which means little sword, in fact some people refer to them as sword lilies.

Flower arranging uses
Gladiolus flowers can be cut for indoor arrangements by using 3 to 5 different colors bunched together, just be careful not to remove all the leaves from the bulb as this will severely weaken its bloom next season.

Miniature hybrids
When purchasing your Gladiolus bulbs in the garden centre ask for Primulinus or miniature hybrids as these varieties grow to about 2ft (0.6 meter) and do not require staking like some of the larger varieties.

James Kilkelly runs a professional garden design service in Galway, Ireland. He has a regular gardening column in an Irish regional newspaper. Visit his website at http://www.gardenplansireland.com. He also regularly posts his expert advice to a gardening community at http://www.gardenstew.com.

Article's original location: Guaranteed Gladioli, Summer Colour that Returns.

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Hibiscus Plants

Hibiscus Plants

By Kent Pinkerton

hibiscus2Hibiscus, the fascinating flowering tropical plant, had its origin in Asia. It has spread to several parts of the world and is among the most popular garden plants. Hibiscus are also grown for landscaping and as hedges. Today, there are thousands of known varieties of the shrub. Many are hybrids. New types are still being discovered, bred and recorded. Sizes differ from less than 12 inches tall (Hibiscus trionum) to about 40 feet (Lagunaria patersonii). The life span of tropical hibiscus can be up to 50 years. In comparison, the hybrids have a shorter existence, approximately 10 to 15 years.

In the tropics, Hibiscus can be found thriving in the most difficult and desolate terrain. Some plants are dense and bushy, while others are thin and tall. The biggest attraction of the Hibiscus plant is the flower. Hibiscus come in many colors and sizes, and in areas where the temperature is above 70 degrees, it flowers throughout the year.

The leaves are normally elongated or oval shaped and about two to four inches in length. Usually the color of the leaves is dull green, glossy dark green or with a reddish tint.

The many medicinal, cosmetic and gastronomicproperties of the Hibiscus go back to ancient times. Modern research has confirmed these properties and continues to reveal new ones. All parts of the plant are considered edible.

Propagation of Hibiscus can be made through cuttings or grafting or by germinating the seeds. Saplings and seeds are available from nurseries and florists. Seed germinated plants are unlikely to have the same characteristics as the parent plant because the pollination may not be from the same source. In fact, it is possible that a packet you buy may contain seeds from different parents and could grow into plants that vary in characteristics. If you have one Hibiscus plant, by using cuttings from that plant, a number of similar plants can be grown.

Hibiscus provides detailed information about hibiscus, hardy hibiscus and more. Hibiscus is affiliated with Silk Flower Arrangements.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Kent_Pinkerton

How to Divide Perennials

How to Divide Perennials

By Lee Dobbins

perennial2Perennials are a favorite type of garden plant for many gardens as they will bloom for several seasons without replanting. Perhaps one of the best qualities of perennials is that you can divide them and make more plants for free! Dividing your perennials periodically is important as it will keep them from getting overcrowded and help insure healthy lush plants.

Many perennials can be divided easily, but this does not hold try for every variety. In general, division is easiest with perennials that grow in clumps or ones with an expanding root mass. Perennials which stem from single taproot typically cannot be divided but can be duplicated by using root cuttings or seeds.

It is important to divide the plant at a time when the plant is most likely to be receptive to this procedure. Fr plants that come up in spring and summer, the best time to divide them is in the fall Perennials that bloom in the fall or late summer should be divided in the spring.

You can divide perennials with a minimum of preparation. If you will be replanting the divisions, you should have already decided on the new area and prepared the soil to accept the new plants. If you are dividing to give the plants to a family member or friend, have an appropriate receptacle handy to put the division in.

Loosen the soil, gently, around the plant clump that you plan to divide. You can use a spading fork to scrape up the dirt and be sure not to damage any parts of the plant. The clump should then be sliced with a garden trowel and divided into four parts. Make sure your trowel is sharp so you get a clean cut, otherwise your plants could become damaged. Break up the four sections by hand into four inch by four inch sections. Plant the small sections immediately.

When you are dividing plants, make sure you thoroughly wet the soil a couple of days before you do the division. This will make it easier to dig up the clump for division. Also, you should add compost or some other organic material to the soil both around the original plant and in the soil where the new divisions will be planted. This will give the plants the nutrition they need and help them to grow strong in their new area of the garden. Once the new plants are in place, make sure you water thoroughly and fertilize appropriately.

Planning your perennial plantings and divisions can help you grow your garden without having to spend extra money. All it takes is a little bit of time and patience and you can have a large full garden on even a small budget!

Lee Dobbins writes for Backyard Garden And Patio where you can get more great gardening and landscaping tips.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Lee_Dobbins

How to Ensure Early Bulb Blooms Year After Year

How to Ensure Early Bulb Blooms Year After Year

By James Kilkelly

flower garden3 1I often notice when visiting gardens the great quantities of Daffodils and other early bulbs that we plant to herald in the spring. But how do we ensure we have a great display each year?

The early flowering bulbs
Quite a few seasoned gardeners have had their first horticultural “experience” by the planting of a few Daffodil or Tulip bulbs, thus spurring them onto more adventurous plantings. At the end of April the very early flowering bulbs will come to the end of their blooming season. This group of early bloomers includes Daffodils, Hyacinths, Bluebells, Crocus, Snowdrops and early Tulips. All these bulbs will flower well for any gardener the first growing season but for them to bloom well the following seasons we must give them some care.

Dieback not tieback
All bulbs leaves must be allowed a minimum of six weeks after flowering to die down, so if these bulbs are planted in a lawn that area of lawn must remain uncut for six weeks. Refrain from tying your Daffodil leaves in knots to neaten their appearance, also avoid folding them over and securing with rubber bands. If the bulbs leaves are naturally allowed to die back then they will take in the energy for next years flowering. I would also recommend nipping off the spent flower heads on bulbs once flowering is finished, this will prevent the bulb using vital energy for seed production instead using all that energy to bulk up its food store for next season.

Don't forget to feed
The final tip for blooming bulbs next spring is to feed your bulbs, this is especially important if you have a hungry soil. Apply a foliar feed to the fully emerged leaves before the blooms start to form. Choose a general purpose purpose liquid feed. I would also advise you to feed your bulbs just as the blooms have faded with a granular bulb fertilizer applied around the bulbs base. This is the most important feed they will receive. Ensure this feed has a higher potassium or potash content than nitrogen content. Apply according to the manufacturers instructions and heed safety warnings.

James Kilkelly runs a professional garden design service in Galway, Ireland. He has a regular gardening column in an Irish regional newspaper. Visit his website at http://www.gardenplansireland.com/ He also regularly posts his expert advice to a gardening community at http://www.gardenstew.com/

Article location: How to Ensure Early Bulbs Bloom, Year after Year

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Planting & Propagating Bulbs

Planting & Propagating Bulbs

By Michael Russell

flower garden3When choosing bulbs for the garden, always look for the healthiest and strongest specimens. Obviously this is impossible when buying by mail order. However, most mail order nurseries are reputable and only send out their best and healthiest stock.

Always look at bulbs, corms and tubers closely and choose firm ones that seem solid and heavy for their size. With bulbs and corms, the larger and heavier they are the better in terms of flowering potential.

When selecting tubers, simply look for healthy specimens, since size is not so important. Check the outer skin carefully and choose those with the least damage.

Do not buy bulbs that are obviously shriveled or have any soft spots, particularly around the base or the neck. Reject bulbs with any sign of mould, no matter how slight and look carefully to ensure there are no insects that could weaken or destroy them.

Bulbs generally survive and flower well the first year, even when poorly planted. They can even survive being planted upside down, although this is not recommended!! The soil should be enriched with plenty of organic matter prior to planting but there is no need to incorporate specific fertilizer into the planting holes, as the bulbs' own store of nutrients will see them through the first flowering season. Subsequently they will require annual fertilizing in order to maintain the best results.

Most bulbs, corms and tubers can be propagated easily, by lifting and dividing them every few years. In fact most will benefit from being divided occasionally, as flower production is reduced if they are left undisturbed indefinitely.

The way in which bulbs are propagated depends on their structure. True bulbs produce small offsets, which grow around the base of the mature bulb. These in turn will grow into mature bulbs once they have been separated from the parent bulb.

Corms produce cormlets around the edge of the base of the mature corm every season. In order to propagate, lift the corms and gently pull away the cormlets then replant the mature corm.

Tubers are propagated by cutting the mature stock with a clean, sharp knife. For it to be able to grow make sure that each cut section has either an eye or a section of stem. Replant immediately where the plant is to grow.

Bulbs do not easily compete with weeds, which deplete the soil of moisture and nutrients. If the area around the bulbs is well mulched, weeding will be less of a problem. If, however, weeds persist, water the ground several hours before weeding. This is less traumatic for the bulbs and makes the task easier.

Although regular moisture is required for healthy growth, bulbs should not be over watered. Provided the soil has good drainage qualities, over watering should not be a problem. But should the soil be inclined to be boggy, attempt to improve the texture by adding plenty of compost or manure. The amount of watering the garden requires depends on the type of soil, the style of garden and the general climate and amount of rainfall.

Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Gardening

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Some Favorite Garden Bulbs

Some Favorite Garden Bulbs

By Lee Dobbins

Bulbs are a great addition to any garden as they will provide color year after year and can even provide additional flowers to be divided and planted in another part of the garden. Unlike, annuals, bulb flowers do not need to be planted each year.

Bulbs are hardy in nature and there is a color, shape or size that should suit any gardening need. Here’s some favorite garden bulbs and their planting needs. 

Galanthus Nivalis
Galanthus
This plant is more commonly called the snowdrop and is one of the first plants to bloom after winter. They are short plants about 6 inches tall and have two bell shaped flowers. They thrive in colder climates. Plant snowdrops in fall, dig down 3 to 4 inches and plant 3 inches apart. These flowers like full sun but will tolerate partial shade. Water regularly during the growing cycle.
Crocus
Crocus
Crocus bulbs are often the fist blooms we see in early spring or at the end of winter. Their tubular shaped flowers range in size from 1½” to 3” long. Crocuses are planting in almost every garden and have a wide range of colors to suite any taste. Other types of crocus, such as the saffron crocus, bloom instead in the fall, and the flowers can rise from the bare ground weeks, or even only days, after the bulbs are planted. Crocus bulbs should be planted in the fall. Plant the bulbs 2 to 3 inches deep and space 3 or 4 inches apart. Crocuses require well drained soil, regular watering and will grow in full sun or partial shade.
Daffodil
daffodil
The daffodil may be the most easily recognizable of all bulb plants, and it rewards its gardener with a generous display of beautiful blooms. Besides the traditional white and yellow varieties, daffodils also come in shades of orange, apricot, pink and cream. Daffodil bulbs should be planted twice as deep as they are tall, and they should be spaced between six and eight inches apart. Daffodils benefit from full sun and regular watering during their growth and bloom periods.
Tulip
tulip 1Tulips are a favorite flower around the world and one of the most easy to recognize. These are among the most hybridized of all flowers, with hybrids available in a staggering array of shapes, sizes, colors and textures. Tulips bloom from mid spring to late spring with different varieties having different bloom times. Tulips should be planted in fall and each bulb should be planted about 3 times deeper than the size of the bulb. A 2” wide bulb would be planted 6” deep. It is important to leave sufficient space between the planted bulbs as well, from four to eight inches depending on the size of the bulb.
Dahlia
dahliaDahlias have a long bloom time from summer through fall and like many other bulbs come in a large variety of colors, sizes and shapes. These flowers are so diverse that there are varieties with flower sizes ranging from 2 to 12 inches and from under a foot to 7 feet tall! Plant dahlias in spring after threat of frost has passed. Plant between 4 and 6 inches deep with spacing of 1 foot for short varieties and 5 feet for the tall variety's. Dahlias like full sun unless you are planting them in a very hot climate where they might do well with a little shade. As with most flowers, make sure these are watered regularly.
Gladiolus
gladiolus 2Gladiolas are among the most popular of all bulb plants, and their distinctive sword shaped leaves and funnel shaped flowers are instantly recognizable to gardeners and non gardeners alike. Gladiolas are best planted in the spring, but only after the soil has warmed. Gladiolas do best in full sunlight and they should be watered regularly during their blooming and growth phase. In much of the country, gladiola bulbs can be left in the ground over the winter months, but many gardeners choose to dig them up and store them during the winter. If you decide to take this approach, it is best to dig them after the leaves have turned yellow. The bulbs should be placed in a single layer and stored in a cool, dry and dark place to dry for two or three weeks. After the bulbs have dried sufficiently they should be stored in nylon stockings or onion sacks and kept in a cool and well ventilated place.
Hemerocallis
hemerocallis
Hemerocallis is the scientific name for the daylily, and it is one of the most well known types of bulb plants on the market. Daylily hybrids can grow as tall as six feet and bloom in the spring and summer months. The daylily produces flowers ranging in size from three to eight inches, and they are available in a wide variety of colors. The daylily is actually a tuberous root variety of bulb, and they are best planted during fall or early spring. Daylilies should be planted between ½ inch and 1 inch deep and space between 2 to 2½ inches apart in the garden. As with other varieties of bulbs, it is important to water daylilies on a regular basis during their growing season.

Hyacinths (Dutch Hyacinth)
hyacinth
The Dutch hyacinth is one of the most instantly recognizable, and most popular, of all the varieties of bulb plants. The Dutch hyacinth blooms in the spring and features the well known foot high spires with their small bell shaped and very fragrant flowers. Hyacinths come in a wide varieties of colors, including red, pink, buff, white, blue and purple. The Dutch hyacinth grows best in colder areas, and it can last from year to year. In these cold water climates, the hyacinth is best planted in September of October. It is best to plant hyacinth bulbs four to five inches deep, and to space them from four to five inches apart as well. Hyacinths grow best in full sunlight, and they benefit from regular watering, especially during their blooming and growth periods.

Iris 
iris
The most frequently seen variety of irises are the bearded varieties. Bearded irises are striking plants, and they appear in a dazzling array of colors and combinations of colors. Irises appear in a variety of sizes as well, with very small varieties and very large ones as well. Irises should be planted in July or August in cold climates and in September or October in warmer areas. Irises are actually rhizomes, and they should be spaced from one to two feet apart, with the tops placed right below the surface of the soil. Irises grow best in full sunlight or light shade, and they benefit from a regular watering schedule during their growing season.
Lee Dobbins writes for Backyard Garden and Patio where you can find more articles on gardening, garden ponds, garden decor, and much more.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Lee_Dobbins

The Incredible Daylily

The Incredible Daylily

By Donna Evans

daylilySome people have referred to daylilies as the poor man’s orchid. Indeed, daylilies, like orchids, are a beauty to behold. Daylilies are no longer just the muted yellow and orange plants grown in road ditches. They come in every color from white to deep purple (almost black) and in a variety of sizes.

If you don’t have a green thumb, daylilies are the perfect plant.

They are relatively carefree and can turn an unused, dull area, into a stunning bed of color and texture. Daylilies flourish almost anywhere. They are also an excellent plant to use for erosion control, such as on a slope that is difficult to mow, and also as a ground cover plant.

There are indeed a lot of the common yellow and orange daylilies around. However, there are some spectacular varieties that you should keep an eye out for:

Black Eyed Susan:
A real standout in the garden. This daylily has rich yellow-orange petals with a maroon and dark orange throat.

Bama Bound:
This daylily has a deep reddish color giving it a satin like appearance.

Little Grapette:
A miniatured sized daylily with grape-purple petals and a green throat.

Beauty to Behold:
A light lemon colored daylily with a green throat. The flowers are satin in appearance. The flowers are nocturnal; the day’s flowers actually open up the night before.

Hyperion:
This daylily has been around for over 80 years. The canary yellow flowers have a trumpet shape and are treasured for their delicate fragrance.

Stella d'Oro:
These daylilies are one of the most popular around. They are a deep yellow gold and bloom from mid-July through frost. Old blooms should be trimmed off to promote re-blooming.

Donna Evans is co-owner of Gizmo Creations, a landscape and website design firm, located just north of Merrifield Minnesota. Gizmo Creations creates landscape design plans and has a host of landscape resources on their website, http://www.gizmocreations.com. Unique and hard to find landscape books, as well as Gizmo Creations own home landscaping manual can be found on Gizmo Creations' website.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Donna_Evans

 

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