Thursday, March 31, 2011

New Flowering Shrubs for 2011

Bella Anna Hydrangea
There are some new flowering shrubs to be on the look out for in 2011.  Hydrangea 'Bella Anna' is the first variety of Hydrangea arborescens to be introduced into the Endless Summer Collection.  Bella Anna prefers to be grown in a moist, well-drained soil  in full sun to partial shade.  It is hardy in zones 4-9, grows 3-5 feet in height and is a repeat bloomer. Its strong stalks support huge magenta-pink flower heads and it blooms on new and old wood.   Bella Anna can be used as a foundation planting, shrub border or perennial garden border and could be a nice addition to your garden!

Buddleia Lo and Behold 'Blue Chips'
Another newcomer is the first miniature Buddleia and first of the Lo and Behold variety, Buddleia 'Blue Chips'.  Lo and Behold 'Blue Chips' displays a low mounding compact habit, growing to approximately 24-26 inches high by 30-36 inches wide.  It is a summer bloomer, prefers full sun and a well-drained soil and is hardy in USDA zones 4-9.  Buddleia 'Blue Chips' is also deer resistant and can be grown in a planter due to its compact size.  If you always wanted a Butterfly Bush but just didn't have a place to put it this miniature variety could be just the one for you!  

'Incrediball' Hydrangea
Also out are two more new hydrangeas.  Hydrangea 'Incrediball' is an improved version of 'Annabelle' with stronger stems to support its large white blooms.  Like 'Annabelle' this hydrangea blooms on the new wood of the season.  It is hardy to zone 3 and is more heat tolerant than its predecessor.  

Invincibelle Spirit Hydrangea
Developed by Dr. Tom Ranney at North Carolina State University's Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station, Hydrangea 'Invincibelle Spirit' is the very first pink arborescens. It displays large 10 inch wide pink blooms that bloom on the new wood of the season. 

I for one am very excited to see new varieties of two favorite plants in the garden.  Stay posted for other
newcomers as they arrive! 
Happy Gardening!
Author: Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening, Copyright 2011. All rights reserved

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Pruning Buddleia (Butterfly Bush)

Pruning Buddleia (Butterfly Bush)

Buddleia 'davidii'
Buddleia 'davidii' or Butterfly Bush is a wonderful shrub in the landscape for the naturalized garden. Hardy in zones 5-10 and growing between six and twelve feet in height,  its delicate arching branches and colorful nectar filled flowers are a major attraction for Hummingbirds and butterflies. Butterfly Bush are evergreen in areas where minimum winter temperatures are above twenty degrees and are deciduous where temperatures go below freezing.  In areas colder than zone 5, Buddleia may die back all the way to the ground and will grow vigorously once spring arrives.  In areas zone 5 and colder it is advisable to leave branches on until spring and to cover the root crown with mulch for winter protection.  Buddleia grow best in a well-drained fertile soil in full sun.

When To Prune Buddleia:  Buddleia 'davidii' blooms on the new wood of the season and should be pruned in late winter /early spring to encourage new growth.  Prune before new growth starts to appear to approximately 12 inches (30 centimeters) above the ground.  Buddleia are a type of plant that highly benefit from a severe pruning.  "Hard" pruning Butterfly Bush promotes many new arching branches with larger flowers than if the plant had not been pruned. 

Later in the Season Pruning:  It is also beneficial to prune off dead and faded flowers once the flowering season has completed. With regular "deadheading" or removal of spent flowers your Buddleia will put its energy back into producing even more flowers well into fall.  In colder climates, never prune completely to the ground in Fall for it can be detrimental to the plant.  It is best to wait until late winter/early spring to perform this task.

Retaining Height of Buddleia:  If you chose to use your  Buddleia as a backdrop shrub simply allow it to grow larger then prune new growth so that the plant is approximately 24 inches (60 centimeters) in height.  Also by keeping the height in the center of the plant a little above the sides, the plant will grow in a nice shape appearing taller.  In either case, whether you choose to keep your plant higher as a backdrop or lower in front, a hard pruning will always benefit your plant and encourage new growth for the season. 

Buddleia Lo & Behold 'Blue Chip'

If you would like to try a dwarf form of buddleia that does not grow above three feet in height try the new Buddleia 'Blue Chip' from the Lo & Behold collection! 

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As Always...Happy Gardening!

Author: Lee @A Guide To Northeastern Gardening Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day March 2011

Purple Hyacinth Bud
Well it's that time again.  Inspired by the quote, “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year.” by Elizabeth Lawrence, Carol at May Dreams Gardens hosts Garden Blogger's Bloom Day.  On the 15th of every month gardeners from all over the world walk out into their gardens to note what is currently blooming. 
It has been a long snowy winter here in the northeast and it took some seeking, but there are sure signs of spring starting to emerge here in the zone 7 garden.  Come along with me and join the tour!

Pink Hyacinth Bud
The purple hyacinth (photo above) is popping up out of the ground showing that is ready for spring. Some warm weather in the next couple of weeks should encourage this spring bloomer to start its show. The pink hyacinth next to it is getting ready too!

Weeping Pussy Willow Catkins
The Weeping Pussy Willow (Salix caprea 'Pendula') is proudly displaying its first catkins and the Rosy Glow Barberry is showing signs of buds swelling to display its deep burgundy and pink foliage. It won't be long until its branches are completely filled out.

Barberry 'Rosy Glow' budding
I just love walking the garden at this time of year to see the emergence of life everywhere after the winter. The plants are looking well for the blanket of snow has supplied moisture and insulated them from the cold. The perennials should flourish this year.
Stella D Oro Daylily Emerging
Walking around further and look...the lilies are emerging from their winter's sleep. They will not start to sprout flowers for some time now but the foliage is a welcome treat.
Sedum 'Brilliant' peeking out
As we move along, the sedum 'Brilliant' is showing some color as it emerges in all its glory.  I love the purple edges in the new growth. This perennial will keep its perfectly round shape as it grows and displays interesting foliage throughout the summer. 
Lamb's Ears new growth
And last but not least, the Lamb's Ears (Stachys lanata) are perking up and new soft white foliage is starting to grow as the soil warms.

Bloom Day is a wonderful day of the month to be more aware of the changes going on in the garden.  There are surely signs of spring on the way and dreams of more blooms to come!  Be sure to visit our hostess Carol at May Dreams Gardens and check out all the other wonderful blooms that are emerging.

It is always exciting to open the door and go out into the garden for the first time on any day. - Marion Cran

Happy Gardening.  Happy GBBD!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Best Houseplants for Indoor Gardening

I have been wanting to do a segment on indoor houseplants, so it seemed to be a good time to do so. While waiting for my outdoor plants to come to life here in the northeast I have been paying a little extra attention to my indoor plants in anticipation of the grander scheme outside.  Let's discuss some of the indoor plants that I have found to supply great pleasure at a low a maintenance cost. 

A colorful versatile plant in the philodendron family is Golden Philodendron or Philodendron 'Brasil'. It displays variegated heart-shaped leaves and is a climber that is happy as either a stand-alone piece or mixed with other plants. Philodendron 'Brasil' prefers bright-diffused indirect light and moderately moist soil with good drainage. It is for the most part carefree and is a nice addition to the indoor garden.

The next candidate is Clivia minata.  This beauty originates from South Africa and is known as "bush lily". Its elongated dark green foliage alone makes it an attractive houseplant and in spring and fall the plant produces beautiful yellow-orange flowers that last for several weeks. Clivia prefers low to medium light and well-drained soil.  Allow drying out in between watering and water weekly during the growing months and less in winter. Fertilize when blooms are produced.  This plant prefers to be root bound.

Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonemas) is a tropical evergreen known for its variegated green and white foliage and easy maintenance.  It prefers to be grown in low light in a moist, well-drained soil.  Aglaonemas produce white flowers occasionally in spring and summer that are better to be cut off because they do drain energy from the plant. Chinese’s Evergreen is carefree and makes a nice house-warming gift for a low light area.

The next beauty is Croton, a multi-colored foliage plant for higher light areas. Croton is native to Southeast Asia and was once only grown outdoors. They have increased in popularity indoors because of their beautiful orange-green-yellow foliage. Croton grows best in a southwestern window in a moderately moist soil with high humidity. When kept in higher light these beauties will put on a show of color!

Another favorite indoor plant is Spathiphyllum or Peace Lily.  Spathiphyllum prefers to be grown in a moderately moist-well drained soil in diffused sunlight preferably in a northern or eastern window. Peace Lily are easy to grow, have elongated glossy dark green foliage and frequently display their lovely white flowers that are formed from the leaf stalk of the plant. Spathiphyllum can be grown as a stand-alone piece or can be combined with other low light plants to make a lovely display.

Another plant in the Philodendron family is Philodendron 'Xanadu'. 'Xanadu' is a compact grower displaying medium-large finger-like leaves in the form of a full clumping plant. Philodendron 'Xanadu' prefers to be root bound and grown in bright indirect light in a moist well-drained soil. When leaves yellow, simply pull them out by the stalk and new shoots and leaves will unfold to keep the plant full and attractive. Thumbs up for this one for it is low maintenance!

Another very low maintenance plant is Snake Plant or Mother-in-Law's Tongue. This easy to grow plant is very versatile, can be grown in low light to full light conditions in a slightly moist, well-drained soil. This plant is about as low maintenance as you can get and has been a popular houseplant favorite for years. Under the right conditions it will last for many years.
Jade Plant (Crassula argentea) is a popular succulent plant that displays small pink-white flowers if grown in a southern window. Jade prefers to be grown in bright direct light as in a southern or western window. Crassula argentea does not require much water and should only be watered when dry to the touch. When cared for properly this showpiece will last for many years and become a valued family member! 

Here is the newest addition to my houseplant family.  It is Zamioculcas Zamiifolia (nicknamed ZZ plant).  It thrives in nearly any lighting condition except darkness.  I have mine in indirect sun and it is doing just great.  As far as watering is concerned, Zamioculcas Zamiifolia is a tuber plant that stores its water intake.  It is best to let its soil completely dry out and then water thoroughly.  Zamioculcas Zamiifolia does not require much feeding. Feed four times a year with a balanced liquid fertilizer at half strength.

There are a huge variety of houseplants to light up your home every day of the year. These are just a few that can bring some enjoyment to your indoor garden!  

As Always..Happy Gardening!

Author: Lee @A Guide To Northeastern Gardening Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Best Long-Blooming Perennials: What are your favorites?

Top (Left to Right) Gaillardia, Liriope, Heuchera
Bottom (Left to Right) Coreopsis, Salvia May Night, Astilbe 'Sprite'
Perennials play such an important role in adding lasting beauty to the landscape and there are so many wonderful long-blooming perennials for the zone 7 northeastern garden. In this article I will discuss some of my all time favorite perennials for overall performance, hardiness, excellent foliage and long lasting blooms. 

Gaillardia 'Goblin'
     First there is Gaillardia 'Goblin', or Blanket Flower, which produces red to yellow bi-color blooms throughout June to August on 12" stems. It is hardy in zones 4-8 and repeats its performance year after year if grown in full sunlight. Gaillardia prefers well-drained soil, is considered drought tolerant and does not require abundant watering once established.

Liriope muscari 'Variegata'
Liriope muscari 'Variegata' is popular for its grass-like, cream or yellow-margined leaves. Liriope can be grown in sun or shade and produces small purple blooms in August to September followed by round, dark purple berries. Liriope is very versatile as it can be planted just about anywhere in the garden as a complement to other plantings and is hardy in USDA zones 4-10.  

Heuchera 'Palace Purple' 
One of my favorite perennials for shade is Heuchera.  From experience I find Heuchera 'Palace Purple' to be the most hardy with beautiful burgundy foliage. The delicate white flowers produced on 12 inch stems in August to September that resemble baby's breath are just an added bonus. Heuchera can be grown in partial sun to shade and prefers a moderately moist organic soil. It is hardy in zones 4-8.     

Coreopsis 'Zagreb'
Coreopsis 'Zagreb' is a popular favorite for areas of full sun and produces yellow daisy-like blooms from June to July that last throughout August on 12-18 inch fern-like stalks.  Coreopsis is deer resistant, prefers a well-drained soil and can withstand drought-like conditions once established.  I find this perennial to be highly reliable and very hardy in zone 7. Coreopsis will spread so plant it in a place where you have plenty of room and enjoy its beauty.  Coreopsis is complemented nicely by either salvia or nepeta.

Salvia 'May Night'
     Salvia 'May Night' displays beautiful deep purple flowers on 12-18 inch stalks from the end of May through July.  To extend the bloom time of your salvia all the way into fall simply prune off spent flower stalks as new ones arise and the plant will continue to produce more blooms! Salvia prefers to be grown in full sun in zones 4-8 and can tolerate some drought. It is also deer resistant.

Astilbe 'Sprite'
The next selection for shady areas is Astilbe 'Sprite'. This perennial displays bronze foliage with pale pink flowers in late July to August on dwarf 12 -14 inch plants.  There are several other wonderful varieties of astilbe but in my opinion this variety has the nicest foliage and the most delicate blooms. Astilbe 'Sprite' prefers to be grown in partial sun to shade in an organic, moderately moist soil and is hardy in USDA zones 4-9.

Daylily 'Stella D'Oro'
There are two more of my of my all time personal favorites that cannot go by without being mentioned. The first is Daylily 'Stella D'Oro'. There are many varieties of daylily but this semi-fragrant, golden yellow repeat bloomer will continue to produce blooms on 12-18 inch stalks from June until fall with some pruning. This perennial prefers to be grown in full sun and complements many other perennials such as heuchera, liriope, salvia and nepeta and is hardy in USDA zones 3-9.

Nepeta 'Walkers Low'
The second is Nepeta 'Walkers Low', a dwarf form of nepeta with gray-green aromatic foliage and large violet-blue flowers that bloom all summer long. Nepeta 'Walkers Low' is drought tolerant and deer resistant.  It can be grown in full sun to partial shade  and forms round compact mounds.  This perennial goes well with coreopsis, daylily and heuchera and is hardy in zones 3-8.

It is almost impossible to narrow down the best of the best perennials for your garden and there are thousands to choose from but I am hoping that this article will give you a brief idea of the possibilities that are available. The perennials mentioned in this article are my favorites based on experience. They have proven to be winners over the years with excellent foliage, repeat colorful blooms and all around summer interest in the landscape.

Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved