Category: Winter

How to care for poinsettia

The poinsettia, the most popular holiday plant, is best known as the plant with bright red flowers on a green background. But the showiest part of the poinsettia is the group of colorful specialized leaves called floral bracts that surround the small, yellowish-green structures that are the true flowers. Red is still the most popular color, but bracts may also be pink, salmon-colored, yellow, white or multicolor. The long-lasting nature of today’s poinsettias can only […]

Try Your Luck with Shamrocks

Although sometimes referred to as clover, the shamrock is not a “true” clover but more typically one of several species of Oxalis. The Oxalis selections commonly sold as shamrocks are grown more for foliage than for their flowers. Both green and purple foliage are popular, and some have quite striking variegated patterns. The shamrock’s dainty flowers vary from white to pink and from lavender to yellow, depending on the cultivar. Their flowers close at night […]

Stevia in the Windowsill Garden

Looking for a fun gardening project for chasing away your winter blues? Why not try growing Stevia in your windowsill garden. It may not be the most ornamental of plants, but hopefully will present a sweet reward for your efforts. Stevia rebaudiana, also known as sweetleaf and sugarleaf, is a low-growing, tender, perennial herb grown for the high levels of stevioside, which can be 30-300 times sweeter than cane sugar yet has zero calories. The […]

Wrap It Up

A sad thought occurred to me the other day while I was doing some holiday errands. I watched in horror as shoppers steered their carts full of holiday gift plants through gusty winds and miserably cold temperatures only to put these frigid plant victims into icy-cold automobiles. I wondered how many of these plants would even make it to their intended recipients? And how long would they last if they did make it that far? […]

Winter Desiccation of Woody Ornamentals

Winter’s howling winds and frigid temperatures are challenging for all woody landscape plants. Although our plants are fully dormant at this time, the plant tissue is still subject to losing too much water – a condition called desiccation. This year’s unusually heavy and consistent snow cover provides good insulation, and most plants went into winter with a good moisture supply this year. However, when the ground is frozen solid and freezing temperatures are accompanied by […]

The Big Chill

When winter temperatures dip below zero and winds howl across the prairie, gardeners may worry that their trees and shrubs are taking a beating. No need for doom and gloom yet – most hardy landscape and orchard plants are reasonably able to cope with most of our winters, including our recent polar vortex. Many factors influence plant injury, including plant species and cultivars, degree of plant dormancy and overall plant health. How low the temperature […]

Switchgrass Northwind named 2014 Perennial Plant of the Year

Switchgrass Northwind has swept its way to the top as the Perennial Plant Association’s Perennial Plant of the Year for 2014. The Northwind cultivar of Panicum virgatum is distinguished by starkly upright habit compared to the original species. Northwind provides landscape interest from late summer through winter. Blooms appear in late summer, followed by upright seed heads and golden fall foliage. In winter, enjoy the musical swishing sounds as the sturdy foliage sways in the […]

It’s Easy to be Green, if You’re a Plant

St. Patrick’s Day seems to bring out the “Wearin’ o’ the Green” among human folk. But plants wear their green throughout the year, and it is the green that makes plants such unique life forms. Plants get their green color from a pigment called chlorophyll. Green plants produce their own food supply through a process called photosynthesis, which can only take place when both chlorophyll and light are present. Other ingredients are also essential for […]

Variegated Solomon’s Seal Named 2013 Perennial Plant of the Year

Variegated Solomon’s seal has been selected by members of the Perennial Plant Association as the 2013 Perennial Plant of the Year. Known botanically as Polygonatum odoratum Variegatum, this classic hardy favorite is a well-behaved addition that adds seasonal interest with foliage and flowers. The bright green foliage edged with white reaches about 8 to 24 inches tall and spreads by rhizomes to form small colonies. In late spring pendulous, white, bell-shaped flowers appear in pairs […]

Recycle Your Holiday Greenery

Though it may give you the blues to take down your holiday decorations, you can find solace in recycling your greenery. After you remove tinsel, plastic and other non-recyclable decorations, use the greenery to provide food and cover for wildlife or chip it into mulch for landscape protection. Winter birds will appreciate having recycled trees and garlands for cover, especially if you decorate them with bird-food ornaments. You’ll need to secure the tree trunk or […]

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