Summer Gardening Stories


Native Shrubs For Fall Color


                    If you’re looking to add native shrubs to your home landscape, fall is an excellent time to look for those with good fall color. While many factors affect the display of fall color, there are a number of native shrub species that perform reliably in our area. Here’s a short list to consider, including their mature height as well as flowers and fall color. Most […]


Squash blossoms drop, and sometimes that’s normal


A common complaint among vegetable gardeners is that their squash plants have a lot of flowers, but many of them just fall off without producing any fruit. This same observation can be made of cucumbers, melons, pumpkins and gourds, all of which are collectively known as “vine” crops to home gardeners. These plants are all members of the Cucurbitaceae family and are also commonly referred to as “cucurbits.” All of these vine crops produce separate […]


When lightning strikes, is the tree out?


When lightning strikes a tree, it will most certainly leave a calling card, but it can be difficult to predict whether that injury is strike one, two or three. There are many variables to consider, including the species, moisture content, relative health of the tree at the time of the strike, and the intensity of the strike. Lightning can strike just about anything tall, but trees do seem to be a frequent target. And the […]


Oedema Is a Corky Quirk


Plants that experience extremes in soil moisture may develop spots on their leaves, called “oedema” (also spelled “edema”). The spots may first appear as a blister or raised spot, particularly on the undersides of leaves, but may occur on the top side as well as on the stems. Eventually, the blister develops a rust-colored, cork-like scab. Oedema is most commonly seen in the greenhouse on ivy-leaf geraniums but also on pansies, jade, and other thick-leaved […]


Perennials for Shady Gardens


Plants differ in their adaptability to different growing conditions. Sunshine is one of the most significant factors. We often think of light as being either sunny or shady, but, in fact, there are many “shades” of light in between. Your garden may experience light shade, such as that filtered through an overhanging tree; dense shade, such as that found in woodlands; or intermittent shade from an object, such as a building that blocks the sun […]


Use Caution With Spreading Plants


People often select plants first for their beauty and second for their functionality in the garden. Frequently, we don’t know or don’t consider a plant’s behavior when we’re selecting them. Almost by definition, a species that is an effective ground cover will have a spreading habit. But does that make the species aggressive or invasive? There can be much confusion about the meaning of the terms aggressive and invasive. Some plants, given their optimal habitat, […]


Dividing iris


Whether you’re looking to expand your planting of iris or just need to rejuvenate an older planting, late summer through early fall is a good time to lift and divide iris. Dividing every three to five years will help rejuvenate the planting, and encourage more blossoms for the subsequent years. Most iris plants spread by means of underground stems called rhizomes. Rhizomes become too crowded over time, resulting in reduced flowering. By lifting and dividing […]


Gardeners reminded to protect pollinators


Pollinators are all the “buzz” these days with a federal proclamation designating June 19-25 as National Pollinator Week. Now in its tenth year, the focus of this designation by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and the Interior is to promote the health of pollinators, so critical to food and ecosystems. It may surprise you to learn that the honeybee is native to Europe and was introduced to the U.S. But there are also numerous other […]


Three new vegetables chosen for All-America Selections 2017


Three exciting new vegetables were chosen as All-America Selections (AAS) winners for 2017, based on superior performance in test gardens throughout the country. Okra: “Candle Fire” was chosen for its unique pods — round rather than ribbed — and for its color, a brighter red than the reddish-burgundy okras currently available. The judges gave it high marks for productivity, taste, texture and tenderness, as well as for the ornamental value of red pods on red stems. […]


Humble hosta


If you’re looking for a plant that is winter-hardy throughout the Midwest, excels under shady conditions and has fabulous foliage as well as attractive flowers, then hosta is the plant for you. Also known as plantain lily, hosta performs best in partial to full shade, although some have been able to survive full sun conditions if given a cool environment with plenty of moisture. The leaves will tend to burn or turn sickly yellow if […]


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