This is my first year attempting to garden and all I am able to do on my second floor balcony are plants in containers. I live in Boulder, CO and my balcony is South facing - yes it gets LOTS of sun! This spring I purchased window boxes and planted morning glories, pansies, and wooly thyme. The pansies died in early June due to a lack of watering (blame my husband - I was away for a few days). The morning glories and wooly thyme are doing O.K. in some boxes, really well in others. My question to you is this: should I empty out the boxes come winter? I am assuming that the morning glories will die in the winter and I will need to replant some type of vining plant again in the spring after the last frost. Also I figure I will need to put fresh potting soil in the boxes for the spring.
The wooly thyme may winter over, in which case it seems a waste to dump it. But everything else needs to get yanked. If you used a good potting soil, you shouldn't have to change the pots yearly. Instead, why not add a slow-acting fertilizer to the soil next spring. Then next year, when you're no longer a beginner (!), try branching out in your selection of plants. Consider more perennials, more audacious annuals, even a dwarf conifer (provided it will survive the winter). No reason for your window boxes to be disposable. Let your imagination go!
I live in northern Washington state, I wonder if it helps increase the blossoms on lilacs to prune them, and if so, when? Currently the bushes are about 15 feet tall.
I don't know whether you aren't getting flowers or aren't getting enough flowers. I wouldn't prune just in the hopes of more blooms, but I would prune to improve the shape, air circulation and amount of sunlight that's reaching all branches of the tree. The best time to prune is right
after blooming, but that's just a good-to-know rule to avoid inadvertently cutting off next year's flowers. You can certainly prune now.
A neighbor of mine in Yellow Springs, Ohio, had a plant that was magic. A tall bushy type yielded a lovely set of buds that at dusk opened slowly, like time-lapse photography, as all the neighbors watched. The yellow flower lasted through the night and was gone the next day, to repeat each evening for several weeks. Needless to say the block was busy and friendly for many reasons but the season of the magic yellow flower (with lovely neighborhood chatter and a favorite glass of wine while standing close to the magic) was priceless. Anyway, my mind has gone back to that time and the neighbor has moved and someone cut it down. The blossom was yellow (similar to a yellow day lily color) and the seeds were black, small and round (similar to morning glory seeds). Can you help? I have tried several versions that plant experts have given me locally and none are the right one.
Sounds to me like evening primrose, the genus Oenothera. Could be any number of species. You could check out pix of O. missouriensis (aka O. macrocarpa) among others in a plant encyclopedia.
Good luck, KL
I live in the Reno, Nevada area. While I love our lifestyle here, gardening is another subject. The soil here is dry, solid as a rock, full of clay-like globs, and pretty much lacking in any nutrients. When I bought this property, there were mature trees and shrubs in sorry shape from neglect, they are now much improved with regular care. My deck faces southwest and gets the fierce sun year-round. The other half is in the shade most of the time. Please! What can I plant in these areas that will survive the heat, cold, horrible soil and be kind enough to come back year after year?
Actually, there's so much you can do in Reno, you'll be amazed. Before I go on, let me suggest you get a hold of the High Country Gardens catalog from Santa Fe. You'll be able to grow a great deal of the plants in there.
In the meantime, how's this for a list?
Lilacs - LOVE RENO
Deciduous barberries - Berberis thunbergii types
Ceanothus 'Glory of Versaille'-might be tough to find
Delosperma cooperi - hardy iceplant
Papaver orientalis - Oriental Poppy
Thyme- all kinds thrive and take hot, dry conditions
Hemerocallis - Day lily-part shade to full sun
lily- part montana - good part shade, full sun
Aquilegias - Columbines- good in part shade
Colugood - Globe Mallows- blasting hot sun, poor soil.
Salvia verticillata - 'May Night' 'East Friesland'
Now, get gardening! Best, KL
California Shade Tree
I live in Santa Ana -- Southern California -- inland but fairly near the water (8 or 10 miles). My big apricot tree in the backyard died a year ago (we've lived here 40 years and it was full-grown when we moved in -- so it probably died of old age -- but it had bores or something like that, too) -- it provided us lots of shade for the two bedrooms on the west side of the house as well as a nice view from the windows -- we need a quick-growing easy-to-maintain inexpensive shade tree to plant ASAP. Also, when the old tree was removed, we did not dig out the roots. please give us your best advice. in the meantime, i plan to get a couple of arbors and plant some vines.
You've got lots of options; here's a few for fast-growing trees to 25' that will thrive in Orange County:
Eucalyptus nicholii: nice and not huge, casts light shade, not messy, evergreen
Eucalyptus torquata: apricot flowers, fast growth, evergreen
Hymenosporum flavum: Sweet Shade, fragrant yellow flowers
Agonis flexuosa: weeping tree to 20', tough, fast, evergreen.
Acmena smithii: Lilly Pilly tree, grows to 20' quickly, evergreen.
Best of luck, KL
Blossomless Orange Blossom
I have an orange blossom shrub, planted at least 15 years ago, that lives and grows in eastern Connecticut but refuses to flower. This year, no flowers at all. Other years, perhaps 6-8 flowers. It stands immediately next to the east side of our house, and it has pachysandra growing (well) at its feet. I feed it superphosphate in the spring and have both pruned (heavily) and not pruned it from one year to the next. Is this just a freeloader?
My first guess is that your Philadelphus may need more sun; afternoon shade could be the culprit. Also be sure to prune only after flowering (what little there is, anyway) since the shrub blooms on second-year wood. That means that pruning any earlier than July will result
in the removal of potentially blooming wood. If you think the plant gets enough sun and you've been pruning the right way, then compost that freeloader, get a new plant, and put it in the sunniest possible spot.
More Shade for California
Two years ago I moved to Southern California (eastern San Diego) from Michigan and I’m still adapting to the climate change and learning about growing plants in these semi-arid conditions.
Okay, the question – I bought a house that has a mature (read: on its last legs) Lacebark Elm in the back yard. The tree’s broad, tall canopy lightly shades nearly the entire south-facing back yard and cools the back part of the house – which is a blessing in the summer. My question is this: is there a tree that I can plant young as an “understory tree” under the span of the elm that can take over in a few years when the messy old tree finally goes? I want to minimize the number of years the back yard must be exposed to the full force of the sun.
I am a big fan of water conservation, so I would love to plant a drought-tolerant tree, or one that needs infrequent watering. I am enamored with the “Raywood” Ash that is grown in my neighborhood. Would he be an option?
'Raywood Ash' would be an excellent choice! As would the following:
Ficus carica (fruiting fig)
Lyonothamnus floribundus 'Asplenifolius' (Catalina Ironwood; native)
Acmena smithii (Lillypilly Tree)
Quercus agrifolia (Coast Live Oak; native)
Cactus in Florida
I live near Tallahassee, Florida (USDA zone 8B), and would like to grow some true cacti that would tolerate our wet winters. We have native Opuntias (prickly pears are common)- I would like to try some Cholla types (they look cool). I have seen some barrell genera that are successful here - but the owners cannot give an I.D. In one case the owner confessed to having rustled some from west Texas. My wife and I recently vacationed in Arizona which has rekindled my love for cacti (years ago I played with them as house plants).
The reason your native opuntias do so well is that they can handle the wet. But most cacti can handle rain during the warm season when they are growing and evaporation is very high. Given then, if I were you, I'd try just about anything that can handle a little frost. And as a little drainage insurance, you could add pumice or coarsegravel to your soil.
Plants you might try include Echinocerus, Cereus peruvianus and Echinopsis). Chollas are opuntias and should do well.
Experiment! I bet you'll be much more successful than you think.
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