Caring For Tropicals And Exotic FlowersWritten by Gerry Belvedere
Tropical flowers make an exciting change from more traditional floral gifts such as roses and gerberas, assuming that they're available in your area. Their stark and colorful beauty makes them an impressive gift for special occasions like Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, birthdays and anniversaries.
If you're lucky enough to grow tropical flowers such as heliconias or gingers in your garden, here are some tips to help them thrive and extend their shelf life as cut flowers.
1. Water your plants well and give them a big drink before cutting. This is important for foliage plants as well because some varieties “drink’ very little after cutting. Instead, they live off their own sap.
Tropical plants have adapted to their natural environment which typically involves frequent but short periods of heavy rain.
Get Off The Grass - Groundcovers For Problem PlacesWritten by Jean Fritz
Why fight nature? If you’ve got an abundance of shade, thin, sandy soil, or other lawn challenging conditions, keep your sanity and your budget intact this season and install groundcover plants instead of attempting to reestablish a lawn.
Groundcovers have advantage of requiring fewer pest controls to stay healthy and look good. Maintenance is also minimal, as most of plants are either slow-growing or naturally dwarf. Many will accept “weed whacker” pruning periodically and if they start to break out of their bounds, errant plants may need to be dug. Most require an application of time-released fertilizer once a year. Wouldn’t it be nice to cut your chemical bills to nearly nothing?
The most ubiquitous groundcovers are Baltic ivy and pachysandra, but these aren’t only options available. Be creative! Groundcovers can be woodland natives, low-growing evergreens, or herbs. Some options for shady areas are: Canadian wild ginger (Asarum canadensis), Lily of valley (Convallaria sp.) bloodroot (Sanguinaria) one of many cultivars of hosta, or even unattractive-sounding dead nettle (Lamium maculatum). These plants grow quite vigorously in shady, moist conditions, stay low-growing, and offer additional benefit of flowers, although in case of wild ginger, they may be inconspicuous. In addition, their leaves span gamut of green shades available on nature’s palette; hosta and dead nettle also offer two-toned or silver-toned foliage.
Sunny spots with thin, sandy soil can support low growing evergreens such as creeping juniper, Mugho pine, and false cypress quite nicely. These plants take their sweet time about growing but once they’re established, they are as permanent as house they were planted to accent. The junipers also produce small berries, which are a treat for birds and serve as an ingredient in Alsatian choucroute for very adventuresome cook.