14 October 2018

Clematis You Need - You Need Clematis

We have two Clematis vines in our garden that bloom reliably in May. A third one blooms every few years when it feels up to the task. 
Clematis Silver Moon in May

The 3,000 Clematis cultivars have varying flowering times, shapes, sizes, colors and growing habits. Colors range from white to red and purple. Vine lengths vary from 3 to 15 feet.

Most of us are familiar with spring blooming Clematis and look forward to hundreds of buds forming on our long-lived vines every year.  Most varieties need 6-hours of sun but want shaded roots in our area. Regular, deep, watering in soil that drains well will keep the roots healthy.

Single, double, bell, saucer, tulip and star shaped flowers are available. The vines needs support from a fence, trellis or nearby shrubs. Look for fungus and disease resistant varieties. 

Group 1, spring-blooming Clematis grow on last year‘s shoots in sheltered sun. Examples: Rebecca (large red), Josephine (mauve pink with  plum stripes), Blushing Bridesmaid (double pink), Corrine (white with pink stripe). 

Group 2 flowers late spring and early summer from side-shoots of last year’s growth. Examples: John Paul II (white with pink stripe), Burning Love (red, disease and wilt resistant), Sugar-Sweet Blue (periwinkle blue, scented, wilt-resistant) etc. 

Group 3 flowers on current year growth in summer and fall. Examples: Negritjanka (5-inch flowers, plum--purple),  Utopia (white flowers with magenta edges), and Texensis Radiance (violet-blue trumpet flowers).

Smaller flower, part-shade varieties are vigorous growers and happily vine their way through shrubs where they receive filtered light. Montana Rubens (pastel pink) buds on old wood so it needs no pruning.  

Clematis virginiana and Clematis terniflora paniculata burst into bloom here last month, covering trees and shrubs along roads and in parks with thousands of small white flowers. Virginiana is a non-invasive native; terniflora paniculata is invasive.

Clematis expert Dan Long of Brushwood Nursery (www.brushwoodnursery.com) is speaking at the Tulsa Garden Center, Oct. 18, at 6:30.  His topic is “Clematis You Need - You Need Clematis”. 

07 October 2018

Fall Cuttings Make More Plants

Willow Tree Cutting
Every year around this time I take cuttings of plants that I want to have more of next year, including Coleus, Brown Turkey Fig, Pineapple Sage, Nepeta Walkers Low and Forsythia.

Plus, I take cuttings of plants that have done well over the last few mild winters but may not thrive in a colder year. That list includes Lavender, culinary Sage, Rosemary and Flowering Quince. This year I want to try Viburnum because the variety we have is loaded with flowers and pollinators in the spring.

Growing plants from stem cuttings is the most common propagation method and the steps are not complicated. You will need sharp cutting tools, such as pruners, that have been cleaned with 10 percent bleach solution or rubbing alcohol.

Fill clean planting containers with planting medium such as sand, vermiculite, perlite and/or potting soil. Water and allow it to drain.

Forsythia shrub cuttings
 To make a flower pot greenhouse, insert chopsticks into the soil and cover with clear plastic that you have put air holes in.  I use fruit containers since they have air holes, drainage holes and a clear cover.

Cut a piece of the plant stem just below a leaf. You want 2 to 6 leaf nodes on each cutting. Remove the flowers and all but two leaves at the growing tip. Dip the bottom node into a small amount of rooting hormone and place it in a hole in the planting soil. Put the leaf nodes into the soil and keep the top leaves just above the soil. Press soil around the cuttings and close the cover.

Check the cuttings daily, opening the container to provide air circulation. Keep the soil moist but not wet. The new plants’ roots will emerge from the leaf node.

Next spring you can have dozens of free plants to fill your garden beds just by taking a few snips now and tending them over the winter.

23 September 2018

Beautyberry Shrub is Callicarpa americana

Like many native shrubs, Beautyberry is shunned by gardeners who want a formal appearance to their property. If you can enjoy the more rustic look that comes with native plants, though, Beautyberry is a star of the fall hedge row in zones 6 - 10. 

Beautyberry, Callicarpa Americana, or French Mulberry, enjoys sun to part shade, has minimal water requirements and is disease free. Our row of them is tucked under native peach trees along with holly shrubs for fall migrating birds and fennel for butterflies.

Many species of birds enjoy the berries but rabbits and deer rarely eat the stems or leaves. Callicarpa also comes in other varieties with white and lavender berries. Callicarpa Americana takes its time growing to the mature size of 5 or 6 feet tall and wide.  The tiny pink-white flowers attract lots of pollinators in late spring.

If you have a Beautyberry that you want to move or divide, do that between Nov and Feb during dormancy. Prune out dead branches and shape the shrubs in late-February since they bloom on new growth. You can collect ripe seeds to plant; they prefer 70-degrees for germination.

French Mulberry seeds also make delicious jelly. Use the basic instructions for cooked jelly in the Sure Jell box. For 8 half-pint jars of jelly: Mash 2 quarts of cleaned Callicarpa berries and cook in 2.5 cups of water for 15 min. Strain the juice through a ricer or jelly bag. Bring to a boil: 5 cups of juice, 1 box Sure Jell and 2 Tablespoons lemon juice. Add 6 cups white sugar and 1 Tablespoon butter. Boil 1 min. Put in sterile jars and seal them with a 10 minute water bath.

Callicarpa is Greek for beautiful fruit and any variety will add beauty to your fall garden.  American Indians used the roots and leaves for medicinal teas for digestive issues such as stomach ache and dysentery.

19 September 2018

Green Horizons Newsletter

Green Horizons newsletter reprints articles of interest they have collected.

The link will take you to the September 2018 issue.


16 September 2018

Soil Temperature is Key to Success

I am a terrible gardener. Though this column is about the importance of soil temperatures for fall gardens, my lazy gardening practices come into the discussion later. 

Plant roots grow in soil that provides nutrients, structural support, moisture and microbes. The health of your food and ornamental plants begin there. During the day, soil collects heat and keeps the roots warm at night when air temperatures fall. 

Soil temperature is more important than perfect watering methods, fertilizers and pest protections. The optimal soil temperature for seedlings is easy to find on company websites, seed packets and at online databases such as www.tomclothier.hort.net

This week I was searching for ideal germination temperatures for fall-planted greens because seeds by the scoop purchased at Arnold’s Fruit Company in Muskogee come without growing tips. 

According to Oklahoma Mesonet at www.mesonet.org, soil temperatures at 4-inches deep have dropped from 85 to 75 in the past week, making it possible to plant fall vegetables. These seeds will not germinate if the soil is 85 and prefer the 70-degree range.

It’s all about roots and shoots. Seeds absorb water and form a root before they produce a shoot above ground. Spinach wants 75-degree soil, lettuce wants 60-75 degrees, radishes and chard 65-85, etc. (https://bit.ly/2wK1fK8).

Now, back to my being a terrible gardener and how that connects with this topic. In our garden many plants are allowed to go to seed because we collect the seed to use next year, the seedheads are beautiful, fall migrating birds enjoy feasting on them and their tall weedy structures in the pollinator beds provide cover for butterflies and their babies.

As fall cleanup in the ‘lazy-gardener’ sections began this week I found tiny seedlings of parsley, kale, cosmos, castor bean, and zinnias signaling cooler soil temperatures just right for new seeds. 

We also leave weedy places for turtle habitat after finding them nesting among thick weeds we had ignored all summer. Feel free to use our ‘habitat for wildlife’ excuse for your weeds.