12 August 2018

Coneflowers for Oklahoma Gardens

Echinacea means medicine for colds for most people but for gardeners Echinacea (Coneflowers) bring to mind beautiful tall, daisy-like flowers that persist throughout our hot summers to fill vases and feed butterflies. 

Traditional coneflowers, Echinacea purpurea, have deep pink petals and a gold-rust center. Only Mother Nature could come up with that color combination and make it work. Even when the flowers fade to soft pink from the sun’s hot summer rays, they attract butterflies and bees as well as garden walkers’ eyes.

Coneflowers are perennials so rather than having to re-plant every year, they multiply a bit every year, enlarging the size of the clump and bringing more beauty to full sun and part-shade flower beds.

You can purchase plants but the seeds are easy to propagate. From seed to flower takes about 90 days and they need a bit of chill to emerge so plant the seeds 1/2 inch deep in prepared soil in late winter while there is still a chance of frost. 

If you prefer to plant them indoors, start them in mid-February. Press the seeds into damp, well-drained, seed starting mix. Keep them at 70 degrees and they will emerge in 10-25 days. If you have a place in the garage, put them outside (40-degrees) for a few weeks chill before bringing them to a warmer location. Check for moisture every week.

There are many colors to consider. 

 Cheyenne Spirit produces a combination of flower colors including gold, scarlet, red-orange, cream, purple, yellow and rose red. 

Purpurea Baby White is 12 inches tall with big white flowers. For tall white coneflowers look for White Swan or Pow Wow White. Plant seeds in January for June flowers. 

For a conversation piece, try Green Twister. The flowers are lemon green with carmine centers. Cherry Fluff has a lime green center with pink petals.  

Whatever your garden palette, there is a coneflower that will increase its beauty.

09 August 2018

Daffodils for Sale

Image result for daffodil glowing phoenix
Glowing Phoenix: Y-O Double,
very early, registered before 1930

Example: White petals, split cup or corona, 
Each year Jason Delaney posts his list of daffodil bulbs for sale and each year I order more. Surely the 8,000 we have now can't be enough.

I look for a) height, b) bloom time and c) color.

a) Height because you probably don't want to plant the 26-inch tall ones in the same places as the 8-inch ones. Dwarf ones close to the house and tall ones farther out is how we do it but you are the artist in your own garden so do whatever makes you happy to be outside.

b) I select some early, mid-season and late so we have flowers for 6 weeks or more.

c) Color because having some W-W (all white) some Y-Y (all yellow) plus the other wonderful combinations makes walking through the garden in the spring an "Ohmygosh! Look at that one." experience.

Here's the link to this year's list - http://www.phsdaffodils.com His online ordering system doesn't seem to be set up yet so you order by postal mail or email with PayPal. The information is at the bottom of this order form.

Each entry has a link to the American Daffodil Society description with height, cup/corona style (split, double, etc), color of petal and cup, etc.

Delaney was the bulb manager for Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis and his bulbs are grown in Illinois. They do well here in Muskogee zone 7 and he always sends extras with your order.
Jetfire: Y-O), Early season, Dwarf

This little Jetfire is one of my favorites (along with the W-P split corona one in the photo above, and, and). Jetfire is about 8-inches tall so it's perfect for among tree roots.

There are many online sources for spring flowering bulbs but it is definitely time to get serious about ordering what you want because they all sell out of the best ones.

05 August 2018

Tropical Hibiscus

Muskogee gardener Karen Coker grew her first Variegated Tropical Hibiscus when she had an interior landscape business in Raleigh N.C. 

“I bought it from a greenhouse supplier around 1998,” said Coker. “I was drawn to the leaf size and color, its blooms and the braided stems.” “It won three awards at the Western North Carolina State Fair in 2004.”

When it was time to move to Muskogee in 2005 to help care for her mother, the shrub was too big to bring along so Coker donated it to the North Carolina Arboretum after taking a set of cuttings to start a new shrub here.

Those cuttings have grown into a container plant that is 4-feet tall and wide that has won awards and ribbons at the Tulsa State Fair. 

Coker is ready to take cuttings to grow a smaller Tropical Hibiscus and is looking for a new home for her award winning plant.

“Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is cold hardy only in zones 9 and 10 and has to come into a greenhouse or a well-lighted house every winter,” said Coker. “It has grown too large for me to move so I need to find a good home for this one and start over.”

Tropical Hibiscus shrubs are grown in hedge rows in warm climates from Australia to Hawaii and Florida as well as south Texas. Its other names include Chinese hibiscus, shoeblack plant and China Rose.  Rosa-sinensis was named by Carl Linnaeus and the name literally means China Rose.

In warm climates and greenhouses, Tropical Hibiscus is evergreen, flowering for weeks in the summer, even here in zone 7. The edible flowers feed hummingbirds and butterflies as well as other pollinators.

Coker and other hobbyists find Tropical Hibiscus easy to propagate and hybridize since it is not patented. In addition to the scarlet flowers on Coker’s Snow Queen variety, there are white, yellow and red cultivars on the market.

If you would like to adopt Coker’s Tropical Hibiscus you can contact her at karenperrycoker@gmail.com or 918.348.8159.

30 July 2018

Divide Iris Now Here's How

Iris flowers were named for the goddess Iris who is usually represented as a rainbow or as a maiden with a many-colored coat that she uses to create rainbows. And, Iris flowers come in over 250 species, colors and heights. 
Left: throw on the compost pile
Center: Mother and daughter rhizomes
Right: Iris ready to plant

Most garden Iris are the bearded Iris grown from rhizomes that sit near the top of the soil and multiply into webs of mother and daughter bulbs. These old fashioned favorites tolerate almost any soil and conditions.

All Iris have either rhizomes or bulbs where they store food for the next year. Their colonies have to be dug and divided every few years.  

This hot and dry weather is the ideal time to dig and divide rhizomes and bulbs. Start by making a container of 10% bleachwater. Lift a clump of Iris and shake off the dirt. Use clean pruners or a knife to separate them. Trim the leaves to a third of their height. Put old rhizomes on the compost and young ones into the bleach water for 30 minutes to kill insects and diseases. Then put them in the sun to dry for a day. 

In a prepared bed, plant rhizomes on a little mound of soil and drape the roots over the edge. Fill the hole, leaving the rhizome top exposed. 

Siberian Iris have an almost flat flower with a fall that tilts down slightly so they are considered ‘beardless‘. Plant them 2 inches deep in a new location in groups of two to four fans. 

Louisiana Iris and Japanese Iris prefer moist locations.  Plant their bulbs 2-inches deep in well-drained soil in full or part-sun.

Dutch Iris flowers are traditionally either blue, yellow or white, and make excellent cut flowers. They grow from bulbs and want plenty of water in the spring. Plant Dutch Iris bulbs 3 to 4 inches deep. 

All your Iris plantings will reward your efforts next spring filling your garden with color.

22 July 2018

Stokes Asters Drought Tolerant Summer Flowers

Stokes’ Aster, Stokesia laevis, is native to the Southern US, from North Carolina to Louisiana, where they grow in wetlands, bottomlands, and ditches. The Stokesia Blue Frills in the photo is in its third year in our garden, without winter protection.  

Stokesia laevis plants are cold hardy in zones 5 to 9 and a light winter mulch will ensure their return the following spring.

The blue flower varieties are the most commonly grown by gardens and gardeners although there are pink, purple and white varieties available. Stokes’ Asters bloom in June and July in full sun. Since they spread only to one or one-and-a-half feet wide, they are ideal for the front of a shrub bed. 

Stokes’ Asters are easy to grow in average soil with medium moisture. They will tolerate part sun but have more flowers and stronger stems when grown in full sun (6 hours a day). 

Drought tolerance is one of the advantages of Stokes’ Asters. They prefer the good drainage of a container, a hillside bed or sandy soil. An area where the roots stay wet and cold all winter will cause their early demise.

To keep them blooming, deadhead (cut off) the faded flowers and remove stems that look spent. They may have a fall re-bloom. After plants stop flowering the stems can be cut back to the base.

Stokes’ Asters have no insect or disease problems; deer and rabbits do not eat them. They have to be divided every 4 to 6 years. They were named for the botanist Dr. Jonathan Stokes, a friend of Carl Linnaeus. Dr. Stokes also discovered the heart-healing digitalis in Foxglove plants. 

To grow Stokesia, plant seeds directly in the garden in fall or early spring. Seeds can be purchased or collected from existing plants. Plant roots can be divided in October to propagate indoors this winter.
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