Showing posts from 2018

Houseplants for Low Light Indoors

Indoor plants are a rewarding hobby whether they are grown to be used as room dividers, cheerful decorations, or to reduce inside air pollution. Some plant varieties sold as houseplants thrive indoors only if you give them plenty of care, such as daily misting or if the live in a terrarium, under a glass cloche or inside a glass house called a Ward. 
Those plants make excellent hobbies, too, but only if you enjoy providing daily plant care (See for more information.)
Since the appearance of a houseplant is the main reason to have it around, shop for plants in person rather than on the Internet. Look for insect-free, healthy leaves and notice their environment. Are they under grow lights, protected from direct sun or in filtered sunlight?
Office plants have to be especially tough since they are abandoned on weekends, watered by everyone or no one, receive minimal light, breezes from heat and air conditioning, and have to survive variable room temperatures.
Some tough …

America's Christmas Traditions

For thousands of years, greenery such as holly, ivy and mistletoe have been used to decorate the dark interiors of homes. The Romans exchanged evergreens in January to bring good luck and the ancient Egyptians brought palm branches indoors in the winter. 
During the Middle Ages, red apples were hung on greenery to represent the fall of Adam during Paradise Plays. Other historical references to holiday red include holly berries and Catholic Bishop’s robes.
According to Religion News (  Christmas as we know it was not celebrated much at all until 1849 when New York declared it a holiday. By 1785 NY was banning guns and fireworks on the day because such festivities were considered rowdy by the Puritans.
Washington Irving invented Santa Claus to draw all the diverse American nationalities and traditions together.  Then, in 1823 Clement Clarke Moore wrote “A Visit from St. Nicholas” that began with the words, “Twas the night before Christmas…”. As the poem was reprint…

De-icing Salts Can Kill Plants

Snow and ice on our driveways, sidewalks and streets are safety hazards and salt is one of the primary treatments. Unfortunately,  heavy applications of salt cause problems for waterways, wildlife and plants. There are better ideas for the health of your driveway, pets and landscape. 

Deicing salt is so strong that it can degrade concrete, stone and metal. Each teaspoon of salt applied can pollute 5 gallons of ground and stream water, killing fish, insects and amphibians. Salty water around landscape plants is absorbed by their roots, dehydrating and burning the plants.
Use push and scoop shovels to remove and scrape snow off surfaces. Then, sweep away as much snow as you can so ice does not form and then let the rest melt. 
If deicing salt is necessary, remove the snow first and use as little salt as possible, applying it on critical paths. Spread it sparingly and evenly with about 3-inches between salt grains.
A 12 ounce coffee mug of salt is enough to treat ice on a 20-foot driveway, a…

Suncatchers by Jan Meng at Hungry Holler

In the winter, the view out the window is calm while plants rest and as much as we enjoy the structural beauty, we also miss color. One way to enjoy nature’s colors is to hang suncatchers so when the sun is out colors are reflected into the room, creating rainbows on drapes and walls. 

Glass beads date back to 3,000 B.C. and stained glass itself was seen only in churches until Tiffany popularized it in lampshades in 1895. Native Americans from the American Southwest made the original glass sunlight catchers we know. 
Artist Jan Meng designs and creates complex glass suncatchers at Hungry Holler Art Refuge in Eucha OK. On a single suncatcher strand she creates items that are made of 10 or 12 tiny pieces of glass interspersed with single glass beads or a series of glass cubes and mirrors.
 “I want my pieces to be dazzling and fabulous,” Meng said. “With suncatchers in your windows the passage of the day is made manifest as sun moves through the room. I notice it all the time; I’m never un-…

Gifts for Gardeners

Gardeners may be the easiest people to have on your gift-giving list since their interests range from houseplants and herbs to landscaping, water gardens and vegetable production. Gift ideas can range in price from free garden help to high end power tillers with decorative containers and seed packets in between. 
Easy to find items such as gloves, small tools and a magazine subscription can be combined in a gift basket. For stocking stuffers consider nature-themed ornaments for pots, binoculars for bird watching, an Eco newspaper pot maker or a rain gauge.
For more ideas we visited Grogg’s Green Barn in Tulsa, a local resource for everything organic. They have squirrel-proof bird feeders with an outer wire cage where birds can perch and an inner wire cage where the seeds are placed. 
Grogg’s also has Water Right Featherweight hoses, Tumbleweed WormCafe above ground worm farms, Gorilla Grow Tents available as complete indoor growing systems and Rokz Spirit Infusion Kits.
Many grateful gard…

Poinsettia Season is Here

Borovetz Carson Greenhouses, 3020 North St between South Country Club and York Mon to Sat 10 to 6 and Sun 12 to 6   Information 918.682.4404 and 348.1270
Poinsettias are a universal symbol of the holidays in the US, appearing on cards, in arrangements and of course, live plants. Poinsettia  leaves or bracts come in red, white, pink and marbled. The flower is a tiny green center that is barely noticeable.

When selecting live plants, look for bright, wilt-free leaves, and unbroken stems.  The tiny flowers should be mostly pollen-free. Buy wrapped Poinsettias on your way home from shopping since even brief exposure to cold can cause damage. 
Pete Carson has opened sales of his Muskogee-raised Poinsettias at Borovetz Carson Greenhouses.
In addition to a variety of leaf colors, he has four sizes  - Pixie is 4.5 inches with 1 plant.  - 6.5-inch pots have two plants - Eight-inch pots have 3 plants that make a taller display used for a hearth or stair steps. - Hanging baskets are 10-inches in diameter…

Marigolds or Tagetes can be Dwarf or 16 inches tall

Marigolds, or Tagetes, are one of the most cheerful plants that are easily grown from seed in the spring. Their ease and variety make them a good choice for children and family gardens.
Since the plants die with the first freeze and return from seed each spring, this fall’s seeds can be collected to start indoors. The plants will drop their seeds in the garden now and come up next season. You can transplant the seedlings around your other flower beds and containers or just thin them out.
Since they bloom all the way to our first hard freeze, Marigolds make a good cover for bulbs and daylilies that have faded for the season. Scientific experiments have recently disproved Marigold’s ability to repel garden pests so just plant them for their beauty. 
Nutrient-rich Marigold flowers attract pollinators and can be used as a saffron substitute or to make tea. When you see Marigolds used as an ingredient in medicinal creams, it is the Calendula variety that is high in antioxidants.
Newer varietie…

Pawpaw Trees Have Three Season Beauty

In the 1500s the large fruits of  Pawpaw trees fed Hernando DeSoto’s conquistadors during their expedition in the Mississippi Valley. A favorite food of American Indians at the time,  early settlers used the fruit to make jelly. The trees’ inner bark was used to make cloth and to string up fish.
Pawpaw trees have a wide native range from New York and Ontario to Iowa and Texas.  The trees mature at 10 to 20 feet tall and wide with a round, upright pyramid form that requires no shaping.
Pawpaws are cold hardy to zone 5 so they are quite happy in our zone 7 weather.  The pink flowers in the spring are very pretty and prolific. After pollination, yellow fruits form to ripen later in the summer and fall. The fruit is said to taste like bananas though ours is always eaten by wildlife long before we can harvest any.
The leaves are large, light green ovals that turn lime green and then pale yellow in the fall, adding to November color in the garden. 
Our first tree came from Stringer Nursery …

Aster Tataricus Fall Beauty

Fall is for asters and they are popping up in lawns at 2-inches tall and in gardens topping out at 10 feet tall. In between there are dozens of other Aster heights to chose from when deciding which ones to plant. 
Aster Tataricus is large, with toothed leaves and hundreds of light blue flowers with yellow centers. This variety spreads, creating colonies and providing October-November nectar for hundreds of butterflies.
In a sunny location, a cluster of Aster Tataricus can have 20 Monarch butterflies at a time, swaying in the breeze on the Asters’ strong stems while sunbathing and collecting strength to continue their voyage south. 
For the most part the stems can stand without staking but when we have a big wind and rain storm they will fall over. Usually, we do not bother to stake them since the skippers, butterflies and bees cover the flower heads just as much.
Even though the flowers are only an inch wide, the large clusters are a beautiful addition to flower beds.  Aster Tataricus is r…

Panolas are Hardier Pansies

The gardening tradition of planting Pansies in the fall got a fresh start with new and improved hybrids. Panolas are just one of the new Pansy hybrids that are now available.  Garden gurus crossed Violas with its tiny spring flowers and our beloved Pansy with its large, colorful blooms.

Nurseries are selling them as Panola, Matrix, Dynamite and Universal Plus. The new plants require no removing of the old flowers (dead heading) in order to keep them blooming. Plus, they have greater heat tolerance, sticking around to bloom when the temperatures get too warm for traditional Pansies.

Ours, in the photo, came from Riddle Plant Farm in Broken Arrow. They are also available through mail order nurseries such as Burpee (

Egemont Seed Company (www.Egmont, describes Panolas as having flowers larger than a Viola and smaller than a Pansy but with hundreds of flowers that will not be smashed by rain, hail or wind.

Compact Panolas are cold hardy in zones 6 to 8 and wil…

Tithonia Torch Flower Mexican Sunflower

Husky and coarse with spectacularly gaudy flowers is how one garden reference describes Tithonia. Well, they are tall and open branched with stems as thick as a small tree, but oh, how the butterflies love those gaudy flowers. Every sunny hour of the day this month, assorted butterflies will be sitting on the flowers while swaying in the wind on Tithonia’s sturdy branches. 
Tithonia rotundifolia has a few common names: Torch Flower , Golden Flower of the Incas and Mexican Sunflower but the seed packets say Tithonia.  
Many of the nectar-providing flowers that are  blooming now are members of the Aster or Asteraceae plant family.  Tithonia is in the Sunflower tribe of the Aster family. Their native range goes from Central America, through Mexico and into the Southwestern US.
There are several varieties but T. rotundifolia or Torch is the only one that shows up in the flower seed racks in the spring.  It grows 6-feet tall and 3 feet wide by the end of the summer. The orange flowers are 2-i…

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. 
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 s…

Fall Cuttings Make More Plants

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.

 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 frui…

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-Feb…

Green Horizons Newsletter

Green Horizons newsletter reprints articles of interest they have collected.

The link will take you to the September 2018 issue.

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
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, soil temperatures at 4-inches deep have dropped from 85 to 75 in the past week, making it poss…

Hostas Brighten Shade

Hostas, also known as Plantain Lilies, are part- shade-loving plants that are grown for their beautiful leaves rather than their flowers.  
Fall is the ideal time to divide and plant more in your garden. After digging a clump of roots with a shovel or trowel, soak the root ball long enough to pull apart the multiple plants that have developed and become entwined. There is a video at that illustrates how.
Hosta varieties have leaves from 6-inches to 6-feet across and leaf colors from blue to gold. Mail order plants usually arrive in 4-inch pots and can take a few years to mature to their full size.  Hosta roots do not grow during the winter like other perennials so they should be divided and planted soon.
Gold leaf varieties: Midas Touch and Good as Gold.  Blue leaf Hostas: Blue Heaven, Blue Angel and H. sieboldiana Elegans.  There are also some varieties with purple flowers and cream tipped leaves, 
All Hostas are vulnerable to deer, snail and slug damage. They need…

Snow on the Mountain is Euphorbia Marginata

Snow on the Mountain is a native plant in our area; it is also called Euphorbia marginata, Summer Icicle, Spurge and Smoke on the Prairie.  Its clusters of white-tipped, green leaves (actually bracts) sit on top of  24-inch tall stems, brightening wildflower beds.

Like its cousin, the Christmas Poinsettia, Snow on the Mountain bracts take center stage and the tiny green flowers in the center are barely noticed. The plant stems contain a sap that make them deer and rabbit resistant.  They like full-sun, although we have a few that get only afternoon sun. Any soil will do and they do not need fertilizer.

Plant the seeds with other fall-blooming cutting flowers such as Zinnias, Dahlias, Asters, Joe Pye Weed and Mums.

Handle the stems with care until you know if you are allergic to the sap. Snow on the Mountain often re-seeds to grow new plants the following spring but seeds are also widely available for purchase, including Johnny’s Seed ( and Prairie Moon Nursery (www…

Divide Daylilies Now

Now that the Daylilies have completed their three-months of flowers, it is a good time to divide them. Soon, all their leaves will be invisible and you will have to wait until next spring to find them again. 

Daylilies are not the same as true lilies but are called that because their blossoms look like true lilies but their flower last only one day. They are all originally from China (
Hemerocallis flava and Hemerocallis fulva are the orange daylilies you see growing in ditches and old homesteads. They have been cultivated for their medicinal properties since 479 BC and their bulbs are still cultivated for flour which you can purchase or make. (Daylily Root Cake recipe at  Many gardeners make fritters with their flowers.
Divide yours to make more plants. Start by cutting the remaining leaves so you can see the root crowns at the surface of the soil. Dig a large circle around the entire clump,  allowing for the roots that grow se…