Showing posts from 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-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…