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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

'Forest Pansy' Redbud (Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy')

The leaves are still fresh on my 'Forest Pansy' Redbud but you can already see why I picked it as a focal point for our arbor project. My idea was to place the beautiful purple foliage of the redbud where you can view it through the arbor. That can't be done from all perspectives but as the tree grows larger it will cover a portion of the pathway and will be seen from the front yard offering a focal point for those who wander down the garden path. In a way it will parallel the Japanese Maple near the arbor. It might even turn into a nice place for a bench, but that's a project for another day!  Redbuds grow very well in Tennessee and range all over the state but are especially beautiful on the Cumberland Plateau.  Just travel along I-40 in the spring time when the redbuds are blooming and you will see what I mean.

Redbud Growing Info:

Redbuds are zone 6-8 trees that grow around 15-20 feet wide and have a height up to 30 feet. They are actually members of the bean and pea family (Leguminosae). Redbuds tend to grow as understory trees and have long spreading roots which make transplanting difficult.

I can't wait to see this tree grow. It was one of only a couple 'Forest Pansy' redbuds available at the store when we bought it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

New Plants in the Garden

Today I made a couple stops for some new plants on my way home from the dentist appointment that was really supposed to be next week. I guess with everything going on lately my head has been spinning and I just got mixed up. Or maybe I'm just getting old? Whatever the case the perfect remedy for a spinning head is to work in the garden and today I did just that. I added several new plants that I've never tried before but have wonderful reputations. Unfortunately the camera never made it to the garden so you will have to use your imagination. I'll highlight them soon on their own but here's the list of what I added. The one's with the asterisk are brand new in my garden.

  • Dusty Miller - Senecio cineraria
  • Coleus - Solenostemon
  • Petunia - Petunia hybrida
  • Sweet Potato Vine - Ipomoea batatas
  • Persian Shield* - Strobilanthes dyerianus (I learned of this one through Nan's book Foliage, it's a must read, must gawk at the pictures, and definite must have! Thanks Nan!)
  • Black and Blue Salvia - Salvia guaranitica
  • Coreopsis 'Jethro Tull'* - Coreopsis also called Tickseed
I'll show you a few pictures soon!

Monday, April 27, 2009

PPPP From Gail

Last year at a meeting of the Tennessee Garden Blogger Society (this does not officially exist but it seemed appropriate!) Gail brought some plant goodies to share. One of which was her Practically Perfect Pink Phlox. It's now officially made its presence known in our garden. Thanks Gail!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Viburnum Cuttings

Today while at my in-law's house I made a few cuttings from one of their viburnums. I'm not entirely positive about the variety but I believe it is a Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosumViburnums are beautiful flowering shrubs in the spring that have very few pest and disease problems. The fall color can be good too so you get a plant with three seasons of interest.

I took the cuttings from greenwood that had two nodes on each stem. Then I did the standard rooting hormone treatment and put them in a window inside our house. (My wife just loves this time of year!) Hopefully in 4-6 weeks I'll have a few viburnum cuttings to plant outside. I'm a big fan of viburnums so any opportunity to add another one to the garden inventory is always taken! Who wouldn't want to see these flowers every spring?

If you are interested in learning more about Viburnums, this book by Michael Dirr is an excellent resource!

Beans and Corn, Corn and Beans

This is the first year in our garden that I'm trying corn. Last year we didn't have the space but since we expanded the garden this year with my newest layout I have an 8'x10' area for corn. I'm planting it in succession.  The first part is planting a small square of corn. Squares are efficient for corn because corn is wind pollinated and a block formation makes it easier for the corn to cross pollinate. Each little kernel of corn has to be pollinated individually, which is why sometimes kernels may be missing on the cob. Spotty pollination means spotty corn cobs.  I planted my first square with 3 rows and several seeds per row on the western side of the garden so that each section will be lower than the first in height to maximize sunlight. Once the corn starts to germinate I'll plant another section and continue the method of succession until the area is full.  If everything works out I'll end up with fresh corn for several weeks.

I've covered the area with grass clippings to serve as a mulch. Once the corn starts to emerge from the soil I'll add some grass clippings around the corn and pull back the grass from the new area to plant. The bamboo stakes are there as a visual reference of where I planted the first grouping of corn.

I also planted the first part of my succession of bush beans. Bush beans tend to expend themselves in bursts which is why I'm doing a succession of plantings. The middle row is where I started our Nash Bush beans. I only went halfway into the row with seed so that I can plant in six sections. The second one will be the opposite side and top row, the third will go to the bottom right, the fourth planting will go to the top left, the fifth to the bottom left and the last one in the middle. I'm planning it this way for easy access for picking the beans.

Once the corn comes up I'll plant some pole bean seeds among them. The beans will climb the corn and help to fix nitrogen in the soil, something that legumes are good at and corn likes!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Tree Line

This time of year is always very special. The leaves are coming out on all the trees and the barren treeline in the backyard becomes a lush forest of greenery.

The treeline is filled with maples, tulip poplars, sassafras and small variety of other trees.

The Entry Arbor

To say that I'm excited about the completion of our Arbor project is an understatement. In many ways it turned out better than I had hoped. From the plants we used to the materials and the design nearly everything went according to plan. Of course I spent a good deal of time before the project began planning this arbor. I went through at least 3 different design ideas for the project including two arbors with only two posts a piece, one at the beginning of the corridor and the other at the end. My wife talked me down from this one insisting that we should concentrate on one really special arbor. I think she was right and I'm not afraid to say that!
Here's a long distance shot of the arbor from the top of our driveway. We positioned the arbor at a slight angle for a couple reasons. One was the look, it just fit the pathway better. Number two was because of a gas utility line that we needed to avoid. I actually had the lines marked last fall so I would know where they were. I didn't want anything (mainly myself) to interfere with them!

If you walk down the driveway and onto the sidewalk you can see the angle of the arbor a little better. The diamond designs move in the wind with a gentle clinking of the chains that suspend them. Eventually vines will cover the arbor. From one side it will be honeysuckle and from the other I was thinking of planting moonflowers which open up in the evenings.

As you continue across the yard toward the arbor you will see the pathway begin to take shape. Although it hasn't fully leafed out yet the Forest Pansy Redbud is in front of you. It's early spring flowers and purple heart shaped foliage will be a focal point for any travelers down this path. The deciduous plantings will soon be covered with foliage and you will see the full impact of this area. To the right the Japanese maple draws the eyes toward the corner shade garden filled with hostas, heucheras, Soloman's Seal, and a new find: Japanese Forest Grass! You can even see the new dry creek bed I put in the other day.
On the left is the honeysuckle. This particular one is Lonicera sempervirens (Trumpet Honeysuckle), not the dread Lonicera japonica which, along with it's friend Kudzu, seems to be taking over the southern U.S.. Lonicera sempervirens is native to the U.S. and is favorite of hummingbirds. In fact before I could even plant the honeysuckle two hummingbirds visited it and that was only one day after its purchase! This particular variety is called 'Alabama Crimson', an unfortunate name for a great plant but I suppose Tennessee Orange just wouldn't have fit. It is red after all.
Once you reach the arbor a set of stepping stones laid on the ground guide you down the path. They aren't intended to really be stepped on but rather to guide the gardener visually down the pathway. Of course they are convenient for avoiding wet shoes when walking through the early morning dew.
A quick look back will show you how the gardens enclose around the arbor. The obelisk was made from leftover 1"x2"s and will support some climbers of a yet to be determined nature. To the left is the corner shade garden and to the right is the deciduous glade with a fothergilla, viburnum, and several other woody plants.

And here it is at night, lit with the light of our front porch and the solar lanterns hanging from the front posts. I can't wait to see how it all fits together with the self seeding garden in bloom.

I've really enjoyed being able to participate in the 48 Hour Blog Challenge. I may not win the $5000 but I feel like I've already won. After all, a great experience is priceless!

For information on how I built my arbor check out these two posts:
How to Build an Arbor Part 1
How to Build an Arbor Part 2

Friday, April 24, 2009

Guess What?

If you haven't already looked you should. The work is done, the pictures have been taken, and the post is up at BHG.com.  The voting won't begin until next Friday but now you can see the results of the project! Head on over and take a look at the 48 hour Blog Challenge and see my new Arbor! I'll post more pictures of it tomorrow here on The Home Garden.

How to Make a Dry Creek Bed for Downspout Drainage

The other day I just happened to have some extra stone that I had bought a few weeks ago on a large palette with some miscellaneous landscaping supplies. I thought that a dry creek bed might look better than the cheap looking plastic tube that was attached to the end of the downspout so I started putting one together using those stones. It took about 4 partially filled bags of stone and a little landscape fabric to complete. It's a simple enough project to complete in 30 to 40 minutes.

First I cut landscape fabric to fit the area. Landscape fabric is good for this use since it is porous and will prevent weeds from underneath. It won't stop weeds that blow in so future weedings will be necessary. I made a triangular shape for the part closest to the house then overlapped other pieces of fabric toward the outside border. I kept the fabric narrow to simulate a small stream bed. I held the fabric down with larger stones temporarily then spread the stone starting with the largest stones first and the smallest ones last. Then I spread the mulch back up to the edge of the stones.

There it is, a new dry creek bed near the Japanese maple and the corner shade garden!

There's one example of water wise gardening, take a look at my rain garden posts or head over to Gardening Gone Wild to see some more!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Arbor Project: A Japanese Maple Leaf (Sneak Peek 4)

Along the posts of the arbor project we added a little decoration. Welcome to Japanese Maple Leaf Decor 101: How to Stain an Arbor!

First we put the initial coat of stain on the 4"x4"s then placed a leaf of a Japanese maple on the still slightly damp wood. Then we removed the leaf after a second coat of stain which left an imprint of the maple leaf. We only did this on the four main posts as it was very time intensive and we did have a time limit. This was our first attempt with this technique but I think it turned out pretty nice.  We may go back later and add a similar decoration to other parts of the arbor. I think it works well with the Japanese maple that it happens to be situated beside!

Get ready for voting! It begins May 1st and you can vote once per day.

Previous Peeks of the Arbor Project!

Sneak Peek 1: Solar Lights

Sneak Peek 2: Scotch Moss

Sneak Peek 3: The Side Details

Advice for New Gardeners

With the rise of gardening in America lots of people new to gardening are taking up trowels and digging in the dirt. Some people are just returning to gardening while others are trying for the first time. Here is just a little advice for those starting off to help you along.

1. Start Small. Don't bite off more than you can chew (This is an incidence of the pot calling the kettle black!) You can always expand your garden as your successes grow. By starting small you can determine how much time you have to devote to gardening.

2. Location. It matters in gardening just as it does in real estate. Vegetables love the sun so give them a place they can work on their tans.

3. Expect something to fail. Temper your expectations somewhat as you will run into some hardships. Whether it is bugs or disease, through no fault of your own, bad things happen. Learn about why the problem happened and how you can avoid it in the future.  Often new gardeners will see things fail and blame themselves and say "I have a brown thumb", while this may be true there is one thing you must do (See number 4).

4. Persevere. Just don't give up. You have officially failed when you stop trying! If something doesn't work, do it in a different way. If your plants don't like the ground you have build a raised bed or amend it. There are many ways of doing things in gardening, find what works for your garden.

5. Read, read, read. Did I say read? Information is a key to a successful garden. If you read my gardening blog great! Keep doing it! (Tell your friends and neighbors too!) If you get your information through books and magazines or other websites that's good too. What is important is that you fill your head with solid knowledge about what your plants need including what pests and diseases may come and what cultural planting practices work best.  Learn the general information you need to know then branch outwards as your interests evolve.

There's my advice for new gardeners. Everyone will have varying degrees of success in their gardens and it's always important to keep on going and learn and you grow.  While there are some more specific things I could list above I think I'll save them for another Thoughtful Thursday!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Arbor Project: The Side Details (Sneak Peek 3)

Today's sneak peak reveals a couple more features of the Arbor.  The picture to the right reveals the sides but also offers a glimmer of the landscaping.  I could have built solid sides for the arbor but I had an idea that repeats a diamond shape theme from another element of the arbor. The diamonds are made from 1"x2"s with eyehooks in the corners.  The eyehooks attach to a black chain that matches the solar lanterns we hung. My orginal intent was to have the diamonds attach at each corner to the arbor to become mostly stabilized.  As I was attaching the top I realized that the diamonds would gently turn as they caught the breeze and become a wind feature. My mom even recommended I add some prisms to the inside of the diamonds to reflect the light. I think it's a good idea and may do that later. 

In the back you can see a couple of the plantings and the stone border. The stones are 16 inches long (41 pounds!) and define the border between the self seeding garden and the arbor.

Previous Peeks!

Sneak Peek 1: Solar Lights

Sneak Peek 2: Scotch Moss

Flowering Fothergilla

Fothergilla is a relatively recent addition to the garden. When I was working on the Fall Color Project last autumn I saw the fantastic fall color of the fothergilla's foliage and fell for it! (Is that enough F words for you?) The fuzzy springtime flowers are just a bonus since I mainly wanted it for the fall show.  They appear slowly at first then burst open all of sudden to reveal these white fuzzy flower balls. The flowers arrive before the foliage appears. 

Fothergillas are in the Hamamelidaceae family which is the witch hazel family.  They are hardy to zone five and are a native plant in the United States. I found ours at a local nursery where they had it marked for less than $5.  I planted it in the Side Border Garden which now forms our Arbor corridor. It's hard to beat that price for a plant with three seasons of interest!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Arbor Project: Scotch Moss (Sneak Peek 2)

Here is another sneak peek at the Arbor Project for the Better Homes and Gardens 48 Hour Blog Challenge. Today's look is just one of the elements in my planting scheme.  I've had a fondness for Scotch Moss (Sagina subulata) for a while but never really had a place for it, until now! I managed to divide the four clumps that I bought into 8 smaller clumps that would be a perfect fit for some of the gaps in my stone borders. The stones are square and have been adjusted to curve which means they have left small pie shaped gaps between them.  These are perfect spots for Scotch moss to inhabit.  I packed a little of the native clay soil into the cracks first then pressed the clumps into the gaps.  Scotch moss is great between stepping stones and handles foot traffic pretty well.

Previous Peeks!

Sneak Peak 1: Solar Lights

The Spinach and Lettuce Bed

This year I decided to make a salad, or rather a salad green bed! This is one of the 3'x4' beds in our raised bed vegetable garden. I decided to section it off into four smaller squares rather than plant in rows. I prefer to sprinkle the seed for lettuce and spinach instead of placing each seed (I think it looks better this way - just wait until the plants are full grown).  When the plants grow large enough to consume I'll thin them out as we eat them into a better spacing. 

The lettuce is a mix of various kinds like I grew last year. Some are speckled while others are green and some are more purple, but they all taste good! The lettuce you buy in the store just can't compare to what you grow in the backyard garden.  Lettuce is only good while the temperatures are cooler.  When the heat arrives they will begin to bolt, or put out flowers for reproduction. If you happen to get to this point you have two choices: either let it go to seed or pull it out and toss it in the compost bin.  The third choice which isn't really a choice is to eat it but you will end up with a very bitter tasting meal. You had better slather that salad with a ton of dressing if you plan on that option.  If you let it go to seed you can collect it and use it again next year.

Once the spinach and lettuce bed is done producing I'll use it in the succession planting of my squash. I'll have some already started in another spot but this bed could easily house 3-4 squash plants.  Have I mentioned that we like squash?

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Arbor Project: Sneak Peek 1

Over the next several days (until the voting begins on the Better Homes and Gardens 48 Hour Blog Challenge) I'll be giving small previews of my Arbor project. It's ready to go and I'm very pleased with the result.

Here's a first look at one aspect of the arbor:

Solar Lights:

Solar lights are one of those garden details that not only add detail to a project but safety and convenience as well. The ambiance created by these lights will be perfect for evening summer walks around the gardens while the girls chase lightning bugs.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

It's Raining. Again.

It's raining. Again. No one can control the weather and even though sometimes it can't be predicted accurately, today they got it right. The rain is good, don't get me wrong but I really want to plant some vegetable plants and seeds in the raised bed garden.  I'm not late in planting at all, just not as early as I want to be. The spinach, radishes and lettuce are all coming up great but my pre-started seeds are growing like crazy.  The tomatoes are getting tall and are screaming for a home of their own while the peppers are more than ready to stretch their feet into some good garden dirt. I'm tempted to get outside during break in the rain and stick some seeds in the garden like cucumbers, squash and beans but I have some prep work to do first. I'm going to grow the cucumbers along a trellis made from leftover fencing material and I need to build the support system first. A strong support system is always important!

I have a spot ready to go for the beans but need to add one more row. I'm using more of the 'Nash' bush beans this year that I used last year. It's a good idea to use a technique called succession when planting bush beans. They tend to produce strong and fast then back off as the season progresses. By planting in succession I can be assured of a steady crop through the season. I'll also be growing some pole beans among the corn to utilize the stalks as poles.

I'll also be doing succession planting with the squash to help avoid my most dispised garden pest, the dreaded squash vine borer! I'll plant a new squash plant about every two weeks that way when one plant gets attacked I'll have another coming along to provide us with squash all summer long (hopefully).

This week looks good for planting. Tuesday night has a weather prediction of 39 degrees then nothing lower than 44 degrees for a low the rest of the week. In fact it looks like we'll hit highs in the 80's! That's good tomato weather don't you think?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Arbor Materials

We did our shopping trip at The Home Depot recently in preparation for the construction of our new arbor for the 48 Hour Blog Challenge. Today I thought I'd tell you a few of the materials that are being used.

Pressure treated pine lumber of varying dimensions, natural cedar stain, screws, two solar lights, 16" retaining wall stone, retaining wall cap stones, black chain, and eye hooks. Those are just the building materials. The plant list will be coming soon! 

We are using 4"x4"s for the main posts, 2"x8"s for the front and back cross beams, and a mixture of 2"x4"s, 2"x2"s, 1"x2"s for a variety of other uses. The retaining wall stone will help create some borders and will blend the various gardens together (front garden, self sowing garden, corner shade garden) to create the side corridor garden. We will be using the cap stones as stepping stones to draw the eyes down the pathway and into the corridor. I also have some nifty ideas regarding the eye hooks and chains I think you'll enjoy.

Once the project is complete I'll give you a few sneak peaks at our work before the official post goes up on Friday April 24th. I won't reveal the overall project until that post goes live, just some tasty tidbits to whet your appetite.  Then you will get to vote for your favorite garden guy in the 48 Hour Blog Challenge. Oh wait! I think I'm the only one.  Now it's time to get busy, really busy!

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Corner Shade Garden in Mid-April

Behind the location of our future arbor lies the Corner Shade Garden. I planted this garden last year with hostas, heucheras, and assorted other plants after the removal of a sinister privet bush. Privet has become an invasive problem here in Tennessee and I just didn't like it in this corner next to our house. In its place went an Oak Leaf Hydrangea to serve as the center piece of the garden. The hydrangea was soon surrounded by some of my favorite plants for shade, hostas and heucheras! I planted a few annuals in this area last year like coleus and impatiens but I haven't planted any for this year yet. I was waiting for the freeze date to pass and just haven't purchased any yet.

Let me show you how the garden is doing up close!

I have a little cleanup to do with some debris that has collected, but if you ignore that you can see the 'Ginko Craig' hostas have filled out. You can even see one of the plants I'll be using for the Arbor Project.  Well not really, but you can see its pot! What a handsome pot it is.  I'll give you a hint as to it's identity, I witnessed a hummingbird visit it twice yesterday. I dropped some rosemary clippings in the garden to hopefully keep any critters with keen noses away. (Yes that means you rabbits!)

The 'Patriot' Hostas are one of my favorites among the hostas. I love the variegation. It's happy planted together with a 'Purple Palace' heuchera.  Hostas and heucheras look great together!
This little hostas is an unidentified variety from a box. I bought a little box of hosta roots two years ago and planted them. Most of them never did anything last year, but now they are coming up all over! This green leaved variety has a slight darker green variegation toward the outside of the leaves.
This hosta came to me through the Middle TN Plant Swap last year. It's grown quite well in its current home. 
Here's another acquisition from the plant swap variegated Soloman's Seal. With cool foliage and flowers what more can you ask for?  It's so cool it probably deserves its own post!
Here's a glimpse of the garden. The oak leaf hydrangea is still working on filling out its foliage as are many of the other inhabitants. It's fun to watch the hostas emerge at different times. Each variety seems to have their own way of doing things, some arrive early and some late, but as always a hosta arrives exactly when it means to arrive.  

There's always work to be done in every garden and this one is no exception. The rock pathway needs more stones to fill in the gaps and the weeding needs done. I suspect I'll need to move the Soloman's seal since it's behind the hydrangea. I was really just trying to find a spot for it last year and plopped it in (plopping in is the technical term) where I thought it would survive our merciless, hot and dry summer. It's survived and then some. I think this corner shade garden will begin migrating (enlarging) closer to the arbor once it has been completed!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What to do about Tent Caterpillars

You've seen them. In your cherry trees. If you haven't yet then take a look, they are on their way. Tent Caterpillars can be devastating to the foliage of young trees especially those of the prunus genus. They may look all cute and cuddly up close but when allowed to let loose they feast like there is no tomorrow upon the lovely new leaves of your trees.

Tent caterpillars overwinter in groups of 150 to 400 eggs and hatch hungry in the spring. They join together as a community of pests and create white, silky, sticky nests to serve as their base of operations. If you can reach their base you can easily take them out but the task becomes more difficult the higher in the tree canopy they occupy.

These particular caterpillars were in my in-laws plum tree. A stick was all that was needed for their removal.
I mentioned how to treat tent caterpillars last year and here's what I said:
According to the University of Kentucky Entomology Department you can treat them with insecticides that contain Bacillus thuringiensis var kurstaki. You could also use insecticides with carbaryl, methoxychlor, and malathion.

One method they recommend is to take a large stick poke the nest and twist. Most of the nest should pull apart and wind up on your stick like cotton candy! Other than that prevention is the best method. Take the eggs off the trees during the winter months or remove the nests as soon as you spot them.
I've also found that a spray with dish detergent and water will work well for those nests that are easy to reach. If you have an extremely large tree that they are nesting in you probably don't have to worry about the health of the tree too much. The tree should be able to recover from the defoliation but those nests don't look very nice. I would still be tempted to break them open and invite the birds for a snack.

After they have gorged themselves on your trees they will wander away to form cocoons and enter their next stage of existence. They won't do any further damage to your trees at this point so if you see a wandering worm don't worry, they are just going to become moths and hatch the next generation!

This Caterpillar Killer concentrate from Safer contains BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) which is an organic pesticide effective against Caterpillars.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April Flowers in between April Showers GBBD

In between the frequent rains and the Arbor project preparation for Better Homes and Gardens I've been able to take a few pictures of the garden to see what is in bloom. Several of our favorite plants like the salvia and catmint are showing their first bloom buds but have no flowers to show. I think they are waiting until next month.

For now though you will have to enjoy our tulips in the front garden. I know we are. Our youngest gardening girl definitely seem impressed with the tulips.

But there's more in the front sidewalk garden like phlox and rocks.

When I think of springtime I think of phlox. They go well together don't you think?

Out in the wild cedar glades you may find mayapples.  If you look underneath their umbrella like canopy you may find more to see.

Like budding flowers!

Near the mayapples there is another springtime wonder: Trillium. I don't know the variety but does it matter? 

While the previous two plants were taken in the woods the next one appears in my in-law's garden. This white spirea is making a fine showing in early spring.

The irises are just beginning to break their buds.

Many of my garden flowers are late spring through summer bloomers so if you are craving more blooms go visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Garden Mulch Calculator

While working on the list of things I need to complete my 48 Hour Blog Project I was trying to figure out how many bags of mulch I'll need for the planting areas and I came up with this little calculator. All you have to do is input the dimensions of the area followed by how deep you want the mulch and it will tell you the amount in cubic feet. Please keep in mind this is just an estimate!

How Much Mulch Do I Need?

Enter the area length (in feet):

Enter the area width (in feet):

Enter the mulch depth (in inches):

Mulch in Cubic Feet=

Mulch Don'ts
  • Don't mulch right up to the base of trees, leave a gap. Voles love the cover of mulch to get to the bark of trees.
  • Don't mulch more than 2-3 inches high around trees and shrubs.
  • Don't volcano the mulch around trees. It look silly and will suffocate the roots systems. Mt. Saint Helen's never spewed out Bradford Pears!

Since I am definitely not a talented html coder I adapted a script from: Science Buddies.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Crape Myrtle Propagation: Step by Step

This weekend I picked up some cuttings of a red flowering crape myrtle to propagate. I took 6 inch hardwood cuttings that were just beginning to leaf out. Since I didn't have time to treat them right away I left them in a jar of water overnight to stay moist and treated them with rooting hormone the next day.

Here's the crape myrtle sticking procedure step by step. (Of course it can be used for many other plants as well.)

 1. Prepare your potting medium. In this case I used sand but a 50/50 mix of sand and peat would work fine. Vermiculite is another good medium to use.

2.Take the cut end of the crape myrtle and dip it into the rooting hormone. I usually just dump a little hormone into a cup then dab the end of the cutting into it. Don't stick your cutting into your jar of hormone or you may contaminate it with any diseases that the cutting may have.

3.Carefully insert the coated ends of the cuttings into the potting medium. You want to make sure that you don't knock off the rooting hormone. Using a pencil or a dibber to make a hole ahead of time is a good idea but I usually don't bother and they do just fine. Water the potting medium carefully so that it is wet but not soaked and keep it steadily moist until rooting has occurred. 

4.  This step is the hardest...wait.  Wait for the cutting to hold to the potting medium after a slight tug.  If there is resistance (it usually means there are roots) I usually add enough water to make the sand soft enough to easily pull the cutting out of the medium. The other option is to remove all the plants at the same time and gently separate them.

5.  The best step...enjoy the new plants! In about 6 weeks (or maybe less) the new little crape myrtles will be all set to grow in the garden.