Sunday, November 9, 2014

How to Grow Morning Glory (Ipomoea)

With spectacular trumpet-shaped flowers up to 6 inches in diameter, morning glories (Ipomoea spp.) are most frequently grown as annuals, though they can be perennial in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones ranging from 8 to 12. Their heart- or ivy-shaped 4 to 6-inch leaves decorate twining vines which can climb to 20 feet or more. Morning glory blooms usually close by noon on sunny days, but frequently will remain open longer on overcast ones. Easy to grow, the plants can become invasive in almost any climate due to their heavy self-seeding.

Understand the Types of Morning Glories

  • Most of the intricately patterned morning glories, including tie-dyes and those with white edges or spatters such as “Chocolate” or “Blue Silk,” are Ipomoea nil -- also known as Ipomoea imperialis -- types (USDA zones 9 through 12). They produce flowers up to 6 inches in diameter and are often known as Japanese morning glories. Ipomoea tricolor varieties (USDA zones 8 through 12), including the familiar “Heavenly Blue,” can almost match them in size with flowers up to 5 inches wide. The blooms of Ipomoea purpurea types (USDA zones 9 through 11), such as those of the purple “Grandpa Ott’s” heirloom, generally don’t surpass 2 1/2 to 3 inches in size. However, their vines often flower earlier and more prolifically than those of larger species. Because morning glories sometimes don't bloom until 10 to 14 weeks after their seeds are planted, gardeners in cold climates frequently sow them indoors four to six weeks before the last frost date in spring.

Select a Site for Morning Glories

  • The vines should be planted in full sun, preferably near an east-facing fence or trellis where they will catch the morning’s first rays. They prefer light, well-drained, mildly acidic to mildly alkaline soil of only medium fertility, since overly rich or constantly moist ground can cause morning glories to make lots of lush foliage but few blooms. Space the seedlings from 6 to 12 inches apart and the same distance from their support. The vines usually can twine their way up a fence or trellis. If you are growing them against a smooth wall, however, you will need to provide strings or netting to which they can attach themselves.

Refrain From Coddling Your Morning Glories

  • Morning glory vines planted in the ground generally don’t need fertilizer and shouldn’t have it either, as it will incline them to make too many leaves and not enough flowers. Keep the soil around the plants lightly moist until they are well-established. Once they are growing well, gradually reduce the amount of water you give them, but not to the point that the vines wilt.

Choose Containers for Your Morning Glories

  • If you don’t have in-ground space for morning glories, you can grow them in pots instead, provided that you have a very sunny windowsill or patio on which to position those containers. For the best results, fill 6-inch pots with a mix of one part potting soil, one part peat moss and one part sand. Plant two to three morning glories in each pot next to plant stakes or a pot trellis. As potted morning glories have less soil from which to derive their nutrients, you may need to fertilize them once every two weeks by adding 1/2 teaspoon of a bloom booster type plant food such as 15-30-15 to 1 gallon of water.

Bathroom Indoor Plants Ideas

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How To Eliminate The Weed Plantain From Your Lawn

Plantains are unsightly lawn weeds that thrive in compacted soil and neglected lawns. Plantain weed treatment consists of diligently digging out the plants as they appear and treating the plants with herbicides. Since weed plantain thrives in poorly established lawns, the best prevention is a healthy lawn. Keep reading to learn more about plantain control.

Broadleaf and Narrow Leaf Plantains

The two types of plantains that are commonly found in lawns are broadleaf plantain (Plantago major) and narrow-leaf, or buckhorn plant (P. lanceolata). These two perennial weeds are easily differentiated by their leaves.
Broadleaf plantains have smooth, oval leaves while buckhorn plantain has ribbed, lance-shaped leaves. Both types are found throughout the U.S. where they thrive in compacted soil.

Preventing Plantain Lawn Weeds

The best way to prevent plantains in the lawn is to keep the soil aerated and healthy. Aerate compacted soil and follow a regular schedule of fertilization at least twice a year. Water the lawn deeply when there is less than an inch of rainfall in a week. A healthy lawn crowds out plantains, but the plantains crowd out the grass when the lawn is in poor condition.
Plantain weeds also contaminate mowers and other equipment used on the lawn. Clean your equipment thoroughly before using it again to prevent the spread of planting lawn weeds.

Plantain Weed Treatment

Plantain control can be achieved by pulling or digging the plants as they emerge when the infested area is small. This is easiest in sandy soil or soil that has been softened by rain or irrigation. You may have to dig and pull the plants in the area several times before achieving complete control. The weeds must be removed before they have a chance to produce seeds.
When large numbers of the weeds are present, plantain lawn weeds are best controlled with herbicides. Choose a post-emergent herbicide labeled for plantain control. Post-emergent herbicides are most effective against plantains in fall when the plants are moving carbohydrates to the roots for winter storage. You can also apply the herbicides in spring.
Carefully follow the label instructions regarding mixing, timing and application procedures. Avoid spraying when temperatures are above 85 degrees F. and on windy days. Store any unused portions of the herbicide in the original container and out of the reach of children.

When And How To Use Herbicides In Gardens

There are times when the only way to get rid of a stubborn weed is to treat it with an herbicide. Don’t be afraid to use herbicides if you need them, but try other control methods first. Pulling, hoeing, tilling and digging will often take care of weed problems without the need for chemical sprays. Let’s learn more about using herbicide in gardens.

What are Herbicides?

Herbicides are chemicals that kill plants or prevent them from growing. Their method of killing plants is as varied as the plants they kill. The first step in understanding herbicides is to read the label. Labels tell you how to use herbicides safely and effectively. It is illegal to use herbicides for any purpose or by any method other than as indicated on the label.
Here are some tips to help you use herbicides safely and effectively:
  • Avoid using herbicides on windy days and near bodies of water.
  • Always wear a protective mask, gloves and long sleeves.
  • Make sure children and pets are indoors when you spray herbicides.
  • Buy only as much herbicide as you need and store it in a safe place, out of the reach of children.

Types of Herbicides

Herbicides can be divided into two main categories: selective and non-selective. Selective herbicides kill certain types of weeds while leaving other plants unharmed. The herbicide label lists the target weeds as well as garden plants that are unaffected. Non-selective herbicides, as the name implies, can kill almost any plant. Selective herbicides are useful when treating weeds in lawns and gardens. Non-selective herbicides make it easy to clear an area when starting a new garden.
Selective herbicides can be further divided into pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides. Pre-emergent herbicides are applied to the soil, and they kill young seedlings soon after they emerge. Post-emergent herbicides are usually applied to the foliage where they are absorbed into the plant tissue. The type determines when to apply an herbicide. Pre-emergents are usually applied in late winter or early spring, while post-emergents are applied in spring after the weeds begin to grow.
When using herbicide in gardens, take care to protect the plants you don’t want to kill. If you have identified your weed, you may be able to find a selective herbicide that will kill the weed without harming garden plants. Those containing glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, are good herbicides for hard to control plants and unidentified weeds because they kill most plants. Protect the other plants in the garden by making a cardboard collar to fit around the weed before applying the herbicide.

Designing A Garden: How To Connect The Garden With Its Surroundings

A well-planned garden design should reflect the personal style and needs of its owner, but it should also give the garden a sense of belonging within its surroundings. It is essential for a garden to complement its surroundings, connecting with both the landscape as well as the hardscape.

Complementing Garden Surroundings

The hardscape is just as important, serving as the framework for the garden. Think of the hardscape as a design map for planting flowers, trees, and shrubs. The hardscape is made up of the non-growing structures within a landscape, such as patios, walkways, edging, and even the home itself. General hardscape features such as a deck, wall, or flagstone walk, are added to the garden design at a later time. Basic hardscape features, like the driveway, are normally already in place and should also be considered beforehand.
Always plan ahead when you are undertaking any type of garden design, considering both the landscape and hardscape features carefully prior to choosing or planting anything. Once you have something in mind, take a long look at your landscape, and consider whether or not it will fit in with the garden surroundings. No matter how well maintained the garden, if it doesn’t connect with the home, the garden will stand alone. This is not the effect you want to achieve.

How to Plan a Garden Effectively

When planning a garden design, start with a basic idea and look to the surrounding landscape and hardscape features for further assistance. For instance, if your kids are anything like mine, they probably have a worn-out path somewhere in the yard as a result of taking the same route each day. Consider using this to your advantage by adding a layer of mulch, gravel or other hardscape feature to the pathway.
Another example might be the inability to grow particular plants in specific areas, like beneath a large shade tree. If this is the case, simply amend the soil and add shade-loving plants. If this is not an option, place a small table and chair there instead. Now you have an attractive place to relax. You could even add the same type of mulch or gravel here as with the path.
Closely examine the architecture of your home and determine the style. For example, is it a ranch, cottage, modern, or log home? Some of the best garden designs are created with the home as its main feature.
Homes constructed from logs or other natural elements are commonly accentuated with informal garden designs. Typically, these are laid out with flower beds, trees and shrubs that are located in the front, greeting visitors with a warm welcome. The use of evergreens, flowering shrubs and plants of various colors, forms, heights and textures will create a suitable setting. Cottage-style homes are included here since flowers, herbs and vegetables are commonly grown together within this type of garden design.
Those having more traditional or modern homes should focus on more formal garden designs. Plantings are less casual and restraint is practiced when ornamental features (benches, fountains, arbors, etc.) are implemented. Formal garden designs typically include patterns in flower beds and carefully pruned shrubs or hedges.
When you are ready to choose plants for the garden, once again, look to the surrounding landscape, the exterior of your home (trim, shutters, roof) and other hardscape elements for guidance. For instance, is your home brick colored, white vinyl siding, or perhaps natural-colored stonework?
Color has a major impact on how people feel and relate to the world around them. This is also true when it comes to our garden surroundings. The colors you choose will ultimately unify the house with the garden, and both should blend easily into their surroundings. Choose flowers in the same color family as well as those that complement them. Yellows, for example, blend well with golds, oranges and reds. Complement these with shades of purple or violet.
Also, keep in mind how certain colors work. Cool colors, like blue or purple, should not be placed in dark areas or far away, as these colors tend to fade into the landscape. Warm or hot tones, such as yellows and reds, should be used to brighten drab areas instead. These colors grab attention and are best placed at a distance to bring them closer. Foliage also provides color and interest.
Trees, shrubs and foliage plantings should be carefully considered. Landscapes heavily loaded with evergreens may not offer much in the way of seasonal interest; therefore, adding small trees and shrubs to the design will provide striking leaf color during off seasons. Visual interest should also take into account the differences in bark texture and branch patterns. Repeating the same textures will pull everything together, helping to connect the garden with its surroundings.

Additional Garden Design Tips

There are other considerations when planning a garden. Does the existing layout of the home include a porch or walkway? If so, are they straight or curved? Does a patio or deck already exist? What are these made of? What about the driveway? Is it gravel or pavement? Black asphalt gets hot in summer so keep plantings away from its edges to prevent plants scorching.
Also, consider the location of your home within the garden surroundings. Is it nestled discreetly in a wooded setting or in an open lot? How close to the road is it? What about the neighbor’s property? All of these factors need to be taken into consideration when planning a garden design. Proper planning is essential in order to connect the garden with its surroundings.

How To Choose The Best Location To Grow Roses

I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have had someone tell me how hard roses are to grow. It just really is not true. There are some things a beginning rose loving gardener can do that will make it very easy on them to be successful. One of those things is choosing where to plant your rose bush.

Tips for Choosing Where to Put a Rose Bed

Select a place for your new rose bed first before you order your roses. For best results, select a spot that gets 6 to 8 hours of good sun a day.
The selected spot should be an area that has good drainage with good soil. The soil can be built up by using some compost and if a bit heavy on the clay or sandy, can be worked up nicely using some soil amendments. Most garden centers carry bagged compost, topsoil and soil amendments.
Once you have selected your garden location, go about working up the soil by adding the amendments needed for your rose bed.

Deciding How Big Your Rose Bed Will Be

Roses need room to grow. Each location for a rose bush should be about a 3-foot diameter space. This will allow for good air movement and will make tending to them easy as well. Using this 3-foot diameter rule will also help you plan the actual size of your new rose bed. Basically multiply 3 square feet by the number of rose bushes you will be growing and this is the proper size for your rose beds.
By starting out with choosing a good location to grow your roses even before you buy them, you will be on a better path towards rose growing success.

How To Make Compost Tea

Using compost tea in the garden is a great way to both fertilize and improve the overall health of your plants and crops. Farmers and other compost tea makers have used this fertilizing brew as a natural garden tonic for centuries, and the practice is still commonly used today.

How to Make Compost Tea

While there are several recipes available for making compost tea, there are only two basic methods that are used—passive and aerated.
  • Passive compost tea is the most common and simplistic. This method involves soaking compost-filled “tea bags” in water for a couple of weeks. The ‘tea’ is then used as a liquid fertilizer for plants.
  • Aerated compost tea requires additional ingredients like kelp, fish hydrolysate, and humic acid. This method also requires the use of air and/or water pumps, making it more costly to prepare. However, using this compost tea starter takes less brewing time and is oftentimes ready for application within a few days as opposed to weeks.

Passive Compost Tea Recipe

As with the majority of recipes for making compost tea, a 5:1 ratio of water to compost is used. It takes about 5 parts water to 1 part compost. Preferably, the water should not consist of chlorine. In fact, rainwater would be even better. Chlorinated water should be allowed to sit at least 24 hours beforehand.
The compost is placed in a burlap sack and suspended in a 5-gallon bucket or tub of water. This is then allowed to “steep” for a couple of weeks, stirring once every day or two. Once the brewing period is complete the bag can be removed and the liquid can be applied to plants.

Aerated Compost Tea Makers

Depending on the size and type of system, commercial brewers are also available, especially for aerated compost tea. However, you have the option of building your own, which can be much more cost effective. A makeshift system can be put together using a 5-gallon fish tank or bucket, pump and tubing.
Compost can be added straight to the water and strained later or placed in a small burlap sack or pantyhose. The liquid should be stirred a couple times each day over a 2-3 day period.
Note: It is also possible to find brewed compost tea at some garden supply centers.

When To Apply Pesticides,Tips On Using Pesticides Safely

It might seem that the best time to use a pesticide is right when you see pesky insects. However, a few rules do apply and timing is also an important issue. The insect has to be at the most effective state of development, weather can minimize the usefulness of the product or even cause it to get into ground water and poison streams, effecting entire ecosystems. Let’s learn when to apply pesticides and some safe tricks and tips.

When to Apply Pesticides

Responsible pesticide use in gardens is important no matter whether you use a chemical form or a natural homemade combatant. The very fact that it is used to kill something means it requires respectful and smart handling. You should always garb protectively and follow the manufacturer’s instruction regarding mixing, application rates and timing.
Pesticide application timing for a direct strike relies upon the product catching the insect at the correct stage. Many insects have several instars and go through metamorphosis. They may be more susceptible to the pesticide as nymphs or as larva. The literature on the product can help you decide at what point of the insect’s development it is most effective so you can decide when will be the best time to use a pesticide.
Other factors in application would be wind, rain and proximity to wildlife.

Weather and Pesticide Use in Gardens

Moisture is a conductor for pesticides. It is mixed in concentrates to make a useful spray and it washes pesticides down into plants where secretive insects live. However, it can be dangerous to spray where running streams may carry toxins down to animals and fish and then linger in the water table, poisoning the area permanently.
This is why it is important not to apply pesticides just before a rain. Pesticides leach through soil to the water table and downstream bodies of water. They can contaminate entire habitats, rendering them useless for the denizens of the area.
The best time to use a pesticide is when the soil is moderately dry and no rain is expected, on a cloudy day when temperatures are moderate. Never apply pesticide when there is wind to prevent the chemical from drifting to non-target areas.

Using Pesticides as a Last Resort

Because they are so dangerous and persistent, using pesticides should be restricted. In most cases, unless some huge infestation has eaten half the leaves of a plant, you can handle the issue with household items and manual removal. Many insects can be dissuaded or even killed with a simple at home spray with water and a few drops of dish washing concentrate.
There are many recipes on the internet for home-brewed bug juice with ingredients like mint, garlic and citrus. If you must use chemicals in your garden, pay special attention to pesticide application timing and be cautious about your own health but also that of others and of wildlife too.

When To Fertilize Your Plants

Well managed soil with plenty of organic amendment is rich in micro- and macro-nutrients essential for good plant growth and production. But even the best managed garden plot can benefit from fertilization. The way to maximize these benefits is to know when to fertilize plants. Application of fertilizer in the wrong season can cause bursts of tender new growth that can succumb to cold weather. For this reason, a fertilizer application schedule for each type of plant is an effective tool.

When to Fertilize Plants

Fertilizers contain the building blocks for foliar and fruit production, bloom formation and root and general plant health. In poor soils, the treatment is essential for good plant vigor. The application of fertilizer may be from a soil drench, time release granular formula, stakes, or foliar spray. Whichever method works best for you, the time of year for fertilizing is a crucial bit of information. Each plant is slightly different, but there is one overall rule for most plants.
The umbrella rule for annual application of fertilizer is to apply in early spring. This encourages leafy growth and the production of flowers and then fruit. In some zones, early spring may still contain the surprise of a late freeze or even snow, which can harm the new growth forced by fertilizing. In these regions, it is best to wait until the date of your last frost to prevent harm to juvenile growth.
Fertilizer is most effective when used on plants at their peak growing cycle. This is when the plant is leafing out for deciduous species, flowering, or putting on new growth after leaving the dormant winter stage. The time of year for fertilizing most plants would then be spring.

Other Fertilizer Application Times

Indoor pot bound plants may be fertilized with a liquid plant food every month for most varieties. This is only during spring, summer and fall. Suspend fertilizing plants in winter, as they are not actively growing.
Outdoor plants, such as vegetables, benefit from gentle formulas or slow release fertilizer throughout the season. The slow release will gradually feed the plants for months. Feeding vegetables during the entire growing season increases growth and productivity. As a rule, avoid fertilizing new plants until they establish. It can cause a burst of growth that makes the plant weak and leggy.
Other fertilizer application times will be found on the plant food itself or consult your local extension office or master gardener program for specific plant needs. It is important to follow application method and rate recommended by the manufacturer.

How to Apply Fertilizer

It is estimated that 3 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet is adequate for good growth on woody plants. That number may be adjusted to half that rate for some ornamental plants. Perennials benefit from only 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 feet.
The time of day to fertilize is important as well. If you are applying repeated applications to vegetables, for example, apply during the coolest part of the day. For plant spikes and granular formulas, the best time of day to fertilize is when you are watering so the nutrients can start to break down and get to the plant’s roots. This also prevents root burn.
In any fertilizer application, it is a good idea to water thoroughly to get the plant food to where it will do the most good. Avoid excessive fertilizer and preferably perform a soil test to see what nutrients your garden is deficit of. Over fertilizing can be as bad as no fertilizing and a soil test can point out what, if any, is needed for a bountiful harvest and vigorous plant growth.

How To Propagate Yucca Plant

Yucca plants are one of the most popular houseplants. Learning how to do the propagation of a yucca plant is an excellent way to increase the number of yuccas in your yard or home.

One of the more popular choices is to take cuttings from yucca plants. Your yucca plant cutting should be taken from mature growth rather than new growth as mature wood is less prone to rot. Cuttings should ideally be taken in the spring, though they can be taken into the summer if needed.
Use sharp, clean shears to cut at least 3″ (or more) from the plant as the cutting.
Once you take the cutting, strip all but the top few leaves away from the cutting. This will reduce the amount of moisture lost from the plant while it grows new roots.
Take your yucca plant cutting and place in it a cool, shady place for a few days. This will allow the cutting to dry out some and will encourage better rooting.
Then place the yucca plant cutting in some potting soil. Put it in a place where is will get indirect light. The propagation of the yucca plant will be complete when the cutting grows roots, which happens in about 3 – 4 weeks.
Planting yucca seed is another possible way to do yucca tree propagation. Yuccas grow easily from seed.
You will get the best results planting yucca seed if you scar the seed first. Scarring the seed means that you gently rub the seed with some sandpaper or a file to “scar” the seed coating.
After you do this, plant the seeds in a well draining potting mix, like a cactus mix. Plant the seeds 1 – 2 seed lengths deep in the soil. Place the plant in a sunny, warm place. Water the soil until you see seedlings in about 1 – 2 weeks. If you do not see seedlings in this time, allow the soil to dry out completely and resume watering.
Whether you decide to try a yucca plant cutting or planting yucca seed, yucca plants are very easy to propagate.