Monday, November 10, 2014

Colorful Flowers That Grow in Shade

Love flowers but think your garden doesn't get enough sun? These shade flowers grow happily even without a lot of direct sunlight.

Lily of the Valley
These tiny white flowers grow well in deep shade, emit an enchanting fragrance in late spring and early summer, and brighten up dark corners.

Alpine Forget-Me-Not
Add clouds of color to your garden with a patch of tiny azure-blue flowers. They thrive in dry shade, conditions that can be particularly difficult.

Jacob's Ladder
These bell-shaped, purple perennials adapt well to flower gardens and tolerate both shade and sun.

Solomon's Seal
Gracefully arching stems support clusters of tubular white flowers and long, bright green leaves. A perfect plant for a shady border.

Anemone Blanda Blue
Also known as the winter windflower, Anemone Blanda Blue thrives in partial shade. Its purply-blue, daisy-like flowers will add a festive touch to your patch.

These are good groundcover plants for deep shade, with hairy, dark green leaves spotted with white. In early spring, clusters of funnel shaped flowers open pink and then turn blue.

Viola is a huge genus of flowering plants including some 400 to 500 species. Leaves of these species are usually heart-shaped and scalloped-shaped, while the five-petaled flowers come in scores of colors.

Cowslip Primrose
Who needs sunshine when you have a carpet of yellow or red flowers with crinkled bright-green foliage?

Tuberous Begonias
These flowers are popular for their variety, coming in red, orange, yellow, white, salmon, or pink blooms. Tuberous begonias blossom throughout the summer, thriving in shady spots where few other plants with long bloom periods and showy flowers can grow.

14 Medicinal Herbs You Can Grow

Here's an A to Z guide to the medicinal herbs that relieve common ailments like indigestion, stress, anxiety, sunburn, headaches, coughs, colds, and more.


This medicinal herb can help with flatulence, lack of appetite, cuts, and scrapes. Harvest the young leaves of this annual plant as needed.


Use the flower heads of this medicinal herb for infusions and salves to relieve indigestion and colic, anxiety and tension, and skin inflammations and irritations.


If you suffer from a cold or the flu, try this medicinal herb to ease the severity of your symptoms. It also helps provide relief to your immune system.


Use the leaves and flowers of this medicinal herb for teas; chew leaves to ease headache pain (including migraines). It's also been shown to provide relief for arthritis, and skin conditions.


With anti-inflammatory properties, this medicinal herb is good for eczema and skin blemishes as well as to help loosen phlegm.


Even smelling this medicinal herb has been shown to calm and relax. It also eases pain, and when applied to cuts and bruises functions as an antiseptic.

Lemon Balm

A relative of mint, lemon balm is a versatile medicinal herb that helps relieve anxiety, insomnia, wounds, herpes, insect bites, flatulence, and an upset stomach. It also speeds the healing of cold sores.


Good for sunburn, acne, and blemishes, this medicinal herb also soothes ulcers and digestive problems.


Don't think of it as decorative on your plate; this medicinal herb is loaded with nutrients as well as healing powers to help with flatulence and bad breath.


If you have digestion or gas, sipping tea made of this medicinal herb might provide relief. It's also been shown to help soothe headaches.


This medicinal herb helps memory and concentration, improves mood—and sweetens breath.


Sage's genus name, Salvia, means "to heal," reflecting its early use as a medicinal, not culinary, herb. It can help provide relief for mouth and throat inflammations.


The active principle in thyme, thymol, is a strong antiseptic. If you suffer from coughs, congestion, indigestion, or gas, consider using this medicinal herb.

St. John's Wort

Talk to your doctor if you suffer from mild to moderate depression; she may suggest St. John's Wort. The glossy leaves and yellow flowers are this medicinal herb's active parts.

Top Ten Healthy Herbs to Grow and Eat at Home

Growing herbs at home is a fun, money-saving hobby that also happens to be good for your health. In addition to flavoring up your favorite dishes, herbs are filled with antioxidants and essential nutrients.

"Half of the nutritional value of plants is lost within thirty minutes of harvesting," says Brian Hetrich, a naturopathic doctor and gardening expert at the Hippocrates Health Institute, in West Palm Beach, Fla. "When you grow your own herbs you can use what you need at the moment by harvesting small amounts, fresh from the plant."

Here we break down 10 of the healthiest herbs, along with recipes and tips for growing them yourself.


This pretty, aromatic herb contains compounds, such as carnosic acid, that have been shown to fight cancer cells. What's more, the smell of rosemary may even improve your memory. In a recent study from the University of Northumbria, in the UK, people performed better on various memory tasks if rosemary scent was pumped into the room.

Grow tip: Rosemary grows best with full sunshine and frequent watering. "I like to plant it where you will brush it as you walk by," Hetrich says. "All you need to do is touch it and it'll release its very fragrant aroma."


Thyme has long been used as an herbal remedy for respiratory problems such as bronchitis, and it also has antiseptic properties. (Thymol, one of the compounds it contains, is a key ingredient in Listerine.) Even better, thyme is virtually calorie-free and provides a delicious boost of flavor to soups, salads, and just about any other recipe you can think of, even champagne!

Grow tip: Small but plentiful flowers make this herb a pretty option for your home. Thyme's well suited for indoor growing because it stays small in size. Just make sure it has access to plenty of sunshine.


Lavender isn't just a pretty plant; it's also packed with health benefits. Its fragrance is soothing (helping you to fall asleep), and it contains antioxidants known as polyphenols that fight belly bloating.

Grow tip: Lavender is a relatively large plant that grows best outdoors, Hetrich says. Keep it in a sunny area that gets eight hours of light each day. Lavender requires well-drained soil, so if you do opt to plant indoors, make sure your pot has holes in the bottom to provide adequate drainage.


Basil is known to calm nerves, is a good source of fiber, and has a detoxifying effect on the liver. (Out late partying? Try incorporating basil into your brunch!) Basil oil has also been found to help clear skin blemishes, thanks to its powerful anti-inflammatory activity. A little basil goes a long way.

Grow tip: Basil is a hardy plant that grows easily, indoors or out. It doesn't need much care and requires watering only every other day.


Don't leave this common garnish sitting on the side of your plate! Parsley is full of nutrients. It contains vitamins A and C, and just one tablespoon offers more than half of your recommended daily intake of vitamin K, a nutrient that's essential for healthy blood.

Grow tip: Parsley is easy to grow, as it doesn't need much sunlight or maintenance. (Just make sure the soil doesn't get too dry; once the plant wilts it rarely recovers.) Parsley does grow at a slower rate than other herbs, but it's worth the wait.


Many beauty products include sage on their ingredient lists, and it's no wonder: Sage has antiseptic and antioxidant properties, which can help in the fight against early aging—a bonus for any beauty product. Sage has also been used as a natural remedy for anxiety and fatigue, and is thought to be a memory enhancer.

Grow tip: Sage is a relatively high-maintenance herb. To thrive, it needs plenty of sunlight, good soil, and a watering every other day.


A staple of Mexican and Asian cuisines, cilantro supplies fiber and iron and helps clear heavy metals from your body. "Our body mistakes heavy metals for nutrients," Hetrich says. "Cilantro attaches itself to mercury, lead, and other toxic heavy metals and draws them out of your tissues."

Grow tip: Because of its deep taproot, cilantro needs deep soil to thrive and is one of the few herbs that are a real challenge to grow indoors. On the plus side, if your plant does go to seed, don't throw the seeds away; they're the tasty spice known as coriander.


This tasty herb—part of the onion family—can help boost your immune system. Multiple studies even suggest that eating allium vegetables, a category that includes garlic and scallions in addition to chives, is associated with a lower risk of developing certain cancers, including those of the prostate, stomach, and breast.

Grow tip: "Chives are one of my favorite herbs," Hetrich says. "They grow easily, can be grown indoors, and don't need much light." They grow to be about 18 inches tall, but don't require much space to flourish.


This flavorful herb isn't just for pickles! It's a great source of antioxidants (such as beta-carotene), and is also said to cure hiccups. Next time you get the hiccups, mix a teaspoon of dill leaf with a cup of boiled water, strain out the leaves, and drink the liquid slowly.

Grow tip: Dill requires full sun and grows best in deep soil that's not too dense, so your best bet is to plant it outside or in a large pot indoors. Dill needs watering only once a week if planted outside; inside, it requires some additional attention.


Mint is a rich source of vitamin A, providing more than half of your recommended daily intake in just two tablespoons. In addition, Hetrich says, "mint is good for the breath, digestion, nausea, headaches, respiratory disorders, asthma, pimples, [and] cavities." Need another reason to use this herb? A recent study found that essential oils in peppermint have a positive effect on exercise performance, respiratory rate, and blood pressure.

Grow tip: Watch out! This herb takes off fast and needs plenty of space. "Because it grows so well and fast, it will choke out anything else in its area," Hetrich warns. Try growing it outdoors, in a raised bed.

Using Pebbles in Water features

Blanket flower

Blanket flowers are wonderfully cheerful, long-blooming plants for hot, sunny gardens. They produce single or double daisy flowers through most of the summer and well into fall. The light brick red ray flowers are tipped with yellow -- the colors of Mexican blankets.

Blanket flowers tolerate light frost and are seldom eaten by deer. Deadhead the flowers to keep them blooming consistently through the summer and into fall. Some species tend to be short-lived, especially if the soil is not well drained.

how to grow blanket flower

  • Propagation
  • Division
  • Stem Cuttings

1 to 3 feet
6 inches to 2 feet wide
Flower Color:
Orange, Red
Foliage Color:
Seasonal Features:
Fall Bloom, Summer Bloom
Problem Solvers:
Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Groundcover
Special Features:
Cut Flowers, Good for Containers, Low Maintenance

How to Recycle Eggshells in Gardening Activities

An eggshell is the exterior covering of an egg. The U.S. food industry accumulates 150,000 tons of eggshell waste every year. Chicken eggshells, which are the primary type of eggshell waste accounted for, are made up of 93 to 97 percent calcium carbonate, in addition to calcium, nitrogen and phosphoric acid. These nutrients make eggshells an ideal choice for garden use. Use these tips to reduce waste and benefit your garden by recycling eggshells in gardening activities.

1-Recycle eggshells to grow seedlings. Eggshells can be used to grow small seedlings indoors. When the seedling is ready to be planted outside, place the shell and seedling directly in the ground. The eggshell will decompose over time and help fertilize the soil.
  • Use large eggshells to start seeds indoors.
  • Poke pin holes in the bottom of half an egg shell.
  • Fill the eggshell half with soil.
  • Place a seed in the soil and cover lightly with soil.
  • Write on the eggshell the type of plant the seedling is. Use a pencil or permanent marker to write on the eggshell.
  • Store the eggshell seedling in an egg carton and place it in a windowsill. Water the seedling as needed.
  • Plant the seedling in the ground when the first set of leaves appear. Lightly crush the egg shell with your hand, and place the eggshell and seedling directly into the ground.
2-Use eggshells to improve compost. Gardeners frequently add lime to compost to correct acidity problems in garden soil. Lime is made up of calcium carbonate, which is the main nutrient in eggshells. Rather than purchase lime, recycle eggshells to amend compost.
Crush eggshells and add them directly to the compost. To increase the decomposition time, dry the eggshells in an oven and grind them using a blender before adding them to the compost.

3-Recycle eggshells as fertilizer for the garden. Eggshells contain calcium, phosphorus, sulfur and potassium, which help make plants healthy.
  • Rinse eggshells. Allow the eggshells to dry, and place them in a bowl or large container.
  • Grind the eggshells using a pestle, which is a hand-held tool used for mashing or grinding substances. If you do not have a pestle, grind the eggshells in a blender. The smaller the eggshell pieces, the faster they will break down in the soil.
  • Add the shells to your garden and mix them into the soil.

4-Add eggshells to the bottom of garden containers and pots. The eggshells will add calcium to the soil in the containers, provide drainage and deter cutworms and slugs.
Place crushed eggshells in the bottom of empty pots before adding soil. Do not grind the eggshells, but crush them by hand so the shells are in pieces.

5-Use recycled eggshells to deter snails and slugs. The abrasive, sharp edges of the eggshells keep snails and slugs from crossing the shells to get to the plants.
  • Crush eggshells into pieces. Do not grind the shells, but crush the shells by hand. The shells should have sharp, rough edges.
  • Scatter the crushed eggshells around plants affected by snails or slugs. For best results, place the eggshells in a circular pattern around the plants.

6-Create egg heads with grass hair. Egg heads are a fun and creative recycling activity for children.
Use large eggshells to make egg heads.
Crack eggs in half and rinse the eggshells. Allow the eggshells to dry.

  • Draw a face on each eggshell using permanent markers or colored pencils. The faces can be funny or resemble characters or animals, such as one-eyed monsters or farm animals.
  • Fill the eggshell with soil and place grass seeds in the soil.
  • Create a stand for the eggshell. Cut a small strip of cardstock paper. Tape the ends of the paper together so it creates a circular stand for the eggshell. Be sure the strip isn't so wide that it obstructs the view of face on the eggshell.
  • Place the eggshell in the stand on a windowsill. Water as needed.
  • Wait for the grass to grow. The eggshell will begin to grow grass, which will resemble green hair. The growth rate for the grass depends on the type of grass seed, but typically begins between 4 and 7 days. Children may cut the grass for a shorter "hairstyle" or allow it grow long to resemble long spikes of hair.

How to Create a Zen Garden

A zen garden is a refuge that can be placed in nearly any space. Some zen gardens are large sweeping creations that encompass acres, while some are tiny desktop gardens that take up no more room than a notebook. It's not difficult to create a constantly changing work of art that is visually pleasing with clean, flowing lines and carefully placed objects. Best of all, a small zen garden is incredibly inexpensive to create! It will also show your unique style of rocks and sand patterns
1-Decide how large you want to make your Zen garden. Assess your available space. Are you going to make a garden that fills up part of your backyard, or are you going to start with a Zen garden to place on your desk? The steps are the same, the scale will just be different.
2Create a mold to contain the sand and/or gravel. Sand or gravel generally form the matrix of a Zen garden, and to keep it looking sharp, you need the matrix to be contained. If you are making a large garden, consider using 2" x 4" pieces of lumber, old railroad ties, or any other type of wood. If you are making a desktop Zen garden, simply gather and cut enough wood to make a small container.
3-Nail, screw, or glue together your form. After you have completed your form, you can decorate the wood by painting, staining, or varnishing it.
4-Place a weed retainer, such as black plastic, down prior to setting your Zen garden mold. Zen gardens receive much of their appeal from their cleanliness. Keeping out weeds is a must for outdoor gardens.
5-Fill the form to the top with sand or gravel. Spread the sand or gravel evenly and as level as possible. For a small desktop garden, you might be able to buy sand in small bags at a local pet shop or aquarium supply store. For larger gardens, call the local rock shop, quarry, or landscaping supply company. This is only needed in an outdoor garden
6-Put selected features in your Zen garden to set a visually stimulating theme. Consider using old, mossy logs, rocks with interesting colors, shapes or textures, or other items. Place them off-center and partially submerged for the best effect. Zen gardens generally include natural items made of wood, rock and vegetation, but don’t be afraid to add statues or other additions. Just don’t clutter your Zen garden. Remember, you want it to be peaceful and simple. Make sure that the feng shui is in check with your karma an dharma before enjoying your zen garden! If it is not balanced properly, there could be some major problems and could possibly send your karma into a yin yang whirlwind (which is NOT good!) * See feng shui and karma for details.
7-Rake the sand or gravel in long, curving strokes to represent water ripples. You can use a number of patterns to accentuate your garden. The nice thing is that you can change it as many times as you like!

How to Water Indoor Plants

When plants are kept in the house as potted plants, their watering needs will differ from those of plants grown in the soil outside. The symptoms of over-watering and under-watering plants are very similar, and improper watering causes more houseplants to die than any other factor. Learn how to water houseplants correctly in the following Steps.

1-Pot plants correctly. The plant container type and size, and the potting soil you use have a lot to do with correct watering.
Use a lightweight potting medium instead of a garden soil for indoor plants.
Use special potting mixes for plants like orchids and cacti. Research your plants and use the right planting medium.
Make sure all pots have drainage holes.

Use a pot that isn’t too big. When transplanting, the new pot should not be more than 2” (5cm) wider or deeper than the old one.
2-Re-pot the plant if it is very root bound. The plant becomes root bound when it outgrows its container. You can tell that this has happened when you pull the plant out of the pot and you see only roots, no soil. Time for an upgrade!

In other cases, there is still soil but the roots are so bunched up that the plant isn't thriving.
3-Water plants on their schedule, not yours. The need for water varies at different times of the year and stages of growth. Watering every Wednesday is a good way to lose the plant.

Know the water requirements of your plant. Consult a good care guide. Some need to be constantly moist; others need to dry out between watering.
4-Look at the plant and its medium. When the plant is droopy or wilted, something is wrong.
Many yellowed, browning, or dropped leaves mean there is a problem. Wrinkled or shrunken leaves or stems on cacti and succulents mean there is a problem. All of these symptoms can mean the plant is either too wet or too dry.

Check the looks of the soil and the saucer under the pot. Seeing water is a sign the plant is over-watered.
5-Stick your finger into the medium about 1” (2.5 cm) deep. This is the critical step in determining water needs. You should be able to feel if the soil is dry, moist or soggy.
If the plant is droopy, wilted, shrunken, browning or dropping leaves but the soil feels soggy, then the plant is too wet and the roots are rotting, depriving the leaves of water. Do not water this plant.
If all of the above symptoms are present but the soil feels dry, then the plant needs water.

If the plant looks fine but the soil feels dry consult your care guide to see if this type of plant needs constantly moist soil and water if it does. If it’s recommended to let it dry between watering, water in 2 days or if you see the plant wilt.
6-Water until water drains out of the pot at the bottom. Then empty any collected water in the saucer under the plant promptly.
If a pot is too dry, water may run out around the sides of the pot where the medium has shrunk away and left a gap. The cure is to soak the pot for an hour in a tub or pail of water.

Plants that are too root bound, (the pot is completely full of roots), will not be able to take up enough water to keep the plant from wilting each day. Re-pot the plant into a bigger pot. Before re-potting, the bound roots must be separated and the long/excess ones trimmed off.