Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Last week, I mentioned I will be taking measures to overwinter a variety of plants this year.  About three weeks ago, I started taking cuttings and rooting plants.  I also potted up some annuals, some for the second year.  My family room is starting to get crowded.  Not only are these plants in, but a lot of the houseplants that spent the summer on the back deck are back inside as well.  And of course, I don't have pictures (yet). 

I thought I would share a quick list of what I've brought in so far:

Dracaena, large - second year (2)
Dracaena, small - first year (2)
Cordyline - second year (1)
Geranium - first year (2)

Sweet potato vine - 'Marguerite' (3)
Sweet potato vine - 'Tricolor' (3)
Geranium (2)

I also have a few things left on my to-do list:

Dracaena, large - second year (1)
Mandalay Begonia - first year (2)

Mandalay Begonia 'Bonfire' (2)
Sweet potato vine - 'Blackie' (3)
Coleus (3 varieties, 2 cuttings each)
Sedum (2 varieties, 2 cuttings each) 

Mandalay Begonia 'Bonfire'

This is my first year taking cuttings for potato vines -- they produced roots almost instantly!  I also dug up quite a few tubers.  From what I've read, these are pretty difficult to grow new potato vines from, since they have a tendancy to either rot or dry out.  I left my tubers on the table out back, so they've been rained on quite a bit...I'm willing to bet they'll rot, but I'm going to bring them in anyway and try to sprout them in the spring.

This is my second year overwintering the dracaena and the cordyline (usually sold as "spikes" at the big box stores).  I use these in the middle of big pots and surround them with annuals and potato vine.  This will probably be the last year I overwinter my three biggest dracaena.  As they gotten bigger and as the lower leaves (?) have fallen off, they're looking less like spikes and more like exotic palm trees.  The cordyline is 'Red Star' and I'm working towards shaping it as a specimen.  This year it was in a pot by itself, but I might add annuals again next year.

I've overwintered geraniums before, but they got a little leggy, so I decided to try cuttings as well.  After two weeks of sitting in water and not doing anything, the cuttings finally developed some roots.  Since this is the first year I've had the Mandalay Begonias, I'm hedging my bets and taking cuttings AND overwintering them.  I really enjoyed them in the hanging baskets this year and they attracted quite a few hummingbirds to our deck.

What plants do you take cuttings from?  Do you ever overwinter annuals?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Look what I found: Stokesia laevis

This has been a mystery plant in the garden for a while.  It's in the front on the other side of the driveway from the mailbox, right next to the bag worm infested evergreen shrub (which I did NOT take care of this weekend).  I first noticed clumps of new foliage in the spring.  I didn't recognize it as a weed and the placement seemed intentional, so I left it.

I wasn't crazy about the foliage.  It's quite rigid and almost reminded me of a thistle or some other sort of aggressive weed, so I kept an eye on it.  In June and July, the plant bloomed and the pleasant blue flowers helped me identify it as Stokesia laevis, or Stokes aster .  There weren't a ton of blooms, but the butterflies seemed to be attracted to them.

Now, the spent blossoms are closed up like an artichoke.  I'm supposed to deadhead them, but I like they way they look, so I think I'm going to leave them.  I'm still on the fence about this plant -- it's native to the southeast US and seems to be deer resistant.  It's also supposed to have evergreen foliage, which I'll be monitoring over the winter.  Despite all these checks in the "Pro" column, I'm just not excited about it. 

Do you keep any mediocre plants in your garden?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bag Worms

Bag worms have been on my "to-do" list for about a month, ever since I discovered one of my evergreen shrubs out front is infested.  I've never come across these before -- possibly because I've never had so many evergreens before?  Anyhow...I should have been more on top of them when they first started appearing in the early summer, but I had other things on my plate.

Now they've completely covered and defoliated about two thirds of this shrub.  I need to pick them off before the mature adult moths emerge from these bags and start reproducing.  I don't want to have to deal with them again next year.

My plan of attack is to pick them off and put them in a bucket of bleach and water.  Next year, I will keep an eagle eye out in June to see if I missed any (or if I left this too late).  If they return next year, I'll probably start looking into some sort of insecticide.

Bag worms look like they belong on the plants they infest because they use parts of the plant to create their bags.  My bag worms look a bit like pine cones and I didn't really pay attention to them until I saw some on a downed deciduous branch near the evergreen shrub. 

Have you ever battled bag worms?  What did you do to get rid of them? 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Look what I found: Sedum

Sedum is one of those plants recommended to beginning gardeners.  It's impossible to kill, you don't have to worry about watering it, and most forms spread easily without being invasive.

It blooms in the late summer and the flower heads last into the Fall.  Some people even leave the stalks/flower heads on over the entire winter for interest.  I think because sedum is so easy and is used everywhere, more seasoned gardeners can be a little snobbish about it.

I'm not one of those gardeners.  I love sedum, in all of its forms and was excited to find this variety in the bed out front.  The flowers are so pink and dainty - not the red I usually associate with sedum.  I can't wait to see how the blooms develop as the season goes on.

Sedum, showing a little damage from deer and other pests

This area has been chomped on by deer repeatedly over the summer.  The sedum recovered fairly well, although it's much shorter than it would have been if it hadn't been bothered.  I was so encouraged by the way it rebounded from the damage, I ended up getting some more from Home Depot for the fence border in the backyard. 

Yes, I broke my solemn vow not to shop at big box stores, but they were selling large perennials 3 for 10 dollars.  What can I say, my will power is fairly non-existent...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


The coleus I bought back in May is downright enormous.  Although I don't have a lot flowering right now, the coleus and potato vines provide a lot of interest.  Let's hear it for foliage!

I've been so happy with the annuals in containers all summer, I'm looking for a cheap way to have more next year.  This will involve a combination of cuttings, tubers, and overwintering.  It's all very exciting.

Of course, not everything has done well.  This pot didn't have a drainage hole and the coleus ended up essentially drowning.  I'll have to take a drill to the bottom of it before next year or just start using it for houseplants indoors.

Our first frost is usually at the end of October, so I've been really busy over the past few weekends taking cuttings, re-potting houseplants that are moving back indoors, and generally cleaning up.  Over the next few weeks, I'll also be planting hundreds of bulbs and raking.  Who knew that a garden in the fall is almost as much work as a garden in the spring?

Monday, September 19, 2011


Last week was a pretty lousy week.

So far, it seems like this week may be better.  I'll try to get back in the routine of posting.  In the meantime, here's a blurry picture of a spider I found last week.

I guess it's a reminder, to myself, to try, try, again.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Azaleas - Again!

For the past two or three weeks, the azaleas in the front island have been blooming.  Again.

It looks like there are a couple of different "brands" of reblooming azaleas: Encore Azaleas, Bloom-a-thon, and Bloom 'N Again.  I haven't been able to identify ours (yet).

As you can see in the wider picture above, these azaleas are getting pretty leggy.  According to the Encore azalea website, they do not need much pruning...which made me think these are possibly not Encore azaleas.  Does this plant look familiar to you?

The bigger question is, when should I prune these azaleas?  From what I've read, you should prune regular azaleas when they're done blooming in the spring.  I'm going to prune these when they're done blooming this fall.  It's possible I'll lose some spring flowers, but with the show that goes on in my front yard, no one will even notice.   I'd almost prefer to get them on a late summer/fall schedule.

How do you feel about plants designed to bloom "out of season"?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Long Weekend

I hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend.  I actually gardened on Saturday and Sunday and got quite a bit accomplished.  Of course, I didn't take any pictures, so you're stuck with a few of our gnomes.  I hope to have more to write later in the week.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Garden Parts: Along the Fence

Here are four of the five types of buddleia my Aunt gave us.  They've all been planted along the fence and mulched.  I'm considering adding some perennials as well, if I can find them at the right price, but I'm not sure about planting perennials in the late summer/fall.  I know it's recommended for shrubs, so maybe I'll give it a try.

The arbor at the end of this bed needs to be replaced.

It fell over during the hurricane and no matter what we do to try and stand it back up, it always ends up on the ground again.  It looks like termites have been munching on it for a while.  The bottom rung and stakes look like they're still sturdy, but they're essentially hollowed out.  The hard part will be moving the climbing hydrangea from the old arbor to a new one...I'll have to think about how to accomplish that.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Look what I found: Lagerstroemia indica

Also known as crapemyrtle, crape myrtle, or crepe myrtle.  There is a lot of discussion online about how to spell the common name of this plant.  For fairly arbitrary reasons, I typically spell it as crapemyrtle.

We have a fairly large multi-trunk crapemyrtle tree with white flowers and really attractive peeling bark.

From a cursory search, I believe this might be a Natchez variety due to the bloom time (it's reblooming now), bloom color, bark color and size.  I've never been a huge crapemyrtle fan, but I do really enjoy this tree and have taken about a bazillion pictures of the trunks.

Even the seed capsules from the previous blooms provide interest

I'm not quite as fond of our other crapemyrtle.

It's only just now starting to bloom.  The blooms are garish and it doesn't have any of the winter interest the tree has...in the winter, it looks like a dead shrub.  Since it takes quite a while for crapemyrtles to leaf out in the spring, I really found this shrub to be an eyesore.  Of course, it could just be the entire area of the island I object to.

I'll wait until the entire bush is in bloom before I pass judgement, but I have a feeling this shrub will be moving at some point next year.