Category: plants

Easy Care Plants – Coleus

In an effort to stretch my gardening dollar as far as possible, I like to plant easy care perennials; those garden work-horses that will return year after year.

Also, I hate planting annuals. I have no patience for a plant that will grow for one year and then die off. Kiss it goodbye. I’d rather save the time and effort, plant the $50 bill and be done with it. (Our porch is in deep shade and I make an exception for annuals there.) However….

Coleus are tender perennials so they behave like annuals in Virginia. After one summer in the sunshine, they are done. Sadly, I can’t overwinter them because our house has few sunny windows in which to grow plants. (And I need those windows for blog photography!) These plants are showy and worth every penny. They are ridiculously simple to care for. Plunk them in the ground in a sunny spot, water regularly and admire them.
It’s just that easy!

While my taste in flowers tends toward ‘cottage garden’; these beauties are a punch of abstract art. The Andy Warhol of perennials, if you will. They provide edgy contrast to my restrained daisies and lavender. Give them a try! I think you’ll like them!

For more reading on coleus, go here:
https://www.finegardening.com/article/sizing-up-coleus
I’ll have to hunt down that ‘Candy Store’ variety. Those colors are amazing!

Copyright 2019 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

Rescuing Clearance Rack Perennials

While shopping for deer fence T-posts, I happened upon several racks of clearance perennials marked down to $1 each. Of course I loaded up my cart! Some of the blooms were ready for deadheading, but the leaves looked fresh and healthy. I figured these underdogs were worth a chance.

Perennial flowers are fantastic because you do the work of planting once, and are rewarded with year after year of blooms. Given the right growing conditions, most perennials are easy care, requiring only deadheading and occasional dividing.

We purchased these for the herb garden, because that is the sunniest area of our property. They range in height from 6″ to just over 2′ tall, so they shouldn’t shade other sun loving plants nearby.

Thinking about their mature size, bloom time and relation to neighboring plants, I placed them around the garden. I like to arrange them in irregular shaped, odd numbered groupings of 3, 5 or 7 of the same plant. This gives the garden visual ‘flow’ and is more appealing than planting in straight rows, as you would in a vegetable garden.

Here’s what we planted:

Balloon Flowers – one blue, one white
I’ve wanted to try balloon flowers forever. These deer resistant plants are whimsical and fun. They both had tags showing blue flowers, so the white one was a surprise!

Poppy
This one is a mystery plant only because I misplaced the tag. Oops! I seem to recall that it is an orange variety.

Darling Daisy™ Shasta Daisy
Daisies were my husband’s great aunt Ruth’s favorite flower, so I remember her fondly when I see these. This variety is fairly compact, growing to just 12″ tall. I deadhead these about once a week, and they are blooming their little hearts out.

Dwarf Coreopsis
We picked up nine of these, and I’m hoping they will provide a sea of golden blooms. They grow to 12″ tall, and bloom from spring through fall.

Giles Van Hees Speedwell – These tiny flowers bloom in summer. They seem a little finicky and we’ve already lost two of the five that we purchased. (R.I.P., little guys) I’m holding my breath that the remaining three will settle into the garden nicely.

Little Women Daylily – I’m not sure where we are in the bloom cycle, but I suspect that we’re done for the year. I bought three of these for their unusual, peach color which will pair nicely with the nearby lavender.

Hopefully our plants will be happy here, and provide some interest to the garden. They’ve already drawn the attention of neighborhood butterflies, so we think the bees will find them soon as well.

How about you? Do you take pity on the clearance rack plants, and take them home?

Copyright 2019 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

Ground Cover for Steeply Sloped Banks

We’ve got two driveways and the banks next to the first one are steeply sloped, shaded and have horrible, clay soil. When we moved in 15 years ago, we planted several flats of variegated ivy on one bank hoping that it would scramble up the bank and cover it quickly. The ivy proved to be slow growing and while it has spread, it’s not doing the job.

Ivy going nowhere.

We’ve planted vinca minor on a third bank and discovered vinca major growing wild at the other end of that same bank. It has mostly filled in, and is beautiful when covered in periwinkle blooms. Vinca has glossy, evergreen leaves and looks great year round. It is on the Virginia invasive plants list, but we haven’t found it difficult to control.

Bank covered in vinca minor. This is such an easy care plant and forms a good weed barrier.
Vinca major in bloom.

In an effort to cover the other two banks, I’ve been researching evergreen ground covers. The banks are steep enough that withstanding foot traffic is not a concern. This will likely be a multi-year project because both banks are large. The first one is 52′ x 10′ and is under an ancient, oak tree. We’ve successfully grown Solomon’s Seal there, but it dies back in the winter. The second bank is 125′ x 22′(yes, that’s 2,750 square feet!) and has the slow-growing ivy on it.

Solomon’s Seal is perennial and gorgeous during the spring and summer.

With such a large area to cover, we need a plant that is inexpensive and will quickly spread to fill in. Last fall, we transplanted about a dozen plugs of liriope as a test to see if it would tolerate the deep shade, extremely poor soil and root competition from the oak tree. Surprisingly, they survived and are thriving this spring.

Test liriope.

This spring, we’re transplanting liriope from two other areas in our yard; an unruly border and the bed of black-eyed Susans. Aside from lots of sweat equity, this project is free. My favorite price!

Liriope marching out into the lawn from a border planting.

Because the test plants grew well in our poor soil, we’re not amending the planting holes with garden soil or compost. With thousands of holes to dig, it would only increase the time needed to complete this project. And I don’t think the extra expense is necessary.

We’re transplanting the liriope bare root so that we do not have to move a lot of soil. This enables us to dig smaller planting holes, and to tuck the liriope in next to the tree roots without damaging them. We started by using a trowel, but switched to a hand weeder to dig the holes.

Until they are settled in to their new home, we’re watering the transplants daily. We’ll mulch the banks once the transplants are established. This project is slow-going, but we’re hopeful that this is the tough-as-nails ground cover these banks need.

New transplants!

To read more on vinca:
https://www.thespruce.com/vinca-minor-vines-2132217

For more information on liriope:
https://www.thespruce.com/liriope-plants-popular-varieties-of-border-grass-2132483

Copyright 2019 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

Grow Free Hydrangeas Through Layering

We have five large Nikko Blue hydrangeas, and I’d love to create a long sweep of them in our yard. They’re planted just opposite my kitchen window and bloom from June through the first frost. Last fall, I layered them in the hopes of gaining loads of baby plants (layers) for free. I layered 20 branches and 16 of them have taken root.

The layering process is super simple and I hope you will give it a try. A note about timing: I do this at the end of summer, while the branches are flexible enough to bend to the ground without breaking. In Virginia, this means mid-late October. I’ve read that you can layer plants in the spring, but I haven’t tried it.

You will need:

  • An established, healthy “mother” hydrangea – ask a friend if you can layer theirs if you don’t have one
  • Rocks, bricks, small children or other heavy object(s) for weight
  • Shovel or trowel
  • Wintertime and patience

Find a healthy, lower branch of the plant. I select branches that are leafy, with no flowers. Without disturbing the leaves at the tip, break off the next lower set of leaves down to the branch. The place where you removed the leaves is the node.

Gently lower the node to the ground, loosen the soil under it and then pile at least an inch of soil on top of the node. Place a rock or brick on top to weight it down securely. Water the mother plant occasionally if needed.

Wait until Spring and check on your plants. New growth at the tip of the branch indicates that your baby plant has taken root.

Leaving the rock or brick in place, snip the branch between the weight and the mother plant as below and give the baby a few weeks of living on its own before transplanting. Be sure to water the layer baby daily until it is established, more often in hot weather. If the baby is very small, you might wish to delay transplanting for an entire growing season.

When transplanting small plants like these, I dig a hole about 12″ deep and 12″ across. Make sure the roots have plenty of loose soil to grow into. I like to mix in a little garden soil to lighten up our heavy clay soil. Once you’ve transplanted the babies, they will need some TLC. Water them each morning for a few weeks and then as needed until they are established.

I’ve only done this with hydrangeas, but I understand this works for other plants such as forsythia, rhododendron, azalea. I would love to know if you try it and how the process works for you.

Happy gardening!

Copyright 2019 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

PJM Rhododendrons – A tale of massacre and despair

My husband is crazy about rhododendrons. He loves them because they are showy, easy care and grow well in deep shade; which we’ve got in spades. I suspect he also loves them because in order to really see them in their splendor, you must be in the woods; his happy place. Last fall, we planted four PJMs and carefully tended them while they were settling in to their new home.

A few months later, we noticed the leaves turning yellow and falling off. It was an extremely rainy fall; did they get too much water? Maybe we planted them in the wrong area? Were they getting too much sun? We had no idea.

Shortly after that, we saw to our horror, that the neighborhood thugs (also known as deer) had come through and eaten the ends off every single branch of all four plants! They’d shown no mercy. It looked like we had wandered through the yard picking up sticks after a wind storm and decided to shove them into the ground instead of the burn pile.

Deerscouraged – Yes, it’s a word. I just invented it.
deers·cour·aged/dirˈskərijd/adjective
having lost confidence or enthusiasm for gardening in deer country; disheartened.”she must be feeling pretty deerscouraged”

Dejected, we paid a visit to the nursery where we purchased the rhododendrons, looking for a glimmer of hope for these little guys. The owner guessed that the wet weather had contributed to the leaves falling off. She encouraged us to leave them alone and wait until spring to see if they came back.

Well, this story has a happy ending (or middle?) because the plants have budded out and are blooming today. We’re hopeful that healthy leaves will return this year.

UPDATE:
A few weeks later, the leaves have returned to the PJMs, they’re growing like crazy and seem to be very healthy!

If you’d like to try PJMs in your landscape, you can read more about them here:
https://www.monrovia.com/plant-catalog/plants/280/pjm-rhododendron/

Copyright 2019 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

Window Boxes on the Garage – An Upcycling Project

The garage at Arthurized Home once serviced our small neighborhood.
The previous owners supported themselves and their 14 children with income from this garage. (As much as I love a good exaggeration, that’s not one. They really raised 14 children in our 950 square foot cottage! But that’s a story for another day.) The garage has a pit for changing oil and a beam for hoisting engines. There’s a fireplace out there; you can see where someone closed up a 4′ x 8′ window (yet another story) and blocked up a bay door. We’ve got some future goals for fixing it up, but for now it’s a utilitarian eyesore.

Why yes, that is a leaf blower hanging in the window!

A few years ago while my sister was visiting, we stumbled upon the Funky Junk Interiors website. She made the brilliant suggestion that I should “junk up” the garage. I started with some upcycled window boxes made from discarded metal sawhorses.

Here’s how: Wearing safety glasses and heavy leather gloves, my husband cut the legs off of the saw horses, leaving the attachment and folding the cut edge down into the box. (You could file the sharp edges if you like. We didn’t bother.) He then drilled holes for hanging along the back of the window boxes using a drill bit for metal. Next he positioned the boxes and marked on the wall where the screws would go. Then he drilled pilot holes into the cinder block using a masonry drill bit. He aligned the boxes with the pilot holes, placed a large washer over the holes and secured each one with a masonry screw.

Using my coffee filter trick, I blocked the gaps on the corners and filled the planters with soil and flowers. Because the planters are shallow, I use a moisture retaining potting mix. I feed and water these on the same schedule as my other outdoor container plants. When it’s hot outside they get a drink twice a day.

While I wouldn’t recommend installing them on a playhouse, (hello, potential sharp metal edges) these window boxes would be great on a deck, a potting shed or other outbuilding. A she-shed? A chicken coop?
I could go on all day.

If you make this project, I’d love to see it! Email your pictures to arthurized dot home at gmail dot com.

Copyright 2019 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

Seed Starting Pots – A Recycling Project

Do you know that you’ve got an endless supply of seed starting pots in your home? Well, they’re not pots yet. They’re more commonly known as empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls! (I’m trying to refrain from potty puns.)

If you’re using paper towel rolls, cut them in half or thirds.
(Do you think my background looks like tiny rolls of toilet paper?)
Press the tube flat.
Open up the tube and pinch the first folds together and press flat again to form a square.
Measure across the top; mine is just over one inch.
Use half of that measurement to mark the fold lines. My fold line is 1/2″ from the bottom.
Using sturdy scissors, cut along each of the 4 corners up to the fold line. You don’t have to mark the flaps A, B, C & D. I’ve done that to better explain this step. I hope!
Now fold each flap toward the center of the pot. Starting from the top (A),
work clockwise (B, C). When you reach the flap on the left (D), tuck the top half of it
under the first flap (A). That will secure the bottom of the pot.

You want the pot to close tightly at the bottom so the soil is contained.
If yours has a gap, re-fold the flap a little higher until the gap is closed.
Now you have a little seed starting pot!
But he needs some friends.
Fill with potting soil and plant those seeds!

When your seedlings are ready to transplant into a larger pot or the garden, open the flaps and plant it whole. Or, carefully cut the side of the pot open from top to bottom without disturbing the roots. The pot will decompose over time. Happy gardening!

Copyright 2019 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

A Quick Tip for Potting House Plants

This sweet little planter belonged to my Grandma. She had a fierce green thumb and could grow anything.

I had a shamrock (oxalis) house plant that hung in with me and my less-than-fierce green thumb for over 15 years. No, I don’t keep track of my houseplant’s birthdays; I only know this because he moved jobs with me and I’ve been at this job for 15 years. Over the past year he started languishing and I knew it was time to let him go to Jesus.

Enter Shamrock 2.0

See that drainage hole? If you plant without blocking it, when you water the plant the fresh soil will wash right out and you’ll have a muddy planter tray. Not pretty.

To prevent that we’re literally going to filter it. With a paper coffee filter, or three.

Place the first filter over the drainage hole and then layer a few more in the bottom of the pot. Without disturbing the filters, carefully place the plant in the pot. Top off with extra soil if needed and you’re done!

Enjoy your new house plant!

Copyright 2019 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

7 Great Ways To Get Plants For Free

Don’t you just love getting something for free? What better way to improve your garden than to add some green without spending any green?

Nikko Blue Hydrangeas

Self Seeding and Spreading Plants: These beauties will do the work for you! Plunk them in the ground and let them do their thing. Water them well for a few weeks until they are established and walk away. Seriously. Plants to try: Sedum, Vinca Major, Vinca Minor, Solomon’s Seal

When we moved houses we brought along a few Solomon’s Seal plants. They’ve since spread to fill in this bed.

Sweat Equity – Trade a little Work: Last Spring I spotted daffodils growing in the woods behind the building where I work. I struck a deal with the property owner to transplant half of them into a landscaping bed in front of the building in exchange for the other half of the bulbs. I brought about 7 large clusters of bulbs home.  


These little guys are just poking their heads up in the planting bed at work.

Dividing: Dig the plant up by the roots and slice it in half if it’s small or into more sections if it is a large plant. Be sure to leave plenty of healthy roots on each section. Hosta, Liriope and Scented Geraniums all take this well.

Layering: This technique works well for one of my favorite plants, the hydrangea. With an investment of a little work and some patience, you can have a sweep of hydrangeas for free. Here’s how: In the Fall, find a healthy lower branch of the plant without flowers. Without disturbing the leaves at the tip, break off the next lower set of leaves down to the branch. The place where you removed the leaves is the node. Gently lower the node to the ground, loosen the soil under the node, then pile about an inch of soil over the node and place a rock or brick over to hold it in place. Water occasionally if needed. Wait until Spring and check on your plants. New growth at the tip of the branch indicates that your baby plant has taken root. Leaving the rock or brick in place, snip the branch between the weight and the mother plant and wait a few more weeks before transplanting the baby. Try this with Forsythia too.

My layered hydrangeas; waiting for Spring.

Propagate in Water: My brother and sister-in-law had beautiful purple sedum in their wedding centerpieces. Afterwards, I took several of the cuttings and placed them in clear glasses of water on my kitchen window sill. Topping off the water occasionally, in a few weeks they had formed nice long roots. I then transplanted them into pots and eventually into a garden bed.

Sedum propagated in water.

Municipal Swaps and Give Away: A neighboring town hosts a plant/bulb/seed swap at their library. Bring a plant, take a plant. At the end of the growing season, our city offers a plant give-away. They remove flowers and grasses from municipal planting beds and heap them up in a parking lot. There is usually a mix of annuals and perennials, so it helps to know which plants you want and what type of care they will need.

This patch of Black Eyed Susan started from one little plant I found in the corner of my Grandma’s back yard.

Pass Along: These may be the best plants yet; plants with a story. I love to walk around my yard looking at plants that came from my Grandma’s garden in the Midwest. I have pink peonies from plants that my Mom recalls watching my Grandpa dig up from his mother’s yard nearly 60 years ago. I have Lily of the Valley from my in-law’s garden and loads of pass-alongs from my sister-in-law.

Copyright 2019 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.