These are very versatile plants. Members of the mint family, thus the interesting square stems. These have a long blooming time of May through October in shades of purple and pink. Salvia love sun and are fairly drought tolerant after about a year of establishment. The do like drained soils, so no wet sites. Mints tend to be deer resistant, for those who share their space with these guys. If cut back after flowering, a second flush of blooms will follow. Sweet!
From Left to Right:
‘Marcus’ – short, compact plant with deep purple flowers ‘Sensation Rose’ – very short, dark rose florets with dark stems ‘Eveline’ – tall type with large, light pink florets, ‘Blue Hill’ – clear, lilac blue
From left to Right:
‘East Friesland’ – Stiff, upright wands of purple ‘May Night’ – Freer-form purple ‘Caradonna’ – Tall, stiff, darkest purple stems that stay showy even after blooming.
If you’re looking for sensational summer color, look no further! Summer pots are the way to go. Not only are they full of pizzazz, the color is often right in your face, literally, especially if your favorite container is on a pedestal.
You don’t need to remember a bunch of annual names. The only thing you need remember for a well-presented display is: Thriller, Filler & Spiller! The Thriller is that one large plant that is generally in the center and taller than the rest. Filler are those mid-range sized plants, often of ‘fatter or fuller’ stature. Spiller is just that, plants that hang over the edge of the pot.
Here’s where your imagination needs to run free through the flowers. In many of the containers below, the photos are of the plants after there has been a bit of growth put on them. You can also get instant height from a trellised plant such as a mandevilla, jasmine or other vine.
Another tip ~ Flowering can be increased if the plants are kept on the drier side. This takes a bit of skill, as you don’t want them to dry-out, but keep them on the brink of drying. Why?!? Because. Think of it this way. If you’re kept all fat and happy without doing anything, why not just enjoy the hand-outs? (can you say ‘vegetative growth’? Haha!) Just like some of the folks living off us tax-payers, yet they have nicer stuff than me. =-( However, if you need to work for everything you’re getting, you fight to survive and multiplying is surviving in a plants eyes. Thus, more blooms = more seeds. Boom.
There are many species of fungus that cause powdery mildew on plants. Most only infect the leaf surface or stems and do not attack the leaf tissue of the host plant. Powdery mildew is not usually a serious problem, but to avoid severe damage to plants, quick control methods need to be taken.
Symptoms of powdery mildew:
Powdery mildews are observed in late spring and early summer as a white or gray powdery growth on leaves, stems, flowers, and fruit. As the fungus developments, buds fail to open, leaves can become distorted, turn yellow, brown or become chlorotic, or may drop prematurely. Fruits may develop blemishes or abort early.
Powdery mildew grows predominantly on leaf surfaces and does not require water to infect the plant. Powdery mildew fungi overwinter in tiny black bodies called fungal threads, which can be found in leaf litter, twigs, and dormant buds. In Spring, the fungal threads produce spores that start the cycle, especially during periods of high humidity when days are warm and nights are cool, ideal temperatures range between 60F to 80F. Vulnerable plants are most susceptible while new shoots and leaves are expanding. Fungus is host specific, meaning the powdery mildew on phlox does not infect crabapples.
How to manage the mildew!
Many powdery mildews, especially those that attack woody plants, are more unsightly than destructive. Good sanitation is highly important to reduce infections the next season. Powdery mildews can hibernate through the winter on dead and living plant tissue.
Be proactive and purchase disease resistant plants.
Space the plants properly, in-well drained soils where plants receive good air circulation.
Dispose of diseased leaves as soon as they drop.
Do not compost or use as mulch.
Always avoid working among plants with wet foliage. Stay inside on rainy days!
Since most powdery mildew symptoms occur late in the growing season, it is usually not considered serious enough to justify chemical control. However, some plants may warrant protection and successful chemical control requires applying a fungicide properly and at the right time. Fungicides are a prophylactic, meaning it has to be sprayed on the plant before the infection occurs. Depending on what species or part of the plant (leaves, flower or fruit) you are trying to protect, spray times may be different.
One of my favorite, efficient fungicides to use is the Bordeaux mixture. In the early 19th century, many of the European grape vines were infected with blight caused by the aphid Phylloxera vastatrix (argued to have come from American grapes), but also mildew and other diseases caused by fungi.
In 1885, botany professor Pierre-Marie-Alexis Millardet of the University of Bordeaux studied powdery mildew in the vineyards of the Bordeaux region. He noticed the vines sprayed with copper and lime to keep nibblers away along the roads showed no signs of the disease. To this day, his solution is widely used in vineyards.
Mother Nature may not feel the same way, but my calendar tells me it’s so! I really want to burn my winter coat and move south… Reeeeally far south, as most of our nation got to experience winter this year.
No. However I’m optimistic that Woodstock Willie (my local groundhog) got it right, and I’m looking forward to an early spring!
In the meantime, it’s time to start thinking about your outdoor spring container displays. “How early can I plant?” will surely be your next question. Depending on your ‘love and devotion’ level, is how early you can plant. Factors:
Availability of plant material? Hard to plant what you can’t get.
Is your irrigation turned on? If not, you’ll need to water regularly.
A well-watered pot holds heat – water right before a freeze.
Fabric (NOT plastic) to cover in case of frost. Be sure to remove the next day.
Be sure your container / pot is very clean to start the season. A good, stiff brush dipped in a 10% bleach solution will do the trick. This will kill off any of the nasties waiting to infect your flowers. This cleaning should take you through the season also. No need to disinfect after each season change. (Spring/Summer/Fall/Winter)
Spring flowers such as; Petunias, tulips, hyacinths, primrose, cyclamen, hydrangea, muscari, snap dragons, ranunculus, helleborus, viola, ivy and diacia are just a few cool weather choices.
Give your display a bit of height with pussy willow or forsythia branches. If cut at the right time (pretty much right before placing in display) they will also bloom, adding to the WOW factor.
These flowers will last until the weather turns hot & then it’s time to switch over to your summer display.
I’ll be taking requests from now until April 15th. After that date, most things are so picked over, it’s hard to be creative. You’re also almost into summer pots by then….
Staying organized is an important part of successful gardening. Utilizing the off-season to organize affords more time during the growing season to dedicate to the plants. It also helps me pass the long, dark months of winter!
Start by creating something to accumulate records in such as a 3-ring binder, calendar or file box. Training oneself during the growing season to take quick notes, photos and to keep the information together (I have a basket I throw it all in).
Information that should be recorded:
Planting dates with the receipt – some nurseries offer a 1-year warranty
After replacing store tags with longer lasting ones, write the install date on it
Photos should be downloaded, printed and identified
Vegetable plot layouts – as crop rotation is essential
Names and locations of seeds collected
Ornamental layouts to help with identification
Annuals that have worked in the past and flat quantities
Insect and disease problems, along with remedies used in the past
Plants to thin and share with others
Note of fertilization times – not just a date, but the surrounding conditions and weather as well
Overwintered bulb names can be directly written on with water soluble pen
Pest spray times [although not calendar specific] for reminders
Labeling plants within the garden helps develop identification skills & saves memory cells 😉 Labels can be ready-made ceramic, bamboo, metal, actual seed packets or cut up plastic recyclables into strips. Labels should always be placed similarly such as always at the north side of the plant to easily find them later. When attaching a tag to a plant using a wire or string, don’t strangle the branch, apply loosely to allow for growth.
Another great way to keep organized is to start a garden blog! Take photos of each area of your garden on a scheduled basis. If you’re really ambitious, take photos of each plant. Even if you don’t know the name of the plant, by publishing the photo, someone may comment the name. WordPress is a great (free) platform to use for this. (WP did not pay me to write that!)
Lastly, if you are in Northeastern Illinois or Southern Wisconsin, you can take advantage of a coaching session with me that can produce a list of your plants, along with gardening tasks and when to perform them.