Thought I would do something fun for my blog this week and make a quiz to test your knowledge of the common names of some flowers. Click on the link below and test yourself! Good luck & Enjoy!!
The name cacti or cactus is used by many to group both cacti and succulents into one. All cacti are native to the Americas with one exception, Rhipsalis baccifera the common name being mistletoe cactus. Remembering that all cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti, you can begin to distinguish between the two. There are always exceptions to every rule, but the following identification tips will help you to learn whether you have a cactus or a succulent.
Tips on Identifying a Cactus
Want to see how well you know the difference between a cactus and a succulent? Take this quiz. Cactus or Succulent Quiz
You may be thinking, just how hard can it be to water? During the hot summer days it can make the difference between beautiful plants and ones struggling to survive.
First you want to water deeply so the water reaches the entire root ball of your plant and to encourage deep roots. It is better to water deeply two to three times weekly than it is to water shallow everyday. Watering shallow everyday causes your plants to grow surface roots which dry out easier. Avoid watering in the middle of the day when it is hottest to reduce evaporation of the water. The best time to water is early in the morning when the temperature is cooler. I discourage watering at night especially during the hot humid nights of summer. Having your plants wet at night opens them to fungal disease, insects and bacterial disease.
Container gardens have different requirements. The plants in your containers are more exposed to the heat, sun and wind. They dry out faster than what your plants in your beds do. Your containers will most likely need to be watered daily during the summer, possibly twice if they have outgrown the pot and are starting to become rootbound. The best way to tell is to stick your finger down into the soil, at least to the second knuckle. If it is dry, you need to water.
Taking the time to water correctly always improves your plants chances of surviving the hot days of summer. Many of them, if trimmed back and deadheaded, will provide a new flush of growth and flowers for you again in the fall.
Just remember; "Wake up your plants wet and put them to bed dry."
Summer is here and along with it are the mosquitoes. Instead of reaching for the chemicals, try using a more natural way by planting these mosquito repellant plants.
It is important to know that it is the compounds found in these plants that repel the mosquitoes. Just placing these plants around your area without also protecting yourself is often not very effective for each individual. By crushing, drying or infusing with oil it can be applied to your skin and clothes. It's as simple as grabbing a handful of plant material and rubbing it on your skin and clothes when you go outside. Planting mosquito repellant plants will also benefit your pets. Microfilariae are parasites that give your pet heart worms and are transmitted by the mosquito. Having these plants in your yard will help in reducing their exposure.
With the threat of the West Nile virus, the need for insect repellent when venturing outdoors is essential and necessary. Many of your commerical products contain 5% to 25% DEET. Not sure what DEET is? Take this link: National Pesticide Information Center. The potential toxic effects of this chemical has always been a real concern for me. Especially when being used on children.
Mosquito Repellent Plants
Citronella Grass - Cymbopogon nardus
Citronella grass is the most commonly used ingredient in natural insect repellants. Very similar to lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) but with a much stronger and different smell. To tell the difference between the two, just look at the stems. Citronella grass has red stems, lemon grass stems are green. Citronella is a perennial ‘clumping’ grass which grows 5' - 6' tall. It can be grown directly in the ground where frost does not occur, otherwise, use as an annual.
Horsemint - Monarda citriodora
Native to the U. S. Plains, this drought tolerant plant grows up to 3' tall with lavender/pink colored flowers from May through July and possibly into September/October if watered. Although it's an annual, it can reseed for the following year with the added bonus of being a great butterfly, hummingbird and bee attractor. Read "The Importance of Bees" to learn more about the problems we are having with our worlds pollinators.
Catnip - Nepta cataria
A beautiful and easy to grow perennial with light purple flowers that bloom summer through the fall. Research has shown that it is more effective than DEET. Take this link to read more about it. Catnip Repels Mosquitoes More Effectively Than DEET
Marigolds - Tagetes spp.
An annual bedding plant, marigolds repel more than just mosquitoes. Marigolds have such a strong scent that mammals, insects and well as some people don't like them. I've always planted marigolds in with my vegetable garden to keep away pests.
Eucalyptus - Eucalyptus spp.
Eucalyptus oil has long been used as an insect repellant as well as other uses. Caution must be used though. When used externally eucalyptus is non-toxic, but taken internally eucalyptus is toxic. Maureen McCracken is a master gardener in Mecklenburg County, NC.
and has written a short description of the benefits of eucalytus and is very informative. Medicinal Herbs: Eucalyptus
Rosemary - Rosemarinus officinalis
Rosemary is not just used for cooking. The strong scent rosemary gives off makes an excellent mosquito repellent. "How to Use Rosemary Oil as an Insect Repellant" gives you a recipe for making your own. Rosemary is drought tolerant and loves the heat. Good drainage is a must. Many cultivars are available from ground covers to upright
Corkscrew Juncus Photo provided by: Proven Winners
Need a striking centerpiece for your garden container? The visual interest of the corkscrew juncus brings a whimsical feeling to your garden. New emerging leaves are wound tight and loosen as they mature. Juncus prefers partial shade, moist or wet soil sites, but will tolerate full sun and regular garden soil if provided with consistent water. I have grown this plant myself and learned that it can also take getting dry and survived the heat very well. Corkscrew is also a deer resistant plant. It grows in clumps and spreads by rhizomes growing 10" to 12" tall. There are no major pests or diseases to worry about with this plant. If you put it in a wet, boggy area, make sure you keep the crown above water otherwise it will rot. You shouldn't have a problem locating this ornamental grass as most of your independent garden centers should carry it.
At an early age we all learn that bees are who pollinate our flowers and make the honey that we eat. Have you ever stopped to really think about, just how important bees really are to us?
Bees are of immense importance to our ecological relationships and contribute to the biodiversity of Mother Earth. There are plants that are entirely dependent on bees for propagation. Farmers, that supply the food we eat, are dependent on bees to pollinate their crops. Many animals wouldn't survive without them. Berries, nuts, seeds and fruits are all produced by pollination from insects and bees are the number one pollinators.
In the past 6 years the honey bee has been disappearing in alarming numbers. There are a number of reasons scientists have been researching as possible causes but is still under investigation. The incidents are being labeled Colony Collapse Disorder. Take this link to learn in more detail the problem we are facing and possible repercussions of, with our bee populations. Common Pesticide Implicated Bee Colony Collapse Disorder.
One of the ways we can help would be to grow plants that attract bees. Here are my top 10 favorites for attracting bees to your garden.
I'd like to thank Diva Jefferson for making the suggesting of blogging about bees. It was a subject I didn't know a lot about except for the common knowledge about them. I have learned so much about them because of this. It just proves that you can always learn something new no matter how old you are or how much you think you know about any given subject!
Straw bale gardening is great for those of you that have poor soil, limited space for gardening or for those who have difficulty kneeling or bending for long periods of time. Once you prepare your straw bale, you place your plants directly inside the bale to grow. The straw keeps your plants cool and holds water well. Weeding is kept at a minimum and as the bale deteriorates you are making usable compost.
The best straw to use for straw bale gardening are oats, wheat, rye or barley. You can use hay bales but you will have plenty of weeds to contend with. Kent Rogers has a great site that explains the process in detail.
Take this link to learn all about straw bale gardening.
"How to Grow a Straw Bale Garden"
Who wouldn't want to have butterflies flying around the garden? By planning and choosing the right flowers and providing for each stage of their metamorphosis you can attract them to your garden with ease.
Successful butterfly gardening is about more than just providing the flowers. Food, shelter and water must be readily available. The female butterfly will lay her eggs on host plants so that when they hatch, the caterpillar will have plenty to eat. Caterpillars are voracious eaters so be sure to plant plenty of host plants. Host plants are specific to each butterfly species. Monarchs are attracted to milkweed while Black Swallowtails prefer fennel, dill and parsley. Research which butterflies are common in your area and plant the host plant that the females lay their eggs on. Female butterflies will choose to not lay eggs if they don't have the right plant for the larvae to eat. Last but not least, provide water for them to drink by placing a bowl of wet sand in the area or make a mud puddle in a wet area of your garden. You can find a list of flowers, both annuals and perennials, along with host plants on my website, South Carolina Garden Guru, here "Butterfly Garden".
I purchased this book about 8 years ago at the Southeast Greenhouse Convention in Greenville SC. I've never been sorry that I bought it! It has everything you could possibly think of, including pictures! This makes identifying your problem so much easier. I've always believed gardening starts with a good reference library. There's just something about looking at your bookshelves and seeing all that information at your fingertips. If you are looking for a garden problem solver book to add to your collection
I highly recommend this one.