Roses have a bad rap when it comes to pests and diseases—causing ecologically minded gardeners to avoid growing these seemingly needy, unsustainable garden beauties. But this need not be so. With the dawn of more resilient rose varieties and better rose-care products, it is easier than ever to successfully grow roses organically.
Big, Bold Tropical Plants for the Summer Garden
Big, bold, tropical plants look amazing in summer gardens and large containers, and they drink up the summer heat and humidity. So often ornamental bananas, exotic elephant ears, upright sanserverias, strappy cordyline, and colorful croton are grown only indoors or way down South, but they will thrive any place that’s steamy. Placing them in the right spot with the right companion plants is part of the fun.
Monarda or "Unsung Beebalms"
IN MY alter ego as a superhero promoter of underdog plants, I envision myself donning a mighty green mask and chlorophyll-enriched cape to shine a dazzling spotlight on the lesser-known members of the genus Monarda.
Okay, so maybe that’s a little over-the-top, but apart from the two species that most gardeners grow—M. didyma and M. fistulosa, which together comprise nearly 100 recognized cultivars—Monarda is a truly ornamentally under-used genus.
IN THE COMMERCIAL CUT-FLOWER INDUSTRY, it’s not easy being green. Most cut-flowers are laden with pesticides, largely because the estimated $40-billion-a-year industry demands floral perfection, and some of its powerhouses (like roses) are especially susceptible to pests and diseases. In response, an influx of eco-conscious growers and designers are embracing the so-called Slow Flower Movement—aided by a suite of savvy writers and other advocates furthering their cause.
Want butterflies? A kaleidoscope of gossamer-winged beauties all a flutter in a cloud of garden flowers that you planted? The truth is, creating a butterfly garden is pretty effortless, because many truly easy garden flowers are big on the butterfly palate. And butterflies eat with their eyes, so the flowers they love are generally the vibrantly hued flowers that we love, too. Click here to read more.
Growing Tomatoes from Seed to Harvest
The tomato is the most popular warm-season crop, but it can be surprisingly tricky to tend to full productive glory. Tomatoes require at least 6 hours of full sun per day, are fertilizer and water hogs, and produce fruit most vigorously when days are warm (between 78 and 92 degrees Fahrenheit) and nights moderately warm (at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit). Vining (indeterminate) types need caging or trellising, while bush (determinant) types may or may not need staking; both benefit from seasonal pruning.
Organic Cucumber Culture
Cucumbers have their fair share of pests and diseases, but growing them organically is a not too difficult if you choose the right variety for your area and give them the right care. Experience is the best teacher. Read article
Gardening for Native Bees
Honey bees (Apis mellifera) may garner more of the limelight, but North America is also home to approximately 4,000 known native bee species that are just as agriculturally, horticulturally, and ecologically important.Click to read
Everblooming Bedding Plants for Heat and Drought
Finding garden flowers that bloom effortlessly through the hot, dry summer months can be a challenge for those new to gardening. So many popular bedding plants are tender and water needy. Impatiens, coleus, dahlias and even petunias will quickly flag when the heat and drought ramps up. But, have no fear. Lots of bedding plants will make it through the worst of the summer weather. Some even shine—blooming effortlessly all summer long. Read more...
Sometimes old-time gardening advice is the best advice. When I searched for the most complete tips for growing the best strawberries (Fragaria x ananassa), I eventually turned to two of my oldest gardening books–How to Grow Vegetables and Fruits by the Organic Method (J.I. Rodale, 1961) and the Cyclopedia of Horticulture (L.H. Bailey, 1902). Both offer a wealth of information for strawberry growing success. In fact, my new strawberry patch is already producing good fruit! Read full article.
10 Terrific Flowers for Honey Bees
The decline in honey bees (Apis mellifera) has heightened the popularity of honey bee plants. Many favorite flowers for honey bees, like sweetclover, thistle, alfalfa and dandelion, are Eurasian plants too weedy for flower beds. Thankfully, there are some beautiful summer garden flowers, many being North American natives, which are also great nectar and pollen plants favored by these Old World native bees. Regional natives are also superb forage plants for regional bees.