Tetrastigma Voinierianum: Growing And Care Of The Chestnut Vine

Tetrastigma Voinierianum – (aka Chestnut Vine, Lizard Plant, Giant Grape Ivy or Wild Grape) is an impressive plant displaying very large, five-lobed leaves that look similar to those of chestnut leaves. Details on Growing Grape Ivy Care – Cissus Rhombifolia Though these tropical plants present a bit of a challenge, when you successfully grow Tetrastigma […]

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Money Tree Care: Growing The Braided Money Plant [TIPS]

The money tree plant – Pachira aquatica – is a popular tropical novelty plant. Many people find Pachira aquatica easy to grow indoors in indirect sunlight. Like lucky bamboo, the indoor workhorse Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Crag’ and other indoor plants, the money plant tree Pachira does well in indirect light and they’re hard to kill. A […]

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How To Analyze Your Homes Microclimate for Houseplants

In the microclimate of today’s modern home, houseplants can serve dual purposes – cleaning air plus adding beauty, color and life to a room. But, if you’re just getting started and want to begin adding plants in a room. There are some questions you need at ask to have the right – indoor climates for […]

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what to do about fall webworm? (usually, nothing)

IT’S A BANNER FALL WEBWORM year in my corner of the Northeast, more than I’ve seen in 30ish years here. [read more…]

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embracing every season with every sense (and forcing hyacinths!), with tovah martin

WE’RE AT A CUSP—the coming of fall—and that is not a time to lament, but rather to take in what [read more…]

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overwintering tender plants, and hydrangea issues: q&a with ken druse

WONDER HOW to get ready for the mad stash—just how to prep and then where to put all those tender [read more…]

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Using Shrubs as Feature Plants in Container Gardens

I worked on a prominent estate for four years as a gardener. One of my main jobs was to do the color displays and container gardens. These were very exciting to do, as we weren’t limited to annuals or even flowering perennials. A host of grasses, small evergreens, vines and shrubs were at our disposal. Combining shrubs with the traditional color displays really adds dimension and bold interest to an otherwise basic flowering container. An outstanding choice for container growing is crape myrtle. Although it isn’t reliably hardy above zone 6, it can be grown in a container in northern, cooler regions. Its statuesque form and incredible blooms create outstanding drama, and the whole container can be moved indoors when cold temperatures approach.

Container gardening offers a fun way to create a unique display. Using shrubs as feature plants means less replanting and long-term interest. Black Diamond Blooms has a collection of crape myrtles that have intense black foliage and nine different flower colors from which to choose. All perform as perennials in zone 6 but can also be grown as annuals in cooler zones. The best tip to save these majestic shrubs in cool zones is to plant them in containers with casters so you can easily roll them into the garage or greenhouse. Each plant can grow a compact 10 to 12 feet (about 3 m.) tall with a spread of 8 feet (2.4 m.). Pruning in late winter to early spring can help keep the shrubs to the size you desire without sacrificing blooms.

Crape myrtles are fairly low maintenance plants and are drought tolerant once established. Container grown plants will need a bit more water than in-ground specimens due to evaporation and soil volume. During establishment, water every other day to promote root growth for a month. Fertilize crape myrtle plants once per year in spring as new growth emerges. An organic mulch around the root zone, but not touching the stem, will prevent weeds, provide slow nutrients and conserve moisture. When plants are brought indoors, place them in a cool, but not cold, location with moderate light. Water the plants when the soil is dry to the touch. Move them to a brighter location as spring nears to acclimate them to outdoor lighting.

Black Diamond Blooms has a collection of crape myrtles with a hue for any color scheme. There are several red tones, a blush form, sweet pink, magenta, white, purple and lavender. With the deeply colored foliage and bright blooms in spring, the plant has several seasons of interest. Combine these lovely shrubs with annual plants that are set off by the bronze-black leaves. Flowering perennials also work well combined with these crape myrtles.

In warm regions where the plant can remain outdoors and a very large container is used, other smaller shrubs can be part of the display, but may need to be moved when they get larger. A fun way to companion the plant without excessive competition is with bulbs. Early spring bulbs, for example, would appear especially bright against the dark foliage emerging from winter dormancy, while summer bulbs dance hand and hand with the crape myrtle blooms.

Using shrubs as part of your container garden planting scheme brings new dimension and texture into the garden. The crape myrtle collection from Black Diamond Blooms is an excellent start to a beautiful potted display with many seasons of beauty and ease of care.

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Top 10 Plants For Hanging Baskets

Hanging baskets are a wonderful way to get some extra plants in your life. Don’t have the space for a garden bed, or even for traditional flower pots? Why not build up? Want to liven up your porch or windows? Why not hang some baskets full of beautiful foliage and flowers? Here are our top 10 plants for hanging baskets that should do the trick:

1. Nasturtium – An attractive flowering plant that takes little maintenance and blooms reliably, nasturtiums can tolerate full sun to partial shade and will thrive even in poor soil. Trailing varieties work best in hanging baskets.

2. Spider PlantSpider plants are often grown indoors, but they will also do well outside in suitable climates or during the summer months. They’re especially effective in hanging baskets because of their low-hanging spiderettes.

3. Begonia – These flowering plants stand up well to heat, making them very popular in the South. Begonias bloom continuously throughout summer and fall. They do require quite a bit of watering, however, so make sure to keep their containers well irrigated. Trailing varieties work best in baskets.

4. Tomato – Not your classic floral hanging basket, cherry tomato plants can be grown successfully in hanging baskets, giving you a real talking point and the opportunity for a vegetable garden where you may not have thought possible.

5. Fuchsia – An extremely popular hanging basket plant, fuchsias come in over 120 varieties in a range of colors, sizes, and flower shape. These plants do better in cooler, more temperate summers, but some varieties are more tolerant of the high summer heat.

6. Black Eyed Susan Vine – Unlike a lot of other vines, these plants don’t get out of control in their growing habits and can be contained nicely. Instead of spreading everywhere, black eyed susan vines will creep attractively up the basket’s ropes, producing bright yellow and white flowers.

7. Petunia – Another hanging basket classic, petunia plants fill out their containers quickly and produce lots and lots of blooms. Miliflora and multiflora varieties are good for constant flower production and tolerance of hot, wet weather.

8. Geranium – Always popular in containers, geraniums will continuously produce lots of brightly colored flowers with deadheading.

9. Impatiens – Thriving in moist, shady areas, impatiens flowers may need a little extra watering but will do well in covered porches out of direct light. Apply fertilizer every couple weeks to keep them looking their best.

10. Ivy – A popular leafy green backdrop for brighter flowering plants, ivy is a great, understated choice for shady areas. Ivy needs very little sun and will thrive even indoors.

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How to Reuse Your Summer Garden for Second Season Crops

Jackie Greene is a blogger, gardener, and nutrition enthusiast. She enjoys creating organic meals for family and friends using the fresh ingredients she produces from her backyard homestead.

Being on a homestead means that you are always trying to look for ways to use your space well. Many homesteaders fin creative ways of using recycled materials as well as fixing problems without having to make a run to the hardware store. Your summer garden isn’t any different in its ability to still be valuable although the temperatures are becoming cooler with each passing day. Here is a simplified guide on how to reuse your summer garden for second season crops.

Prepare the Area

You won’t need to prepare your entire garden for a second season crop planting due to the fact that not everything can be grown during the cooler fall season. Take stock of areas of your garden that did well this year and think about using those spots to house your second planting of cooler season plants. Consider certain plant requirements, like having something for peas to climb, in your choice to prepare the soil. Make sure to remove any debris from a summer harvest and till up the soil in order to provide fresh bedding for fall vegetables.

Choose Your Plants

Second season crops are going to be those plants that have shorter maturation times compared to other summer vegetables. Those plants that do well will also be considered cool season crops that prefer the cooler temperatures of fall. Many of the options for second season crops may be ones that you also tried to plant in the early spring depending on your homestead’s location.

There are plenty of options for second season crops including lettuce, spinach, radish, peas, broccoli, and beets plus many more. Consider these growing periods and details about cool weather crops.


Most varieties of lettuce mature between 45-55 days. Make sure to stay away from those that take longer in order to ensure a good harvest. Plant a few rounds of lettuce and harvest last as it can usually withstand a light frost.


This heart healthy vegetable is great as a second season crop due to its quick maturation. Plant a few rounds of spinach and enjoy within 4-6 weeks later. Use in salads, soups, or casseroles.


As a spicy vegetable, radishes are great to add to salads and soups for some extra flavor. Plant them in good soil and pick them about 1-2 months after planting. Smaller radishes have better flavor so check back often to make sure to harvest when ready.


Peas are one of the best vegetables to grow in a second season crop because they mature in 2 months. Peas can be eaten right off the vine and are best to use right after harvesting. Peas will grow up due to their vining nature so make sure to plant them near something that they can easily climb.


If your homestead is in a colder location, broccoli is a great option as a second season crop due to being able to germinate in soil temperatures as low as 40°F. It takes longer to produce mature heads, about 80-90 days after planting, so make sure to plant this crop in late summer to early fall.


Known for their deep red color in many fall dishes, beets are a great vegetable to add to your homestead. Plant them farther apart in loamy acidic soils and allow them to grow for 8-10 weeks. Use them in soups or stews as well as a side dish to add important vitamins and minerals to your homestead table.

Know When to Plant

Second season crops should all have a maturation time of 10 weeks or less to make sure that your efforts are not in vain. Consider your homestead’s location and know when to expect the first frost in your area. Some crops, like lettuce, can survive after the first frost as long as it was light.

Check the average arrival of the first frost in your area from the past few years to make the best guess on when to expect your fall gardening to end this year. When planting a second season crop, make sure to consider the changing of the growing period during the day with less sunlight and warmth available. Consider adding 1-2 weeks to the growing period of the crop to make sure that you get a harvest before the first frost arrives.

Consider Planting in Rounds

There are a few cool-season crops that would do well if you spaced out their planting times. It would be beneficial to plant quick growing options like lettuce, spinach, and herbs in rounds a few weeks apart. This would help to supply your homestead with fresh produce as well as spread out the bounty of the harvest. For homesteads who sell their produce at farmers markets, consider planting these easy vegetables on a weekly basis to offer customers the freshest options that matured just that week.

Be Ready to Harvest

Some second season crops can be harvested at different stages of the growing period. For example, loose leaf lettuce and spinach can be harvested at any point before being deemed mature and can oftentimes be a different flavor due to being in an earlier stage of growth. Radishes are another cool season vegetable that are better when picked at a smaller size before full maturity has been reached. Make sure to keep an eye on crops to know when the right time to pick them would be for maximum flavor.

Another aspect of harvesting your second season crops is to consider timing. Depending on the daily hustle and bustle of your homestead, there may be a small window of time when you realize that you need to harvest before that first frost arrives. As temperatures continue to drop, make sure to stay aware of the nightly low temperatures to harvest before frost arrives. Note any quick changes in temperature or a surprise frost that arrives with a storm that could kill your entire harvest. Have family members ready to help harvest with plenty of tubs for storage in case you are outside harvesting it all at night by flashlight before temperatures dip below freezing.

Make sure to take into consideration these tips for continuing to grow vegetables well into the fall for fresh additions to your meals. Reusing the summer garden for second season crops is a great way to make full use of the land on your homestead along with providing nutritious food for your family.

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Original source: https://blog.gardeningknowhow.com/trends/how-to-reuse-your-summer-garden-for-second-season-crops/

4 Backyard Flooding Solutions For Your Landscape

The cornerstone to a great landscaping experience is your backyard. It’s an opportunity to invest into and create a scenic atmosphere that you can enjoy after a long day.

However, there will be days where the hard work of a skilled landscaper is tested through rigorous flood waters. Believe it or not, flooding is equally frustrating to a landscaper as it is to a homeowner. Hours of beautification can be ruined in a few minutes of a bad storm.

As the Fall season approaches, homeowners will encounter more problems with flooding thanks to the El Nino pattern in the Pacific, and the incoming hurricane season in the Atlantic.

Here are ways you can prepare for the next wave of floods.

Install Proper Drainage Systems

Gutter – The first drainage system you should consider are gutters. This type of drainage system is usually installed on the edges of roof tops on garages, houses, and sheds. Gutters are the first line of defense since most water runs off a home and into the backyard. Front yards are almost always leveled well. Most of the time, backyards take the hardest hit during a flood. For better gutter drainage, incorporate gutter guards if you live among trees.

Tube Drain Pipes – The second line of defense for backyard water drainage is tube drainage. It runs above or under the ground. Tube drains are black tubes (some have holes around them) that carry drainage to a designated area. Install tube drainage pipes at the end of gutter downspouts. Run them under ground to push drainage to a remote, downhill area; preferably an area that drains away from the home.

Slot Drainage – For the most aesthetically appealing patio drainage, utilize a slot drain system. Implement the drain into the patio’s structure plan. It’s okay to build the patio first, however, make sure there’s enough room under the patio structure. For stone and wood patios that sit directly on the ground, it’s essential to dig trenches before building the patio. Be sure to dig trenches that gradually lower in elevation. Fill trenches with gravel rock. Soil and sand erode quickly. As the patio is assembled and constructed, measure the patio material around the drain. If the drainage is a longer, rectangular grate, it’s possible to mount it on the side of the patio. Run tube drains at one or both sides. These drains run at the same efficiency as gutter guards. Keep them clean for optimal drainage.


Grading, also called land leveling, is the process of moving soil, dirt, or sand from a high elevated area to a low elevated area. Grading is the likely method to building a patio regardless of material. Estimate the levels of water that fall on your backyard. This can be done by reviewing the low elevated areas of the backyard. Consider filling the low areas with soil and gravel. If the grading is close to the patio, raise the patio level using the grading method. Create a barrier (use treated wood or cement blocks) and pour dirt into it until it’s at the target height. Level the dirt and install the patio.


Other than gravel, mulch can be effective in flood water management. Mulch is a garden cover that holds moisture. To prevent water from escaping gardens, use a mallet to dig a small channel between the lawn and the garden. Mulch will follow the incline of the channel and keep water within the bed. Be sure to dig the channel’s influence more toward the garden so excess water won’t go into the lawn.

Rain Gardens

Combine mulch with rain gardens. Rain gardens are a combination of plants, mulch, river rocks, and even manufactured ponds to protect the backyard from excess water. If you prefer to avoid digging too much into the backyard, consider installing an incline of river rocks that lead away from the home. It may take some grading to do this. Install plants that absorb lots of water such as Big Bluestem grass or Scarlet Beebalm. Research based on your needs and budget.

The Best Solution to Combat Backyard Flooding

The best solution to prevent your backyard from flooding is the combination of grading and drainage. Rain gardens and mulch are great cosmetic features, but they need reinforcements during torrential rains. Be adamant on what your backyard needs to prevent flooding. Drain as much from the house as possible. Use boulder-sized (about the size of your hand) gravel to channel water away from your house in case there’s an issue with the terrain around the home.

There’s always a way to meet your backyard needs while exploring great landscaping ideas.

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