Tag Archive | autumn

Perennials for Fall Color

When folks think of fall colors, tree leaves are surely their first though. Not many folks realize that there are some perennials that put on a pretty good show at the end of the season also. So if you’re the kind of gardener that wants the most bang out of their herbaceous plants, here’s a list for you!

If you’re looking for grasses by autumn color – please see this post all about them.

Yellow Fall Color

Yellow is the most common color for fall foliage on perennials. In fact, the leaves of many perennials will turn yellow before they go dormant or disappear for the winter, however here are some tried and true yellows for fall.

Amsonia tabernamontana – Blue Star

Amsonia ciliata – Downy Blue Star

Amsonia hubrechtii – Arkansas Blue Star

Sensitive Fern – Onoclea sensibilis

Royal Fern – Osmunda regalis

Autumn Joy Stonecrop – Sedum

Balloon Flower – Platycodon

Hostas – I feel the variegated ones put on the best shows

Monkshood – Aconitum

Variegated Solomon’s Seal – Polygonatum odoratum var. pluriflorum

Red Fall Color

Red fall color tends to be the most brilliant color in the garden, it also tends to be the most variable, and not as reliable.

Purple wintercreeper – Euonymus fortunei ‘Coloratus’

Leadwort – Ceratostigma plumbaginoides

Beardtongue – Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’

Japanese Painted Fern – Athyrium nipponicum ‘Pictum’

Prairie Smoke – Geum triflorum

Peonies – Paeonia

Pigsqueak – Bergenia

Cardinal Flower – Lobelia cardinalis

Barrenwort – Epimedium

Gooseneck loosestrife – Lysimachia clethroides

Columbine – Aquilegia

Bloodred Geranium – Geranium sanguineum This lady is usually a sure bet for red foliage.

Orange Fall Color

Swamp Mlkweed – Asclepias incarnata

Blazing star – Liatris

Heucherella

Perennials That Mimic Fall Foliage Colors All Season:

There are many dark colored foliage plants being created in many different species. However, here’s some of the more well known ones.
Heuchera – Range from yellow to orange to red to purple (Coral Bells)
Heucherella – range in color from red to orange to yellow to purple (Foamy Bells)
Tiarella – range in color from purple to red to yellow (Foamflower)

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Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Monday Memories 10-30-2017

 

 How to Grow Garlic in the Midwest

scapesBreak up the garlic bulb into cloves. You don’t need to pull off the papery covering like in cooking. To get them off to a good start and protect them from fungal diseases, soak them in enough water to cover, containing one tablespoon of baking soda and a tablespoon of liquid seaweed for a few hours before planting. Garlic should be planted in the fall. Timing of planting should be within two weeks of the first frost (32°F) so they develop roots, but do not emerge above ground.

Cloves should be planted with the flat or root end down and pointed end up, 2 inches beneath the soil. Set the cloves about 6 to 8 inches apart. Top the soil with 6 inches of mulch; leaf, straw or dried grass clippings work well.

Time to Protect Shrubs for WinterScan_Pic0003

Smaller shrubs like rhododendrons, will benefit from using fresh cut branches of conifers [spruce, pine]. Direct the thick end into the ground near the crown of the plant, and intermingle the branches together. This will provide a windbreak and help stop branch breakage from the weight of snow. If the shrub is taller than the conifer branches, tie them together at different heights to protect the whole shrub.

Another method of providing protection is to use horticultural fleece, plastic, wind-break netting or commercially made covers like below. This method should be used on all late-season planted evergreens, as they may not have developed an adequate root system yet, and can dry out from harsh winds.

How to Make New Planting Beds in the Midwest

double digging 1New planting beds should begin in autumn in the Midwest because the freeze/thaw cycles of winter, work to break up the clods of clay.

Most soils in the Midwestern region are alkaline and consist of high concentrations of clay. Contrary to some opinions, there are more plants available for this soil type than any other.

Choose a location that meets the criteria for the types of plants being chosen i.e. sunny location for annuals and vegetables, or a shady location for a woodland garden.

General Pruning Techniques for Trees and ShrubsAcer x f. Autumn Blaze® 'Jeffersred' 1

Many factors must be considered when pruning any type of shrub or tree.  Proper pruning technique is necessary, and is described further at Trees are Good. Identification of the plant, along with knowing it’s growth or habit, flowering schedule, and reason for pruning, is also imperative.

Pruning of dead, dying, or diseased limbs should be done at anytime. The 3 D’s! Many problems can be avoided if the problems are not allowed to spread throughout the tree or even to the neighboring trees.

How to Prepare Your Houseplants to Come Back in For the Winter

imageMy houseplants enjoy their summers outside on the porch. I feel the living room looks a bit bare when they get moved out, however, I don’t spend much time in the house during the summer either!!
When it’s time to bring everyone back into the house, there are a few things that need to be done to insure a safe, pest-free winter. Otherwise, things can go bad fast

I then make sure the pot drains correctly and that the pot is rinsed off of dirt or any other cling-ons. This will become difficult to do if you can’t bring it outside to correct.

Some of my plants need amendments, like my orange tree prefers acid soil in this land of limestone well water. I add the garden sulfur as directed and water it in thoroughly. Again this is something you really can’t do after the plant is inside with only a reservoir under the pot. I do give some of them a bit of fertilizer, however I only give it sparingly.

25 Ways to Kill A Tree

Kill a TreeMechanical damage and improper tree maintenance kills more trees than any insects or diseases. This how-to guide will hopefully teach you how NOT to treat your tree friends. .. However, if you’re the sadistic type and love spending money replacing trees, this is a great read for you also!

1 – “Top” the tree which promotes watersprouts that weaken trees and encourage pests and disease.

Do not top trees. Tree heights can be lessened by proper crown reduction that doesn’t stimulate watersprout growth.

2 – Leave co-dominant leaders to promote “V” growth and splitting during winds and storms.

When a tree is young, select one or the other of the competing upright branches to be the main branch and cut the other off. Do not buy a tree with these characteristics.

3 – Leave crossing branches to rub protective bark and create wounds.

Prune branches that cross and rub in order to prevent bark wounds.

Click the links for the full articles!!

©Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

My Nymph of the Woods, in Her Autumn Color

imageTupelo’s leaves change color early in the early fall and it has been suggested that this signal might alert migrating birds to the presence of ripe fruits on the tree, a process known as foliar fruit flagging. This way the tree gets its seeds spread to farther distances.

Plants producing early colorful fall foliage and fruits include dogwood, spicebush, virginia creeper and the tupelo.  These woodies produce fruits called ‘drupes’. Drupes are stone fruits (like cherries) that have a thin outer skin, a pulpy middle and a stony center enclosing a seed. The fleshy part of these drupes is full of fat, just what a hungry, migrating bird is looking for!

Many early ripening drupes are red, and easy for birds to see, however others, like virginia creeper, tupelo and sassafras, are dark-colored and not easy to see. That makes the brightly colored leaves or ‘flags’ on these plants crucial for the fall migrants to see.

Seed dispersal obviously helps the tree species, and passing through a birds digestive system is sometimes required for the seed to germinate. This process is called ‘scarification’, which simply means the hard, outer shell of the seed needs to be compromised for the seedling to emerge. The gizzard of a bird does well to damage the outer hull of a seed.

I recently saw two Cedar Waxwings testing out the fruit on my tree… Not quite ready was my impression when the quickly flew away without dining. I had to go find out for myself and agreed, the fruit tasted like a sour cherry and needs a few more days to ripen. I hope they will be back soon =-)

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I bet when the day comes these are ripe, it will be a one-day event that the tree is cleared of fruit!

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Zone: 3 to 9

Height: 30 to 50 feet

Spread: 20 to 30 feet

Growth: Slow

Form: Pyramidal when young; opens with age; some branches are pendulous; right angled branches are attractive in winter

Salt: Tolerant

Bloom Time: May to June, insignificant

Bloom Description: Greenish white

Fruit: 1/2″ blue drubes – edible but sour

Fall Color: yellow, orange, bright red and purple

Sun: Full sun to part shade

Water: Medium to wet

Tolerate: Clay Soil, Wet Soil

 


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Autumn Container Displays – 2016

 

All the basics from designing a summer container still apply when designing the fall pot:

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.
The only small difference you need to remember is that Fall plants do not grow like the Summer plants do. Basically, WYSIWYG (what you see, is what you get), you do not need to think about a plant growing into it’s place. Fill the pot to it’s greatest extent because this container will only be around for two months at best.

Most Fall plants are also not that tall. We use grasses, sticks and other material to get the height the design requires.

Here’s a list of our commonly ordered Fall plant material:

Miscanthus grasses – These add great height & texture
Pennisetum millet – Height & texture, fuzzy seedheads.
Heuchera – Coral bells – Great colored leaves available
Acorus & Carex – A nice bright yellow or white for a great spiller
Sedums – Great for spillers
Ajuga – Nice texture
Rudbeckia – Great reds, yellows and oranges available, also great for height
Kale – It comes in many varieties from cabbage/round style to tall parsley-looking
Osaka Cabbage – A staple in most of our designs. Fills those ‘holes’ really well
Swiss Chard – A wonderful filler that is very colorful also
Mums – Aren’t they the official fall flower?!? Great filler
Calibracoa – They look like small petunias, but can handle the cooler temps. Great spiller
Ivy – Sometimes we reuse the ivy from the summer containers as it still looks great and it’s much bigger than the newly ordered pots
Ornamental Jerusalem Cherry – Looks like a tomato plant, but use with caution, they don’t take the cool weather well & the ‘cherries’ fall off
Ornamental peppers – Great way to splash in some color to the filler section
Crotons – One of my favs! Great for a colorful thriller
Pansy – These cool season flowers look great and add great color to the pot
Bittersweet or honeysuckle – This one is not alive, but it is a great finishing touch to the design. Unfortunately, it is a very invasive species, but is grown for the floral industry. I wish someone would get a business together where they would ‘wild collect’ this and do a ‘two-fer’ for society, invasive removal & design enjoyment.

   

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© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Monday Memories 9-12-2016

For a Great Spring Lawn Display, Design Now!

Bulbs in the lawnWhere to plant and what type of bulbs varies with how the gardener wants to deal with the remaining leaves after blooming. The leaves must be allowed to stay long enough to gather energy for next year. Taller bulb varieties must not be mowed down until early summer. Shorter leaved varieties can be mowed over, as leaf height is close to the same height of grass. My experience deems these shorter varieties have a better chance for survival, as most residents feel the need to mow their lawn as early as possible.

How Leaves Cha-cha-cha-Change Colors in Autumn

leavesLeaves are green because of chlorophylls that function by capturing the sun’s energy and to manufacture food for the plant or photosynthesis. All of this takes place in the plastids (specialized cells). During the growing season, the green color of these chlorophylls masks out all the other colors that may be present. So all you see is green.

As the growing season slows in autumn, chlorophyll production slows and the green-color dominance lowers to reveal the other colors of the leaf. Many influences such as amount of water, sunlight, temperature, and microclimate can manipulate the timing of the color changes.  A couple of weeks of bright sunny days mixed with clear, cool nights seem to bring out the best fall colors.

Fall is the Time to Dethatch Lawns in the Midwest

Thatch LayerThatch is a layer of dead grass, crowns, and surface roots that accumulate at the surface of the soil just under the turf. Allowing a small layer, about ½ an inch will act as a great natural mulch, but any more than that will cause the following:

  • Tight, spongy mat that will choke the crowns of the living grass
  • Inhibits the decomposition of organic debris around the grass
  • Prevents good circulation of air
  • Can provide breeding grounds for harmful pests
  • Can harbor diseases such as fungus

 

Ilex VS Lawn Fungus

Changing your lawn care habits might reduce your risk of fungi problems. A healthy lawn has a really good chance of pulling through a fungal infection, but that is up to you!disease Triangle

  • Water your grass regularly, but don’t water it too much because waterlogged grass invites fungi. Don’t set your irrigation and not monitor it.
  • Dry grass can also makes your lawn more susceptible.
  • A nitrogen-based fertilizer applied annually (in the fall) supplies your grass with the nutrients it needs to flourish.
  • When you mow, don’t remove more than one-third of the length of the blades of grass at a time. A healthy length for grass (from the thatchline) is 3 inches tall.

I’ve noticed many different types of fungus coming out in droves because of our weather this season. Some are fairly rare and hard to treat. I wish we could get over the ‘Perfect Lawn’ mentality and all just enjoy the clovers and other blooming weeds. =-)

Dog-Gone Poo Rollers!

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We love you Mommy!!

I just got home after a monster day. As I pulled up to the garage, the boys had already anticipated my arrival and were crying at the window. Awe, someone loves me! ❤

I let them out and got the ‘Whip it’ and loaded it with a fresh tennis ball. After a enough throws to cause tongues to hang to the grass, I collected the balls and went back into the garage.

Welp. It wasn’t long before they were done in the yard themselves. They came in and looked at me for their suppers. But wait. What is that on your neck Oreo? Gaaa….. Poo! And since it’s all our nothing in this house, Breck had to roll in it also.

So much for a quiet start to my evening. Baths for everyone!

It’s that time of year again. The apple crop was great this year and many of the furries like to gorge themselves on the free buffet. Since animals have no couth, they poop as needed, right in the middle of the buffet line.

 

 

 

I’ve read up on the philosophy dog trainers have accredited this type of obsession. One or more of the following drives my dogs to wear poop:

  • This is ‘MINE’. Not yours, mine.

  • Lets go show Mommy what we found! We’ll bring it to her!

  • This smells different than me, and I like change.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

My Love Affair With Autumn

Ah, Autumn. I have a bittersweet love affair with him. He sneaks into my life when I’m out enjoying the asters in the prairie…. when I’m watching the birds pass to the south…. when I rub my arms because my body is chilled.

He surrounds me.

Surrounds me with his rich tones of emotion that float in the air….

never wanting to land,

for then,

then he must leave.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl