Category: Tropical Style

Hardy Tropical Shrubs for your Shade

Hardy Tropical Shrubs for your Shade

The tropical shrubs you pick for your garden can originate from a multitude of nations, such as China, the Philippines and India. When many shrubs require sunlight to thrive or blossom, some kinds of tropical shrubs can handle the North American climate and develop well in a shady environment. The key to keeping many tropical shrubs healthy is to maintain their soil consistently moist without overwatering.

Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), a part of the hibiscus family, is a deciduous tree that does well in part shade. It tolerates soils that run the gamut from good to poor, and blooms in a wide assortment of colors — mostly lavender white or pink. You’ll be able to enjoy the blooms starting in summer, right until the first frost arrives. To maintain this shrub in shape, prune in February before new growth appears.

Crape Jasmine

Another shade-loving tree is that the crape jasmine (Tabernaemontana divaricata), which originates from India but does nicely in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 and 11. It will rise to a height of about 5 feet and does well in part shade. The white flowers contrast beautifully with the deep green, shiny leaves. Crape jasmine blooms from spring up all during the summer and into autumn.


Fatsia (Fatsia japonica) is best suited for USDA zones 8 to 10. It’s a vibrant tropical appearance but is also cold-tolerant to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Normally, the fatsia shrub will grow to a height of 6 to 10 feet with a similar width. Foliage is dark green and shiny, and the leaves reach 6 to 14 inches wide with 7 to 9 lobes on each leaf. Fatsia grows nicely in even deep shade and will still reward you with breathtaking white blooms which grow in round clusters.

Sanchezia Speciosa

The Sanchezia speciosa tree comes from the rainforests of Ecuador, Brazil and Peru. Growing to a height of 6 to 8 feet, it thrives in the sun and shade, and will even flower in shade only. The blooms keep coming all year long in a series of delicate, red flowers with bright-yellow stamens that strayed out from the blossom. They grow best in USDA zones 10 and 11.

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How to Mow Grass That Is Too Long

How to Mow Grass That Is Too Long

Busy lives and busy schedules often indicate the lawn does not get mowed punctually. When this occurs, the very best approach to acquire the lawn back in shape is to reduce the height gradually. Each type of grass has its optimal height expressed as a range, such as 1 to 2 inches. Encourage a healthy lawn with fewer weeds by maintaining the lawn in the high end of the range. Taller grass has deeper origins and requires less water and fertilizer. You should not remove more than one-third of the height of the grass when you mow. Lowering the height too rapidly signals that the grass to channel all of its energy into growth at the expense of root growth.

Assess the amount of the grass blades using a ruler or yardstick and divide that number by three.

Set the lawn mower to the appropriate height to eliminate one-third of the length of the grass blades and mow the yard. If the grass is severely overgrown and you can not set the mower high enough, then set it on the highest setting.

Mow again after a day or two, reducing the length of the grass blades from one-third. Repeat the process until the grass comes within the recommended range.

Rake, bag and remove the clippings so that they do not form unsightly brown clumps of dead grass. Clippings from overgrown grass might be too long to filter down into the grass or be mulched.

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The way to Prune Hyssop

The way to Prune Hyssop

Prized for its edible leaves and showy purple blossoms, hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) is an evergreen herb cultivated during U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 to 10. It requires little maintenance or maintenance once established at a sunny bed with fast-draining, alkaline soil. However, hyssop will appear and bloom best if it’s routinely pruned to support abundant foliage growth along with a tidy, compact form. Additionally, hyssop has to be lightly pruned throughout the summer months to remove the spent flower stalks since they will prolifically self-sow when left to set seed.

Prune hyssop any time from early spring to midsummer. Do not prune the plants after late summer since this will cause new growth to emerge late in the season, and it may be damaged at the first autumn frost.

Sanitize your pruning shears before utilizing them to prune hyssop plants. Saturate the blades with a solution made of half water and half rubbing alcohol. Allow the solution sit for five minutes, then rinse it off.

Water that the hyssop plant the afternoon before pruning it. Run a hose at the bottom of the stems until the soil feels fairly moist at the upper 3 to 5 inches. Allow the water soak in immediately, and prune in the morning once the weather is cool.

Prune hyssop in early spring to create a compact shape with thick leaf cover. Cut back the entire plant to within 2 inches of the ground using your freshly cleaned pruning shears. Make the cuts just above a set of leaves to support heavy branching.

Trim hyssop periodically throughout the summer months to maintain the plant’s uniform look. Prune back any excessively long or out-of-place stems so they are flush with the main crown.

Snip off and discard the damaged or dead stems as required during the growing season. Prune them off in the base, taking care not to accidentally cut or pinch the encompassing stems.

Remove the flower stalks after they fade but before they set seed to stop self-sowing. Snip off the flower stalks at the base. Collect up the pruned stalks and remove them at a green-waste can rather than composting them.

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How to Choose Buttercup Squash

How to Choose Buttercup Squash

Buttercup squash, of the Cucurbita genus, is a winter variety famous for its sweet, fine-grain flesh and gray cap on the blossom end. Even though buttercup squash typically start maturing in late August or early September, you must check for ripeness a few weeks earlier if your area experiences a heat wave. Buttercup squash possess a bouncy, thick rind that permits them to survive through winter, and harvesting requires several steps but much care.

Examine the buttercup squash to get a weight ranging between 3 and 5 lbs, dry vines, a matte look to the skin, a smooth, firm texture and a hollow sound when tapped. These signs suggest a ripe buttercup.

Grasp the squash and lift it above the dirt. Do not catch the vine.

Cut the stem 3 to 6 inches above where it matches the squash with lopping shears or a backyard knife. Make the cut clean and straight. In addition to aesthetic appearances, a relatively long stem inhibits the introduction of pathogens in the stem base.

Mix together 1/4 teaspoon of mild dish soap using 1 part bleach and 10 parts tepid water. Wash the squash using the mix to remove soil and pathogens. Rinse with plain water and enable the squash to air dry. Place the squash in a place with 80 to 85 percent humidity to heal for 10 days.

Store the squash in a cool, dry place with a temperature of 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit and a humidity of 50 to 70 percent. Utilize the squash within two to three months.

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Yard Plants for a Beach Look

Yard Plants for a Beach Look

Beach plants tend to develop low and scrubby within their native environment. Don’t expect them to behave in this way when implanted in your garden, however. Without the pressures of the beach environment, like salt spray and winds, their growth habit may be quite different. When creating a beach-themed lawn, choose native plants and you can not go wrong.


A common groundcover you’ll find on beaches is a type of Ceanothus (C. thyrsiflorus repens), hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8a through 10. Tolerant of a wide array of temperatures and soil conditions, it provides delicate blue blooms to your beach-themed garden. Another attractive flowering groundcover to think about is the seaside daisy (Ergeron glaucus). Seaside daisy is tolerant of full sun in cooler areas as well as partial shade where summers get warm. On top of that, it attracts butterflies.


Beach grasses are component of any vision of wind-swept sand dunes. Whether you choose to produce grasses that the dominant plant on your beach-themed garden or use them as accent pieces, then you’ll realize that they add the last thematic touch to your garden. Look for seashore bluegrass (Poa macrantha), or any bentgrass, reedgrass or oatgrass to give authenticity to your beach-themed garden.


The baby bear manzanita (Arctostaphylos densiflora x bakeri “Baby Bear”), hardy in USDA zones 7 through 10, is a small rounded shrub, ideal wherever you want a pop of color. It also works well when planted in groups, to form a hedge. Baby bear produces pink blossom clusters and becomes a small hummingbird magnet while in bloom. For a little place to fill, the coyote brush (Baccharis pilularis), growing in USDA zones 5 through 11, is one of the plants that succumbs to the ecological pressures of life in the beach and remains low-growing. In the garden, however, it may grow taller and require pruning to keep it into the size you desire.


For a touch of the tropical, consider trees. Many palm species do well in colder climates. Think about the California fan palm (Washingtonia filifera), the exact same tree that adorns the Hollywood strip. Hardy in USDA zones 8b through 11, this palm is frost tolerant, requiring little water and hardly any upkeep. It does tend to be somewhat pricey, however. Less expensive, and not quite as tall is that the saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), which enjoys full sun and grows slowly within USDA plant hardiness zones 8 through 11.

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Lime Green Grasses for Landscaping

Lime Green Grasses for Landscaping

Ornamental grasses are available in hundreds of varieties, with various heights, increase habits, hardiness and leaf color, making them extremely versatile plants that have many uses in a house landscape. Some grass types possess leaf in interesting colours, including several cultivars with leaves at a mild, yellowish-green that looks like the color of fresh limes. All these make excellent additions to borders and beds, especially when mixed with deep-green grasses or vibrant flowering plants.

Japanese Forest Grass

Golden-yellow Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra “Aureola”) is an ornamental grass that reaches a height of 1 to 1 1/2 feet and also an equal spread, forming dense, spreading clumps with gracefully arching, narrow-bladed leaves. The leaves are a yellowish-green with a dark green central vein and green borders. The plants do well in either sun or shade, but the lime-green color of their leaves is accentuated when they are grown in colour. In summertime, the grass produces loose clumps of tiny, yellow-green flowers at the ends of long stems. The variety is reliably hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 5 and over.

Autumn Moor Grass

Autumn moor grass (Sesleria autumnalis) is just a drought-tolerant grass that is flexible to all ground types and prefers cool temperatures and low humidity. It reaches a height of 8 to 12 inches at maturity and has especially narrow lime-green-colored leaves. Its narrow flower stalks are also lime-green and appear in late summer and early fall. Due to its relatively low height, autumn moor grass is a good choice as a ground cover and especially attractive when grown as a mass planting under trees. It’s reliably hardy in USDA zone 5 and over.

Palm Sedge

Palm sedge grass (Carex muskingumensis) is also an easy-to-grow plant indigenous to western North America. It forms dense clumps of erect, 20-inch-tall stems capped by 8-inch-long grass blades at a mild lime-green; its leaves are reminiscent of palm fronds, giving the plant its name. Palm sedge grass spreads slowly by rhizomes and also self-seeds readily. It prefers sun to partial shade and needs moist dirt, also growing nicely in shallow water that is 3 or 4 inches deep. The plant is hardy in zone 4 and above, and is an exceptional selection for stream beds or near other water features.

Zebra Grass

Zebra grass (Miscanthus sinensis “Zebrinus”) gets its name from its leaves, which contain horizontal bands of yellow alternating with mild green patches, giving the plant an overall lime-green color when seen from a slight distance. A tall plant, zebra grass may reach a height of 8 feet with a spread of 4 to 6 feet. It does well in sun or partial shade and tolerates heat and humidity. In fall, it produces floral clusters that may last through winter. The plant expands gradually in circumference but maintains a tight clump contour, making it a good choice as a portion of a screen planting or as a specimen plant. It’s hardy in zone 5 and over.

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How Far to Plant an Oak Tree In a Septic Drain Field?

How Far to Plant an Oak Tree In a Septic Drain Field?

Clogged septic systems cost homeowners thousands of dollars every year in replacement and repair. Tree roots are often found to be responsible for the congestion, a situation that may be avoided by planting specific types of trees a minimum safe distance from septic tanks and drainage fields. Oak trees are thought to be one of the safest trees to plant in these locations, since their origins systems aren’t as widespread and are far less invasive than those of other species.

Minimum Distance

Oak trees (Quercus spp.) Are one of the few trees that origins are classified as not posing much of a threat to septic systems, drainage fields along with other underground pipes. Still, the evidence detailing oak tree root growth contradicts this theory, as the origins of a mature oak tree may fan out as much as 90 or more feet from its base. Recommended planting distances of 15 feet are geared toward young trees whose origins systems are still developing but do not consider the way in which oak tree roots develop, which would imply a minimal planting distance equal to the tree’s height at maturity. This translates to a distance equal to or greater than 70 feet from a tree that’s 70 feet tall, and this disregards the frequent thinking that a pine tree’s root system normally does not stretch much farther underground than its highest branch width.

Oak Root Development

Oak trees spread by way of acorns that fall from the trees in early autumn in most regions. Under the right conditions, acorns become quickly established in which they drop, sending down a root often within days of coming into contact with the dirt. This original root, or tap root, can travel vertically into the ground to as much as 5 feet prior to the tree’s first leaves begin to develop. The seedling’s energy then shifts to the areas of the plant above the ground, along with the tap root starts sending out side, or posterior, roots that grow horizontally away from the plant. Lateral roots keep growing in this way in search of water and nutrients and are naturally attracted to the sort of very fertile nutrient-rich, dirt normally found near septic tanks and leach fields. Even if a pine tree is supposed to be located a safe distance from a drainage area, there’s absolutely no guarantee that its origins won’t search out its effluents, especially if it is growing in an area that sees little yearly rainfall.

Oak Tree Placement

Oak trees, including bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa), white oak (Quercus alba), and northern red oak (Quercus rubra) are also regarded as low risks to septic systems by some establishments, such as the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois. Though other types of trees such as willows are natural water seekers and shouldn’t be implanted in the neighborhood of a septic system in any way, trees such as oaks might be considered risks due their increased drought tolerance. Planting oaks at least 50 feet off — or more, if the tree is going to develop into a significant one — in the farthest point of a drain area provides a relatively wide buffer zone, especially in regions that experience adequate rainfall.


Oak tree roots should not be trusted to remain in their own planned boundaries even if they are implanted what is thought to be a secure distance from septic systems. Additionally, oak trees can easily be threatened by any kind of root disturbance that includes building too near or above them, moving the dirt over or near them, or attempting to trim any that are protruding through the soil’s surface. Along with being a potential threat to sewage systems, a pine tree’s vulnerability to any kind of disturbance reinforces the need to plan where it goes well in advance of the actual planting, since it will be too late to make any changes once the tree is created other than to cut it down. In short, find oak trees in regions where there is the least likelihood that they will become problematic.

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Bush Bean Plants & Soil Deficiencies

Bush Bean Plants & Soil Deficiencies

Steamed, stir-fried, roasted or new, bush beans are a delicious addition to any summertime meal. Domesticated versions of South American plants, they have been selectively bred over time to add cultivars like apartment Italian green, French filet, purple-podded and yellow wax. Self-supporting, easy-to-grow bush beans can achieve about 2 feet in height and produce greatest in soils with the proper pH and sufficient nutrients.

Soil Test

Conduct a soil test in a new or untested garden to determine soil pH and the content of vital nutrients in your garden. While easy test kits are available at most garden centres, sending your soil samples to a professional laboratory gives you a more accurate and complete picture. To gather soil, scrape on the surface free of sticks, stones and other debris. Utilizing a stainless-steel trowel, dig a hole 6 to 8 inches deep and have a soil scraping from the side of hole. Repeat this in at least six distinct spots on your garden, combining the trials together in a clean plastic bucket. Do this a few months before planting — it might take up to four weeks to receive your results back and you need enough time to work in any recommended amendments.

Adjusting pH

Although beans are not overly special about fertility, they don’t prefer a soil pH from the 6 to 6.8 range. This measurement of the soils’ level of acidity or alkalinity affects their wellbeing. If the pH is from the desired variety, plant growth goes down — the beans cannot uptake the nutrients and minerals they need from the soil. In this weakened condition, they are more susceptible to fungus and disease. Most soils in moist, wooded spaces tend toward the acidic variety and need a shot of agricultural lime worked into the soil to increase pH. Ideally, this slow-release soil amendment should be added a few months before planting time.

Nitrogen and Phosphorous

Nitrogen is a vital component in bean’s photosynthesis and leaf development. A deficiency causes yellowing leaves and an overall paleness. But like all beans, legumes possess the capability to make their own nitrogen. Unless your soil test indicates a serious nitrogen deficiency, then avoid adding any to your garden bed. Excess nitrogen ends in boisterous leaf growth at the expense of fruit production. Simply dusting your beans with a seed inoculant at planting time primes them to make as much nitrogen as they need. Phosphorous is just another basic nutrient. It is required for reproduction, cell growth and fruit production. Too little stunts plants and also an excess can add an unwanted bitter flavor. Adhere to the recommendations from your soil test results for any required phosphorous.


The all-around soil enhancer, compost needs to be a part of the soil improvement plan irrespective of your test results. Two to 3 inches worked to your own beds helps to protect against a soil crust that can inhibit the emergence of tender new bean plants. In addition, it helps to retain moisture, improve drainage and adds beneficial microorganisms. Furthermore, compost suppresses diseases and insects while promoting higher yields.

Growing Tips

This warm-season crop should not be implanted until soil temperatures have been at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Plant seeds 1 inch deep, 2 to 4 inches apart, keeping the soil moist but not soaked throughout the germination period. After plants have fully emerged, thin them to each 4 ins and mulch with straw, wood chips, grass clippings or leaves to keep moisture and moderate soil temperature. Overhead watering encourages leaf disease — use a soaker hose or water at soil level. Planting every 2 weeks extends you season. Pick often to encourage production and plant beans at a new spot each year to discourage any disease buildup.

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When Power Seeding for a Yard Do You Need to Kill what's There?

When Power Seeding for a Yard Do You Need to Kill what's There?

Homeowners confronted with a damaged yard that has suffered from drought, insects, disease or heavy wear might wonder how they could restore their turf to its former glory. Power seeding, also known as slit seeding, can be an effective way to revive thin, tired lawns without having to kill the existing grass. Late summer through early autumn is the best time for renovating a yard by power seeding.

Candidate Yard

Your yard is a candidate for renovation with electricity seeding in case it still contains 50 percent or more of healthy turf grass coverage intermixed with the thin locations. In such a circumstance, you do not need to kill present bud. But if your lawn is mainly weeds and weedy grasses, with hardly any desirable turf grass, renovation with electricity seeding will not help. With a rather bad, weedy yard, your best bet is to kill the existing vegetation with a non-persistent herbicide, till up the soil, fertilize and re-seed with new grass.

How Seeders Work

Power-seeding machines are readily available for lease in most towns and cities. Power Damp drives grass seed into the soil at the right thickness for optimum germination. A power-seeding machine employs a string of engine-driven, rotating, vertical, knife-like blades to cut superficial parallel grooves in the soil. The grooves normally are involving 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch deep and typically spaced about 1 1/2 inches apart, although some manufacturers use a broader groove spacing. Then the machine drops grass seed from an on-board hopper to the grooves as it goes forward. This increases the seed-to-soil contact needed for a good germination rate and reduces seed reduction from hungry birds or heavy rainfall.

Employing the Machine

Mow the yard close to the ground before electricity seeding. Power seeders measure out fishing in a steady speed. The seeding rate is user-adjustable for distinct lawn grass species. The seeder manufacturer’s seeding rate recommendations typically are attached to the bud seed hopper. Manufacturers of these machines generally advise that you create two passes on the yard at a 45-degree angle to each other, together with the seeding speed set at half the recommended speed for your grass type. After seeding, examine the turf with a lawn roller to shut the open slits.

Watering and Mowing

Lightly water the newly renovated lawn when possible. Maintain the top 1/2 inch of soil consistently moist but not soaking wet for the first three weeks after seeding. As a result, you apply 1/4 to 1/2 inch of water every day. Once the bud is well-established, it is possible to water deeply once or twice per week. Start mowing when the grass reaches 4 inches high. Set the mower height to 3 inches.

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Great Design Plant: Ogon Spirea for Radiance and Texture

Great Design Plant: Ogon Spirea for Radiance and Texture

I’m always on the lookout for easy-care shrubs with great foliage that are drought tolerant and deer resistant. Ogon spirea is that and much more — it’s among those earliest-blooming shrubs in my garden and among the past to lose its leaves.

Its wispy texture highlights bolder plantings, while its bright colour makes it effortless to unite with other garden plants, including sparkle to warmer colors and high contrast to richer purple and burgundy tones.

I’ve utilized Ogon spirea in foundation plantings, combined with Japanese maples in a woodland garden and beneath a Katsura tree (Cercidophyllum japonicum) in a large mixed border, where its orange autumn color echoes that of the tree’s caramel-scented leaves. Do consider the autumn color of any company plants — finely textured Japanese maples with yellow blossom foliage won’t look so striking as those with larger leaves that take on fiery colors of orange and red, for instance.

Le jardinet

Botanical name: Spiraea thunbergii ‘Ogon’
Common names: Ogon spirea, syn. Mellow Yellow spirea
Origin: Native to Japan and China
Where it will grow: Hardy to -20 degrees Fahrenheit (USDA zones 5 to 2; find your zone)
Water necessity: Average to non
Light requirement: Full sunlight for smartest colour but will even grow in partial shade
Mature dimension: 5 ft tall and broad but can be pruned smaller
Benefits and tolerances: Drought tolerant; deer resistant; will grow in a Wide Selection of soils; attracts butterflies
Seasonal interest: Spring through autumn
When to plant: Spring or autumn

Le jardinet

Distinguishing traits. Clusters of white flowers decorate the twiggy branches in early spring even before the leaves have unfurled. The wispy, feathery foliage opens gold yellow before maturing to chartreuse in summertime and then warm colors of crimson in autumn.

How to use it:
Foundation shrubWoodland edgeMixed borderColor accentLow hedge

Alyson Ross Markley

Combination Ideas

1. Purples. Chartreuse and purple consistently make an exciting colour combination, and there are many purple-leaved plants to pick from.

Inside this garden Ogon spirea contrasts beautifully with all the foliage of Velvet Cloak smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria‘Velvet Cloak’), Japanese maples and black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus‘Nigrescens’), as well as the vibrant magenta rhododendron blooms

The wonderful lime green of the spirea is replicated in Golden Spirit smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria‘Golden Spirit’) and Bowles’ golden sedge (Carex elata‘Aurea’).

With splashes of bright green implanted in a zigzag fashion along the length of the pathway, the garden travel grows more interesting and the distance looks larger than it truly is.

Form and Foliage

2. Blues. Inside this landscape the designer has added soft blue to the color palette with a prostrate coniferin the foreground and an vertical blue conifer behind. This brings out the blue tones in the dark foliage of the Grace smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria ‘Grace’) and softens the overall plot.

This is a beautiful example of a low-maintenance yet colorful landscape layout.

Westover Landscape Design, Inc..

3. Pastels. Softer colors can at times seem washed out, particularly as the season advances. Nevertheless, if pastels are paired with a dash of chartreuse, the combination looks refreshing and can span the seasons with style.

Inside this edge Ogon spirea adds structure to the layout as well as supports and enhances the paler lilac and blue tones of the adjoining perennials.

Notice: Ogon spirea may be invasive in some areas. Check with your regional cooperative extension or county extension office prior to planting it.

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