Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Excuse me, your rootstock is showing

What's going on with this rose? 

It's pink, but we have a giant branch with tiny red roses sneaking through the top of the rosebush.

Is it some new variety with two colors?  Nope, it's the rootstock growing up from the bottom.

Most roses are bred for their looks, which leaves little time for working on strong roots.  So, they are grafted onto the roots of a rose that isn't as pretty, but has sturdy rootstock.

If you look at the base of your rose you can usually see a knot where the two were grafted together.  Any green growth from below this knot is rootstock and needs to be trimmed.  Since even rootstock blooms in the spring, now is a good time to check your plants. 

Cut off the entire branch as far down as you can.  It's also a good idea to make sure there is soil covering the rootstock so it isn't tempted to re-sprout later.






Monday, April 28, 2008

Don't hate me because it's 90 degrees

Yes, it's hot in So Cal today.  We've been having a bit of a Santa Ana condition so it's been pretty warm.  

I felt sorry for my drought tolerant plants in the back yard so I gave them a good soak yesterday.  It's a little early in the season to be this hot.  Nobody's drooping but the acacia and a few others just got done flowering so they needed a nice douse of water.  Not a light sprinkling mind you.  We want the water to go down to the roots where it can be used and saved by the plants.  Everything has been in the ground for two years so they get along on rainfall alone pretty much.  Although in the heat of the summer, or during un-seasonal heat waves I like to water them once a month.

I am SO glad I turned the compost pile before the heat wave started!

Other than that, where have I been all week?  Working.  I just uploaded FIVE new gardening art designs to my store.  I really gotta grow my seed budget, if you know what I mean.  I did two on roses, a red, white and blue patriotic design, one for heirloom gardeners and another based on the old Victory Gardener campaign from WWII.  My main store page is http://www.cafepress.com/AngelCityArt 

Drop by and let me know what you think!  If you have any special requests post a comment on this post and let me know, thanks!


PS, Thanks for all your little comments on my posts, I read all of them.  It's nice to know someone is out there.

Friday, April 18, 2008

High tech seed spreader, or spice bottle?

Here's something you can use for spreading seeds that's already in your spice cabinet.

This bottle contained Italian Seasoning. The important part is the size of the holes in the plastic screen on top. These are about 1/8 inch in diameter.

It's a good size for larger seeds like nasturtium or sweet peas. You could always cut them to enlarge them too.

Sprinkle out a bank of low growing sweet peas in beds around your other plants. They fix nitrogen in the soil which helps other plants.

I like to grow nasturtiums in my rose bed. They fill in the bare ground and stalks. Monet loved them too! My yard is very hot in the summer, they last longer in part shade or areas that only get a few hours of direct sun a day.

If you buy the non-hybrid seeds your nasturtiums or sweet peas will reseed and come back next year and have the same bloom colors. The only difference will be they will be silghtly more adapted to your particular garden and climate. Cool beans!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Have you turned your compost lately?

It's a great time of year to start a compost pile. I like to turn mine every week or two.

Grass clippings add nitrogen to your compost. Clippings also need to be broken up in your pile. If you toss in a layer and don't break it up the grass will stick together and form a solid mat. It needs to be broken up with a pitchfork, or a stick. I know from experience it is easier to mix in the grass when it is fresh, than it is to break it up later.

If you see white on the mat of clippings that is just part of the decomposition process. You may also notice the grass is HOT. This means it is decomposing and creating heat. This is GOOD.

Grass clippings can sometime decompose so quickly and generate enough heat that it makes sounds. A few years ago a neighborhood was evacuated because someone's green recycling bin was hot and ticking. It turned out that the homeowner had dumped in a ton of grass clippings (it was spring). All the grass in the covered barrel generated gas and heat over a few days - in the sun. After it started making noise I guess he was afraid to just open the lid and see what was in there! Don't let this happen to you - start your compost pile today!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Color Change Aeonium Plant Update 3

Here's the latest on the aeonium plant on my patio that has been changing colors.

Now you can really see the red around the leaf edges.  

The small inside leafs are all creamy instead of cream and green stripes.  Very cool!

None of the other aeoniums in my garden are changing like this.  I've got to remember to root a few leaf cuttings of this one.

I still think this looks more like an echeveria, but I'm told the aerial roots are the dead-giveaway.

I have a crassula capitella that changes from green to red, but I don't think it puts on a show like this guy.  This plant is a trooper too.  It started out as a little sprig in a pot with a lower growing succulent.  It branched out and started to look like a tree from a Dr. Suese book.  Then we had a hard frost last year.  The plant was turned into a little twig.  I just couldn't give up on him (see earlier plant rescue posts), AND it's the only one that changes colors like this.  So, I left the twig in the pot and hoped.  It took a few months, but the plant started to put out growth again - as we see.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Plant Rescue Update: Crassula Plant Setback

A few weeks ago I rescued this little succulent plant from the store. It was very abused, beaten up, had broken parts and gave me a very sad look when I walked by.

So, I took it home, gave him some water and tucked the broken leafs back into the pot. I put him in my 'plant hospital'; between the rose bushes in the flower bed where there is part sun, a little
moisture in the air and a nice plant vibe. Here's my first post.

Unfortunately, the pot was viciously attacked by a weed whacker. The pot is crumbled and there is just half on one leaf left in the pot.

Now what? Since the point of this blog is to share gardening information - good and bad - I'm not giving up on this plant. Although I will keep him out of weed whacker range from now on.

Let's see what we've got here: The roots on the plant are fine. On a normal plant, that would be the most important question. Since roots are intact, you'd probably have good luck watering the plant and leaving it alone in the 'hospital' for a few weeks.

Since this plant is a succulent plant, technically, I don't really need any roots to make this puppy grow. Succulents are easily propagated with cuttings. But I'll take the roots anyway. I'm just going to water him and put him in a safer place with part shade. Hopefully the roots will help the plant recover a little faster and we'll see some sprouts! Here's an article on my site on how to root
succulent plants with cuttings.


Check back later for more exciting crassula updates.

Wisteria Vine Blooming in So Cal Dramatic And Romantic

The wisteria is blooming over the patio, here's a nice shot for you. The purple, violet flowers are about two feet long. They have a very light scent, a little creamy to me.

Wisteria is a vine that looks great over a trellis or the side of a house where the long flowers can hang down in spring when they bloom. Mine looks so beautiful, I almost forget how high maintenance it is the rest of the year. Wisteria can survive on low water and poor soils, so they're a nice choice for drought tolerant gardens.

In spring it is always exciting to see the little buds forming on the bare branches. In a few weeks the vine is covered in purple flowers. The leaves don't start to sprout until after the blooms open. So, you have a dramatic plant dripping in purple flowers and nothing else. Very pretty.

The wisteria blossoms cover the ground in a violet blanket after they are finished. Luckily the blossoms are not sticky. I let them blow into the flower beds where they decompose quickly. After wisteria blooms it goes into a growth spurt. You'll need to keep an eye on it if you are training it. Better yet, keep both eyes on this vine - it will send out a 10 foot runner seemingly overnight.

In the fall, the seed pods dry, forming long, thin dangling pods which look interesting against the fading foliage. BUT, when the pods dry they explode - sending the seeds flying. You do not want to be under a wisteria when the seed pods are going off! I try to cut them off before they get too dry. But I always miss a few. I'll be sitting under the trellis and hear a pod go off and duck before the seeds hit me!

But back to the reason people love this plant. Look at those blossoms!

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