Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Plants That Thrive in a Zone 6 Jungle

Who would have thought the jungle weather would have continued so long? Out of the 30 days between July 16 and August 15, half (15) have reached 87 degrees or higher. Last year during the same time, there were eight days that reached 87 degrees or higher, and in 2014, there were only two days that hit the 87 degree mark.

During this time in my garden, some plants have been thriving, building up to blooming, or in general holding their own. Here are a few that have been thriving.

On July 27, the Pentas 'Graffiti Red Lace' was covered in blooms.
Jasminum floribundum
Plectranthus 'Golden Variegated' in shade.
Pelargonium 'Friesdorf' in partial shade.
A sampling of Eucomis, Tulbaghia, Eucalyptus, and Anigozanthus picked for a vase August 7.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Container Transitions: The Best Plants Win

Ptilotus 'Joey' is looking good in mid-June
For the brightest sun location on my patio, I chose a mix of two Ptilotus 'Joey, Eucalyptus 'Silver Drop', Pelargonium (annual geranium) 'Distinction', and three bulbs of Eucomis (pineapple lily) 'Katie', all of which I planted in a 14" diameter container.

From mid-May until the beginning of July, Ptilotus 'Joey' bloomed nonstop, its spiky flowers lasting for several days as the Eucalyptus wove through the two plants.

By July 4, 'Joey' was losing steam, but by now the Eucomis was ramping up for its bloom, which began in early August. Eucomis flowers are known to last at least five weeks, and annual geranium has no reason to quit, so this pot will provide color through the end of the season.


By July 4, 'Joey' was going into a fade.
By August 8, the Eucomis 'Katie' started their bloom along with
Pelargonium 'Distinction', while the Euclyptus plays on.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Humongous Plants: You Can Grow That!

Banana tops six feet by mid-July
If you chose to grow tropical plants this summer, your choice is paying off about now. It's not always the case in the southern Great Lakes region. I've been growing elephant ears for the past few years now, and this is the biggest they've ever gotten by this time of year.

Our banana has been taking care of itself in the garden, and except for a bout of Japanese beetles damaging one leaf, it's been the epitome of health.

I can't remember ever experiencing such a sustained period of high 80 degree temps and high 60 degree dewpoints. But I'll bet the jungle natives in my garden think they're in the tropics.
Colocasia 'Midori Sour' is the most bodacious of the bunch,
obliterating the other plants in the container.
Microsorum musifolium
I found lots of new (to me) tropical plants that are either threatening to take over my patio, and/or vying for inside status come October.

One that is small enough to make the cut is a fern called Microsorum musifolium, whose registered trade name is Crocodyllus (think Kleenex as the trade name for tissue).

Take a close look at the leaves of this beauty, and you'll see why it's been given the crocodile-esque moniker. I've been keeping it in pretty deep shade as it's still in its original pot and dries out quickly. But information online indicates it can take partial sun. (Sounds like a perfect houseplant.)
Piper auritum dominates a corner of this raised bed; its leaves help shade the crocodyllus fern.
A plant that would challenge even the largest indoor space is Piper auritum or root beer plant. In its home region, the huge leaves are used to flavor food. I just like the novelty. It's a shade-lover, but has been pushed to its tolerance limit with extra water. I've also discovered it to be a great umbrella--I placed some small pots beneath its big leaves to keep them from getting too much moisture and sun, and it performed beautifully.

When else could you grow such humongous plants but in the summer, especially if you live in an area where it freezes. For more ideas, tips and a celebration of growing things, head on over to a round-up of inspiration at You Can Grow That!