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The Garden Mix



Make plans now to join Melinda on her famous Garden Walks at Boerner Botanical Gardens in 2014!

Nationally renowned garden expert Melinda Myers helps everyday gardeners find success and ease in the garden through her Melinda’s Garden Moments radio segments. Melinda shares “must have” tips that hold the key to gardening success, learned through her more than 30 years of horticulture experience. Listeners from across the country find her gardener friendly, practical approach to gardening both refreshing and informative! On this page, Melinda shares some more extensive garden tips, which expand on the information provided in her one-minute radio segments.

New tips are added throughout each month, providing timely step-by-step tips on what you need to do next in your garden! Visit Melinda’s website www.melindamyers.com for more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and answers to your questions.
Posts from June 2013


Harvesting & Enjoying Roses
Enjoy your roses outdoors in the garden and indoors in a vase.  Proper harvesting and deadheading will keep your repeat blooming roses beautiful throughout the season.

Cut roses for arrangements in the morning just as the top of the bud is starting to open. Make the cut above an outward facing, 5 leaflet leaf.  Cut flowers back to a 3 leaflet leaf on young plants that may not tolerate or be large enough for this amount of pruning.  Remove the lower leaves, recut the stem on an angle and place in a vase of fresh water.
 
Remove faded flowers to encourage new bloom.  Deadhead single-flower roses back to the first 5 leaflet leaf to encourage stouter and stronger stems.  Remove only individual flowers as they fade within a cluster.  Once all the flowers are done blooming you can remove the flower stem back to the first 5 leaflet leaf.  Always leave at least two, 5 leaflet leaves attached to the plant.
 
A bit more information: Extend the vase life of your garden-fresh cut flowers.  Recut stems on an angle and place in a vase filled with fresh warm water and floral preservative. Set in a cool dark place for 12 hours or overnight.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Creative Staking for Gladiolus, Dahlias and Iris
Stately and beautiful describes flowering gladiolus, dahlias and iris. As long as they are upright and standing that is.  Give them a lift this season with creative staking. 

 Keep glads looking their best with a small piece of lattice and metal or wood supports.  Place the lattice parallel to the ground on short stakes anchored in the ground.  Paint the lattice for added color or to help blend the structure into the surrounding plantings.  Allow the glads to grow through the holes and wait for the flowers and visiting hummingbirds to appear.  
 
Use bamboo stakes to help keep your dahlias and iris upright.  Carefully place the stake next to the plant making sure to avoid the underground tuberous roots and rhizomes. Loosely tie the plant to the stake using twine.  Make a figure eight looping the twine around the stake and the other loop around the plant stem.  Add additional ties as the plants grow.
 
A bit more information: And get creative!  Dig through undiscovered treasures in the garage, shed or basement.  You might find the perfect decorative support.  One gardener put an old slinky to work supporting some of her garden plants.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Pull Now – Benefit Later; Controlling Ragweed
Give your hayfever a break this season.  Celebrate National Ragweed Control Month by removing these unwanted weeds before they flower. 

You, like me, may be one of the many people that suffer from hayfever.  And most cases are caused by ragweed.  Pulling this weed now, before the offensive pollen forms will not only help our allergies this season, but will also reduce next year’s crop of these weeds.
 
Ragweed has dissected leaves on plants that can grow from one to three or more feet tall.  The small green flowers often go unnoticed.  You’ll find these plants in gardens, along roadsides, alleys and any disturbed, dry and other difficult areas where it can outcompete desirable plants. 
 
Most of us keep the weeds under control in our yards and gardens. Many communities have weed outs for invasive plants and might be willing to add this to their list.
 
A bit more information: Enlist the help of friends and neighbors.  Scour alleys, common ways and other disturbed sites where ragweed likes to grow. Always ask permission before entering and weeding on private or public property.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Disbudding Dahlias
Trying to grow those dinner plate size dahlia blooms?  Selection and disbudding will help you achieve your goal. 

Select one of the dinnerplate dahlias like Who Dun it Dinnerplate Dahlia.  This 2013 Dahlia of the Year is hardy in zones 3 to 10.  Those gardening in zones 7 and colder will need to store the tuberous roots indoors for winter. These 3- to 5-feet-tall plants are loaded with flowers that transform from lilac to mauve to lavender-blue and then finish with a display of white petals.
 
Increase the size of these and any dahlias with a bit of disbudding. Remove side buds if you are looking for one large, knock your socks off, bloom per stem.  Disbudding reduces the number of flowers, but increases their individual size. 
 
Going for quantity? Then leave all the buds intact.  You will have a lot more flowers, but they will be much smaller.  Both methods create a colorful display.
 
A bit more information:  Tall dahlias and those with large flowers need staking.  Put the stake in place at planting to avoid damaging the underground tuberous root. Make sure it is anchored securely in the ground.  Tie lengthening stems to the stake with a soft cloth.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Managing Picnic Beetles
Eat up and clean up to keep those little black beetles from enjoying your harvest.
 
Known as picnic beetles, sap beetles, or little black bugs, these scavengers can be found in overripe strawberries and raspberries, cracks in ripe tomatoes, ears of corn and more.
 
Since they are attracted to overripe and damaged fruit, regular harvesting and sanitation will help keep these pests at bay.  Avoid pesticides that require a waiting period before you can continue to harvest as this delays picking and will result in even more overripe fruit that attracts more beetles into your garden.
 
Some gardeners find trapping effective. You may want to try this popular recipe:  Mix 1 cup water, 1 cup dark corn syrup, one cake of yeast, and a spoonful of vinegar. Place the mixture in a container outside the garden. Use it to attract the beetles away from the garden, trap and drown them.
 
A bit more information:  Any fermenting plant juices will also work. Some gardeners report success using ripe bananas and melon to attract and trap these insects.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Eat All Your Vegetables Day – June 17th
Load up your plate with fresh-from-the garden produce as you celebrate Eat All Your Vegetables Day on June 17th
 
Use this day to inspire new additions to your vegetable garden while encouraging reluctant veggie eaters to try something new.  Once they try some fresh vegetables they may be willing to make them a regular part of their diet.  And, if you get them to grow their own, they are even more likely to partake.
 
Once you’re inspired, look for extra space to add more vegetables to the landscape.  Start by calculating the number of days left in your growing season.  Simply count from the anticipated planting date to the average date of the first fall frost in your area.  Check plant tags and seed packets for the number of days needed from planting until harvest.  Make a list of these vegetables.
 
Then look for vacant spaces in flowerbeds, mixed borders and containers.  And train vines crops up decorative trellises and fences.
 
A bit more information:  Here are a few short season crops you may want to consider.  Plant seeds and be ready to harvest radishes, leaf lettuce, spinach and chard in 40 days.  Beets, bush snap beans, cucumbers and kohlrabi are ready to harvest in 50 to 60 days. Carrots, Chinese cabbage, and turnips take about 10 days longer.
 
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Visit a Farmer’s Market and Plan Your Garden
Farmers Markets are on the rise as more and more of us are looking for locally grown fresh produce.  You may be surprised to find one or more popping up near your home. 

Get the most out of your visit with a little advance planning.
 
Check out the internet for a list of farmer’s markets in your area.  Confirm the dates and hours of operation.  Many include a list of vendors with links to their website and the week’s featured produce.
 
Gather those cloth bags used when buying groceries. It makes managing all the produce easier and you will reduce the number of plastic bags headed to recycling or the garbage. 
 
Take cash and lots of small bills.  This makes it easier for the farmer and speeds up shopping.  And you’ll have more time to visit every single booth.
 
Look for and try new and different vegetables.  It will help you plan future additions to your edible garden.
 
A bit more information: Eat first so you buy less or go hungry and plan on staying for a meal or snack.  Many markets serve coffee and pastries or tasty meals.  And take the whole family to enjoy this shopping experience. Many have kids’ activities and music for all to enjoy.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Weed Your Garden Day – June 13th
Break out the cupcakes and balloons and get ready to celebrate Weed Your Garden Day on June 13th.

The thrill of the party may wane a bit when family and friends discover your true motivation.  But, adding a festive spirit to garden tasks can make it more fun and you’re more likely to make them happen.
 
Try a round robin of eating and weeding with friends.  It is a great way to work in some social time and help each other tackle the weeds in the garden.
 
Barter a bit of weeding for a home cooked meal, pie, photography or other hobby or skill you prefer over weeding.
 
Hire some help – it’s ok to admit the weeds won this round.  Once under control, it will be easier for you to keep up with weeding and other garden care.
 
Once the garden is weeded, mulch it to reduce future weed infestations. Shredded leaves and evergreen needles are perfect for flowerbeds and vegetable gardens.
 
A bit more information:  Woodchips and shredded bark make nice mulch around trees, shrubs and pathways.  Do not put fabric weed barrier beneath these and other organic mulch.  As the mulch decomposes it provides a great environment for weed seeds to sprout and grow through.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Nudge Your Bougainvillea Into Bloom
Nudge your potted bougainvillea into bloom with proper growing conditions and proper care. 

Grow these blooming beauties in full sun.  You’ll get the best flower display during the shorter days of early spring and early fall. Plus the cooler night temperatures of 60 degrees or cooler will also promote bloom.
 
Keep your bougainvillea potbound to further encourage bloom.  Repotting too soon results in lots of leaves and stems and delays flowering.  During the growing season, allow the plants to dry slightly before watering again. 
 
Use a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer with phosphorous, like Milorganite, to meet most of your plants season-long needs.  Or apply a soluble flowering plant fertilizer to moist soil once a month.
 
Prune away any unwanted growth throughout the summer.  And occasionally pinch out the growing tips to encourage more compact growth.  Wear gloves and long sleeves to minimize direct contact with the thorns.
 
A bit more information:  Start new plants from 4 to 6 inch long cuttings.  Stick the cut end into a moist well-drained potting mix or mix of peatmoss and perlite.  Roots should appear in 4 to 6 weeks.  Repot if needed in a slightly larger container.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Shade Combinations for Attracting Hummingbirds
Don’t let shade stop you from attracting hummingbirds to your garden.  Include a few hummingbird favorites in the garden or container plantings. 

Fuchsia is a favorite of shade gardeners and hummingbirds.  Try using one of the upright types like Thalia, Gartenmeister or Firecracker with its variegated leaves.  Add a fern for texture and wire vine as a groundcover in the garden or spiller in the container.
 
Consider adding a few or quite a few Dragon wing begonias to the garden.  The large plants put on a show all summer long with the red and pink flowers.  They combine nicely with impatiens, another hummingbird favorite. And surround this combination with a groundcover or trailer of Silver Falls Dichondra. 
 
Include a backdrop of summer long bloom you and the hummingbirds will enjoy. Train a honeysuckle vine onto a fence or decorative trellis for screening and hummingbird appeal.  Try the mildew resistant Major Wheeler.
 
A bit more information:  For more ideas on attracting birds and butterflies to your garden visit www.birdsandblooms.com . See projects and ideas on attracting wildlife to the garden and you’ll find my answers to common garden questions. Also, be sure to look for my article “Make Room for Hummingbirds and Butterflies” in the June/July 2013 issue of Birds & Blooms magazine.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Buttered Rum, Southern Comfort - Colorful Perennials for the Garden
How about a bit of Buttered Rum or Southern Comfort in the garden?  No, I am not talking about a drink, but rather a few colorful perennials. 
 
Heucherella ‘Buttered Rum’ is a hybrid with coral bells, known as Heuchera. And foamflower, called Tiarella as its parents.  The maple shaped leaves have a caramel edge and are topped with white flowers in spring.

Southern Comfort coral bells have cinnamon peach leaves that mature to amber.  The white flowers on this plant appear in summer.
 
Finish off your planting with a little dessert.  Peach Flambe coral bells have bright peach leaves in the cooler months of spring and fall.  The leaves turn a softer peach in summer and plum purple for winter.
 
Use a combination of these and other coral bells and foamflowers to create a tapestry of color in your partial shade to full sun gardens. Be sure to keep the soil slightly moist throughout the season.
 
A bit more information:  Add some Dolce® Key Lime Pie to the dessert buffet.  This coral bell has chartreuse foliage all season long. The heart shaped leaves are mottled with lime green.  Mix a few with dark green or blue-green hostas for an eye-catching combination.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Reduce your Risk of Skin Cancer when Gardening
Cover up before going out.  Protect your skin from Ultraviolet radiation as you get out and garden. 
 
May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month.  And since gardeners, like our plants, enjoy the outdoors we need to be aware of the risk.  Fortunately, this is a cancer we can help prevent with a few simple precautions.
 
Wear a wide brimmed hat and UV blocking sunglasses.  Cover up your skin with brightly colored clothing made of densely woven fabrics. 
 
Apply a broad spectrum UVA & UVB sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day.  Apply it 30 minutes before going outdoors to garden and every two hours.  You’ll prevent sunburn and skin damage while making it easier to return to the garden each day.
 
Do a monthly skin exam from head to toe and follow up with your physician if you see any suspicious changes.  And consider seeing a dermatologist, like I do, on a regular basis.
 
A bit more information: Consider gardening in the morning or late afternoon to reduce your exposure to the sun.  The Skin Cancer Foundation shares this tip “if your shadow is shorter than your are, the sun’s harmful UV radiation is stronger, if your shadow is longer, UV radiation is less intense.”  Visit their website for more tips on keeping your skin healthy as you garden throughout the year. 
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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We're FOOTBALL parents now!
I'm a bit bias, but my son Anthony is a GREAT BASEBALL player. I think he's a great athlete in general. Now though, for the first time EVER, he's a HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PLAYER! (GO GREENDALE PANTHERS) Anthony's been asking my wife and I to play football for the last 2+ years and our answer has always been "nah, you're a baseball player buddy, focus on that" LOL! Well, I admit that MOST of the reason for our answer was b/c he REALLY TRULY is a great baseball player and we didn't want him getting HURT playing football…I also explained to him that playing high school football wasn't anything like just getting together in the backyard with friends and throwing the ball around and that it's ALOT of work, practice, sweat etc… Well, he's not backed down AT ALL and we just figured hey, he wants to do it, let him find out all of the hard work involved and see what happens! The result: HE'S RAN WITH IT and is excited to be doing it! He's already gotten hurt in camp, got whiplash, was out for a week and came back WITH MORE FIRE to do it! We didn't DOUBT he'd have the passion and drive to do it…we just worried he thought it was something that it's not. He's showed us he's ready for the challenge! It's been FUN to watch him learn something new…and he'll get better and better as the practices and games begin! My wife and I look forward to being a FOOTBALL Mom & Dad for the first time and just enjoying the ride! In the end, it's ALL about the experiences Anthony will have and the memories he'll start making in high school that TRULY matter! Thanks for reading! Thanks for listening! Just…THANKS! -Mark Summers
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Disease Resistant Major Wheeler Red Honeysuckle Vine
Add a spot of red to the garden and help bring in the hummingbirds. Major Wheeler honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens 'Major Wheeler') is a cultivar of the North American native honeysuckle vine. It has been called the best red by many growers and is resistant to powdery mildew. Gardeners and growers report clean, mildew-free leaves even when plants are overcrowded or growing in droughty conditions. The red flowers appear in late spring and repeat throughout the summer. Remove the first set of blooms as they fade to increase the intensity of summer blooms. Grow this twining vine up a trellis, over an arbor, on a fence or climbing over a rock wall. The stems grow 3 to 8 feet long. And the plant is hardy in zones 4 to 8. You'll have the best results growing this plant in full sun and moist well-drained soil. It is heat and drought tolerant once established and will tolerate a bit of light shade. A bit more information: Try growing this and other vines in a container. It is a great way to add vertical interest to your container garden or a colorful accent on a patio or deck. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Build a Bee House
Convert scrap lumber into homes for native bees to raise their young. Native bees are important pollinators needed for plants to produce fruits, seeds and berries. Planting native flowers such as asters and beebalm and trees like lindens will provide food to help attract bees to your landscape and keep them healthy. Providing housing will also help attract these visitors to your garden. Drill holes into, but not through, any size block of untreated wood. The holes should be about 3 to 5 inches deep and 5/16th an inch in diameter for Mason bees. Insert straws into each hole to make cleaning easier. Paper straws are good for nesting but glass or plastic reduce the risk of mold formation. Mount the bee house on the south side of a fence or building. Keep your bees safe by eliminating the use of pesticides on or near the bee house. Better yet, use bee-safe insect control methods in your garden and landscape. A bit more information: No construction skills? Don't worry - you can use hollow stemmed grasses and reeds as the nesting cavities. Place these in a bucket or bundle them together to create a bee house. Click here for more information on building bee houses. . For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Blossom Drop and Fruit Rot on Vegetables
Don't let blossom drop and fruit rot reduce this season's harvest. A few adjustments in your garden care can help reduce the risk. Many vegetables will drop their blossoms when temperatures and soil moisture fluctuate. Extreme heat and cold nights can cause peppers to drop their blossoms and tomatoes to stop producing. Use floating row covers to keep things warm on cool nights or during heat waves wait for cooler temperatures for the fruit to form. Be sure to water thoroughly to encourage deep drought-tolerant roots. Mulch with shredded leaves, evergreen needles or other organic matter to keeps roots cool and evenly moist. Even soil moisture also insures the uptake of critical nutrients. A lack of calcium can cause blossom end rot on tomatoes and other fruit. Adjust your watering and mulching before reaching for the fertilizer. A bit more information: Products like Blossom Set will help with tomatoes, but not peppers. The fruit will be smaller, but at least you'll have some. This will not work with peppers since they drop their blossoms during extremely hot or cold temperatures. A few diseases can also cause fruit rot. Remove the squash blossoms as they wilt to reduce the risk of damage caused by these diseases. And be sure to mulch the soil to reduce the risk of soil born diseases from infecting blossoms and developing fruit. Melon and Squash Cradles from Gardener's Supply Company help elevate your fruit off the soil further reducing disease problems. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Controlling Ragweed, the Allergy Sufferers Nemesis
If you suffer from a runny nose, stuffed up sinuses and itchy or watery eyes, the culprit may be hiding under your shrubs, next to your flowers or along a nearby roadway. Ragweed is the main cause of allergy and pollen asthma in North America and Central Europe. Common ragweed is an annual with ferny leaves that flowers in August and September. Giant ragweed has larger less dissected leaves and can reach heights of 8 feet. Mowing and removal not only eliminates the pollen, but also the 30,000 to 62,000 seeds that each plant can produce. Removing one plant means thousands less to weed next season. Keep your lawn mown, gardens weeded and replant ragweed infested areas with native and ornamental plants suited to the growing conditions. Proper selection and soil preparation will help your desirable plants crowd out this weed. A bit more information: A single plant can release as much as one billion grains of pollen throughout one season. And that pollen can travel more than 400 miles. Enlist friends, families and neighbors in the cause. The more we control this pesky weed the better for us all. For more information, click here. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Leaf Browning, Scorch, on Hostas and Other Shade Plants
Brown leaf edges are common on hostas and other shade lovers when the temperatures rise or the sun is too intense. Brown leaf edges, known as scorch, occur when the plant loses more water than is available or faster than the plant is able to absorb. Reduce the risk of this problem by growing shade lovers like hostas in shady areas free of hot mid-day and afternoon sun. Add organic matter to the soil to improve the water-holding ability of fast draining sandy soils. Water the plants thoroughly and often enough to keep the soil slightly moist. Mulch the soil with shredded leaves, evergreen needles or other organic matter to keep the soil cool and evenly moist. Yes, I know, this also creates the perfect environment for slugs. If a slug problem develops, capture these slimy pests with beer in a shallow can. A bit more information: If slugs are a problem considering planting more slug-resistant hostas. These tend to have thicker leaves like the 2014 Hosta of the Year "Abiqua Drinking Gourd." For more information, listen to my audio tip on Eco-friendly Slug and Snail Control. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Sneak Some Zucchini on Your Neighbor’s Porch Night
Once again it's time to celebrate Sneak Some Zucchini on Your Neighbor's Porch Night. August 8th, National Zucchini Day, inspired Pennsylvania gardeners Tom and Ruth Roy to encourage gardeners to share their excess zucchini with neighbors. If you've grown zucchini you know it can create an abundance of fruit. Harvesting when the fruit is 6 to 8 inches long gives the best flavor and keeps the plants producing. So after you've enjoyed those first dozen or so zucchini on relish trays, stir-fried or in baked goods you may be looking for ways to "share" the harvest. After friends and family refuse your offering of this tasty veggie you may decide to join the fun and leave a few zucchinis on your neighbor's front porch. Just include a few recipes if you want to keep them as friends. Or better yet, take your surplus vegetables, zucchini and all, to a nearby food pantry. A bit more information: Many seniors and children benefit from the flavorful and nutritious surplus vegetables donated by generous gardeners. Visit Plant-a-Row for the Hungry's web site at or call 1-877-492-2727 to find a food pantry near you. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Love-in-a-Mist Flower Growing Tips
Add a little love and beauty to your garden with Love-in-a-mist. The fine foliage, white, pink, blue or lavender flowers and attractive seedpods provide season-long beauty. This annual grows best in full sun and moist well-drained fertile soil. The flowers float above the dill-like leaves on plants 15 to 24 inches tall and 12 inches wide. Harvest a few of the long-lasting flowers to enjoy in a vase. Remove the foliage as it tends to wilt much more quickly than the blossoms. And harvest a few of the seedpods to use in crafts and dried arrangements. Pick when the purple or bronze stripes are visible on the balloon shaped pods. Hang in a warm shaded location to dry. Love-in-a-mist is self-seeding. So once you have a plant growing and flowering in the garden, just leave a few seedpods on the plants, don't disturb the soil and you'll be rewarded with lots of new plants each year. A bit more information: This plant is known botanically as Nigella damascena. It does not transplant well. So buy new seeds or collect seeds from existing plants when you want to start this plant in a new location in the landscape. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Joe-Pye Weed for you and the Butterflies to Enjoy
Add some bold beauty and butterfly appeal to your garden with Joe-Pye Weed. This summer through fall blooming perennial is hardy in zones 3 to 9. It grows best in full sun to part shade and moist fertile soil. The leaves will scorch - form brown edges - if the soil is allowed to dry. So be sure to mulch with shredded leaves, evergreen needles or other organic matter to keep the soil consistently moist throughout the season. Joe Pye weed grows 5 to 7 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide. The leaves give off a hint of vanilla when crushed. The small purple or white flowers form large clusters known as panicles 12 to 18 inches across. If this sounds too big for your landscape, don't fret. Shorter varieties like Gateway at 4 to 6 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet wide and Little Joe at 3 to 4 feet tall and wide may work for you. A bit more information: The Chicago Botanic Garden recently evaluated the various Joe-Pye weeds and their relatives. They looked at plants as short as 17 inches and as tall as 90. See the results of their comparative study by clicking here. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Cutest Sibling Video EVER!
I can't even handle how cute this video is!!
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