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African violet care is incredibly easy. African violets are easy-to-grow, rewarding houseplants. They bloom well with lower light than most other blooming plants, although they will perform better with medium to bright, indirect light. All bear clusters of purple, pink, white, rose, or lavender flowers over fuzzy leaves. African violet flowers may be single, double, ruffled, or edged in an accent color. African violets thrive in warm conditions (65 degrees F or warmer), although newer varieties tolerate cooler conditions. Keep the soil evenly moist, and water from the bottom to prevent leaf browning from water spots.
Agapanthus is a landscape staple in warm-winter regions, and it's no wonder why. This easy-to-grow perennial produces colorful globes of blue or white trumpet-shape flowers in summer and fall. Its evergreen strappy leaves add texture to beds, borders, and containers.
Agapanthus blooms best in a spot where it gets full sun and has moist, well-drained soil. Divide it every three to four years to keep clumps healthy and vigorous.
If you live in a cool-winter area, you can overwinter agapanthus in containers by bringing the pots to a cool (around 40 degrees F) spot and watering them only once a month or so. In spring, move the containers back outdoors after all danger of frost has passed. Potted agapanthus is said to bloom best when slightly root-bound.
Ageratum is such a little workhorse that nearly every garden should have some. This annual is an easy-to-grow, old-fashioned favorite that produces a steady show of colorful powder-pufflike flowers from late spring through frost. It's also rarely bothered by pests, so you count on it to look good. Plus, it provides some of the truest blues you can find in flowers -- a rare thing.
Plant in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Plant in groups of a dozen or more for best show. Deadhead and fertilize regularly for best blooms.
Ajuga is one of the most indispensable groundcovers around. It has many uses and looks great much of the year.
Also known as carpetweed or bugleweed, ajuga forms a 6-inch-tall mat of glossy leaves that always seem to look neat and fresh. In many cases, the leaves are colored with shades of purple, white, silver, cream, or pink. Individual plants grow as a rosette, but they intertwine to form a solid carpet that withstands some foot traffic. Blue, lavender, pink, or white flower spikes adorn plants spring to early summer.
Ajuga is great in rock gardens, in the front of beds and borders, under leggy shrubs or small trees, along paths, and just about any other place in the landscape you want to cover the ground with attractive foliage and little flowers.
Though akebia has beautiful purple or white flowers that smell of chocolate, it's really the beautiful foliage that makes this lovely vine worth growing. The blue-green leaves are divided into leaflets, giving it a wonderfully soft texture as it scales walls, pergolas, and other structures. Give it a sturdy support -- akebia can get to be big at maturity and may crush small structures.
If the flowers are pollinated, akebia may produce edible, sausage-shaped fruits -- but the vines usually need a different variety planted nearby to produce the fruits.
Alliums may be in the onion family, but these top-notch garden plants are anything but utilitarian vegetable-garden residents. Among the most carefree bulbs you can grow, alliums bloom in a wide range of colors (including shades of yellow, white, pink, and purple), seasons, and sizes (from inch-wide heads to volleyball-sized bloom clusters).
Alliums offer whimsical structures and great textural contrasts unique to the late-spring bulb garden. Clustered florets in a globe-shape flower head are held aloft on a thick stem. In the species, loose bouquets of flowers sprout from clustered, hollow stems. The larger allium flower heads are fun focal points for dried arrangements. Plant alliums in any well-drained garden soil in full sun. The smaller types are especially well suited for growing in rock gardens. Plant a few larger hybrids in a pot for a flowering surprise in early summer.
Alstroemerias are best known as cut flowers, where their rich colors and lovely veining grace many a vase, where they'll last for as long as two weeks. But they can also be grown in the garden, where they do best in light, well-drained soil. They bloom freely through the summer and come in almost all shades of the rainbow except true blue.
Where they're perennials, in the warmest parts of the country, deadhead flowers when they are done blooming to prevent them from spreading too much by seed.
Anemones naturalize easily in good garden soil, spreading their early-spring cheer in the ephemeral garden under bare trees and shrubs that later leaf out. These daisylike blooms feature thin, silky petals that quickly disperse in the breeze after flowering. A color range of white, sky blue, pink to the velvety reds and purples of poppy anemones provide jewellike tones for early in the season before the tulips open.
Soak anemone corms in warm water overnight before planting to speed sprouting. These hardy Mediterranean natives flourish in a well-drained, lighter soil in full sun to partial shade.
Angelica is a tall, hardy biennial herb with dramatic stalks that can be candied and used on cakes or cookies. The first year, the plant produces beautiful frilly green foliage. The second year, angelica sends up flower stalks and then produces seeds. The flowers and foliage make a dramatic back-of-the-border accent in perennial beds. The celery-flavor stems may be eaten raw or candied for use in baking. Use the dried root in tea. Plants might self-sow, but plant new angelica each year to ensure a constant supply. Grow it in full sun or dappled shade in rich, organic soil.
Angelonia is also called summer snapdragon, and once you get a good look at it, you'll know why. It has salvia-like flower spires that reach a foot or 2 high, but they're studded with fascinating snapdragon-like flowers with beautiful colorations in purple, white, or pink. It's the perfect plant for adding bright color to hot, sunny spaces. This tough plant blooms all summer long with spirelike spikes of blooms. While all varieties are beautiful, keep an eye out for the sweetly scented selections.
While most gardeners treat angelonia as an annual, it is a tough perennial in Zones 9-10. Or, if you have a bright, sunny spot indoors, you can even keep it flowering all winter.
Annual phlox is a native wildflower in areas of Texas. As such, you can guess it's a wonderfully heat- and drought-tolerant variety. In late spring and summer, it shows off clusters of red, pink, lavender, or white flowers.
Because it's easy to grow and puts on such a great display, it's a good choice for beginning gardeners who have to tackle a hot, dry spot. Remove the flower clusters as they fade to encourage more blooms and pinch the plants back in summer if they start to get leggy.
Old-fashioned annual statice is found more often dried in crafts stores than growing in gardens. But this easy-to-grow plant is a great pick for containers or the middle of a border, especially if you want to harvest it for everlasting bouquets indoors.
Statice bears papery flowers in a wide variety of colors. The flowers dry well -- so much so they practically dry on the plant. The plant is also very drought-tolerant, so you can enjoy its blooms even if you forget to water it from time to time. In fact, statice thrives in hot, sunny spots with well-drained soil. Plant them outdoors after all danger of frost has passed.
Resembling a miniature snapdragon, toadflax is a great choice to bring color to the garden early in the season when you're most starved for it. In areas with cool summers, annual toadflax blooms from spring to fall. In warmer areas, the blooms fade come hot weather. Shear them back by about half. If the weather isn't too hot, they may rebloom in fall.
Toadflax grows well in the ground, but also try it in containers, especially with pansies, bulbs, and other early-season stars.
You've gotta love annual vinca -- it really delivers. It will tolerate a wide variety of conditions and still keep it up with almost unreal-looking, glossy green flowers and pretty pink, lavender, or red flowers that look like tiny parasols.
Whether the summer is dry or wet, hot or cold, vinca plugs along unfazed. It makes a great container plant. Or plant it in a bed or border, grouping at least eight or more together for best effect.
Plant established seedlings in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Vinca withstands drought but does best with moderate moisture. Fertilize occasionally. Like impatiens, this plant tends to be "self-cleaning" and needs little deadheading.
Shown above: Pretty in Pink vinca
Asters get their name from the Latin word for "star," and their flowers are indeed the superstars of the fall garden. Some types of this native plant can reach up to 6 feet with flowers in white and pinks but also, perhaps most strikingly, in rich purples and showy lavenders.
Not all asters are fall bloomers. Extend the season by growing some of the summer bloomers, as well. Some are naturally compact; tall types that grow more than 2 feet tall benefit from staking or an early-season pinching or cutting back by about one-third in July or so to keep the plant more compact.
Astilbe brings a graceful, feathering note to moist, shady landscapes. In cooler climates in the northern third or so of the country, it can tolerate full sun provided it has a constant supply of moisture. In drier sites, however, the leaves will scorch in full sun.
Feathery plumes of white, pink, lavender, or red flowers rise above the finely divided foliage from early to late summer depending on the variety. It will spread slowly over time where well-situated. Most commercially available types are complex hybrids.
Showy, brightly colored flowers are saucer-shape, sometimes semidouble, over loose mounds of handsome dark strawberrylike leaves. Many of the best cultivars are hybrids between species. These plants do best in a well-drained, rich soil.
With exquisite little blue-and-white flowers, this charming California wildflower is one of the prettiest cool-season annuals around. It can be hard to find in garden centers, but if you do, give it a try. Plant it in early spring, a few to several weeks before your region's first-frost date. It will add much to your garden until summer's heat hits. This plant likes cool and moist conditions and stops blooming once temperatures rise.
Bachelor's button is a sweet little flower, reseeding freely here and there in your garden, adding a bright touch of true, clear blue wherever it chooses to sprout. This easy-growing annual produces papery flowers atop tall stems; the blooms are great for cutting and drying.
The plant is happiest in sandy loam. It doesn't need much, if any fertilizer, and tolerates drought, but prefers moderate moisture. Plant from seed directly in the garden after the last frost in your region. Space to 6-12 inches apart. Deadhead after the first flush of bloom to encourage a second flush. But if you want lots of reseeding next year, allow some flowers at some point to ripen on the plant and go to seed.
Bacopa was once an unusual flower, but in recent years it's become very popular in garden centers. And why not? It's adorable! This plant has long, cascading stems that smother themselves in tiny, perfect, five-petal flowers. It's become a favorite for selling in hanging baskets where its pretty trailing habit can be shown off. Also try in pots, planters, and window boxes.
Unlike many plants, bacopa doesn't tend to wilt when it gets dried out. Instead, it loses its flowers and may take two or three weeks to begin blooming again. Keep it evenly watered for continuous bloom.