Everyday Gardeners

Plant. Grow. Live.

January 2013

Love hydrangeas? It’s hard not to with blooms this gorgeous!

 

Black-stem hydrangea

 

Endless Summer Bella Anna hydrangea

 

 

Vanilla Strawberry hydrangea

 

 


Though we’re still a couple of months away from planting time here in Iowa, I was thinking about pansies yesterday. Their cheery blooms in jewel-like colors never fail to make me smile. Pansies make me especially happy in spring, when those I planted the previous fall overwinter and burst into bloom alongside the bulbs. Most years, overwintered pansies are some of the first flowers to show up in my yard.

Even though I prefer to plant them in autumn so I can get a fall, then spring show out of them, I usually can’t resist planting some in the spring, too. The frost-tolerant plants are a great way to add early color while my perennials are still waking up. And, of course, they’re perfect for early-season planters to add a dash of color next to the front door or in a window box.

New varieties are even more versatile. Cool Wave and Wonderfall pansy varieties both have a trailing habit, making them ideal for hanging baskets or spilling over the edge of a big terra-cotta pot.

How about you? Do you usually plant pansies in the spring, fall, or both? What’s your favorite color in pansy?


My favorite thing about January is when I start to receive plant catalogs and get to learn all about all the wonderful new plant varieties for the year. Plant breeders are always working on upgrading our favorite plants — and creating whole new types never before seen by gardeners! Upgraded varieties may come in new colors, offer better disease resistance, offer a bigger or smaller habit, or any other number of features that make them perfect for your garden.

It’s probably no surprise then, that I love putting together the new plants stories you see here on BHG.com. This year I had the pleasure of working with my friends Doug Jimerson and Karen Weir-Jimerson on the lineup. (I had the easy job: picking the plants; they did the fantastic writing.) Are you interested in learning about the must-have plants for 2013? Check out the links below!

New Perennials for Sun

New Perennials for Shade

New Blue/Purple/White/Pink Annuals

New Orange/Yellow/Red Annuals

New Roses for 2013

New Fruits and Vegetables

New Trees, Shrubs, and Vines

Comment below and tell me which ones you’re most excited about!

 


That thick layer of snow outside hasn’t dampened my garden spirits one bit. On the contrary, after perusing the seed and plant catalogs that have been piling up in my mailbox, I’m inspired to fill my windowsills with blooming color. And to me, amaryllis look best right around now, when the days are slowly growing longer and the desire for a little outdoor action makes everybody a little loopy. The huge trumpet-shaped blossoms of amaryllis have an almost otherworldly appearance…and they are surprisingly easy to grow indoors. Amaryllis are tender bulbs with tropical origins; they have been bred by the Dutch to produce vigorous three-foot-tall stems that bear 10-inch blossoms in red, white, peach, green, salmon, striped, and even polka-dotted. There are even variegated (the foliage), miniature, and pointy-petaled cultivars.

Bulbs potted up shortly after the new year will be in full splendor well before the vernal equinox on March 20th (it takes about six to eight weeks after planting for the bulbs to actually bloom). Before I moved to Iowa, I had some three dozen amaryllis bulbs, collected over the years, that I’d overwinter in the basement of the brownstone where I lived in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. There’s no reason to toss out an amaryllis once it’s done blooming since they’re a cinch to get to bloom again the following year. After your amaryllis has finished blooming, treat the strap-like foliage just like any other houseplant until it is warm enough to move out to the garden for the summer. Come September, move them into a cool, dark spot and allow them to dry up and drop their leaves. Then, a couple of months before you want blooms on your windowsill, start the indoor forcing process all over again (I usually repot by bulbs with fresh potting soil and time-release fertilizer for extra oomph). I also like to provide the stalks with added support by tying them to a stake; this helps them hold their heavy heads—usually three to four massive flowers each—upright.

Last fall, our friends at Longfield Gardens sent me a selection of their amaryllis bulbs to add to my personal collection. They sent me ‘Elvas’, and ‘Nymph’, and ‘Vera’, and ‘Magic Green’. That’s ‘Elvas’ and ‘Nymph’ blooming their heads off in my breakfast nook this morning. ‘Elvas’ has broad white petals with painterly, cardinal-red brushstrokes. ‘Nymph’ is a gorgeous double amaryllis with layers of glistening white petals that feature delicate traceries of red. The center radiates a soft, lemon-lime glow. Who wouldn’t want to wake up to that?


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