September 16th, 2016

Scaevola

TheGardenLady received this question from Raymond

I want to purchase a plant called seavola. Where can I get this plant?

The plant you are looking for is spelled Scaevola (Scaevola aemula seems to be the most typical one sold in the US ) with common names such as, Fan flower or Fairy fan flower. Perhaps because you have the spelling incorrect you may be having a problem finding out more about this plant.

Scaevola is a pretty little plant that grows no more than 10 or 12-18 inches tall and about 2 ft wide. The flowers can be white, pink, purple, blue and mauve. It blooms profusely the entire summer.

Because it comes from dry hot parts of S Australia, Scaevola is a perennial only in US temperature zones 10a and 11b and maybe temp zone 9.

In all other US temperature zones, Scaevola is treated as an annual, which means you will have to plant it each spring after the last frost in your area. Then in the fall, when the first frost of that season comes, it will die. Most people or garden stores seem to plant this flower in containers but you can plant it directly in your garden.

It is a showy flower that blooms constantly over the summer. It likes moderately fertile, sandy soil in full sun or dappled shade with adequate moisture. It loves hot dry summers like we have had this summer unless you live in the desert where it likes that dappled shade.

You can start the plant from seeds, though I mostly see the seeds sold abroad and not in the US, by rooting plant cuttings or you can buy the plant online or from some nurseries. Here are two foreign seed companies you might be able to order from (here and here).  ood luck.

If you want to buy the plant, Proven Winners, the company that starts many of the best plants that are sold in retail nurseries will tell you how to locate the closest retail nursery near you that sells the Scaevola plant they breed. Go online here to their website. I have been told by the Ball Plant Co. that they have Scaevola called the Bondi ™ series that is sold in retail nurseries. Ask local nurseries using the trademark Bondi to see if they sell it. I have also seen Scaevola plants on sale online from places like Amazon or Brecks.

More on directions on how to plant Scaevola can be found here.

(If readers of this GardenLady blog know where one can buy Scaevola seeds in the US, would you let readers know so we can buy the seeds?)



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August 18th, 2016

Dutchman’s Pipe

TheGardenLady received this question from Diane on the post “How to Grow Ductchman’s Pipe“.

Do the seeds need any treatment before planting? Should I plant them immediately after collecting or wait until early Spring? I have about 10 fruits of a Californica and hope to propagate many plants from these.

Aristolochia or Dutchman’s pipe is a genus of 300 species. Not knowing which you have, the general instructions for propagation are these:

You should harvest the seedpods AFTER they have dried on the vine. One tip is to soak the seed for 48 hours. A suggestion for the best way to fulfill this requirement is by ” filling a thermos with hot-to-the-touch tap water and dropping the seeds into it. Seal the thermos and allow the seeds to soak for 48 hours.”

You can sow the seeds indoors in seed flats and transplant outdoors. Or you can use any type of container so long as there are holes to allow the water to drain. To prevent seeds from getting a fungus pathogen from soil, use a soilless potting mixture that you can get on line or in box stores or gardening centers. When you fill the container with the soilless mixture, moisten the soil completely. Let the soil sit till it is barely moist.

The seed needs light to germinate. So put the seed on the top of the soil and press it slightly so the seed makes contact with the soil-less mixture you are using. To prevent the seeds from drying out, cover the container with plastic wrap or put the entire container in a seal-able plastic bag. You have just created a miniature greenhouse. But check your seeds daily to see if there is moisture which you can see collecting on the plastic. If not, lightly mist the seeds and recover the container with the plastic- do not soak them. Place the container in a bright area but not in direct sunlight.

The seeds also need warmth to germinate. So if you have a heating mat, put the container on that and keep the temperature at 70F. in the bright light area without direct sun.

The seeds take 1 to 3 months to germinate and not all the seeds will germinate at the same time, so be patient. When the seedlings have their second set of leaves, start lowering the heat temp. over the next 7 days while also uncovering the seeds a little more each day to acclimate the seeds to the dryer conditions outside their cover.

Read this article.

You can also grow a Dutchman’s pipe vine from a stem cutting. Take the stem cutting in the spring when terminal growth is new and root the
cutting in a glass of water. Change the water daily to prevent bacterial build-up and transplant the stem to soil when the stem cutting has a thick clump of roots.If you are transplanting the rooted stem cutting outdoors, be sure the soil has warmed to at least 55F (13 C). You may try growing a Dutchman’s pipe vine in a pot for a year or two. Choose a large pot and place it in sheltered location.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Dutchman’s Pipe Info: Learn About Growing And Caring For Pipe Vines

Good luck. Let TheGardenLady know how successful you have been in growing your Dutchman’s pipe vine and if you learned any other tips to
share with TheGardenLady readers.



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July 20th, 2016

Diagnosing an Avocado Tree Problem

TheGardenLady received this question from Ray.

I have an avocado tree that is over 15 years old. The leaves keep falling off. This year it produced about 15 small avocados, they keep falling off. I live in Central Florida. What coud be the problem?

Avocado trees can have a host of problems. Here is a list of problems and diagnosis that might be helpful. I have also written about problems with avocado trees. You can read some of my posts here and here.

However, the first thing this Garden Lady would do to try to find out what is ailing the tree would be to have the soil around your avocado tree tested. You can buy a soil test and do the soil testing yourself or to make it easier, go to your local Master Gardener office and buy a soil test. The Master Gardeners will explain how to take the soil for the test and how to send it to your agricultural extension to get the results.  The results will be sent back to you with information about what is needed to grow your avocado.  And if you need help understanding the information, you can take the results back to the MG office and they will go over the results answering your question. The soil test costs a few dollars but the information you ask the Master Gardeners will be answered for free.  This is always the best first step in trying to diagnose any problem one has when growing plants. This is what good p not need an avocado tree is having some insect problem or some disease that needs to be treated.

Go here to find your local Master Gardener office to get your soil testing kit.

July 20th, 2016

African Marigolds

TheGardenLady received this question from Barry.

I direct sowed some marigolds and started 72 in a tray. Put them all about 2 months ago. Other than this I have only grown wildflowers. I had 2 different kinds and of course got them mixed up and the packages got blown away. Didn’t realize I had small regular marigolds and some that are now well over 4 feet tall with no flowers. I think they were white african marigolds. I now have small flowered marigolds in with all the big ones and these huge plants with no flowers. Now there is small things on the top that resemble grass seed pods. I pulled a plant thinking it wasn’t a marigold, I think it was. Could someone please help?

There are tall marigolds that are referred to as African marigolds. Though this Garden Lady has never planted them, the tall marigold plant is supposed to be spectacular. They are a little trickier to grow, but be patient and hopefully yours will eventually bloom. Here is an article about tall marigolds. Here is another article on them.

July 20th, 2016

A Blooming Mother-in Law Tongue Plant in June

TheGardenLady received this question from Alice.

My sister gave me two pups from her mother n laws plant about 7 years ago. She passed away in 2014. Now my plant blooms in the same month (June) that she passed. I have never saw these plants bloom before.

You are taking perfect care of your Sansevieria to get it to bloom regularly- correct amount of fertilizer, perfect light and amount of watering and properly pot bound. What a lovely memorial to have it bloom for you in June when your loved one passed. Keep up your good care so that you can be lucky enough to have the plant continue to flower.

The person in the video above has the mother-in-law plant Sansevieria, flower at the end of summer.

June 18th, 2016

Eradicating Goutweed

TheGardenLady received this comment from Susan:

My mother planted [Snow on the Mountain] 37 years ago. We bought her house 21 years and we are still trying to get rid of it. I am at my wits end!! But I have decided this year is gonna be the end of it! I have made it my personal challenge to finally see the end of it. I curse my mother every year when I see it. She thinks it’s funny. I however do not!! I cringe every time I’m in a garden center and see them selling it. It gives me anxiety. It must die!! Lol

It is interesting to this Garden Lady that so many of the plants that were brought to the US as ornamental or medicinal plants, have now
become invasive, noxious weeds. My lawn problem is ground ivy, glechoma hederacea, which was brought to the US as an ornamental or medicinal plant in the 1800s. It is interesting to me that it seemed to take so long for these plants to become pests. There is a long list of ornamental plants that have become invasive. Ornamental plants like Japanese and Chinese Wisteria wisteria floribunda and W sinensis, Callery Pear pyrus calleryana and Common periwinkle, Vinca minor are a few plants that have become invasive. Go here for some other invasive plants.

Your problem is Snow on the Mountain also called Goutweed or Bishop’s weed- Aegopodium podagraria. You are correct that this plant is difficult to eradicate. One has to get rid of all the root. To do it without chemicals, first remove your good plants from the area where you want to get rid of the Snow on the Mountain. Dig down 2 1/2 feet to get all the root. Put removed roots in the garbage, do not compost it. Then cover the dug area with black plastic and let sit fallow for 6 months. This should get rid of at least one area of the plant. See here.

Keep reading →

May 29th, 2016

A Peek into TheGardenLady’s Garden

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Check out some photos taken by Laura Hawkins of the flowers in my garden.

It is the end of iris season, so the photo shows a lot of dead blooms. Nonetheless, you can get some idea about how many irises I had blooming.

The second photo above shows Baptisia in bloom next to the yellow flag. You can’t see a rose in bloom behind these flowers.

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Keep reading →

May 25th, 2016

Hosta Problems

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TheGardenLady received this question from Pete (You can see images of his hostas above):

I have many green hosta plants that for the last couple years have wilted leaves or are otherwise distorted.The plants are quite old but were always healthy till now. Any ideas?

Though hostas are known to have few pest and disease problems, sadly they do develop some diseases and do get some pests. Some of these
problems may not kill the plant but makes them look unattractive. I have a feeling that your problem is not a killer.

You do not say where you live, but in many areas of the US, this spring has had a lot of rain. Some diseases need the excess moisture
to cause problems. This excess moisture on the plants is either through excessive rain or excessive overhead watering.

Keep reading →

May 16th, 2016

Monarch X-ING

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TheGardenLady has written before about the disappearance of the Monarch butterfly. There was not one Monarch in my garden last summer. And TheGardenLady has written about the need to raise plants in your garden that will feed Monarch butterflies if they come to your area. Special plants are needed for Monarchs to feed and breed.

On this subject of the Monarch butterfly, an excellent new book recently appeared on Amazon.com about what one town is doing to encourage Monarchs to come and feed before laying eggs for a new generation of Monarch butterflies or migrating to Mexico. The book is ” MONARCH X-ING” by Pecki Sherman Witonsky. You can buy it here.

Keep reading →

March 23rd, 2016

Yellowing Avocado Leaves

Here are some more suggestions for yellowing avocado leaves.

Since avocados are considered a plant that is generally free of diseases, TheGardenLady offers this list of possible problems an avocado tree can have.

Generally avocado trees are tolerant of a lot of water if there is EXCELLENT drainage.  Drainage is very important.  But if you feel that you have over-watered your plant, it cannot hurt to cut back on the water. Test the soil with your finger before watering again and water only if the top of the soil feels dry. The frequency of irrigation depends on the temperature. In hot, dry weather, the avocado tree may require irrigation every day.  As a general rule, a potted plant in a container measuring 6 inches in diameter needs water when the top 2 inches of soil feels dry to the touch. A larger container measuring 8 to 10 inches in diameter is ready for water when the top ½ to 1 inch of soil feels dry. Avocado trees like the soil to drain quickly.

Hopefully, when you transplant the avocado tree, you do it carefully because the trees have weak root systems and sections of the root balls can break off during transplanting.  See here.

Avocado trees prefer full sun but need protection from strong sun until they develop a deep root structure and dense foliage to protect the sensitive bark. So young avocado trees have to be slowly introduced to the sun or their leaves can yellow. See here. Even after transplanting them into their final planting site, if they have not become used to the bright sunlight, you might have to give them some shade at first.

To learn how to grow avocados at home or a container, you should watch this:

If you’re interested in why people fail at growing avocados, you should watch this:

If you’re interested in some helpful tips for the backyard grower, read this:

Keep reading →