Giant Hogweed: Identifying and Disposing It

Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) by sillie_R

Most reports of giant hogweed turn out to be Cow Parsnip, Angelica, or some other [member of the carrot family]. See here.  People can distinguish giant hogweed from other species of the carrot family, not only by its gargantuan size, but by its purple-splotched, hairy stems.

Giant Hogweed by Limbo Poet

“Cow parsnip stems have a more ‘furry’ look to them, whereas the hogweed has long, white hairs which are most pronounced at the base of the leaf petiole (stem). But the foliage of cow parsnips and giant hogweeds before they send up flower stalks is so similar it’s almost impossible to tell them apart.” This statement comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Noxious Weed Program on Giant Hogweed, where you can get some bulletins with photos and information on Giant Hogweed.

Here’s another website that has a photo of the Giant Hogweed  so that you can see if this is indeed the plant you wrtie about. It looks like a Queen Anne’s Lace flower on steroids because the plant can grow up to 20 feet with a flower that measures up to 3 ft across and leaves that can be 5 feet wide. Giant Hogweed

Continue reading “Giant Hogweed: Identifying and Disposing It”

Helping Bees, Our Native Pollinators

Bee pollinating a flowering ground cover by Martin_Heigan

I have read that it has been calculated that one out of every three to four mouthfuls of food we eat and beverages we drink is delivered to us by pollinators. There are thousands of native pollinators. I believe the figure is something like 20,000 worldwide.  See here.

Because of the dwindling honey bee population (honey bees are nonNative to the US),  everyone must do as much as one can to insure that we do not lose our native pollinators. Those in the US and around the world are also dying off because of pesticides being used.  See here. To insure that TheGardenLady readers help the native pollinators, this post is about some things you can do.

Pollinated! by Durotriges

The week of June 21st through June 27th was National Pollinator week.

There is an organization called Pollinators. org that encourages people around the world to create a pollinator habitat in your garden, school, farm, etc. This site will tell you which plants in the US zones will attract these beneficial insects.  If you are from out of the US perhaps you could email the site to find out if they can recommend a similar organization in your country.

TheGardenLady finds that many of the plants in the mint family or herbs are especially attractive to pollinators in her garden. For example, one would never try to smell any of the oregano, lavender, agastache, or monarda flowers for fear of inhaling some type of pollinator- mostly bees- they are so prolific. Though I have only seen 2 or 3 honeybees, I see hundreds of other bees sucking up nectar in a frenzy and covered in pollen. has free Pollinator friendly Planting Guides for your area of the US and you can join the Pollinator Partnership. I hope TheGardenLady readers do join and do your part in saving pollinators.

A reader from Chicago found an exciting pollinator on his echinacea plants.  See here.

Using Too Much Miracle Gro

miracle-gro potting soil by Rakka

TheGardenLady received this question from Jennifer.

Is there anything I can do after I used too much Miracle Gro to save the plants?

If you put too much Miracle-Gro in a potted or container plant, you can pour a lot water into the pot until the water flows out the bottom of the pot and keep adding water for a few more minutes. This will flush the excess Miracle- Gro out of the pot. After this, in the future, you will just water the plant normally. Or you can repot the plant in new soil. If you repot the plant in new soil, you will then water the plant normally.

If you put too much Miracle-Gro on plants that are in your garden, give the soil around the plant a good watering to dilute the fertilizer. Do not overwater or flood the plant. Flooding would do more damage to the roots of the plant.

You did not tell me which type of Miracle- Gro you used. If you used spikes remove the spikes from the ground. If you used granular Miracle- Gro, try to remove extra granules around the plant. After removing the spikes or granules, give the plant a good watering one time to dilute the fertilizer. Do not flood the plant.

Should you continue to have problems, call the Scotts Miracle-Gro Help Center at 1-888-270 3714

Pleasant Run Nursery

A little while ago TheGardenLady had the opportunity to shop at Pleasant Run Nursery – a strictly wholesale nursery in Allentown, NJ that opens one day a year for the Allentown Garden Club who then invites other plant related people to join them to buy plants wholesale. If you are part of a garden club see if you can find out when this event will take place next year and then see if you can get invited.

Pleasant Run Nursery is a nursery for the best retail nurseries and landscapers in the tristate area to buy their plants. Wow. With 70 greenhouses this is a plant lover’s paradise. TheGardenLady was able to buy two fragrant Korean spice bushes (see here). Viburnum carlessii and Viburnum carlessii ‘Diana’- shrubs that will grow under black walnut trees. Walnut trees exude a toxin that kills many other shrubs and plants. (I will write more about this toxin in another post.)

When I parked my car, I met John Brandauer who was there as a volunteer to help the nursery with all the plant lovers who were taking advantage of this great opportunity. John has a website called Weeds for Wildlife whose mission is to enhance backyard habitats for wildlife and to make the world a better place. It seems like a noble mission so I want to share this website with my readers for all the information on it and for the wonderful photos and links.  See here.

Taking Care of Encore Azaleas in the Summer

Encore Azalea by Connie@VA

Encore Azaleas wants you to know how to treat your azaleas during the hot days of summer.

The heat of summer can be harsh on all plants, and we at Encore® Azalea would like to help you prepare.

Keep a watchful eye on the moisture level of the soil around your Encore Azaleas.

The shallow fibrous roots like to be moist, but not saturated. A mulch of pine bark will help hold moisture near the roots, as well as protect the roots from the harsh rays of the sun.

This is your last chance to prune for the season. Any heavy pruning should be done immediately after your Encore Azalea’s spring bloom cycle. Remember only to prune lightly in high heat.

Protecting Marigolds from Snails and Slugs

Marigolds avec Snail by MosaicMarj

TheGardenLady received a question from Lou about protecting marigolds from snails and slugs.

Marigolds love dry hot weather. If they are happy, they self seed and thrive, as those in my garden do. I haven’t planted them for a few years and they are coming up all over the place.

That being said, slugs and snails do love them. But garden snails and slugs enjoy wet or damp dark places where they can hide then come out in the dark night to eat.  See here.  You wouldn’t see them unless you went out at night with a flashlight. If you have a lot of snails and slugs, you can lose all your marigolds.

So, the first thing you want to do is clean up any and all the debris that is around the plants so that there is no place for the snails and slugs to hide and for air to circulate to dry the environment where the plants are. You really don’t want mulch to retain moisture around the base of the marigolds. This is more difficult when your marigolds are in planters that are tightly packed with flowers and when you create a planting environment with different kinds of plants that need different types of care. The marigolds don’t want or need a lot of watering as some other plants might need. Marigolds like dryness. Snails and slugs like damp soft soil and darkness.

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Double Knock Out Rose Problems

Nice & Easy Double Knock Outs by perennialpal

TheGardenLady received this question from Wendy.

I live in eastern North Carolina and I have several double knockout rose bushes and they have been beautiful. This year I pruned them back in early spring and had a magnificent show – we have had several hard storms lately and now there are no blooms on the bushes. There are a lot of dead heads. Should I pinch off all of them or should I leave them be? I dont remember having to do this after first pruning in the past – but I also thought I had more blooms and for a longer time through out the summer.

When one has a hard rain it knocks a lot of flowers off. The rain did a job on my peony flowers as well as my Knock Out Rose flowers. Perhaps someone should invent a rose umbrella to protect the flowers from hard rains. They do sell umbrellas for Peonies – but these umbrellas are really to protect the peonies from too much sun. Cricket Hill Nursery sells peony umbrellas from Japan (see here).  Too much sun will make the peony flower have a shorter bloom period. So gardeners do have to work with the elements.

Back to your roses. Knock Out Roses are bred to not have to dead head them.  See here.  The petals pretty much fall cleanly off. But I think the part that is left does not look pretty, so I cut it off back to some leaves.  It seems much cleaner looking to me. You will have to decide what you want to do – to dead head or not to dead head. Just know that you don’t have to deadhead. I let the rose rest a little after its initial burst of blooms. The next time I have to water the roses, I add a little fertilizer that has a high phosphorus content to the water in a watering can and pour it around the roots of the bush.

I loved Schultz’s Bloom Plus which had the highest phosphorus percentage; but Schultz gave up this fertilizer component of their products. I was so upset to learn they no longer are making their Bloom Plus nor did they tell me if any other company has taken over the manufacture of it. So I went to all the local nurseries to see if any had this Bloom Plus product left on their shelves. One of the best nurseries in my area, knowing how good the product was, had ordered a lot; so I bought up a lifetime supply- it doesn’t spoil and one uses so little of it per gallon. Of course, there are other brands that make rose fertilizer or fertilizers for optimum flowering of plants. I just never thought they were as good as Schultz’s.

Double Knock-Out Roses by Charity D

I have seen that with this added fertilizer encouragement each time I water my roses, I have a great flower show. But even without the extra fertilizer boost, Knock Out Roses will delight you with continuous bloom throughout the summer. Just let it catch its breath.

Growing Herbs in the Dormitory

Indoor Herb Garden- Day 1 by Talkingsun

TheGardenLady received this question from Alexandra.

I saw your article about growing plants in a dormitory room that you did quite a long time ago (2006!) and I was wondering if you would be okay with answering a kind of similar question.

My roommate and I want to grow lots of plants in our dorm room next semester because it’s so drab in there (white walls, white ceiling, white floor, etc.) and we both have agreed that it would be cool if we could start growing herbs. We both like making tea, and we both think that it would be nice to have plants that would smell good, taste good, or be useful instead of plants that just look good.

We are going to live in a corridor-style dormitory room, and it has one big back wall window. I am not sure if it faces south, or not (new room) but I have stayed in the room style before and I know it lets in a decent amount of light. The dormitory IS air conditioned/heated, so keeping plants warm is not a problem.

What kind of plants would you suggest? And is this a good idea at all?

Good for you to want herbs in your dorm and I am so pleased that you checked out TheGardenLady archives.

You can grow herbs indoors but the crucial item that you will need is light. Herbs come from the Mediterranean where they get lots of sunlight. You need a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight to grow herbs. Rooms, even with windows, generally don’t get enough sunlight for herbs. So the first thing I recommend is getting good growing lights into your room.

One suggestion is to buy a special lamp already created to raise herbs.

Herb Garden – Post-Potting by a crafty vegan

A company called Aero Grow makes one with a planter attached to make it easy – everything you need for your indoor herbs in one compact piece.  See here.   I saw one in my local hardware store. It is not that large, but it would be a start.

If you want something larger, perhaps you and your dorm mates could build a grow light to put over a planter. A friend of mine who loved African violets had her husband build one where she raised show quality African violets that were always in bloom.

You could probably get information on how to build grow lights with a planter at your local lumber yard or Home Depot or Loews. They would also advise you on the best bulbs that are needed. You want a cool bulb so the heat doesn’t get too much for the little plants.  See here.

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Graveyard Plantings

Carolyn’s Shade Garden in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

TheGardenLady recently wrote  a post answering a question about the the types of plants she would recommend planting near a graveside.  You can read it here.   She then received the following letter from Carolyn Walker of the famous  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, which  was about the same topic.  Here’s Carolyn’s letter.

Hello Garden Lady

It is very coincidental that you should have this question about planting around graves. One of my customers referred an elderly woman to me who was interested in planting around her husband’s gravestone. The cemetery, which was in the woods, allowed live planting. She sought my advice on what would be elegant, simple, easy to maintain, and most importantly, deer proof.

My son and I went to the graveyard and transformed the site. First we removed the sod in a rough oval extending around the sides of the grave to soften its stark outline (see before photo). Then we planted ten shade perennials for maximum year round impact and deer resistance. We chose three Helleborus niger ‘Jacob’, one of the new Christmas roses that is not only evergreen but also blooms from November to April. We surrounded it with five Lamium maculatum ‘Shell Pink’, the only lamium that blooms from April to November. It is also evergreen. We now had flowers and foliage year round. Finally, we added two Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’, a perennial forget-me-not with huge, silver leaves and long-blooming blue flowers in spring. To me the heart-shaped leaves of this plant symbolize the husband and wife. The two after pictures show the completed job. The plants will fill in quickly so that no bare earth remains.

I have never done this type of planting before, but it was immensely satisfying.


Where To Buy Sansevieria, also known as Mother-in-Law’s Tongue

Sansevieria – Mother-in-law tongue or Snake Plant by Green Acres Nursery

TheGardenLady received this question from Glen.

Where can I find a mother-in-law’s tongue to buy?

Generally you should be able to buy Sansevieria – common name is Mother-in-Law’s Tongue – at your local nurseries or garden centers that sell indoor plants. If you cannot find the plants locally, there are numerous sites online where you can order them in the US and abroad. You might also contact or join the International Sansevieria Organization or a local Cactus Society to see which nurseries they recommend.

There is a website called Cactus Mall that lists places to buy Sansevieria.  See here.  This site has interesting information about Sansevieria.

Untitled by *n*o*o*r*

You can buy Sansevieria on eBay.

Though TheGardenLady cannot recommend any specific online nursery, a short list of online nurseries where you can order Sansevieria are:

Bob Smoley’s Gardenworld

Brookside Nursery

Glasshouse Works

Succulent Garden website

Hope this helps.