Planting in Wind Swept Areas

Wind Swept by druss101

TheGardenLady received this question from Joyce.

I have a small garden bed at the front of my house. It gets the sun in the morning only, and it’s very opened to the wind.  Could you recommend any plants I could get to make it nice and colorful.

Wind swept areas are difficult planting areas. The wind not only batters many plants but windy areas will experience drier soil conditions. But for anyone to give you answers to what might grow in your garden, you really have to provide more information.

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Flowers are Blooming Earlier than Usual – What Does this Mean?

A splash of colour in the gloom by Steve-h

It is obvious on our planet that the weather has changed. The earth is warming. Many parts of the US are seeing flowers in bloom approximately a month earlier than usual.

In my area, the hellebores have been in bloom for months. Snow drops and crocuses are flowering and now the daffodils are open or opening. Pansies are having their winter show. What this will mean for gardeners and farmers will have to be seen.

Gardeners seem to be advised to start planting some early crops already. Peas which were historically planted on St. Patrick’s Day in my temp zone, can be planted now. The Farmers’ Almanac has this year’s calendar for planting.  Besides earlier planting, what the temperature changes will bring will also have to be seen. We may be getting more pests, we may have less water to use on our plants or we may be able to grow bumper crops in areas certain crops were never grown before.

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How To Decide On Whether to Grow these Kmart Plants Outdoors

Dracaena marginata blooming by our Bamboo Gate by jungle mama

TheGardenLady received this question from Luella.

I bought some plants from Kmart a few weeks ago and I was wondering if I could plant them outside. I have a mother-in-law’s tongue, a drac marg (whatever that is), and what I believe is a rubber tree.

You did not tell me where you live for TheGardenLady to know if you can grow them outdoors. The plants that you bought do not tolerate any frost or snow or they will die. Since you bought them at Kmart, I imagine you live in an area that cannot grow them outdoors. All three plants that you bought are considered ornamental indoor plants in most of the continental United States.

Dracaena marginata comes from Madigascar. If you live in the plant hardiness zones 9 and 10 you could grow it outdoors.

The rubber tree, also known as a Ficus elastica, will grow outdoors in  hardiness zones 10 or 11. Hawaii is in these zones. In a pot, the Ficus remains manageable but these plants can become really huge trees that can grow up to 50 feet tall.  So even if you lived in a zone where the Rubber Tree would live outdoors, I doubt that you would have enough land to grow such a large tree. But don’t worry about its getting too big in your house. When grown in a pot the Rubber tree should only grow about 10 feet tall.

If you live in California and some other hot areas of the US, you might be able to grow the Mother-In-Law’s Tongue plant, Sansevieria, outdoors. You need to live in Plant Hardiness Zone 8 or higher.

Check the Hardiness Zone you live in to see which plants you can grow outdoors.

Even if you can’t plant these three plants outdoors permanently,  know that during the hot summer months you can take all three plants outdoors in their pots.  They love hot weather.  But you must bring them in before the first frost or they will die.

Determining Your Hardiness Temperature Zone

Hardiness Temperature Zones
Hardiness Temperature Zones

TheGardenLady received this question from August.

I live in Mount Laurel, NJ.  I see many garden care articles related to zone. What zone am I in?

Depending on the hardiness temperature zone map you use, Mount Laurel, New Jersey is either in hardiness temperature zone 6b which has a low in the winter of -5 degrees or is in the warmer zone 7 which has a low in the winter of 0 degrees.  I believe Mt. Laurel is zone 7 as reported in the Arbor Day Foundation site,  where you can type in your zip code and your hardiness temperature zone will be shown. The United States National Arboretum site lists Mt. Laurel, NJ in the lower zone 6b.

Anyone who wants to check out their plant hardiness temperature zones should google up the Arbor Day Foundation website or the United States National Arboretum website. Both websites have lots of other information besides your hardiness zone. For example, check out the information on any tree you might want to plant on the Arbor Day Foundation website or the United States National Arboretum has a Gardening Question & Answer section.

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Variegated Hostas under Dogwoods

My Garden in Springtime by zenamoonbeam (on flickr)
My Garden in Springtime by zenamoonbeam (on flickr)

TheGardenLady received this question.

I’d like to plant variegated hostas beneath a pink dogwood this spring. Is it a good idea?

TheGardenLady thinks that planting variegated hostas under a pink dogwood sounds gorgeous. But because dogwoods are being stressed these days, plant the hostas with caution (see here).

Be careful not to plant the hostas too close to the dogwood trunk. Notice that dogwoods in nature don’t like plants close to the trunk. Plant the hostas just outside the tree’s drip line (see here).  Dogwoods have shallow, far-reaching root systems, so when planting the hostas be careful that you don’t damage big roots which are fairly shallow.  Those are roots that are 1″ in diameter and larger.  You don’t want to hurt the tree by damaging the roots (see here).  The younger the tree, the closer you can plant the hostas because the roots will find the ideal places to grow their roots. Don’t pile lots of soil over the dogwood roots when planting anything near the tree.

Remember that dogwood trees like a lot of water. Dogwood roots don’t like to compete for water. Keep your dogwood well watered – Water weekly in the morning during dry periods. Caution: Do not wet foliage. If you are having a drought in your area, as many areas are having, be sure that the dogwood and the hostas get well watered. Since they are shallow-rooted trees, dogwoods are among the first plants to show drought stress. They need supplemental water in the absence of regular rainfall, especially during the summer and fall. Water in the morning, preferably with a soaker hose, to a depth of 6″. Use of a sprinkler is not recommended because it wets the foliage, setting up ideal conditions for certain diseases. But dogwoods don’t like to be overwatered. They don’t want the soil saturated. Dogwoods are feeling lots of stress these days; so you don’t want to add any more stress to the tree you have (see here).

Hardiness Temperature Zones: What Zone Will Make My Plant Happy?


TheGardenLady has been writing about a hardinessTemperature Zone Map for use when planning and planting your gardens. For those readers who wonder what TheGardenLady is writing about, let me explain.

There are a number of factors/needs that are involved in growing plants. For example, each plant has its special water needs, special soil needs or special fertilizer needs, etc. to allow it to grow to its optimum best. One of the important factors in raising plants outdoors is the temperature plants need to allow them to metabolize properly.  Plants grow best within a range of temperatures; for some plants the temperature range will be narrow and for others the range can be wider. Plants also differ in their ability to survive frost.

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