Category: Tropical Style

How to Prepare a Butterfly Garden

Throwing a few blossoms in the ground which are known to attract butterflies won’t likely produce the butterfly garden you’re hoping for. Purposeful preparation that includes plant and site selection is imperative to create a habitat which satisfies all of a butterfly’s requirement. These needs include food for your hungry caterpillar and butterfly, as well as a peaceful, warm area for the butterfly to catch some rays. With proper preparation, the labor and love you give your garden will end up being a butterfly haven, sure to be the highlight of your landscape.

Pick an area for your own butterfly garden which gets at least six hours daily of direct sunlight exposure and is protected from wind.

Work with the soil 8 to 12 inches deep with a tiller or spade and add 3 to 4 inches of organic matter like compost or leaf mold.

Design a layout that comprises landscape rocks for sunbathing on chillier days, like a straightforward sunny path through the butterfly garden. Place one or two shallow containers to gather rain and water out of irrigation for the butterflies to drink.

Select plants that provide nectar for the butterflies and food for the caterpillars. Plant flowers that bloom during different times of the year and plants of differing heights, increase habits and colors.

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The way to Prune a Tomato Vine

While tomatoes may sprawl inside cages, you are going to get stronger plants and bigger fruit once you prune the plants to guide their growth. Learning some tomato plant terminology before you go out to the garden helps you prune properly and prune just the plants that benefit from the attention. Indeterminate tomatoes, for instance, are those that grow all season with no predetermined height — some reaching over 10 feet tall — while determinate plants generally stop growing at 3 to 4 feet. On the plant itself, it helps to know that the leaf axil is the joint between the leaf and principal stem, and a sucker is actually the shoot that forms there.

Pinch off suckers from ground level to the second set of suckers below the initial truss of flowers or developing fruit on indeterminate and determinate tomato plants. Pinch small ones between your index finger and thumb or snap off bigger ones early in the day once the plant is filled with moisture. Suckers develop fruit and flowers, but those in the bottom are too shaded to produce high-quality fruit and lead to a plant with crowded growth that’s more vulnerable to disease from poor air flow and also from moisture splashing on leaves close to the ground when you water the plants.

Tie indeterminate vines into your trellis or stake with brief lengths of twine as they grow, allowing up to 3 principal stalks to develop from the last one or two suckers prior to the first set of flowers. Train these suckers into additional main stems, tying them up to separate bets as they grow.

Inspect the plant on a weekly basis from the base of the vine up, cut-off suckers from all the main stems to avoid more stems from developing. The more stems a plant has, the more of its own energy and also the sugar that the plant produces goes to foliage production, rather than fruit production.

Pinch off the growing tip of each main stem once the vine reaches the surface of the stake or in late summer to stop additional fruit from creating that won’t have time to reach maturity.

Analyze both determinate and indeterminate plants as they grow for signs of disease and pest infestation. Leaves influenced by fungal disease display black or dark brown circular spots and yellowing. Leaves and comes with sticky honeydew residue that turns to soft black sooty mould, yellowing and twisted leaves and stunted stems are infested with aphids. People with signs of honeydew and leaves that appear dried and yellow or silver in patches are infested with whiteflies.

Eliminate all infested or diseased foliage and stems on either type of plant with hand pruners. Sterilize pruning tools between plants with full-strength household antiseptic cleaner to prevent spreading disease or infestation from plant to plant.

Clear all pruned and fallen leaf from across the plants to avoid the spread of disease and eliminate a location where insects may overwinter to infest next year’s plants.

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Hydrangea Care Guide

Hydrangeas (Hydrangea spp.) , with their massive ball-shaped flower clusters, add antique elegance to your yard. Blooming from midsummer to fall, hydrangeas grow 3 to 6 ft tall. There are 23 species of hydrangea, although only five are grown in the United States, together with bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) also called French or florist’s hydrangea, the most common. Hydrangeas generally grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 to 9, although it depends on the species and cultivar. To look after this tree, comprehending its soil and water needs, pruning conditions and disease and pest susceptibility is essential.


Hydrangea shrubs could be planted in either fall or early spring. When choosing a planting site, look for a place in the garden that offers full morning sun with some cooler day shade. Avoid hot and dry areas. The soil ought to be rich, moist and well-draining. Compost may be added to improve soil quality. If your soil is heavy, plant hydrangeas on a mound to improve drainage. If you are planting numerous hydrangeas, leave three to 10 feet between plants, taking into account the size of the mature shrub.

Water, Fertilizer and pH

Once implanted, hydrangeas will require some ongoing care to make sure their healthy development and greatest bloom production. A good source of water is vital for hydrangeas, especially during the first couple of years after planting. In spring, then add 2 to 4 inches of mulch around the plant to help hydrangeas retain water. During periods of rainfall, water hydrangeas regularly — about 1 inch per week — to maintain soil consistently moist. Keeping soil mineral levels is also crucial, as some varieties, such as bigleaf hydrangeas, reap the benefits of many fertilizer applications throughout the growing season. Soil pH also determines the flower color of the majority of hydrangeas. If you want blue blooms,utilize a low-phosphorus fertilizer; for pink flowers, higher amounts of phosphorus are required.


Prune hydrangeas to eliminate damaged or old branches and frost-damaged leaves, to deadhead faded blooms and also to reshape the shrub, which will encourage new development, improve the plant’s shape and increase flower production. Pruning guidelines vary for different types of hydrangeas. First, decide whether new flowers develop on branches from the last year, or “old wood,” or about branches from the present year, that’s, “new wood.” In case a hydrangea forms new buds on old wood, prune from the summer after flowers fade. For hydrangeas thriving on new wood, these plants should be pruned in late winter or early spring.

Disease and Pest Management

Hydrangeas are usually hardy crops, but they can suffer from problems with mold, powdery mildew, rust, blight and leaf spot, as well as bugs, such as aphids, scale insects and spider mites. Diseases, such as powdery mildew and leaf spot, are seldom fatal, but they harm leaves. Fungal problems usually result from humid conditions or if hydrangeas are not receiving enough sun. Recommended control procedures include application of sulfur, neem oil or potassium bicarbonate. Insect pests, like aphids, are best managed using insecticidal soap sprays, while routine watering during hot charms will keep spite mites at bay.

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Asparagus Plant Temperature Range

Asparagus is high in vitamin C and folate. Once established, plants supply spears for eight to ten decades. Asparagus grows in USDA hardiness zones 2 to 11, though it prefers a temperate climate. Gardeners in warm climates should choose varieties especially bred for their place because the temperature affects asparagus development patterns.

Asparagus Varieties

Asparagus is a perennial plant, and the spears are the new shoots the plant produces every year. To produce healthy flames, plants require a period of dormancy, which occurs when the plant is very cold or experiences drought. Varieties appropriate for warmer climates include UC157, De Paoli, Apollo and Atlas. These respond to drought dormancy. UC157 and De Paoli are commonly grown in California.

Growth Patterns

Asparagus plants are sensitive to changes in temperature. Plants need temperatures to be between 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the daytime and 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the night. Asparagus plants start to produce new shoots when soil temperatures rise above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. At optimum daytime temperatures, asparagus spears grow between 3 and 6 inches every day. Growth rate increases as the temperature rises.

Extreme Temperature Effects

When temperatures get greater than 85 degrees Fahrenheit or lower than 55 Fahrenheit, root and shoot development slow down. High temperatures cause shoots to open prematurely into feathery fronds, which are inferior quality, or grow into misshapen forms. High temperatures also cause narrow, tapered spears with loose heads. Freezing temperatures cause emerging flames to become discolored; this is referred to as frosting.


You can grow asparagus from seed, though it’s slow to germinate and dependent on soil temperature. At a temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit, seeds take about 53 days to germinate. Higher temperatures slow germination rates also. The optimum soil temperature for fast germination is 77 degrees Fahrenheit, when seed germinates in about 10 days. Soak seeds in water for 48 hours before sowing to increase germination speed.

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How to Identify the Agave Plant

Agave plants (Agave L.), using their iconic leaves and striking appearance, bring a dramatic existence and include a bold, geometrical nuance to landscape design at the American Southwest. Hardy at U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 11, agaves are ideal for the extremely arid conditions of the desert, having hard, spiny exteriors that protect their highly hunted moisture from natural predators. Although agaves share intrinsic attributes common to all succulents, like dense fleshiness and swollen leaves, several different features set them apart from other plants within their classification.

Examine the arrangement of the leaves close to the succulent’s foundation to get a rosette pattern. A rosette refers to a layered, circular arrangement of leaves or petals arising out of a stem to protect the plant. Rosettes on succulents like agaves result from short internodes, the part of the stem between two leaf nodes.

Search for thick, stiff symmetrical leaves ranging in shade from blue-gray to blue or gray to dark-blue with spiny margins that taper to a sharp point. The dark-red or black spines growing from the leaf margins are approximately 1/3-inch long and those growing from the tips grow to about 1/2-inch long.

Notice whether the form of the leaves fit the agave profile, which typically climb broad, long and slender or shaped like a spear.

Remove a leaf from the succulent, bisect it using lopping shears and examine its interior for moist, fibrous tissue running throughout. Just like succulents, the fibrous tissue helps the plant tolerate drought conditions by storing water.

Examine the plant to get inflorescence, a flowering construction with petals arising from a long stem, and also referred to as a mast. The agave’s mast grows a few feet from its own rosette, with a few varieties reaching a height of up to 30 feet.

Note the form and appearance of this succulent’s flowers growing from the inflorescence. Agaves grow spiked sections of yellow, cream or lime-green colored tubular flowers from their masts that develop so vigorously the plant often dies within a couple of days.

Examine the foundation of this succulent for several root suckers, called pups, growing nearby. The pups resemble little agave rosettes, and replace the plant after it dies on its own or with help from a spreading gardener.

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Why Do Ginkgo Tree Berries Stink?

Ginkgo biloba, known as maidenhair tree, is an intriguing ornamental, deciduous tree for U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. The tree is most often included with conifers, but its own botanical features make it a shrub that fits in with both conifers and ferns. The trees consist of the male and female trees, and it is the fruit of the female tree that produces an offensive scent.

Why Ginkgo Fruit Stinks

The female trees produce fruit in late fall. These fruits stink only when left on the ground to rot. The rotting fruit emits an odor that smells like vomit. The odorous fruit discharges butyric acid, which likewise gives rancid butter its horrible odor. The seeds contained inside the fruit are edible and also do not emit the putrid odor, because the odor comes from the fleshy outer layer, known as the sarcotesta. Male trees produce their flowers prior to the trees lose their leaves. All these catkins release their feces and drop off. Gingko trees are wind-pollinated.

Fruit Identification

The ripe fruits of the female ginkgo trees resemble little yellow plums. The fruit is all about 1/2 to 3/4 inch in diameter and more long than wide. In the fruit is a big, creamy seed that’s harvested and used for food. These seeds are easy to germinate, in small pots or in a greenhouse. You can set out the little, youthful ginkgo trees until they become rootbound in the pots.

Ginkgo Trees

Ginkgo trees can grow 70 to 80 feet tall, but the vast majority of trees more often reach 35 to 50 feet. The tree width is usually one-half to two-thirds the tree height, and the tree has an umbrella form. The fan-shaped leaves resemble the leaf of maidenhair ferns, which is where the tree receives its name. The foliage turns a golden-yellow in fall and generally remains on the tree for a while before all falling at once, making a gold carpet on the ground.

Why Grow Ginkgos

Many people grow ginkgo trees for their ornamental value. The trees are also easy to grow, needing only a sunny place with well-drained dirt. The trees grow well in the the country and the city. Ginkgo tree are virtually pest- and also disease-free. They bear heat, air pollution, acidic soils and alkaline soils as well as being resistant to oak root fungus. When growing female trees, then you can help reduce the odor by cleaning up the fallen fruit before it starts to rot.

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How Big Do Persian Lime Trees Get?

The petite Persian lime (Citrus latifolia) created its U.S. debut in California between 1850 and 1880. While its origin is not certain, Persian lime trees might have been planted after the fruit was imported from Tahiti to San Francisco. Due to this, the deep green fruit is also occasionally called the Tahiti lime, even though the lime may have originated in Persia before traversing the Pacific Ocean.


Persian lime trees reach a height of approximately 20 feet, and their rounded, dense branches spread out about 20 feet. Due to this, the tree ought to be planted 15 to 20 feet or more away from residences and other buildings, as well as other trees.

Persian Limes

Oval Persian lime grows to approximately 2 1/2 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. Each tart lime weighs approximately 2 ounces and has 10 to 12 segments. About one-half of this lime’s fat is juice.

Growing Persian Limes

Persian lime trees bear fruit year-round. Once the tree’s white flowers have bloomed, fruit will be ready for picking in 90 to 120 days. Several bacterial ailments can hamper hair creation. Citrus canker infects leaves, causing them to drop off the tree. Citrus greening, also known as yellow shoot disorder, is transmitted by a tiny insect called the citrus psyllid. It not only leads to the tree to generate fewer limes, but may result in the tree’s passing.


Persian limes may be picked when they grow to a diameter of approximately 1 3/4 inches. The fruit is going to be a dark green. Fruit that hasn’t fully ripened doesn’t have enough juice. Once the limes are harvested, they’ll remain fresh in the refrigerator for approximately 10 days.

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The Best Weed Killer for Saint Augustine Lawns

St. Augustine (Stenotaphrum secundatum) is a warm-season grass that grows in tropical, subtropical and Mediterranean-type climates, primarily U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 10, in which it makes a thick green lawn when its basic cultural conditions for sunlight, nutrients, moisture and warm temperatures are satisfied. A lush turf offers excellent weed control, but when necessary, the use of selective pre- and post-emergence herbicides and local application of nonselective herbicides can help to control unwanted weeds and grasses on your St. Augustine lawn.

Broadleaf Weeds

Opportunistic cool-season weeds such as chickweed, clover and henbit may take hold on your St. Augustine lawn during the winter dormancy period. A selective hormone-based herbicide that kills broadleaf weeds rids your St. Augustine lawn of the weeds when applied according to label directions in the spring after the lawn greens up. Avoid the use of products containing 2,4-D, dicambra and mecoprop on St. Augustine, as damage from these herbicides is very likely to happen on this particular grass. Merchandise formulas designed specifically for St. Augustinegrass can include atrazine, but follow cautions for use carefully to avoid the potential for personal injury and contamination of ground water.

Cool-Season Herbs

Pre-emergence Sensors containing dithiopyr control for cool-season grasses, such as fescue, crabgrass and bluegrass and small-seeded broadleaf weeds through interruption of the growth process when applied in accordance with directions. Do not use pre-emergence herbicides on lawns over-seeded with annual ryegrass.


Manage difficult-to-control broadleaf weeds, such as dandelions, and perennial grasses with a post-emergence nonselective herbicide that kills any plant it touches. Removal of unwanted weeds and grasses with a nonselective herbicide requires special care to avoid damage to a St. Augustine lawn. Utilize a narrow stream of spray or apply with a paint brush to selected weeds or grasses to minimize damage to surrounding St. Augustinegrass. Nonselective herbicides for home and garden usage contain glyphosate, such as Roundup, that attack plants systemically, or natural food-grade petroleum compounds, such as Pharm Solutions Organic Weed Killer, designed to destroy all weeds and grasses on contact. Organic products sometimes need more than one application.


A thick turf of St. Augustine grass crowds out weeds. Shade out cool-season grass and grass seeds by increasing the mowing height 1/2 inch in autumn, to avoid germination of the seeds during Augustinegrass dormancy. Overseed with annual ryegrass to offer cover during the winter. Irrigate your lawn during dry spells in winter, whether overseeded or not. Have a soil sample in spring to determine lime and fertilizer requirements, or apply 1/2 to 1 pound of nitrogen after the lawn greens up. To compute the amount of fertilizer to use for application of the desired quantity of nitrogen to 1,000 square feet of lawn, split the percentage of nitrogen, represented by the first number in the fertilizer analysis, in the amount required for the desired application. For instance, to apply 1/2 pound of nitrogen by means of a fertilizer mix with evaluation 4-1-2, split .5 by .04, which equals 12.5 lbs per 1,000 square feet. Irrigate to a depth of 6 inches when your grass shows signs of wilt during spring and summer. Apply 1/2 to 1 pound of nitrogen every 4 to 8 weeks June through August using a balanced fertilizer mix.

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Flowers for Planters That Get No Direct Sun

There are few pleasures greater than the usual house garden filled with flowers. When gardening in vandalism which will have no direct sunlight, you can enjoy a pretty display of easy-to-care-for perennial woodland plants which can grow happily in shade. Perennials provide displays which return every year.

Serpentine Columbine

Columbines are famous for their lovely, delicate foliage. The serpentine columbine (Aquilegia eximia) blossoms in the summer and spring, and its refined red flowers are attractive to hummingbirds. It’s well-suited to a Mediterranean climate and also likes some moisture but will tolerate brief periods of drought. Once established, the only other attention you want to give it’s in autumn, once you need to remove old flower stalks and leaf to make way for new growth in spring.

Lenten Rose

The Lenten rose (Helleborus x hybridus) is a staple of the shady garden, and also being a little plant, copes easily with growing in a planter. Its pink spring and winter flowers are reminiscent of wild roses and it has attractive, evergreen foliage. To take care of this plant, you need only remove spent flower stalks and water enough to keep the soil from drying out completely.

Ivy Leaf Cyclamen

The ivy leaf cyclamen (Cyclamen hederifolium) offers the benefit of appealing flowers and leaf. It’s scented white or rose-pink blossoms and appealing silver-marked leaves. It blooms in late summer and autumn until the leaf appears, grows well in a Mediterranean climate and also tolerates most soil types. You can grow this little plant successfully in planters, in tiny clumps dotted among larger perennials. It tolerates drought well and will return year after year with little attention.

Rosada Coral Bells

Rosada coral bells (Heuchera ‘Rosada’) offers airy pink spring flowers on stalks that stand prettily over its leaf. This is a great flowering, medium-sized perennial which grows well in shade planters. It needs little watering and is attractive to beneficial insects and hummingbirds. The only attention you’ll need give it would be to remove its spent stalks after flowering.

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What's a Bayberry Shrub?

Since Colonial times, wax surrounding the fruit of several shrubs from the Myrica genus has been boiled down to create fragrant bayberry candles. Though the deciduous bush generally referred to as bayberry (M. pensylvanica) rises around the East Coast just down to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 7, at least three other bayberry, or wax myrtle, shrubs flourish in warmer climates. They are all evergreen, feature aromatic leaf and prosper in USDA zones 7 to 9.

Pacific Wax Myrtle

In windy oceanfront sites, the Pacific wax myrtle (M. californica) looks like a flattened mass of divisions. But from the wind, it’s a vertical tree or tree, reaching 10 to 30 feet in height. Adaptable to either sun or shade, the wax myrtle’s new growth comes in mild green, contrasting with the ripe leaf of darker green and a waxier texture. Assets of the tree contain dense, attractive, serrated foliage and purplish, wax-coated nutlets that lure birds. The tree requires ample water to encourage its rapid growth design and is sensitive to frost.

Southern Wax Myrtle

Generally smaller than the Pacific variety, the Southern wax myrtle (M. cerifera) seldom exceeds 12 feet high. It tends to create multiple trunks, in addition to clusters of bluish-gray berries that last through the winter. A handsome plant with olive-green foliage, the tree has eye-catching bark that ranges from grey to almost white on some specimens. While getting established, it requires constant moisture, but also in subsequent years it will tolerate either drought or flood conditions. An unusually adaptable plant, it even withstands confinement within urban areas.

Swamp Bayberry

With bigger leaves and a denser look than the Southern wax myrtle, the swamp bayberry (M. heterophylla) earns its name by growing in poorer soils, which range from sand to clay, especially where water accumulates. The fast-growing tree, indigenous to the Southeast, typically reaches 8 to 12 feet. Foliage is dark green, with 5-inch leaves that are fragrant when crushed. After the waxy fruit appears, it’s small, round and contains a white to grey colour.

Landscape Uses

Taller varieties, like the Pacific wax myrtle, make excellent displays when implanted in multiples. All types can get effective hedges, whether ripped or casual. Because of the odor from the leaves, a bayberry hedge along a walkway could be a particular delight. The California native Pacific wax myrtle functions nicely as a part of woodland groups that include oaks and redwoods. With its multiple stems, the Southern wax myrtle may be dressed as a specimen plant close to your home. All three tolerate very wet locations, so they could adapt to seacoast places.

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