Friday, April 29, 2011

Jack in the Pulpit

(Pictured: Jack in the Pulpit from IvoShandor off Wikipedia)



Jack in the Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) is another herbaceous perennial that is fabulous in a bog garden setting. It will get to be approximately two feet tall and will really bring some texture into the garden. However, it isn’t a perfect plant and can be poisonous to pets and others. If this is the plant that is chosen for the water feature, make sure that it is kept either in a container water garden away from pets and children, or where there will be no livestock or browsing animals.

How to Plant and Grow Jack in the Pulpit
Jack in the Pulpit has strange flowers that get to three inches, green with stripes. There are red berries that form as the plant’s fruits. It will need to be planted in plenty of moisture if it isn’t planted into a bog or water garden. It does love rich soils and partially shady areas of the landscape. Because it will need very rich soil, you’ll need to do a good bit of composting around it so that the soil has plenty of nutrients for the hungry plants.

Old Folk Remedy
The Native Americans used this in several different ways. It was used as an early warning diagnostic tool, as placing a seed in a water glass and counting the number of clockwise rotations. Less than four rotations and the patient was at death’s door, over four and there would be a speedy recovery. It was also left in meat for one's enemies to find; the calcium oxalate that is plentiful in the plant will, when not cooked or heated to be released, would cause them to die a painful death. Calcium oxalate, the chemical in kidney stone formation, causes pain and can even lead to coma and even death if the poisoning is severe.

Despite today being known for its toxicity and severe implications for use, it was used medicinally in folk remedies as an internal medicine for sore eyes and cold symptoms. Topically, it was used for pain and swelling from various irritations and infections of the skin. Today we know that it will cause severe symptoms and isn’t advisable in any form.

Scientific Classification for Jack in the Pulpit
  • Kingdom Plantae – Plants
  • Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
  • Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
  • Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
  • Class Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
  • Subclass Arecidae
  • Order Arales
  • Family Araceae – Arum family
  • Genus Arisaema Mart. – Jack in the pulpit
  • Species Arisaema triphyllum (L.) Schott – Jack in the pulpit

Monday, April 25, 2011

Native Plants for the Home Garden

Sometimes you may look at your home garden and then feel like you need to change the appearance and get something that is more natural looking, and that being inclined to mean wild as well. It might be because you saw some as you drove by and the thought of having some natural bloomers in your backyard crossed your mind. Well the good news is that WetlandSupplies has got all the species and varieties that you may be eyeing with delivery being made to your home state without delays. That’s because it has a huge collection of the native plants in America, and the likelihood of your varieties being among said collection is almost guaranteed.


When going all natural on your home garden, the best choice that you can make is to go for the plants that are native to your home area. Geographical positioning does have an effect on the growth patterns of plants. That means that there are some plants that are better adapted to growing in your areas than others. Success lies in alienating those that do. There are several reasons for this and some of them include the fact that native plants have undergone evolution and adaptation for the length of time that they have been around the area and they have conformed to the environmental conditions that have been prevalent. In the bigger picture that means that the plants are well adapted to the area and with minimum supervision they can blossom and flourish.


Native plants have the characteristic of being infection resistant due to their adaptability. Over time they have learnt to naturally combat most of the infections that may have been prevalent and they can flourish without the need for constant use of pesticides. These are only some of the benefits tagged to using native plants, and the list goes on much longer.


Some of the native plants (but remember depending on your locality, native could be exotic) that have generally been located in most parts of the state is include the Sweet Pepper Bush which has white colorful flowers that are well scented and attract bees to complete the natural look. The Water Plantain is perfect for any backyard that has some lasting water source, like a pod or a small waterway. They branch out and during their peak season, blossom giving white flowers. The Bishop’s Weed is another native which shares some family history with the carrot varieties. The Lance leaf can help in adding some of the yellow color to your garden. These wetland plants are perfect for most plant gardens.


You do need to alienate your locality well when visiting WetlandSupplies so that you can have the best native picks. These will grow well without much attention from you. And with the fact that the nurseries you get from WetlandSupplies are approved by the national nursery association the ANA, you get guarantee that all the nurseries you receive are in the best condition and are ready to be planted.


Cattails

(Pictured: Cattails, from BogDan off wikipedia)


Cattails are a perennial marginal water plant that can also be called bullrush. They get to a general height of five feet and have a two foot spread. These are some of the easiest recognized plants in a water garden, and they are like the water lily in common plants to use. The blooms on a cattail will tell the sex of the plant. A yellow bloom signifies a male plant and a green bloom will signify a female plant. The blooming season of cattails are usually in summer to early fall, from July to November. They are famous for their straight upright stems and their green basal leaves. These will turn a yellowish brown color come winter, and still be quite the charmer in a water garden.

How to Plant and Grow Cattails
Cattails prefer a full sun or partial shade environment, with a wet rich loamy soil that doesn’t dry out, and in the USDA hardy zones of four to ten. They are average maintenance plants, but usually not a headache to take care of. They can be invasive if they are allowed to grow freely, so plant in containers or in tubs around the garden so that they can be restricted on where they can and cannot grow. Left to their own devices they are avid self sowers and can take over a landscape. Other than this invasive nature to the plant they are very good plants, with no disease or decay issues.

Folklore Remedy
Native Americans have used the Typha plant for many items. Medically it was a staple treatment for sores, boils, wounds, inflammation, pain reliever, and for carbuncles. For those items they used a bit of the jelly like substance that is between the leaves.

It was used to make toys, thatch roofs, chair backing, baskets, mats, rugs, seat pads, and many other items that made cattails more about function than fun. There have been mats from cattails found by archeologists dating back over 10,000 years old in Nevada. That is amazing considering that the mats were still recognizable and hadn’t decomposed like many of the mat making materials in today’s world.

Scientific Classification of Cattails
  • Kingdom Plantae – Plants
  • Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
  • Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
  • Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
  • Class Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
  • Subclass Commelinidae
  • Order Typhales
  • Family Typhaceae – Cat-tail family
  • Genus Typha L. – cattails

Sunday, April 24, 2011

What Are Marginal Water Plants?

Throughout the years there have been many types of different water gardening projects; pond gardening, bog gardening, and marginal water gardening. Just what is marginal water gardening and what does it mean for the landscape?

Marginal Water Plants
Basically all that is meant with the term “Marginal Water Plants” is that the plant is not in the actual water garden. It is in the border, or perimeter, of the water garden, where there is moist soil and perhaps a bit of standing water. These Marginal Water Plants are those that are shallow water plants. Out of all the water garden plants that can be categorized, most will fall under this umbrella term.

There are several different types of plants that are termed this way, some of them even grasses. When it comes time to pick your border plants remember that while water gardens typically will find species like water lilies and those floating plants, marginal water plants will be those that are stuck in soil and will prefer not to be dried out. For those rare few plants that can take a drying out, standing water will need to be available soon.

Marginal Water Plant Examples
A few examples of some of the plants that can work in the perimeter of the water or bog garden and be classified as a marginal water plant include the Green Acorus, the Yellow Marsh Marigold, and the Yellow Canna.

Green Acorus
Known by the scientific name of Acorus gramineus, this is a glossy grass that is semi evergreen and gets to a height of a foot. It is rather low to the surface, but will move with the wind and offer a billowy atmosphere to the water garden.

Yellow Marsh Marigold
Known by the scientific name of Caltha palustris, this is a yellow flower with a height of one to two feet. It is hardy to USDA zone 2 and likes part or full shade. It will bloom all through the spring and the summer.

Yellow Canna
Known by the scientific name of Canna sp., the yellow canna has long leaves that are very broad with yellow flowers. It gets four to six feet in height and really is one of the taller marginal water plants. It is hardy to a USDA zone of 8 and prefers full sun. It will bloom in the summer.

More Information
To learn more about marginal water plants:
  • Encyclopedia of Water Garden Plants by Greg Speichert
  • The Complete Book of the Water Garden by Philip Swindells and David Mason
  • Water Garden.org

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Landscaping With Native Grasses & Woody Plants

Creating an easy care environment resplendent in colour, yet low in maintenance and hardy, is easy to do using woody plants and native grasses. While no garden is completely without some level of maintenance the light gardener will find that just a little raking and weeding will go a long way in maintaining a native woody garden.


Gardening with a country’s natives is a long time tradition going back the Greeks and the Japanese. A native garden doesn’t need to be native only, but using natives complimented by other plants will give the gardener an added sense of satisfaction and add another element of interest to the landscape.


Combinations of Sumac shrubs, Blue Wisteria, Honeysuckle and for brilliant seasonal splashes of color, Rhododendrons and Devils Walking Stick will enhance a landscaping project with year round brilliance. Complement the woody plants with native grasses to keep the weeds at bay and provide shape and contrast. At the same time promote the native natural habitat of your area.


Some wonderful natives to consider are Little Bluestain, River Cane, Indian Grass, Saltmeadow Cordgrass and Aquatica Wild Rice. The names are almost as beautiful as the grasses themselves! Check out a reputable online nursery for suggestions specific to the area you live, some natives may grow only in certain spots and there may be some found where you live and nowhere else.


Place your woody plants and native grasses in such a way as to ensure you have met the needs of shelter, cover and aesthetics before you begin to plant. Keep in mind when planning also, that the native garden is still a place for people to enjoy and admire. When planning your landscaping garden don’t forget to include places to stroll and sit.


It is possible to grow woody plants and natives grasses in a formal design but really, they best lend themselves to a more casual style of garden. Gravel or softly colored paving is often better as a background for these than the green of lawn grass. While it is true that these woody and natives will often need less water and fertiliser than other types of plants, and most are fast growing, to keep a native garden looking in its prime some ongoing maintenance is necessary and after a few years, you will want to look at replanting where foliage is lagging.


An excellent online nursery will be able to provide suggestions specific to your area for the best woody plants and native grasses to suit your needs. For more information or advice on planting a garden or undertaking a landscaping project using woody see our resource box below. Here you will find a wealth of information and advice on what to plant in different areas, when to plant and what natives are specific to your area. This nursery has a great selection of plants and trees. They offer terrific discounts on bulk orders and provide delivery to anywhere in the United States. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable.

Organic Gardening Articles: http://www.organicgardenarticles.com/
Author:
www.wetlandsupplies.com is a native plant nursery.

Water Poppy

(pictured: Hydrocleys nymphoides from BotBln, Sept.2006, off Wikipedia)


The Water Poppy, or Hydrocleys nymphoides, is a tropical plant that only gets to two or two and a half inches tall and is an aquatic plant good for bog gardens, ponds, marshes, or water features. This flower will stand above the water line, creating wonderful visual stimulation in the garden. It is a floating aquatic, with yellow flowers that will bloom in the summer with red and brown centers. Their leaves are heart shaped, deep green, and shiny. There are interesting trailing stems to their style. The foliage is nice and the blooms have a bright punch to the water line.

Water Poppy Name Confusion
The water poppy family, Limnocharitaceae, is not recognized as a real family of plants by many taxonomists. Some do see the family of flowering plants and place it in the order of Alismatales in the class of monocots. This placement is from the APG II system of 2003 (plant classification from the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group), and the APG system of 1998. There are only about six aquatic plants currently in this class of plants. Water poppy is one of these that is the best known of this little known flower order.

How to Plant and Grow Water Poppy
Water Poppy plants will need to be planted between half a foot to a foot and a half, in full sun or partial shade in the landscape, and in the USDA hardy zones of seven to eleven. Although the plant will grow fine in those depths they prefer to be in shallower conditions. They need to be in continuously wet conditions, and do well in marshy locations.

Hydrocleys nymphoides is an easy maintenance plant that is also fast growing. Their yellow blooms with the reddish brown centers are cup shaped, and appear to be tea cups on the water. They are very good providers of shade for fish and other pond inhabitants, providing good cover. Their leaves are dark and shiny, growing to two to four inches long against the water. Even though the blooms are during the hot summer months, they can have a year round season in warm climates for their foliage.

Scientific Classification of Water Poppy
  • Kingdom Plantae – Plants
  • Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
  • Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
  • Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
  • Class Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
  • Subclass Alismatidae
  • Order Alismatales
  • Family Limnocharitaceae – Water-poppy family
  • Genus Hydrocleys Rich. – hydrocleys
  • Species Hydrocleys nymphoides (Humb. & Bonpl. ex Willd.) Buchenau – water poppy

Friday, April 22, 2011

Desert Marigold

(Pictured: Desert Marigold by Stan Shebs off Wikipedia)



Baileya multiradiata, the desert marigold or paper daisy, is from the aster family and is native to the United States. It is a showy flower that is long lasting in bloom but a short-lived perennial.

History
Marigold comes from the Anglo-Saxon and has been associated historically with the Virgin Mary. The name has always been seen as a derivative of the words “Mary’s gold”. It is a good plant to use in religious gardening and Mary gardens.

The “Baileya” part of the botanical name comes from Jacob Whitman Bailey, a botanist. “Multiradiata” was picked to signify and classify that the flower has profuse ray flowers (multi-ray) in the flower head.

Description
The flowers are yellow and grow on almost leafless stems. Leaves are wooly and gray, the hair helping to reflect UV rays. Blooms are like daisies that turn papery as they mature, hence why it is called the paper daisy. It tends to flower throughout summer and fall and can be seen along roadsides in the desert. It grows 10 to 30 inches tall with 1 to 2 inch wide flower blooms.

Hairs on leaves or stems are common in the desert as they are able to increase the light reflection. This means that there is lower leaf temperatures to deal with, a great adaptation technique for plants in the desert.

Growth
Growth of the desert marigold should be in partial shade in dry, sandy or gravelly, soils. The heat and poor soil is perfect for this plant. It needs little water to survive. The gardener can use this as an ornamental plant to bring butterflies into the landscape; however it will also attract insects and bees to the nectar as well.

Propagation
To propagate the Baileya multiradiata one must use seed. Plant seeds ¼ inch deep into the soil in the autumn season. There should be many sown as their germination can be erratic. The seed is commercially available to be bought.

Locations
The desert marigold is a common occurrence in the 100 to 6500 feet elevations of the desert. Some of the locations that have documented occurrences of the flower include the Mojave Desert, the Chihuahuan Desert, Mexico, southern Arizona, southern Nevada, and SW Utah.

Desert marigold has had compounded extracted (radiatin, baileyolin, and fastiglin) by researchers at Arizona State University in hopes that they can be used in cancer therapy. They are looking into the desert marigold’s use as a possible tumor inhibitor.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spicebush

(Pictured: Spicebush with unripe fruits, from Jomegat, off Wikipedia)

Spicebush is a deciduous shrub that has a height of eight feet tall (and a spread equal to that) and has lovely flowers. The blooms are a particular yellowish green color which flower over the shrub from March to May. Spicebush has a good number of interesting facts about it and will be a great addition to any water garden or as a marginal plant in the landscape. There are fruits that will adorn the shrub in the fall season, from September to October. They are red and berry-like.

Interesting Facts about Spicebush
  1. There are leaves on this particular shrub that will give out a wonderfully spicy odor when they are crushed. Put this in a part of the landscape that wildlife trample and you’ll get a whiff of it every time the breeze blows.
  2. The fruits of the shrub are also fragrant. They have a light pepper aroma that will catch the air as well. These fruits have been dried and powdered, and the result has been used as a substitute for the spice “allspice”.
  3. Leaves, fruits, and twigs (in addition to making a superb potpourri) have been made into essential oils and fragrant teas at one time. Each of these is an early use for the plant, in addition to its use today in the landscape as pure decoration.

How to Grow and Plant Spicebush
The Lindera benzoin needs full sun or partial shade in the landscape. The shrub is a slow grower and rounded when full grown. It will attract birds and butterflies to the garden, which makes an interesting array of focal points for a water garden addition. It typically will not have much disease or decay when properly planted, but it is food for the Swallowtail butterfly and for some birds, so there may be some caterpillar and bird foraging through the bush. This is a USDA hardy plant from zones four to nine. It is one of the lower maintenance shrubs for a landscape, and putting it to use in a water garden setting is optimal to bring out its best features. If a gardener would like to attempt to propagate this plant for future use, by seed is the best method.

Scientific Classification for Spicebush
  • Kingdom Plantae – Plants
  • Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
  • Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
  • Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
  • Class Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
  • Subclass Magnoliidae
  • Order Laurales
  • Family Lauraceae – Laurel family
  • Genus Lindera Thunb. – spicebush
  • Species Lindera benzoin (L.) Blume – northern spicebush

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Jewelweed

(Pictured: Jewelweed from D. Gordon E. Robertson from Wikipedia)

A member of the Touch-Me-Not family and living up to its name, Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) is a beautiful orange flower with easy growth and not prone to disease or decay. It can get up to five feet tall on watery transparent stems that can collapse from the weight. Most stalks, unless in prime conditions, will only grow to three feet in height. The orange flowers will keep blooming throughout the summer season, bursting color through the bog garden. Leaves have a lovely blue-green color to them, highlighting the orange of the flowers.

Other Names for Impatiens capensis
Impatiens capensis is typically known as just “jewelweed” but can also be called Orange Jewelweed, Common Jewelweed, Spotted Jewelweed, and Orange Balsam. The capensis of the name means “of the cape” and was a source of irony from the misnomer. It was named believing it was native to the Cape of Good Hope in Africa, but it turns out it was not native to that area at all. It looks like a “jewel” with the water resistant leaves letting the water bead up, like tiny jewels.

Folklore Remedy
The folklore remedies for Jewelweed include a topical skin rash formula. Early Native Americans used the juice of the plant in its most watery state for insect bites, for poison ivy or nettles, and most other forms of skin irritation. The plant has been used to heal skin ailments throughout history although there is now no proof that it can do anything for rashes. Studies have been made to give validity or deny, and their results prove that it is just a pretty flower and has no function as a skin rash remedy.

How to Plant and Grow Jewelweed
Jewelweed loves to be in really wet soils so it is perfect for a bog garden as a marginal water plant. It does not need soil to dry, so standing water is fine. It will also need to be in full or partial shade, as the full sun is too harsh for this flower. Soil conditions are optimal when it’s humusy. With its self seeding, it can really spread quickly throughout the landscape. Keep an eye on it to keep it in check.

Scientific Classification for Jewelweed
Kingdom Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass Rosidae
Order Geraniales
Family Balsaminaceae – Touch-me-not family
Genus Impatiens L. – touch-me-not
Species Impatiens capensis Meerb. – jewelweed

Seashore Mallow

(Kosteletzkya virginica Robert H. Mohlenbrock @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA SCS. 1991. Southern wetland flora: Field office guide to plant species. South National Technical Center, Fort Worth, TX.)

Seashore mallow (Kosteletskya virginica) is a salt tolerant, bog loving herb that does well in watery gardens. It is also a perennial, so its beauty can be enjoyed over and over again. It will grow to about five feet tall and four feet wide in spread. The flowers are pink and look very similar to the hibiscus. This is a member of the Mallow family, Malvaceae, that has over 1000 species of plants. You can find this in all coastal areas of the United States and it is one of the easiest found wild flowers in the entire area of North America.

Other Names for Kosteletzkya virginica
Besides being called seashore mallow it also is called marsh mallow, pink mallow, seaside mallow, saltmarsh mallow, Virginia saltmarsh mallow, Virginia fenrose, and salt marshmallow. Any of these are correct in identifying Kosteletskya virginica. Having many common names is all the more reason to call flowers and other plantlife by their scientific name when ordering or requesting flowers and plants from a nursery. This insures the correct plant. It was first described in a botanical setting by Linnaeus in 1753. It was first classified as a Hibiscus (due to its look) but in 1835 was transferred to Kosteletzkya from Carl Presl.

How to Plant and Grow Seashore Mallow
Seashore mallow has high water needs and prefers sun to the shady areas in the landscape. This has an open form, with a shrubby type of growth. There are pink flowers throughout its growing season (June through October) and can be found in standing water places like swamps and ditches. There will be brown capsule fruits to go with the pale pink flowers and yellow stamens.

To propagate this lovely bog garden plant you can germinate seeds or do tip cuttings before it flowers. For collecting seeds, wait for fruit to turn brown and collect the seeds. They should be dark brown and stored in the refrigerator. The flowers and growing patterns of this pretty pink flower will attract hummingbirds and is a source of nectar for birds and bees alike. It is not deer resistant.

Scientific Classification for Seashore Mallow
Kingdom Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass Dilleniidae
Order Malvales
Family Malvaceae – Mallow family
Genus Kosteletzkya C. Presl – kosteletzkya
Species Kosteletzkya virginica (L.) C. Presl ex A. Gray – Virginia saltmarsh mallow

Joe Pye Weed

(Pictured: Joe Pye Weed from Kurt Stuber, wikipedia)


Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum) is a hardy plant that will get from five to seven feet in height and two to three feet in width for the spread. It is known for being easy to grow and resistant to death and disease. It is classified as an herbaceous perennial, and will grow season after season. It is a low maintenance plant that will grow well in the water garden or a bog setting.

The flowers can be tiny but the color will be throughout the plant; they are typically vanilla scented. This aroma will permeate the entire garden plot and on windy days will carry through the air. The flowers of Joe Pye Weed grow in whorled clusters, usually five to eight in a bunch. These flowers will attract plenty of butterflies to the mix from their scent and abundant color palate.

How to Plant and Grow Joe Pye Weed
Joe Pye Weed will need to be planted in an area that has full sun to partial shade. It has moderate watering needs that will be taken care of while in bog and water garden uses. It will thrive when planted in zones four to nine on the USDA zone chart. The mauve/pink billowy blooms will be seen typically from July to September. To keep the plant doing well, you’ll need to cut it back in the winter. You can get stem cuttings from it to replant throughout the garden.
In winter the plant will still be quite attractive due to the seed heads. These will be very large and will be readily visible in the winter time, giving a very attractive view. These are great as background items in a bog or water garden for both their springtime appeal and the interesting seed heads in the off season.

Old Folk Remedy
Joe Pye Weed has been known as a Native American folk remedy for fevers. A tea was made from the leaves, used in inducing sweating in the drinkers to force out what ailed them. The flowers of the Joe Pye Weed were used in treatments for sexually transmitted disease and pain from birthing children. Bathing a child in a bath with the plant was said to strengthen the child and make it stronger and resistant to disease and injury.

Scientific Classification for Joe Pye Weed
  • Kingdom Plantae – Plants
  • Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
  • Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
  • Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
  • Class Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
  • Subclass Asteridae
  • Order Asterales
  • Family Asteraceae – Aster family
  • Genus Eupatorium L. – thoroughwort
  • Species Eupatorium purpureum L. – sweetscented joepyeweed

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bee Balm

(Pictured: Bee Balm from Nellswiki, off Wikipedia)


Bee Balm (Monarda didyma) has been called Oswego Tea, from the Indians that used it to show its effects as a tea to the immigrants from the Boston Tea Party. This same plant is found in many potpourri collections. There are those that call it Bergamot, but it isn’t the lemony bergamot used to flavor teas (which is Citrus aurantium ssp. bergamia). Bee Balm, while having many different common names, is best seen by its scientific name of Monarda didyma.

While it is a decorative addition to gardens and landscapes with its fire blooms, it has a long history as a healing remedy. It has even been kept as an antiseptic in modern times, so there was something to its folk heritage. It is an herb, but is very ornamental and makes a great addition to the bog garden. It is native to the eastern part of country, but has been naturalized to the west.

How to Plant and Grow Bee Balm
Monarda didyma is a fragrant herb that gets to four feet in height. It is from the mint family. It is plentiful in the eastern part of the U.S. There are bright red flowers on this plant, and it can be called Scarlet Bee Balm from the blooms. It likes really moist areas, and can be found in ditches and stream banks during the summer season. For optimum growth it needs to be in full sun but can still grow with a little shade. There are varying colors other than red; there are even white and purple blooms that can be grown.

Old Folk Remedy
The Native American Indians used Bee Balm in many healing remedies and they varied depending on the tribe. It was part of the Blackfeet and the Winnebago heritage, along with many others. However, they were all used for antiseptic or antibiotic affects. There were poultices made for skin afflictions and topical wound care. Mouth and throat infections were given a tea made from Bee Balm, as well as for cavities and bad breath as an antiseptic. Other healing remedies from Bee Balm include flatulence remedies and stimulants. In today’s times, Thymol is made from Bee Balm naturally which is the ingredient that is found in most commercial mouthwashes as the antiseptic.

Scientific Classification for Bee Balm
Kingdom Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass Asteridae
Order Lamiales
Family Lamiaceae – Mint family
Genus Monarda L. – beebalm
Species Monarda didyma L. – scarlet beebalm

Friday, April 15, 2011

Cardinal Flower

(Pictured: Cardinal Flower from Dr. Thomas G Barnes from the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife)


The Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) is a native plant to both North and South America, having been first introduced in England around the 1600s. It was named for the Roman Catholic miters that are red in color, considered both regal and a higher standard. In today’s gardens, it is a hummingbird magnet and a focal point in many landscapes. Hardly anyone will say that it isn’t a garden favorite. Beautiful, plentiful, and a big seller in most nurseries around the country, it has been named a "Great Plant for American Gardens" by the American Horticultural Society.

How to Plant and Grow Cardinal Flower
Lobelia cardinalis is a perennial (but may die out before a decade of growth). It grows two to four feet high and is a great addition in bogs, swamps, ponds, or water gardens. It is part of the bellflower family of plants and has fire red flowers that are five lobed and erect. They need to be in moisture and partial shade for best growing results. They are summer to fall bloomers, generally from June to September. This is a plant that is propagated via dividing the fibrous root system and should be divided every three to four years for a continuous stream of blooms. Keeping with this schedule will always have new plants replacing the ones that die out. It is classified as a perennial due to it living over three continuous years, but isn’t going to live more than five to ten without division. It is listed as being for zones 3-9.

Old Folk Remedy
Cardinal Flower was used to make a tea from the roots of the plant in early healing remedies. It was used for things like syphilis and for intestinal disorders. Tea made from the plant’s leaves helped with breathing issues and colds, any respiratory ailments. There were also those that inhaled this to help with catarrh (heavy mucus from infections or colds). This has many alkaloids (nitrogen formed atoms) and can have stimulant effects on people similar to nicotine and morphine. It was also chewed instead of smoked as a tobacco alternative, however this was a cultural use not a medicinal one.

Scientific Classification for Cardinal Flower
  • Kingdom Plantae - Plants
  • Subkingdom Tracheobionta - Vascular plants
  • Superdivision Spermatophyta - Seed plants
  • Division Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
  • Class Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
  • Subclass Asteridae -
  • Order Campanulales -
  • Family Campanulaceae - Bellflower family
  • Genus Lobelia L. - lobelia
  • Species Lobelia cardinalis L. - cardinalflower

Thursday, April 14, 2011

American Frog's Bit

(Credit: Gerald J. Lenhard, Bugwood.org )


This spongy free floating aquatic plant is a favorite of many in a water garden setting. It is a member of the Tape grass family and is a spongeplant. It is a perennial that tends to grow free floating in the pond or water garden, but it can also be rooted if a marginal water plant is required. The foliage on American Frog’s Bit is spongy and round (or can be egg or heart shaped depending on growth). Blooms are tiny and white. Gardeners will find this to be a hardy plant from USDA zones of six to ten.

How to Grow and Use Frog’s Bit
American Frog’s Bit likes the water, so it’s going to be a good water plant or even marginal water plant. It will do its best in full sun environments and it has the ability to live as a rooted plant if the idea of it free floating isn’t in the design plan. The leaves on Limnobium spongia can get three or four inches wide. The white tiny nondescript flowers can be found both underneath the water’s surface and above, flowering from summer to the fall seasons. There are three petals on the flowers and three sepals, all on a stalk and not adding to the character and texture of the plant itself.

Moonlights as a Food Choice
As the plant dies it will be food for many water creatures as well as fish food. It is a habitat of different micro organisms that are eaten by ducks and amphibians, even by reptiles. The seeds from the plant can attract different water fowl to the feature too. The plant can house things that will eventually be food for other items in the garden, and then it will become food itself as it breaks down in the water.

Cultivation of American Frog’s Bit
If one would like to spread Limnobium spongia throughout the garden, it can be propagated by transplanting into shallow water sometime during the spring for best growth options. This needs to be done with as little stress to the plant as possible. It is a very fast spreader, by runners, and these can be transplanted parts.

Scientific Classification of American Frog’s Bit
  • Kingdom Plantae – Plants
  • Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
  • Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
  • Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
  • Class Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
  • Subclass Alismatidae
  • Order Hydrocharitales
  • Family Hydrocharitaceae – Tape-grass family
  • Genus Limnobium Rich. – spongeplant
  • Species Limnobium spongia (Bosc) Rich. ex Steud. – American frog’s bit