Thursday, November 17, 2011

All about Fragrant Verbena

Fragrant Verbena is also known as Sand Verbena, Snowball, Sweet Sand-verbena, and Abronia fragrans. It is a member of the four-o-clock family of plants. It is also a native plant to the United States.

Fragrant Verbena Description

Growing 8 to 40 inches tall and wide, this has an upright or sprawling form, depending on its natural growth. The perennial has long and funnel-like flowers. They are white, but may have a greenish, pinkish, or lavender hue to them. They are in clusters, ball-shaped, and are prolific in blooming. Bloom season is between March and September. Stems are hairy and sticky. You'll see the flowers in the late afternoon when they open up but they will close in the morning.

Growing Guide

Grow the fragrant verbena in partial shade with a loose, dry, deep soil. It should be propagated by seed. While it can be sown in the fall without pretreatment, it may do best after the seeds are removed from the papery fruits.


This makes a great addition into butterfly gardens. It is nicely aromatic, and goes well in rock gardens. Flowers are showy and can make for an ornamental choice in flowerbeds.


You can find the fragrant verbena plant throughout the states of Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. It is typically found in the prairies and plans.

This flowering plant has a nice big ball of blooms that make for quite a display. It also has a lovely fragrance for those that want to put it next to a porch or a patio.

Source: NPIN

Monday, November 14, 2011

Easier Mushroom Gardening, Composting, and Raised Beds

Mushroom gardening has been a bit of a hassle for some folks. I know when I once tried it I failed miserably. I didn't have the time or the patience it seems. I am one of those low-maintenance gardeners, needing low-maintenance plants and systems. 

There is a way now to grow up to one and a half pounds of mushrooms, quickly and easily. So simple, I can even do it. In about 10 days you can have pearl oyster mushrooms with a new Mushroom Garden system. It is called "Back to the Roots", and you can get more information at their website. There is even a video.

Now also, I've been posting some on composting and raised beds. I believe that by incorporating the rich nutrients you can get out of compost by using it on your garden plants, you are raising better food. Composting can be done with so many household and kitchen items, that instead of junking up our landfills, they can be going to helping you raise better crops and plants in the garden.

Raised beds are another great idea. I know that for me, as I get older, bending over to work on the garden is getting difficult. I'm doing more with raised beds now, and its helping. I make mine with a nice flat plank around them, so that I can sit and weed and garden with a bit more ease. I like this concept.

If you have any comments on mushroom gardening, composting, or raised beds, I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Knee Deep in the Garden Writing

Been furiously writing lately. Having finished one native plant book and put it to the publisher last month, I'm getting started on another plus working on plant profiles for some upcoming ebooks. What has been going on in YOUR garden?

The additional offender groans.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Planting and Growing the Virginia Sweetspire

(Virginia sweetspire photo from SB_Johnny at wikipedia via GFDL)

The Virginia sweetspire is also known as the tassel-white. It is a native plant to the United States and a member of the saxifrage family of plants. Botanically, it is called Itea virginica.

Virginia Sweetspire Description

Growing up to 8 feet high, this native has slender branches and deciduous green leaves that turn red and purple in the fall. Flowers are white and will bloom in spires. They open base to tip so bloom times appear longer. The perennial shrub has a mound form and is semi-evergreen in the southern portions of its range.  Its name of 'tassel-white' refers to the white flowers that look like tassels. Bloom season is between April and June. Plant en masse as single plants are not as pretty.

Growing Guide

The Virginia sweetspire prefers to grow in partial shade with a moist acidic soil. If it has full sun for part of the day it has more vivid blooms and fall color. It does fine in areas that have drainage problems. Propagate by seeds and semi-hardwood cuttings. Semi-hardwood cuttings should be done in late summer or in early fall. Seed should be collected during those times as well. It will need no pretreatment prior to sowing into the ground. Water during a drought.


This native is found in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.  It is seen in the pine barrens, swamps, and stream banks.

Source: NPIN

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Planting and Growing the Standing Cypress

Also known as the Texas plume, red Texas star, or red gilia, the standing cypress is native to the United States. It is a member of the phlox family of plants and is botanically known as Ipomopsis rubra. It may be listed as Gilia rubra as well.

Standing Cypress Description

Growing up to six feet tall but typically more like two to four feet high, this stiff biennial has red tubular flowers and fern-like rosettes. Flowers are on a spike and marked with yellow or orange spots. They open from the tip of the flowering stem down. Bloom season is between May and July.

Growing Guide

The standing cypress prefers to grow in full sun or partial shade with a dry and sandy or dry and rocky soil. Propagate by seeds in the fall. Seeds will flower in the second year, only producing a rosette in the first year of growth.  Planting two years in a row will guarantee consecutive blooms since it is a biennial.


This native is found in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. It is seen in open woods and in rocky fields.

Standing Cypress Uses

This native attracts hummingbirds to the landscape for its nectar, so it makes a great addition in hummingbird gardens. There is showy colorful displays, making this a nice ornamental for use around patios and decks.

Source: NPIN