Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Taking a look at beautiful Gardenias

Photograph by Dawn Gagnon

If you are looking for a beautiful shrub for your South Carolina yard, you can't go wrong with the lovely Gardenia. Gardenias are a flowering shrub that belongs to the coffee family. There are at least 142 species and the blossoms, growth habits and sizes vary. Beautiful to look at, and with a heavy floral scent that is to die for. This shrub is an evergreen and adapts well to the South Carolinian soils and environment. Zones 8-10 are ideal locations for a gardenia to flourish.

The crisp white blossoms begin appearing around late May and will continue for several months.Some shrubs can grow up to 6 feet in height and also grow in similar feet width wise. Some are small compact varieties that will grow close to the ground and have smaller blooms. Most are noted however, for the strong scent.
Gardenia plants generally prefer a sunny location in the garden with some afternoon relief ideally. They like a soil ph level ranging around 5 to 6.

Even though they enjoy a moist soil, take care not to plant larger varieties in confined locations as they are subject to a variety of diseases and pests. One pest in particular is white flies. Prune bushes when they are dormant, and for bushier growth, snip the tips in dormant times.

Feeding and fertilizing should be done with a fertilizer that also is recommended for Rhododendrons and Azaleas. Most areas where these grow, gardenias will grow as well. A heavy mulch bed with lots of pine straw are sure to help retain soil moisture and provide composted acidic rich soil.

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Friday, October 8, 2010

The Knockout rose, a great choice for disease resistance

Knock out rose

South Carolina has a long growing season, and Spring starts off with a burst of color in most landscapes. Cherry trees, Bradford Pears, Dogwoods, and Azaleas dominate most gardens in the south in  early Spring. There is one flower that is quite a challenge in most gardens, even in the south, and  that is roses. High temperatures, drought, and  humid nights, often prove to be the enemy when growing roses. Finding one that is a good fit for your yard is important. The Knockout rose may the one of the best to meet this challenge.

Knockout roses can be purchased from a variety of places, your local garden center, and bare root from reputable companies like Jackson and Perkins online. There are single blooming and double blooming varieties that will no doubt reward you with proper care. They typically grow fast, bloom heavy from Spring through late Summer and are disease resistant and pest tolerant. They do get aphids, but if they are healthy, are not affected by them like some more delicate variety of roses may be. Blasting aphids with a strong surge of water usually keeps them in check.

Knockout roses are great in areas where disease is prevalent,  especially to one of the worst culprits, blackspot. While no rose is entirely immune to disease,  however, Knockout roses seem to fair better than most. The key to helping any rose in its resistance to pests and disease is to ensure that they remain strong and healthy.

Knockout roses do well if planted in full sun, in the southern states, it is ok if they have some afternoon relief from the sun. 6 hours of full morning sun is ideal. Water roses on a regular basis, but to avoid disease problems, water by hose early in the day so that roses have time to dry. Roses watered in the evening stay damp overnight and this encourages disease coupled with warm night temperatures.

Knockout roses respond well to some shaping and pruning in the winter, removing dead growth and regularly dead heading spent blossoms will keep Knockouts looking their best. Slow release feeding, organic compost and fish meal worked into the base of the plant will yield beautiful strong plants. Liquid fertilizer that can be dispersed during watering will have promising results and help these fast growing heavy bloomers do their job. If you are planning on any one rose for your garden, Knock out rose will not disappoint you.

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