Five Underutilized Native Plants For Your Garden

Apr 22, 2018

BLOG

the

Happy Earth Day everyone!

To celebrate the beautiful world we live in, I visited my local nature preserve and and gathered some pictures of five cool native plants that are underutilized in the garden setting. I will keep the writing brief – this will be a mostly visual post. Here we go!

 

4326076736_IMG_7526

Cinnamon Ferns thrive in any garden given some shade and moist soil. In their native habitat, they can reach over four feet tall, usually topping out at two to three feet in a typical garden setting.

4326076736_IMG_7312

I discovered a patch of Carolina allspice (Calycanthus floridus) growing along the woodland edge by a trailhead. This shrub makes beautiful, somewhat fragrant flowers in mid-spring. The rest of the year it has round green leaves that change to a soft golden yellow in autumn. It would make a great addition to an informal shrub border, woodland edge, or shade garden.

4326076736_IMG_7361

False Indigos (Pictured: Baptisia alba var. macrophylla) make a great native alternative to the more finicky lupines. If you’re interested, check out the amazing selection of cultivars available through Plant Delights Nursery.

4326076736_IMG_7608
4326076736_IMG_7591
4326076736_IMG_7585
4326076736_IMG_7595

To me, no garden is complete without the addition of Louisiana Irises. You might be surprised to know that most varieties are hardy to zone 5, meaning they can be grown in almost three quarters of the US. They also boast the greatest selection of colors out of any Iris group – almost every known color but pure black.

4326076736_IMG_7688

True Spider Lilies (Hymenocallis sp.) are only marginally hardy (USDA zones 7-10), but deserve an honorable mention. Even if you’re out of their native range, consider growing them in pots and overwintering them under cover – they will reward you with a show unlike any other bulb I know of.

Well, there you have it! Five underutilized and deserving natives that you can grow in your garden today.

 

There is an ever-increasing need to preserve our native plants from destruction – one of the best options being cultivation in our gardens. If you’re new to growing natives or are hesitant because of their wild reputation (pun intended 😉 ), give them a try!

 

What about you? What are your favorite natives to grow in the garden? Let’s hear it in the comments below! 

 

Five Underutilized Native Plants For Your Garden

Apr 22, 2018

Happy Earth Day everyone!

To celebrate the beautiful world we live in, I visited my local nature preserve and and gathered some pictures of five cool native plants that are underutilized in the garden setting. I will keep the writing brief – this will be a mostly visual post. Here we go!

 

4326076736_IMG_7526

Cinnamon Ferns thrive in any garden given some shade and moist soil. In their native habitat, they can reach over four feet tall, usually topping out at two to three feet in a typical garden setting.

4326076736_IMG_7312

I discovered a patch of Carolina allspice (Calycanthus floridus) growing along the woodland edge by a trailhead. This shrub makes beautiful, somewhat fragrant flowers in mid-spring. The rest of the year it has round green leaves that change to a soft golden yellow in autumn. It would make a great addition to an informal shrub border, woodland edge, or shade garden.

4326076736_IMG_7361

False Indigos (Pictured: Baptisia alba var. macrophylla) make a great native alternative to the more finicky lupines. If you’re interested, check out the amazing selection of cultivars available through Plant Delights Nursery.

4326076736_IMG_7608
4326076736_IMG_7591
4326076736_IMG_7585
4326076736_IMG_7595

To me, no garden is complete without the addition of Louisiana Irises. You might be surprised to know that most varieties are hardy to zone 5, meaning they can be grown in almost three quarters of the US. They also boast the greatest selection of colors out of any Iris group – almost every known color but pure black.

4326076736_IMG_7688

True Spider Lilies (Hymenocallis sp.) are only marginally hardy (USDA zones 7-10), but deserve an honorable mention. Even if you’re out of their native range, consider growing them in pots and overwintering them under cover – they will reward you with a show unlike any other bulb I know of.

Well, there you have it! Five underutilized and deserving natives that you can grow in your garden today.

 

There is an ever-increasing need to preserve our native plants from destruction – one of the best options being cultivation in our gardens. If you’re new to growing natives or are hesitant because of their wild reputation (pun intended 😉 ), give them a try!

 

What about you? What are your favorite natives to grow in the garden? Let’s hear it in the comments below! 

 

Five Underutilized Native Plants For Your Garden

Apr 22, 2018

Happy Earth Day everyone!

To celebrate the beautiful world we live in, I visited my local nature preserve and and gathered some pictures of five cool native plants that are underutilized in the garden setting. I will keep the writing brief – this will be a mostly visual post. Here we go!

 

4326076736_IMG_7526

Cinnamon Ferns thrive in any garden given some shade and moist soil. In their native habitat, they can reach over four feet tall, usually topping out at two to three feet in a typical garden setting.

4326076736_IMG_7312

I discovered a patch of Carolina allspice (Calycanthus floridus) growing along the woodland edge by a trailhead. This shrub makes beautiful, somewhat fragrant flowers in mid-spring. The rest of the year it has round green leaves that change to a soft golden yellow in autumn. It would make a great addition to an informal shrub border, woodland edge, or shade garden.

4326076736_IMG_7361

False Indigos (Pictured: Baptisia alba var. macrophylla) make a great native alternative to the more finicky lupines. If you’re interested, check out the amazing selection of cultivars available through Plant Delights Nursery.

4326076736_IMG_7608
4326076736_IMG_7591
4326076736_IMG_7585
4326076736_IMG_7595

To me, no garden is complete without the addition of Louisiana Irises. You might be surprised to know that most varieties are hardy to zone 5, meaning they can be grown in almost three quarters of the US. They also boast the greatest selection of colors out of any Iris group – almost every known color but pure black.

4326076736_IMG_7688

True Spider Lilies (Hymenocallis sp.) are only marginally hardy (USDA zones 7-10), but deserve an honorable mention. Even if you’re out of their native range, consider growing them in pots and overwintering them under cover – they will reward you with a show unlike any other bulb I know of.

Well, there you have it! Five underutilized and deserving natives that you can grow in your garden today.

 

There is an ever-increasing need to preserve our native plants from destruction – one of the best options being cultivation in our gardens. If you’re new to growing natives or are hesitant because of their wild reputation (pun intended 😉 ), give them a try!

 

What about you? What are your favorite natives to grow in the garden? Let’s hear it in the comments below! 

 

Why Do Trees Leaf Out?

Mar 23, 2018

BLOG

the

This is a question that fascinates me. When I look around in spring, I notice that although the maples and the magnolias are out, the hickories and sweet gums are not. Why is that? Today I’d like to take a shot at answering that question.

I’ve figured out there seem to be three major factors that influence when trees emerge from dormancy:

The scene in my backyard right now - pure emerald - as the trees leaf out.
The scene in my backyard right now – pure emerald – as the trees leaf out.

The first is temperature. I know this may seem odd, but autumn plays an important role in when the trees break dormancy in spring.

Warmer autumns cause the trees to leaf out later, while cooler autumns induce the trees to start growing early. I found this hard to believe, because that would mean that our winters are almost the same lengths every year, but evidently they are. It’s just that they start and end at different times, but (give or take a week) generally last as long.

This is where chill hours (which are the number of hours under 45 degrees that a tree needs to break dormancy) come into play. I often hear that term associated with orchard trees, but it applies to every tree. Each tree has a set number of hours in its genetic code that prompts it to grow after the amount of chill hours have been reached.

Since some of the trees around you are imported from other countries, they have different requirements than those native to your area. Even the trees in your area vary for one reason or another. Some leaf out early (like the magnolias) and risk being caught by a late frost to get a head start on the competition. Others prefer to wait until there is absolutely no chance of frost before they attempt to grow.

Of course, there are always those crazy years when even the later group gets caught by a frost, but that is rare. Keep in mind that this is nature we’re dealing with. Although it may not make sense to us, the trees are nature, so they understand perfectly.

 

The maple in my front yard responds to heat - when the temperature reaches 60 degrees (even in February) it's ready to grow!
The maple in my front yard responds to heat – when the temperature reaches 60 degrees (even in February) it’s ready to grow!

The second is light. Some trees (especially in tropical areas) use light as their cue to wake up. Since light almost never varies each year, it is an extremely reliable way of determining the seasons, as long as there’s not frost in the equation.

This is how growers induce Poinsettias, which go dormant in the summer, to flower at the right time. They simply restrict the light supply, and the plants respond by flowering.

The last factor is water. Since all ecosystems have some sort of weather cycle, the trees use it as a signal to break dormancy.

For instance, where I live, there is almost always a dry spell in the late summer and autumn. This prompts the trees to start changing colors and drop their leaves. The only tree in my yard that does not readily respond to this signal is the Tree Of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), since it is nonnative and has different ways of determining when to go dormant. The same principle applies to the spring. When the rainfall decreases (combined with other factors such as temperature and light), the trees break dormancy.

I hope this has shed some light on such an interesting (and rarely talked about) topic!

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Why Do Trees Leaf Out?

Mar 23, 2018

This is a question that fascinates me. When I look around in spring, I notice that although the maples and the magnolias are out, the hickories and sweet gums are not. Why is that? Today I’d like to take a shot at answering that question.

I’ve figured out there seem to be three major factors that influence when trees emerge from dormancy:

The scene in my backyard right now - pure emerald - as the trees leaf out.
The scene in my backyard right now – pure emerald – as the trees leaf out.

The first is temperature. I know this may seem odd, but autumn plays an important role in when the trees break dormancy in spring.

Warmer autumns cause the trees to leaf out later, while cooler autumns induce the trees to start growing early. I found this hard to believe, because that would mean that our winters are almost the same lengths every year, but evidently they are. It’s just that they start and end at different times, but (give or take a week) generally last as long.

This is where chill hours (which are the number of hours under 45 degrees that a tree needs to break dormancy) come into play. I often hear that term associated with orchard trees, but it applies to every tree. Each tree has a set number of hours in its genetic code that prompts it to grow after the amount of chill hours have been reached.

Since some of the trees around you are imported from other countries, they have different requirements than those native to your area. Even the trees in your area vary for one reason or another. Some leaf out early (like the magnolias) and risk being caught by a late frost to get a head start on the competition. Others prefer to wait until there is absolutely no chance of frost before they attempt to grow.

Of course, there are always those crazy years when even the later group gets caught by a frost, but that is rare. Keep in mind that this is nature we’re dealing with. Although it may not make sense to us, the trees are nature, so they understand perfectly.

 

The maple in my front yard responds to heat - when the temperature reaches 60 degrees (even in February) it's ready to grow!
The maple in my front yard responds to heat – when the temperature reaches 60 degrees (even in February) it’s ready to grow!

The second is light. Some trees (especially in tropical areas) use light as their cue to wake up. Since light almost never varies each year, it is an extremely reliable way of determining the seasons, as long as there’s not frost in the equation.

This is how growers induce Poinsettias, which go dormant in the summer, to flower at the right time. They simply restrict the light supply, and the plants respond by flowering.

The last factor is water. Since all ecosystems have some sort of weather cycle, the trees use it as a signal to break dormancy.

For instance, where I live, there is almost always a dry spell in the late summer and autumn. This prompts the trees to start changing colors and drop their leaves. The only tree in my yard that does not readily respond to this signal is the Tree Of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), since it is nonnative and has different ways of determining when to go dormant. The same principle applies to the spring. When the rainfall decreases (combined with other factors such as temperature and light), the trees break dormancy.

I hope this has shed some light on such an interesting (and rarely talked about) topic!

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


!


Submit

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Why Do Trees Leaf Out?

Mar 23, 2018

This is a question that fascinates me. When I look around in spring, I notice that although the maples and the magnolias are out, the hickories and sweet gums are not. Why is that? Today I’d like to take a shot at answering that question.

I’ve figured out there seem to be three major factors that influence when trees emerge from dormancy:

The scene in my backyard right now - pure emerald - as the trees leaf out.
The scene in my backyard right now – pure emerald – as the trees leaf out.

The first is temperature. I know this may seem odd, but autumn plays an important role in when the trees break dormancy in spring.

Warmer autumns cause the trees to leaf out later, while cooler autumns induce the trees to start growing early. I found this hard to believe, because that would mean that our winters are almost the same lengths every year, but evidently they are. It’s just that they start and end at different times, but (give or take a week) generally last as long.

This is where chill hours (which are the number of hours under 45 degrees that a tree needs to break dormancy) come into play. I often hear that term associated with orchard trees, but it applies to every tree. Each tree has a set number of hours in its genetic code that prompts it to grow after the amount of chill hours have been reached.

Since some of the trees around you are imported from other countries, they have different requirements than those native to your area. Even the trees in your area vary for one reason or another. Some leaf out early (like the magnolias) and risk being caught by a late frost to get a head start on the competition. Others prefer to wait until there is absolutely no chance of frost before they attempt to grow.

Of course, there are always those crazy years when even the later group gets caught by a frost, but that is rare. Keep in mind that this is nature we’re dealing with. Although it may not make sense to us, the trees are nature, so they understand perfectly.

 

The maple in my front yard responds to heat - when the temperature reaches 60 degrees (even in February) it's ready to grow!
The maple in my front yard responds to heat – when the temperature reaches 60 degrees (even in February) it’s ready to grow!

The second is light. Some trees (especially in tropical areas) use light as their cue to wake up. Since light almost never varies each year, it is an extremely reliable way of determining the seasons, as long as there’s not frost in the equation.

This is how growers induce Poinsettias, which go dormant in the summer, to flower at the right time. They simply restrict the light supply, and the plants respond by flowering.

The last factor is water. Since all ecosystems have some sort of weather cycle, the trees use it as a signal to break dormancy.

For instance, where I live, there is almost always a dry spell in the late summer and autumn. This prompts the trees to start changing colors and drop their leaves. The only tree in my yard that does not readily respond to this signal is the Tree Of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), since it is nonnative and has different ways of determining when to go dormant. The same principle applies to the spring. When the rainfall decreases (combined with other factors such as temperature and light), the trees break dormancy.

I hope this has shed some light on such an interesting (and rarely talked about) topic!

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


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Submit

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

The Benefits of Carrying a Field ID Guide

Oct 9, 2017

BLOG

the

What comes to mind when I speak the term, “field identification?” What I personally think of is taking a walk around on the edge of the woods, ID guide in hand, naming all of the plants or bugs that I pass by. Even though this is technically field identification, there is much more to it than that.

Field identification is not simply a pastime. For me, it’s part of my lifestyle. Many times, I carry a small pocket wildflower ID book with me just in case I wonder, “What in the world is that plant?” And yes, I use the guide regularly. It’s also useful to have a butterfly/bug ID guide handy when I’m out working in the garden. I stumble on some unusual bug at least once a week. Every now and then, I accidentally leave my guide in the house. Of course, by the time I rush inside to grab it and hurry back out, the bug has disappeared.

Sigh…

Even if you don’t carry the ID guide with you wherever you go, there is a HUGE benefit to packing one on your monthly travels. I go on hikes about once a month. I usually come across some unique flower or tree on the trail, and instantly regret it if I didn’t bring my guide with me. Even when I’m walking in the downtown district of a city, there are always interesting forms of life no matter where I go.

Have I convinced you to carry a guide yet? Even if I haven’t, at least consider owning one “just in case.” 😉

Down below are some links to my favorite ID guides that have proved exceptional resources for me. Enjoy! (Disclaimer: includes affiliate links.)

 

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This field guide to birds has a  proven track record with me. It is filled with colorful illustrations and descriptions of each bird, helping me to make a speedy identification.

[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third]

This field guide to bugs has you covered for all of the most common insects and arachnids in North America.

[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third_end]

The only butterfly guide you’ll ever need! Filled with colorful pictures and descriptions to go along with them, this book is a must-have for the avid butterfly enthusiast!

[/ezcol_1third_end]

 

[ezcol_1third]

My favorite field guide to trees. I am in the east (just barely), so I use this guide.

[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third]

The western edition of my favorite tree ID guide!

[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third_end]

Weed ID guide for a huge variety of weeds in North America, from seed to maturity.

[/ezcol_1third_end]

Wildflower guides are more area-specific, but here is the guide that I use in Louisiana. And no, I didn’t pay the current price for it. I bought it as a $25 book at a local bookstore.. Look up guides for your area and see what you find. Guides specializing in your area will be more reliable and accurate.

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


!


Submit

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

The Benefits of Carrying a Field ID Guide

Oct 9, 2017

What comes to mind when I speak the term, “field identification?” What I personally think of is taking a walk around on the edge of the woods, ID guide in hand, naming all of the plants or bugs that I pass by. Even though this is technically field identification, there is much more to it than that.

Field identification is not simply a pastime. For me, it’s part of my lifestyle. Many times, I carry a small pocket wildflower ID book with me just in case I wonder, “What in the world is that plant?” And yes, I use the guide regularly. It’s also useful to have a butterfly/bug ID guide handy when I’m out working in the garden. I stumble on some unusual bug at least once a week. Every now and then, I accidentally leave my guide in the house. Of course, by the time I rush inside to grab it and hurry back out, the bug has disappeared.

Sigh…

Even if you don’t carry the ID guide with you wherever you go, there is a HUGE benefit to packing one on your monthly travels. I go on hikes about once a month. I usually come across some unique flower or tree on the trail, and instantly regret it if I didn’t bring my guide with me. Even when I’m walking in the downtown district of a city, there are always interesting forms of life no matter where I go.

Have I convinced you to carry a guide yet? Even if I haven’t, at least consider owning one “just in case.” 😉

Down below are some links to my favorite ID guides that have proved exceptional resources for me. Enjoy! (Disclaimer: includes affiliate links.)

 

[ezcol_1third]

This field guide to birds has a  proven track record with me. It is filled with colorful illustrations and descriptions of each bird, helping me to make a speedy identification.

[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third]

This field guide to bugs has you covered for all of the most common insects and arachnids in North America.

[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third_end]

The only butterfly guide you’ll ever need! Filled with colorful pictures and descriptions to go along with them, this book is a must-have for the avid butterfly enthusiast!

[/ezcol_1third_end]

 

[ezcol_1third]

My favorite field guide to trees. I am in the east (just barely), so I use this guide.

[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third]

The western edition of my favorite tree ID guide!

[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third_end]

Weed ID guide for a huge variety of weeds in North America, from seed to maturity.

[/ezcol_1third_end]

Wildflower guides are more area-specific, but here is the guide that I use in Louisiana. And no, I didn’t pay the current price for it. I bought it as a $25 book at a local bookstore.. Look up guides for your area and see what you find. Guides specializing in your area will be more reliable and accurate.

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


!


Submit

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

The Benefits of Carrying a Field ID Guide

Oct 9, 2017

What comes to mind when I speak the term, “field identification?” What I personally think of is taking a walk around on the edge of the woods, ID guide in hand, naming all of the plants or bugs that I pass by. Even though this is technically field identification, there is much more to it than that.

Field identification is not simply a pastime. For me, it’s part of my lifestyle. Many times, I carry a small pocket wildflower ID book with me just in case I wonder, “What in the world is that plant?” And yes, I use the guide regularly. It’s also useful to have a butterfly/bug ID guide handy when I’m out working in the garden. I stumble on some unusual bug at least once a week. Every now and then, I accidentally leave my guide in the house. Of course, by the time I rush inside to grab it and hurry back out, the bug has disappeared.

Sigh…

Even if you don’t carry the ID guide with you wherever you go, there is a HUGE benefit to packing one on your monthly travels. I go on hikes about once a month. I usually come across some unique flower or tree on the trail, and instantly regret it if I didn’t bring my guide with me. Even when I’m walking in the downtown district of a city, there are always interesting forms of life no matter where I go.

Have I convinced you to carry a guide yet? Even if I haven’t, at least consider owning one “just in case.” 😉

Down below are some links to my favorite ID guides that have proved exceptional resources for me. Enjoy! (Disclaimer: includes affiliate links.)

 

[ezcol_1third]

This field guide to birds has a  proven track record with me. It is filled with colorful illustrations and descriptions of each bird, helping me to make a speedy identification.

[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third]

This field guide to bugs has you covered for all of the most common insects and arachnids in North America.

[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third_end]

The only butterfly guide you’ll ever need! Filled with colorful pictures and descriptions to go along with them, this book is a must-have for the avid butterfly enthusiast!

[/ezcol_1third_end]

 

[ezcol_1third]

My favorite field guide to trees. I am in the east (just barely), so I use this guide.

[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third]

The western edition of my favorite tree ID guide!

[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third_end]

Weed ID guide for a huge variety of weeds in North America, from seed to maturity.

[/ezcol_1third_end]

Wildflower guides are more area-specific, but here is the guide that I use in Louisiana. And no, I didn’t pay the current price for it. I bought it as a $25 book at a local bookstore.. Look up guides for your area and see what you find. Guides specializing in your area will be more reliable and accurate.

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


!


Submit

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.