23 December 2017

Columbine Love

Columbine is a lovely flower to see in sun or part-shade garden spots. The bell-shaped flowers are a gorgeous red-hot-pink with yellow center and anthers. 

Mary Ann King at Pine Ridge Gardens said in Plant of the Week - 
"Eastern columbine is native to Arkansas and all states from the Midwest to the eastern shores with the exception of Louisiana.  Zones 3-9.  

There are several misconceptions surrounding this lovely native.  Most folks think it is delicate – and I agree that it looks fragile.  But let me tell you it is one TOUGH plant.  

It will grow in the full sun, out between two rocks, or it will grow in the shade or anywhere in between.  I’ve seen it growing out of boulders where it has almost no soil.  It is certainly drought tolerant.  

I think it probably wouldn’t like soils that are too wet.  Hummingbirds adore it.  Bumblebees as well.  

Grows from 1 to 3’ tall.  After flowering, seed follicles form and fill with shiny black seeds.  The follicles splits along the top and you can catch these seeds and disperse them where you will.  I just like to take handfuls and toss them.  
Giant Mix from Harris Seed

The foliage is poisonous so rabbits and deer generally leave them alone.  

The main cultural practice that columbines don’t like is: being planted deeper than how they are growing in the pot and they don’t like mulch pulled up close to their crown."

There are many hybrids, that bring other colors to our spring flower beds. Harris Seed (photo) sells a mix of colors in bare root plants. 25 for $53.

Clementine Red from
Bluestone Perennials

Here's a double flowering hybrid variety, Clementine Red, from Bluestone Perennials. $13 per plant.

The natives, Aquigelia canadensis for example, are most likely to spread around your garden. Hybrids grown from cloning methods such as cuttings, chemical replication, etc. have shorter lifespans and spread only with ideal care and location.

Most seed companies offer seed packs of the single varieties as well as some of the doubles. A quick check from my computer yielded dozens of places to get them.

The best seed growing how-to resource, http://tomclothier.hort.net/, says that germination is slow and spotty with cold stratification helpful and probably necessary. Maybe if you want to grow from seed you should order now or soon.

16 December 2017

Poinsettia Care

Pete Carson opened Carson Borovetz Nursery for his annual Poinsettia sales event. Native to Southern Mexico, Poinsettias, Euphorbia pulchenima, dominate holiday home and office d├ęcor to the tune of 80-million sold each year.

This year we are offering four sizes and most of the colors available, said Carson.

Shoppers will find over 2,000 plants in various sizes and colors at the nursery. Here is a rundown of the poinsettias choices this year at Carson Bororvetz.

Casual observers never notice the Poinsettia flowers because they are so tiny. The colorful leaves or bracts that bring seasonal cheerfulness into our winter environment are not actually flowers.

Carson pointed out that even before the bracts turn colors you could see what color they will be by looking at the petiole or leaf stem. All the plants have green leaves when they are growing in October. But the stem that connects the leaf to the main stems carries the eventual bract color. Look for red stems on red poinsettias.

Carson will have white, pink, red, Monet, maroon, Winter Rose and Marble.


Pixie is a 4.5-inch pot miniature with 6 to 8 blooms. Ideal for tabletop, bedside, desks.

Six and one-half-inch pots have 2 plants per container and there will be 12-blooms. This size is the most popular for home coffee tables and in churches.

Eight-inch pots contain 3-plants, planted close together to create a taller display. This height is often used around a fireplace when it is not burning.

Hanging baskets are 10-inches in diameter and will have 20-blooms.

In the middle of August when most gardeners are sipping iced tea, Carson received four thousand Poinsettia plant cuttings. When they arrived their root ball was about as big around as a ballpoint pen.

All Poinsettias are hybrids grown from cuttings, Carson said. Each variety has different growing characteristics that I’ve learned over the past 25-years.

For example, a cloudy spell will impact when the bracts become colorful. August and September heat, an October hard freeze and insect migrations, all have to be worked around. Carson keeps both growing houses controlled with fans and heaters to keep the Poinsettias at their required 75-degree daytime and 64-degree nighttime temperatures.

Carson said he has learned from experience how many of each color to grow and which size pots Muskogee area holiday shoppers need.

By the way, Poinsettias are not poisonous. A few individuals have an allergic rash after touching the sap inside the stems of all Euphorbias.
- Temperature is critical to long lasting color. Keep away from television, stove, fireplace, furnace ducts, cold windowsills and doors that are frequently opened.
- Night temperature of 60-degrees F is ideal
- Water twice a week and drain the saucer after every watering.
Carson Borovetz Nursery
3020 North Street between South Country Club and York Streets
Monday November 24 through December 24
Monday to Saturday 9 to 6
Sunday noon to 6
918.682.4404 and 348-1270 cell

09 December 2017

Sustainable Gift Giving

Tulsa Sustainable held a meeting this week with a speaker from Root Tulsa, a project of the Kaiser Foundation. (Root Tulsa is a great app for things to do in Tulsa, sadly available only for Apple customers.)

With the holiday gift giving season here, these two organizations came up with dozens of ideas for our conservationist selves to consider.

In order to share the presentation with you, here are pictures of several slides.

One of the ideas, Keep it Local OK, is not available in Muskogee, but is across the rest of Oklahoma.
Purchase or give a $15 gift card for card holders to receive discounts at over 300 Oklahoma restaurants, stores, personal service businesses, clothing outlets, movie theaters, etc.
Here's a list of the businesses that sell and honor the card.

The emphasis is on locally purchased, minimally packaged items that
take as little as possible while giving as much as possible

Green, sustainable, gifting builds your community rather than an online store's profits
Focus on giving experiences rather than objects
Root Tulsa has a great list of suggestions at this link
Home made over commercial. Shop previously owned. Upcycle. Recycle,.Re-gift
"A thriving society, responsible economic growth, and environmental stewardship are the mutually reinforcing pillars of sustainability, and are the driving principles behind Sustainable Tulsa."

Oklahoma Sustainability Network includes the towns at the links below.

Rick Ewing, Muskogee Parks and Recreation has formed a committee to explore the possibility of Sustainable Muskogee. Contact him if you'd like to be involved in that effort.

04 December 2017

Gloriosa Lily Flame Lily Glory Lily

No matter what you call it, this lily is a spectacular summer flower to grow on a fence or trellis!

These summer blooming vines are cold hardy to zone 7 so we are weather compatible. A word of caution: many garden sites say they are hardy only in zone 9. Of course, they need a sunny location for the best flowering.

Gloriosa rothschildiana
A plant guru recommended Terra Ceia Farms so I ordered mine through them. The bulbs are 3 for $10 and ship in March.
There are color choices, of course but I wanted the one I saw growing at the Mobile Botanical Garden, which is Gloriosa rothschildiana, one of the red and yellow varieties.

Leafari planting guide suggests planting them with open structure perennials, "With their vining habit and need to something to climb on; flame lilies partner well with open-form shrubs, roses and sturdy mid-size perennials.

They want dry feet and average soil, "Average, moderately fertile soil with medium amounts of moisture will be fine for glory lilies. Soil that drains poorly and allows water to puddle will encourage tuber rot. Adding a slow release fertilizer when you plant can be helpful if your soil is a bit lean.

Gloriosa superba bulbs

Keep soil very slightly moist - too much water encourages tuber rot. Roots will start growing in 7-10 days and top growth will be visible in 2-4 weeks. Plant about 6" apart. "

The Garden of Eden blog from the UK says, "Despite its tropical looks the Glory Lily is relatively easy to grow. It is best off started in pots and then transferring them to the ground during May to June once the threat of late frosts have passed.

Similar to the oriental lilies the growth of the Glory Lily is upright at first, but these are climbing plants that love to scramble. If you look carefully you'll see that the tip of each leaf has a barbed end which it uses to support itself on whatever is at hand to climb on.
Using loam-based compost - with either horticultural grit, perlite or vermiculite or bark chippings to aid drainage. To help give it a head start you can also throw in a handful of grow-more or bone meal, just make sure that it is mixed in thoroughly before planting.
Gloriosa greenii flower
Plant the bulbs 3-4" deep, in larger pots you can plant several specimens so long as they are about 6" apart. Just lay them on their sides and cover them up - they will know which way is up. Water well, thoroughly soaking the compost and then allow any residue to drain away. If kept in a warm room you can expect to see new shoots in two to three weeks.

During the growing season the Glory lily should be watered thoroughly, but again, they will need to be allowed to dry out almost completely before re-watering – never leave them waterlogged or standing in water as this can encourage rots. When growing begins in the spring they should be given a liquid feed once a week to encourage new growth. Later on in the season a half strength fertilizer added to the water every two weeks will keep plants blooming strongly throughout the summer and sometimes further into early autumn."

Planted in large pots, they would be easy to dig and save over the winter.

It's exciting to try new plants and at 3 for $10 it's not terribly expensive to try this beauty in your garden this coming year.

In its native setting "Gloriosa superba occurs in semi-shade or sun in bushveld, coastal dunes, coastal woodlands, forest, thicket, grassland and savanna-forest boundaries, in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, North West and in Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe and into tropical Africa, India and southeastern Asia."

And, "Tubers are eaten by porcupines." Not a worry in Oklahoma.