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Search Results for ' Geranium'

PAL Questions: 5 - Garden Tools: 2

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Keywords: Geranium, Fertilizers

PAL Question:

What would be the best fertilizer for hardy geraniums and when?

View Answer:

Established hardy geraniums do not need much more than an application of compost in spring. Most commerical fertilizers will provide too much nitrogen, causing weak growth that flops over or needs staking. (Source: The Gardener's Guide to Growing Hardy Geraniums, by Trevor Bath, 1994)

Season All Season
Date 2006-02-26
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Keywords: Weed control, Equisetum, Lonicera, Geranium, Cistus

PAL Question:

What does "horse grass" look like? According to Ciscoe, it can't be gotten rid of and I want to see if this is what I have.

View Answer:

I wonder if you are referring to horsetail, or Equisetum, which is a very persistent weed.

Wikipedia has a picture, and here is another from CalPhotos

Here is an article on Field Horsetail and Related Species from Oregon State University Extension.

Here is what Ciscoe Morris said about this plant in the Seattle P-I (April 29, 2006):

"Hands down, horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is the worst weed you can get in your garden. If you've got it, just be glad you weren't gardening in prehistoric times. Back then, horsetail grew to 90 feet tall and you were in danger of being stepped on by a brontosaurus while weeding.

The worst thing about horsetail is the speed with which it returns to make your life miserable after you weed it. No matter how great a weeding job you do, it will be back, practically to full size, within a week!

Do what we did at Seattle University. Plant a mix of shrubs, ground covers and fast-growing perennials that are thick and tall enough to hide the horsetail. Shrubs that hide horsetail include Cistus (rockrose) Lonicera pileata (privet honeysuckle) Lonicera nitida (Box honeysuckle) and rosemary. My favorite perennial to hide horsetail is the prolific hardy Geranium oxonianum 'Claridge Druce.' It will seed all over your garden, but new seedlings are easy to remove in spring. These drought-tolerant plants look great in their own right and because they are so thick and tall, no one will see the hoards of horsetail growing within."

Washington Toxics Coalition recommends controlling it by persistently hand-pulling or hoeing the above-ground growth as soon as it appears. This will weaken the plant over time. It does die back over winter, when you could cover the affected area with black plastic (for a duration of 2 years), but even this may not be entirely successful.

An article by Irene Mills in the Fall 2008 issue of the Northwest Perennial Alliance's Perennial Post says that pulling, digging, and covering with black plastic are a waste of time. The author recommends keeping an eye out in April for emerging spore-bearing stalks, and cutting these off and disposing of them in the garbage. She suggests improving the soil texture (improve drainage, add organic matter, increase soil fertility, and in some cases increase soil pH). She recommends this guide called "Controlling Horsetail" from Swanson's Nursery, originally published in Gardens West by Carol Hall.

Season All Season
Date 2007-03-23
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Keywords: Brunnera, Stachys, Liriope, Epimedium, Lamium, Rock garden plants, Shade gardening, Ground cover plants, Geranium

PAL Question:

I'm looking to plant in a narrow strip on our retaining walls some "spiller" plants which will overhang the walls (which face north).

I'd prefer evergreen plants which would fill in fairly quickly, but I could also mix in slower-growing and deciduous plants. There's great drainage since I have gravel reservoirs behind each wall, and the part of the plant above the wall will get part to full sun, though I could overplant them if necessary for a plant that couldn't handle full sun.

I would like plants with interesting foliage and form to soften the look of the walls, and so would prefer a furry look to a spiny one. Flowers and fragrance are less important though always nice, and I'm hoping to have at least 2 or 3 different plant types with different colored foliage (shades of green are fine).

View Answer:

Some of the plants that occur to me, based on the description of your site, are Brunnera macrophylla, Epimedium, Geranium phaeum, Stachys byzantina, Lamium maculatum, and Liriope. Of these, the Geranium and Lamium will trail somewhat, while the others are essentially upright.

These links offer lists of plants that may be appropriate to your site: From the University of Missouri Extension and Groundcovers for Western Washington (from WSU).

You could also try entering your site requirements into the plant-finding and plant selection web pages below:

Great Plant Picks (a local site)

King County's native plant guide

Missouri Botanic Garden Plant Finder

Royal Horticultural Society Plant Selector

The Miller Library has many books on gardening in the shade, so you may wish to come in and do some research to help you in your plant selection. Here is a booklist that may be of interest.

Season All Season
Date 2007-05-21
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Keywords: Chionodoxa, Vancouveria hexandra, Tiarella, Pulmonaria, Galium, Brunnera, Vinca, Epimedium, Lamium, Platanus, Narcissus, Liliaceae, Geranium

PAL Question:

We have a very large beautiful sycamore in our back yard. My roommate thought it would be nice to build a flower garden around the base of the tree, but something tells me that doing so would be harmful to the tree's root system. Is this true? I would love to hear your thoughts.

View Answer:

I think it should be safe to plant shallow-rooted, shade- and drought-tolerant perennials and small bulbs under your sycamore (I'm assuming you mean Platanus species, and not sycamore maple, which is Acer pseudoplatanus). You just need to be careful not to pile soil on top of any exposed roots, and try not to scrape or scuff any roots when you are planting. This tree does have spreading roots so they may extend out some distance. More information about the tree can be found on the pages of the U.S. Forest Service.

Some of the plants which may work well in your garden are:

Brunnera macrophylla
Epimedium
Galium odoratum
Geranium phaeum
Lamium (but not the invasive Lamium galeobdolon)
Pulmonaria
Tiarella
Vancouveria hexandra
Vinca minor
Chionodoxa
Narcissus
Scilla

Season All Season
Date 2007-06-16
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Keywords: Aegopodium, Convallaria, Oxalis oregana, Lobularia, Pachysandra, Galium, Lamium galeobdolon, Sheet mulching, Euonymus, Shade-tolerant plants, Polystichum munitum, Native plants--Washington, Fragaria, Garden soils, Ground cover plants, Geranium

PAL Question:

What is a good way to deal with a gravelly area with a lot of shade? Are there good groundcovers that would be low maintenance? Can the plants grow right in the gravel, or do I need to do something to the soil?

View Answer:

If it's pure gravel, you can just make a border (with rocks and/or wood, preferably non-treated) and fill it with 9-12" of soil. (No need to remove the gravel.) You buy soil by the cubic yard, so to figure out how much, multiply the length (feet) x width (feet) x depth (.75 or 1), then divide by 27 to get the number of yards. One yard of soil is 3' x 3' x 3', or 27 cubic feet. My guess is that you need less than a yard, but it settles.

You can save money by buying the soil in bulk. Otherwise, you have to buy it by the bag, and they might come in cubic feet. If there is only some gravel, you may be able to get by with the soil/gravel mix that you have. See how much hardpan there is by digging around a little.

If you have lots of weeds in the gravel, cover the whole area with large sheets of cardboard or multiple layers of newspaper (about 10 sheets), overlapped to prevent light from getting through. Then put down a border and fill the area with soil. Smothering weeds depends upon complete darkness more than anything. Therefore, overlapping biodegradable stuff and deep soil is key.

Once you've done that, you can plant right away. Here are some plant suggestions. I've included links to pictures, but you can always find more on Google images or the Missouri Botanical Garden's PlantFinder

  1. Lobularia maritima, known as sweet alyssum: You can plant seeds of this and it will come up this year. It's best to mix it with something else, since it dies down in winter (but self-seeds vigorously and will return). The white seeds the fastest (year to year), but it's nice to mix with purple. Both varieties smell good and attract beneficial insects.

  2. Fragaria x ananassa 'Pink Panda': A strawberry-potentilla hybrid that grows fast and spreads easily, is good weed suppresser, and blooms twice a year with pink flowers. This is an excellent groundcover, will probably be evergreen.

  3. Pachysandra: This plant is evergreen, and though it is not as fast growing as some groundcovers, it does spread.

  4. Hardy Geranium spp.: Geranium x oxonianum 'Claridge Druce' is a variety that spreads well. Another good variety is Geranium endressii 'Wargrave's Pink'; in particular, it seeds itself well. Geranium macrorrhizum has many cultivars, a pleasant scent, and self-seeds readily.

  5. Galium odoratum: Also called sweet woodruff, this plant is prettily scented, probably evergreen here, and spreads fairly rapidly. It produces white flowers in early spring, and it would be particularly good to mix with something taller, like Geranium species.

  6. Oxalis oregana: This native plant looks like a shamrock, and though it is slow to establish, once it has it's very tough and spreads. If you don't get the native Oxalis oregana be careful, as the other species are very aggressive.

  7. Euonymus spp.: These woody groundcover plants are evergreen, and come in lots of varieties like E. fortunei 'Emerald 'n'Gold' and 'Emerald Gaiety'. Do be sure to get a groundcover and not a shrub version of the plant. 'Emerald and Gold' is the most robust choice.

  8. Convallaria majalis: Also known as lily of the valley, this is a vigorous groundcover.

  9. Maianthemum dilatatum: Called false lily of the valley, this native plant is a good choice for shade groundcover.

  10. Polystichum munitum: The native swordfern (or another fern species) might work. P. munitum is basically evergreen, though you might need to cut out some dead fronds in late winter, and makes a good mix with something else. Other deciduous ferns are higher maintenance.

There are also a couple of plants to avoid!

  1. DON'T plant Aegopodium podagraria 'Variegatum': Commonly called bishop's weed, and frequently used as a groundcover, this plant is very invasive.

  2. DON'T plant Lamium galeobdolon (formerly known as Lamiastrum), either: Yellow archangel is very invasive in Pacific Northwest forests.

Season All Season
Date 2008-05-14
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Keywords: Lamium, Perennials, Geranium

Garden Tool:

Once a gardener decides she wants a certain plant for her garden still another decision has to be made: what cultivar? A combination between "cultivated" and "variety", cultivar is a named selection of a species that exhibits an ornamental trait that differs from the straight species (but not too much). An example is Helleborus foetidus 'Red Silver' a particularly nice Stinking Hellebore with flowers edged with red.

The Chicago Botanic Garden publishes a research report called Plant Evaluation Notes that reports the results of years of research comparing all of the available cultivars of popular perennial species like Hardy Geraniums and shade-loving Lamium. Most reports look at general garden worthiness, but occasionally they will look at disease susceptibility, like powdery mildew in Phlox or Bee Balm. Typically three issues are published per year. To find current and past issues and ordering information, go to the website of Chicago Botanic Garden.
You can also write Chicago Botanic Garden, Plant Evaluation Program, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL 60022. Individual issues cost $3.00.

  • Top scoring Hardy Geraniums include: Geranium 'Blue Cloud', G. 'Brookside' and G. macrorrhizum 'Lohfelden'.
  • Top ranking Lamium (Dead Nettle) include: Lamium album 'Friday', L. maculatum 'Red Nancy' and L. maculatum 'Shell Pink'.

Season: All Season
Date: 2006-09-29
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Keywords: Lavatera, Snails, Slugs, Geranium, Euphorbia

Garden Tool: What unites gardeners from all walks of life? A passionate loathing of slugs and snails. Perhaps if we understood these little slimy mollusks better - their lifecycle, their tastes - we'd learn to appreciate them for the successful creatures they are. Or at least we could learn how to drive them out of our gardens with the latest science has to offer.
The BBC's Science and Nature web site has an in-depth article on snails and slugs that makes fascinating reading. http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/animals/features/291feature1.shtml

  • Slugs have memory and will return another night to finish off tasty seedlings until they are all gone.
  • A few plants slugs find distasteful: foxgloves, many species in the daisy family, Lavateras, hollyhocks, azaleas, Euphorbia, hardy Geraniums.

A long list of "Slug Resistant Plants" is given in a Seattle Times article by local writer Valerie Easton

Season: Spring
Date: 2006-08-24
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December 12 2014 11:33:49