How to Grow Aubrieta Flowering Groundcover

My neighbors, across the street, have a beautiful ground cover around certain spaces in their yard. Though our homes are acres apart, I can see this plant’s vibrant colors from my kitchen window.

The plant that lights up their yard is called aubrieta. Do you need a groundcover to light up dull spaces in your yard?

Don’t overlook this plant. It’s easy to grow, and even if you’re unfamiliar with it, you’re in the right place. I’ll fill you in on all you must know to grow aubrieta around your home.

Here’s everything you should know to grow aubrieta in barren locations around your home or garden.

GROWING CONDITIONS FOR AUBRIETA

Aubrieta is a low-maintenance plant that doesn’t need much in a growing location. This plant has small, purple blooms which are surrounded by delicate leaves. It blooms in the earliest part of spring each year.

As mentioned above, this plant is a wonderful groundcover. Yet, it can also be grown in containers, be used as a border plant, or incorporated into a rock garden.

The only thing aubrieta needs from you in its growing area is full sun and well-draining soil. The soil doesn’t need to be nutrient dense as this plant does well in lower quality or even rocky soil.

However, it’s vital that water can reach the roots of the plant and quickly flow away to avoid disease. Aubrieta should be planted where it will receive a minimum of six hours of sunlight.

It will also need some space as aubrieta can spread up to two feet around. Don’t worry, as the plant isn’t known for being invasive.

If you live in planting zones four through eight, you can grow this perennial groundcover with ease. Now that you know where this plant can grow, let’s discuss how to grow it.

HOW TO PLANT AUBRIETA

Planting aubrieta is a simple task. You can grow the plant from seed either by starting them indoors or by directly sowing the seeds into the growing location. I’ll explain both methods.

To start the seeds indoors, ensure you start two months prior to the start of spring. Fill a growing tray with well-draining soil.

Place two seeds per cell of the tray. This is to ensure if one seed fails to germinate, you have another to take its place.

Lightly cover the seeds with soil and mist them using a spray bottle filled with water. This is to ensure the seeds receive moisture without becoming oversaturated.

Cover the seed tray with plastic wrap to help the soil retain moisture and place the tray in a warm location. Spritz the seeds with water to ensure the soil never fully dries out.

The seeds should germinate within two weeks. Once they’ve sprouted, move them under a grow light and continue to care for the seedlings.

When they’ve developed true leaves and a strong root system, it’s time to transplant the seedlings outdoors after they’ve gone through the hardening off process.

If you’d rather plant the seeds directly into the ground, begin by planting in a location that receives full sun and has well-draining soil in early spring.

From there, till the soil approximately six inches beneath the surface. Cast the seeds over the tilled dirt and lightly cover them.

Water them adequately and wait a couple of weeks for the seeds to germinate. Once the plants sprout, thin them to where there’s approximately one foot of space between each plant.

When you plant aubrieta, don’t worry if it doesn’t bloom the first year. This is common and, in most cases, it won’t bloom until the second year.

These are a couple of different ways you can begin growing aubrieta around your home. Pick the method you’re most comfortable with and add this gorgeous flower to your landscape.

CARING FOR AUBRIETA

There are a few things you must do to properly care for aubrieta when growing it around your home. The first thing you must consider is watering the plant.

Though aubrieta is drought tolerant, it’s still a good idea to water it regularly. I prefer using the deep watering method as this encourages the plant to develop a stronger root system.

The idea is to water the plant fewer days of the week but for a longer period of time. This way, during the initial watering session, water reaches the roots of the plant while the ground around the plant becomes saturated as well.

As the days progress, the plant will begin to seek out water around it. In the process, the roots must dig deeper to find the water and will form a stronger root system. This typically equates to a healthier plant.

Be sure to test the soil prior to applying more water. Insert your finger into the dirt next to the plant. If it’s dry to your first knuckle, it’s time to apply more water. If not, wait a day or two before testing the soil again.

Remember, though aubrieta grows in full sun, it also blooms in early spring. Therefore, it enjoys growing in a cool, damp climate. Avoid letting the plant become too dry in between watering sessions.

The next step to caring for aubrieta is to keep the weeds down. Though aubrieta will spread and eventually hold its own, it’s vital to keep weeds from choking the plant out in its earliest stages.

Therefore, you can hand pick the weeds or apply mulch around the plant. Not only will this keep the weeds out of your aubrieta, but it will also help the soil retain moisture.

The one thing you won’t need to do when growing aubrieta is fertilize. This flower isn’t particular about its nutrients or soil, so be sure to skip this step when caring for this plant.

Yet, aubrieta does enjoy a good pruning. Once the plant has finished blooming, cut it back. This will keep your aubrieta plants neat in appearance and also more compact.

Every two years, it’s wise to divide your plants. Dig them up, use a spade to divide the plant all the way through its roots, and then transplant into a new location.

This will keep the plants looking younger and more vibrant. These are the only steps you must take when caring for aubrieta.

GARDEN PESTS AND DISEASES WHICH MIGHT IMPACT AUBRIETA

Almost every plant has a few enemies in the garden. Aubrieta is no exception. The most common pests to attack aubrieta are aphids and flea beetles. Both of which can be treated using an insecticide.

However, you must stay alert to ensure the pests are treated before a large infestation takes over and risks the health of your plant.

The only diseases which commonly impact aubrieta are fungal issues. The most common of which is powdery mildew.

Fungal issues may be treated using a fungicide. However, you can stay ahead of them by ensuring you don’t plant aubrieta where it doesn’t receive enough sunlight and the soil doesn’t drain properly. This creates the perfect breeding ground for fungal disease as they like to grow in cold, wet soil.

You should also ensure you plant with enough distance between each aubrieta plant. This will ensure air can flow between the plants and allow the foliage to dry completely after watering.

Stay alert to these potential issues and you should be able to avoid these pests and diseases. At the very least, you should be able to catch the problems early enough to give your plants what they need to bounce back quickly.

Growing aubrieta can be an easy and rewarding investment into your landscape. Though this plant doesn’t require much from you, it can certainly provide a brilliant show of color in the spring.

If you’re interested in adding color to your home or garden without adding lots of extra work to your plate, aubrieta could be the flower for you.

Article by Jennifer Poindexter

Source: How to Grow Aubrieta Flowering Groundcover – Gardening Channel

Plant cover crops at home for healthier soils

Crimson Clover can be used as a warm-season or cool-season cover crop. Using crimson clover increases organic matter and soil fertility by adding nitrogen to the soil. Photo credit: Pixabay

Healthy soil is essential for healthy plants. Using cover crops in the home garden is one way to promote soil health.

Cover crops are non-harvested crops that add organic matter to the soil, transfer nitrogen to plants, and break up heavy clay or compacted soil. They are commonly used in agriculture, but also have a place in the home garden.

Cover crops are planted before a garden is planted or after harvest. Cover crops can also be planted in areas that are unused for the season. Using cover crops in the home garden has many benefits.

Improving soil structure, drawing nutrients up from deep in the soil, and increasing soil fertility are just a few ways cover crops to improve soil health. Suppression of weeds, habitat for beneficial insects, increased biodiversity are other ways cover crops work for the garden’s good.

There are two types of cover crops to consider, warm-season and cool-season. Warm-season cover crops are planted in spring or summer before the garden is planted or in a fallow area. Buckwheat, cowpeas, and crimson clover are warm-season are common cover crops used in the home garden.

Cool-season cover crops are planted in late summer or early fall after the vegetables are harvested. Oats, winter wheat, winter rye, and crimson clover can be used as cool-season cover crops.

Keep in mind that these cool-season cover crops need to germinate and grow before winter temperatures.

Crimson clover and cowpeas are legumes that take nitrogen from the air and convert it to a form usable by plants. Notice that crimson clover can be used as either a warm-season or cool-season cover crop.

When planting a cover crop, there is no need to cover the seeds. Allow the plants to grow until the flowering stage. Once flowering begins, either mow or cut down as close to the ground as possible to prevent seed formation. If the crop is cut down too early, it may regrow. If it is cut down too late, it may reseed.

After cutting down the cover crop, leave the cut portion as a mulch on top of the soil or till it into the ground. Both options have their benefits. Leaving the plant material as a mulch can suppress weeds. Tilling can help incorporate the organic matter into the soil, but it also disrupts the delicate soil ecosystem.

Each garden is unique, so you must decide what is suitable for each situation.

Winter hardy cover crops or crops not killed by the mowing could be tilled into the soil. A cover crop that is killed by winter temperatures would not require tilling the debris into the soil.

It is important to follow the “mow, wait, plant” rule when using cover crops. After mowing a cover crop, leave the plant debris to sit for two to four weeks before planting anything else. The residue needs to break down and the flush of microbial activity needs to slow before new plants start growing.

By Nicole Flowers-Kimmerle, horticulture educator

Source: Gardeners Corner Winter 2021-22: University of Illinois Extension

Why Garden? Gardening benefits body, mind, wallet

Grandfather and grandchild tending garden together on sunny day
Photo credit Unsplash

A continuously connected lifestyle can drain internal batteries quickly, but digging into the world outside may be the best way to rejuvenate, revitalize and recharge. The gadgets of gardening aren’t flashy: a shovel, pruners, hoses and bags of seeds. All are simple yet practical, and useful but not at all high-tech.

Gardener responses to a National Garden Bureau survey about why they garden hailed the health, economic, and social benefits of gardening. They also extolled the many joys found in working the land. With so many advantages to gardening, it’s not surprising the top 10 reasons are so diverse.

Garden to produce safe, healthy food

Consumers are increasingly aware of food-borne illnesses, food contamination, and the additives and preservatives found in processed food. This, coupled with interest in organic gardening, has increased the availability of organic produce.

Working out(side)

Studies show that an hour of moderate gardening can burn up to 300 calories for women and almost 400 calories for men, Mowing the grass mimics a vigorous walk. Planting requires bending and stretching, just like an exercise class. There are also devices that can help people with physical limitations enjoy the advantages of working in their garden.

A thing of beauty

A well-tended garden enhances any setting of any size, and provides a pleasurable vista, and trees and shrubs provide color and shade, as well as shelter for birds and wildlife.

Garden to learn

Gardening helps individuals learn by doing while building knowledge, gardening expertise and problem-solving skills. Gardeners find that the more they learn, the more they want to know.

Garden to earn

The love of plants can lead to anything from a job at a local garden center to owning a landscape business. Gardeners also can sell their products at local farmers markets or craft show, and landscaping projects can increase property values by up to 15%.

Sharing knowledge, broadening horizons

Gardeners love to share their gardens and their knowledge, thus expanding their social circle. Even during a pandemic, meetups with other gardeners can take place in socially distanced environments or online, and provides a way to gather information, ask questions and get involved.

Tapping into creativity

For many, gardening is an outlet for inspiration and artistic expression. Attention to design can produce everything from the serene, contemplative mood of a Japanese garden to the romantic feel of an English cottage.

Gardening to win

If you’ve got a competitive streak, gardening may be a friendly way to show off your skills. County and state fairs provide opportunities for adults and children to show off their skills as they grow giant pumpkins, beautiful bountiful beans or the perfect zinnia.

Benefits to emotional health

Gardens play an important part in our wellbeing. A garden may serve as a tranquil retreat or private escape from the demands of your daily life. A healthy harvest provides a sense of achievement and feelings of success. Gardening builds confidence and self-esteem.

Grow lasting memories

Gardening is an intergenerational activity that’s appropriate for all ages. Memories of your garden and gardening with you may help motivate young horticulturists to become the master gardeners of tomorrow. Each year, as they harvest their own crops, they’ll recall the sweetness of your cherry tomatoes or the beauty of the hydrangeas that you cultivated together.

That’s one of greatest gifts that a garden can give.

Article by Martha A. Smith, Horticulture Educator, Illinois Extension

Source: Gardeners Corner Spring 2021: University of Illinois Extension

Garden catalog season gives gardeners chance to explore, shop for next year’s seeds

January begins the annual flight of vegetable, flower, and fruit tree catalogs to your mailbox or inbox. Depending on your level of gardening, the catalogs are starting to arrive frequently and en mass.

It used to be you would get either a vegetable catalog or a fruit catalog or flower catalog. Many catalogs now contain something for everyone, including the garden gadget addicts.

Illinois gardeners should start by looking for plants that thrive in USDA Hardiness Zone 5. Many catalogs offer heirloom vegetables, flowers, and fruit trees. These heirloom varieties can be some of the best tasting and or more unusual looking fruits and vegetables we get to eat.

They are called heirloom since they have had no or very little traditional breeding. This can mean they will have more disease problems though and often less production as well.

With all the plant breeding work going on, vegetables can take on new colors that are a bit outside the lines. Consider a blue potato or perhaps the more acceptable colors of green peppers being yellow, red, purple, orange. These look great in salads and other dishes. It used to be that Swiss chard was green, but it is now also available in shades of pink, orange, yellow, gold, white and purple. Newer varieties have a slenderer stalk and can be used to brighten up salads or cooked as you would use spinach.

Small fruits such as strawberries come in a variety of shades of red now. More small fruits options are also now available. Plant breeders have had success transforming smaller fruiting shrubs such as currants, gooseberries, and Aronia into well performing plants for the home garden. Rhubarb and asparagus are great additions to the garden.

Technology has been transforming gardening. There is a garden gadget for everyone. Gardeners who start their own seeds will find a variety of pots, seed starting soil mixes, markers, and more. You can start your seeds in flats individual cell packs like you see when you buy your annual flowers, or even expanding pellets. 

Planting can be done in pots made of plastic, bio-renewable materials, or an organic fiber. Additional accessories that make seed starting easier include warming mats in sizes from one six pack to a full tray, plant stands with growing lights and self-watering trays, or a variety of temporary outdoor structures to use to grow out and harden vegetable plants before they go into the garden. 

Hand tools are forever evolving each with their own unique characteristics. Choose wisely and choose what feels comfortable for you. Your gardening style changes as you age, so will your tools.

If your mailbox is not quite full enough, go online and sign up for a few more. It is quick and easy

Article By Richard Hentschel, horticulture educator

Source: Gardeners Corner Winter 2021-22: University of Illinois Extension

Turn Your Home into a Greenhouse with These Winter Plant Care Tips

plant care tips for winter houseplant in a tiny pot

If you’re a card-carrying plant person, then winter can present some plant care challenges. The verdant hues of the outdoors are replaced by gray, gray, and more gray, and even your prized indoor tropicals are feeling the heat (and not in a good way) thanks to moisture-zapping radiators. To learn pro-approved ways to keep the green going indoors all winter long, we caught up with Melissa Lowrie, senior green goods buyer for Terrain (our go-to haven for all things plant-related). Below, she shares her top tips to enhance your home this season.

1. Pick hardy plants

Of course, if you don’t have a green thumb to start with, winter can pose a whole other challenge. Use this season to focus on naturally hardy and already well-established plants, rather than deciding now’s the time to try your hand at a new specialty. “Sansevieria is a standby as a truly solid, highly tolerant plant,” Lowrie tells Brit + Co. “[At Terrain], we are liking the narrow shape and natural form of Fernwood Sansevieria, or Sansevieria Moonshine, for its brighter, frosty green foliage.”

2. Stick to your routine

If tending to plants is part of your self-care, be sure to keep this habit going strong, especially since moods can plummet during the winter. “Beyond the air-purifying benefits and the way that plants brighten up and bring life to interior spaces, for us it’s about maintaining the connection to nature throughout the year and the ritual of tending them, especially in the colder months,” Lowrie says. Engaging in pruning and tending rituals can be a fulfilling part of your day and can boost your mood when you’re not getting as much interaction with the outdoors.

3. Make a mister your best friend

If your favorite plants are struggling as temperatures drop, remember that it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. “Many ferns and other lush plants will thrive in low-light situations, but humidity is often the biggest challenge for otherwise tolerant houseplants,” says Lowrie. “To remedy, we scatter misters throughout the house, and I make habit of misting while on the phone or chatting with my partner.” A simple spritz here and there might be the difference between lush greenhouse vibes and saying goodbye to your favorite plant pal.

4. Opt for a mix of cut and live specimens

Not every splash of green in your home has to be from a live plant. The holiday season is always full of cedar boughs, sprigs of holly and, of course, cut Christmas trees. “We love mixing the potted and the foraged, the living, fresh and dried,” explains Lowrie. “Beyond giving you lots of texture to play with, you can use the different elements to create pieces that will look fresh over a longer period of time, and that can evolve as the season progresses.” Try incorporating cut flowers into arrangements. Lowrie and her team love Paphiopedilum AKA lady’s slipper orchid among potted plants to add depth and layer in color that wouldn’t necessarily be sustainable as a live plant. “We might pair [cut flowers] with some interesting houseplants. Philodendron micans is great for its velvety dark leaves, or something sweet and delicate like angel vine, a mass of heart ferns, or an oversized rabbit foot fern,” suggests Lowrie.

5. Share the (plant) love

It’s better to give than to receive, right? “I adore African violets this time of year as a small, simple gift,” she says. “They are deeply nostalgic plants and feel special enough for the holidays but also sweet and humble.” Not sure if your intended recipient can keep a plant alive? Try gifting something more established. “Last year, we gifted larger (8”+ pot) established ferns to our adult family members,” says Lowrie. “Gifting a single, more mature plant gives less experienced recipients a better chance at success.”

6. Keep the color alive after Christmas

After the tree has been sent out to the curb, don’t forget to refresh your home. “The draw to ‘green’ your interior space definitely hits hardest once the Christmas trees are gone and new-year winter is in full tilt,” explains Lowrie. “We love Clusia for a fresh take on a floor plant/indoor tree, and snowberry for its interesting foliar color and the lacy round leaves.” In need of a New Year’s resolution? Adding some plant life in the winter is a good place to start. “The bigger trend we are seeing is that more people are becoming indoor plant people, and that means a renewed and expanded interest in all different kinds of plants,” Lowrie says.

Article by Emily Bihl for Brit+co

Source: Plant Care Advice For Winter — Brit + Co – Brit + Co

How to Remove Pesky Crabgrass from Your Yard or Garden

overgrown crabgrass weeds in backyard

CREDIT: YESIM SAHIN / GETTY IMAGES

If you struggle to keep your lawn clear of pesky weeds like crabgrass, consider this your official guide to ensuring it looks its best all year long. Crabgrass, formally called digitaria sanguinalis, pops up in hot, dry environments, usually in the summertime, according to Martha. On her blog, our founder notes that it gets its common name from the leaves, which form a tight, crab-like circle. Seeds germinate from the weed as temperatures warm up around the spring and summer. From there, the crabgrass flourishes until it dies and leaves big, circular dead spots of grass. The weeds will come right back around the following year from the seeds embedded in your yard if not tended to properly.

Crabgrass is categorized as a low-growing annual that also spreads from rooting’s. As a result, colonies of this weed can form. You’ll see it thrive in almost every state across the United States and also in southern Canada. It is an annual, so crabgrass will die when the first frost appears, but by this time, new seeds may have scattered and are waiting to germinate the next year (seeds can remain viable for at least three years in the soil).

The best course of action? Take care of your yard and seed between the last week of August and the last week of September. This way, your turf won’t have to battle with the crabgrass when it thrives come spring. “Competition from pests is lower during the fall, especially from troublesome weeds such as crabgrass,” Bob Mann, lawn and landscape expert for the National Association of Landscape Professionals, says. “I recommend that homeowners perform some sort of cultivation like core aeration followed by overseeding each fall to keep their lawn vigorous and healthy for the long haul.”

Better yet, tend to crabgrass before it sets its seed and overwhelms your lawn. If it’s already embedded, mow often to keep it from flowering and producing more plants. If your garden is infested, mulch, dig, and hand-pull the crabgrass to combat its growth. Another pro tip? Consider pouring boiling water on the weed or spraying it with five-percent acetic vinegar. These tactics can burn the surrounding area though, so make sure to only use it on the spots with crabgrass; continue the practice repeatedly until the issue is resolved.

By Nashia Baker for Martha Stewart©

Source: What Is Crabgrass? | Martha Stewart

Modern rock garden ideas: 17 contemporary looks for rockeries

These modern rock garden ideas are low maintenance, drought tolerant and perfect for adding interest to spaces big and small.

Modern rock garden ideas with stone path and gravel with bolders and a seating area
(Image credit: Future)

As we are all leading busier lifestyles, modern rock garden ideas tick the low maintenance gardening box in a big way. The ease of rock gardens can largely be put down to their natural drought-tolerance. Tough evergreen grasses, small alpines and perennials will slot beautifully into crevices and thrive with minimal watering. 

Ultra modern gardens don’t necessarily even need established plants. You can create different areas of interest just using rocks of different sizes and heights, and containers can bring pops of planting interest.

The rock garden revival has given rise to a plethora of modern garden ideas which are a far cry from the rockeries of the Victorian era. Running water or a small pool and discreet lighting are often a feature. 

Rather than struggling to improve the soil quality of a gravelly patch, consider that this might be the ideal area for a rock garden in your plot. ‘Rock gardens can add height and interest to a garden and enable you to grow a group of floriferous plants that may struggle for survival elsewhere in your garden,’ says award winning garden designer Kristina Clode 

‘It can be a great way to use rocky material if you are lucky to have it on site, or use up spare uncontaminated hardcore, rubble and soil in the base layers of your mound,’ she adds. 

BE PART OF THE ROCK GARDEN REVIVAL WITH THESE MODERN ROCK GARDEN IDEAS

‘Well made rock gardens are beautiful, natural looking and brimming with colorful alpine plants which are low maintenance and drought tolerant,’ says Kristina Clode. 

The aim for your modern rock garden ideas is to create a sharply drained, sunny growing environment which emulates high altitude rocky alpine slopes where the light levels are high and the winters cold and dry. Our edit of contemporary looks is sure to get you inspired. 

1. USE GRAVEL TO BLUR THE BOUNDARIES

Phuopsis stylosa flowers pop against this light colored aggregate in a rock garden
(Image credit: Steve Taylor ARPS / Alamy Stock Photo)

If you’re incorporating garden gravel ideas in your rock garden, try to use landscaping materials that are similar in color to avoid an incoherent look. One way to ensure that materials you are using look at home in your garden is to shop local. ‘Use local rock, it will fit in better to the local surroundings, look more realistic and is better for your carbon footprint,’ advises Kristina Clode.

‘This will also mean that the materials feel inherently at one with the surroundings and this is key for any rock garden, large or small. Use local stone and gravel and the garden will feel at home.’

The way to use gravel as a modern paving idea in your rock garden is to mulch any bare soil around your plants. ‘This will help to cut down on weeds and water loss,’ advises Angela Slater, gardening expert at Hayes Garden World.

2. CREATE TERRACING WITH METAL EDGING

The Warner Edwards Garden, designed by Kate Savill and Tamara Bridge at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019
(Image credit: RHS/Tim Sandall)

If you have a sloping site then this is by no means an impediment for a rock garden. On the contrary, plants which are suited to rock gardens will require good drainage and raised levels will automatically improve this. 

If you want to create some modern rock garden ideas in a sloping garden, a good way to achieve this is by using terracing. Planting on different levels is a great technique for creating interest in both small gardens and bigger spaces, and this is because the eye is drawn to different levels.

To recreate this look, build gravel-filled, stepped beds. Using sheets of reclaimed metal to keep the terraced levels in place is a great option for how to make a garden feel modern. 

Fill these stepped beds with alpine and perennial plants or combine classic alpines with succulents such as sedum and echeveria. The shape can be designed to fit your garden layout and the material chosen to suit its style. 

3. CUT SHAPES INTO A PLAIN PATIO

Kampo no Niwa’ – the modern rock garden designed by Kazuto Kashiwakura and Miki Santo for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019
(Image credit: Sarah Cuttle/RHS)

Why not bring some rock garden elements into your existing patio ideas for an ultra-serene setting? Take this design by Kazuto Kashiwakura and Miki Santo from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019. It is inspired by the designer’s island home in the north of Japan, Hokkaido. It’s known for its rugged landscape of mountains and volcanos.

‘The rill with rocks in our ‘Kampo no Niwa’ tried to bring beauty of nature and flux of time into the garden,’ Kazuto told us. ‘The sound of moving water is very beautiful and brings with it feelings of joy and happiness. The stream flowing from the stone wall and through the rocks represents the mineral rich snow melt water bringing nutrients from the mountain. Pond water seeps down through the soil releasing these minerals and nourishing the plants. People harvest these plants and herbs for the beneficial minerals and nutrients nature provides.’

Light-colored rocks and gravel have been used as modern edging ideas for the metal water rill which runs through the seating area. It has the effect of softening the look of the patio and giving it a naturalistic element, which is extremely calming and tranquil.

Article by Teresa Conway writing for:

Modern rock garden ideas: 17 contemporary looks for rockeries | GardeningEtc 

There are 14 more rockery ideas to view by clicking the link above.

How to Grow Tickseed Perennial Flowers (Coreopsis)

It’s time to start planning your spring garden. Here is one flower that’s easy to grow and maintain, Tickseed or Coreopsis.

caring for tickseed flowers

Tickseed is one of my favorite flowers. They’re versatile, beautiful, and can grow practically everywhere. If you’re in the market for an easy-to-care-for flower, don’t overlook this option.

This flower blooms in yellow, red, pink, white, and even orange. You may also find it labeled as coreopsis in your local nursery.

Tickseed can light up your garden with its daisy-like blooms all summer long. In some areas, it can even grow into early fall.

Whether you need a splash of color or a flower good for making DIY flower arrangements, tickseed could be for you. Here’s what you should know to grow tickseed:

GROWING CONDITIONS FOR TICKSEED

There are over thirty-three different varieties of tickseed. Therefore, there should be something for everyone with this plant.

It grows in every planting zone and is a great way to invite beneficial insects into your garden. If you’d like to grow this drought-tolerant plant, be sure to provide a few specifics in its growing location.

First, check the variety of tickseed that you’re planting. Some varieties are annuals and others are perennial.

Therefore, if you’re growing a perennial variety, you should plant it where the flowers won’t be disturbed during their dormant period.

Next, tickseed requires full to partial sunlight. The colder the climate, the more sunlight is necessary. If you live in a warmer climate, morning sun with afternoon shade might be your best bet as this will protect the plant from becoming scorched under too much heat or sunlight.

However, tickseed can handle some humidity. It also prefers to grow in temperatures between 70- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit.

The final things which must be considered in a growing space is space and soil. Tickseed can grow to be as tall as two feet in height.

Be sure you check the maximum height of the variety you plant to ensure adequate space between and around the plants as they mature.

You also should plant tickseed in well-draining soil. It’s important that water can reach the roots and then flow away from the plant to avoid oversaturation.

Ensure each of these needs are met in the area you’d like to plant tickseed. If everything is provided, you’re ready to begin the planting process.

HOW TO PLANT TICKSEED

Planting tickseed isn’t a complicated process. You can either start the plant indoors from seed, direct sow the seeds, or use a division of a well-established plant.

To start tickseed from seed, start the seeds indoors approximately two months prior to the final spring frost. Fill the seed tray with well-draining soil, and place two seeds in each cell of the tray.

This serves as a germination insurance policy in case one seed fails to germinate properly. You’ll need patience when growing this flower as it can take up to twenty-one days for the seeds to germinate.

Lightly cover the seeds with soil as they require light for germination as well. Spritz the soil with water using a spray bottle, and cover the tray with plastic wrap. This provides a homemade greenhouse effect.

Store the seeds in a warm location and don’t let the soil dry out. Spritz the soil with water as necessary. Once the seeds have sprouted and the plants have formed true leaves, you’re ready to move them to their permanent growing location.

Be sure the space provides all the necessary growing conditions as we discussed above. Leave one foot of space between each plant to ensure the plants have adequate airflow when they’ve reached their mature state.

If you already have tickseed and would like to grow more, you can divide a mature plant. This is best done when a perennial plant has begun decreasing the amount of blooms it produces.

Perennial tickseed only lasts about five years, so this would be a good time to divide mature plants. Dig up the mature plant, divide the entire flower using a trowel, even through the roots.

Once the plants are divided, take the divisions and plant them in new locations which still meet their growing conditions.

It’s also wise to succession plant tickseed throughout a growing season to ensure you have colorful blooms the entire time.

Do this by waiting until all threat of frost is over. Prepare the soil to receive seed by tilling up the ground and ensuring the dirt is draining adequately.

Plant the seeds every six inches. Once the seeds sprout, you can thin them to leave one foot of space between each plant.

As mentioned above, you can plant an entire bed of tickseed at once or only a few rows at a time. If you choose succession planting, sow more rows every two weeks to ensure the plants have a staggered bloom schedule.

Now that you know the multiple ways you can go about planting tickseed, let’s discuss how you can care for these plants once they’re established.

CARING FOR TICKSEED

Tickseed needs basic maintenance to ensure these flowers bloom brightly. The first thing they must have is water.

I recommend deep watering your flowers to ensure they receive enough moisture without oversaturating them.

Deeply water tickseed by watering the flowers for longer periods of time but fewer days of the week. At the time of watering, it will reach the roots of the plant.

However, as the days pass and the plant needs more water, the roots will dig even deeper into the soil to retrieve it.

This helps the plant become stronger by developing a deeper root system. Strong root systems typically equate to healthier plants.

Before adding more water, you should test the moisture level in the soil with your finger. If it’s dry to your first knuckle, it’s time to have another watering session. If not, wait a day or two before testing the soil again.

The next thing you should do is mulch around tickseed. Not only does this help control weeds, but it also helps retain moisture around the flowers as well.

Once watering the plants is covered, it’s time to discuss deadheading the blooms. When you notice the blooms are becoming spent, remove them.

This will keep the plant feeling young and vibrant. Therefore, using its energy to produce more blooms instead of caring for aging parts of the plant.

You will also need to apply compost to the soil in the early spring, if you’re growing perennial varieties.

This will provide necessary nutrients as the plants reemerge and begin forming blooms for the new growing season.

However, you won’t need to fertilize tickseed. This can actually cause the plant to bloom less instead of more.

Finally, if you’re growing a larger form of tickseed, prepare to stake the plant. The stems of the plant may not be strong enough to support the blooms. By providing extra support, you could protect the tickseed in its mature state.

This concludes everything tickseed needs from you when growing. By providing adequate care, this flower could add a great deal of beauty to your home.

GARDEN PESTS AND DISEASES WHICH MIGHT IMPACT TICKSEED

The final thing you must understand when growing tickseed is how to protect it from harm. Most plants have something in the garden that will try to harm them.

By being alert to such issues and staying ahead of them, you could give your flowers a better chance at survival.

Fortunately, there are no pests which commonly harm tickseed. Only during unusually rainy growing seasons do snails and slugs bother these flowers.

To rid your gardening area of these pests, place coffee grounds and diatomaceous earth around the base of each plant.

This creates a dangerous terrain for the pests to crawl over and should send a strong message to stay away from your flowers.

The only diseases which impact tickseed are fungal based. This typically occurs when tickseed is planted where the soil doesn’t drain properly.

Ensure to grow tickseed where there’s sunlight to warm the soil, the soil drains well to avoid rot, and with enough space between plants to ensure they can breathe. By doing this you are avoiding the ideal breeding conditions for fungal issues.

Your plant’s greatest chance of rebounding from a disease, or never falling victim to it, is taking steps to avoid the issue and staying alert to catch problems early. Do these things and tickseed should stand a greater chance at thriving under your care.

By providing adequate care, this flower should brighten the growing areas around your home and garden. 

Article by Jennifer Poindexter for Gardening Channel

Source: How to Grow Tickseed Perennial Flowers (Coreopsis) – Gardening Channel

Trench Composting With Kitchen Scraps

Soil - Compost

While plenty of gardeners have dabbled with composting to some extent, achieving that sought after “black gold”—rich, nutrient-dense soil—is every gardener’s holy grail. But not everyone with a green thumb knows that there are a variety of ways to compost. If you don’t like having a constant pile of compost “cooking” in your backyard, trench composting may be just what you’re looking for.

Trench Composting: The “Lazy Man’s” Method

Trench composting is known as the “lazy man’s” method of composting because you’re burying your kitchen scraps directly into the soil, right in the garden. This hassle-free method is an easy way to enrich your soil without the odors, turning and watering, and the unsightly view of a large compost bucket or pile in your backyard.

While this method may be new to you, trench composting is far from a new method. In fact, it has been used to enrich soil by almost every civilization for thousands of years. In fact, when Native Americans buried fish under their mounds of corn, they were trench composting.

Why Choose Trench Composting?

Burying organic waste and waiting for it to decompose to add nutrients back to the soil creates an underground band of nutrients for your plants. It is one of the easiest ways to utilize your waste while returning organic material back to your soil. Your plants also get the nutrients they need without the hassle of aerating and sifting like you have to do with other compost methods.

Best of all, your pile of disintegrating kitchen scraps is out of sight and can fit just about anywhere you have diggable dirt. There are no wafting odors emanating from your decaying matter and, if buried correctly, it won’t attract vermin like other compost techniques sometimes can.

Trench Composting Methods

The term “trench” is used loosely, as it is basically digging a hole, filling it with kitchen scraps and garden waste, then filling it back up with soil. There are multiple ways you can effectively use this type of composting. The one you choose depends on what time of year it is and what type of gardens you have.

1. Dig and Drop Method

Agriculture - Farmer digging in the soil.

This is the simplest method of trench composting. It is a great way to compost large amounts of material at once, and an effective way of adding nutrients to your garden off-season. First, gather a week or two’s worth of scraps in a five-gallon bucket or composting pail. Dig a hole roughly 12 inches deep and wide enough to bury whatever scraps you have collected, dump in 4-6 inches of compostable material, and cover it back up with dirt.

Within a few months, the composting material will have broken down and enriched your soil with no extra work from you. Not sure what to do with your leaves in the fall? This method also works well. Simply bury them around your garden or flower beds. Mowing them up first will help them decompose quicker.

2. Trench Between Rows/Side Dress Method

Compost being side dressed to plants.

These methods are effective during your growing season. It fertilizes and adds nutrients to existing plants. Simply dig holes or trenches a few inches out from the roots of your vegetable or flower plants and bury your everyday compostable material. As it breaks down, it will feed extra nutrients to the plants nearby as they grow. Used coffee grounds (filter and all) are an especially great side dressing for plants, providing extra nitrogen and improving soil structure. Crushed eggshells add a boost of calcium as they break down, great for preventing blossom end rot in tomatoes and peppers. If trenching between rows, be sure to plant rows far enough apart so that you don’t harm roots while digging.

3. Trench Rotation Method

crop rotation trench composting infographic.
Image used with permission by the TheGardeningCook.com

This is another great way to incorporate organic matter into your garden’s soil while it’s growing. First, divide your garden into three zones: trench composting zone, pathway zone (where you’ll walk), and growing zone. Each year you rotate your zones, moving your trench zone to a different part of your garden, while also shifting your pathway and growing zones as well. After three years, you will have compost under every part of your garden. Just keep rotating and nourishing your soil.

Here’s What You Can Add To Your Trench

Compost collection bin filled with kitchen scraps.

As with regular bin composting, trench composting is the perfect way to dispose of organic kitchen waste, including these items:

  • Kitchen Scraps such as fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and eggshells.
  • Grass Clippings: Leave an open space in your garden to bury grass clippings this summer. Rotate your spot each year to help nourish your soil.
  • Fall Leaves: Raked up and mowed leaves can also go in your trench compost. As with bin composting, leaves are considered “brown,” so it is helpful to balance them with some “green” so that all of the nitrogen in your soil isn’t taken up to help decompose the leaves. If you do add leaves in the fall, simply cover the leaves with other nitrogen rich items, such as grass clippings, vegetable waste, and coffee grounds.
  • Surprise! Tea bags, cotton or wool rags, dryer lint, fireplace ash, hair, and animal fur—all can be added to your trench compost.

Here’s What You Can’t Add To Your Trench

As with any composting, with the exception of Bokashi composting, there are a few things you will want to avoid throwing in your trench compost.

  • Animal Waste: In order to avoid the risk of pathogen spread, animal feces should not be planted within ten feet of any edible crops. It can be used, however, in trenches along ornamental gardens or in landscaped areas of your yard as long as it stays buried and can’t be dug up by young children.
  • Diseased Plant Material: If you suspect any plant of having a disease, you will want to avoid tossing that in your compost. Unlike pile composting, trench composting produces very little heat and is not very effective at destroying pathogens. You don’t want to risk spreading the problem.
  • Weeds with Seeds: If a weed has gone to seed, leave it out. After all, you don’t want to be putting weeds back into your garden (we spend enough time pulling them out)!
  • Vegetable Seeds: While these seeds are friendly seeds, you don’t want vegetables to sprout where they aren’t intended. Try and avoid tossing veggie seeds in with your scraps, particularly tomato seeds.
  • Wood: Sticks, branches, and wood chips, while organic, often take way too long to decompose, robbing your soil of nitrogen in the process. Also, avoid adding commercial-grade lumber to your pile, as it is usually chemically treated.
  • Certain Paper: While newspaper and brown bags can enhance your soil, avoid magazine and catalog paper as these are often made with toxic materials.
  • Used Cooking Oil and Fat: Fats and grease don’t easily breakdown and can also coat other materials, slowing decomposition.
  • Meat and Dairy: The jury is still out as to whether you can bury meat and dairy in your trench compost piles. With the food buried directly into your garden, you won’t have to worry about unpleasant stenches coming from the quickly decaying products, however it is still possible to attract vermin and other unwanted pests from digging up your garden. While some gardeners use trenches to compost meat and dairy, if your gardens are near your house, it is probably best to err on the side of caution and leave them out.
  • Inorganic Materials: For obvious reasons, you’ll want to avoid adding any inorganic materials to our trenches. Plastics, cleaning solutions, fertilizers, and pesticides can all transfer toxins to your soil and ultimately into whatever you grow.

Trench Composting Tips

  1. If you wish, you can line your trenches with newspaper to help retain water.
  2. The more shredded the material, the more quickly it will decompose.
  3. While you can trench compost all year, even during growing season, fall is a great time to amp up your digging. After you have harvested most of your plants, you will have plenty of room to dig large holes or trenches to fill with leaves, organic kitchen waste, and grass clippings. Fill your hole before the ground freezes, leaving all that nutritious waste to decompose over winter leaving you with better soil come spring!

The Downside of Trench Composting

Some common drawbacks of trench composting are that you have to dig holes and cover them with dirt every time you bury your kitchen waste, which isn’t for everyone. Those holes cannot be refilled until everything you have buried has decomposed or you will create a big mess digging it back up.

While trench composting is a great way to add nutrients to your soil in the off-season, once the ground freezes, digging holes can be tricky. Also, because there is little aeration in trench composting, items take longer to decompose than traditional compost piles. However, if you have the space and the time, trench composting is an inexpensive and easy way to create beautiful nutrient-rich soil for your plants.

Article by Natalie LaVolpe.

Source: Trench Composting With Kitchen Scraps – Farmers’ Almanac (farmersalmanac.com)