Month: December 2016

Things You should know about Million Bells

The best part about gardening is being successful at taking care of something beautiful. Calibrachoa, also known as million bells, is an incredibly easy plant that makes even the most novice gardeners into talented horticulturalists. The low-maintenance flower tends to dazzle with bells of petunia-esque blossoms during the spring and the summer, and it makes the perfect contribution to a hanging basket, landscape bed or other container. It does best in full sunlight, and it can grow up to ten inches in upright or trailing form. The color variation is bright and numerous, depending on the specific variety purchased. The Agricultural Society classifies this easy, beautiful flower as a perennial in the Southern USA and tender perennial in the Northern USA.

How To Grow Your Calibrachoa

The process is incredibly simple, with easy-to-accomplish steps.

Step One: Planting Depth

Proper planting depth is the most important step in successfully growing calibrachoa. The est planting depth is even with the soil level currently being grown in. Plants that are planted too deep will develop stem and root rot quickly.

Step Two: Watering Correctly

First, you want to water the million bells with ample amounts and allow the soil to dry between watering. Make sure you are watering the soil itself, not the foliage. Calibrachoa is fairly resistant to drought, so water it when the top one to two inches of soil has become dry. Over watering will lead to stem and root rot.

Step Three: Fertilize Consistently

Next, the addition of a slow-release fertilizer during the planting time can help improve success. Continue to add small amounts of fertilizer to the soil on a monthly basis to prolong the release of nutrients. Also using a liquid fertilize while watering once or twice a week can help the plant grow strong and beautiful. Avoid fertilizers with excessive amounts of phosphorus.

Step Four: Keep It Trim

Finally, make sure you trim the plant regularly. These cutbacks will help the plant look vibrant, and they stimulate new growth. Randomly trimming one-third of the plant each week leaves the plant looking good and stimulating new growth at the same time.

Things You Need To Consider

Because the calibrachoa is self-cleaning, the plant will likely not need any deadheading during its seasonal blooming. It is important to use the two different types of fertilizer when tending to the million bells because they will increase the blooming activity. The general preference for growing this beautiful and easy plant is in containers, especially the type that hangs or trails. This allows for plenty of drainage and space for the calibrachoa to grow. However, gardeners are encouraged to try growing calibrachoa in their ground or landscape beds. The process tends to be slightly different. Instead of watering so consistently, it is imperative to note that plants in the ground require significantly less supplemental water. Additionally, the ground needs to be capable of draining well; otherwise the plant is at higher risk for rot. Finally, the million bells are a wonderful choice for hummingbird and butterfly gardens because they are quite attractive to these species.

Trees That Perfect On Your Garden

Professional tree care contractors will tell you to plant a small deciduous tree on the south side of your property. In this spot, they provide two wonderful functions: they provide a cooling effect to the landscaping on hot, sunny, summer days, and they let in the sunshine in the winter to preserve the heat inside the home and warm the ground outside. If you are looking for a landscaping upgrade, there are several small deciduous shade trees you can choose from that will provide these functions and more.

Small Deciduous Trees

A good small shade tree will have a thick canopy and decent form, and will be non-invasive and resistant to pests and diseases. And they shouldn’t leave too much of a mess behind during seasonal changes. Such trees include species like the Japanese Maple, Japanese Snowbell, Kousa Dogwood, and Golden Rain Tree. These 4 trees are highly recommended small shade trees that even work well for small properties. The ones you choose will depend on the region and climate in which you live. Talk to a professional tree care contractor for hardiness zone and planting advice. In the meantime, continue reading to learn something about each one!

Japanese Maple

Scientifically known as Acer palmatum, the Japanese Maple is a terrific shade tree because they grow between 6 and 25 feet high and produce full, thick canopies in the spring and summer. A recommended subspecies of Japanese Maple includes the Bloodgood, which grows up to 20 feet high and up to 20 feet wide in USDA hardiness zones 5b through 8.

Japanese Snowbell

The Japanese Snowbell, or Styrax japonicas, is an excellent shade tree because it grows its branches horizontally and produces large, wide leaves, giving it a full canopy. This coupled with a height potential of up to 20 feet, makes it a highly effective tree for shade. It is best in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 8.

Kousa Dogwood

Also known as Cornus kousa, the Kousa Dogwood is a beloved Dogwood species and a perfect tree for shade. It can grow in height up to 20 feet, but does so slowly. It produces pretty white flowers that bloom late, but are resistant to pests and diseases. It grows best in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 8 because it likes moist, acidic soils. But it will adapt to dryer soils as well.

Golden Rain Tree

Scientifically referred to as Koelreuteria paniculata, the Golden Rain Tree is a special species because it grows fast and blooms its greenish-yellow flowers in mid to late summer, which is very unlike most other trees. It also produces a thick, full canopy effective for shade. They need well-drained soil, but can adapt to many other soil conditions; and they thrive best in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 8.

Fun Facts About Growing Vegetables

Cabbage, one of the most abundant crop is very easy to grow and most importantly very delicious to eat. This belongs to the Brassica family and is hard cool season biennial vegetable which is grown as annuals. You say anything, raw or cooked, it is tasty and they are excellent in salads, soups, stir fried etc.

Cabbages are rich in vitamins – vitamin K, vitamin C, and vitamin B6 and are an excellent source of nutrition with a healthy supply of minerals like potassium. This leafy vegetable is also has abundant antioxidants, which prevents cell damage and they are known for their cancer-fighting properties.

Site Preparation

Cabbage requires a fertile soil and it needs regular watering. The soil should be well drained and it requires full sun to partial shade. The pH of the soil should be between 6 and 6.5. Make sure, you don’t grow cabbage in a place where brassicas are grown in the previous three years. Of course, the key to a great harvest is the humus rich soil, so before planting add good amount of compost to the soil.

How to Plant

You can plant the vegetable in early spring. I would suggest you to start the seeds indoors in a propagation flat and when the seedlings develop two sets of true leaves, you may transplant in your garden. Cabbages are extremely hard and they can be grown along with the earliest of cool-season crops. Make sure you keep at least 15 inches between plants and about 2-3 feet between the rows.

If you are planting from seeds, sow directly to the soil about 1/2 inch deep. Add organic fertilizers every 2-3 weeks accordingly as they are very susceptible to many nutrient deficiencies because of its heavy feeder nature.


The vegetable can be harvested in 6-8 weeks depending on the variety. Cut the stalk carefully at the base of the head with a pruning knife. Remove the outer leaves and keep that for composting. The best time to harvest is in the morning when the heads are cool and are crisp.

Once harvested, you can keep it in the refrigerator after washing up to 2 weeks. Before storing in a refrigerator, make sure the heads are dry to reduce rot.

Insects and Diseases

Covering the young plants with row cover will protect the cabbage from cabbage worms, flea beetles, and root maggots. Young plants can also be projected from insect pests by keeping a collar made from paper cups with the bottom cut out. Look out for small white butterflies flapping around your cold crops. They are the ones which forms the cabbage worms. In case you found them, in a bucket of water mix 1 and half teaspoon of Bacillus thuringiensis (available at stores) and apply to the plants. Repeat frequently in 5-7 days of interval depending on the invaders.

Some of the cabbage diseases are wilting, damping off and clubroot. I would suggest not to use overhead sprinklers while watering because these problems needs wet leaves.

Tips To Remove Lily Pads

Just when you have finished building your pond and think of putting beautiful aquatic plants to enhance its beauty or purchase a lake home that you find to have lilies and the water front, realize that extracting or removing them can be very difficult. These stunning looking plants besides adding beauty to the pond or lake front also create ruffles inside the pond. Hence excessive growth can lead to overgrowth and therefore need proper trimming and chopping or chemical treatment from time to time.

Before making a final decision of removing these, one need to decide whether you want to remove the entire lot or just want to trim or treat some. Do you also know these lily pads do have a role in improving the pond’s ecosystem?

First and foremost, plants release oxygen inside the pond that is beneficial for the aquatic species and enable them to thrive freely. Also, it’s important that you maintain proper movement inside the water and there is no stagnation inside the pond. Lily pads help in aerating the water for flora and fauna.

Now the question is when is the right time to start getting rid of Lily Pads

Once you realise that around 30% of the base area is affected, then it’s time to trim it and if the covered area is around 50% then you should chop it off. These lily pads act as a filter to the pond water and helps in keeping the pond clean and comfortable for other plants and animals. These also offer protection from sunlight, thereby controlling the growth of algae and hiding places for protection against potential predators. If you prefer to kill the root system of the lily pads, Aquacide Pellets applied after growth starts to occur is the best time.

Now it’s time to decide the method of extraction-Manual Vs. Chemical Treatment

You will find many chemical solutions and treatments available in the market for the effective treatment of these lily pads. Aquacide Pellets are a great systemic root killing product that is safe for wildlife.

Manual extraction of these depends upon how deeply they are submerged in water. Trimming them from the top will also be a temporary solution. You might also witness sudden growth of fully grown lily pads within a couple of weeks.

In case of overgrown lily pads, the use of chemical treatment is also advised. Hence, we suggest you use Aquacide Pellets or Shore Klear with Cygnet. Shore Klear (Glyphosate) and Aquacide Pellets (2,4-D) are eco-friendly product and used to treat different species of aquatic plants in ponds.

You can also try out an effective method – Just mix glyphosate with cygnet and spray the mixture thoroughly onto the lily pad leaves or broadcast the Aquacide Pellets around the growth. These methods are extremely operative and provide relief within about three weeks.