Deadhead To Promote Continued Bloom

Alyssum is too profuse for deadheading.

Deadheading is simply the removal of deteriorating bloom prior to the maturation of seed or fruiting structures. Besides diverting resources, it removes unappealingly deteriorated bloom, as well as unwanted or potentially invasive seed. Deadheading can be delayed if seed from particular flowers is desirable, (although some types are genetically variable).

It was time to deadhead spring bulbs as they finished bloom earlier last spring. Now it is time to deadhead some of the summer bulbs. It eliminates unsightly faded floral stalks of gladiolus, and diverts resources into developing bulbs. It eradicates invasive montbretia seed. For canna, it conserves resources to enhance subsequent bloom through summer. 

It is helpful to deadhead some types of annual bedding plants too. Marigold, zinnia, floss flower, pincushion flower and petunia should bloom better with systematic deadheading. Of course, all will continue to bloom without deadheading, but might be slightly subdued, with fading flowers. Modern sterile varieties that produce no viable seed are less reliant.

Fortunately, there is no need to deadhead alyssum, lobelia, nasturtium, moss rose, busy Lizzie or verbena. Their bloom is so abundant that it constantly overwhelms older bloom. Grooming tiny alyssum and lobelia flowers would otherwise be incredibly tedious. Moss rose, alyssum and nasturtium are pleased to self sow, but revert to simpler feral varieties. 

Some branched types of sunflowers produce several blooms on several separate stems. Others bloom with only a single flower on top of a tall single stem. If deadheaded prior to the maturation of their seed, the stalks of some single sunflowers generate a few smaller axillary flowers by autumn. This technique inhibits seed production, but prolongs bloom.

Six on Saturday: Integration





Brent, my colleague down south, scoffs at my predilection for white, as well as the exclusivity of the white garden from which I got pictures for Six on Saturday for last week. I suppose that he is entitled to that since he is a renowned landscape designer and I am not. White is my favorite color regardless; although I lack a white garden of my own, and have no intention of developing one. Exclusivity is no simple task. Some flowers that are not white are too appealing to easily dismiss. Some move in without invitation. Some are not what they should be.

1. Cestrum nocturnum – night blooming jasmine blooms pale white. After installing it, I learned that it might bloom pale yellow! Fortunately, it is next door, just barely beyond the landscape.

2. Bergenia crassifolia – pigsqueak has inhabited the space behind el Catedral de Santa Clara de Los Gatos longer than anyone can remember. It blooms pink, but is not visible from out front.

3. Bergenia crassifolia – pigsqueak should be groomed of old desiccated leaves. Incidentally, leaves blackened by frost are used as tea. I am unimpressed. These leaves are not frosted, just old.

4. Lychnis coronaria – rose campion is naturalized here, but is too pretty to pull while the landscape is still so sparse. It can bloom white, as well as red or pink, but I have not seen it do so yet.

5. Agapanthus orientalis – lily of the Nile was likely here about as long as the pigsqueak out back. Now that the first white lily of the Nile here was added at the road, the blue will be dismissed.

6. Hydrangea macrophylla – hydrangea got relocated to here from another landscape specifically because it was white. Now it is doing this. I do not know what color this is, but it is not white.

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

Six on Saturday: Plebian

Refined gardens are interesting. They are pretty also. Many are impressively colorful. It is easy to understand why refined gardens are as popular as they are. However, they innately lack quite a bit. Furthermore, they demand more attention that what would naturally grow wild. We are very fortunate here, that the refined components of our landscapes are rather minimal, and must conform to the unrefined components of the surrounding forests. We occasionally add a few new plants, including annuals. Much of what grows here now was once refined, but has gone wild. They are the plebian of horticulture.

1. Zinnia were just recently planted for summer. They are some of the most refined flowers now. There are not many annual bedding plants here, and none live in big beds. These are in a row.

2. Alyssum were planted as summer annuals sometime in the past. These were likely planted about a year ago, and survived through winter. They would likely be white if they grew from seed.

3. Alstroemeria are too aggressively perennial. They were planted intentionally, but overwhelmed the mixed perennial bed they were in. We tried to remove them, but a few continue to bloom.

4. Geranium, or zonal geranium, which is just a rather mundane Pelargonium, was plugged as cuttings and left to go wild. It happens to be one of my favorites because I have always grown it.

5. Calla must have been planted intentionally somewhere and sometime in the distant past, but was dug up and dumped with what became fill dirt here. It now blooms on the side of the road.

6. Poppy, or more specifically, California poppy, which is the Official State flower of California, grows wild, of course. They are some of the least refined flowers now, but also, among the best!

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

Oleander

Oleanders add color to the commute.

As long as freeways have been getting landscaped, oleanders have been contributing their profuse white, pink and red bloom. Heat, exposure and lack of moisture do not seem to bother them. They have become less common recently only because of new diseases that had never before been problematic. The diseases do not necessarily kill all oleanders everywhere, but are serious problems where the nurseries that grow most oleander are located.

The largest oleanders can get more than fifteen feet tall, and can be pruned up as small trees with multiple trunks. Oleander trees with single trunks almost never stand up straight, and do not want to give up their stakes. Because flower clusters develop at the ends of new growth, frequent exterior pruning or shearing inhibits bloom. Dwarf cultivars that are naturally proportionate to their space will bloom better than larger types that need to be pruned for confinement.

Oleander flowers are about an inch or two wide, with five petals, although some have ruffly ‘double’ flowers. Unfortunately, double flowers tend to hang on as they deteriorate after bloom. Some oleanders are slightly fragrant. The name ‘oleander’ is derived from the similarity of their leaves to those of olive trees (‘Olea‘), although oleander leaves can get three times as long.

Peony

Peonies are unusually happy this year.

The fact that peonies do not perform well in such mild climates does not dissuade some of us from growing them. After all, they can sometimes be found in local nurseries and even farmers’ markets as if they belong here. Tubers of more of the countless varieties can be purchased online or from mail order catalogs while dormant in autumn. Unfortunately, without much winter chill, few peonies perform as they should.

Peonies can be white or various shades of pink or red, with considerable variation of flower structure. Tree peonies that bloom yellow are the most likely to be wimpy without winter chill. All peonies are good cut flowers. After spring bloom, the distinctively coarse and rich green foliage stays until autumn dormancy. The more popular herbaceous peonies should not get more than three feet tall and broad. Tree peonies do not actually grow into trees, but develop woody stems that can hold flowers nearly six feet high. Larger flowers may need support.

Because plants get established so slowly, they should not be moved or disturbed. Small new plants can be divided from larger plants while dormant, but take a few years to actually bloom. Peonies like rich soil and regular watering, where they do not get crowded or shaded by other plants.

Six on Saturday: What Is This?!

As I mentioned last week, these pictures were obtained a week and a day ago. The flowers were fresher then. I suspect that they are all finished or nearly so by now, although money plant is still colorful in some sheltered situations. The flower that might be California bluebell did not last long at all. I should have looked for seed, but could not find it again. This is an odd batch. I know more about what I work with here than almost anyone else, but some unfamiliar items are baffling.

1. Is this Dutch iris? It was planted years or perhaps decades ago, but only started blooming, along with freesia and ixia, after overgrowth above it was cleared. I have never grown Dutch iris.

2. Is this money plant or honesty? I honestly believe that it is money plant. Others might bet money that it is honesty. I know they are the same. I would nonetheless prefer the proper name.

3. This one I can identify as wild cucumber. It is also known as manroot. The annoyingly weedy vines are surprisingly easy to pull out. However, the massive and resilient tubers make more.

4. This is supposed to be false Solomon’s seal, but is real enough for us, since it is the only one we know. It is native, so lives in the surrounding forest and sometimes moves into landscapes.

5. What is this?! Seriously, I have no idea! It appeared on a dry roadside after the taller grassy vegetation got cut down. The foliage seems to be that of California bluebells. It is likely related.

6. I know what this is, but doubt that you do. It is from one of only two species of its genus that is native regionally. The other species is endemic to every state except for Alaska and Hawaii.

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

Six on Saturday: Rhody Walks Away

The first four of my Six on Saturday are somewhat dated since they are not really from last week. It did not seem right to simply waste them. Actually, my pictures for the next two Saturdays were taken yesterday, so will also be more than a week old when they post. Perhaps I should not mention such violations. What is more important is the sixth picture here and now. It is not of particularly good quality, but it is what everyone really wants to see.

1. Laurustinus never got my attention before I noticed others sharing pictures of it. Still, I do not quite understand the allure. It is somewhat naturalized here. This one is whiter than others.

2. Fake lilac fails to impress those of us who know what real common lilac is. This runty little scrub is a trip hazard that happens to smell pretty. Its fragrance makes me crave common lilac.

3. This is the first bald cypress that I ever got to work with, after meeting the species for the first time in Oklahoma in the autumn of 2012. Sadly, this is its last picture before it got cut down.

4. ‘In A Vase On Monday’ (IAVOM) is a meme that I almost participated in for the first time three weeks ago or so. I just could not get a good picture. There is quite a bit to write about here.

5. What must I say about this one? I encounter all sorts of weird situations at work. Part of this black cherry tree is getting milled. Part of it is firewood. The process was rather ‘complicated’.

6. Rhody says the first three pictures are mundane, the fourth is too dark, and the fifth is just VERY weird. The sixth picture could have been the best, if only Rhody would have cooperated.

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

Six on Saturday: More Late Bloomers

Redundancy was not apparent to me as I collected these pictures of flowers that are blooming somewhat later than typical. Not only is the topic the same as last week, but daffodil is featured again, and comprises half of these six! A major (but not redundant) difference this week, which will most certainly compromise the popularity of my blog, is the absence of a picture of Rhody.

Incidentally, my Six on Saturday for next week will be redundant to #1 below, and will again lack a picture of Rhody, but it is a popular topic that I never discuss.

1. Hellebore is something that I am none too keen on. Bloom just happens to be remarkable this year. This one blooms most profusely. There will be more redundancy with these next week.

2. Sweetbox is also blooming unusually well this year, even if they are still not much to look at. Fragrance is their priority. Their sneaky bloom is usually more obscured by the glossy foliage.

3. Camellia bloom is not as late as it seems to be. Others bloom sporadically even a bit later. I think that this one would be prettier if it were lower than the roof, and visible from the carport.

4. Daffodil is technically very different from those of last week. This and the two others are all feral in unlandscaped areas near our industrial shop buildings. This one looks like ‘King Alfred’.

5. Daffodil, whether truly feral or not, can be quite variable. I suspect that they came into the site with soil or debris that was removed from landscapes, and dumped here through the years.

6. Daffodil, in my opinion (which, in my opinion, is the most important opinion), should look like ‘King Alfred’! The next best option is like ‘King Alfred’, but white! Could this be ‘Mount Hood’?

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

Six on Saturday: Late Bloomers

Winter is brief here. There is no snow, and only occasional mild frost. Chill is insufficient for many plants that need it. Rain can be copious during storms; but storms are not as frequent as in other climates. Many flowers typically bloom slightly earlier than they do in other regions. Of course, every season is unique.

1. English holly may have bloomed on time last year, but the berries are lingering late this year. The birds who eat them must have found something else to be more appealing. This is an odd cultivar that is neither as prickly nor as dense as common English holly elsewhere in its garden. Incidentally, it resides in the Santa Clara Valley, not here. I have no idea who the pollinator is.

2. Winter daphne should bloom in . . . well, winter. What I mean is that is should have bloomed a bit earlier in winter. Surprisingly, the foliage lacks variegation. All daphne here is variegated!

3. Calla should bloom in summer. This one is so late that that it is early. I mean that it is closer to next summer than it is to last summer. Really though, it blooms whenever it wants to here.

4. Daffodil continues to bloom in some locations. There are actually a few varieties blooming in this same area, with at least one colony that is only beginning to bloom. This late bloom is nice.

5. Narcissus continue to bloom late also! I believe that this is the only colony of paperwhite narcissus here. It is my favorite though, both because it is white, and also because it is so fragrant.

6. Rhody is always the most popular topic of my Six on Saturday. I do not know why he took a momentary interest in the camera. I just quickly exploited the opportunity to take his picture.

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

Blossoms Bloom Sooner If Forced

Stems of tiny blossoms really impress.

Pussywillow is an odd cut flower. It is neither fragrant nor very colorful. It just gets cut and brought into the home because the distinctively fuzzy catkins are so interesting. They are appealing alone or mixed with other late winter flowers. The otherwise bares stems can get cut just as soon as the fuzz is beginning to become visible within the swelling buds. Bloom accelerates once the cut stems are brought into a warm home.

There are actually several other plants that can provide bare twigs that can be ‘forced’ into bloom in the home. ‘Forcing’ is simply the acceleration of bloom of such twigs by cutting them and bringing them from cool winter weather into warm interior ‘weather’. Flowering quince, flowering cherry and flowering (purple leaf) plum have likely finished bloom; but forsythia, hawthorn, flowering crabapple and many of the various fruit trees that have colorful bloom will be ready to be forced any time. Some daring people even force redbud, dogwood, witch hazel, lilac and star and saucer magnolias.

When the deciduous fruit trees that bloom well need to be pruned in winter, some people intentionally leave a few spare branches to be cut and forced later, just before bloom. These include almond, cherry, apricot, plum, prune, nectarine, peach, pear, apple and a few others. When stems get cut for forcing, they should be pruned out from the trees according to proper dormant pruning techniques, and can be trimmed up accordingly when brought into the home. Flowering (non-fruiting) trees should likewise be treated with respect when stems for forcing get pruned out.

Twigs to be forced should be cut just as the flowers are about to bloom, and preferably, as a few flowers are already blooming. They should be put in water immediately, and if possible, cut again with the cut ends submerged. Buds that will be submerged when the stems are fitted into a vase should be removed.

Once in a warm home, the rate of bloom will be accelerated, although everything blooms at a particular rate. Apple and pear bloom later than most, and can bloom slow enough to justify cutting stems while already blooming. As forced stems bloom, they can be quite messy, but the mess is probably worth it.