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How to Cut Back Butterfly Milkweed

Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) creates green foliage through summer and spring and clusters of small red, orange or yellow flowers. It rises at U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 10. The plant dies back each winter, but it yields out of its ongoing root system annually if it is maintained properly pruned. All areas of the butterfly weed are poisonous if eaten.

Wipe the pruning shears with a cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol to disinfect them before pruning, and then wipe them again when moving between plants. Wear heavy gloves to protect your hands in the sap, which can cause skin irritation.

Cut back the entire plant by one third to one-half its previous height in late winter or early spring before new growth emerges. Make the seams in 1/4-inch of a leaf or leaf bud so the bush doesn’t have bare stems poking out. Eliminate all pruning clippings in the bed after pruning and dispose of them.

Eliminate the wilting flowers after the first flush of blooms begin to fade, slowly cutting the blossom cluster above the topmost group of leaves on the stem. Removing the dead flowers prevents seed formation, which promotes butterfly weed to produce more flowers. Stop deadheading in late summer if you would like ornamental seed pods on the plants in autumn and winter.

Prune off the seed pods in late autumn or early winter should youn’t want the butterfly weed to self-seed, or simply to enhance the garden’s look. Wait until spring to cut back the entire plant.

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Maidenhair Fern Brings Lacy Grace into a Room

Maidenhair ferns are delicate plants with quite fine stalks and a lacy look, thanks to little leaflets writing the fronds. They need high humidity and also have other special care requirements, but their beauty and elegance may very well slip your heart, which makes the extra care well worth it.

Kate Jackson Design

Maidenhair fern will grow to about 3 feet tall in its natural habitat, but forms produced for houseplants are generally much smaller.

Julie Williams Design

A countertop location in a bright toilet may be the perfect humid environment for a maidenhair fern. Bowed fronds make it particularly suited to tall-footed urns, which give a graceful look as well as keep the fronds from touching the base surface, which may cause damage.

Sally Wheat Interiors

Supply indoor maidenhair ferns with warmth and moisture to keep them active. If the temperature goes lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit or the plant dries out, it will probably go dormant. (More on what to do about that later.)

While the maidenhair fern with this coffee table looks stunning, a positioning such as this is recommended only if you live in a humid environment or do not mind misting your plant several times every day.

creative jewish mom.com

Maidenhair ferns grow from rhizomes that spread rapidly just under the surface of the soil. The fronds come from brownish-black leaf stalks, which unfold to exhibit their apple-green leaflets.

West Elm

A tiny potted maidenhair works well on a bed of damp stones in a footed terrarium (or even a goldfish bowl), which creates an perfect humid environment.

California Home + Design

It’s not called maidenhair for nothing. A planter is a fun way to liven up a space that is living.

How to look after a maidenhair fern:

Temperature: 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (16 to 24 degrees Celsius), although above 70 degrees is greatest. This plant is especially sensitive to cold drafts.

Light:
Color or a moderately lit spot. Intense bright light is not favored; direct sun will burn off the delicate plant.

Water: Keep the soil evenly moist year-round. If you allow the soil to dry out, even for a brief period, the foliage will quickly turn brown, and the plant will look lifeless. Not all is lost, however; the plant can return to life if you cut all the brown foliage and restart care as stated. To conserve a plant which hasn’t dried out completely, submerge the pot in a bucket of water keep it submerged until air bubbles stop rising to the surface. This may thoroughly moisten the soil and help keep the plant out of going into a dormant phase.

Soil: Use wealthy, loose, organic mulch; half potting mixture and half peat moss. Avoid potting mix containing fertilizer, since it can dissolve too fast and burn the delicate fern roots.

Feeding: Feed weekly with a weak liquid fertilizer during the growth season.

Humidity: High humidity is required.Unless your plant is in a humid toilet, use a tray of pebbles to keep the humidity elevated. Mist frequently. This is the perfect plant to use in a terrarium or even under a cloche (shown here), especially if high humidity is not functional in your house.

Repotting: Potting in a little container will not damage the plant, but keep your eye on the main development. If the roots fill the container, then it’s time to repot.If your plant is joyful, repotting may be necessaryonly one or two times per year, based on the bud size and expansion rate. Maidenhair can be divided by separating the rhizomes during repotting to make more plants. Each rhizome section requires just a few leaf stalks to grow into a new plant.

Toxicity: Nontoxic.

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Desert and Texas Southwest Gardener's January Checklist

This month we are trying something a little different: We are including our neighbors over in the desert Southwest in our garden chores here. While we could only talk with regards to USDA hardiness zones, that would give you just partial information, as 8a Dallas and 8a at Las Cruces and in parts of Arizona are not created equal.

Soil differences and average rainfall vary so enormously in such areas that we can not make blanket statements about what to plant or prune. So look for breakout notes on various areas and, as always, ask your county’s extension office to get even more specific information.

Amy Renea

Start seeds. Texas gardeners can begin tomato and pepper seeds indoors, but make certain to use a expanding light or maintain the seeds with a bright window. Rotate your seeds daily to help them grow strong, straight stalks.

Desert Southwest gardeners can begin seeds of larkspur, poppies and other wildflowers, which may be somewhat difficult to find if you actually want them in your garden.

Margie Grace – Grace Design Associates

care of fruit trees. If you live in the desert Southwest, you’ll want to receive your fruit trees at the ground as early in January as possible and prune your deciduous fruit trees and grapes.

Texas gardeners need to spray their own fruit trees with dormant oil and sharpen their pruning shears also, as January is your last opportunity to make those cuts.

Amy Renea

Plant vegetables. There are lots of vegetables to be planted this month! Both Texas and desert Southwest gardeners can plant broccoli, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, Asian greens, spinach, kale, cauliflower, collards, lettuce, mustard, artichokes and asparagus crowns. Make sure to prepare your beds by simply amending the soil if necessary and by choosing a bright, sunny place for the ideal harvest.

More on growing vegetables in cool weather

Gardening with Confidence®

Add yearly color. For most areas it is still a fantastic time to plant pansies, snapdragons, cyclamens, violas, inventory and alyssum in garden beds as well as containers. These annuals enjoy sunny sites but will tolerate some light, dappled shade.

Jean Marsh Design

Plant perennials, trees and shrubs. Trees should be planted in both Texas and the desert Southwest in January, but with a few differences.

In Texas, plant evergreen and deciduous trees; at the desert Southwest, make your shade trees at the ground as early in January as you can. Bare-root trees should be planted before they leaf out.

For these areas, it is still a fantastic time to plant shrubs and perennials.

Desert Southwest gardeners can plant desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata), guara (Gaura lindheimeri), angelita daisy (Hymenoxys acaulis) and canyon penstemon (Penstemon pseudospectabilis).

Texas gardeners can plant blackfoot daisy (Melampodium leucanthum), autumn sage (Salvia greggii), Mexican mint marigold (Tagetes lucida) and copper canyon daisy (Tagetes lemmonii).

Niki Jabbour

Protect your crops. In warm areas, winter may sport some fairly cold temperatures, so it is important to protect your crops from freeze damage.

Throw a frost blanket over your own vegetable transplants, or sew Styrofoam cups smaller cacti and succulents. Make certain to remove the coverings by about 9 a.m. the following morning, since the sun will heat up everything; you do not need to make a muggy greenhouse outside there.

J. Peterson Garden Design

Check your irrigation. Texas gardeners that have inground irrigation systems should conduct a test on all zones to be certain there are no breaks in the lines or heads.

Desert Southwest gardeners will likely be on drip irrigation, however, these systems need to be checked occasionally as well. Be certain the drip emitters do not have any damage from critters chewing on them, and that they’re reaching the plants that need watering.

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Fantastic Design Plant: Rock Cotoneaster

While fall and winter holidays might have the seasonal decorating market, I love to think that in the house — and backyard — ornamental festivities can be appreciated yearlong. Foliage, flowers and berries denote the changing of the seasons, and stone cotoneaster (Cotoneaster horizontalis) provides up all three. Its elegant sprays of small leaves, rich blossoms and vibrant red berries shine in the backyard and home out of spring’s development through winter’s close.

Botanical name: Cotoneaster horizontalis
Common names: Rock cotoneaster, rockspray cotoneaster
USDA zones: 5 to 2; tolerant to -20 degrees Fahrenheit (find your zone)
Water requirement: Moderate to low
moderate requirement: Full sun to partial shade
Mature size: 2 to 3 feet tall and 5 to 2 feet wide
Benefits and tolerances: Attracts birds, birds and butterflies; aids in erosion management; tolerant of wind, contamination, rabbits and deer
Seasonal curiosity: Abundant blossoms in spring and summer; showy red berries in fall through winter; colorful fall foliage
When to plant: Plant cuttings in summer.

Distinguishing attributes. Cotoneasters are noted for their petite foliage and showy red berries, but stone cotoneaster is most distinguished for its distinctive form and distinct branching pattern. Low growth, stone cotoneaster jobs vertically, forming a dense yet arching mat of leaves.

Photo by Père Igor

Rock cotoneaster’s branchlets form a distinct herringbone pattern. Though the plant is only briefly deciduous over winter, it is a nice time to appreciate the skeletal attractiveness.

Dark green foliage covers the plant during the year. Spring and summer are a profuse flowering period, once the plant attracts bees and butterflies. The blossoms transition into showy red berries in fall through winter. (Beware: Birds love these berries, therefore they might not make it through winter) The foliage turns a vibrant crimson and purple (shown) prior to falling.

Monrovia

How to use it. The dense, low branching structure of rock contoneaster functions nicely as a ground cover. It is recommended that you space plantings 5 feet apart. Group rock cotoneaster on a bank or hillside for appealing erosion management and to dissuade garden traffic from straying.

Rock cotoneaster includes a naturally beautiful form if it is allowed to disperse, so don’t plant it too close to garden or paths borders. Instead, allow the plant to spread elegantly in rock gardens or above rock walls.

The arching branchlets provide distinct yearlong beauty in the backyard. Consider bringing flowering branches inside during summer and spring; showy red berries in fall provide natural alternatives to conventional holiday decorations within the house and outside also.

Planting notes. Rock cotoneaster is widely used for a lot of reasons, but its adaptability and easy-grow nature make it to stick around. Faring best in well-drained, dry dirt, it’s a moderate grower, prefering full sunlight and medium to light water. It is heat resistant, thriving in dry summers and wet winters.

Rock cotoneaster self-sows, therefore eliminate seedlings you don’t wish to grow bigger. It’s possible to trim back dead or disfigured branches, but crops looks best if allowed to grow to their full form.

It is a powerful weed suppresser when utilized as a ground cover. During the time that it takes for the plants to fill out, use mulch to control weeds.

Photo by Père Igor

More: 6 Branches and Berries to Spruce Up Holiday Decor

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Southwest Gardener's October Checklist

With the latest autumnal equinox, the mild has become sexier here in the desert. This changes how we see our garden distances, and warmer temperatures are changing how we can utilize them.

The arid Southwest is divided into three zones:
The Minimal zone: The hottest areas without winter; comprises Phoenix; Palm Springs, California; Laughlin, Nevada; and Yuma, Arizona (USDA zones 9 to 10)The middle zone: Hot with Minimal winter; comprises Tucson, Arizona; warm areas of Las Vegas; China Lake, California; and Presidio, Texas (USDA zones 8 to 9b) The high zone: Moderately hot with short, certain winters; includes El Paso, Texas; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Payson, Arizona; and Saint George, Utah (USDA zones 6b to 8)

Exteriors By Chad Robert

Fall planting. Many plants will love being transplanted in October, since mild temperatures and still-warm soils permit optimal plant growth.

At the middle and high winds, wait till spring to plant heat-loving to tender perennials, like Lantana and some broad-leaved citrus trees and shrubs (including evergreen oak species and India hawthorn). It’s unlikely they will set before colder weather, an planting them at the fall may lead to severe damage to foliage and newer branches.

People in the minimal zone may still plant the majority of the species that the higher zones cannot, since adequate root growth is probably before colder weather strikes.

Turfgrass. Whatever your zone, it’s too late in the year to plant or seed any warm-season yards or mulch, such as Zoysia or even Bermudagrass. The exclusion is cool-season turf for the oasis regions of middle and high winds, which is sodded with proper soil preparation and normal irrigation.

Hortus Oasis

Planting by Southwest Region

Try these kinds for October plantings.

Low zone: Any native and adapted plants, including low desert wildflowers, herbs and cool-season vegetables. This also has Ironwood (Olneya tesota),Desert Lavender (Hyptis emoryi) and parsley.

Medium zone: Cold-hardy palms, and any native and adapted plants, including wildflowers, herbs and lots of cool-season vegetables. Including fan palm (Washingtonia species) and Mexican grass tree (Dasylirion quadrangulatum).

High zone: Cold-hardy native agaves, yuccas and succulents; most woody native and adapted plants; herbs with woody growth; and rugged wildflowers from the high desert. In desert grassland and foothills regions, plants are likely to germinate and develop roots with moisture from next spring. Including soaptree (Yucca elata), turpentine bush (Ericameria laricifolia) and Penstemon species.

Revealed: Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides)

Do a simple cleanup. Love autumn’s pleasures and also do something easy that makes a huge gap: Leave the challenging job for another month. October is a good time to simply touch up your outdoor spaces to maintain them livable, allowing additional time to enjoy them.

Remove smaller deadwood from trees and shrubs, since removal of live growth is more likely to stimulate new growth once the first colder weather occurs. Dead twigs and timber bits detract from a plant’s form — and it’s easy to tell those from the live timber at the moment. When you are finished, rake up surplus debris, leaves and other clutter from planting areas and the yard. An ordered space is much more relaxing, and a garden could be the prime spot for personal revival.

Donna Lynn – Landscape Designer

Handle water. Continue to track and reset the timers on any controllers you might have, especially in the low and middle zones. As temperatures fall, decrease the water necessary.

If you are planning a landscape to get a barren area or for a place outside plant roots, then create water harvesting opportunities to benefit plantings and some visual interest by installing delicate basins, swales and berms from constructions, where lush plantings are needed.

Contemplate capturing and storing stormwater for reuse as landscape irrigation during the inevitable dry periods to come. While the expenses of bigger systems often exceed those of potable gallon for gallon, it may be worth it to research for future requirements and changes in water availability. This is especially true in upland areas much from municipal water sources.

And as it’s late in the growing season, don’t overwater — it’ll encourage too much late-season growth.

Protect plants from nibbling rabbits. Rabbits in desert regions like to discover moist and cool things to eat. In drier seasons, they’re fond of devouring plants that they often avoid in wetter years; fresh plants are always very palatable, including lots of prickly pear cacti.

While some plant species are more resistant to rabbits compared to many others, the only plants that I know of which are rabbitproof are ocotillo and rosemary. Security is worth its time and price. Create chickenwire “cages” with three to four bets just beyond the fresh plants’ foliage, to stop rabbits from nibbling. Such protection has to be removed as the plant grows, however.

Some areas have javelina (wild pigs), which are particularly fond of a number of plants and can be very harmful. To Find out More, see “Javelina Resistant Plants,” from the University of Arizona, also “Living With Javelina,” from the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Photo courtesy of Alan Vernon

BOXHILL

Plan ahead to get a garden. While we are enjoying the start to fall foliage colour, especially at the high zone, don’t overlook the need for visual interest that includes strong evergreen looks during winter. Instead of settling on a design with a strong seasonal motif that holds together visually for just a few weeks, aim for a mixture of evergreen and deciduous foliage to get a garden. Massing local native cacti and shrubs, such as turpentine bush (Ericameria laricifolia) or creosote bush(Larrea tridentata), can accomplish this job nicely.

From the lower zones, the same is true — using deciduous plants whose foliage drops is perfectly appropriate once you pair them with evergreen species. Mexican evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa), ocotillo and desert willow (Chilopsis linearis) will add some seasonal interest — and you will find a bonus of blooms during the growing season.

And no matter the Southwestern zone, it’s most beneficial to think about species which thrive and older with less water and in our often highly alkaline soils.

Revealed: threadgrass (Nasella tenuissima), prickly pear cactus (Opuntia), ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens) and Texas sage (Leucophyllum).

More: More guides to Southwest gardening | Locate your U.S. garden checklist

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