Hibiscus confusion?

Hibiscus confusion? Cue the music and let’s meet the contestants….

Our first featured Hibiscus is from and native to the Eastern US….one native tribe in the US used it to cure inflamed bladders and Thomas Jefferson grew it at Monticello. A shrub like herbaceous perennial and vigorous grower, this Hibiscus is sure to please with dinner plate sized flowers July-September. A very colorful character say hello to Hibiscus Moscheutos.

Hibiscus moscheutos Perennial herbaceous hardy Hibiscus

Hibiscus moscheutos
Perennial herbaceous hardy Hibiscus

Our next featured Hibiscus hails from tropical Asia and China. Not hardy to Michigan winters this hibiscus loves to play in the sun and warm temperatures.

Rosa sinensis....non hardy tropical Hibiscus

Rosa sinensis….non hardy tropical Hibiscus

This plant makes a bold statement when entering a room with stunning flowers….that only last for a day or two. Say hello to Rosa Sinensis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our final featured Hibiscus is ubiquitous and all around town. A slow starter once established blooms beautifully in July and August. Woody and requiring discipline, this Hibiscus goes by different names like Althea, Rose of Sharon or Hibiscus making it’s personality complex. Say hello to Hibiscus syriacus.

Hibiscus syriacus also known as Althea or Rose of Sharon

Hibiscus syriacus also known as Althea or Rose of Sharon

Take me to your “weeder”

Yikes! Dodder is a parasitic annual weed that infests crops and ornamental plants? Alien in appearance this crazy “plant” or weed is a distant relative of Morning Glories. Very limitedin it’s capability for photosynthesis this weed obtains nearly all its energy from the host plant. Seedlings in the soil need to quickly find a host plant and latch on or they die. Take me to your “weeder”!

Dodder

Dodder

Once a host is found they latch on creating a dense mat of intertwining colorful stems literally choking the life out of the host plant. Hand removal or removal of the host plant, identification and clean up are the keys to prevent recurrence.

June Blooms

Rhododendrons love the Lake Michigan shoreline area....Well drained soil, slightly acidic and plenty of insulating snow in winter

Rhododendrons love the Lake Michigan shoreline area….Well drained soil, slightly acidic and plenty of insulating snow in winter

Alliums are now done blooming and can be dried for fall arrangements. If you like them plan to buy the bulbs in fall for planting

Alliums are now done blooming and can be dried for fall arrangements. If you like them plan to buy the bulbs in fall for planting

This is Elderflower....very large and generally grows in ditch areas. In bloom in June. Don't mistake it for Giant Hogweed the plant that has been in the news lately.

This is Elderflower….very large and generally grows in ditch areas. In bloom in June. Don’t mistake it for Giant Hogweed the plant that has been in the news lately.

Squash blooms are edible and delicious....might want to consider some Qtip pollination to help Mother Nature along

Squash blooms are edible and delicious….might want to consider some Qtip pollination to help Mother Nature along

Don't forget Crotons are not just a "houseplant"....great for containers on the deck or patio to combine with flowering annuals

Don’t forget Crotons are not just a “houseplant”….great for containers on the deck or patio to combine with flowering annuals

Zip up your Plants

Remember not all fertilizers are created the same. Take the primary nutrient nitrogen needed to green plants and provide growth. You can get nitrogen in less expensive urea forms that are very water soluble and here today gone tomorrow activated by water and temperature. Organic, natural or more expensive advanced synthetic forms of nitrogen are slower release water insoluble fertilizers needing soil bacteria and healthy microbes or biology to make the nutrients available to the plant. In an era of need for instant “grass”-ification, often some sulfur or iron is added to fertilizer mixes to give the quick deep green we desire. The least expensive and most dramatic nitrogen for our plants is atmospheric nitrogen….the kind of green up you see all around you the morning after a nighttime lightning storm. Regardless, nitrogen is just one of 19 elements considered essential for plant growth. Primary nutrients, secondary nutrients and trace nutrients are all needed for healthy plants. Now that June has arrived and plants are actively working, growing, feeding, fruiting and blooming you need to “zip up your plants!” In June don’t forget to feed your plants or as I call it “zip up your plants” as they are actively growing and blooming in one of the best gardening months of the year!
June is an incredible month in Michigan for annual, perennial, herb and landscape plants. With the threat of frost gone and long days the growth and performance of landscape plants in June is phenomenal….this is what we’ve been waiting for! Don’t forget about own-root landscape roses in June. Heavy feeders, with the long light days of June into July these landscape workhorses put on a show!

Vigorous shrub Own Root Roses

Vigorous shrub Own Root Roses

Perennials shine in the month of June and annuals planted back in May come into their own as they establish roots and benefit from the long day length.
Hanging baskets purchased back in May need to be watched in this month. A slow release fertilizer combined with a water soluble fertilizer keeps them fed. Learn to tell from the weight of the basket if they need water. Sunny and windy days can quickly dry out hanging baskets. Even the Boston Ferns hanging from the porch on the north side of the house can quickly dry out on a windy June day. Soil polymers can help with moisture retention.
June is a great month to analyze your landscape as well as other’s landscapes. Make note of what you like and want in your landscape. For example deer resistant and stunning Alliums are in bloom in June. These are hardy bulbs in the onion family that you plant in fall for show stopping interest in May and June.

Allium....plant them in fall for a show in June!

Allium….plant them in fall for a show in June!

Look at other homes in your walks through the neighborhood or visit professionally landscaped gardens to note the changes you want to make this coming fall. By doing this you get a “hedge”-ucation and can zip up your plants and landscape for the following season. Remember June is a kick in the “plants” for all us plant lovers!

“Lettuce” Talk

When it comes to home grown vegetables, there’s no question that tomatoes and peppers top the list in popularity. In the past few years however, the interest in both eating and drinking your garden has caused an explosion of interest in everything from kale to cucumbers and kohlrabi. So when do we eat cake? After dinner of course, and the same is for vegetables as the recipe for great tasting and healthy veggies starts with the dinner preparation: soil building. Soil building sets the stage for increased crop response and increased vitality.

Fun and "Veg"-ucational

Fun and “Veg”-ucational

“Turnip” the “beet” so to speak, because healthy soil means healthy plants which means, you’ve got it, healthy you. Your soil needs to be a good blend of carbon, minerals and biology. It’s not difficult and with a little “veg-ucation,” you’ll soon be harvesting the benefits. The best way to explain the ABCs to building blocks of better soil and ultimately better vegetables is as followed:

A Carbon improves the soil structure. Organic material provides both water holding capacity and air spaces. Think of carbon as plant and animal materials in various stages of decay; nicely stated, “lettuce” call it compost. One pound of carbon can hold up to 40 pounds of water while providing air space.

B Minerals, especially trace minerals or micronutrients, are lacking in tired soil and are needed for good taste and health.

C Biology (think micro-organisms and earthworms) in our soils help release locked up nutrients making them available to the plant.

With these three elements, we have a “living soil” able to support terrific tomatoes and rocking radishes.So you say you want Rick’s secret recipe for the best tasting healthiest vegetables? Details that aren’t “cucumber”-some?

Here are three simple steps I use to ensure proper soil nutrients year after year:

Every fall I work leaves into the soil to build carbon and add compost in spring.

I use Azomite to add minerals. Azomite is a natural source of 77 trace minerals (many soils are depleted of nutrients). Trace, or “micronutrients,” are important and should be considered in addition to the “major” nutrients of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

Healthy soil Healthy plants Healthy you!

Healthy soil Healthy plants Healthy you!

To add biology to the soil, I use Dairy Doo formulated as a soil amendment crafted using dairy manure. Don’t forget herbs are the perfect companion to plant with your vegetables for many reasons including they both grow best in a sunny location. I don’t have any scientific evidence, but I am personally convinced that tomatoes taste better if grown in close proximity to basil, and peppers seem to pop in the presence of oregano.

Happy planting and harvesting. Healthy homegrown vegetables will soon have you feeling good from your head “tomatoes.”

Here today and gone "tomato"

Here today and gone “tomato”