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Starting Horehound from Seed

Written by Mindy on August 11th, 2017

Horehound is a lovely herb that is hardy down to USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 4. This plant does have the “square” stem of the mint family. Having said that, keep in mind that this plant can and will become very invasive if not controlled. This can be done by planting in a container or clay chimney flue.

starting.horehoundWhen it comes to propagating horehound, you have two choices. If you have a friend with horehound, they will graciously share a cutting or division but……….what do you do if you do not have that friend. The answer is simple and that is to start your horehound from seed.

To begin this process, one must decide if they are going to directly seed or start indoors. While both techniques are viable, the latter will require one to start three weeks prior to your local frost free date. The first approach will only allow you to plant your seed after your local frost free date.

Once you have decided which approach you want to use, the next step is to prepare the planting surface. If you are directly seeding into the garden, prepare the garden space by removing unwanted plants and loosening up the soil. Next, sprinkle the seed on top of the soil. Top the seed with a very thin layer of soil. This seed does not need to be covered completely. A fine layer is all that is needed to hold the seed down to the ground. Next, mist the soil with water until completely damp.

On the other hand, if you choose to start early the first step is to plan your planting date. Horehound seed needs to be started three weeks prior to your local frost free date. Once you have this date, clean and sterilize your container. Moisten an all purpose potting soil mix and add to the prepared container(s). Sprinkle the seed on top of the potting mix. Mist with water and place on a sunny windowsill.

Horehound seed is notorious for having a poor germination rate. In doing so, do not be too discouraged with your seed.

While horehound will really grow anywhere due to its invasive nature, it does thrive in sunny locations that have a well draining soil. Techniques for dealing with its invasive nature have been offered but there is one that was left out. This technique will help keep your horehound from taking over while keeping it bushy. What is this technique? It is pruning. Clipping back your plant once it has started blooming will reduce the chances of seed production while encouraging a bush shape.


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Propagating Boneset by Seed

Written by Mindy on August 7th, 2017

Boneset is a biennial in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4 through 8. It grows from two to four feet in height. During the summer, this plant produces a beautiful white bloom. This plant continues to bloom all the way to the fall.

propagating.bonesetThe growing requirements of this plant are flexible. It does very well in partial shade but can take full sun. Boneset likes a soil that is moist and organically rich but it can tolerate some drought conditions.

When it comes to propagating this plant, you can divide it but that requires having the plant. A better approach is to propagate through seed. While you can plant your seed in the garden or landscape during the late summer to early fall, some individuals prefer to propagate indoors. Keep in mind though that the seeds planted in late summer to fall will not germinate that year instead they will break ground in the spring. The reason for this is the fact that this plant needs to have its seeds exposed to a moist and cold environment (cold stratification). To mimic this for indoor planting, first count back three weeks from your local frost free date. Once you have that add another 30 days to this number. Mark both dates on a calendar. The 30 day mark is when you need to cold stratify your seeds by placing them in a sealable bag that is half filled with moistened soil. Mix the seeds in this planting medium, seal the bag and put in the refrigerator for 30 days.

During this time period, check your seeds at least once a week to make sure that the planting medium remains moist. If the seeds start to germinate, remove and plant.

If your local frost free date has passed, plant the seeds outdoors. On the other hand, if you want to start indoors, the first step you will need to do is to prepare the container. Clean and sterilize the pot or flat in bleach water. Rinse in clear water. Place the container out to dry. Next, add drainage material if you are using a pot. Fill with a well draining potting soil mix. Water the soil until you see moisture coming out the bottom of the container. Now you are ready to plant the seed. Boneset seed is small. All you will need to do is sprinkle the seed on top of the moistened planting medium. Cover very lightly and mist with water. Place in a sunny location and monitor soil moisture. In 7 to 14 days, your seeds will have germinated.

Outdoor planting only requires one to sprinkle the seed on prepared ground. Make sure to thin and/or plant the boneset so that there is 8 to 10 inches between plants.


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Tips for Growing Bloodwort

Written by Mindy on August 3rd, 2017

The term “bloodwort” is used as a collective name for any plant that bleeds red when the root or leaves are cut. The particular “bloodwort” that will be covered is the red-veined dock.

growing.bloodwortAs with any dock, this plant can become invasive. To prevent this, remove the seed heads as soon as they have become ripe.

This perennial is hardy in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 6 through 8 but if you do not live in any of these areas, do not worry. Red-veined dock can easily be grown as an annual.

When it comes to the environmental conditions for this, it is very flexible. It loves to be planted in full sun to slight shade with a soil that is moist. One of the best places for this plant is along the edges of a landscape pond. If that is not a possibility, consider showing off the red-veined foliage in container gardens or as accents in any landscape design.

Propagating bloodwort or red-veined dock can occur through seed and division. Planting bloodwort seed is easy and should be done in the spring. It can be directly seeded into the garden or started in pots. The key is to simply sprinkle the seed on the soil’s surface and barely cover with soil, which should only be deep enough to hold the seed in place. Once the seed is sprinkled on the soil surface and lightly covered, mist with water until the soil is evenly moist. Monitor soil moisture and never let the soil dry out.

If you have purchased bloodwort plants, you can extend the amount you have by division in the spring. This propagating method is also easy to do. The process begins with removing the plant from the pot. Once this is done, you will notice that the plant is growing in clumps. The goal of the division is to separate the clumps. After you have a clear division of the clumps, cut them apart with a sterilized knife. How do you sterilize the knife? You just wipe it down with rubbing alcohol.

Once you have your divisions separated, pot in the ground or container. When potting up the red-veined dock for a landscape pond, make sure to fill the container with aquatic compost. To keep the compost intact, cover the soil surface with pea gravel.

While the flower/seed stalk is a decorative element of this plant and can be dried for indoor enjoyment, remove the flower stalk as soon as the flowers are spent. Doing this will reduce the chances of this plant becoming invasive.


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How to Grow Dandelions

Written by Mindy on July 30th, 2017

Ok, I do have a story. When I go shopping for food, I typically will not purchase anything that I can grow. Well, the other day, I was in the grocery store, and saw dandelion greens for sale. I thought why would someone buy dandelion greens when they can pick their own out of their yard. As I pondered this, an elderly woman walked up to me. She proceeded to tell me about her time on the farm. As we talked, she told me that one of the chores she had as a young child was to pull up grass around the dandelions. Doing this would increase the number of dandelions for greens, and wine. Well, as I thought about this I also thought about the amount of money that is spent to get rid of dandelions. Eating them seemed to be a much better idea than the prior practice of destruction. To help you grow a healthy crop of dandelions without them taking over, follow the tips below., to keep your dandelions under control, never let them go to seed. Once they have gone to seed and the wind blows, all control is gone so be diligent in this garden chore.

Second, if you are growing your dandelions for greens plant them in partial shade and/or pick one of the gourmet types. These gourmet types have been breed to be less bitter compared to the normal lawn variety.

When it comes to planting dandelions, remember they are hardy in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 3 through 10. They also are not picky about the soil but it does need to be well draining. If you have bought dandelion seeds, prepare them for planting after your local frost free date by sprinkling them on a dampened paper towel. Put the towel in a plastic bag, and store in the fridge for one week prior to planting. Once this time has passed, simply sprinkle the seed on the prepared soil surface. Do not cover with soil. Dandelion seeds require light to germinate.

You can expect your dandelion seeds to germinate in 7 to 14 days. To get the most from your dandelions, thin them out so that there is 8 to 12 inches between plants.

Finally, just as with any other green, harvest when the leaves are young. As the weather warms up and/or the plant begins to flower, the greens become bitter.


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How to Grow the Caper Bush

Written by Stephanie on July 26th, 2017

The caper bush (Capparis spinosa) is best known for the flower buds that are picked and used in cooking.  The berries the plant produces are also pickled and used in cooking. So are the young shoots and leaves.  The caper bush is originally from Southern Europe and Asia.  It is a spiny, broad leaf evergreen shrub that grows up to five feet tall and spreads six feet.  Leaves are green and somewhat oval.  The flowers are large, white tinged with red or lilac.  They are two to three inches across with large, projecting, purple, stamens.  The flowers are fairly short lived.  The caper bush blooms from late spring to late summer.  The caper bush grows in zones nine to eleven.  It can be grown as a pot plant in other zones and be brought in for the winter.

Caper bushes require full sun to grow well.  They are intolerant of shade.  Caper bushes are used to living in marginal soil conditions.  Rather than preparing a soil rich in organic matter for this plant, you prepare a place with sand and chips of rock for it to grow in.  If you are growing the caper bush in a pot, fill it with well drained sandy loam.  Established caper bushes require very little water and detest wet feet, so make sure the soil where they are planted drains well.

Caper bushes are tolerant of rabbits, deer, and drought.  They are excellent to place in rock gardens and marginal places no other plant will grow in.

Capers may be propagated by seed, although finding a source of seeds is a challenge.  The seeds are small.  They should be soaked overnight in warm water, then wrapped in a towel and stored in the refrigerator for two to three months.

When removed from the refrigerator, they should be re-soaked overnight and then planted to a depth of one centimeter.  Many of the seeds do not germinate, even with this treatment.

Caper bushes can also be propagated by cuttings.  Collect cuttings in February, March or April using basal portions with six to 10 buds.  Dip the cuttings in rooting hormone and then stick them in loose, well draining soil with a heat source at the bottom.

The capers, or flower buds, are harvested and divided into five distinct groups.  The buds are picked when immature, before they open.  The size categories are as follows:  nonpareils, capuchins, capotes, seconds, and thirds.  The nonpareils are the most prized and the most expensive.  It is difficult to harvest the capers because of the thorns and spines on the leaves.  The smaller the bud, the more difficult to reach it in amongst the thorns and spines, hence the greater expense.

Caper bushes do not need to be fertilized as they are used to growing in poor soil.  Caution should be used when planting caper bushes.  Make sure pets and children will not have access to the plant so the thorns and spines will not injure them.


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