Make Your Own Rooting Hormone // Kabocha Squash Soup Recipe

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Make Your Own Rooting Hormone– I have store bought rooting hormone that comes in a little jar. It’s a powder that you dip cuttings into to hasten the development of roots. My teacher at The NY Botanical Garden taught us how to make our own rooting hormone at home. The recipe is simple. Cut willow wood shoots and place in warm water for 24 hours, then put your cuttings in the same water for 24 hours before planting them in a growing medium. ‘Mr. Brown Thumb’ also wrote on this topic and you can read more about this on his blog by Clicking here. I have a willow hedge made of Salix integra shrubs. Every spring I cut them way back because the new growth produces beautiful white shoots tinged with salmon-pink. I am using those for my willow water (see photo). 

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Making Kabocha Squash Soup– A dusting of snow last night in our Zone 5 neck of the woods provided the perfect backdrop for a late winter soup with Kabocha squash. I found a recipe in an old issue of BonAppetit for Butternut Squash and Apple Bisque Soup, but I substituted Kabocha for Butternut Squash.

KobachaSoup2 Cutting Kabocha for soupKabochaSoup3   KabochaSoup4 KabochaSoup5

Ingredients:

3 tblsp butter

5 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled squash

1 1/4 cups chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped carrot

1/2 cup chopped celery

1 small Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, chopped

1/2 tsp ground allspice

3 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 cup apple cider

1 cup whipping cream

chopped fresh parsley

Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add all vegetables. Saute until vegetables soften, about 10 minutes. Mix in apple and allspice. Add 3 1/2 cups broth and cider; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, Cover; simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Puree soup in batches in blender; return to pot. Can be made a day ahead.

Add 1/2 cup cream; bring soup to simmer. Thin with broth if too thick. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle with 1/2 cup cream; sprinkle with parsley.  Makes 6 servings.

After I finished making my soup, I threw the vegetable scraps in the compost bin. I’m not sure whether I got more pleasure from the soup or from putting all those nice scraps in my compost for the garden later.KabochaSoupCompost

 

Book Give Away // Growing Kalanchoe tomentosa

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Book Give Away: May the Best Garden Geek Win–In the Comments field below tell us why you are a garden geek, and the geekiest among you will win a copy of Christy Wilhelmi’s book. What does it mean to be a garden geek?  Christy-WilhelmiIn her intro Christy says “When garden geeks get excited about a subject they want to know everything. Gardening is an exciting topic– a vast world of soil biology, botany, and horticulture. It cross-pollinates with the insect world, meteorology and nutrition. The more we learn about gardening, the more we realize there is to learn. It’s a wonderfully addictive passion to have.”  Visit Christy’s blog gardenerd.com.  Her book is full of information, and is a great read.

Kalanchoe-FlowerGrowing Kalanchoe tomentosa– I picked up a small kalanchoe tomentosa at a trade show about a year ago. I transplanted it to a 6″ clay pot and it was outside all summer. I moved it indoors to a sunny, south facing windowsill for the winter because it’s only hardy to about zone 9b.  It remains small, though it has grown into its larger container nicely.  Suddenly about 6 weeks ago a shoot formed and shot up about 18″, with buds at the top. Then about a week ago these little buds opened and the flowers are quite exquisite. Fuzzy Floret of Kalanchoe Tomantosa

After doing a little research I discovered that I’m lucky to have had a bloom, since many don’t bloom at all or rarely bloom. I learned this by reading the comments about this plant on the Dave’s Garden site, and also the Wave Hill blog, where they celebrated a bloom on theirs. (Wave Hill is a beautiful public garden along the Hudson River, not too far from where I live.)  According to their blog, “This is the first time in years that the Kalanchoe tomentosa ‘Golden Girl’ has bloomed here at Wave Hill, and I think it’s been worth the wait.”  Propagating the plant through cuttings, by simply removing a leaf and putting it in perlite or sandy potting soil, seems to work well. I’m going to give it a try. Meanwhile this plant likes dry soil and sunshine. It’s a cactus. Common names are Panda Plant and Pussy Ears (because the whole plant is velvety and soft to the touch). I love it!

Blooming Kalanchoe tomentosa at Wave Hill

Blooming Kalanchoe tomentosa at Wave Hill

Growing Clivia Miniata

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  • Growing Beautiful Clivia Miniata Indoors
  • How To Give The Perfect Back Rub

Growing Clivia Miniata Indoors–

Clivia Miniata in Bloom

Clivia Miniata in Bloom

Clivia Miniata is one of my favorite houseplants and it’s supposed to be easy to grow.  I bought a recently divided and repotted plant last Spring at a garden club sale. It had one large majestic bloom at the time. After the blooms faded I cut them back to the base as instructed, keeping the leathery leaves in place.  I watered when the plant was dry and added a bit of fertilizer, but tried not to over fertilize or over water. (Clivias prefer to be a little dry).  Fertilizing and regular watering stopped in mid-September as I prepared to let my Clivia rest for the winter. Here’s what my Clivia looks like right now experiencing “Winter Rest”. It sits in a west facing window in a cool room of our house.

Winter Rest for Dorian's Clivia

Winter Rest for Dorian’s Clivia

“Winter Rest” includes withholding fertilizer and watering sparingly. Keep an eye on your plant and only water when it looks like it’s beginning to wilt.  Try to keep the environment cool, ideally 50-65 degrees F.  Your plant should be in a north, east or west facing window (not direct sun).  Winter rest extends for about 12-14 weeks from fall to late winter.  Bring your Clivia out of winter rest by beginning to water and fertilize regularly. You can move your plant to a warmer location but avoid direct sun even during the growing season.  It should bloom in 6-12 weeks from that time.

Like so many houseplants, Clivia prefers to be potbound so don’t worry about repotting every year. White Flower Farm has done a nice job of explaining how to grow Clivia Miniata in a video: Click here.

How To Give the Perfect Back Rub– With Valentine’s Day in the air our thoughts turn to romance. We asked our friend Susan Blankensop, who is a licensed massage and physical therapist practicing in New York City, if she has a favorite technique for giving back rubs.  This is what she said

.BackRub

First, start with a nice massage lotion or oil (available through Womanswork Spa) and make sure the room is comfortably warm.  Next, stroke down either side of the spine with big, long strokes, keeping your hands open and firm, but soft enough to feel the muscles you are working on. Never put direct downward pressure on the spine itself! Work those tight ropey muscles all the way down to and over the pelvis. Next, go to the big tight muscles around the shoulders and upper back. Lift and knead them like you would knead dough for a loaf of bread. Work around the shoulder blades.  Make sure you ask if the pressure is OK. Some people like more pressure than others. End your massage with some gentle long strokes. “A good back rub can be fun, invigorating and sensual all rolled in one”, says Susan.

Compost Tea vs. Fertilizer for your Houseplants: What’s the Difference?

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Lately we have heard a lot of talk about microbes and the biology of soil.  In the past we spoke of plant fertilizers in terms of N-P-K (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium) and that seemed to be the end of discussion.

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Annie Haven

Last Spring we approached Annie Haven of  Haven Family Ranch in San Juan Capistrano, California, a farm run by the Haven family for more than 160 years. She sells muslin bags of aged cow and horse manure, as well as alfalfa, that can be steeped in water like tea and fed to plants. We wanted to create our own tea bags using her product to sell with our Eco Watering Spouts for houseplants.  We were told just one tea bag in a one-liter bottle provides a strong enough formula for houseplants, so off we went. Here are our tea bags:Compost-Tea

It’s worth mentioning that Annie’s California  livestock feeds on grass with no antibiotics, pesticides or hormones added—so it’s safe to use her tea on edible plants as well.  Says Ms. Haven, “What goes in as simple California-grown grass comes out as all-natural cow and horse manure.” Her manure is aged one year so that its nitrogen content is reduced to a level that won’t harm roots of young plants.

What is the ‘compost vs. fertilizer’ debate about? 

The benefits of compost include conditioning of the soil so it helps the plant create stronger roots, according to the publication Compost Fundamentals from WSU extension. Fertilizers, especially manmade, water soluble ones, are designed as a quick fix for the plant and may generate a growth spurt, but are not as effective for the longterm health of the soil and plant.

As reported in WSU’s publication, experiments indicate that compost manures have beneficial effects greater than those to be expected from nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and humus content alone.

- Compost contains macro and micronutrients often absent in synthetic fertilizers.

- Compost releases nutrients slowly, unlike synthetic fertilizers.

- Compost contains beneficial microorganisms that may protect plants from diseases and pests.

- Compost can reduce or eliminate the need for synthetic fertilizers.

Manure Tea is a ‘green-minded’ solution for Home Gardeners

The idea of bagging manure and selling it for tea may have come out of a need to find ways to turn farm manure from a waste product to a resource.  Large quantities of farm manure in one location can be hazardous to the environment, yet in small quantities spread over a large area it is just the opposite. Even leaf drop has municipalities scrambling to find ways to dispose of it in environmentally sound ways.  If every home owner in America purchased just one bag of aged manure for their garden per year, would the problem be solved? It’s worth a try.Eco-Watering-Spouts

To Grow Paperwhites That Won’t Flop Over, a Nip of Alcohol

I love growing pure white narcissus paperwhite bulbs for holiday decorations and gifts, but I wish they wouldn’t get so leggy that they flop over as soon as they start blooming. I learned that the bulb industry, with Cornell University, has a solution for people like me. Read on for step-by-step instructions…

It turns out that alcohol, diluted with water, is what shortens the narcissus stems. If you follow our instructions below, the stems will be 1/3 to 1/2 shorter with the same-sized flowers.  Caution: if you give them too much alcohol it could be toxic to the plant.

Be sure to allow 3 weeks between the time you pot up your bulbs and the time you want them to bloom. Then, follow these instructions for shorter, sturdier paperwhite stems that won’t flop over. Note: If you want the longer, leggier paperwhites, just leave out the alcohol.

Step 1. Select a container for growing your paperwhite bulbs.  If the container does not have drainage holes in the bottom, then use stones as your planting medium instead of potting soil, or the bulbs may rot before they have a chance to bloom. If your container has drainage holes then fill it with potting soil.

Step 2. Press bulbs nose up into the soil or stones, with the tops sticking out (I usually leave at least ½ the top of the bulb sticking out).

Step 3. Water well. If using stones, fill container so that the bulbs are just touching the water. If using soil, keep soil damp but not soaking wet.

Step 4. Keep at room temperature in a well-lighted area (after shoots emerge, keep out of the direct sun or the foliage will ‘stretch’ towards the sun)

Step 5. Begin watering with a dilute solution of 4-6% alcohol when shoots are about 1 -2” above the top of the bulbs (solution should not exceed 10%!) Rubbing alcohol as well as distilled spirits such as gin, vodka, whiskey, rum and tequila, are all fine. Beer and wine are not fine because of the sugar. To determine the correct dilute solution, take the % of alcohol on the label and divide by 5. (Example 1: a bottle of gin says 40% alcohol.  40 divided by 5 = 8.  I need an 8-fold dilution to yield 5% alcohol, so I will mix my solution 7 parts water to 1 part gin.) (Example 2: rubbing alcohol is 70% alcohol. 70 divided by 5 = 14.  I need a 14-fold dilution to yield 5% alcohol, so I will mix 13 parts water to 1 part rubbing alcohol.)

Extending Bloom Time of your paperwhites

As with most flowers, a warm environment can cause paperwhite blossoms to fade faster.  Move them to a cooler room at night if you want them to keep their blooms longer.

Start soon if you want to force indoor bulbs for next Spring

If you want to force indoor bulbs in the early spring,  put the bulbs in the refrigerator for 6-8 weeks first. Bulbs that are good for forcing indoors: crocus, muscari, hyacinth, daffodil and tulips (‘Single Early’ and ‘Triumph’). I received some beautiful parrot tulips as a gift last Spring, and I plan to try to force them also.

Fall Planting: How Late is Too Late?

Fall is a great time to plant and divide perennials and shrubs.  This is because, as in Spring, temperatures are cooler and there is usually plenty of rain. If you are in the market for new plants in fall you can usually find sales at garden centers when they are trying to make room for holiday trees and greens. Also, blooming plants will get a head start by being planted the previous Fall.  Even if the ground is frozen for much of the time between planting and blooming, roots begin to grow in early spring before it’s optimal to start working the soil. Remember in early spring the ground is usually wet as it thaws, and the best time to plant is after the soil dries out.

Debbie watering newly planted Amelanchier

Debbie watering newly planted Amelanchier in Pawling, NY, November

But the question so many people ask is: how late can I plant?  The answer is you can plant as late into the season as you are able. That is, as long as you are able to get a spade into the ground you can plant or divide. Where I live in New England, Zone 6, our ground usually doesn’t freeze until December or early January.  Even if you have had several nights with frost, the soil will not freeze hard until you’ve had continuous days and nights where temperatures stay below 32°F.  And if you have had an early season snowfall,  when the snow melts the ground should still be workable. Get those bulbs planted!

Here are some tips if you are planting in late fall:

-After planting, water generously.  Even if you have already shut off your outdoor water valves, turn them back on for a generous watering of any new plants. Keep watering until the ground freezes to keep your plants from drying out over the winter. Once the ground is frozen you don’t need to be concerned with watering them again, except perhaps during a January thaw.

-After the ground is frozen lay some lightweight evergreen boughs over new perennials or at the base of any shrubs. Shredded bark mulch serves the same purpose. This is to protect your new plants from thawing in the winter sun, and then freezing again, which can cause them to heave out of the ground. More established plants are less susceptible to this, but young plants need protection from thawing and freezing.

-Wait to fertilize until strong new growth appears in Spring. At that time a light dressing of a balanced fertilizer is beneficial.

-Cut back herbaceous perennials to about 4”-6” tall, unless they have already died back to the crown. Shrubs do not need cutting back at this time, except for any damaged or wayward branches.

- If you have planted evergreens that deer like, be sure to protect them because winter is prime deer foraging time.  Either put a deer fence around your new plants, a burlap wrapping, or spray them with an organic fertilizer. Granular deer repellants are effective and easy to apply for just one or two plants. For large shrubs and trees you might want to contact a local service that will come to your house and spray two or three times a year.

-When tending to plants in cooler weather, wear a pair of lined gloves to keep your hands warm!WinterGlv_IMGP1216

 

Win A Copy of “The 50 Most Beautiful Deer Resistant Plants”

“The Curious Gardener” presents A Book Give Away this Month–

50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant PlantsTo enter sign up for our “Curious Gardener” newsletter and you’ll be automatically entered to win one of two copies we’re giving away.  If you’ve already signed up for our newsletter, send me an email at dwinslow@womanswork.com and I’ll enter you.  We’ll announce the winner in our next newsletter, out in early December.

Conventional wisdom suggests that most of our favorite plants are also the favorites of our four-legged friends.  But Ruth Rogers Clausen shows us there are plenty of beautiful plants to choose from that deer don’t usually go for. That’s why I love this book.

Ruth Clausen’s book, published by Timber Press, has a novel rating system for plants that gives a more nuanced view of the subject. A rating of 10 is the most deer resistant, but Ruth Rogers Clausen also includes plants with ratings of 7, 8 and 9, and tells you what level of (minor) nibbling you might expect if you choose those plants. Plants below a 7 are considered mostly ‘deer candy,’ which earn a mention in the book as plants to avoid.

Ruth admits that deer do not always follow the rules and when they’re really hungry all bets are off.  So she gives other ideas for deterring them, such as landscaping schemes and plant combinations that work. For instance, she notes that deer will handily jump over a fence less than 8’ high, but they don’t like to jump into a space if they don’t see a safe landing point, so shrubs can be planted to block their view of the inside of your garden. Deer also don’t feel comfortable jumping from level to level so, while sloping ground is not a problem, terracing and berms can be off putting and will deter them from entering an area. When it comes to plant combinations, put a border of something they don’t like (such as boxwood and lady’s mantle) in front of plants that are not as deer resistant. As long as they can’t easily reach over the front border the plants in back will be relatively safe.

Ruth devotes two pages of text plus photos to each of the 50 deer resistant plants that she features. She makes the case that deer resistant plants can be just as showy as the deer candy plants, and even includes Peony on her “50 most beautiful” list, although it gets a rating of 7-10 which means “deer sometimes nip off flower buds but leave foliage alone”.  One of my favorite shrubs, purple beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma) is on her list, with a rating of 8-10. ALD_041014_0002 (1)It’s also nice to see an evergreen that deer seldom browse: Russian cypress.

For each featured plant she gives growing and cultural information, design ideas and companion plant suggestions, which are also deer resistant plants.  She includes color photographs taken by nature photographer Alan Detrick. Plants are grouped by Annuals, Perennials, Shrubs, Ferns, Bulbs, Herbs and Grasses.  All plants are suitable for USDA Zones 3-7 (except the Annuals she includes).

Ruth offers some rules of thumb about plants that deer generally don’t like. Fuzzy-leaved plants such as Lamb’s Ear; aromatic plants such as sage, rosemary, ornamental onions, and lilacs; tough, leathery and fibrous foliage such as is found on ferns, ornamental grasses, and pachysandra; spiny or bristly plants such as yucca, rugosa roses, and barberry.

Recently I interviewed Ruth Clausen and asked her how she selected plants to include in her book.  Her criteria were plants that are readily available and easy to grow; deer resistant in the 7-10 rating system she devised;  and plants that she has personal experience with.  She consulted with other horticulturists and growers around the country as well.

As a budding landscape designer, I find this book a helpful reference for selecting plants for clients with a deer problem (that would include everyone in our region who doesn’t have a deer fence around the perimeter of their property). For one client I’m looking for ground covers to fill a large space that deer won’t browse. I find three in the book I like, and they can all work together: Bigroot Geranium (Geranium macrorrhizum), Japanese Hakone grass (Hakonechloa) and lily-of-the-valley.

As I consider Ruth’s guidelines I am reminded of the spiny yucca in my garden that gets eaten down to the ground each winter, even though it isn’t supposed to be attractive to deer. New growth always comes back, but it just goes to show that there are exceptions to every rule when it comes to deer.  As a user friendly guide to help me live with deer, though, I have not found a better resource than this book.

Remember to enter to win a copy of this book, sign up for our “Curious Gardener” newsletter and you’ll be automatically entered (this link will take you to our home page with a sign up form on the lower left of the screen. Scroll down).  If you’ve already signed up for our newsletter, send me an email at dwinslow@womanswork and I’ll enter you.  We’ll announce the winner in our next newsletter, out in early December.

–Dorian Winslow, November 8, 2013

About Ruth Rogers Clausen

Dorian Winslow with Ruth Clausen at White Flower Farm

Dorian Winslow with Ruth Clausen at White Flower Farm

Ruth Rogers Clausen’s Perennials for American Gardens received the 1990 Quill and Trowel Award from the Garden Writers Association. She has also written for the American Garden guide series: Perennial Gardening with the New York Botanical Garden, Annual Gardening with the Missouri Botanical Garden, and Trees with the Chicago Botanic Garden. Her Dreamscaping was published by Hearst Books.

My Favorite Fall Shrub

If I had to choose a favorite fall shrub it would be callicarpa dichotoma, also known as beautyberry. My_Callicarpa_PawlingIts arching branches with opposite leaves      (meaning the leaves are symmetrically placed on the branch instead of placed in alternate sequence like most plants) are graceful, elegant. Add      to that elegance a compact cluster of berries that appears on the branches in summer and becomes purple in early fall, and you have a standout    plant.  Callicarpa is desiduous, but even after the leaves drop off the purple berries persist.Callicarpa-Pawling

I bought my beautyberry last fall on sale at my local garden center. It was in a one gallon container and I put it in the          ground in October and then moved it to a new location this spring when I needed the original space for a low stone wall.    In just one season it became a lovely, 3’ high and wide shrub that will continue to get larger each season. Because of its      arching branches it’s nice to underplant with a low plant or ground cover that likes dappled shade. Bigroot geranium          comes to mind.

Here’s another great feature of beautyberry. It’s deer resistant!  In Ruth Rogers Clausen’s book “50 Beautiful Deer-              Resistant Plants”, with photographs by Alan Detrick, she claims that deer may nip off one or two flowers but don’t care for the berries or                    pungent leaves and will mostly ignore it.

I saw a taller variety with white berries called callicarpa albifructa. I thought it was interesting but not as dramatic as the dichotoma,  with its purple berries.

If you want to propagate callicarpa, it’s a little tricky like all woody plants are. If you select a stem that is too woody new roots will not be able to penetrate through the bark. It’s best to try it in summer when you can work with young shoots. Dip the tips into rooting hormone and bury in sterile, moistened potting mix and then cover so they’re not exposed to light. CallicarpaPropagatingWait up to 6 weeks and give the cuttings a tug to see if they have developed roots. If they resist pulling out of the potting mix, they have roots! If they pull right out with no resistance, they don’t.  If they have roots replant in a larger container and let them grow.  Last weekend I decided to give it a try, even though it may be the wrong time of year to do it. My cuttings are now sitting on a heating mat in my greenhouse, under a layer of cardboard for shade. We’ll see. I’ll let you know what happens.

CallicarpaOnHeatingMat

“50 Beautiful Deer Resistant Plants” by Ruth Clausen

Here’s why I love this book and will be giving away two copies signed by the author. First, it has a novel rating system for plants that gives a more nuanced view of the subject. A rating of 10 is the most deer resistant, but Ruth Rogers Clausen also includes plants with ratings of 7, 8 and 9, and tells you what level of (minor) nibbling you might expect if you choose those plants. Plants below a 7 are considered mostly ‘deer candy,’ which earn a mention in the book as plants to avoid.

Ruth devotes two pages of text plus photos to each of the 50 deer resistant plants that she features. She makes the case that deer resistant plants can be just as showy as the deer candy plants, and even includes Peony on her “50 most beautiful” list, although it gets a rating of 7-10 which means “deer sometimes nip off flower buds but leave foliage alone”.  One of my favorite shrubs, purple beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma) is on her list, with a rating of 8-10. It’s also nice to see an evergreen that deer seldom browse: Russian cypress.

For each featured plant she gives growing and cultural information, design ideas and companion plant suggestions, which are also deer resistant plants.  She includes color photographs taken by nature photographer Alan Detrick. Plants are grouped by Annuals, Perennials, Shrubs, Ferns, Bulbs, Herbs and Grasses.  All plants are suitable for USDA Zones 3-7 (except the Annuals she includes).

Ruth offers some rules of thumb about plants that deer generally don’t like. Fuzzy-leaved plants such as Lamb’s Ear; aromatic plants such as sage, rosemary, ornamental onions, and lilacs; tough, leathery and fibrous foliage such as is found on ferns, ornamental grasses, and pachysandra; spiny or bristly plants such as yucca, rugosa roses, and barberry.

About Ruth Rogers Clausen

Ruth Rogers Clausen’s Perennials for American Gardens received the 1990 Quill and Trowel Award from the Garden Writers Association. She has also written for the American Garden guide series: Perennial Gardening with the New York Botanical Garden, Annual Gardening with the Missouri Botanical Garden, and Trees with the Chicago Botanic Garden. Her Dreamscaping was published by Hearst Books.

Climbing Black Eyed Susan Should be a Favorite

Thunbergia

I first saw a climbing Black-Eyed-Susan (genus thunbergia) at The NY Botanical Garden. I had heard it is an easy vine to grow and is best started from seed. In fact, I wasn’t able to find it as a potted plant at any of my local garden centers, so I had no choice but to start it from seed. I decided it must be a sleeper because I couldn’t find the seeds at my garden centers either, and ended up ordering from Park Seeds online.

After starting the seeds indoors in my greenhouse in early spring, I waited until all threat of frost was past and planted 3 seedlings in a container on our deck with an obelisk style trellis for them to grow up. This plant has a twining habit, so it has tendrils that circle around vertical objects and get their support that way.  In no time it was twining around the obelisk, with a little guidance from me. By August it was a 4′ high vine with pretty yellow/orange flowers with a black center, hence the name Black-Eyed-Susan.

This spring I wondered if the plant would self sow in the same container it grew in last season (since I mysteriously misplaced the seed packet I purchased last year). I waited and by July I was rewarded to find two new plants growing pretty vigorously and twining up the obelisk.  They haven’t bloomed yet but they are growing fast and everything is late this season, so they’ll bloom soon.

Black-Eyed-Susan is a tender perennial and will survive outdoors in Zones 8 and above. Where I live in Zone 6 we treat it as an annual.  But rather than bring it indoors this winter I’ll just let it self sow next year. It’s a smaller vine, usually maxing out at 4-6’ tall, so it’s perfect for a container or to grow up the side of a fence. It’s not a vine you would use for a privacy screen unless it is one of several plants growing together for that purpose.

The plant is available in a variety of flower colors, from yellow, to yellow/orange, to red, all with an inky dark center. My friend Ruth Clausen told me that it is now available in white also (thunbergia alata). That would be stunning, and maybe I’ll add that to the mix in my container next year.

My plants wilt if they get too much sun, so I move the container to a spot where it gets sun part of the day and dappled light the rest of the day. I’ve been watering it with manure tea we got from ranchers in Colorado who are preparing to sell it commercially to home gardeners. Our plants seem to be responding to the richness provided by the manure tea. They like rich, well drained soil.