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Grow Japanese Red Mapple

japanese-red-mappleMost Japanese Maple seeds ripen in the fall. Watch the tree and wait for the seeds to turn brown. The seeds are ready to be harvested when they are brown and can be easily removed from the tree.

The seeds are attached to a wing, it’s best to break the wing off before storing or planting the seeds. Japanese Maple seeds have a very hard outer coating as do many ornamental plants. Under natural conditions the seeds would have to be on the ground for almost two years before they would germinate. All that happens the first winter is the moisture softens the hard outer shell, and the second winter germination is beginning to take place.

In order for all of this to happen in the proper sequence so the seedlings actually sprout at a time of the year when freezing temperatures or hot summer sun doesn’t kill them, takes a tremendous amount of luck.

You can improve the odds by controlling some of these conditions, and shorten the cycle. Once you have picked the seeds and removed the

Grow Ornamental Grasses

ornamental-grassesOrnamental grasses have become extremely popular in the past ten years or so, and if you buy them at a garden center they are kind of pricey. Learning how to grow them yourself is actually quite easy. They can be grown from seed, but I won’t pretend to be an expert at that for several reasons. One, I don’t know anything about growing them from seed, and two, I have no desire to propagate them from seed because seedlings require too much care.

The easiest and most effective way to propagate them is through simple division. Of course you will need at least one parent plant of each variety that you would like to grow. If you shop around you might be able to find some 4” inch pots at a fair price.

One of each variety is good for a start. I find that the best time of the year to divide them is in the spring, just before the new growth emerges. If you buy the stock plants in the early spring, you might be able to divide them right away. If you buy them at

Caring Rhododendrons and Azaleas

Azaleas can be either evergreen or deciduous. Deciduous Azaleas are known as Mollis or Exbury Azaleas. They bloom in the early spring with vivid orange and yellow colors. They can be grown from seed if the seeds are collected in the fall and sown on top of moist peat at about 70 degrees F.

Evergreen Azaleas are known as broadleaf evergreens because they are do not have needles. They bloom later in the spring, and are usually propagated in the fall over bottom heat, discussed in detail at http://www.freeplants.com Rhododendrons are also broadleaf evergreens and are also propagated over bottom heat in early winter.

The best time to prune Rhododendrons and Azaleas is in the spring right after they bloom. These plants start setting next year’s flower buds over the summer, so late pruning will cost you some blooms next year, so get them pruned as soon as they finish blooming. It’s also a good idea to pick off the spent blooms so the plants don’t expel a lot of energy making seeds, unless of course you’d like to grow them from seed. But keep in mind that they don’t come true from seed.

Seeds from

How to Pruning the Tree?

There are two kinds of winter gardening. The first method usually starts in January as the gardening catalogs begin to arrive in the mail. This type of gardening is as easy as sitting in your favorite chair, browsing the catalogs, and either dreaming about what you’re going to do this spring, or actually drawing designs for the gardens you intend to work on.

The second type of winter gardening is to actually get out in the yard and do a little work. Of course if it’s bitter cold, you’d be better off waiting for a good day. Winter is a good time to do some pruning if the temperatures are around 30 degrees or so. I don’t recommend pruning if it’s considerably below freezing because the wood is brittle and will shatter when you make a cut.

One of the advantages of pruning during the winter is that you can see much better what needs to be cut out and what should stay. At least that’s true with deciduous plants. The other advantage is that the plants are dormant, and won’t mind you doing a little work on them.

Ornamental trees should be pruned to

Simple Way to Composting

Having an ample supply of good rich compost is the gardeners’ dream.
It has many uses, and all of those uses will result in nicer plants.  However, composting can be time consuming and hard work.  I place a reasonable value on my time, so spending hours and hours turning compost piles doesn’t qualify as a worthwhile exercise, at least in my book.  Nonetheless, I do compost, but I do so on my terms.

I built two composting bins.  Each bin is five feet wide, five feet deep, and four feet high.  I built the bins by sinking 4” by 4” posts in the ground for the corners, and then nailed 2 by 4’s and 1 by 4’s, alternating on the sides.
I left 2” gaps between the boards for air circulation.  The 2 by 4’s are rigid enough to keep the sides from bowing out, and in between each 2 by 4 I used 1 by 4’s to save a little money.  The bins are only 3 sided, I left the front of the bins open so they can be filled and emptied easily.  Photos of my compost bins are on this page:  http://www.freeplants.com\composting.htm

I started by filling just one of the bins.  I put grass clippings, dried leaves, and shrub clippings