Sunday, July 19, 2009

Shameless Plug

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I'm here to make a shameless plug for my other blog - Life Makes Me Laugh.

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Sorry, for the gardening interuption.

Thanks so much!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Balloon Flower

This is one of my favorite flowering plants. When we were at the nursery pointing out our landscaping preferences, this little beauty grabbed my attention. When it first begins to flower, a pale green balloon appears at the end of the stem. It eventually turns to purple and then bursts open into the star shape seen in the photograph below. To see the balloon and the other anomalies with one of my plants, stop by my photography blog – just click the “Picture This” tab at the top of the page.

Without further ado, I present the Balloon Flower

Common Name
  • Balloon Flower
  • Chinese Bell Flower
  • Campanulaceae
Formal NamePlatycodon grandiflorus
DescriptionThis heavy bloomer gets its name from the way each flower bud swells before its starry petals unfold. As one of the easiest perennials to grow, they bloom in profusion in mid to late summer, when many other perennials are beginning to fade.

  • Borders
  • Containers
Light Requirements
  • Full Sun
  • Partial Sun
  • Partial Shade
Soil RequirementsWell drained, slightly acidic
Water RequirementsModerate drought conditions are ok, but deep watering is preferred.
Height12” – up to 36” Generally smaller than 36”
Growing Zone3 – 8
Manicuring or PruningRemove dead branches in early spring. Balloon flowers are late bloomers, coming up long after most other perennials have begun growing. It is best to mark their position so you do not accidentally pull them out as weeds.

Pick dead flowers as they begin to fade to encourage more blooms. Be careful about it as the next bloom is coming in right behind it.
FertilizationSlow-release in the Spring
Growth CycleLate Spring through frost
Bloom TimeEarly summer through the next two months after the first blooms appear
Bloom ColorPurple (most common), White, Pink
  • Seeds – germinate 2 –3 weeks at temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees, then plant in the fall. Will not flower in the first year.
  • Basal cuttings from non flowering shoots, with about 1/2” root attached. Push soil back to reveal the spot where the stem meets the root. Cutting should be 2” – 4” long.
  • Dividing – dig deep to to avoid root damage – not the preferred method
Maintenance LevelLow
Special Features

Drought tolerant once established

Known IssuesGenerally pest-free & easy to grow
Planting InstructionsFrom seed: Press lightly into soil, but do not cover.

From cuttings: Immediately plant in a good potting medium.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Josee Lilac

When I first came across this little beauty, I thought that I should dig up the lilac I have and plant this one instead.  The nursery that put in our landscaping didn’t give me a real detailed layout.  It said something like this:

  • Cherry Tree (we have a Kwanzan Cherry)
  • Roses (at the time they were Julia Child – that’s another story)
  • Crape Myrtle (we have Razzle Dazzles – had to push for this information)
  • Liriope (this one was sufficient)
  • Holly (we have China Girl – first berries are appearing this year!)
  • Balloon Flowers (again, sufficient)
  • Dwarf Lilac

There are a zillion varieties of lilac out there, even in the dwarf category.  After this weekend, I’m starting to wonder if we actually do have a Josee Lilac.  The


Josee Lilac was the first REBLOOMING lilac I had ever come across.  That the thing about lilacs, when they bloom, they are gorgeous!  After a week or two, the blooms fade and you are left with a pretty shrub, but no more flowers – until the next spring.


Anyway, so I was shocked this weekend when I saw blooms out on my lilac bush.  It’s July!!!!



Category Deciduous Shrub
Common Name

Josee Reblooming Lilac

Formal Name Syringa Josee
Description This dwarf lilac is a gorgeous rebloomer.  It will put out 4” – 5” shoots filled with trumpet shaped flowers intermittently summer through fall.  A perfect hedge or stand alone shrub worth looking at.


Josee Reblooming Lilac My Lilac

The first picture is a stock photo of a Josee Lilac. The second picture is of my lilac.

  • Hedge
  • Stand Alone
  • Border (along side of house would be good)
Light Requirements

Full Sun

Soil Requirements Well drained
Water Requirements Average watering needs
Height 4’ – 6’
Spread 4’ – 5’
Growing Zone 2 - 9
Manicuring or Pruning For shape – I’d let it go natural by only pruning the wild branches. 

As with all lilacs, only prune right after flowering as the seeds form on old wood.  If you prune them much later, you could cut off next year’s flowers.

That said, lilacs have to be pruned occasionally in order to promote blooming at all.  If the wood gets too old, it won’t bloom.  It’s a delicate balance.  It has been suggested that you prune about a third of the branches down to the ground each year for three years.  In theory, you would be removing the oldest branches each year and thus at the end of three years, would have a completely regenerated plant.  This will promote the best chance at flowering each year.
Fertilization They don’t need much, but use something low in nitrogen.  Nitrogen is good for foliage, but not as much for blooming.
Growth Cycle Moderate to fast growth
Bloom Time Summer through frost – intermittent
Bloom Color Lavenderish-pink
  • Just buy one at a nursery or one the sources below.
  • Softwood cuttings are another option
Maintenance Level Low
Special Features
  • Deer Resistant
  • Attracts Butterflies
Known Issues This is a hybrid so it is most likely bred to resist most diseases.  It can be susceptible to a powdery mildew – generally if it gets too much water.
Planting Instructions Plant in the spring or fall about 5’ apart.  Dig a hole as deep as and twice as wide as the root ball.  After placing the plant, back-fill about halfway with soil.  Water well to remove any air pockets.  After water has drained, finish filling in, and water again.