Easy to Grow Native Zinnia

 

Say Zinnia

Say “zinnia” and most people think of the garden flowers. A pleasant annual for the summer garden, available in shades of oranges and purple. A bit old-fashioned perhaps, although the plant breeders keep trying to entice us with exotic new hybrids.

Zinnia acerosa crop B AMP_5941

Having grown up in the Sonoran Desert, to me “zinnia” means Zinnia acerosa, a low growing native shrubby perennial occasionally encountered on hikes. Only later, when I interned in Philadelphia, did I encounter the colored, non-shrubby garden varieties.

Landscape with Desert Zinnias

Here in the Southwest, desert zinnia are occasionally planted in the low water landscape to help “fill in” spaces, since it is a diminutive plant reaching about a foot tall when it gets ample water. It’s under-utilization in the landscape is a shame because it deserves ample space in every wildlife garden. Desert zinnia is excellent for attracting many of the smaller native butterflies.

Zinnia acerosa AMP_5941

Planting Desert Zinnias

You can purchase desert zinnia in pots from nurseries, plant them in well drained soil, and water to help them become established. If you are thrifty, nice way to get desert zinnia established in your yard is to plant them as seed. If desert zinnia live near you (and they are distributed in the desert areas of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas), simply collect a handful of the paper flowers and scatter them in the landscape.

You Can Grow That

Ideally scrape a shallow hole around a quarter inch deep, sprinkle the seed in, and cover with soil. This is to hide it from the voracious seed eating birds. Add water once a week, and soon you will have a number of plants. It’s ease of establishment and hardiness from USDA Zone 10 to Zone 6 have lead to Zinnia acerosa being included in revegatation mixes.

zinnia acerosa disk achenes IMG_5903

Prairie Zinnia
Consider the prairie zinnia, Zinnia grandiflora. Found in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, as well as Colorado, Oklahoma and Kansas, it grows on plains in the foothills and other dry habitat. Like it’s desert cousin, the flowers are a nectar source for butterflies, and the plant a low-water user. I haven’t tried growing it from seed but it should just as easily establish from seed as it’s desert cousin.

Zinnia grandiflora TBG

JAS avatarIf you live in Southeastern Arizona, please come to one of my lectures. Look for me at your local Pima County Library branch, Steam Pump Ranch, Tubac Presidio, Tucson Festival of Books and more. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including the latest, “Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening,” written for Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press, $23).

All photos (except where noted) and all text are copyright © 2016, Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. I receive many requests to reprint my work. My policy is that you may use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Photos may not be used.

Categories: Flowers, Landscaping, Native Plant, Xeriscape, You Can Grow That | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

You Can Grow Queen’s Tears Easily – Without Shedding Tears

Billbergia nutans AMAP 1600237

Queen’s tears has charming blooms with a stunning combo of colors.

Blooming in my garden right now is the charming queen’s tears, (Billbergia nutans). Native to Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina, the plant is an is an epiphytic member of the bromeliad (bro-meal-ee-ad) family.  Pineapples are also in this family.

bromeliad block botanic garden TPIE 1609436

This bromeliad was visited by a friendly lizard looking for an insect snack. Photo taken at Block Botanic Garden.

Let me define the term.  Epihytic means that the plant lives epi (upon) phytic (plants), as opposed to living in soil. Think of it as a plant that perches on other plants.  It is not parasitic, it does not steal anything from the plant it lives upon.

bromeliad growing bullis bromeliads TPIE 1609381

Here a number of bromeliads perch in pockets carved out of a rock, instead of perching on a plant.

Grow
Queen’s tears is easy to grow because it is used to perching on the trunks of trees high above the rainforest floor.

You Can Grow That

They are from a raiforest, but not wet rainy rainforest – instead, they come from seasonally dry rainforest.  Yhis means they are used to drying out every so often and grow just fine in our homes with lower relative humidity.  You can grow it either as a house plant or outdoors in part shade anytime it is above freezing. This plant is often used as an ornamental plant, and is probably one of the most common bromeliads grown.  It is a durable house plant because it can often withstand periods of neglect.

Billbergia nutans AMAP 1600235

Queens tears grows well outdoors in part shade.

Soil
Being epiphytic, bromeliads can grow almost anywhere – on the side of a tree or planted in the ground. They have few roots, just enough to anchor them. Thus, I plant them in succulent mix, with good drainage and low organic matter. Since they have few roots, you can top dress the soil with a layer of pretty aquarium gravel to help hold them up.

bromeliad growing bullis bromeliads TPIE 1609367

Bromeliads have a cup in the center of the swirl of leaves where you should add the water.

Water
In the wild, when it rains, bromeliad cups fill with water. Thus when you water them, you need to get the water into their cups. If your city water is highly chlorinated consider letting a watering can of it sit out overnight to let the chlorine evaporate and use that to water.

billbergia bullis bromeliads TPIE 1609350

Billbergia in Florida.

Flowers
Queens tears bloom in spring each year for me. There are two scientific varieties plus roughly 20 cultivars. Don’t be surprised if your plant looks different these pictured here.  Some of these pictures were taken on a recent tour of Bullis Bromeliads, in Florida, thanks to the FNGLA.

Billbergia poquito mas bullis bromeliads TPIE 1609384

Bilbergia ‘Poquito Mas’ at Bullis Bromiliads in Florida. It is just poquito mas (a little more) stunning that its little cousin.

bromeliad growing bullis bromeliads TPIE 1609385

Growing bromeliads is what they do at Bullis Bromeliads. Thousands and thousands of them.

JAS avatarIf you live in Southeastern Arizona, please come to one of my lectures. Look for me at your local Pima County Library branch, Steam Pump Ranch, Tubac Presidio, Tucson Festival of Books and other venues. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including the latest, “Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening,” written for Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press, $23).

© All photos in this article and all articles and are copyright by Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. Republishing an entire blog post or article is prohibited without permission. I receive many requests to reprint my work. My policy is that you may use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Photos may not be used.

 

 

Categories: Flowers, Houseplant, You Can Grow That | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

You Can Grow Luscious Lavender

lavandula _5331

 

Whether you want to grow and use your own herbs, or if you simply desire an attractive plant for the landscape, you can’t beat lavender. Cultivated for centuries, this charming perennial sub-shrub has wonderfully fragrant flowers and leaves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

lavender fields in franceThe name of the plant is derived from the Latin “lavare,” meaning to wash. Leaves and flowers have been used for several millennia to do just that – wash. Fragrant baths, hair rinses, to cleanse and treat skin ailments, and, in the past, to help eliminate lice and bedbugs from the household. Lavender essential oil is popular in aromatherapy. Tea made from leaves and flowers has been used to treat sleeplessness, restlessness, headache, flatulence, and nervous stomach. At this time, Commission E, a German-based group which scientifically studied herbal medicines, recommends using lavender for insomnia and circulatory and gastrointestinal disorders.

 

Lavender is easy to grow in our area. There are four to choose from (plus a number of cultivars).

 

Lavandula_angustifolia_prg_1

 

 

* English lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) tend to be stressed by our summers, and needs ample water – but well-drained soils. It will do best in a garden that gets only morning sun in USDA Zones 10-8.

 

 

 

 

lavendula _5484

 

 

* Spanish lavender (Lavendula stoechas) tends to be better adaptable to our summers than the English, but needs afternoon shade to survive in USDA Zones 10-8.

 

 

 

 

 

Lavandula_dentata_habit

 

* French or toothed lavender (Lavendula dentata) does best with some noon-time shade in summer. Perhaps the fuzziness of the leaves helps them reflect sunlight and reduce water loss better than their two cousins.

 

 

 

 

Hyptis emoryi 5

 

 

* Sonoran native desert lavender (Hyptis emoryi), a shrub often found growing along area washes. Desert lavender reaches 4 to 6 feet high and is covered with fragrant gray green leaves. Summer brings spikes of fragrant purple flowers that butterflies adore.

 

 

You Can Grow That

Soil. Like most herbs, lavenders do best in well-drained soil. Add ample sand and compost to help ameliorate clay soils.

Water. They will need irrigation on a regular basis. While the native desert lavender is winter dormant, the European species will need water year round.

Fertilize. Use half strength fertilizer once a month in any month that doesn’t freeze.

Care. Harvest and prune often. Like most herbs, lavender should be trimmed two to three times per year to control rampant growth and keep the plant producing quality blooms.

Harvest. Harvest stalks of lavender blooms just as the lower-most flowers open. This gives you buds with optimum fragrance. Dry these, like all herbs, out of direct sunlight.

No matter what species of lavender you plant, native lavender or European species, lavender adds refreshing fragrance to your living spaces, both indoors and out.

 

JAS avatar

If you live in Southeastern Arizona, please come to one of my lectures. Look for me at your local Pima County Library branch, Steam Pump Ranch, Tubac Presidio, Tucson Festival of Books and other venues. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including the latest, “Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening,” written for Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press, $23).

© All articles are copyright by Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. Republishing an entire blog post or article is prohibited without permission. I receive many requests to reprint my work. My policy is that you may use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Photos may not be used.

 

Categories: Herbs, Kino Heritage Plants, Landscaping, Native Plant, Using, Xeriscape, You Can Grow That | Leave a comment

You Can Grow Roses in the Southwest

rose -david austin- Abraham Darby IMG_5758

‘Abraham Darby’ from David Austin Roses.

Yes, you can grow roses in the Southwest. In fact, the Southwest is ideal for roses in many ways. We have ample sun, long days, and a dry climate that reduces that the chance of mildew and fungus problems. Roses aren’t exactly a low water plant but they are more drought-tolerant than you might expect. Indeed, they can be overwatered and drown.

You Can Grow That

Plan for roses.
Roses are often relegated to “rose beds,” but can be easily grown throughout the landscape – especially the durable heirlooms and miniature roses which can be tucked in many corners of the landscape. Add roses to your winter planning palette. Order plants now so that they will arrive in time for planting in your zone.

roses-knockoutfamily-freepics09 005

One of the’ Knockout’ family of landscape roses.

Planting times for roses
If you live in low desert (USDA Zone 10), February is the time to plant.
Middle desert (zone 9), plant bare-root or container grown around mid-February.
High desert (zone 8), plant bare-root around March first, container grown after mid-March.
Cool Plateau (zone 7, 6), plant bare-root after April first, container grown after May first.
High Mountains (zones 5, 4), plant bare-root in late April, container grown in late May.

roses-2010intros-freepics09 002

Losing Roses
I have somewhere around 15 rosebushes in my landscape at any given time. Note the imprecise number of listed. As I have mentioned before here and there, even the best gardeners lose plants occasionally. It happens to all of us. It is just part of life. I have also moved a number of times and don’t dig up all my roses (just a few favorites). Javalina have gotten in the yard and seem to think rose bushes are the best thing since sliced bread. Well, compared to prickly pear thorns, I guess they might have a point (sorry about that pun).

IMG_5647 crop

Javalina visited this morning, but found the gate locked today.

Hybrid roses, especially some of the newer varieties and many of the grafted ones only live for around ten years. And finally, when I was just starting out, I lost roses to improper pruning. Now that I know how to do it right, I will share with you kind readers in my next post.  Hint: Pruning roses is a matter of getting the right time, right amount, and right place.

rose_Patriot_Dream

‘Patriot’s Dream’

 

JAS avatarIf you live in Southeastern Arizona, please come to one of my lectures. Look for me at your local Pima County Library branch, Steam Pump Ranch, Tubac Presidio, Tucson Festival of Books and other venues. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including the latest, “Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening,” written for Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press, $23).

© All articles are copyright by Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. Republishing an entire blog post or article is prohibited without permission. I receive many requests to reprint my work. My policy is that you may use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Photos may not be used.

Categories: Landscaping, Seasonal Gardening, Uncategorized, You Can Grow That | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

You Can Grow it Better – with a Garden Journal

There many good reasons to keep a garden journal, first and foremost is to be better at taking care of your own small corner of the universe – your yard.

You Can Grow That

The Journal
Just what is a garden journal? It is any sort of book that you (mostly) write in the (possibly) daily notes of the goings on in your garden. For this I like unlined paper, some folks like lined. Some folks like bound journal books, some prefer unbound. Some like a new one every year, some like the five year type. In some cases now, journals are electronic. All you need to do is make entries as often as possible. There are five specific things to note.

Calendula_officinalis_seed 004

Calendula seeds can be planted now if covered with dark soil to warm them and encourage them to germinate.

Plant
What did you plant and when? Some of you reading this can plant vegetables and herbs right now in January. Write down when planted, how long to germination, and how the plants fared. You will know for next year if maybe you jumped the gun on growing in your area.

rosemary prune_3953

Pruned lightly in summer, this rosemary is doing better than the unpruned ones!

Care
Write down when you pruned the rose bush and notice if it produced better for you after the pruning. It today’s age of telephones that are cameras – take pictures, take a before and after photo. This will help you tell if you did too much or too little pruning. Write down fertilizers too.

 

Calliandra_eriophylla_bloom_ASDM

Fairy duster is in the legume or pea family and never needs fertilizing. Flowers can be any day now.

Pests
A garden journal can help deal with pests. For example, if you note that tent caterpillars decimated a Texas mountain laurel on May third of one year, you will be reminded to get them first in subsequent years. You can also note when baby bunnies start to squeeze under the gate, and put fixing it on the honey-do list before that time.

mantid case AMP JAS 08-1109099

Egg case from a mantis. When will they emerge?

Cycles
Wonder when the mesquites will re-leaf? It depends on a number of factors, including species, age of the tree, and how protected your yard is. With a garden journal, you write it down each year, and then you know when your tree will re-leaf.

rains JAS 07-1108411

When does monsoon season start? It is getting later every year if you average the last 40 years. Record keeping helps keep track.

Weather
I keep tabs on what the overall month weather plus the whole year is like. While it is happening, and even one or two years later you will remember that frost happened on November 3rd., but as we age and our brain gets more cluttered with details, remembering how early frost does show up fades from memory. In the past ten years it has been as early as November 3, and as late as December 10.

You don’t need to be a good gardener, or even a good writer to keep a garden journal. All you need to be is consistent. Now there is a New Year’s Resolution to go for!

mulch on rain lily JAS 0800986 (c) JA Soule one time use only to CSP

Mulch helped this rain lily survive the heat of summer better than the unmulched clump.

JAS avatarIf you live in Southeastern Arizona, please come to one of my lectures. Look for me at Tumacacori Mission (Feb 4, 2016 at 12:30) and at your local Pima County Library branch, Steam Pump Ranch, Tubac Presidio, Tucson Festival of Books and other venues. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including the latest, “Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening,” written for Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press, $23).
© All articles are copyright by Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. Republishing an entire blog post or article is prohibited without permission. I receive many requests to reprint my work. My policy is that you may use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Photos may not be used.

Categories: Herbs, Landscaping, Native Plant, Seasonal Gardening, Vegetable Gardening, Vegetables, Xeriscape, You Can Grow That | Leave a comment

You Can Grow Living Christmas Trees In Your Yard

Pinus koraiensis Korean stone pine 001

Korean stone pine could make a nice living holiday tree, plus a nice tree for your yard.

In my role as one of the “Savor Sisters” I wrote about pine last week. I discussed its use as a herb in the our blog “Savor the Southwest.” Hopefully I got folks thinking about a living holiday tree (rather than a cut one) for their homes. Many species of pine grow well in the Southwest.

pinus halepensis BUR 6351

Living holiday tree two years later, this Aleppo pine is heading for 12 feet tall.

Do consider a living holiday tree – be it a Chanukah bush or Christmas tree – for your home this year. Once you are done with them indoors, they can be planted in the yard. Pines make a lovely landscape plant. They provide housing for wildlife, especially hawks and owls, plus shade your home helping reduce energy consumption for cooling. The needles can be used as a wonderful mulch for plants around your yard or garden. Once established, most pines will need water once a month in the hot dry months.

 

pinus halepensis NMN 0771

Over time the Aleppo pines get quite large and can shelter a vast array of birds.

Living holiday trees can make a nice addition to the yard. Growing up, we had three in succession, one per year – one for each kid. Within a few years in the ground they made a lovely small grove of climbable trees – and our own secret spot under their boughs.

Pinus pinyon parker canyon HPIM6769

Pinyon pine growing on the hills above Parker Canyon Lake.

Southwestern nurseries commonly offer Afghan or eldarica pine (Pinus eldarica) from Afghanistan or the Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) from the area around Aleppo in the Middle East.

Pinus_edulis_Antero

The two-needled pinyon pine growing in the wild.

But if you are going to plant it, water it, and take care of it – how about some food from it? Pine nuts are tasty. Four species of Southwestern pinyon pines do well here, as well as two species of nut pine, the source of most commercial pine nuts.

Pinus_edulis_cone_with_seeds_2005-10-15

All species of pine has two seeds per pine cone scale. In the pinyon pines they are large and tasty seeds.

Species to Select From

These species can currently be found in the nursery trade and are known to survive in the Southwest.
Pinyon pines:

      Pinus cembroides – Mexican pinyon
Pinus remota – Texas pinyon or papershell pinyon
Pinus edulis – Two-needle pinyon or Colorado pinyon
Pinus monophylla – Single-leaf pinyon

Old World nut pines:
Pinus pinea – Italian stone pine
Pinus koraiensis – Korean pine

pinus edulis seed

Pinyon pine nuts are a tasty addition to a number of dishes. Plus how fun to get them from your own tree!

Enjoy your living holiday tree, what ever the species.  But do avoid over-watering it while it is in its winter dormancy. Also, avoid taking it from a toasty warm house directly out into a freezing yard. Some time in a transition zone, like on a sheltered patio, will help increase it’s survival chances.

More about growing these living holiday trees in your yard in my next post.

You Can Grow That

 

JAS avatarIf you live in Southeastern Arizona, please come to one of my lectures. Look for me at your local Pima County Library branch, Steam Pump Ranch, Tubac Presidio, Tucson Festival of Books and other venues. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including the latest, “Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening,” written for Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press, $23).

© All articles are copyright by Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. Republishing an entire blog post or article is prohibited without permission. I receive many requests to reprint my work. My policy is that you may use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Photos may not be used.

Categories: Landscaping, Native Plant, Uncategorized, Xeriscape, You Can Grow That | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

In Flanders’ Fields

Papaver Poppies_Field_in_Flanders

I was all set for this to be about Veterans Day poppies. Then I discovered that, in America at least, they are generally considered Memorial Day poppies, sold by veterans. This makes sense since in one way since the practice of wearing a commemorative poppy takes its origin from the poem “In Flanders Fields,” written in May 1915 by a Canadian (John McCrae) after the death of a friend on the Western Front. The poppies in the poem are the Flanders poppies, blooming in spring.

Papaver rhoeas 003

In the wild, Flanders poppies (Papaver rhoeas) are bright red. A very vivid red.  The four flower petals emerge from the bud with a crumpled appearance, much like a serviceman’s fatigues after several weeks in the trenches. Each bloom lasts a single day, the petals scattering to the wind at the end of that day. These simple, poignant, blood red flowers grew en mass over the graves on the Western Front.

Papaver rhoeas bud 08

Petals emerge from the bud quite wrinkled.

The Flanders poppies are found not just in Flanders but in open areas all across Europe. Found across Europe, but not native to that area. Evidence shows that that the species came from the warmer climates where agricultural cultivation began, somewhere in Mesopotamia. Indeed, ancient carvings and paintings show that the Flanders poppy has a long history of symbolism and use.

Papaver rhoeas field in france

In the 1920’s, after the “Great War” was over, there was no G.I. Bill to help the returned service personnel. To raise money to help veterans and their families, people began selling paper poppies made to look like the wildflower. The funds thus generated were used to provide assistance, including basic food, shelter, and artificial limbs for the former servicemen. Families left destitute by the loss of their breadwinner were also aided. If you do see someone paper poppies this Veterans Day, go ahead and get one. They are one way to show support for soldiers and their families.

NZRSA_remembrance_poppy

These are sold throughout the British Commonwealth on “Remembrance Day”

 

You can easily grow Flanders poppies in Tucson (our climate is much like Mesopotamia). Ideally, plant the seeds a tad earlier in autumn with the rest of your wildflower seed, but right now should not be too late. Treat then like our Arizona wildflowers, with water to get established, then weekly watering once their little leaves show. You will be glad you did.

You Can Grow ThatIncidentally, I also found out that it is “Veterans Day” with no apostrophe but with an “s” at the end of “veterans” because it is not a day that “belongs” to veterans, it is a day for honoring all veterans. The date, November 11, is Armistice Day, the day the Great War ended. In Commonwealth nations, including Canada, New Zealand and Britain, it is known as “Remembrance Day.” In Canada especially, they commemorate the day and all veterans by reading Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae’s poem.

Papaver John McCrae memorialbook closeup02

At the John McCrae Memorial in Canada.

IMG_3623

Robert Soule after the war.

IMG_3629

Robert Soule’s medals.

IMG_3632

“Love country. Hate war.”

JAS avatarIf you live in Southeastern Arizona, please come to one of my lectures. Look for me at your local Pima County Library branch, Steam Pump Ranch, Tubac Presidio, Tucson Festival of Books and more. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including the latest, “Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening,” written for Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press, $23).

 

Text is copyright © 2015, Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. I receive many requests to reprint my work. My policy is that you may use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on my site. Photos may not be used.

Categories: Seasonal Gardening, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Easy to Grow Calendula

Calendula03

Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is a herb now grown more commonly for its pretty blooms, but it has a wealth of uses. Calendula can really shine in the kitchen. Cooks use calendula leaves and petals (botanically they are florets) steamed as a vegetable and to make pudding, dumplings, wine (better than dandelion wine!), and to flavor cakes and breads. Fresh petals look and taste fine in salads. Calendula makes a lovely golden yellow dye.

You Can Grow That

Planting and Care.

Calendula are perennials in some parts of the world but must be considered annual plants in our area. They will thrive all winter, ripe for the plucking, then pass into the great compost heap in the sky when the weather warms up.

calendula_orange_002

Calendula prefers well-drained, slightly acidic soil, rich in organic matter. It grows well in containers. Pots as shallow as eight inches can be used. Fill with potting soil that has some added sand. Plants do best with six or more hours of sun. Full winter sun is fine.

Calendula can be grown from seed or from seedlings from the nursery. Set seed a quarter inch deep. Try to space any rows around a foot apart. When seedlings are two inches high, thin to eight inches apart.

Calendula_officinalis_seed 004

Keep the soil relatively moist during establishment. Once plants get larger, you can let the soil dry a little more.

Deadhead. It’s a flower thing, no relation to the rock band. It’s the term for removing spent blossoms to encourage more blooms.

Calendula_officinalis seed 004

Remove spent blooms to encourage additional flowers. Mine rarely reach this stage as I use them so often.

If you are collecting the blooms for herbal use, you want to harvest them at peak bloom, before they go to seed.

Avoid fertilizing anything when frosts are a possibility. In late February you could apply a general purpose fertilizer at half-strength which will help calendula keep blooming until it fries in the May heat.

Calendula_officinalis-202

Harvesting and Use.

Harvest blooms or deadhead by grasping the stem under the flower and snap the stem where it most readily snaps. Doing this by hand rather than by prunners ensures that the stem is broken at natural abscission areas between the cells. This allows the plant to heal more rapidly. Clippers cut through cells and make it harder for the plant to heal.

Calendula_officinalis_009

While many tinctures use freshly harvested material, for decoctions it is best to dry the petals prior to use. This helps remove (volatilize) some of the bitter compounds. Calendula decoction or in tincture is used topically to treat acne, or internally to aid in reducing inflammation, controlling bleeding and soothing irritated tissue.

Dried calendula can be used to make a body powder for babies and adults. Finely grind dried petals in a mortar, and mix half and half with corn starch.

Dried then reconstituted petals can be added to soap as an anti-bacterial agent.

A calendula infusion as a rinse helps bring out highlights in brunette and blond hair. Calendula is often used in commercially available products.

Calendula_officinalis bloom 001

JAS avatarIf you live in Southeastern Arizona, please come to one of my lectures. Look for me at your local Pima County Library branch, Steam Pump Ranch, Tubac Presidio, Tucson Festival of Books and other venues. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including the latest, “Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening,” written for Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press, $23).

This work is copyright © 2015, Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. I receive many requests to reprint my work. My policy is that you may use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Photos may not be used.

Categories: Seasonal Gardening, You Can Grow That | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Fall Flowers in Southern Arizona A, B, C

I love fall in Arizona! The heat of summer is over, and yet the soils are still warm for growing. If we had a decent monsoon season, summer plants are still blooming and the autumn bloomers are starting.

Listed below are some of the fall blooming plants found in southeastern Arizona.  Note we do have mountains, so some of these are only found on the tops of the Sky Islands, or on the slopes, like the ceanothus.

For me it is time for a field trip to capture some of these beauties on digital media, plus see if there are seed available to scatter in my yard for up close enjoyment next year.  I will also be collecting some seed for the Desert Legume Program (DELEP).  Note that all of these do grow well from seed in our alkaline soils, just plant them twice as deep as they are large (1/2 inch seed goes 1 inch deep).

Since the entire list is three pages long, and I do not wish to boor the gentle reader to death, we will look at A, B, and C to start with.

 

Abutilon abutiloides – shrubby Indian mallow

Abutilon incanum – pelotazo

Abutilon parvulum – dwarf Indian mallow

Abutilon reventum – yellowflower Indian mallow

Acacia greggii – catclaw acacia

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Acacia greggii catkins are followed by reddish brown seed pods.

Acalypha phleoides – shrubby copperleaf
Agastache wrightii – Sonoran giant hyssop
Allionia choisyi – annual windmills
Allionia incarnata – trailing windmills
Almutaster pauciflorus – alkali marsh aster
Amaranthus fimbriatus – fringed amaranth
Amaranthus palmeri – carelessweed
Ambrosia confertiflora – weakleaf bur ragweed
Anaphalis margaritacea – Western pearly everlasting
Anoda abutiloides – Indian anoda
Anoda cristata – crested anoda
Argemone pleiacantha – Southwestern prickly poppy
Arida arizonica – arid tansy aster
Aristolochia watsonii – Watson’s Dutchman’s pipe

Aristolochia watsonii_flower

Aristolochia watsonii flower. Granted you do have to get close to see it, but the pollinators seem to find it just fine. Photo taken at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum.

Asclepias linaria – pineneedle milkweed
Baccharis salicifolia – mule-fat
Baccharis sarothroides – desert broom
Bahia absinthifolia – hairyseed bahia
Baileya multiradiata – desert marigold

Bailyea IMG_2712

Please don’t pick the wild daisies! But you can collect the seed and grow them in your yard for bouquets next year. Common name is desert marigold, although it is in a different sub-family from the true Tagetes marigold.

Bidens aurea – Arizona beggarticks
Boerhavia coccinea – scarlet spiderling
Boerhavia scandens – cimbing wartclub
Bouvardia ternifolia – firecrackerbush
Brickellia coulteri – Coulter’s brickellbush
Calliandra eriophylla – desert fairyduster

Calliandra_eriophylla_bloom_ASDM

The desert fairyduster may bloom more than once per year, if we get the rains for it. This photo was taken outside the Hummingbird Exhibit at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum.

Calyptocarpus vialis – straggler daisy
Castilleja tenuiflora – Santa Catalina Indian paintbrush
Ceanothus fendleri – Fendler’s ceanothus
Chamaesyce setiloba – Yuma sandmat
Cirsium ochrocentrum – yellowspine thistle
Commelina dianthifolia – birdbill dayflower
Conoclinium dissectum – palmleaf thoroughwort
Convolvulus arvensis – field bindweed
Cosmos parviflorus – Southwestern cosmos
Crotalaria pumila – low rattlebox

Zinnia acerosa AMP_5941

Zinnia acerosa, the desert zinnia, grown from seed scattered in the unfenced area of the yard. Just to show you this will be an A to Z list.

JAS avatarIf you live in Southeastern Arizona, please come to one of my lectures. Look for me at your local Pima County Library branch, Steam Pump Ranch, Tubac Presidio, Tucson Festival of Books and more. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including the latest, “Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening,” written for Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press, $23).

All photos and all text are copyright © 2015, Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. Photos taken at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum are denoted as per 2012 agreement.  I receive many requests to reprint my work. My policy is that you may use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Photos may not be used.

 

Categories: Landscaping, Native Plant, Xeriscape | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

You Can Grow Cilantro – Right Now!

You Can Grow That

Say “cilantro” here in the Old Pueblo, and folks think of salsa.  And while cilantro can get along with the heat of chilies in salsa, it quickly dies with the heat of a summer day.  Therefore you need to grow this herb in the cool winter months.  In fact, this Labor Day weekend is a great time to plant it.

Coriandrum_sativum_foliage

Head to you local nursery this weekend to grab a few cilantro plants.

Hate the taste of cilantro?  You are not alone.  Scientists agree that there appears to be a genetic component to cilantro taste preference.  Those that like the herb find it pungent and tangy, those that don’t often say it tastes soapy.  It’s your genes, and both experiences are equally valid.  Incidentally, it is not just Mexican recipes that call for coriander, so do many Asian dishes, but it is less evident as a flavor in Asian cooking it is often hidden by the flavors of curry and other ingredients.

coriander_fruit_002

Cilantro seeds are the herb called coriander. You can have both!

Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) has been used for millennia as a culinary and medicinal herb.  An infusion (tea) of coriander seed is said to soothe upset stomach and aid indigestion.  It also is reputed to be an aphrodisiac, but mostly it was prized as an ingredient in herbal vinegar used to preserve meat.

Coriandrum_sativum_flower_008

Cilantro will bolt (bloom) next April, but that’s a good thing – it brings in pollinators.

A member of the Carrot Family, cilantro is a little bit fussy about growing conditions.

Soil. All carrot kin grow best in a well drained, sandy, slightly acidic soil, rich in organic matter. That makes them easy to grow in containers.  Use a pot one and a half feet deep.  Potting soil with some added sand makes a good growing media.

Light. Six or more hours of winter sun is needed to do well.

Plant. Cilantro can be bought as a seedling from a nursery or grown from seed.  One or two plants are usually enough for most families so seedlings might be a better option.

Coriander_fruit_001

While it can be planted from seed, I have a number of birds in my area that love to eat seed and dainty little greens. Seedlings from a nursery work better for me.

Water. Keep the soil relatively moist during establishment.  You can let cilantro dry a little more between water once the plants get larger. Some people believe this makes their flavors stronger.

Fertilizer. Cilantro gets very lush and full with some fertilizer.  However, if you amended your soil at the start you don’t need to purchase fertilizer.  Plus, avoid fertilizing anything when frosts are a possibility. Come late February you could apply a half-strength general purpose fertilizer.

Coriander_fresh

Bunches of cilantro are available at the Farmer’s Market – but the taste of freshly harvested cilantro is ever so much better than that harvested a day or two before.

Harvest and Storage. Cilantro leaves tastes great when fresh but lose much flavor when dried. Freezing the leaves retains more flavor.  Select healthy leaves, rinse, pat dry but leave some moisture. Chop into roughly quarter inch squares and freeze in a labeled plastic bag or recycled yogurt container.  This can be used directly from the freezer.

As always – enjoy!

JAS avatarIf you live in Southeastern Arizona, please come to one of my lectures. Look for me at your local Pima County Library branch, Steam Pump Ranch, Tubac Presidio, Tucson Festival of Books and more. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including the latest, “Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening,” written for Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press, $23).
Text of this “Cilantro” post is copyright © 2015, Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. I receive many requests to reprint my work. My policy is that you may use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on my site.

Categories: Herbs, Seasonal Gardening, Using, You Can Grow That | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: