Dividing Plants in January

If you’re looking to keep yourself busy in January, one of the tasks you can do is to divide some of your spreading perennials . Wait until you have a day in the 50’s when the soil isn’t frozen and dig up some of your spreading perennials. I usually put them in a bucket with some water to keep them moist and then wait a day for them to warm up a bit.

Then you can use whatever implement you choose – hands, knife, bypass pruner etc. to divide the plants and put the cuttings into individual cells. I add Osmocote to my ProMix potting soil. Make sure you have some roots attached to each division.

You can do this process with just about any perennials which are spreading and needs to be divided. The plants above are allium. From one plant, I got sixty divisions.

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Spring Soil Mix

While there are lots of options when it comes to starting seeds, here is the method that works well for me.

I start with BX ProMix. It can be hard to find, so be persistent. Sometimes Walmart and Menards have a similar version. The main thing is that it has Mycorrhizae fungi.

I put this in a wide covered container, 9″ x 14″ x 5″ = 630 cu. inches, just to make it easy to work with. If it is dried out, you may need to add water to make it better when planting. ProMix does not have any nutrients. Keep the lid on when you are done.

I then add Osmocote Plus to the mix – follow the directions on the container.

I finally add extra Mycorrhizae to the soil – 1 cup per full container.

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Trays for Seed Starting

Greenhouse Megastore – 13.09 ounces

If you’re starting to think about starting seeds for spring planting, you will need some sort of tray to hold the plants and contain the water. The most common trays are called 1020 trays because that’s their general size – 10″ x 20″.

While you can buy these at the Big Box Stores or Amazon, the quality of the trays is not that good and they generally don’t last many years.

My supplier of choice these days is GreenhouseMegastore.com
Currently they are offering free shipping on orders over $99.00.
While that may be more than what you want to spend, you could go together with a friend and split the order. Remember that the good trays will last for years.

$3.49 each13.09Greenhouse MegastoreHeavy duty – looks just like their other models, but much heavier. These are a good compromise between quality and cost.
$1.00 each5.54Greenhouse MegastoreStandard duty – still heavier than almost all other sources. You may need two trays to lift the entire flat of plants. These are good basic trays, but will not last as long as the heavier weight trays.
$10.00 each16.72ParkSeed.comI have used these in the past and they will last for years. If money is no object, I’d buy these.

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Plants in Pots Over the Winter

I’m documenting the plants I have in outdoor pots and hoping that they all will make it over the winter. Here is what is growing now.

Aromatic Aster – note all the plants coming up from the roots.
Allium Bulbils
Lavender – very hardy.
Rudbeckia fulgida fulgida
Wild Sweet William + Virginia Bluebells

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Native Shade Plants

Whitecliff Garden – Crestwood, MO

Here’s a list of native plants which I have grown and do well in shade.

  1. Robin’s Plantain (Erigeron pulchellus) space 12″ – fills in well.
  2. Mertensia virginica – Virginia Bluebells. These die back, so put in other plants next to them to fill in.
  3. Packera obovata – Roundleaf Groundsel. After blooming, they make a nice ground cover.
  4. Echinacea purpurea – Purple Coneflower.
  5. Celandine Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum)
  6. Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
  7. Indian Pink (Spigelia marilandica)
  8. Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum)
  9. Wild Sweet William (Phlox divaricata)
  10. Bee Balm (Monarda bradburiana)
  11. Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata)
  12. Fragrant Sumac (Rhus aromatica)

Note – MoWildflowers.net list a number of other plants for Mild Shade which you might want to try.

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Filed under Native Plants

Starting No-Dig Gardens in Winter

If you’re interested in starting a No-Dig garden in the spring time, early winter might be a better time using Charles Dowding’s methods. In the video below he starts a garden using just compost. The problem I have is that the compost I buy from St. Louis Composting is still quite hot when I get it and 8 to 12 inches of it would burn and probably kill new plants.

The trick is to buy it now and let it sit all winter so that it will be ready for planting in spring. Here’s is Charle’s method in the video below.

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Filed under No Dig, Raised Bed

Gardening for Beneficial Insects with Dr. Ed Spevak

Ed is a St. Louis insect expert who shares some of his knowledge. This is a great presentation.

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Fasteners for Raised Beds

While there are many online videos on the mechanics of building garden raised beds, none that I have found actually talk about which are the best fasteners to use.

The video below goes into the holding power of different nails and screws. To cut to the chase, the deck screws hold the best and are corrosion resistant, but are more expensive than other options.

It appears that the St. Louis group Gateway Greening uses deck screws in their raised beds.

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Saving – Planting Lantana Seeds

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One of the bonuses I get every year are lantana plants which just popup in some of my gardens from seed that they dropped the year before. I thought I’d encourage this behavior by saving this year’s seeds and testing it in some of my flower test beds.

Here is what the seed looks like. I’m pulling off the black seeds and putting them in paper bags to dry. In a couple of weeks I’ll plant them in the beds and test a couple of ideas. 1. Put the seeds on top of the soil. This is how my other seeds would have germinated. 2. Cover the seeds lightly with 1/4 inch of soil.

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Calamint – Montrose White

One of the impossible conditions that people list online when they are looking for plants is, “Perennial which blooms all summer.”

One of the few perennials which fulfills these conditions is Calamintha nepeta – Montrose White. I’ve only grown this for a couple of years, but it is a pollinator favorite which blooms all season long.

Mine grows about 36″ wide and 24″ tall. I’d put it in front of the garden and let it cover an area with blooms. It would nice make a nice border or edging plant.

I found my locally at Greenscape Nursery In St. Louis.

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