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Tough, Easy, Ever-Blooming Garden Flowers

Black and Blue salvia (left), Twisted Red celosia (top right), and French marigolds (bottom right)

If you want reliable, carefree, long-blooming flowers that still perform through hot, dry summers, they are not difficult to find. The best are longtime garden favorites as well as exciting new varieties, which are bred […]

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Out-of-Madagascar Succulent House Plants


Much like the unique plants and wildlife of Galapagos Islands that evolved in isolation, the “endemic” plants of Madagascar, an island off the east coast of Africa, are equally unique. (Endemic species are found in one place and nowhere else on Earth.) Madagascar succulent plants evolved to withstand the island’s extremely hot and often dry growing conditions and wide-ranging environments, from rain forests and […]

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How to Water House Plants


Watering house plants…it sounds simple, doesn’t it? But, if it were simple, there would be fewer black thumbs out there. Proper watering is at the heart of good plant care, and if you don’t know how to water a plant, then its little green future may be in peril. It is surprisingly easy to drown a plant with aqueous attention.
There isn’t a one-fits-all watering […]

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Colorful Flowering Kalanchoe for Winter Cheer


Do you seek a cheerful holiday plant that will look good in your home all season long? One of the best is the succulent flowering kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, USDA Hardiness Zones 10-11). Unlike the top-selling poinsettia, it is tough, easy to grow, and always looks good.
Garden sticklers (like me) like plant names to be pronounced correctly, and kalanchoe is not exactly an easy name […]

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Rosemary Is For Winter and Gifting

Fill pretty, recycled jars with freshly-dried rosemary for holiday gifts for foodies (and pet lovers too, see below).
When I first came to the Southern California desert, I was shocked at how well traditional rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis, USDA Hardiness Zones 8-10) shrubs survived through 120ᵒ F summer days. When provided good drainage and some water, these plants thrive in dry, mild-winter locations and reach mammoth […]

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Beyond Poinsettias: Fresh Holiday House Plants

Florist’s gloxinia has fallen out of vogue but has spectacular flowers in winter.
Red, green, and white–these are the common holiday colors. Poinsettias, amaryllis, paperwhites, and cyclamen–these are the common holiday plants in these colors. Why not shake it up? You can have these colors and enjoy them anew with more adventurous seasonal house plants.
Plant vendors sell all kinds of other indoor plants fit for the […]

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Succulent Wreaths Renewed

This beautiful designer wreath features only rosette-shaped succulents with great color.
Succulent wreaths began in California back in the 1960s when Sunset Magazine shared this now universally popular do-it-yourself idea. Until recently, finding a pre-made one for purchase was nearly impossible. But today succulent wreaths are sold everywhere in every manifestation, from small desktop sizes at $20 to large, spectacular specimens that command as much as […]

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Overwintering Outdoor Ceramic Containers


With 150+ potted containers throughout my garden, it is important that I overwinter them well. Living on the relatively mild western slope of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, our winters do not compare with those in colder parts of the country, but we do get freezing temperatures. Almost every winter, we will have some nights when the temperatures dip into the low 20’s and sometimes into […]

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Grey and Silver Garden Plants for Arid Gardens

Cascading licorice plant, feathery Artemisia, and large-leaved silver plectranthus show textural comparisons. (Image by Maureen Gilmer)

Raising a pubescent teen can feel like being pecked to death by a duck. But it’s a lot more pleasant when it comes to plants. Here pubescence is “a covering of soft down or […]

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Bold Grasses for the Fall Garden

Pennisetum ‘Jade Princess’ is a spectacular variety with huge, showy plumes.

With many summer-flowering annuals beginning to fade, autumn is the season when many ornamental grasses take center stage. I do not want to dismiss those ornamental grasses that look quite good in the garden during the summer, and some […]

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