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The Dos and Don’ts of Hand Watering

Don’t get water on plant leaves in hot, direct sunlight. The droplets can act as magnifying glasses and damage leaf tissues.
Successful gardening always comes back to the basics: soil, sun, oxygen, plants, and, most of all, water.  Hand watering is the key to everything in the garden world out West.  Get it right and your garden goes crazy.  Blow it and plants languish.  Water facilitates […]

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The Best Garden Mulches and Decorative Covers

Garden stone is a longterm cover that must be applied correctly from the start.
Mulches define a garden’s character. Organic options give landscapes different looks, and all break down to help feed the soil. Others have more permanency. Either way, organic and decorative garden top dressings add beauty and distinction to plantings. Some take outdoor spaces to new visual heights, while others are simply functional in their […]

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Abutilons: the Best Parlor Maples

Abutilon pictum ‘Thompsonii’
Container gardening has always been a big part of my garden. and years ago what started out as a small grouping of pots on our deck, has continued to expand. Now I have about 150 containers throughout my garden.  The plant selection varies, and I am always removing something that did not perform as well as expected by adding something new.  However, even with […]

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Managing the Worst House Plant Pests

Growing house plants all together in a dense tangle encourages pests to spread and multiply!
When garden plants are outdoors, pest populations are generally lower or more diffuse due to natural predators, harsher weather, and more host plants. But, once you bring plants indoors, all of that changes. Predators are gone, climate conditions are good, and the pests that enter your home have just a few plants […]

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Captivating Cape Primroses for Indoor Color


After the holiday season is over and the poinsettias have been discarded, the home can seem to be rather bleak with no color from blooming plants. Having indoor color to brighten some of the dark and gloomy days we get in the winter months can give our spirits a boost while we wait for spring. In the time between now and the arrival of spring, […]

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Tropical Rainbow House Plants


Why wait for flowering house plants to bloom for indoor color when you can have plants that always look vivid and dramatic? Some have foliage that’s so colorful their leaves look like a Mardi Gras parade. Just a few pots will bring dazzling delight to any room with good light.
These rainbow house plants come from tropical or subtropical regions and grow best in rooms with […]

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Ponytail Palm: Beautiful Flesh Indoors or Out

This ponytail palm at the San Diego Zoo demonstrates how graceful they become.
Many believe Dr. Seuss’ Truffula Tree was inspired by a curious cypress in a San Diego park.  But maybe this isn’t true at all.  Maybe it’s San Diego’s epic ponytail palms that were the real inspiration for the Lorax story.  These are botanically known as Beaucarnea (“beautiful flesh” in Latin), a name that refers […]

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The Best Fragrant House Plants

Orange jasmine (Murraya paniculata)
In the Pacific Northwest, where our winter days are often rainy and overcast, (some would say dark and gloomy), it is a bonus to have an indoor environment where plants grow and thrive. If the plants also have fragrant blooms, it’s even nicer.
The limiting factor for most of these floriferous house plants is the lack of adequate light, so if a spot in […]

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Jade Jewels: Remarkable Jade Plants for Connoisseurs

Golden jade has remarkable sunset-hued leaves. (Image thanks to Mountain Crest Gardens)
A mature, well-formed jade (Crassula ovata) is an arboreal treasure of a house plant worthy of indoor garden ardor. Its thick, trunk-like stems ascend to a rounded top with glistening clusters of fleshy, jade-colored leaves. In winter, happy plants will do double duty by producing a wealth of starry white flowers. But, succulent connoisseurs know […]

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Growing Carrion Flower: Nature’s Flycatcher


Just imagine if you could grow a drought-tolerant plant that may actually reduce fly populations. One group of South African succulents, carrion flowers (Stapelia spp.), does just that. Unique carrion flowers have evolved very exotic starfish-like blossoms that kill the most ubiquitous insect in Africa: the fly. But death does not come until these insects have first pollinated the blooms. Prey are always prevalent […]

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