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Late-Winter Garden Tasks for a Happy Garden

Clean off any debris that has collected on the lawn over the winter.
Take a Garden Stroll
With a steaming cup of coffee in my hand, I walk out into my garden this February morning and delight in seeing the nodding, bell-shaped white flowers of snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) (Click here to learn more about other early spring bulbs like snowdrops). I have a […]

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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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Tomato Diseases: Identification and Solutions

From upper left: blossom end rot, late blight, and tobacco mosaic virus.
Tomatoes are the roses of vegetables–everything attacks them. So, gardeners can count on experiencing any number of tomato diseases in their growing experience. It pays to grow disease-resistant tomatoes, but lots of the best heirlooms don’t fall into this category. That’s why tomato growers need to be armed with knowledge and IPM (integrated pest […]

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Beating The Five Most Common Vegetable Garden Pests Naturally

My daughter is picking off Colorado potato beetles from potato plants.
For the past 14 years, I have grown my vegetables in a community garden plot, which has provided a real education in plant pests, diseases, and weeds. Why? Because these mega veggie gardens are pest hot spots, and summer is the worst time of year for the beasties.  Bad insects always attack my beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, and eggplants–threatening […]

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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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Award-Winning Flowers for 2020

Echinacea Sombrero® Baja Burgundy (Image by AAS Winners)
The beginning of the year is always filled with award shows to highlight the best-of-the-best. In the entertainment industry, there are the Oscars, Grammys, Emmys, and Tony Awards. In the horticultural world, there are All-America Selections, Fleuroselect, RHS Award of Garden Merit (UK), and other more regional awards for the best-of-the-best garden plants. Plant introductions that receive awards […]

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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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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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