Pacific Northwest

January, 2011
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

'Mohawk' Burkwood Viburnum
I have a passion for fragrant flowers like daphnes, tea olives, witch hazels and gardenias. So when it comes to choosing shrubs for my garden, I look for those that offer not only intoxicating scents, but vigor, disease-resistance, and handsome foliage, too.

That's why Viburnum x burkwoodii 'Mohawk' is perfect. Prominent, lipstick-red flower buds are showy for weeks until they open into bright-white, spicy, clove-scented flowers that last two to three weeks. It is evergreen in our gardening region, and the glossy, dark green foliage is handsome throughout the growing season. This viburnum is resistant to the bacterial leaf spot and powdery mildew that can attack other viburnums, which makes it a winner in my garden!

Clever Gardening Technique

Inexpensive Lighting for Indoor Plants
I start seeds and grow flowering plants indoors the easy way, with ordinary fluorescent shop lights and a timer. Common shop lights are hooded fixtures with 4-foot long fluorescent tubes and chains for hanging. They are available in all hardware stores for under $20 and I think they're worth the investment.

I simply attach the chains and hang them from the ceiling. This arrangement lets me raise or lower the shop lights by putting a different chain link over the hook. You could build a sawhorse type frame if you'd prefer that arrangement. However you hang shop lights, allow several inches of ventilation space above the fixture when it is fully raised to help dissipate the heat produced by the tubes.

Shop lights come with two cool-white tubes, but I customized my setup by replacing one tube with a warm-white tube. Cool-white fluorescent lamps are fine for growing foliage plants and seedlings but for growing flowering plants you'll need the full-spectrum of light waves which you'll get with the combination of a cool-white and a warm-white tube in your fixture.

When starting seedlings, I lower the shop lights to within two inches of the tops of the plants, raising the light fixture as the seedlings grow. For flowering plants I keep the shop lights a little higher -- usually about 6 inches above the tops of the plants. To make sure the plants are getting adequate light I simply hold my hand directly under the tubes. If I see a faint shadow from my hand on the foliage below, I know that the shop light is giving off enough light to grow most plants.

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