Coastal and Tropical South

December, 2011
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

String of Pearls
The Senecio genus is home to plants that do not look alike but do have similar growing needs. My favorites are cineraria, dusty miller, and string-of-pearls (Senecio rowleyanus). The strings are among the most unusual houseplants, suited to almost any window and comfortable in normal household conditions. Medium green balls with an oddly dusty sheen line up on stems that hang from baskets or fall out of pots filled with very well-drained soil. Water when the soil feels dry and fertilize monthly with a soluble formula mixed at half strength. String-of-pearls is easy to grow, thrives on benign neglect, and never fails to start a conversation.

Tool or Gardening Product

Trowels for Tasks
Choosing the right tool for the job makes every garden job easier to accomplish. I have four trowels, although one of them is technically a bulb planter. That cylindrical shape cuts a nice hole in the soil, ideal for planting bulbs but also seedlings in peat pots. Lift out the soil, drop in the bulb or rootball and refill easily. My second trowel has a long narrow blade that slips right into small spaces to ease the task of adding to existing plantings without disturbing roots. Number three has a wider, rounded blade on a slightly curved handle. Its shape works well to turn soils in containers and vegetable rows and opens a wide space for larger transplants. Finally, because some days my wrist needs a break, I have an ergonomic trowel. Its design puts the trowel on a long handle and arm loop and is a great help when I have scores of small holes to dig.

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