Coastal and Tropical South

May, 2012
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Earth Star
This plant's name sounds like it should be given to a ship built for exploration of the deepest parts of the ocean or the planet's core. Such a vessel would be rare to see, but this earth star, or more properly Cryptanthus hybrid, is not uncommon at all. Except in the dry tropics, these small, wildly patterned plants do best as potted plants and make great companions to other drought tolerant plants like snake and jade plants. They are also called starfish plant as they form rosettes with wavy, pointed leaves radiating out in all directions like arms. But these are striped deep red, pink, green, and cream, with little white flowers in warm weather and hug the soil surface in shade with an almost mosaic look.

Tool or Gardening Product

Dutch Hoe
I grew up calling this tool a shuffle hoe, but it's also known as a scuffle or swivel hoe, and it is often sold as a Hula-Ho or Hula Hoe. I inherited a chopping hoe that my grandfather carried through the garden on his daily walk, but actually I use the shuffle hoe more in much of my garden. The action used to propel this tool is strictly push and pull, to slice off little weeds just under the soil with its loop of sharp, flat metal. It's not very useful for deep rooted weeds like dandelion or nut grass, but it's my best friend when it comes to henbit, chickweed, and little bermudagrass sprouts.

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