Pacific Northwest

August, 2013
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Globe Thistle and Purple Coneflower
Echinacea and echinops are listed next to each other in garden books and catalogs, and it doesn't hurt to put them next to each other in the garden as well. The spiny spherical, steel-blue flowers of globe thistle (Echinops humilis; E. ritro) set off the hot-pink daisies of purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). Both perennials are excellent for Northwest gardens and are among the most carefree perennials you can grow. They're disease-free and cold-hardy, and both have flowers that last a long time. For best growth, plant in full sunshine, in well-draining soil; then just stand back and enjoy!

Clever Gardening Technique

Disinfecting and Cleaning Pots
Pots can be reused indefinitely, but with each use they accumulate debris inside and out that can harbor disease. So for the plant's sake, clean and disinfect your old pots each time you plant in them.

To disinfect clay pots, soak them in a solution of 1 part household bleach to 9 parts of water for ten minutes or more. Next, dip them into a solution of water and dish detergent.

Lift the pots from the soapy water and scrub away as much of the dirt and mineral deposits as you can, inside and out, using steel wool or a wire-bristle brush. Scrape any remaining mineral deposits from the rim of the pot with a knife. When clay pots are clean, rinse them off and soak them in a bucket of clean water until you are ready to use them. (Dry clay pots can wick moisture from the potting medium, dehydrating newly potted plants.)

Plastic pots can be disinfected and cleaned in the same way as clay pots, except you can easily remove salts and debris with a scouring pad. If any mineral deposits cling to the rim of a plastic pot after it has been scrubbed, simply scrape them off with a knife and smooth the pot edges with steel wool. Rinse the pot clean, and it's ready to use.

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