Garden Talk: May 12, 2005

From NGA Editors

New Variegated Plants

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Gardeners sometimes have mixed feelings about variegated plants. On one hand, they add color when the plant is out of bloom. On the other hand, variegated plants can be less vigorous compared to similar, non-variegated varieties. For those who like variegation, here are two new plants to try.

Throughout most of the country forsythia has finished blooming. While gardeners love the bright yellow flowers in spring, the shrub holds little interest after the flowers fade. Now there’s a variegated forsythia that adds interest throughout the summer and fall. Kumson forsythia (Forsythia koreana ‘Kumson’) is a 4- to 5-foot-tall plant that features the usual bright yellow flowers in spring and green leaves trimmed with silver all season. ‘Kumson’ grows well in part shade to full sun and is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9.

Daylilies are another ordinary plant that is barely noticed unless it’s in flower. However, this new variegated daylily will grab your attention just by its leaves. ‘Golden Zebra’ daylily (Hemerocallis malja) produces 3-inch-diameter, yellow flowers in midsummer, but has striking green leaves with gold stripes from spring until fall. The foliage grows 18 to 24 inches tall and makes an excellent companion to other perennials, such as blue salvia and red coreopsis. ‘Golden Zebra' grows well in part to full sun and is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9.

For more information on these new variegated plants, go to: Wayside Gardens.

Rotating Hanging Basket

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Have you ever noticed how your hanging baskets get lopsided by midsummer? Usually it’s because one side receives more sunlight than the other, spurring uneven growth. Short of getting up on a chair and rotating the basket every few days, there isn’t much you can do about it … until now.

The Solar Roto Basket is a solar-powered, mechanical device that’s attached between your ceiling hook and the hanging basket. It slowly rotates the basket each day to give the plants even lighting. The low-light solar panel doesn’t require direct sun to work. It is strong enough to rotate a 27-pound basket.

For more information on the Solar Roto Basket, go to: Kinsman Company.

Sugar Helps Trees Survive

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Many trees suffer from transplant shock after being dug from the nursery and put into containers to be sold at the garden center. Often less than 5 percent of the original roots survive the move. The shoots can’t get enough water from the diminished root system and consequently a mortality rate of 30 to 50 percent is common the first year after transplanting.

In order to accelerate new root growth on transplanted trees (and hopefully reduce mortality), researchers at the Bartlett Tree Research Laboratory in England have tried adding sugar water to the tree root system. In trees that have a low survival rate, such as birch, watering with a sugar-water solution increased root growth and survival rates.

Researchers found the best root growth rates were achieved when they applied 10 ounces of sucrose (table sugar) per gallon of water and drenched the newly transplanted trees at a rate of 0.4 gallons per tree each week for 4 weeks, starting two weeks after bud break. The trees in the study were less than 2 inches in diameter. Further research is planned to see if sugar water also will increase survival rates of larger diameter trees as well.

For more information on this research go to: Journal of Arboriculture.

 
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