Garden Talk: November 24, 2005

From NGA Editors

Plants to Grow (and Those to Avoid) in Deer Country

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Deer are a common problem throughout the country. They love to browse on a variety of trees, shrubs, flowers, and vegetables. Of course, the best deer deterrent is a good fence. Gardeners also report success spraying various deer repellents. But the Holy Grail for those dealing with severe deer browsing problems is an attractive landscape plant that deer won't touch. While a hungry deer will eat almost anything, some plants are less appealing. The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has compiled the master of all master lists of deer-resistant plants to guide gardeners and landscapers.

The zoo collected more than 40 lists of deer-resistant plants from nurseries, universities, horticulturists, and arboretums all over the Midwest. From that they created a new list of frequently mentioned plants. They sent out their list to 400 growers, educators, naturalists, and professional gardeners in the area asking, in their experience, which plants were actually left alone by deer and which ones were not.

From this research they’ve compiled the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Best Deer-Resistant Plants list, plus a list of plants deer feed on the most. While the resistant list is extensive and available on their Web site, the list of plants to absolutely avoid growing in deer country (or take your chances) is below.

Deer Favorites
Euonymous
Hemerocallis
Hosta
Hydrangea quercifolia (oakleaf hydrangea)
Ilex cornuta (Chinese holly)
Ilex x meservae (blue holly)
Impatiens
Phlox paniculata (perennial phlox)
Pinus strobes (eastern white pine)
Rhododendron
Rose
Sedum
Taxus (yew)
Thuja occidentalis (American arborvitae)
Tulipa

For the complete list of deer-resistant plants, go to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

Shamrock Plants Get a Makeover

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To warm-weather gardeners, shamrock plants (Oxalis) are weeds. To Irish-Americans, they’re considered good luck. The new series of shamrocks available for home gardeners might actually turn them into favorite plants. These plants feature large, attractive leaves and dainty, bluish white flowers.

The Charmed series of oxalis can be grown in beds, containers, and window boxes outdoors, or indoors under lights or in a sunny window. Oxalis 'Charmed Wine' is the most colorful of the series, with its velvety, wine-colored angular leaves. Oxalis 'Charmed Jade' -- the most vigorous grower -- has striking green leaves with a silver sheen. Oxalis 'Charmed Velvet' -- a tame grower -- has velvety black leaves. All three grow 12 to 16 inches tall and are hardy in USDA zone 8. They grow best in shade and make excellent houseplants in cold regions. If the foliage gets leggy for lack of light, just cut it back and new growth will appear within days from the small bulbs.

For more information on the Oxalis Charmed series, go to: Proven Winners.

Watering Cans With a Flair

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Now you can choose an indoor watering can with good form and good function that also matches your kitchen decor. The Oxo Indoor Pour & Store Watering Can -- available in seven colors -- features a spout that rotates backward, so it's easier to fill and store. The translucent spout has measured markings that line up with the body, making it convenient to measure and mix fertilizers. The 3-quart, plastic watering can also has a non-slip grip and a rose that can be removed and stored in the back of the can.

These watering cans are available at garden centers. For more information on the Oxo Pour & Store Watering Can, go to: Oxo.

Growing Fragrant Orchids

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Orchids are one of the hottest-selling houseplants. In addition to their beauty, they are easy to grow and they flower for weeks, even months. To top it off, some are wonderfully fragrant. There are more than 20,000 fragrant orchids in the wild. Some have strong spicy aromas, such as cinnamon, chocolate, lemon, and vanilla, while others have a more subtle fragrance. A new book can help you choose the best varieties and grow them successfully at home.

Steve Frowine’s Fragrant Orchids (Timber Press, 2005; $29.95) profiles more than 300 varieties of fragrant orchids. The first part of the book discusses the language of scent and the basics of buying and growing orchids. The rest of the book is devoted to detailed growing information about each featured orchid, with color photos and descriptions of fragrance. Charts listing orchids by ease of culture, light preferences, nighttime temperature requirements, intensity of fragrance, and season of bloom ease the decision about which orchid would be best suited to your home or office environment.

For more information on Fragrant Orchids, go to: Timber Press.

 
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