"Easy care" plants for the horticulturally challenged! (Article)

"I have a brown thumb," a reader of this column recently moaned.
She meant that she had the opposite of a "green thumb," a description we often apply to people who seem to have a knack of growing just about anything successfully. Our "brown thumb" reader went on to say that she seemed to have no luck at all when it comes to keeping plants alive and thriving.
This luckless lady was one of several who have asked me for some tips on foolproof trees, shrubs and plants that even THEY are unlikely to kill!
Today, I'll tell you about some of my favorites that are easy to plant and easy care for.
But first, a quick note about natural snake repellents. Sometimes, a newspaper editor has to cut part of a column when space is tight or a major news story is breaking. I heard from several readers who said that their newspaper had had to cut part of a recent column referring to the use of marigolds as a natural snake repellent. You can find the entire column archived at my web site here: http://www.landsteward.org/page.cfm/18923 or you can send me an e-mail and I will reply with a "hot link" to the story you can click on!
Now on to those easy-care trees and shrubs...
First of all, I have to say that no plant is truly foolproof (or kill-proof) and you definitely put the odds in your favor when you select plants that are most likely to thrive in the conditions they will find in your landscape. So determine if you will be planting in the shade or direct sunlight, in sandy or clay soil, and so on. When you pick plants that prefer those conditions, you're already ahead of the game.
Having said that, there are a number of trees and shrubs that are tolerant of different climates, soil types and conditions, and are not particularly demanding of your time or skill-level when it comes to caring for them.
Here are a few you might want to consider if you are somewhat "horticulturally challenged"...
Cedar Green Giant Regular readers will know I'm a big fan of this one. It's one of the toughest and fastest-growing of all the conifers. If you want to screen your landscape from neighbors or the highway, this is an excellent choice. It needs no shearing or pruning. It is able to withstand drought well, exhibiting no significant pest or disease problems, and is highly deer and bagworm resistant. Although Green Giant prefers direct sun, it works well in shady areas too.
Rosa Rugosa Sometimes called "the living fence," this one is fairly husky and extremely disease resistant. It does well in just about any soil and is winter-hardy all the way to Zone 2. (If you're not sure of your Plant Hardiness Zone, send me an e-mail telling me where you live and I can help you.) The fragrant blossoms are followed by very large orange-red hips in late summer and last all winter.
Aristocrat Flowering Pear (Pyrus calleryana) I like all the flowering pears, but Aristocrat is one of my favorites. Why? Because the word "adaptable" describes it perfectly! It is pest resistant and tolerates drought, poor drainage and just about any soil. It can thrive despite the effects of moderate winds, smog, and extreme temperatures. See what I mean about adaptable? And because its branch angles are wider than other pears, the Aristocrat is more resistant to storm damage.
Hybrid Lemon Yellow Daylilies These guys come back year after year, growing larger and displaying more blooms. In fact most daylilies are fairly undemanding when it comes to ongoing care, but you might want to start with this one. As long as they are pretty much exposed to full sun, they can do well in almost any soil type.
Rose of Sharon Hibiscus This one does well in either full sun or partial shade and will be very tolerant of your soil conditions! You don't have to prune it if you don't care to. Leave it alone and you'll get a larger number of small flowers, or prune it back for fewer but larger flowers. The single or doubleflowers are in shades of red, pink, white and purple, depending on the cultivar, and another nice feature is that it blooms in mid to late summer when few other shrubs are in bloom.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs and landscaping to snipped-for-privacy@landsteward.org and for resources and additional information, including archived columns, visit www.landsteward.org
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The Plant Man column for publication week of 08/29/04 - 09/04/04 (774 words) ###
The Plant Man by Steve Jones www.landsteward.org
“Easy care” plants for the horticulturally challenged!
“I have a brown thumb,” a reader of this column recently moaned.
She meant that she had the opposite of a “green thumb,” a description we often apply to people who seem to have a knack of growing just about anything successfully. Our “brown thumb” reader went on to say that she seemed to have no luck at all when it comes to keeping plants alive and thriving.
This luckless lady was one of several who have asked me for some tips on foolproof trees, shrubs and plants that even THEY are unlikely to kill! Today, I’ll tell you about some of my favorites that are easy to plant and easy care for.
But first, a quick note about natural snake repellents. Sometimes, a newspaper editor has to cut part of a column when space is tight or a major news story is breaking. I heard from several readers who said that their newspaper had had to cut part of a recent column referring to the use of marigolds as a natural snake repellent. You can find the entire column archived at my web site here:http://www.landsteward.org/page.cfm/18923 or you can send me an e-mail and I will reply with a “hot link” to the story you can click on!Now on to those easy-care trees and shrubs...
First of all, I have to say that no plant is truly foolproof (or kill-proof) and you definitely put the odds in your favor when you select plants that are most likely to thrive in the conditions they will find in your landscape. So determine if you will be planting in the shade or direct sunlight, in sandy or clay soil, and so on. When you pick plants that prefer those conditions, you’re already ahead of the game.
Having said that, there are a number of trees and shrubs that are tolerant of different climates, soil types and conditions, and are not particularly demanding of your time or skill-level when it comes to caring for them. Here are a few you might want to consider if you are somewhat “horticulturally challenged”...
Cedar Green Giant Regular readers will know I’m a big fan of this one. It’s one of the toughest and fastest-growing of all the conifers. If you want to screen your landscape from neighbors or the highway, this is an excellent choice. It needs no shearing or pruning. It is able to withstand drought well, exhibiting no significant pest or disease problems, and is highly deer and bagworm resistant. Although Green Giant prefers direct sun, it works well in shady areas too.
Rosa Rugosa Sometimes called “the living fence,” this one is fairly husky and extremely disease resistant. It does well in just about any soil and is winter-hardy all the way to Zone 2. (If you’re not sure of your Plant Hardiness Zone, send me an e-mail telling me where you live and I can help you.) The fragrant blossoms are followed by very large orange-red hips in late summer and last all winter.
Aristocrat Flowering Pear (Pyrus calleryana) I like all the flowering pears, but Aristocrat is one of my favorites. Why? Because the word “adaptable” describes it perfectly! It is pest resistant and tolerates drought, poor drainage and just about any soil. It can thrive despite the effects of moderate winds, smog, and extreme temperatures. See what I mean about adaptable? And because its branch angles are wider than other pears, the Aristocrat is more resistant to storm damage.
Hybrid Lemon Yellow Daylilies These guys come back year after year, growing larger and displaying more blooms. In fact most daylilies are fairly undemanding when it comes to ongoing care, but you might want to start with this one. As long as they are pretty much exposed to full sun, they can do well in almost any soil type.
Rose of Sharon Hibiscus This one does well in either full sun or partial shade and will be very tolerant of your soil conditions! You don’t have to prune it if you don’t care to. Leave it alone and you’ll get a larger number of small flowers, or prune it back for fewer but larger flowers. The single or double flowers are in shades of red, pink, white and purple, depending on the cultivar, and another nice feature is that it blooms in mid to late summer when few other shrubs are in bloom.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs and landscaping to snipped-for-privacy@landsteward.org and for resources and additional information, including archived columns, visit www.landsteward.org
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If she has a "brown thumb", that means the opposable digit has gone necrotic and she should see a doctor immediately. If it becomes infected and gangrenous, it could seriously affect her whole hand and even put her very life at risk. It may have to be surgically removed. Living without an opposable thumb will create a whole new set of problems with grasping items and long term rehabilitation will be necessary.
If she is so inept that she cannot grow plant because she cannot grasp even the most basic concepts, then she shouldn't grow plants. She should go and visit other gardens and settle for being in awe of how it is done.
and for resources and

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Fascinating late medieval folklore resurfaces from time to time as helpful gardening "facts." The origins of such fantasies are often quite interesting, even if such superstition-driven advice is uselessly silly.
Marigolds were said to have the power to repel serpents & human lust. In other words it is proof against the devil, though it wouldn't bother a real-world snake at all. The odor of Marigold functions as an incense that repels the charnal serpent, but conjurs beneficial spirits. Its brightness of red-tinged yellow meant it was a form of Fire, & was sacred to a Sun-divinity (or a Sun-divinity's forest-dwelling spouse) hence the folknames Summer's Bride, Bride of the Sun, Spousa Solis, The Husbandman's Dial, Sunwort, or Holy Gold (really Holle's Gold, a Nordic earthmother). So marigolds banish the serpent for the same reason the sun banishes all minions of night, without concern for the fact that real serpents actually bask in the sun, for this is purely folk superstition, rather than story-encoded folk knowledge.
Its ability to thwart the serpent was finally due to the plant's association with the Virgin Mary, though this association occurred late in the flower's folk-name history, the "Mary" in Marigold originating as an old English corruption of the Anglo-saxon Merso meaning Marsh. Most Mary-associated plants have blue flowers (the color of her veil) or white (for purity, or for her breast's milk). But "Mary's Gold" came to mean yellow flowers that were offered at roadside Mary shrines in lieu of gold, because Mary spurned material wealth as being inconsequential compared to spiritual wealth. And a story was told that during the flight into Egypt, desert bandits waylaid the exiled family, but when Mary's purse was turned inside out, all that came out were marigold petals.
-paghat the folklore ratty
--
"Of what are you afraid, my child?" inquired the kindly teacher.
"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
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Hi, Don't confuse these spammers with facts, their minds are already made up. L8R -_- how no NEWS is good
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snipped-for-privacy@netscape.net (paghat) in

i thought it was codling moths that did that.
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On Wed, 01 Sep 2004 12:38:32 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@netscape.net (paghat) wrote:

(whoever quoted this...)

[...]
That must not work in India, since wreaths of marigolds are a feature of many rituals there. And I don't notice "human lust" being dysfunctional in this country of a billion+ population <g>
Persephone
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On Wed, 01 Sep 2004 12:38:32 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@netscape.net (paghat) wrote:

(whoever quoted this...)

[...]
That must not work in India, since wreaths of marigolds are a feature of many rituals there. And I don't notice "human lust" being dysfunctional in this country of a billion+ population <g>
Persephone
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Ack - sorry for posting twice. i had a message stored in my outbox of forte agent. flame at will to snipped-for-privacy@digitalsunshine.com.
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In some places this is considered an invasive plant.
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The #1 problem is watering, either overwatering or underwatering. Usually it's the former. Next in line is over fertilizing. People literally kill their plants with kindness.
When people ask me for advice on getting something they *can't* easily kill I tell them to buy a succulent. They're pretty, low maintenance as far as not having to prune, don't need much fertilizer, can tolerate sun or open shade and, most of all only need to be watered once every week or every other week and a missed watering is no big deal. :-)
Layne
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