Problem: Stunted, pale or weak-looking plants. Solution: Before you can treat this problem, you need to figure out exactly what’s causing it. Insects may be attacking your plants, or you may be watering too much, or not fertilizing enough. Check both sides of the leaves, and look along the stems and branches for signs of trouble. Make sure the roots aren't standing in a saucer full of water. Read up on how and when to fertilize your plant, and feed it with a balanced plant food or a specialized plant food, if necessary.
Formally known as Magilla purple perilla, it’s okay to shorten the name of this shade-loving plant to Magilla perilla, just because it’s fun to say. It’s a coleus lookalike, but the similarities stop there. Unlike coleus, Magilla perilla branches easily to form a full plant that’s packed with multicolored leaves. It’s also extremely heat and cold tolerant, which means it stands up to summer sizzle and fall’s chilly nights. Use it in containers or to bump up the color quotient in landscape beds. Plants grow quickly to achieve their full size: 24 to 36 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide.
Add color to your garden from midsummer to early fall with the towering blooms of joe pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum). This native plant boasts a low-maintenance personality, resists rabbits, and adapts to heavy clay or boggy soil with ease. Give it a spot in full sun to part shade. It makes a great back- of-the-border plant or rain garden player. Flowers attract pollinators like crazy, including bees, butterflies and beneficial insects. Cut plants back by one-third in early summer to promote branching and more flowers. Plants grow 5 to 7 feet tall and 2 to 4 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 4-9.
Known as blue wild indigo or blue false indigo (Baptisia australis), this native perennial achieves shrub size each growing season. Plants sink a deep tap root that searches out water to fuel top growth. Blue flower spikes appear in late spring, blending beautifully with the blue-green leaves. More stems appear each year, creating a full, lush plant. Snip blooms or branches for the vase. Grows 4 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 4-9. Look for new and smaller varieties with flowers in shades of pink, purple, yellow and brown.
For this arrangement you'll need crepe paper in green, white and gray (I used crepe paper streamers), green floral stem wire, green floral tape, paper bind wire, plastic gold coins, moss and a block of dry floral foam. Follow the easy step-by-step instructions on the previous slide to make your own paper flowers. Place dry floral foam in a vase and arrange paper florals into a full, asymetrical bouquet, trailing vines above and below for a whimsical look. Add St. Patrick's Day flair by hot-gluing plastic gold coins to floral stem wire and distributing throughout the arrangement. Finish the bouquet with natural moss and curly willow branches.
Just because you have a small yard doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the fall color of a sugar maple. Look for this beauty: Apollo maple (Acer saccharum ‘Barrett Cole’). Apollo grows tall but not wide, making it the perfect choice for small urban yards or a side yard garden. The tree forms a pillar covered in classic green maple leaves all season long that fade to blazing hues of orange, gold and red in fall. This maple makes a good choice for a street planting or along a driveway, where its branches won’t block the view. Trees grow at least 25 feet tall and just 10 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 4-7.
Take your yard to the dark side by adding a drift of ‘Purple Knight’ alternanthera (Alternanthera dentata). This easy growing annual thrives in whatever weather summer throws at it—heat, humidity, thunderstorms or drought. Use ‘Purple Knight’ to deliver color to planting beds, or tuck it into a container design where it happily plays a thriller or filler role. If you like to gather garden bouquets, include this dark-leafed beauty in your plant palette. Stems make a pretty addition to a vase. Pinch plants when young to increase branching. Leaf color is darkest in full sun, but plants adapt well to part sun or part shade conditions. Plants grow 18 to 36 inches tall and 24 to 36 inches wide.
This old-fashioned beauty brings unparalleled fragrance to the garden. Heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens) is a native of Peru and is an annual in all but the very warmest regions (Zones 10-11). Also known as cherry pie plant, heliotrope has a complex fragrance that’s said to have notes of marzipan, vanilla, almond and cherry pie. Grow it in containers to keep the scent close at hand on a patio or deck. Or fill a flower bed with this blooming beauty to release a wave of living aromatherapy in your yard. Give heliotrope rich, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade (a little shade is good during the hottest part of the day). Pinch growing tips when young to encourage branching, and remove spent blooms to promote more flowers.
As a first-timer there will be a learning curve when you get behind the wheel of a motorhome—even a relatively small one like the Winnebago View we rented. The height requires you to beware of tree branches (lest there be scrapes), the weight means it takes longer to brake, and the length necessitates wider turns. The rental process at RVshare includes a face-to-face training and test-drive with the owner, and my husband and I spent more than two hours with the person we rented from, including about 15 minutes each behind the wheel. We also planned a short, easy three-hour freeway drive for our first day, so we could get even more comfortable behind the wheel.
Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) is a native tree known for its towering size (70 to 100 feet) and yellow, tulip-like blooms that open in summer. ‘Little Volunteer’ brings that stately beauty down to a size that fits modern gardens. Leaves offer an unusual shape and shimmer in the wind. Look for gold fall color and cup-like fruits made of seeds. It’s a medium-fast grower, reaching a size of 12 feet tall by 6 feet wide in 4 years (starting with a 3- to 5-foot sapling). The strong pyramidal shape looks elegant in winter, especially when wet snows stick to branches. This is one tree you won’t regret planting. Size: to 20 feet tall by 9 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 4-9.
Purple flower clusters (8 inches long) cover this small tree all summer long. Blooms beckon pollinators of all kinds—it’s a great plant for a bee or butterfly garden. Gray-green leaves have purple undersides that complement blooms. Look for other chaste tree varieties with flowers in shades of pink or white. The branch structure is very architectural and adds good winter interest to a landscape. If your chaste tree develops lots of twiggy growth and starts looking more shrub-like, prune it in late winter. Remove all smaller twigs along five or six major trunks to create a tree-looking plant. Size: 6 to 8 feet tall and 8 to 10 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 6-9.
The four-lined plant bug attacks perennials, creating 1/16-inch square dead patches in leaves as they feed. These bugs create more of a cosmetic problem that plants often outgrow, but when numbers are high, the damage can lead to browned, misshapen and dying leaves, which you might mistake for disease. Four-lined plant bugs emerge about the time that forsythia leaves unfold. They’re shy and crafty hiders, so you’ll likely see the damage long before you spot one of them. The best way to control these bugs is twofold. First, in midsummer, when the insects disappear, cut back plants that have been attacked, snipping below the damage. This should remove any eggs that have been laid inside stems. Pruning like this delays flowering on perennials, but the plants will branch and become bushy, which means more flowers. Second, in fall, clean up all stems and leaf litter in the bed. Take care to remove all stems of plants the insect attacked during the growing season. Eggs that will hatch the following spring are typically laid inside those stems, so don’t add them to your compost pile.