Category: Flowers and Plants

Fantastic Design Plant: Globe Mallow

Globe mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) is a gorgeous perennial that is equally at home within an English-style backyard or along a desert roadside. Like desert perennials that are native, it has this is one plant. Globe mallow is a gorgeous addition to the desert scene.

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Botanical name: Sphaeralcea ambigua
Common title: Globe mallow
Resource: Native to arid regions of the American Southwest
USDA zones: 6 to 9 (find your zone)
Water necessity: Low
Light requirement: Entire sun
Mature dimensions: 3 feet tall and broad
Tolerances: Drought tolerant but does best with supplemental watering; manages reflected warmth
Seasonal attention: Orange, red, rose, white or pink flowers appear in spring and intermittently through the year.
When to plant: Plant seeds or bark plants in fall or spring.

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Distinguishing traits. At first glance, world mallow is a rather unassuming plant with gray-green lobed leaves. But when it blooms, it is transformed. Flowers that resemble hollyhocks appear in spring, turning this desert continuing.

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The surprise that world mallow hides is that you can not tell what color the flowers are going to be on a plant until it flowers. Nearly all world mallow plants possess orange blossoms, but in addition, there are plants that make red, rose, white or pink blossoms.

If you don’t enjoy surprises in regard to flower color, there are a few ways to know what color flower a particular world mallow plant will produce.
Buy plants from the nursery when they’re flowering.Take a cutting from a world mallow with the flower color you want.If you enjoy red flowers, there’s a reliable reddish variety of world mallow referred to as ‘Louis Hamilton’.

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If you are more of a daring type, roll the dice and then plant a world mallow without knowing what color it will be. Let it surprise you with its color once it blooms.

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The best way to use it. The delicate-looking blossoms of world mallow make it a fantastic plant to improve a perennial bed, developing a cottage garden look. Other landscape uses for world mallow comprise as a base plant, around a swimming pool and even at a container.

Pair it with additional indigenous desert perennials, including blackfoot daisy (Melampodium leucanthum),desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata),goodding’s verbena (Glandularia gooddingii) and parry’s penstemon (Penstemon parryi).

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Globe mallow can be excellent paired with dark green succulents, such as cow’s horn agave (Agave bovicornuta),for excellent color and texture contrast.

Because world mallow grows easily from seed, it is fantastic for revegetating bare areas.

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Planting notes. The demands of the alluring perennial are a few. It needs to be planted in well-drained soil in full sun and watered every other week at summer and once a month in winter (in the lack of rain) to your best look.

Globe mallow packs a colorful punch in the landscape and requires hardly any maintenance. Simply shear it back to 1 foot once it has finished blooming, to excite another flush of flowering.

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7 Bulbs That Flourish at Mild Climates

Many conventional spring-flowering bulbs work beautifully in California and other gentle climates, as shown here in the glorious yearly display on Daffodil Hill in California’s Gold Country. But lack of enough winter chill sets a damper on certain different bulbs — and creates opportunities to develop some very special bulbs. Here are some tips for picking and growing bulbs if you reside in a mild climate.

7 Rules for Planting Bulbs in Mild Climates

Here are a few things to remember if you garden in a climate with relatively mild winters. Order early, plant late. For the best choice, look for bulbs whenever they arrrive in fall. But don’t feel you need to rush them into floor that is still warm. Mid to late October and November are fine for planting, and even early December is not too late. Chill out. Mild winters don’t provide certain bulb species with enough cold weather. To compensate, cool tulip and hyacinth bulbs for six months prior to planting; store them in a paper bag in the refrigerator. Think deep. Stick to the recommended planting depths for all sorts of bulbs. Better to plant too heavy than overly shallow. Multiply. Most bulbs appear better when planted in groups of three or even more — drifts of 50 to 100 in case your budget and space allow. Or plant a dozen or 2 in a pot. Impact liberally. Enhance bulb functionality by fertilizing at planting time. It is easiest to sprinkle bulb fertilizer in the planting holes or blend it into the planting bed. Water thoughtfully. Keep the soil moist through winter if rains don’t perform the job. Do not expect longevity. Many bulbs don’t offer more than just one outstanding blossom show in mild climates. Specifically, tulips and hyacinths are one-and-dones; after blossom time dig up the bulbs and discard or give them away.

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Daffodils (narcissus).The classic symbols of early spring are easy to grow in most mild climates, and they can return year after year when left in the floor. Plant in flowing drifts, seen under trees, in boundaries between shrubs and perennials, or in pots. Vintage yellow kinds that perform well in mild climates comprise ‘Dutch Master’ and ‘February Gold’. ‘Gigantic Star’ is shown here.

USDA zones: 3 to 9 (find your zone)
moderate requirement: Full sun or light color
Mature size: 6 to 24 inches high
Bloom period: Ordinarily late winter through early spring; as early as midwinter in California and other mild climates
Planting strategies for mild climates: Plant daffodils in well-cultivated soil in mid to late fall (early December is still OK). Bury bulbs at a depth that is 2 or three times their height, 6 to 8 inches apart. Water the bulbs after planting, and keep the soil moist through winter if rains don’t perform the job. After blossom time cut off faded blossoms. Let the leaves to dry (or wait at least six months) before eliminating them. It’s possible to leave the bulbs in the floor (avoid heavy summertime watering) or dig up and store them for next season.

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Tulips (tulipa). The most ordinary tulips are hybrids, and they are great in formal gardens, containers and beds. Or try a few of the smaller species especially suited to mild climates, such as Tulipa clusiana chrysantha (star-shaped, yellow and rose).

USDA Islands: 4 to 10; best in 4 to 6
moderate requirement: Full sun, or partial shade in hot climates
Mature size: Varies greatly among many species and cultivars
Bloom period: Early to late spring, based on climate and number
Planting strategies for mild climates: Supply additional chill by storing the bulbs on your refrigerator’s vegetable crisper for six weeks prior to planting. Wait until November or early December to plant them. Plant bulbs at a depth that is three times their width, 4 to 6 inches apart. After blossom time dig up the blossoms and (sorry to say) shed them.

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Hyacinths (hyacinthus).Dutch hybrids such as ‘Peter Stuyvesant’, shown, are lavish and aromatic but last only one season in mild climates. Plant them in which you can smell them along a walk in beds or in baskets on a porch.

USDA zones: 5 to 9
moderate requirement: Full sun or partial shade
Mature size: 6 to 14 inches large
Bloom period: Early to mid spring
Planting strategies for mild climates: Purchase huge bulbs for large blossoms. Before planting, keep them in the refrigerator, as for tulips. Plant in mid to late fall. Bulbs 5 inches deep. After blossom time, treat them like tulips.

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Ranunculus (ranuniculaceae). The growing areas of vivid ranunculus in blossom make a tourist magnet close to San Diego. Tecolote hybrids — white, orange, yellow, crimson, pink — are longtime favorites, exceptional in borders or pots. In mild climates, plant them in fall for spring blossom; in cold-winter climates, plant them in spring.

USDA zones: 8 to 10 when planted in fall
Light requirement: Full sun
Mature size: as many as 2 feet high
Bloom period: Late winter or early spring
Planting strategies for mild climates: Plant bulbs (actually tuberous roots) in fall in pots or well-cultivated floor. (Bigger bulbs produce more blossoms.) Place the roots pointed down, 2 inches deep and 6 inches apart. Water and wait until leaves emerge before watering again unless the soil dries. Protect seedlings from birds. You may have to lightly stake floppy plants. After blossom time cut off faded flowers, let plants warm, and dig and store roots — they can do well a second year.

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Freesia (iridaceae).Known due to their sweet fragrance as cut flowers, freesias bloom longer than most spring bulbs. White is the most common color; there is also orange, yellow, red, pink and blue. In mild climates to their liking, they could spread and naturalize.

USDA zones: 9 into 10
moderate requirement: Full sun or partial shade
Mature size: 12 to 18 inches
Bloom period: Spring
Planting strategies for mild climates: Plant corms in fall, two inches deep and 2 inches apart. After blossom time, when leaves have yellowed, dig and keep the corms in a dry place. Or abandon the corms in the floor for blossoms in following years.

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Crocus (crocus). Pint-sized harbingers of spring, they are most meaningful if they wake up through snow but they are still fun to grow in sunny winter climates. Squeeze the bulbs in between rocks, stepping stones or pavers. There are many species and cultivars. The most popular is Crocus chrysanthus, in white, yellow, blue, purple and other colors. The plant shown here is Crocus tommasinianus var. pictus.

USDA Islands: 3 to 9, based on species
moderate requirement: Full sun
Mature size: 2 inches high and up, based on species
Bloom period: Ancient spring (some species bloom in fall)
Planting strategies for mild climates: Plant the tiny bulbs (actually corms) in fall, 3 inches deep and 3 inches apart. After bloom time try leaving the bulbs set up — they may return or may not.

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Allium (liliaceae). This big group of plants includes garlic, onions and chives as well as many types of spring-blooming bulbs, a few with blossoms softball size or larger, such as Allium giganteum, shown here. Just a couple bulbs could put on quite a show.

USDA zones: 4 to 10, based on species
moderate requirement: Full sun
Mature size: 6 inches to two feet high and up, based on species
Bloom period: Spring and summertime
Planting strategies for mild climates: Plant bulbs in fall, 3 inches deep and 6 to 8 inches apart. Place the bulbs with the pointy end facing upward.

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Great Design Plant: Oakleaf Hydrangea

If you think of hydrangeas, you probably imagine blue or pink snowball-shape blooms. However, there’s another type of hydrangea you might be missing out on, and it is a stunner. The oakleaf hydrangea blooms with big white panicles for most of the summer, along with the big leaves have a shape very similar to those of this oak tree. Even before the white blossoms bloom and after, their big spires add texture and interest to the landscape. The plant is a large shrub that’s indigenous to the southeastern United States, grows rapidly and has a more organic woodland appearance than its ornamental relatives.

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Botanical name: Hydrangea quercifolia
Common name: Oakleaf hydrangea
USDA zones: 5 to 9
Water necessity: Medium
moderate condition: Grows in sun or shade; sunlight is advocated in the northern zones, while daytime color is ideal in southern zones.
Mature dimension: 4 to 8 feet high and 10 to 12 feet wide, depending on variety
Tolerances: demands fertile, well-drained soil to prevent root rot. In zone 5, wrap newly planted shrubs in burlap for the winter.
Seasonal interest: This tree has year-round interest, with big leaves, long-lasting blooms, fall color and exfoliating rich brownish winter bark.
Best time to plant: Fall or summer


Distinguishing attributes. The showy white racemes have a spire shape and are filled with delicate white blossoms. They develop anywhere from 4 to 12 inches.

The leaves are big and shaped like oak leaves (hence the name; oakleaf hydrangeas are not related to oak trees). In the fall they change into a variety of rich colors, such as red, bronze, burgundy and purple.

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Before full blossom, the light green spires add structural and textural interest; following the peak bloom, the flowers fade from white to purplish-brown and pinkish-brown hues, hanging on until fall. These make them a favorite dried-flower option.

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How to use it. These shrubs have a tendency to escape from you in dimension, so if you’re planting near a home, make sure they will not be covering too much of your chimney at full height. They’re fantastic for massing, for loose woodland border hedges and woodland gardens.

The tree is deciduous, but as it ages its bark peels back and reveals rich brownish tones, including winter interest.

Planting notes. Plant oakleaf hydrangeas at the fall, late spring or early summer. The most important aspect of the soil is the fact that it’s well drained and fertile. While these are native understory woodland plants, they can withstand a lot of sunshine in the north and need only partial shade in the south (for best results, find day shade for them in the south). If you’re in zone 5, wrap your freshly implanted oakleaf hydrangeas in burlap for the winter.

1. Dig a hole three times the circumference of the container and about precisely the same height as the container. Remove the plant gently.
2. Add enough soil to hold the plant in place, fill the hole with water and let the plant absorb the water. If your soil appears too dense and heavy, add tree-bark mulch to the mix. Fill in the rest of the hole with soil and tamp it down.
3. Add mulch atop the ground to maintain the moisture, then spreading it all around the planting area without allowing it to touch the foundation. Water it but be sure not to overwater. You do not want this region to remain soggy, just consistently moist.

See more guides to good design plants

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