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Grow Your Own Alstroemerias

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If I had to give up all but one flowering plant in my garden I’d keep my Alstroemerias! There’s a reason you frequently see them in vases in restaurants and offered at florists and flower stands. They last in the vase forever! Well, maybe not forever but a long time.

Pronounced al-stro-MEE-ree-uh these flowers are also called Peruvian Lily. They do look like little lilies with their six petaled, trumpet shaped, spotted or streaked blooms. The flowers grow in clusters so one stem is like a beautiful bouquet on its own. They come in pinks and purples, yellow and oranges, white and bicolors…just about every color but blue.

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How to Grow…

Alstroemeria will grow well in the ground, or as I prefer, in a pot.  I have lined my patio with large pots of them and after dying down year after year and returning each spring, they even came back after last year’s hard and repeated frosts. I have a small drip head in each pot to keep them moist and feed them one or twice during the summer with Miracle Gro. Any good potting mix will do as long as it drains well.  They get sun until late afternoon and they are doing beautifully! (I have one in the ground but it’s in too much shade and only blooms sparsely and has stayed half the size of the others.)

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Different Types…

Hybrid Alstroemerias  have been bred to behave better than the original plants.  I have one  “non-hybrid” which is crazy big and wild.  It takes over everywhere and though the 2-3 foot stems are nice in some arrangements, they flop over in the garden,  look really messy and haven’t been my favorite. I keep the one tucked away on the side of the house where it can take over and look messy and no one sees it.
Princess Hybrids are the most commonly available.  They do well in containers or the garden, are good for small arrangements and grow about 12-18″ tall and about 15″ wide in my 16″ pots. They’re available at most local nurseries and every spring Costco has plants in 3 gal. pots for $11.99. They come in so many colors it’s fun collect them.

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Cutting for Arrangements…

The flowers should be pulled up and not cut.  The plant will produce more flowers when you gently tug on the flower stem and pull it out. The stem will be long with the root end a pale nearly white color before it turns green a little higher up. Always trim away the white part to make sure the stem takes up as much water as possible. Cut off any leaves that fall below the water line since they will decay and shorten the time your flowers are fresh in the vase. If you pick the flowers when they are just beginning to open, rather than when all the buds are in full bloom they will last much longer. All the colors combine beautifully or you can make a huge bouquet of the same color from just three or four flower heads.

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I know if you get one plant you’ll be collecting them before long!

 

 

For more information on growing Alstroemeria, check out this Growing Guide

 

 

Photograph copyright Donna Jones

 

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Grow Your Own Hydrangeas

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The hydrangeas are blooming and brightening the shady spots in  the garden! Of the 16 we have all but two are blooming now.

I did a few experiments when I pruned last year. I pruned  this Endless Summer quite a bit because of frost damage and it bloomed even more than usual but with very small flowers…which I love! The unpruned Endless Summer plants have the usual larger blooms.

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This Blushing Bride has become kind of thin, instead of bushy like the rest, so guess it will need to be pruned back next time to encourage a little filling out. The blooms, however, are beautiful!

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Presiosa always has a vivid bloom…love this one…

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And, my favorite, Buttons & Bows, has just a few flowers as usual.  Not sure why it is never covered with bloom like the others.  It used to get too much sun so we built a shade structure….and the same result…oh well, what it gives is beautiful!

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Red Star is a very dependable bloomer even though it gets a little sun damage occasionally.  An east exposure is usually good for hydrangeas but our stucco house heats things up a little too much on really hot days.

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My experiment with “acid to blue” didn’t work.  The directions said apply in spring and again in 8 weeks…I did it in April and was ready to do it in June but they’d already bloomed pink by then!  I’ll try again next year, but this time fertilize with liquid acid food…read somewhere that works better. Pink is nice though and the plant in healthy though only blooming on the bottom? Not sure why that happened since it was covered with blooms last year and I didn’t prune it…

And finally a new plant is blooming in the garden.  Pistachio is a little different with the mixed pink/green coloring….not sure it’s my favorite  but it hasn’t had a chance to grow much yet….may be a winner!

 

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Walking through the hydrangeas early in the morning is my favorite way to start the day!

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Do you have a favorite hydrangea? Any tips you can share? Please do!

 

 

Next month I’m looking forward to touring a garden with over 200 hydrangeas grown by a Master Gardener… I’ll be sharing!

 

 

 

Photos copyright Donna Jones.

 

 

 

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DIY Hydrangea Wreath

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With an empty spot on the kitchen wall and a huge collection of dried hydrangeas hanging all over the place a hydrangea wreath seemed just the thing.  It’s easy to do and adds a natural and homey touch to your wall…or wherever you decide to hang it!

Begin by gathering your supplies. I used a 14″ straw wreath (remove the plastic wrap), a glue gun and lots of glue sticks, at least 20 dried hydrangea blossoms, and a paper clip bent into a nice tidy hanger when looped through the nylon string that holds the straw wreath together in back of your design.

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4 Easy DIYs For those Back Yard Parties!

Mother and Daughter Dani and Elle

It's summer! Time to break out the BBQs and those gorgeous back yard get togethers. What better way then to set the party in motion and get ready with these swoon worthy DIYs.

Recently I had the pleasure of lightly decorating a clients daughter's first birthday, and these lovely photos are from the event. May they give you assurance and inspiration on how just a few strategic accents can heighten the experience of your back yard party!

Here's how you can take those backyard outings up a notch through these 4 fun DIYs!



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