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5 Tips for a Low Maintenance Landscape

liatris and coneflowers Ted Lare

Yard work takes time; there’s no sugar-coating it. Some people love yard work, living for the weekends when they can leave perfectly straight mower lines on the lawn, plant a new shrub, or build a pergola. But, many of us don’t feel that level of passion for yard work, while others just don’t have time for it.  

Regardless of our relationships with our lawnmowers, we all want to have an attractive yard, so low-maintenance landscaping is essential. There is no such thing as a maintenance-free yard (unless you hire someone else to do all of it), so fair warning: designing and installing a low-maintenance yard can be a fair bit of work up-front. But, once your landscape is complete, your to-do list will be shorter than ever. Here are a few tips for cutting down your outdoor chore list:

 

red salvia Ted Lare

1. Plant drought-tolerant perennials.

If you like flowering plants, but you don’t have time to clean them up and water them, choose drought-tolerant perennials. There are many beautiful options that are hardy enough to thrive through an Iowa drought summer and survive the depths of winter. Plants like Wormwood, Silvermound, Jupiter’s Beard, Sea Holly, Cushion Spurge, Blue Fescue, Bearded Irises, Lavender, Catnip, Russian Sage, Salvia, Black-Eyed Susan, Yarrow, Echinacea, Salvia, Veronica, and Liatris all offer great color and require very little care once established.

Ornamental grasses are another excellent option. Prairie Dropseed, Switchgrass, Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem, Karl Foerster Feather Reed, Ravenna Grass, and Purple Flame Maiden grasses all grow very well in Iowa. 

You may also want to look into xeriscaping. Many people think rocks and cacti when you mention xeriscaping, but that’s not all it is. Xeriscaping is about using mostly native plants that are best suited to survive your climate with no extra watering involved. For some places, that means cacti and rocks. Luckily we have plenty more options than just cacti in Iowa.

 

Black-eyed Susans Ted Lare

2. Plant deer-resistant plants.

Deer can do a number on landscaping, munching through flower beds, vegetable gardens, and even eating all the leaves off of trees and shrubs sometimes. If you have deer visiting your yard regularly, make sure to choose plants that they’re less interested in eating. Plants like Black-eyed Susan, Bleeding Heart, Coreopsis, Coneflowers, Ferns, Irises, Lavender, Mint, Bee Balm, and Sage are perennials that are usually deer-proof.


dutch clover Ted Lare

3. Choose a low-maintenance lawn alternative.

Lawns are high maintenance. It might seem like keeping a large plain square of grass should involve less maintenance than an array of flower beds, shrubs, and trees, but it’s quite the contrary. Traditional lawns need to be mowed once a week. The more lawn you have, the longer it takes to mow. Then there’s also the lawnmower maintenance to factor in, not to mention inputs and watering. 

A lawn alternative, like white or Dutch clover, can drastically cut down on lawn maintenance time. Clover stays pretty short, doesn’t require mowing, and can handle heavy traffic, including rowdy dogs. Other lawn alternatives options include moss, thyme, and chamomile.

 

4. Install automatic irrigation.

If you want to stick with a traditional lawn, an automatic irrigation system will quickly become your “secret weapon.” It’s the best way to make sure your grass gets enough water through the summer without all the work of watering the lawn yourself.

 

mulching a garden Ted Lare

5. Embrace Mulch.

Mulch is a must for low-maintenance landscapes. A good thick layer of mulch keeps down weeds, regulates soil temperature, and helps soil retain moisture. It protects your trees, shrubs, and perennials in winter, it looks tidy and clean, and best of all, you don’t need to mow it!

You’ll want to top-up your mulch with a fresh layer every year or two, but otherwise, it just looks good all the time. It also improves the soil health and quality over the long term as the older layers break down into soil rich with organic material.

 

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If you want a low-maintenance yard, but you’re not sure where to start, or you don’t want to do it yourself, have a chat with our landscape design team. With 37 years as a leading design & build company in the Des Moines area, we can help you bring your landscape in line with your lifestyle.

 

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African Mask: Where It’s From, What It Wants, How To Help It Thrive

african mask leaves Ted Lare

African Mask is a houseplant that is quickly gaining popularity. Its striking leaves are exotic and lush. It’s a step-up in the houseplant game because it’s a bit more challenging to care for than many other popular houseplants

If an African Mask plant charmed you into taking it home, and now it’s not looking too happy, we’ve got your back. If you can create its ideal environment, you can turn things around and live happily together!

Family History

African Mask is a member of the Alocasia plant family, originating in tropical and subtropical regions from Asia to Eastern Australia. African Mask has a lot of cousins, with over 79 unique native species. Alocasia are very popular as a houseplant and are cultivated all over the world.  

African Mask grows from rhizomatous or tuberous roots. While the plants bloom in the wild, the flowers are fairly inconspicuous. It’s pretty uncommon for them to bloom as a houseplant. They’re prized for their gorgeous patterned foliage; their name comes from their beautiful, bold markings. 

 

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The African Mask Dating Profile

If African Mask had a dating profile, it would be highly curated with photos of its lush leaves taken from flattering angles in perfectly diffused light. It would write stories reminiscing about its tropical homeland and enjoy cooking complex and fancy meals with the perfect balance of nutrients. It would also be very diligent about staying hydrated!

African Mask might also claim to be laid back and easygoing—but everyone thinks that about themselves! While they’re not necessarily difficult, easy might be stretching the truth a little bit.

So, You Swiped Right for An African Mask Houseplant…

…And you moved it in right away. But now that you’ve had it home for a few weeks, it’s starting to show more of its true colors—and it’s a little more needy and complex than you expected. 

Don’t give up on it just yet!

African Mask plants may seem dramatic and difficult, but they just need the right match. If you can set them up with their preferred environment, they’ll reward you handsomely, sometimes producing a new leaf every week during the growing season. At the most basic level, they want warmth, humidity, and bright indirect light. Here’s a few more details so you can pick the best spot for your new favorite houseplant.

African Mask plants Ted Lare

 
Light

The first thing you need to know is that African Mask plants want lots of bright light, but they do not want to sit in any direct sun. An idea spot would be in a room with a large south or west-facing window, but not too close to the window. A sheer curtain will allow you to keep it closer to a window while still protecting its delicate leaves from burning. 

 

Temperature

African Mask plants come from tropical and subtropical regions, so they’ll do best where it’s warm. While they’ll be okay at average household temperatures, they’re more likely to thrive around 70-80 degrees.

 

Humidity

Think about those rainforests in tropical regions; they’re usually pretty humid! The average humidity levels in most of Iowa are close to, but a little under, what the Alocasia would be used to in the wild. They can probably survive without extra humidity in the summer, but they’ll enjoy all the moisture they can get, and they’ll definitely need it in the winter. A pebble tray or a nearby humidifier will keep them satisfied during the dry winter months. 

 

african mask plants Ted Lare

 

Water & Food

African Masks like their soil to be consistently moist, but they do not like to sit in water. It’s best to water your Alocasia from the bottom in the morning and let it soak up what it needs. Make sure to empty its drip tray after an hour or two.

Fertilizer is your friend during the growing season. Give it a balanced feed every two weeks from spring until the end of summer. 

In winter, Alocasia will do best with a rest period. During these months, cut back on watering but don’t let it dry out completely. 

 

Soil

African Mask likes rich, but loose soil so the roots can breathe easily. If your African Mask is growing quite a bit every year, you may need to repot it every spring. When repotting, make sure to go up only one pot size at a time. 

Red Flags for African Mask

African Masks are poisonous, so make sure to keep them out of reach of children and pets. 

They can also be susceptible to most common houseplant pests, so keep an eye out for them, and treat with insecticidal soap. 

Overwatering can lead to fungal issues, so if you notice brown, black, or yellow spots on the leaves, cut them off. If you need to treat a fungal infection, quarantine the African Mask away from other plants.

 

close up on African mask leaf Ted Lare

Is it Love at First Leaf?

If you’re head-over-heels for this stunning tropical plant, and you’re up for a bit of a challenge, meet your Mask at our garden center! Our staff can introduce you to the specimens we carry in-store, and set you up with the supplies you’ll need to live happily ever after. 

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Using Iowa Natives in the Landscape

butterfly on Purple Prairie Clover Ted Lare

Native Plants are a vital part of the ecosystem; they provide food, shelter, and the perfect habitat for pollinators. And that’s only one of the many reasons to use native plants in your landscaping. 

Native plants are adapted to our climate, and so they still look beautiful during the hottest parts of the summer, when more delicate flowers are struggling to bloom. This also means they don’t require extra care and can survive on our normal rainfall levels, so they’ll help you save water. These plants are a perfect choice if you want an easy way to support a natural ecosystem. 

The perennials listed below are an excellent choice for beginners or advanced gardeners who want to add some low-maintenance beauty to the garden!    

 

Grey Headed Coneflower, Showy Goldenrod, and New England Aster Ted lare

Grey Headed Coneflower
While Coneflower is in the name, this is actually a different plant entirely! These have smaller, yellow star-like flowers. They bloom in abundance in mid-summer and grow to about 4-5′ tall and 3′ wide. They need a minimum of 6 hours of sun, the more the better. Bees love these and, and they’re a host plant for Checkerspot butterflies!

 

Showy Goldenrod
Beautiful cones of tiny yellow flowers bloom on tall stalks in the later months of summer. These are extremely drought-tolerant, and an important food source for butterflies heading south in late summer. Some Goldenrod spread, but not these, they are clump-forming and well behaved. The plant grows to about 4′ tall and 2′ wide. Plant in full sun for best performance.

 

New England Aster
These asters have wonderful purple-pink flowers in early to mid-fall. These are a beautiful shock of color in the garden when other flowers are starting to fade. They are also an important food source for migrating monarchs and other butterflies. The flowers resemble small daisies. The Purple Dome variety grows to about 3′ by 3′, but wild varieties grow to around 4′ tall and wide. Asters need a minimum half-day of sun, but a full day is what they enjoy the most. 

Virginia Blue Bells, Baptisia, and Penstemon Ted Lare

Virginia Bluebells
These little blue flowers grow in clusters and look like bells. These shade lovers will do best in a full shade location, and they’re a favorite with bees. They grow to around 1′ tall and 6″ wide, though sometimes bigger. These bloom in the spring and early summer, then go dormant during the heat of the later summer months. 

 

Baptisia
Resembling lupines with their tall flower spikes, these plants get quite large. They can get up to 4′ tall and 5′ wide. Baptisia is exceptionally hardy. These bee-favorites are available in several colors, including blue, yellow, white, and purple. They do best in full or part sun. 

 

Penstemon
Penstemons are like a smaller version of foxgloves, though they’re not available in as many colors. The flowers are white, and plants are available with green or purple leaves, and they’re popular with bees and hummingbirds. They grow to about 4′ tall, and 2′ wide, and are a great tall statement for the middle of the garden. Penstemon does best in full sun.

Ironweed, Beebalm, Purple Prairie Clover Ted Lare


Ironweed 
Ironweed flowers are a rich purple on top of strong, dark green stems. It’s a showstopper when it blooms from mid-summer to late-fall. This stately plant, up to 4′ tall, is a favorite for bees and butterflies. Ironweed does self-seed, so you may want to deadhead spent blooms to keep it contained. 

 

Bee Balm
Bee Balm is a pollinator favorite that comes in a wide range of colors from lavender to red to rich dark purple. This perennial can spread, but there are new varieties available that are more compact and stay in a well-behaved clump. They range in height from 2′ to 4′ tall. Bee Balm like full sun, but will tolerate some shade. The lavender blooms seem to be the most popular with bees, while red is best for hummingbirds. Native bees often overwinter in the hollow stems of Bee Balm.

 

Purple Prairie Clover 
Clusters of bright, purple flowers adorn this mounding plant in mid-summer, and the bees love it. They get to around 3′ tall by 2′ wide. The foliage is a unique addition to the garden because it is soft and fern-like, adding some finer texture to balance out coarser plants. Full sun is best for Prairie Clover.

 

Mountain Mint, Little Bluestem, and Big Bluestem Ted Lare


Mountain Mint
The refreshing scent of mint floats in the air when you brush by this plant, but it isn’t aggressive like other mints. This mint is tough and can survive in wet or dry locations. It will grow to about 3′ tall and 2′ wide, and is happy in full to part sun. The tiny flowers are popular with some of our largest native pollinators in Iowa. These big insects can be a little scary, but they’re really just gentle giants, with no desire to hurt us.

 

Little Bluestem 
Grasses don’t offer showy flowers, but they’re still very important to pollinators. Grasses provide shelter during high winds and even homes for some, like Skipper butterflies. Little Bluestem is a short native grass that grows to about 3′ tall 2′ wide. In the fall, the foliage turns orangey-yellow, and the fluffy seedheads appear all up and down the stems. Little Bluestem performs best in full sun locations.

 

Big Bluestem 
It’s got a similar name, but Big Bluestem is actually quite different. It’s a bit bigger, growing to 5′ tall and 3′ wide. It does have a similar bluish color and turns orangey-yellow in the fall. The seedheads form at the top of the stalks of Big Bluestem. It does best in full sun.

 

Pennsylvania Sedge  
This is a gorgeous, slowly spreading groundcover with a grass-like appearance. It’s semi-evergreen, and the foliage stays lush, even through a drought. It grows to about 8″ tall and prefers full shade locations, but it can also tolerate some sun. 

 

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What Hydrangeas Can I Grow? Options for Sun and Shade

pink, blue, and purple hydrangeas Ted Lare

Many people think that you need a shady garden in order to grow hydrangeas. While that is true for some varieties, some hydrangeas thrive in sunny spots and even need full sun to develop into the fullest plants and the brightest blooms. 

There are many types of hydrangea available, so it’s important to know which specific varieties you can grow in sun or shade. Here are a few of our favorite perennial hydrangea options for sunny spots and for shady spots in Iowa.

Invincibelle hydrangea Ted Lare
Shade-Loving Hydrangeas
 

Annabelle, Invincibelle, and Incrediball are three hydrangeas that perform well in mostly shaded sites. All three of these like plenty of moisture and protection from the afternoon sun for best blooming. These hydrangeas feature the classic dense bloom clusters, but Invincibelle and Incrediball have larger bloom clusters than Annabelle.

Incrediball and Annabelle feature white flowers, while Invicibelle features light pink flowers. These hydrangeas will not change color with soil pH changes.

These hydrangeas should be watered if they start to wilt. A thick layer of mulch around the base of hydrangeas will help regulate soil moisture and protect the roots from winter kill. All three of these hydrangeas bloom on new wood, so they can be pruned back quite hard in the spring.

For color changing hydrangeas, check out large leaf types such as Endless Summer. In alkaline, or “sweet” soil, they’ll bloom pink; in acidic soil, they’ll bloom blue. There are kits available that you can use to change the soil pH to change the color of the blooms. 

Large leaf hydrangeas bloom on old and new wood (last year and this year’s growth), so they bloom best if they’re not pruned. Winter does usually cause some dieback, so you can easily just remove dead wood in spring. 

Little Lime hydrangeas Ted Lare
Sun Hydrangeas

There are definitely more options for full sun hydrangeas. They also tend to have larger blooms that come a little bit later in the year than shade hydrangeas. Sun-loving hydrangeas do not change color. 

Little Quickfire and Mystical Flame have pink flowers, and the bloom clusters are less densely packed and have a more light and airy look than other varieties. They are smaller, only maturing at 3-4′. Both varieties can tolerate full sun or part sun conditions. 

Little Lime hydrangeas are excellent performers for full sun areas; they can even be grown in planters! While this hydrangea can be kept small, it can also grow from 3-5′ tall, if given the space. The blooms on these start out white and fade to green, sometimes with pink undertones. There is a larger version of this that is called Limelight hydrangea, which grows up to 8′ tall and wide. 

Sun-loving hydrangeas bloom on old and new wood, so you don’t want to cut them back right to the ground, or they may not bloom for a year. You can safely prune them back by ⅓ without disrupting the next season’s show. 

pruning hydrangeas Ted Lare
General Hydrangea Care 

Hydrangeas like to have consistently moist, but not saturated, soil conditions. When you get a variety for the location you have, full sun or shady, they’ll establish into very low maintenance shrub. There is no need for extra maintenance or fertilizers, and you can prune plants to maintain the desired height and shape, or let them grow as they please. Hydrangeas really take care of themselves, only occasionally needing some water during the hottest and driest days of summer.

 

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There are many more varieties of sun-loving hydrangeas available. Talk to the staff at our garden center to explore some of the best varieties under the sun!

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7 Fabulous Philodendrons for Your Home

Philodendron Brasil in hanging macrame Ted Lare

Philodendrons are a classic houseplant that has been popular for ages. Many people start their houseplant collection with a Philodendron cutting from a friend. They’re an excellent first plant because they’re resilient, forgiving, and can tolerate surprisingly low light. But Philodendrons are not just for beginners.

Philodendrons add lush tropical greenery to a collection and have an air of stoicism and reliable stability to them. They’re also an excellent air cleaning plant! There’s a good chance your Philodendron might even outlive you; they’re pretty long-lasting. It’ll be quite the confidence boost to be able to say you still have the very first houseplant that started your collection over 30 or 40 years ago. You could even pass it on as a family heirloom.

There are two different types of Philodendrons, vining, and non-climbing or upright Philodendrons. Vining Philo’s need something to climb, like a trellis, or lattice, or the wall of your house if it’s growing close enough. Non-climbing Philo’s can get quite bushy, even wider than tall, over time, so make sure to give them plenty of space.

Philodendrons are often confused for Pothos, and while they do appear to look fairly similar, they actually belong to separate plant families. 

Here are a few of our favorite Philodendrons. 

Philodendron Birkin 

Birkin might be one of the most beautiful Philodendrons available. One of the top trending Philo’s of the year! It’s a more compact non-climbing Philo, and it features chic green and white pin-striped leaves. This unique beauty grows fairly slow, so you can keep it in a beautiful pot for a long time before it will need to be transplanted.  

Philodendron Birkin and Philodendron Green Ted Lare

 

Philodendron Green 

Philo Green is a classic traditional vining type with rich green heart-shaped leaves. Green is the perfect Philo for anywhere, really. It has an understated elegance and minimalist appeal that’s the ideal plant element for almost any space. 

Philodendron Brasil 

Brasil is a fast-growing vining variety, with beautiful heart-shaped variegated leaves, featuring shades from rich dark green to vibrant lime green, and everything in between. Philo Brasil is perfect for the top of a bookcase or in a hanging planter where the vines can trail down over the edges. 

Philodendron Brasil and Philodendron Lemon Ted Lare

 

Philodendron Lemon 

Philo Lemon’s leaves are so vibrantly colored that they’re almost neon! Lemon is a vining variety with leaves in shades of bright yellow to chartreuse green. Lemon starts out as a fairly upright plant when it’s young, but its stems will drape and trail or climb as it gets older. 

Philodendron Bloody Mary, Philodendron Moonlight, and Philodendron Burle Marx Ted Lare


Philodendron Bloody Mary 

Bloody Mary is a particularly gorgeous and unique variety of Philo. It is an upright variety, though it will spill over the edges of its pot. Bloody Mary features dark maroon-red stems. New leaves emerge a rich burgundy color, and transition to dark green with a distinct red hue as they mature. The undersides of the leaves stay a dramatic dark red. 

Moonlight Philodendron 

Moonlight is an upright Philodendron with very large leaves that start out bright yellow and transition to beautiful lime green as they mature. This beautiful bush-type Philo is perfect for adding a new and vibrant shade of large green leaves to your houseplant jungle.  

Philodendron Burle Marx 

Philo Burle Marx has unique leaves that are a prominent spade shape. The leaves are quite long, growing up to 18”, and are a beautiful deep green. Burle Marx is an upright variety, though it may spill over the edges of a pot like Bloody Mary. 

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Philodendron Care

Philodendrons are one of the easiest and most tolerant houseplants to care for. 

  • Light: bright, medium, low, or even artificial light, as long as they are protected from direct sun, they’ll be happy. 
  • Water: only water Philo’s when the first inch of soil feels dry. 
  • Humidity: they do like humidity, so running a humidifier near them during the winter is a good idea.
  • Fertilizer: you don’t need to fertilize Philo’s, but if you want to, you can give them a basic all-purpose fertilizer during the growing season. 
  • Soil: they prefer a loose and light potting soil with lots of organic matter, but they’ll grow in almost anything. 
  • Repotting: fast-growing Philos will probably need a new pot once per year, but slower growing varieties may not need to be transplanted for up to 2 years. 

 

If you’re thinking you need to start your houseplant collection with a tough and beautiful Philo, or if you just want to add one to your growing houseplant collection, visit the garden center. We regularly get new stock in, so you never know when we might have an exciting new variety.

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How to Refresh Summer Annuals

red and white petunia Greenstreet Gardens

Midsummer is definitely here in Des Moines. If you’re a heat-lover, this might be your favorite time of year. If you don’t love the hottest days of the year, you might be feeling a little rundown, like some of the annuals in your containers and hanging baskets.

Those beautiful blooming flowers that you bought in the spring are quite likely starting to look a little rough around the edges, blooming less and maybe looking a little tall and spindly. They’re getting a little tired and worse for the wear.

Where is the magic potion that keeps things looking as bright and beautiful as they were when you bought them? 

Well, unfortunately, there’s not a magic potion, though there are some helpful potions, and a few tips you can follow to bring those bright blooms back. 

yellow begonia Ted Lare

To understand how your annuals got to be so beautiful and full of blooms in the spring, it’s helpful to know how annuals are grown and cared for in the nursery. 

In the greenhouse, annuals are grown in their ideal conditions, with the perfect temperature, the right humidity, consistent watering, and regular fertilizer. They also get pruned and deadheaded regularly to encourage full and bushy growth. 

These ideal conditions give plants a great start towards a healthy season. Once annuals are ready to go home with eager gardeners, they’re strong enough to be hardened off and spend the rest of their season outdoors. Obviously, you can’t recreate those perfect conditions outdoors, since you can’t control the weather.

While it’s true that annuals are fairly tough, and don’t need to be babied to survive our summer weather, they still require a bit of care to look their best all summer long. Here are a couple of tips to freshen up your annuals and get things looking lush and vibrant again.

red impatiens Ted Lare

One of the most common differences between greenhouse care and home care of annuals is the application of fertilizer. In the nursery, plants are given fertilizer on a regular basis to keep them healthy, strong, and full of blooms. 

Sometimes annuals get home and don’t get fertilizer ever again. Or they get it once or twice over the summer. Annuals in pots at home need fertilizer just as consistently as baby plants in a nursery. At home, annuals are usually packed into pots quite tightly with other plants to give that overflowing look. 

Packed pots create two challenges for plants:

  1. There is not very much soil for all those plants to share, so they use up what nutrients are in the soil very quickly.
  2. Every time we water plants in containers, some nutrients get washed away, so within a few weeks, the soil in your planters may be completely depleted. 

This doesn’t mean you should put fewer plants in your planters, or change how you water them. It just means you need to regularly feed your plants with fertilizer to give them those missing nutrients. 

Lack of feeding is the #1 reason that most annuals stop blooming and start to look leggy come August. To fix the feeding problem, make sure to fertilize your pots and planters at least once per month, with your favorite water-soluble organic or synthetic fertilizer.

pink hanging basket Greenstreet Gardens

Hanging baskets and small pots should be fertilized every other week due to their pot bound nature. 

You can also give them some more consistent nutrient supply throughout the season with slow-release granular fertilizer. Mix it into the soil when you plant all your annuals in the spring and add some more in August. 

The second tip for refreshing your annuals is to do a bit of pruning and trimming. Annuals benefit from a midsummer trim. It might seem harsh to cut them back, but it helps to promote new bushier growth and encourage more blooms. 

You can safely trim up to an inch or two all-around your annuals, clearing out any dead blossoms along the way. Trimming is a task you can start early in the season, soon after you bring your plants home. A little trimming every week or every other week will keep your annuals thriving and blooming abundantly.

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With these two tips, you can take your pots from leggy and tired to full and b
eautiful in just a few weeks. 

 

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The Best Shrubs for Small Lawns

boxwood bushes on lawn Ted Lare

As urban yards get smaller, landscaping trends are starting to shift away from huge overgrown shrubs in favor of smaller trees and tidy shrubs. If you have a small lawn space, you can still have a few beautiful shrubs without them taking over your entire space or requiring tons of maintenance. 

Here are a few of our favorite small performers. These shrubs will grow great in the Des Moines area.

Little Giant Arborvitae is a compact soft needle evergreen that grows in an attractive globe shape. It’s perfect for a full to part sun location. It grows up to an average size of 3′ tall and wide. It’s small size and slow growth makes this the perfect low maintenance shrub. 

Dwarf Korean Lilac Ted Laare

Dwarf Korean Lilac is a slightly larger shrub, growing up to 4-5′ tall and wide, but it is much smaller than more common lilacs that get as tall as 12′. These shrubs are smothered in wonderful, highly fragrant purple flowers in late spring. Lilacs perform best in full sun to part sun. 

Yuki Cherry Blossom Deutzia is a tiny but powerful little flowering shrub. It is loaded with hundreds of soft pink flowers in mid-spring. Forming a mound about 2′ tall and wide, these are great planted in a group as a ground cover. They enjoy full to part sun. 

boxwood Ted Lare

Boxwood is a classic, beautiful, and reliable evergreen. This shrub is a perfect choice because it can be pruned to be any size you want. Boxwood performs well almost anywhere, tolerating everything from full sun to mostly shade. Its average size is 4-5′ tall, but it takes a long time to get that big. You can easily give it a trim with the hedge trimmer once a year to keep it to your desired size and shape. 

Bobo Hydrangea is an awesome dwarf hydrangea with gigantic white flowers in summer. It can reach up to 4′ tall and wide, making it the perfect hydrangea, even for a smaller garden. This hydrangea does need at least half-day, or more, of full sun to deliver the best blooms. 

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My Monet® Weigela is just one of many varieties of weigela that stays small! My Monet® has variegated white, pink, and green leaves and pink trumpet-shaped flowers in late spring. It grows to about 3′ tall and wide. It will do best with morning sun and a bit of afternoon shade. 

My Monet Weigela and Spilled Wine Weigela Ted Lare

Spilled Wine® Weigela is another fairly small weigela that features gorgeous deep purple foliage and bright pink flowers. It’s colorful all season long, even when it’s not in bloom. It can get up to 3′ tall and wide. This will also bloom best with morning sun and some afternoon shade.

Kodiak Orange Bush Honeysuckle has beautiful coppery red leaves in early spring that fade to green for the summer, then transition to the most vibrant orange in fall. It’s not a true honeysuckle, it’s a Diervilla, so it’s an excellent eco-friendly North American native shrub. These average a size of 3′ tall and wide and are happy in woodland edges, so you can grow it in full sun or part shade. 

Sweetspire Little Henry One

Little Henry Sweetspire is an awesome 3-season-interest plant. It has lush green leaves in spring, beautiful white flowers in mid-summer, and ends the year with beautiful orange foliage in the fall. Its size of 4′ tall and wide makes it a perfect choice for a foundation planting. Another plus is that it does well in full sun to part shade.

 

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Picture Perfect Peperomias: 3 Adorable & Easy Varieties

Ruby Cascade Peperomia Ted Lare

Peperomias are quickly stealing the houseplant spotlight. They’re beautiful, easy to take care of, and there are over 1,000 varieties in the world! These succulent-type plants have thick fleshy leaves that make them drought-tolerant, so they’ll be just fine if you forget to water them for a little while. 

With so many different types of peperomia available, you could have a whole collection, and each plant could have a completely unique look and growing habit. There is so much variation amongst different peperomia that some of them don’t even look like they belong to the same family.

While there are many peperomia to choose from, we’ve got a few favorites. Here are 3 plants that we think you might want to add to your houseplant collection. 

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Ruby Cascade

Peperomia Ruby Cascade is a beautiful trailing type of peperomia. It features leaves that are a rich dark green on top and a gorgeous ruby red on the bottom. The stems are also dark red. 

Ruby cascade is one of the smaller types of peperomia; the leaves only get to about half an inch across. While the leaves are small, the vines are very vigorous, and with the right light, they can grow several feet long. 

This peperomia is perfect for a hanging pot or sitting on a high shelf near a north, west, or east-facing window. It does need bright light, but it doesn’t like direct sunlight on its leaves. This peperomia is a fairly fast grower, and it’s tough. You don’t need to water it very often; you can let the soil dry out before watering. If the soil feels damp, wait, and check again in a few days or a week.

 

Variegated Peperomia Ted Lare

Variegated Peperomia

Officially, the name of this plant is Peperomia obtusifolia Variegata. Commonly, it’s often called Variegated Peperomia, or Variegated Baby Rubber Plant. It features large amazing leaves with a thick, waxy feel. The variegation on each leaf is unique, featuring a different pattern and combination of shades of green, from dark green to a lovely creamy pale green. 

Variegated peperomia features larger leaves than Ruby Cascade, with leaves getting as big as 3 inches long and wide, in an oval shape. This peperomia grows a bit more slowly than other types, but will eventually develop itself into a bushy plant. 

This is a low-light dream plant. It does not like direct sunlight, and will happily thrive in a room with a window or under artificial light. 

Also drought tolerant, this peperomia does not need water very frequently. Check the soil first, and make sure it’s dry before giving it more water. 

 

Pilea Peperomiodes Ted Lare

Pilea Peperomioides

This last one is technically not part of the peperomia plant family, but it has similar appearances and care requirements as peperomia, and it’s also super popular. The Peperomioides part of the name means that it resembles peperomias. Also known as Chinese money plant, coin plant, pancake plant, friendship plant, UFO plant, and simply: pilea, it is a unique and easy care plant. 

Pilea features large, perfectly round leaves on long slender stems in a rich, vibrant green shade. These plants do like a bit more bright light, but they also don’t like direct sunlight. They’re quite drought-tolerant but will probably need slightly more frequent watering than peperomias because their leaves and stems are a bit thinner. Check the soil, and if it feels dry to the touch on top, give it a watering. 

Pilea Peperomiodes close up Ted Lare

Pilea’s are often called friendship plants because they put up new plant pups around the base on the regular. If your plant does this, you can either leave the pups to grow, creating a fuller-looking bushy pot of plants, or you can remove them. 

To remove pilea pups, wait until they are at least an inch or two tall, then carefully remove the plant and all the soil out of the pot. With a clean, sharp knife, cut down between the pup and mother plant to separate them, making sure the pup has a chunk of root with it. Then repot them both and let them get back to growing. 

If you’d like to add either of these peperomias or a pilea to your houseplant collection, stop by the garden center for a visit. We’ve got a wide selection of gorgeous houseplants available. 

 

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Why We Need to Diversify Urban Landscapes: The Urban Forest

different types of trees in a landscape ted lare

Bio-diversity is an essential feature of a healthy and thriving eco-system. Not only is diversity better for wildlife, but it’s best for plants and trees as well. In recent history, urban forests have been sadly lacking in variety. 

Urban forests, in the broadest sense, are the entire tree and shrub community within an urban area, including the trees in parks, on public boulevards, or that beautiful Oak tree on your neighbor’s front yard. 

Every tree within city limits makes up a part of the urban forest.

Unfortunately, for the last 50-100 years, developers have tended to plant hundreds of just one tree species in our urban environments. While these uniform landscapes may look nice for a few years, this can cause huge environmental issues in the long run.

Having a tree monoculture means the entire urban forest is much more susceptible to an outbreak of disease or infestation of exotic pests. We’ve seen entire blocks of Elm trees destroyed by Dutch Elm Disease. Many of those neighborhoods were then replanted with Ash trees, which are now being attacked by Emerald Ash Borer. 

When an entire community of trees is decimated so quickly, it has far-reaching ripple effects on many other parts of the environment. It’s an environmental disaster. 

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Losing all the mature trees in an area has a significant negative impact on the native bird, mammal, and bug populations. Less tree diversity or loss of trees in an area will also affect the bio-diversity of smaller native plants that need the protection of trees to live. Furthermore, it affects air quality, ambient temperature, water retention, and erosion in a neighborhood. 

Besides all these environmental impacts, it affects your pocketbook, too. Property values drop in neighborhoods without trees, or where trees are sparse or immature. Communities without a canopy of shade trees experience higher utility bills for heating and cooling. And, homes without trees are more susceptible to damage from high winds because there is no windbreak. 

Tree Diversity for Healthier Communities

Studies show that when a variety of tree types are planted in an area, it slows and reduces pest infestations and disease. If there are only 2-3 of any given species of tree in a neighborhood, the impact of an invasive pest of disease on the community tree canopy is far less devastating. As a result, there will be less of an impact on the community overall. 

Many cities across the US have been working hard to change the ways they plant trees to develop more of a healthy mix on public land. Unfortunately, the importance of tree diversity has not yet been realized by developers, HOA’s, and private landowners. Many neighborhoods, residential and commercial, are still being planted with large populations of one type of tree. Recent calculations show that 80% of new trees being planted today are Oak or Maple varieties. 

You Can Help Improve Biodiversity In Your Yard

One way to help is to take a look around your neighborhood when you’re getting ready to plant trees. Make a list of all the different types of trees you see, bring it with you to the garden center, and do your best to plant something that isn’t on the list. 

If you’re not sure how to identify types of trees, take some clear photos and bring them with you to the nursery. A picture of the whole tree and a close-up photo of a leaf will give our staff a chance to help you identify which trees live in your neighborhood. 

There are so many unique trees to plant, and many of them feature beautiful fall colors in shades you may not have even realized were available!

5 Unique Trees To Plant In Your Yard 

Here are five types of trees that look beautiful, grow well in Iowa, and aren’t common in urban developments.

 

Fort McNair Horse Chestnut Ted Lare

Fort McNair Horse Chestnut 

A fantastic specimen tree that’s well suited for Iowa climates. Growing to heights of 35’ tall and up to 25’ wide, this tree has a nicely-rounded growth habit with beautiful pink, showy flowers that emerge in spring. Grows best in full sun or partial shade, and has great disease resistance to boot! 

 

American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

Sycamore is a large tree, growing up to 75-100′ tall with 50′ canopy. It features rounded and balanced upright growth. It’s a relatively fast-growing and stately tree with beautiful two-tone bark. Its fall color features a range of brilliant yellows and golds. 

 

Tulip Tree Ted Lare

Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) 

Tulip tree also gets to be pretty big; up to 65′ tall with a 30′ canopy. It has an upright growing habit and features yellow tulip-shaped flowers in May and June. Its leaves are a unique shape with four lobes. In the fall, the leaves turn a vibrant yellow. 

 

Cucumber Tree Ted Lare

Cucumber Tree (Magnolia acuminata) 

This is one of the hardiest magnolia varieties available. It does get relatively large; up 40-60′ tall and spreading out to 35′. This upright tree has large, fragrant, cream-colored flowers in late spring. The leaves turn gold in the fall. 

 

American Hornbeam Ted Lare

American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana) 

American Hornbeam is a medium to small tree, only getting to about 20-35′ tall and wide. It’s an adaptable tree and can survive well in shade or full sun. It is a bit of a slower grower, but it rewards owners with its stunning display of yellow, orange, red, and purple leaves. 

 

If you’d like to contribute to stronger biodiversity in your neighborhood with any of these trees, visit our garden center! We can help you choose the perfect tree to complement our shared urban forest.

 

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Dazzling Daylilies for Your Iowa Garden

Who doesn’t love daylilies? They’re a reliable, easy to grow perennial that flowers beautifully. Because they’re so popular and easy to grow, breeders have developed and registered over 15,000 varieties!

Daylilies are a great plant to make the transition from spring to midsummer. These are primarily a June to July bloomer here in Iowa. They are named daylilies because each individual flower lasts only a single day. But, new flowers continually open, almost every day, and the blooming period can last three weeks or more. 

Daylilies have come a long way from the orange or yellow ones that used to be so common. They now come in a staggering variety of styles, heights, and colors. Almost any color, and color combination, that you can think of! 

There are early, late, and even reblooming varieties of daylily. Some varieties have double blossoms, some have wider open-faced flowers, some have long, slender, curving leaves, and some have a ruffled edge on their petals. The new varieties are also great because, unlike the old ditch lilies, the new varieties don’t take over your flower beds. 

 

daylily garden ted lare

How to Grow Daylilies

Daylilies are pretty low maintenance; if you get them set up in a good location, they’ll reward you with blooms for many years to come. You can essentially plant these and forget about them. Water when you plant them, and let them get to growing. If the weather is really dry, it would be good to water them every now and then. You can use some bulb fertilizer when you plant them, but you won’t need to fertilize them again. 

Daylilies need good drainage and full sun for at least half the day. Some shade in the afternoon is ok and can help some of the darker colored daylilies retain their blossom color. 

  

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Daylilies should be divided every 4-5 years when they become crowded and flowering declines. Late summer is the best time to separate them. Simply dig up the whole clump and use a sharp knife to split them into smaller clumps, with 2-3 fans of leaves and lots of roots. Immediately replant them and cut the foliage back to about 6 inches tall. 

Here are a few Awesome Daylilies to add to your collection.

Tuscawilla Tigress has huge tangerine-orange blooms with soft orange rays. These flowers may get as big as 8 inches across!

tuscawilla tigress and Moses fire daylily ted lare

 

Moses Fire is a stunning mid-season rebloomer. Its cherry-red double blossoms feature gold edges with hints of gold variegations on the petals. 


Bridgeton Invention is a stunning mid-season rebloomer. It features creamy-white petals with a deep magenta eye-zone that fades into the yellow throat.

 

Bright Invention and Scarlet Orbit daylily greenstreet gardens

 

Scarlet Orbit is a gorgeous deep red daylily with a chartreuse yellow throat.  It is an early bloomer and has a beautiful fragrance. . 

Chesapeake Crab Legs a showstopping mid-season rebloomer with ruffled spider style flowers. It features rich orangey-red petals with subtle rays of orange and a chevron pattern at the top of its yellow throat.

 

chesapeake crab legs and witch's hand ted lare

 

Witches Hand is a mid-season rebloomer featuring dark burgundy-almost black petals, with a golden yellow throat. 

Now is an excellent time to add some daylilies to your garden for gorgeous and reliable flowers every year. You may even get a few blooms on mid-season varieties this season! Stop by the garden center, shop online, or call ahead to find out what varieties we have available.