Month: February 2014

Lily of the Valley The Birthday Plant For May

Sweet little bell shaped flowers with a pleasant fragrance, the Lily of the Valley is the birthday flower for the month of May. This little flower is associated with humility, pureness of heart, happiness, and sweetness. One legend of the Lily Of The Valley is that it was formed from the tears of Eve as she was banned from the Garden of Eden.

May’s Perennial Plant

The Lily of the Valley is a perennial plant that grows best in the shaded area of the garden. The plant multiplies through rhizomes underground. A hardy plant flowering in late spring. Favored for it’s sweet fragrance, it is often used as a ground cover in the shady areas of garden. All parts of the Lily of the Valley are considered to be poisonous. However, it has been used in medicines and herbal remedies for heart and epilepsy.

How To Plant A Lily Of The Valley Plant

Here is a nice video that show you how to plant the lily of the valley in your garden.

When I was a young girl, my Grandmother had Lily of the Valley growing on the north side of her house. The sweet little white bell shaped flowers were planted in front of large ferns and had a dramatic effect. It is funny how over 50 years later I can still conjure up that picture in my mind of the flowers in May at my Grandmother’s house.

In a Christian legend it is stated that the tears of Mary turned into lilies of the valley at the crucifixion of her son Jesus. Sometimes these little flowers are called Mary’s Tears.

Traditional Plants In White

At first glance it looks like the traditional plant with the sweet little white bells but what makes this option different is that the bells are actually doubles. They are fragrant and just lovely in any garden! You get three plants in one pot to start a lovely display in any shady area of your flower beds.

Lily of the Valley plants are believed to ward off evil spirits from the garden.

I know I get so excited when I start to see the green leaves of this sweet little plant start to sprout up out of the ground each year. The tiny little white bell shaped flowers look striking against that wonderful shade of green of the leaves! I don’t do much with them each year other than let them spread as a ground cover. Oh, occasionally I’ll find that they have started to spread in an area that I would prefer that they not be. That is when I just dig up that little one and put it in an area where it is welcome.

Lily of the Valley from Nature Hills Nursery

Lambs Ears A Nice Perennial For Indiana Gardens

A nice perennial for consideration in an Indiana Garden is the mound style plant known as Lambs Ears. It is one of many Stachys species that originally came from Turkey, Iran and Armenia but has thrived globally for many years. The reason that gardeners refer to it as Lambs Ears is because of the leaves being rather curved and covered with a white fur like covering that is soft. The silvery version can grow in partial shade to full sun and in Indiana you will find that it dies back in the cold months of winter. Don’t worry, it comes back nicely when the weather warms up! It is a slow grower but will spread over the years.

I particularly like this plant for borders and it does bloom in late spring or early summer with spike like flowers that are small and usually white or pink. I also like that even when not in bloom, they provide a nice contrast to some of the taller darker foliage from the plants that I have behind the lambs ears.

I believe that this particular species of Lambs Ears is what most people are familiar with. You might not have even known that it was called by the name but may know it as Stachys which is part of its botanical name.

Lambs Ear – Silver Carpet

This particular species of lambs ear produces some nice rosy lavender flowers on tall spikes in the middle of the summer. Unlike the other types of lambs ear the leaves on this plant are a dark green with a glossy look rather than the silvery foliage that we find with its cousins. If planted in full sun, you can count on this plant to spread over time. It makes a nice plant for rock gardens or borders.

Lambs Ear – Hummelo

I think that you will find that this is a very easy plant to grow. Many times it is a choice that adults give to children to grow in their own gardens because it is so easy to grow. The other reason is that kids love to feel the soft furry leaves. Lambs ear is actually a perennial herb but here in the US, we rarely use it to cook with but choose to just have it adorn places in our flower beds.

Have you ever used Stachys or Lambs Ears in your garden? If not, it is certainly one to consider as you plan your flower beds for the coming seasons. I don’t think that you will be disappointed.

February Jobs For Indiana Gardeners

You might not think that there is much to do in the cold month of February in your Indiana gardens. Well, that is only partially true. Obviously it is too cold to be out in the actual garden beds but there is plenty that can be done inside to prepare for planting once the weather warms up. Now is the optimum time to be sowing seeds indoors for many plants both floral and vegetable. So, let’s look at the jobs that a gardener can work on during February.

Annuals

Get your potting soil ready and collect as many containers as you can from around the house and start sowing those seeds so that you will have plants that will transplant nicely when the time is right. About the first of February you should be planting seeds for:

  • gerbas
  • petunias
  • impatiens
  • wax begonias

Around the middle of February it is time to sow seeds for:

  • ageratum
  • lobelia
  • love-in-a-mist (Nigella)

Vegetables

You can start some of your vegetable plants this month as well. I suggest that you get a few Seed Starter trays to work with. I like the ones that have several small little indentations that I can keep like seeds together. The biggest thing to remember for sowing seeds indoors during the winter is to provide enough light for the seeds to germinate. You plants will get too tall and leggy without the proper light and will have a hard time growing to a proper enough plant to then set outside.

Perennials

There are plenty of perennials that can be started from seeds this month to give you a good head start for your flower beds when the threat of frost is gone. Some goods ones to consider starting now are:
purple coneflower

  • rudbeckia
  • Shasta daisy
  • yarrow
  • columbine
  • blue star
  • gaillardia
  • salvia

Bleeding hearts, Delphinium and phlox can be grown, also but you need to cold treat the seeds before trying to germinate them. Don’t know how to cold treat? It is easier than you think. Here is a video that explains the process. She is talking about a different type of flower but the same method is used to cold treat any of your seeds.

I can’t stress enough the importance of good lighting for your germinating your seeds! That is the most important part of growing your plants indoors in February so that they will be nice viable plants for transplanting into the ground later. Invest a little time and money in some good lighting and you won’t regret it. This will take a small amount of an investment but you will have it to use for years to come and the lighting will quickly pay for itself in the money you save in not having to buy plants from the local nursery in one season.