Archive | November 2013

Potted Lilies for the Pond

“I am looking for lilies that can be potted and sunk/thrown in a pond. Can I do this with daylilies and tigerlilies and the like? Any recommendations?



Hi Faye,

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, the types of lilies that are traditionally grown in your garden (Hemerocallis/Daylilies, Lilium/Lilies, etc.) are not the same as water lilies (Nymphaea).

I’ll be honest: I’m not an expert on aquatic plants. I never studied more than the basics on the topic and have never had any aquatic plants in my yard. I am really out of my element here and I don’t feel right reading up on the topic on someone else’s page and regurgitating the information here.

Water Lily

I see from your post that you are from Maryland. There is a place called Lilypons Water Gardens Company. They are one of the country’s largest water garden gardening centers. I highly recommend them– despite not being aquatically knowledgable, I do know of them.  They also have a great blog that can help you out with general info to get you started!

Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful!

(You can see Faye’s question here.)


© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Snap to It! Picking out the Perfect Snap Bean

“I would like a good snap bean. Tender, snaps nice, cooks up tender. I have used Blue Lake Bush 274, I want one with more snap. I want to use these for selling and eating fresh.
Thank you,
George Voelker
Mansfield, PA”


Dear George,

Thanks for contacting me. I grew up eating a LOT of Blue Lake Bush 274 beans — they are they only variety of green bean my mom would ever grow. Still grows only them.

However, when I got out of college and grad school and finally had a plot to call my own, I did a lot of bean varitey testing. Of course, at the time, it was a part of my job. Blue Lake Bush 274 and Provider were my ‘controls’ that they other new varieties were compared to.

There were two varieties that I really liked — to the point that they are now the only ones I grow!

1. Duke.

This is a bean that is now offered exclusively by J.W. Jung Seed and it’s subsidiaries (Vermont Bean Seed Company, R. H. Shumway’s). It was originally bred for commercial growers, but somehow did not make the cut. So, us home market folks now get to grow it. It is loaded with TONS of beans and they stay snappy for a long time. Good flavor, good for canning and freezing too. Only downside is that this variety does not come back well if stressed or if the pods are not picked on time. I had this issue in my garden this summer — I was away from home for a week (in Nevada for a family function) during the time when the first picking would have happened. My husband was left at home, alone, for the week to work and to keep up the garden. Yeah… he isn’t much for gardening. The row of beans that I would have picked in an hour or so was picked over the course of the week. And when I came home, I found that most of the beans were still on the plants (green on green was not too good for him). I picked things off and took care of them, but never got another pod off them.  I am not sure if this is a Duke issue or if any bean would have shut down after that kind of neglect. Either way, about 3 weeks after, the grasshoppers that ravaged the area decided to make use of the plants for dinner. However, I will be putting Duke in my garden next year.

2. My other favorite is Molly, a French Filet type.

These plants may be small and their pods are too, but do they ever pack on the pods! We are talking an amount of pods that makes the plants look like they have green dread locks! The flavor is full bodied and deliciously beany. Good for fresh, canning, and freezing. Didn’t do well this year between some germination issues and the wonderful grasshoppers, but will be in the garden again in 2014. Only place I know of to get them is Chiltern Seeds, D.T. Browns, and Botanical Interests (sold generically as “French Filet”, so check with the company first to make sure they haven’t switched varieties).

I hope this information helps you out, and again, thanks for asking!

(You can see George’s question here.)


© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Nine Additional All-America Selections Winners!

Reprinted with Permission of the National Garden Board:

All-America Selections
Announces Nine Additional
Winners for 2014


DOWNERS GROVE, IL – November 8, 2013

All-America Selections (AAS) judges have again finished a rigorous year of trialing and now the AAS Board of Directors is pleased to announce the newest AAS Winners. For the first time in AAS history, the organization is recognizing regional performance and granting an AAS Regional Winner designation to five new Winners:

The Regional Winners are:
Penstemon ‘Arabesque Red’ F1 (Heartland, Mountain/Southwest and West/Northwest)
Sunflower ‘Suntastic’ F1 (Great Lakes)
Cucumber ‘Pick a Bushel’ F1 (Heartland and Great Lakes)
Pumpkin ‘Cinderella’s Carriage’ F1 (Southeast, Great Lakes and Mountain/Southwest)
Tomato ‘Mountain Merit’ F1 (Heartland)

The entries that did well in a majority of regions are designated as traditional National Winners and those are:
Petunia ‘African Sunset’ F1
Pepper ‘Mama Mia Giallo’ F1
Tomato ‘Chef’s Choice Orange’ F1
Tomato ‘Fantastico’ F1

All of these winners were trialed next to similar varieties that are currently on the market. The AAS Judges do a side-by-side analysis of growth habit, disease resistance and more to determine if these entries were truly better than those already available to home gardeners. Only those flower entries with superior garden performance or the vegetables with superior taste and garden performance are given the AAS stamp of approval.

A complete list of trial grounds and judges can be found here:

A complete list of all AAS Winners since 1932 can be found here:
NEW! Website feature: AAS Winners are now sortable by either National or Regional Winners. Prior to 2014, all Winners were National Winners.

Penstemon ‘Arabesque Red’ F1
AAS Regional Flower Winner
(Heartland, Mountain/Southwest, West/Northwest)

Another AAS Winner for the pollinator garden that the hummingbirds will love! Plus, the first ever penstemon to become an AAS Winner in more than eighty years of trialing. This beauty is a season-long repeat bloomer with large tubular blooms almost one inch across on strong vigorous stems. ‘Arabesque Redä’ is best started indoors then transplanted for a longer bloom time. Great for combination containers and can be used as an annual or as a perennial for gardens in zones 6-9. Bred by Syngenta Flowers.

Growers looking for a unique item for the “after-bedding” season should consider this penstemon. Judges said this product is great for greenhouse or field container production. Retailers will be thrilled with the impact the bright red and white flowers make while on display.
Sunflower ‘Suntastic’ F1
AAS Regional Bedding Plant Winner

(Great Lakes)

‘Suntastic’ is a new dwarf sunflower perfect as a cheery long-blooming potted plant or window box accent or maybe to add a burst of color to a sunny garden bed. Gardeners will love the number of flowers each plant produces: up to twenty 5-6 inch flowers per plant in three successive blooming periods. ‘Suntastic’ will bloom in less than 65 days after sowing so by starting indoors, sunflower lovers can get their favorite bloom fix early in the summer. Bred by Clause S.A.

Cucumber ‘Pick-A-Bushel’ F1
AAS Regional Vegetable Winner

(Heartland, Great Lakes)

This Regional AAS Winner is great for northern areas because it is early to set fruit, offers a prolific quantity of fruit and is a compact bush-type cucumber spreading only about 24 inches. ‘Pick a Bushel’ offers a sweeter tasting light-green cucumber with a nice firm texture, perfect for pickling when harvested early. Fruits left on the bush-type vines longer can get up to 6” long and can be enjoyed fresh in salads. For those gardeners looking for a cucumber that can be grown in patio containers, ‘Pick a Bushel’ is a great option. Bred by Seeds By Design and W. Atlee Burpee Co.

Pumpkin ‘Cinderella’s Carriage’ F1
AAS Regional Vegetable Winner

(Southeast, Great Lakes, Mountain/Southwest)

‘Cinderella’s Carriage’ is a dream come true for any princess-loving child who wants to grow their own fairy tale type pumpkin. This brightly colored pumpkin is the first hybrid Cinderella-type pumpkin on the market which results in a higher yield as well as Powdery Mildew resistance in the garden. Robust and vigorous vines grown in traditional hills produce large fruits ranging from 18-20 pounds, creating a whole grouping of carriages for all the princesses in your family! Bred by Seeds By Design

Tomato ‘Mountain Merit’ F1
AAS Regional Vegetable Winner


‘Mountain Merit’ was judged by growers in the Heartland region as a superior tomato because it is such a nice all-around tomato, perfect for slicing and sandwiches. With a 4-5 week harvest window, these dark red fruits grow on a determinate, compact, uniform plant and offers superb disease resistance to multiple diseases common to home grown tomatoes.

Bred by North Carolina State University, produced by Bejo Seeds Inc.

Petunia ‘African Sunset’ F1
AAS National Bedding Plant Winner

‘African Sunset’ wowed the judges with an attractive, “designer color” in shades of orange flowers that proved itself against other similarly colored petunias currently available. Gardeners are always looking for a petunia that grows evenly and uniformly in the garden while producing a prolific number of blooms all season long and this beauty certainly fills that need. Many of our judges want this in plantings for their alma mater so if your school colors include orange, this one is for you! Bred by Takii & Co., Ltd.

‘African Sunset’ is a great option for growers looking for an orange seed petunia for combination plantings.
Pepper ‘Mama Mia Gaillo’ F1
AAS National Vegetable Winner

Judges declared this a “great yellow pepper” because of the huge yield, uniform shape and smooth skin of the long tapered fruits and the beautiful yellow/gold color when mature. ‘Mama Mia Giallo’ has a nice sweet flavor that is excellent either fresh or roasted. For gardeners eager for their harvest, this pepper offers ripe fruits 85 days after transplanting. An added bonus is the somewhat compact 24” plant that takes up less space and offers disease tolerance to Tobacco mosaic virus. Bred by Seeds By Design

Tomato ‘Chef’s Choice Orange’ F1
AAS National Vegetable Winner

‘Chef’s Choice Orange’ F1 is a hybrid derived from the popular heirloom ‘Amana Orange’ which matures late in the season. Now you can experience the wonderful flavor of an orange heirloom tomato in only 75 days from transplant. Its disease resistance is an added bonus. ‘Chef’s Choice Orange’ has a wonderful bright, almost neon, internal color and superior flesh taste and texture for an early maturing orange tomato. Excellent for soups and sauces because the intense color does not fade or discolor when cooked. Home chefs are going to love cooking with this variety as well as eating it fresh. Bred by Seeds By Design

Tomato ‘Fantastico’ F1
AAS National Vegetable Winner

‘Fantastico’ is a must for any market grower or home gardener looking for an early-maturing, high-yielding grape tomato with built-in Late Blight Tolerance. Bred for small gardens, determinate ‘Fantastico’ will work great in hanging baskets, container gardens as well as in small gardens. Long clusters of sweet tasty fruits are held toward the outside of the plant, making them very easy to harvest but if you let them go a few days past peak, these little beauties resist cracking better than the comparisons used in the AAS trials. Bred by Pro-Veg Seeds

Other recently announced AAS Winners:

July 2013                                                                                          January 2013
Gaura ‘Sparkle White                                      Zinnia ‘Profusion Double Hot Cherry’
Bean ‘Mascotte’                                           Zinnia ‘Profusion Double Deep Salmon’
November 2012                                                                                      July 2012

Melon ‘Melemon’ F1                                               Canna ‘South Pacific Scarlet’ F1
Tomato ‘Jasper’ F1                                                       Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit’
Watermelon ‘Harvest Moon’ F1
Geranium ‘Pinto Premium White to Rose’ F1



Planting Spring Flowering Bulbs

Reprinted with Permission of the National Garden Board:

Plant Bulbs Now for Enjoyment and
Beauty Next Spring

Remember last spring when you spotted beautiful beds of spring tulips, daffodils and hyacinths blooming and you vowed to plant some in your yard? Well—now is the time to decide what you want and get those beauties planted.  While you are cleaning up your gardens and perennial beds, pop some flower bulbs in the ground. Yes, it takes a little extra time now but when those blooms greet you next spring you will be so glad that you did—and your neighbors will be too!

Some bulbs, like crocus and snowdrops, can bloom right through the snow. And early bloomers can be one of the first spring pollen sources for our pollinator friends.
The choice of bulbs is endless…For early blooms try varieties of crocus, hyacinths and be sure to add some snowdrops, which often bloom before the snow has even melted.  The never-ending varieties of daffodils and tulips have such a wide range of bloom times that you can enjoy them all spring if you do a little planning. Just read the description to choose early, mid and late blooming varieties. The height of the bulbs you choose is also a factor—if varieties have similar bloom times you want to be sure to plant taller ones in the back of the bed so the shorter ones can be seen and enjoyed also. And don’t forget all of the wonderful alliums that will add interest to your perennial beds when the daffodils and tulips are done for the season.

Let your imagination run wild—plant drifts or clusters of spring bulbs by your front door, around your mailbox, light post or other garden feature that you have in your yard. Interplant in your annual or perennial beds or around trees or shrubs. You get the most impact when planting bulbs in clusters of at least 5 to 25 for larger bulbs and 50 or more for smaller bulbs such as snowdrops or crocus. If you have an electric or cordless drill, using a bulb auger will make your bulb planting easy.

Tulips and daffodils are perfect interplantings for perennials like hostas and daylilies as they will bloom first, then as you allow the foliage to die back, the perennials grow up and around them to cover the dying foliage.
Location is very important…be sure to look at the amount of sunlight the bulbs will be receiving in the spring. Remember that even though an area under a deciduous tree may be shaded in the summer you will have a sunny spot in the spring before the leaves emerge, making those spots excellent for many spring bulbs. Good drainage is also an essential factor when choosing your location. If your soil has high clay content or is too sandy, add compost to improve growing conditions, working it to a depth of at least twelve inches. Yes, you could probably just pop the bulbs into the ground and they would grow fine the first year but if you want your investment to continue for years to come your additional care now will pay off many times in the future.

Be sure to plant your bulbs at the correct planting depth. This information is normally printed on the packages but if not–the rule of thumb is to plant them 2 ½ – 3 times the depth of the bulb. If your soil is sandy, plant a little deeper than recommended on the package. Fertilize with the Bulb Buddy bulb fertilizer to give the bulbs a good start and give your bulbs a good watering after planting.

If you have never planted bulbs before, start small. Once you see the lively color next spring we know you will be reaching for that bulb planter again next fall. And of course if you already have a large number of spring bulbs, you know there is always room for more! A few hours in the autumn air now will reward you with the show of beauty next spring that you promised yourself you would have. Enjoy!

Let’s Go Garden!