The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

The Garden Guide

January 28, 2013

Ask A Master Gardener

TARBORO — This week, we have two questions coming from visitors to the Blount-Bridgers House Garden.  The garden committee works regularly each week to maintain this lovely garden oasis in Tarboro’s Historic District. Garden manager, Jeni Filbrun invites you to join the volunteers, “the weekly weeders,” each Wednesday morning at 10 for an hour of garden tending.

Candis O. (Tarboro) Asks:  What is that invasive, ground hugging plant with a purple bloom that seems to be invading the Blount-Bridgers Gardens this winter?

Answer: The plant is a winter annual called Henbit, Lamium amplexicaule, a member of the mint family which means that it is edible!  Humming birds like it and it is so prolific that it can be used for erosion control.  It has a pink to purple flower and normally flowers from April to June. It generally grows in moist, fertile soils and reproduces by seed and stems that touch the ground.  It has many square stems that grow 6-18 inches from a taproot.

There are no poisonous look-alike plants so Henbit can be served raw, cooked, or added to salads.

Try this Recipe for “Spicy Henbit”

Chop 4 cups of shoots, cover with water, boil 10 minutes.  In a separate pan melt 3 tbls. Butter, add 1 tsp. curry powder, 2 whole cloves, and 1⁄4 tsp. ground cinnamon.  Stir and cook for a minute, stir in 2 tbls. of flour and cook another minute.  Add 1/3 cup of boiling water from the Henbit, stir until smooth. Drain and add the boiled Henbit and 3⁄4 sour cream.  Cook on low for 15 minutes.

Katherine A. (Tarboro) asks: I saw these plants in the Blount-Bridgers Garden and noted how really great they looked for this time of year (winter). What are they exactly?

It’s a Cardoon plant, a relative of the artichoke, and also kin to the thistle. The bud petals are edible before blooming its thistle-like flowers (see photo). The silver-green leaves make a notable presence in the Blount-Bridgers Garden with the purple leaf mustard plant.

Barbara D. (Tarboro) Asks: I have been digging up and replanting my caladiums every year.  I wonder if this is really necessary?

Caladium is an ornamental plant, popular for its colorful leaves. They are shade lovers, and brighten up the shady areas of your yard. Caladiums also make great indoor houseplants. Indoors or out, they are easy to grow. They are tropical plants, native to the Amazon river area of Brazil. The plants thrive in a warm, shady, humid environment. The leaves come in a variety of combinations of green, with white, pink or red. The plants grow to a height of 12" to 30" in one season.

Here’s your answer: Caladium does not like cold weather. Roots survive over-wintering outdoors only in the warmest areas of the country. So, in the fall, the tuberous roots are dug up, cleaned and separated. Make sure to have some buds on each divided section. Store roots in spaghnum moss in a dry, dark location.

Here are Some Tips on How to Grow Caladium

Caladium are grown from a tuberous root. The larger the tuber, the larger the plant. Many people prefer to start with new roots each year. Many home gardeners find the roots produced by their plants are smaller, and turn to commercial growers who know how to produce the biggest roots for the best plants.

We recommend an early, indoor start for your Caladium plants. Plant roots in individual containers indoors 6 weeks before the last frost date. Use 4" to 6" peat pots to make transplanting easier, and to minimize transplant shock.

Plant roots, round side up, 1 1/2"- 2" deep, in rich starter soil, peat

moss, or vermiculite. Roots should have a few buds on them. Keep the soil moist and warm. They will not sprout in cold soil.

Transplant them outdoors after all danger of frost has past, and the soil has warmed. Select a location that is shady, or does not receive direct sunlight. Caladium likes rich soil. The soil needs to be kept moist, but should be well draining. If the soil is poor, add generous amounts of compost and manure.

Fertilize outdoors once a month with a general purpose fertilizer. Indoors, use a liquid fertilizer every couple of weeks. Prune dead or damaged leaves.

Insect and disease problems are infrequent. Use insecticide or fungicide only if a problem occurs.

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The Garden Guide
  • pink-nerine.jpg Ask A Master Gardener

    Edgecombe’s Extension Master Gardener Volunteers are holding their Spring-Planting Bulb Event tomorrow (March 23) at Marrow-Pitt Ace Home Center in the garden department from 10 a.m. until 1 pm. The volunteers will be giving demonstrations on basic bulb planting as well as container planting (bring your own or purchase one from stock).  A variety of pre-packaged summer and fall-blooming bulbs will be sold including: ginger lilies, rain lilies, galtonia, agapanthus, tuberosa, liatris, tigridia, cannas, nerines and many more.  Proceeds from the bulb sales will fund the Extension Master Gardener Volunteers’ spring/summer projects, including those sanctioned by this year’s America in Bloom competition committee. Ace is located at 1713 N. Main St.

    March 22, 2013 2 Photos

  • Master-Gardener.jpg "Ask A Master Gardener"

    Buddy H. (Tarboro) asks: I discovered this unusual substance wrapping the stems on all of my compacta holly when I was pruning them last week.

    March 15, 2013 1 Photo

  • Weeds.jpg Ask A Master Gardener

    "As the promise of spring begins to beckon the attention of "dormant" gardeners this time of year, so it is with those dormant weeds that will appear soon enough, making for a lot of catch up work to get our lawns ready for show time," says local Master Gardener Trainee, Bernice Pitt who has just completed certification in an NC State University course in Turf Management.  Pitt is manager of the lawn and garden center at Marrow-Pitt Ace Home Center in Tarboro and is ready to help you with solutions in
    maintaining your lawn.  "I have found that the best source for answers to questions regarding turf grasses is the site:
    www.turffiles.ncsu.edu and another,
    www.turfweedmanagement.ncsu./weedmanagement.aspx," Pitt added. "It's where we found answers to this week's questions."

    March 8, 2013 1 Photo

  • Master Gardener.jpg "Ask A Master Gardener"

    "Ask A Master Gardener" is a weekly column providing our readers solutions to common problems concerning horticulture, gardening, and pest management. Trained Extension Master Gardener Volunteers have access to the research that provides answers.
    Submit your questions by email to  askemgv@gmail.com, call the local Extension Center at 641-7815 and tell them you have a question for a master gardener; a volunteer will return your call with a solution to your problem, or write to "Ask A Master Gardener", c/o The Daily Southerner, P.O. Box 1199, Tarboro, 27886.

    February 22, 2013 1 Photo

  • N1204P66020C.jpg “Ask A Master Gardener”

    Ronnie E. (Conetoe) asks: What is the best temperature and method to store fresh pecans?

    February 8, 2013 1 Photo

  • Filbrun 2.jpg Sanitation: An Important Garden Chore

    So, what will tomorrow bring?  At this time of year, we are riding the roller coaster up and down as winter and spring duke it out.  While it is still too early to start most seeded varieties of annual flower and vegetable varieties, it is not too early to prepare for the upcoming gardening season.

    February 6, 2013 1 Photo

  • "Ask A Master Gardener"

    John W. (Tarboro) Asks: A neighbor posed this question to pass along. They did nothing to winterize their yard and, as a result, have all of the winter-type weeds that survive everything. They wanted to know if there is anything they can do now to kill off the weeds and what and when do they start to try and green up their yard and kill back weeds as we head out of winter.

    February 4, 2013

  • image002-resized.jpg Ask A Master Gardener

    This week, we have two questions coming from visitors to the Blount-Bridgers House Garden.  The garden committee works regularly each week to maintain this lovely garden oasis in Tarboro’s Historic District. Garden manager, Jeni Filbrun invites you to join the volunteers, “the weekly weeders,” each Wednesday morning at 10 for an hour of garden tending.

    January 28, 2013 3 Photos

  • Master gardener.jpg Ask A Master Gardener

    “Ask A Master Gardener” is a weekly column providing our readers solutions to common problems concerning horticulture, gardening, and pest management.  Trained Extension Master Gardener Volunteers have access to the research that provide answers.  
    Submit your questions by email to askemgv@gmail.com.  Or call the local Extension Center at 252-641-7815 and tell them you have a question for a master gardener; a volunteer will return your call with a solution to your problem, or write to “Ask A Master Gardener”, c/o The Daily Southerner, P.O. Box 1199, Tarboro, NC 27886.

    January 11, 2013 1 Photo

  • paperwhite bulbs-3.jpg Ask A Master Gardener

    “Ask A Master Gardener” is a weekly column providing our readers solutions to common problems concerning horticulture, gardening, and pest management.  Trained Extension Master Gardener Volunteers have access to the research that provide answers.  
    Submit your questions by email to askemgv@gmail.com.  Or call the local Extension Center at 252-641-7815 and tell them you have a question for a master gardener; a volunteer will return your call with a solution to your problem, or write to “Ask A Master Gardener”, c/o The Daily Southerner, P.O. Box 1199, Tarboro, NC 27886.

    January 4, 2013 1 Photo

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