Author: Maria Logan Montgomery

How to Prune Variegated Ginger

How to Prune Variegated Ginger

Jennifer P. told me of her variegated ginger, and how tall it has grown. She asked the best way to prune it.   There Are Several Reasons to Prune Variegated Ginger (Alpinia Zerumbet Variegata):   1. When the plant grows too tall for your garden: […]

Goldenrod

Goldenrod

  As early as July, the goldenrod had grown tall, but was blending in with the other wildflowers and, yes, weeds, along highways throughout the South, and probably other places, too. I saw it in Georgia and Alabama on a trip in early July. By […]

Do I Need to Dig Up My Dahlias Here in Florida?

Do I Need to Dig Up My Dahlias Here in Florida?

Barbara’s Question About Dahlias:  Barbara G-H. moved here from New York where dahlias have to be dug up every autumn, stored over the winter, and replanted each spring.  During a golf outing, she told me about her dahlias that had become quite ragged-looking the previous summer, and that she and her husband had pulled them up and trashed them.  She asked about growing them here in central Florida:

 

 

 

My Answer:  As far north as Zone 7, dahlias can be left in the ground for years. Most likely, Barbara’s dahlias were suffering from the heat and periods of dryness we experienced that summer. Here in Zone 9-A (central Florida), dahlias can be left in place year-round. They will likely suffer during times of extreme heat, and if they begin to look too badly, they can be cut back. As with many flowers, when the heat wave is over, they will perk up and begin to bloom again.

At the time we spoke, I had not grown them here, so I didn’t know for sure whether they would die completely down to the ground during winters, as many plants don’t during mild winters. If we were to have a hard freeze, they probably would die back to the ground. I have now grown them here, but just this year, so mine have not yet had to deal with winter. I do know that the best times to plant them in here Zone 9 are March, April, October, and November.

Update to come after this winter.

 

 

I had beautiful red dahlias when we lived in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, much farther north than we are here in Florida. There, of course, the dahlias died down every winter, and came back every spring. Barbara was disappointed to learn that she could have simply trimmed off the ragged part of the plants, and waited for them to put out new growth. I wish we had had our conversation a month or so earlier — her dahlias could have been saved.

 

 

Here are two more dahlia photos showing the fruit-like flower buds, then the lovely single-layer blossoms of these mini dahlias. Those buds remind me of tiny heirloom tomatoes, but, no, they most definitely are not edible.

 

How to Shape a Crepe Myrtle Tree Grown Too Large

How to Shape a Crepe Myrtle Tree Grown Too Large

Sharon F. recently read my article on HubPages, entitled “Proper Pruning of Crepe Myrtles” and e-mailed me about her myrtle. Here’s Sharon’s question:    “My Crepe Myrtle is getting too large (both tall and wide) for the space where it was planted. How would you approach […]

Keeping Poinsettia Alive After the Holidays

Keeping Poinsettia Alive After the Holidays

My friends have been asking about keeping poinsettias alive after the holidays. So here is what I’ve learned over the years. No longer just the old familiar bright red, poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are available in a multitude of colors, from pink, white, deep rosy red, orange-red, to […]

Making Strawberry Jam

Making Strawberry Jam

 

We recently spent a week in Scotland and England, where we ate delicious scones with strawberry jam every day. In England, we had them with clotted cream. In Scotland, butter was used instead.

 

After returning home, we decided to try our hands at making them at home. Bo began the search for a good recipe. With one, the scones tasted fine, but did not rise, so the texture was off. With another, they rose a little, but were still not right. He’s still perfecting his own recipe.

 

When we kept having to return to the store to buy more strawberry jam, I decided to try my hand at making it. My first attempt resulted in something more like strawberry puree. While my daughter, Tracy, of Designs By LolaBelle fame, was visiting, we tried it again. This time, it jelled perfectly, and was a huge success. Here’s the link to the strawberry jam recipe.