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Add a Splash Of Color with the Orange Glory Butterfly Perennial for Zone 7

Orange Butterfly Plant

One of the toughest places to plant here in Zone 7 are those super hot and dry areas. With the crazy weather patterns around here it’s difficult to find great looking plants that can stand the hot and sometimes super dry summers. So it’s always awesome when you find something that not only works but looks great.

Today, we will talk about the Orange butterfly plant. Now don’t mistake this for a butterfly bush because they are not the same thing. The Orange butterfly plant is not a bush, rather it is a mid sized perennial with brilliant orange clusters of flowers that grace your garden most of the growing season. It takes full sun like an absolute champ. It doesn’t wilt and it doesn’t burn. It also does not need a whole lot of water either nor is it particularly picky about soil conditions. Another nice quality is that it will give you flowers the first year even if planted as a bare root perennial. In fact, my specimens came from Direct Gardening.

If you order this as a bareroot perennial, be ready to receive a strange looking tuber. It’s got lots of tendrils radiating from the main tuber body. If you order this for Direct Gardening, and you get a specimen with a little mold on the ends, don’t despair as it will not hinder the plant in the least. Simply clip these areas off and your ready to go. I also washing the tuber with water after you clip to get it nice and clean. Now you don’t need to lay the tendrils in any special way when planting. I made the hole big enough to fit them comfortably.  As I mentioned, this isn’t particular about soil but I would amend the soil a bit in cases where you have nothing but clay.  The inexpensive Evergreen brand found at Home Depot/Lowes is one of my favorites and can be had for a little over $1 a bag.  As with all newly planted perennials, be sure to water it on a regular basis at first when mother nature does not provide. Once established, it will not require much care. That being said, you do have to watch for aphids. Get rid of them by spraying organic insecticidal soap. I find that aphids are not a problem until later in the summer. When the plant fades in the fall, simply cut back to the ground.

The best time to plant this will be in the early spring so that you can enjoy your bright orange blooms come the summer.  The plant grows to about a foot or so high but it does branch out quite a bit so you want to give it some space. The diameter is probably twice the height. While you can use as a single specimen type plant, they really look great planted en mass.  Anyway, I really like and enjoy this plant and I think you will too!

Hardiness Zones: 3-9
Growing Difficulty: Easy
Sun exposure: Full Sun to Mostly Sunny
Height: 12″-18″
Width: 18″-24″ once mature
Bloom time: Late spring, early summer
Bloom Color: Bright Orange
Foliage Color:Green
Watering: Minimal and only during extended droughts
Soil: Average, normal, amended clay

Thorny and Spiky Bushes for Zone 7

Suppose you have an area where you want to keep those pesky neighborhood kids of your yard. You can get a Rottweiler or perhaps a Doberman and chain it to your front yard, but that would just be too cruel for the dog and of course you don’t want to get sued! So what’s your alternative? How about some thorny and spiky bushes! Now we don’t want to kill anybody, we just want to inflict a little discomfort to keep whatever you are trying to keep out.  So what are some good pain inflicting bushes for your Zone 7 yard?

Sharp Needle Point Holly

Sharp Needle Point Holly

Needlepoint Holly

One of my favorites is the Needlepoint Holly. As the name implies, this bush has sharp needles at the ends of its leaves.  Very painful and you can be sure that most will stay clear of this bush/small tree.

Needlepoints aside, this Holly makes a beautiful evergreen pyramidal bush/tree with red berries just in time for the Holiday season.  Another wonderful qualify of this bush is its drought tolerance.   Once established you need not worry about watering this bush.  Looks great even in the hottest of summers. We have one in an extremely hot full sun area that remains hot all day long in the summer and it looks just as good in mid summer as it does in the spring and we never water it directly.

The only downside, if space is an issue, is that this one can get quite large in diameter as it can get past 10 feet wide. I’ve seen these pruned as trees with bare trunks but of course you don’t want to do that if your goal is to use its spiky properties to keep undesirables out of a particular area.


Japanese Barberry

Japanese Barberry Thorns

Japanese Barberry Thorns

This is another favorite of mine. Its got fine little thorns that painful!  Besides the thorns, Japanese Barberries are very beautiful.  They come in all sort of pretty colors like purples, pinks, yellows, chartreuse and more. I particularly love the chartreuse/yellow ones. These things really glow in the spring and start turning an orange color in the fall!

Very easy to care for and quite drought resistant.  Note that during really hot summers, they may take a little rest in the mid to later summer. You may have one that completely looses all it’s leaves only to regrow them later in the summer then loose them again in late fall.

I highly recommend planting these en mass if you want to keep things out as they don’t get particularly large. You may see 3-4 foot in height with about the same diameter.

Chinese Juniper

Chinese Juniper

Chinese Juniper

Finally, we have Chinese Junipers. These come in various types that come in green, gray-green, gold color. I particularly like these as a spiky bush because they give you a stinging type sensation from the resin contained in their needle like leaves.   From experience, I can say these are very uncomfortable when touched and will leave your skin red. I have one and I stay far away from it. I do not like the sensation one bit.

Aside from their stinging nature, they are very attractive, especially the gold and gray types.  They have a weeping type habit so when they get large, they sort of start weeping towards the ground. They are also extremely tough bushes never requiring water once established. They also take sun like champs without turning yellow. The one on my property gets full blast hot sun all summer long and it looks just as good in the dead of summer as any other time of the year.  Another nice quality is that they are readily available at most nurseries.

Hostas: easy to care for plants

A beautiful, easy to care for plant is always welcome in the garden. Hostas are no exception. They are basically maintenance free and produce exceptional results. About 3 years ago my husband and I bought 3 small blue-green hostas and planted them in fairly poor soil. We added a little bit of organic topsoil, mixed it in with the native soil,watered it and put a little mulch around the outer area. Not expecting much to happen, we were quite surprised
to find that they thrived. By the end of the summer, they had doubled in size. During the growing season they produced beautiful, spikey lavender flowers. The show of flowers bloomed repeatedly and lasted for several weeks before drying out.

Halcyon Hostas

Halcyon Hostas

The leaves are a beautiful heart shape and tinted a blue-green. They grow anywhere from 14-20″ in height and 18-24″ wide. Ours were planted in a partially shaded area that got morning sun and did fine for about the first half of the summer, but once July and August rolled around the edges got a little crisp and the leaves developed holes. We left them in the same spot up until this spring when we moved them to a shadier area. We divided them since they had become quite big and got 6 plants out of the original 3 we purchased. They are planted in between a crepe myrtle and a Chinese Fringe Flower tree.

Hallcyon Hosta

Halcyon Hosta close-up

While it’s a mostly shaded area, it does get filtered morning sun which should be enough in the spring and early summer, while shading them from the extreme heat of the mid to latter part of the summer. Too much shade can be just as bad as too much sun, so we’ll have to keep an eye out to see just how well they do in their new spot.

When we divided and transplanted them, we didn’t use much more in the way of soil and preparation than we did the first time we planted them. We did use fertilizer for roses called Rose-Tone. It was sprinkled on the top of the soil around the entire plant, but not touching any part of the plant. Two days after planting and fertilizing and we already found that the first green leaves are about to bud.

Plants and flowers that accompany the Hosta well are Lenten Roses, Hydrangeas, Foxgloves, Rhododendrons and any woodland plants.

Hostas are a beautiful addition to your garden and with so many varieties and sizes available, you’re sure to find something perfect for your area!

Dragon’s Blood Sedum – vibrant color for your garden

Dragon's Blood

Dragon's Blood

Sedum is one of my favorite plants. There are so many varieties and the colors are spectacular. Sedum is very hardy and comes back yearly, even in the most extreme of weather and poorest of soils. They are very tolerant of heat, drought, humidity and cold weather. Don’t bother using good soil for Dragon’s Blood – you can save that for another plant, because it does well in poor soil with little to no moisture or watering.

Dragon’s Blood Sedum is a very beautiful sedum. The color is a vibrant redish burgundy from late summer to fall, when it turns a bright orange. For the best color, they should be put into full sun, at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight. A shaded area would produce more of a green color. The foliage has been described as “needle-like” but I think they have more of a rosette appearance. Dragon’s Blood, like most other sedum, is a quick spreading plant.You don’t have to buy a lot to get a big effect. The carpet of this sedum is very dense and it’s a fairly short plant – ranging from about 3-5″.

Dragon’s Blood is adaptable in many settings, from rock gardens, borders, containers mixed with other plants or alone, under trees, etc. They add so much to your garden and are a nice change from green or yellow sedum. Actually Dragon’s Blood would nicely compliment those colors of any plant.

How to Transplant Toad Lily Clumps

Toad Lily

Toad Lily

Maybe you planted those little rhizomes thinking not much was going to happen only to have a huge clump that’s over grown the planned planting area. Whatever the case may be, Toad Lilly clumps are very easy to divide and transplant without much heartache or damage to the plants.

The best time to move these is in early spring when they are about 2-3 inches tall and the weather has somewhat stabilized. Though they flower late, these will be one of the very first plants to poke their heads out of the ground. Not unusual to have them coming up in mid February here in zone 7. It’s easier to move these once they have grown a bit as you can easily judge the size of the clump by where they are coming up.

Start by judging the size of the clump. Even if you miss judge, don’t worry. For those with weedblock cloth, these things grow right through it so you may need to move the cloth along with the clump. You will not be able to separate the cloth without destroying the clump. Whatever your situation is, these things are tough and while you may loose parts of it, it will not harm the main plant. Once you’ve determined the size of the clump, simply drive your spade straight down around it. They don’t go very deep, maybe 6 inches tops so go about that deep. Once you’ve gone around the entire clump, start undercutting it with the spade. Again, don’t worry about damaging roots because there aren’t many roots below the clump. If your spade has a strong handle, you can simply start lifting while undercutting, otherwise just undercut around the whole thing. Once you got the clump undercut, simply start lifting. The whole thing will come up in a single piece. You may loose a few fringe pieces but again, no big deal. Now that you have it out of the ground, you can divide if you please. Chances are, you probably will because the clump will be considerable. I had 3 clumps that were well over 2-3 feet around. To divide, you can simply place the spade at the top and drive it down to chop it in half or fourths. Now find a new spot and replant by simply digging a hole a little bigger than the clump or give some away. There will be plenty to give away if you want. You can also replant some of the fringe pieces if you want to salvage those as well. They will keep quite well in glass of water if you can’t replant right away or saving them to give away.

That’s all there is to it. You will probably have to repeat the process in 2 years as the clumps grow incredibly fast and get pretty big.