Monthly Archives: July 2019

Sedum: A Sunny Ground Cover Solution

Is your landscape afflicted with poor, low-quality soil? Areas of scorching sun? A problematic bank or steep drop? Sedums can be the answer!

Why You Will Love Sedums

There is no reason any area of your landscape should go bare when there are so many spreading sedums that thrive under what would otherwise be adverse conditions. Easy-to-grow, sedums are available in a wide variety of leaf textures and heights to fit even awkward corners, narrow terraces or thin alleyways. Low-growing sedums not only act as a great ground cover for problem areas but also work well in unusual landscape designs such as rock gardens or on green roofs. Taller sedums look great when planted with ornamental grasses and easy perennials such as cone flowers and black-eyed-susans.

The thick, lush succulent can have any shade of green, gold, purple, red and even blue leaves, adding stunning color to your yard. Variegated foliage varieties add visual interest even when the plant is not blooming, ensuring a beautiful plant for a much longer season. Once planted, sedum varieties require very little care and do well even if neglected.

Our Favorite Sedums

Because sedums come in a variety of sizes, be sure to choose a plant with a mature size that will match your landscaping space. In addition to considering the plant’s horizontal spread, also consider its height to get the full visual impact of these great landscape additions.

The best tall sedums include…

  • Autumn Joy – 2′ tall with pink flowers
  • Autumn Fire – 2′ tall with rose flowers that mature to a deeper coppery red
  • Black Jack – 2′ tall featuring deep purple foliage with brighter pink flowers
  • Carl – 2′ tall with magenta flowers that bloom in late summer
  • Matrona – 3′ tall with pale pink blooms and gray-green foliage that shows a hint of pink
  • Purple Emperor – 1 ½’ tall featuring red flowers and dramatically deep purple foliage

For smaller spaces when a low-growing plant is needed, consider these low-growing sedums…

  • Angelina – needle-like, yellowish-peach foliage with yellow flowers
  • Blue Spruce – needle-like blue foliage with contrasting yellow flowers
  • Bronze Carpet – green foliage tinged white and pink and featuring red flowers
  • Dragon’s Blood – dramatic bronze-red foliage with deep pink flowers
  • John Creech – scalloped green foliage with pink flowers
  • Larinem Park – grey-green rounded foliage with white flowers
  • Vera Jameson – pink-tinged grey-green foliage with coordinating pink flowers

No matter what your landscaping needs and preferences – filling an awkward area, opting for an easy-care plant, adding drama and color to your garden plan – sedums can be the perfect solution.

Shrubs for Summer Color

Many gardeners assume that the brightest flowers are only seen in spring, but there are many stunning shrubs that have great color all through the summer. Some feature outstanding blooms while others have equally showy foliage and can brighten up any yard. But which will look best in your yard?

Top Summer Color Shrubs

There are a number of tried-and-true summer-flowering shrubs that never fail to be impressive. Consider these favorites to enhance your landscape all summer long.

  • Hydrangea
    This very popular mounding shrub is an old-fashioned favorite, but it doesn’t have to be just your grandmother’s shrub – there are hydrangeas for every situation and taste. Flowers appear in early summer and can last for several weeks. Choose from pink, blue (use an acidic fertilizer to maintain this unusual color) or white blooms. Large flower heads great for drying or make outstanding arrangements and bouquets when cut. These shrubs do best in light shade or sun. One of the easiest hydrangeas to grow is the native American oak-leafed hydrangea has lobed leaves with fragrant, conical-shaped flower heads.
  • Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)
    This dramatic shrub is truly a butterfly magnet, and hummingbirds love it as well. One of the most fragrant flowering shrubs, butterfly bush blooms from early summer to autumn frost, and different varieties can thrive in a wide range of growing zones. The flowers can be pink, purple, blue, yellow or white, and often feature elegant spiked panicles, arching branches and interesting foliage. These shrubs do best in full sun and come in different sizes to suit different landscaping areas.
  • Spirea
    A generally low-maintenance choice, this shrub features golden yellow to lime-colored foliage all summer with pink or lavender blooms in late spring through summer. Goldmound, Magic Carpet and Double Play Artisan are all great cultivars and easy care shrubs growing to about 2-4’ by 3-5’. This truly is an ideal shrub to use anywhere in the landscape, and it can tolerate sun to part shade growing conditions.
  • Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus)
    This is one of the showiest plants of the summer, and Rose of Sharon is also one of the easiest to grow. Dense growing and upright when young these shrubs will spread with age, so take care to plant them in appropriate spaces to avoid overcrowding. The dark green foliage contrasts nicely with large, showy flowers that can be up to 4” across. Flowers open in July and will continue blooming through late summer and into fall. This shrub is useful to plant as a screen, hedge or focal point in full sun.
  • Blue Mist Spirea (Caryopteris)
    This shrub is a great plant for late summer color with bursts of purple-blue flowers just when many other plants are growing dull. Its low-growing, mounding habit reaches 2-3’ wide by 2-3’ tall. Blue Mist Spirea is easy to grow and can tolerate some neglect. It should be planted in full sun, and will bloom from summer to fall.

With any of these shrubs in your yard, your summer landscape can be just as colorful and eye-catching as any spring flowers or autumn foliage.

Grasses With Gusto

Ornamental Grasses lend a unique dimension to any landscape with their texture, sound, motion and architecture. By planting ornamental grasses, you can also add multi-seasonal excitement to your landscape. Either combined with other ornamental plants or featured by themselves in “Grass Gardens,” ornamental grasses are attractive from spring until late fall and often through winter as well.

Choosing Ornamental Grasses

It can be challenging to select the best ornamental grasses for your landscape. Choose from varieties that are short or tall, upright or weeping. Foliage can be bold or fine and comes in colors ranging from green, blue-green, lime-green, gold and red to variegated with horizontal or vertical bands of white or yellow. Flower heads can be showy plumes, fuzzy foxtails or airy particles and appear from mid-summer to fall, depending on variety. Dried flowers and leaves may persist into winter, looking particularly effective against a snowy backdrop.

Depending on the conditions of your landscape and your grass preferences, there are many different types of grasses to try.

Screens Or Barriers

Taller growing varieties such as Plume Grass (Erianthus ravennae) or Giant Miscanthus (Miscanthus floridulus) can be used as effective screens or windbreaks. The wind rushing through their foliage creates added sensations of sound and movement. Even some of the medium-sized growers, such as varieties of Miscanthus sinensis, can enclose a patio or act as a barrier against wind, noise or an undesirable view.


Many ornamental grasses also make excellent specimen plants and can turn a dull corner into a focal point of color and texture. Some of the most dramatic grasses for specimen planting include Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis gracillimus) with its graceful arching vase shaped foliage and pinkish blooms which age to cream, and Porcupine Grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Strictus’) that has upright green and yellow banded stems.


Water gardens and ornamental grasses go together beautifully. A grouping of grasses looks particularly effective at the water’s edge, softening the boundary between land and water. Many grasses such as Miscanthus can tolerate moist conditions, some, like sweet flag (Acorus) and Giant Reed (Arundo donax), can grow in shallow water. Sedges (Carex), which are not true grasses, although similar in appearance, are also moisture-tolerant. Look for varieties with plain, variegated or golden foliage.


Grasses that are groundcover varieties spread by underground stolons rather than forming tight clumps. One such selection is Ribbon Grass (Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’), a fast-spreading green-and-white variegated variety, particularly useful as a groundcover in difficult areas such as slopes or even under trees that cast light shade. Give this one plenty of space! You’ll also want to try green or variegated Liriope and Black Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon).

Beds and Borders

Massed in groups, ornamental grasses are wonderful as a background to, or in combination with, other plantings. Try planting them with perennials such as Black-eyed Susan, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and Veronica ‘Goodness Grows’ or ‘Sunny Border Blue’ for a dynamic summer and fall interest addition to your landscape. Varieties for mass planting include Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum), whose upright delicate flowers are held above leaves that turn reddish in the fall; Korean Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis acutifolia ‘Stricta’) which yields stunning buff-colored plumes over a long period and Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) that sports maroon foxtails which age to cream in late fall. A number of different forms of Fountain Grass are available: ‘Hameln’ is a dwarf variety with creamy foxtails, while ‘Moudry’ has unusual black flowers. For edging beds and borders, plant low-growing Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca). Its steely blue clumps hold their color though winter and contrast well with pink or purple flowers or foliage.

Growing Grasses

Ornamental grasses are relatively easy to grow. A site that receives at least six hours of sun per day is best, although varieties such as Hair Grass (Deschampsia) and variegated Miscanthus (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’) can grow well in as little as four hours of sun. Soil preparation, as with everything you plant, is a must, so work in plenty of organic matter such as peat moss, humus or compost. Fertilize in early spring with 5-10-5 or bone meal, when new growth is starting to show. Clumps should be cut back to within 6″ of the ground at this time, and can be divided if needed.

You’ll love the look ornamental grasses can give your landscape, and these easy-care plants can be effective at many functions in many different types of landscapes. Give them a try today!

Perennials for the Cutting Garden

The classic gardener’s dilemma is whether to cut flowers for enjoyment or leave them to look nice in the garden. Often, removing flowers from the border can make it less attractive and leave an unsightly hole in the overall garden design. The cutting garden solves this problem and allows you to grow many plants that have beautiful cut flowers but are less than lovely in the garden. For example, many varieties of carnations have a tendency to flop with their heavy flower heads. The cutting garden offers an excellent place to hold perennials in reserve until you are ready to plant them in the garden, and it is a great place to practice with new perennials.

Planting Perennials for Cutting

Traditionally, the cutting garden has been basically utilitarian with perennials grown in rows like a vegetable garden. But, by growing enough plants (a minimum of three) of each perennial in your garden, you will have plenty of flowers to make the garden more attractive. Plant the tallest flowers so they don’t shade the shorter ones, and consider more natural curves and groupings in your garden so any missing plants aren’t so obvious.

Perennials for Cut Flowers

Many beautiful perennials are ideal for a cutting garden. While you should choose blooms that will thrive in your climate, soil type and yard conditions, these are popular choices that do well in many different areas…

Achillea Aconitum Allium
Anemone Anthemis Aquilegia
Armeria Asclepias Aster
Astilbe Boltonia Campanula
Catanache Centranthus Chrysanthemum
Convallaria Coreopsis Crocosmia
Delphinium Dianthus Dicentra
Doronicum Echinacea Echinops
Eupatorium Filipendula Ferns
Gaillardia Geum Grasses
Gypsophila Helenium Helianthus
Heliopsis Hemerocallis Heuchera
Hosta Iris Kniphofia
Lavendula Liatris Lillium
Lobelia Lupinus Lysimachia
Lythrum Paeonia Papaver
Penstemon Perovskia Phlox paniculata
Physostegia Platycodon Rudbeckia
Salvia Scabiosa Solidago
Stokesia Thalictrum Trollius

Study different cultivars of each type you are interested in, and don’t forget to include greenery as well as blooms to enliven and fill out your cut bouquets.

Tips to Increase the Lifespan of Cut Perennials

While flowers may last longer in the garden, that doesn’t mean they will immediately wilt once they are cut. To make your cut perennials stay plump and fresh for longer…

  1. Cut flowers in the morning or evening when they are most turgid.
  2. Use a sharp knife or pair of scissors to make a clean cut. Plunge stems into water immediately.
  3. When arranging the flowers, remove any foliage from the base of the stems (no leaves should be underwater). Re-cut stems before putting the flowers in a vase.
  4. Place your arrangements in a cool room out of direct sunlight and change the water daily.
  5. Add Floralife, a preservative, to prolong flowers.

A cutting garden can be a beautiful and practical addition to your yard, and while it may need different care than your other landscaping, it can be just as vibrant.

Bringing Butterflies to the Backyard

In spring, female butterflies will be mostly concerned with finding their species’ specific host plants on which to lay fertilized eggs. Instinctively, they know they must find plants to ensure that their caterpillars will have appropriate food for survival after hatching. Both male and female butterflies will be looking for flowers with nectar for their own survival. And, they will be searching for shelter from rainy or windy weather, a sunny place for basking, and a source of water. Because many natural butterfly habitats in North America are disappearing at an alarming rate, it is becoming increasingly difficult for butterflies to find these necessities of life.

Starting a butterfly garden can be simple and rewarding if you follow these pointers. The most important thing you can do as a gardener is to plant both nectar and host plants in your garden. Providing host plants for caterpillars to feed on, will allow you to watch the metamorphosis from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. So, do not discourage caterpillars. They may make your garden plants look bad but it’s usually only temporary. Most important – do not use pesticides! You may be killing off the very insects you made the garden for. And, you don’t have to have a large area to get a response. Just a few select plants will spur some action. Choose the sunniest spot possible for your butterfly garden. It could be any size or shape; even a short border will work. A combination of woody shrubs, perennials and annual flowers works best, but using just a couple of plants can still yield results. Planting a section of wildflowers is an easy way to cover a problem area and lure some butterflies to your yard. If you don’t have the room for a garden, fuchsia, petunia or impatiens hanging baskets will attract butterflies as well as hummingbirds.

The following is a list of plants that attract butterflies:

Woody shrubs:

  • Glossy Abelia
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Japanese Privet
  • Honeysuckle
  • Weigela
  • Spiraea
  • Lilac
  • Deutzia
  • Trumpet vine


  • Achillea (Yarrow)
  • Butterfly Weed
  • Aster
  • Shasta Daisy
  • Cosmos
  • Carnation
  • Coneflower
  • Joe-Pye weed
  • Sunflower

Annuals and Tender


  • Heliotrope
  • Lantana
  • Rosemary
  • Marigolds
  • Petunias
  • Geraniums
  • Snapdragons
  • Portulaca
  • Zinnias
  • Allysum
  • Fucshia
  • Vinca
  • Dahlia
  • Impatiens
  • Salvia
  • Verbena

Fabulous Hydrangeas for Show-Stopping Summer Color

Hydrangeas and are widely acclaimed for their large, showy blossoms that lend fabulous color to gardens from mid- to late summer. Their luxuriant dark green foliage offers a striking background to their large round or smooth blossoms. All hydrangeas are deciduous, and it’s a sure sign of spring when their tender green leaves begin to appear. Hydrangeas are spectacular when grown as single specimens and are equally fabulous when planted in mixed shrub borders. Some of our favorites…

  • Climbing Hydrangea – An excellent deciduous vine with glossy leaves and cinnamon colored exfoliating stems. White flowers bloom in early July. Easily climbs on masonry, reaching 10-20′ tall.
  • Oakleaf Hydrangea – An upright, irregular shrub that grows 4-6′ tall. Large leaves have excellent fall color. Creamy white flowers in July. Tolerates shade well.
  • Bigleaf (macrophylla) Hydrangea – Blue or pink flower clusters (5-10″ across) appear in August. Flower color depends on the pH of the soil. Acid soils produce blue flowers, whereas alkaline soils produce pink blossoms. In garden settings, their colors can be changed by adding either sulfur or lime, depending on the color you want to achieve. Blossoms are produced on last year’s growth, so prune just after blooming.
  • Pee Gee Hydrangea – A small, low-branched tree that grows 10-15′ and arches under the weight of large flower clusters. White flowers bloom in July, turning pink and then brown with the first frost, holding on through winter. Flowers appear on previous year’s growth, so prune right after flowers start to turn pink.

Mopheads and Lacecaps – Which is Which?

Before you get the urge to dash out and buy the first hydrangeas that catch your eye, it’s wise to learn the difference between “mopheads” and “lacecaps.” As peculiar as these names sound, they truly are the names designated to two cultivar groups of macrophylla hydrangeas, and understanding the difference between them can help you choose the flowers you prefer.

  • Mopheads
    Garden hydrangeas, also known as ‘mopheads,’ feature large round flowerheads resembling pom-poms and bloom from mid- to late summer. Mopheads bloom in solid masses, their clusters often so heavy that they cause their stems to droop and bend with elegant arches.
  • Lacecaps
    Lacecap hydrangeas bear flat round flowerheads with centers of fertile flowers surrounded by outer rings of sterile flowers. The fascinating flowerheads of lacecap hydrangeas are also somewhat reminiscent of pinwheels.

You will be delighted with the versatility of these lovely shrubs, so relax and enjoy their beauty!

Shade Gardening With Perennials

Many gardeners with shady, low-light landscapes mistakenly believe they can’t enjoy beautiful gardens and flowerbeds because of the lack of sunlight. In reality many stunning perennials thrive in shady spots and can bring elegance, color and beauty to what was formerly a drab corner of the yard. Some include stunning foliage, even variegated options or unusual shapes, while others have subtle yet beautiful blooms as well. Some even have dramatic stems and arching branches that can be lovely all year long.

Try some of these shade-loving perennials to brighten up your darker spots, whether they are beneath mature trees, tucked into hidden corners or just in less sunlit areas.

Perennials for Dry Shade…

  • Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)
  • Bleeding Heart (Dicentra ‘Luxuriant’)*
  • Bishop’s Hat (Epimedium perralchicum, pinnatum, pubigerum)*
  • Cranesbill (Geranium maculatum, endressii, nodosum)*
  • Bear’s Foot Hellebore (Helleborus foetidus)*
  • Deadnettle (Lamium maculaturm)*
  • Soloman’s Seal (Polygonatum multiflorum)*

Perennials for Cool, Moist Soils in Shade…

  • Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum)**
  • Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium nipponicum ‘Pictum’)**
  • Japanese Holly Fern (Cyrtomium)**
  • Autumn Fern (Dryopteris erythrosora)**
  • Marginal Shield Fern (Dryopteris marginalis)**
  • Epimedium grandiflorum, warleyense*
  • Lenten Rose (Helleborus viridus, orientalis)*
  • Virginia Bluebell (Mertensia virginica)**
  • Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)**
  • Soft-Shield Fern (Polystichum setiferum ‘Divisilobum’)**
  • Foam Flower (Tiarella cordifolia)*
  • Toad Lily (Tricyrtis formosana)*
  • Toadshade (Trillium sessile, grandiflorum)**
  • Globeflower (Trollius europaeus)*

Perennials Groundcovers in Shade…

  • Bear’s Breech (Acanthus mollis)*
  • Goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria ‘Variegatum’)*
  • European Wild Ginger (Asarum europaeum)*
  • Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)*
  • Variegated Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon ‘Florentinum’)*
  • Dead Nettle (Lamium maculatum ‘Beacon Silver’)*
  • Foam Flower (Tiarella cordifolia)*
  • Dwarf Periwinkle (Vinca minor)*
  • Barren Strawberry (Waldsteinia ternata)*

Climbers for Shady Walls & Fences…

  • Clematis varieties
  • Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei ‘Coloradus’)
  • English Ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Golden Hops (Humulus lupulus)
  • Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica ‘Halliana’)
  • Virginia Creeper (Parthenosis henryana, quinquefolia, tricuspidata)

*light shade
**medium to dense shade

When choosing your shade-loving perennials, be sure to take into consideration the size of the space you’re hoping to fill, the soil quality, moisture levels and whatever sunlight the area does receive. Plant them gently and care for them thoughtfully until the plants are well established and they will thrive. Carefully selected shade perennials will do well in the proper location, and you’ll love the beauty and ease they add to your yard.

Vegetable Gardening Tidbits

Are you ready to make the most of your vegetable garden? Try these tips and tidbits for everything from easier weeding to stopping pests to enjoying a hearty harvest!

  • Reducing Weeds
    Minimize weeds in your garden by covering the soil between planting rows with mulch. Several sheets of moistened newspaper topped with hay or straw works very well, especially if you move your planting areas around a bit from year to year. You can even use carpet scraps placed upside-down. Landscape fabric topped with wood chips or gravel is a good choice if the walkways are permanent. Try to avoid the habit of tilling to remove weeds because this process brings up weed seeds from deeper in the soil and exposes them to the light they need to grow.
  • Increase Tomato and Pepper Production
    Fruiting of your tomatoes and peppers may be improved by applying Epsom salts, which contain sulfur and magnesium. Apply one tablespoon of granules around each transplant, or spray a solution of one tablespoon Epsom salts per gallon of water at transplanting, first flowering and fruit set. You can find Epsom salts at drug and grocery stores.
  • Supporting Tomato Plants
    Set your tomato supports in place before plants get too large. Smaller determinate (bushy) varieties can be supported with small cages, but larger indeterminate (vining) varieties need large cages or tall stakes. Secure cages with stakes so they don’t fall over as plants grow larger and heavier.
  • Growing Larger Tomatoes
    Indeterminate tomato plants, such as ‘Better Boy’, will produce many suckers. A sucker is a new shoot that starts where a branch connects with the main trunk. Removing suckers will decrease the number of fruits produced, but the remaining tomatoes will be larger and will ripen sooner.
  • Ending Blossom End Rot
    To minimize blossom end rot, keep soil evenly moist, apply a layer of mulch to conserve moisture, don’t over-fertilize (especially avoid high-nitrogen fertilizer) and avoid damaging plant roots while cultivating. Blossom end rot shows up as dark sunken spots on the blossom or non-stem end of tomatoes, peppers and squash. It’s caused by a calcium imbalance in the plant. The soil may have adequate calcium, but the plant isn’t able to take up enough to supply the rapidly developing fruit.
  • Stop Slugs and Snails
    Slugs and snails may be deterred with coffee grounds, diatomaceous earth and even sharp gravel. Spread any of these materials in a ring around individual plants. Wrap pots with copper tape to keep slugs from crawling up. Inspect foliage and pick off any insects that have already passed the barriers.
  • Keep Cucumber Beetles at Bay
    Young cucumber, melon and squash plants are easy prey for cucumber beetles. As the seedlings grow, these yellow-striped or spotted beetles emerge to feed on their foliage. The beetles also spread bacterial wilt disease. To control cucumber beetles use a portable vacuum cleaner to suck up them up in early evening, spray beneficial nematodes on the soil or try planting broccoli, calendula, catnip, nasturtium, radish, rue or tansy, which naturally repel these insects. If you want to try marigolds to repel them use the more pungent varieties like African, French or Mexican marigolds. The more common marigolds may actually attract these pests.
  • Plan for Late Summer Harvests
    It’s not too late to sow lettuce, beets, carrots, radishes and other short-season crops for a late summer harvest. Shade lettuce, if possible, during late afternoon to keep young plants cooler, or grow them next to larger plants that provide some shade. You’ll need to water more often on these hot days than you did in spring and early summer, but you can easily extend their growing season for later harvesting.
  • Grow More Tomatoes, Zucchini and Beans
    Harvest tomatoes, zucchini, beans and other fruiting crops frequently to encourage continued production. Don’t allow any fruits that you won’t be harvesting to remain on your plants, because when mature seeds are produced it’s a signal for the plant to slow down fruit production. Instead, consider sharing, selling, preserving or trading extra produce so you can continue to harvest and extend the growing season.
  • When to Harvest Herbs
    Herbs are best harvested just as they are beginning to flower. That’s when they have the highest concentration of essential oils and flavor in their leaves. Harvest entire branches back to within a few inches of the main stem to encourage new, bushy growth.
  • Harvesting and Storing Onions
    Begin harvesting onions when about half to three-quarters of the leaves have died back. Then gently dig or pull the onions and store them in a dry, shady place with good ventilation, such as an outdoor shed or barn, for 10-14 days. After the onions have cured, put them in slatted crates or mesh bags and store them indoors in an area with low humidity and temperatures between 33-45 degrees F.
  • Enjoying Green Tomatoes
    When daytime temperatures no longer rise above 65 degrees F in late summer and early fall, it’s time to pick the green tomatoes. Wrap them individually in newspaper and let them ripen indoors, or try some fried or in other recipes that call for under-ripe tomatoes.

Grow Your Own Grilling Herbs

There’s nothing that tastes more like summer than anything grilled – from a prime cut steak to a juicy chicken breast to all your favorite burgers, bratwurst, and garden veggies. But to bring out the fullest flavor of a grilled menu, you need the very best herbs. Why not grow your own herbs for the richest, freshest flavors right from your garden?

Flavoring with Herbs

Smoking is the most common and familiar flavoring technique for grilling, using different types of wood with subtle notes of maple, hickory, and apple to enhance meat and vegetables. Grilling with herbs can be even tastier and infuses grilled food with rich flavors and earthy freshness. This can also be a very healthy option for seasoning food, as there is no need for heavy sauces filled with salt and preservatives. Different combinations of herbs can also add many different flavor notes to beef, chicken, and fish, as well as creating more flavor depth for all types of vegetables.

Why Grow Your Own Herbs?

Herbs are at their most flavorful with the most seasoning power as soon as they are picked. The oils and flavonoids that add aroma and taste to herbs begin to evaporate and fade as soon as a sprig is snipped, and if you purchase herbs you have no way to know how long ago they were picked before they arrived at a store or farmer’s market and made it to your grill. If you grow your own grilling herbs in containers or right in your garden, however, you can snip, pick, pluck, and chop the herbs just seconds before they’re added to your grill, ensuring the most robust flavor and biggest impact on every dish you grill.

Best Herbs for Grilling

All different herbs can be used while grilling, though hardier plants with stronger flavors are typically preferred because they will stand up to the heat of the grill more easily, giving foods the best infusion of flavor. Popular herbs that are versatile for all types of grilling include:

  • Chives
  • Dill
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme

Choose different varieties of these great grilling herbs or your other favorite herbs to experiment with different subtle flavors, and combine herbs in different ways for amazing flavor profiles.

Grilling with Your Herbs

There are two different ways to grill with fresh herbs. Finely chopped fresh herbs can be sprinkled directly onto coals that have ashed over, and will add subtle aromatic flavors to any food being grilled. For stronger, more direct flavoring or for use in a gas grill without coals, use whole sprigs of herbs to create a mat or bed on the grill’s grate. Place the meat or vegetables directly on the herbs, similar to plank grilling, for direct infusion. To help release the herb flavors even more, soak the sprigs briefly before adding them to the grill for either cooking method.

Indirect heat is best for grilling with herbs, as it will give the meat more time to absorb the subtle flavors of the herbs, and the herbs will not burn or char, which could taint their flavor. Close the lid and allow the herbs to work their magic, and you’ll be rewarded with grilled meats and vegetables that are more amazingly seasoned and flavorful than you could have imagined.

More Flavorful Summer Foods with Herbs

Grilling with herbs can make meat the centerpiece of your summer dining experience, but there are many other ways to use your garden-fresh herbs in tasty dishes to accompany a grilled extravaganza. Add herbs to…

  • Marinades to give meats even more flavoring before they’re grilled.
  • Salads for more flavor notes that pair well with vegetables from your garden.
  • Drinks for a unique flavor profile in summer teas and lemonades.

With so many uses for grilling herbs – both on the grill and off – you’ll want to be sure to add plenty of these flavorful plants to your garden for a full menu of delicious summer options.

Fourth of July Porch Pots

A porch pot can be a beautiful accent to any entryway, and with a bit of patriotic flair, you can easily style a Fourth of July porch pot as a decorative highlight for all your summer festivities. By carefully designing the pot and the plants it showcases, it can burst into festive glory just in time for the holiday.

Beyond the Porch

A porch pot is traditionally an elegant container positioned at the main front entryway, but for summer porch pots it’s fun to look beyond the porch for where to show off your festive container. Where will you be greeting guests and entertaining during the summer months? Any gathering spot can be made more seasonal with the right porch pot, so consider placing one or more pots…

  • In the corners of a deck or patio
  • Spaced along a bare section of fence
  • On stairs leading up to a deck or porch
  • Framing an outdoor kitchen or grill area
  • Accenting a pool surround
  • As an outdoor table centerpiece

Wherever your pots can be seen, they’re sure to add a patriotic bit of color to give a party-like atmosphere to your outdoor living spaces.

Picking the Pot

When choosing a container for a Fourth of July pot, first consider where the pot will be located and choose an appropriate size for that location. Be mindful that the pot will not block walkways or cause a trip hazard on stairs, and be sure it is sturdy enough to hold up the plants you want to showcase.

The pot style can vary, and choosing a pot with patriotic colors can add instant flair to your decorative arrangement. Red, white, or blue pots are always popular choices, or the pot could be painted with a patriotic theme such as stars and stripes. Spattering a white pot with red and blue is a more subtle but festive option, or larger polka dots could be a bold and colorful statement. To honor a military connection, consider a pot with a camouflage pattern, or choose a more demure, understated pot to let the plants be the true stars of the arrangement.

Top Fourth of July Flower Picks

You can add any type of flowers you’d like to a Fourth of July porch pot, but red, white, and blue blooms are always favorites. Fortunately, there are many flower choices that can work into this color palette, including…

  • Red – Petunia, zinnia, verbena, cardinal flower, impatiens, geraniums, nasturtium
  • White – Zinnia, dahlia, geranium, verbena, daisy, petunia, cleome, vinca, snapdragon, impatiens
  • Blue – Agapanthus, clematis, scabiosa, verbena, wishbone flower, lobelia, salvia, ageratum

In addition to bloom colors, you can also consider flower shape and opt for star-shaped blooms such as lilies, pentas, or star jasmine. Tall, flowing grasses with arcing plumes are another elegant option that mimics the gracefulness of fireworks. The round balls of allium and the spikes of salvia are other interesting shapes popular in patriotic displays.

Whichever plants you choose for your pot, remember the thriller-filler-spiller rule of thumb to create a lush, eye-catching arrangement, and it will sure to be a stunning decoration.

Planting Your Pot

Ideally, a Fourth of July porch pot should be planted several weeks before the holiday or any summer event so the plants have a chance to settle and fill in the pot before the celebration. If you’ve chosen a larger pot, add a layer of rocks or a brick or two to the bottom of the pot so it is properly weighted and will be less likely to tip over if accidentally bumped. Choose high quality potting soil to give each plant the proper nourishment, and ideally choose plants that all have similar sunlight and watering needs so they will thrive together.

Summer Porch Pot Care

Once planted, you will need to give your Fourth of July porch pot the proper care so it continues to look its best. Positioning the pot on a moveable stand or casters will help you be sure it has adequate light even as shadows shift from week to week, and rotating the pot will ensure the plants grow evenly. Water the pot appropriately, bearing in mind that smaller pots will need more frequent watering, especially on hot summer days. Fertilizing should not be necessary if you’ve used high quality potting soil, but if needed, fertilize sparingly to avoid burning roots or causing uneven growth. As the plants get taller, stake them if necessary, and protect the pot from sudden summer storms so it is not tipped or flooded.

Decorative Accents for a Fourth of July Porch Pot

It’s easy to add a bit of holiday flair to the pot if you choose decorative stakes with a red, white, and blue theme. Miniature flags are a popular choice, or you can find metallic sprays or faux firework rockets that will add a fun touch to the arrangement. Pinwheels are another great option that add a bit of movement to the pot.

Tying a ribbon around the pot can also add a holiday touch. Choose red, white, or blue ribbons, or opt for a rustic theme with gingham or checked patterns. Gold ribbons can also be a meaningful way to honor military members and deployed troops.

Be creative and fun with decorative accents for your porch pot, and it will be an eye-catching, attractive arrangement and a focal point for all your summer holiday entertaining.