Tag Archive | Gardening

The Fruits of Orchard

by OCMGA Master Gardener Lynne Finch

After moving into our house with fruit trees in the backyard, I envisioned gently dropping ripe fruit into a basket while my smiling children danced around. Seductive aromas would drift from my kitchen as I baked magnificent pies and canned and froze our bounty. That was the dream.

In our first walk-through of our orchard, we saw an apple tree with a five-inch diameter trunk only a few feet away from a young cherry tree. A few steps away stood a pear tree. Nearby grew a plum tree partnered with another apple tree.pear-453828_960_720

These five small trees stood like a wee forest in the equally small backyard behind the kitchen. Even to a new gardener like me, they looked a bit too cozy. The cherry and plum trees were young enough to be transplanted to the big spacious side yard. The other apple tree had to go to make way for our vegetable garden. This gave the pear and apple trees some breathing room.

The cherry and plum staged their annual contest for best springtime bloom with the plum always coming in second. Not only were the plums not tasty, but a nasty winter killed the tree. As for the traditional Christmas dessert, did you know there are no plums in plum pudding?

The cherry tree looked good year round, the bark a smooth purplish-brown. Cherry blossoms in spring ripened like little red ornaments during the summer. The squirrels scampered on the branches, hanging upside down eating until their faces dripped red with juice.

With the abundant fruit on the tree, I filled my basket and started pitting. Alas, for each pit there was at least one worm. Never did make a cherry pie. A few seasons later half the tree died, then the year with no blossoms or buds. Cannot lie about it; we cut down the cherry tree. Sitting in front of the fireplace, the kids would wave glowing branch tips while cherry aroma filled the room.

Now we were down to two fruit trees. The pear tree produced for several years. Each fall I lined up the canned jars in the basement. Then the tree split and lingered a bit, the last year standing forlornly with a few pears dangling on a single branch.

apple-tree-1593216_960_720The lone survivor is a full-size mature apple tree, greeting us each morning through our bedroom window. Each spring the blossoms tell a different story. Many blossoms, few blossoms, early ones, late ones, fast petal drop, slow petal drop.

The trunk is now nearly 20 inches in diameter with strong branches reaching out like fingers on giant hands. My kids climbed in and sat like birds in a nest. Now my grandkids settle in an even bigger nest. A visitor once commented on the great bones of our apple tree. Indeed, it is a magnificent sculpture that spreads itself out to shade our porch.

The apple tree and I continue to travel through the seasons together; blossom time, petal drop and the progression of windfalls that I faithfully pick up. The tree peeks in through the kitchen window as I mix its tart, sweet flavor in pies and applesauce. When all other trees stand bare, the apple tree hangs on to its leaves, determined to be the last one to give up and settle down for the winter ahead.

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Dividing Hostas

by OCMGA Master Gardener Holly Boettcher

HostaThe million-dollar question for serious gardeners is whether it is better to divide your hosta plants in late fall or the early spring. At our vineyard, we have massive perennial gardens which are home to hundreds of hostas. When you see me staring off into space while relaxing in one of the many sitting areas on our property, what I am really doing, is contemplating which hosta need to be divided, and where the gardens will expand into the next season.

From past experience, I have learned it is easier to “wrestle” the plant in early spring, when those tender buds are swelling through the warm spring earth. If I divide at this time, I don’t feel as though I am committing an act of violence against them. BUT, early in the spring, it is difficult to remember what that hosta looked like. You see, I am one of those gardeners who obsess over planting hostas so their colors, variegations, and shapes, will both contrast and compliment those around them.

For that reason, I am with the divide in the fall group! Yes, you will most certainly damage some leaves, and it may seem as though the plant suffered a setback, but in the next season they will “spring back” to put you in awe of the project which you completed.

Here is what you will need to get started:

  • A wheelbarrow, shovel, cutting tool, some organic matter, and water. Start out by assessing which plants need to be divided, then decide where you will plant them. Keep in mind that hosta leaves will scorch in full sun, so be sure to select an area that gets only a few hours of morning sun.
  • Next, dig around and below the hosta being careful not to damage too much of the root system. Lift the entire plant out of the ground and don’t be shy about asking for help if it is too heavy. With a garden hose, rinse as much of the soil from the root system.
  • Now is the time to get tuff. You can take your shovel or cutting tool, and slice all the way through the roots, and divide the plant into one or more sections. If the roots are not too tangled, it is best to pull the sections apart by working with your hands.
  • Next, add the organic matter or compost in the hole and replant one of the sections where you just dug it up. Place the other sections in your wheelbarrow and take to the area you will plant. Dig holes at least twice the size of your root system. Again, add organic matter or compost to the hole, and fill in around the plant.
  • Be sure to water all generously and regularly.Hosta33Another tip when planting is to either plant a “specimen” or in groups of 3 or 5 for an attractive look. If you have room, consider adding some companion plants such as Astilbe, Baptisia, Bleeding heart, Dianthus, or Pulmonaria (lungwort.)Above all, be patient. The hosta may not look very attractive at this time, but after it has had a long winters nap it will emerge in the spring looking as beautiful as ever!

Lucy’s Corner (volume 2)

by OCMGA Master Gardener Lucy Valitchka

In June 2016, we posted a blog from our veggie expert Lucy Valitchka with helpful tips for growing a successful garden. The tips were arranged by month and covered the summer period of June into early August. Now, we’re pleased to be able to present a fall edition to help you put your garden to bed.

darzoves-67558444Autumn in the garden has its own special needs and is as important a time as the busy springtime. For those who planted their garden later, like this writer, there will still be vegetables or fruits to harvest. Here are some guidelines that might be helpful to all. These ideas came from experience, garden columns, Wisconsin Garden Journal Calendar and other sources.

September

  • If not done already, be sure to remove any flowers from melons, squash, pumpkins as they will not reach maturity before frost.
  • Remove flowers from tomatoes after September 1st.
  • Week 4 of September pinch out the growing points at the top of Brussels sprouts stems so bottom sprouts will reach maturity.
  • When onion tops fall over and brown, they are ready to harvest. Dig them and let dry in the sun for a day. Then store on newspaper for a couple weeks in a dry place. After that, remove dried tops and store in mesh bags in a cool, dark, dry place. I hang our onion bags on hooks in our fruit cellar.
  • Herbs should be ready to harvest. I spray the herbs with water to remove any dust, then let dry on layers of newspaper on our basement table. I put a marker by each pile of herbs, so I know the variety. When herbs are completely dry I remove stems and place herbs in small labeled jars.
  • Gather any vegetables or fruits early or late in the day, provided plants aren’t wet.
  • Refrigerate or process as soon as possible. Quality of vegetable or fruits is highest at picking time.
  • Harvest pears when still light green. Separate fruit from branch with slight twisting motion.

October

  • Gather squash, pumpkins and gourds when ripe and before damaged by frost. Leave a 2-inch stem on vegetable for better storage.
  • Harvest late vegetables or fruits. This is a time for apple harvest for us and cider processing at a mill near Elkhart Lake.
  • Rake up apple leaves and fallen fruit to control disease and insect problems next year.
  • Remove all weeds from garden before they go to seed.
  • Grapes should be ready for jelly or maybe a delicious grape pie!
  • Late tomatoes make great salsa.
  • Frosts can come at the end of September or early October. Watch the weather and be sure to harvest all tender crops like beans, tomatoes, peppers etc. before you lose them to frost.
  • Crops such as kale, spinach and Brussels sprouts will actually taste better because of a light frost.
  • Plant garlic in rich, well-drained soil 5 inches apart and 1 to 2 inches deep. Select larger cloves for large bulbs. Break bulbs apart into individual cloves. The end of the clove that was broken from the bulb should be planted down. Cover with 4 to 6 inches of straw mulch.
  • Remove all used plants from garden.
  • Compost plants free of disease potential. Do not compost vine crops and old raspberry canes. That would allow disease and insect pest “carryover” next spring.
  • Burn or dispose of diseased plants.
  • Cut asparagus plants to ground after hard frost and dispose of plants.
  • Sanitize tomato cages. I spray them with hose and then Clorox Clean-Up.
  • We gather fall leaves on lawn with a mulcher mower and deposit on our garden after all plants are out of the garden. Then the leaves are plowed under in the fall to help improve the soil texture. Some people prefer the no till method so mulched leaves could just be left on top of the soil to decompose during the winter.
  • If you have raised beds, apply above techniques accordingly

November

  • Mulch asparagus bed with chopped leaves or straw to protect crowns from frost.
  • Mulch parsnips with a foot of straw or marsh hay for winter protection. Mark rows with stakes.
  • Make sure tools are cleaned and oiled for winter storage.
  • Protect the trunks of young fruit trees against animal damage with wire or plastic rodent guards.
  • Plastic guards may also protect young plants from sun scald.
  • Sit back and take a well deserved rest from garden chores!

 

“If it is true that one of the greatest pleasures of gardening lies in looking forward, then the planning of next year’s beds and borders must be one of the most agreeable occupations in the gardener’s calendar. This should make October and November particularly pleasant months, for then we may begin to clear our borders, to cut down those sodden and untidy stalks, to dig up and increase our plants, and to move them to other positions where they will show up to greater effect. People who are not gardeners always say that the bare beds of winter are uninteresting; gardeners know better, and take even a certain pleasure in the neatness of the newly dug, bare, brown earth.”

—Vita Sackville-West

The Simple Daisy

by OCMGA Master Gardener Vicki Schilleman

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From my garden: Shasta daisies snuggled next to Bee Balm

Other than the dandelion, what is the first flower you remember as a child? Is it a daisy? When we draw flowers, don’t we draw a simple daisy? When imagining a summer field of flowers, isn’t it the daisy we imagine?

Daisies have been around forever and are so often underestimated or overlooked when planning a garden. And yet, you can never have too many low-maintenance blooms! Deer-tolerant and disease-resistant, Shasta daisies should have a home in every garden!

Although we may think of daisies as the simply flower with the white petals, there are many, many cultivars that provide different colors for your garden plans. ‘Banana Cream’ Shasta daisy is easy care, even in the heat of summer. But that’s not the only benefit of this beautiful, long-blooming perennial.

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From my garden: the yellow blooms of ‘Banana Cream’ Shasta daisy among the purple flowers of catmint

Its large 4- to 5-inch flowers are stunning in midsummer. Semidouble, they open pale lemon-yellow — a unique hue for Shasta daisy. In a few days, blooms slowly fade to creamy white. Plants are covered in flowers ranging from shades of pastel yellow and cream.

No matter which stage blooms are in, though, their golden yellow centers are a big draw for butterflies. Snip stems back to a leaf function lower on the plant, so it’s not so noticeable, for long-lasting cut flowers. Two or three weeks later, you should get a slight rebloom, though flowers will be fewer and smaller.

A compact grower that spreads to form neat clumps, ‘Banana Cream’ doesn’t splay open in the middle, like some other Shasta daisies. It has a densely branched habit, for lots of flowers — even on side shoots — and branches are thicker, too, so sturdy stems don’t flop in the rain. Plus, ‘Banana Cream’ won’t give you the same disease problems as older cultivars susceptible to stem rot, leaf spot, or verticillium wilt — it’s green foliage stays good-looking throughout the season.

This Shasta daisy likes a spot in full sun, although it will tolerate some afternoon shade in areas with very hot summers. Because it’s compact, ‘Banana Cream’ works well in containers or at the front to middle of a border. Once established, it doesn’t mind dry soil, but wet soil in winter can kill plants, so be sure to choose a well-drained site. Every two or three years, divide a crowding cluster in early spring to keep plants blooming vigorously.

Wet vs Dry Fertilizer

Dry fertilizers are easier (and quicker) to apply, especially when large areas are involved, and though they are slower to take effect, they last longer. In most gardens, wet fertilizers are used for foliar feeding, sprayed directly on plant leaves for immediate uptake. They produce rapid results, but their action is short-lived.

Dry fertilizers are usually mixed with soil before planting. Later in the season they are used as side dressing, spread in a narrow band about a foot away from growing plants and then scratched in.

Ideally, dry fertilizers break down slowly, providing a steady stream of nutrients with minimal danger of root burn, weak hypergrowth, and other problems caused by too much, too soon. In practice, however, this doesn’t always work out. Dry chemical formulations are highly soluble, and while they are more durable than liquids, they disperse rapidly in warm, wet weather. They can work well, but it is important to use minimum amounts, mix them well with the soil, and keep them away from plant roots.

Most organic amendments, on the other hand, are minimally processed. They must be broken down by weather and soil microbes before the nutrients they contain are available to plants. While there are exceptions, as a general rule these natural products pose none of the dangers of rapid breakdown, and unlike chemical fertilizers, they offer long-term soil-building benefits. But there’s no denying they’re slow to download; you have to plan well ahead.

Aphids – the storm of gardens

This blog post is from botanichka.ru, a Russian garden site. It’s incredibly interesting to me that the same problems occur everywhere — and gardening is truly an international language! This has been translated from Russian so the syntax and grammar may not sound exactly right.

 

Very often in suburban areas aphid damage, many trees and shrubs. Thereby causing irreparable damage to the gardener. This small insect harms not only garden plants but also indoor. It can be seen even with the naked eye. Vegetable, fruit, berry and flower cultures are damaged by various species of aphids. Often, many gardeners do not know how to treat already diseased plants. Let’s see what kind of insects and how to fight it?

Description aphids

Aphids ( Aphididae ) – is insects of the order Heteroptera ( Hemiptera ) ranging from 0.5 to 2 mm. The body is egg-shaped, soft and easily crushed, the legs are long, but the insects are moving slowly. There are wingless and winged birds.

Apterous female oblong-oval long mouthparts, thickened front. Winged insects have two pairs of wings, they fly and infect other plants. Proliferation of the aphids is because only one apterous female fertilization to 10-20 times every two weeks to give progeny 150 larvae.

Adult aphids – small insect green or black. In the middle of summer in some individuals grow wings. Thus, pests move considerable distances to find new sources of food. Aphids lives on buds, stems and the underside of the leaves on the tips of young shoots, preferring fatliquoring branches (tops).

Aphids – exceptionally large group of insects. According to the most conservative estimates it has about 4000 species, of which almost a thousand lives in Europe. Each year, describes all the new types.

Reproduction and air migration

Aphid lays eggs, certain types inherent in a live birth. Most species of aphids multiply over several generations using parthenogenesis. Certain generation is born winged and opposite-sex. In species that change hands, it happens before settling at a new plant or too rapid growth of the colony and the associated overpopulation. Winged individuals are able to travel long distances and create new colonies in new places.

According to new research, birth winged aphids may be caused by the particular aromatic substances, which are released by aphids when they are attacked by the enemy, for example ladybirds. These substances cause warning in the colony of great concern and increased traffic. This creates the effect of overpopulation, which causes a rapid production of winged offspring.

Damage from aphids

The damage to plants, aphids, many people underestimate, but in vain. Aphids are sucking plant sap from the stems and leaves, buds and buds. In the affected plant leaves are twisted, deformed buds and shoots, growth is slowing, the fruits do not ripen. Struck the weakened plants may not survive the winter. In addition to direct damage, aphid transmission of viral diseases on sugary secretions of aphids settled the black sooty fungus (black sooty mildew).

Aphids pierce the veil and sucks the juice plant. In places of mass tissue bites are deformed, and then die. Flowers on peduncles infected do not develop, wither as soon reveal. Sam spike quickly fade. Aphids, like mealybugs, root scale insects, whiteflies, leafhoppers, shitovki, Coccidae, suck out the plant a lot more juice than they need to maintain vitality.

Excess moisture and carbohydrate excreted aphids in the form of sugary secretions called honeydew or honeydew. This sticky sweet liquid covers the plant, making it difficult to breathe. Pad is a good substrate for the development of various fungi. Sooty fungus, e.g., a sheet may cover a continuous layer, reducing the rate of photosynthesis that inhibits the already weakened plants.

External signs of injury

Along with the clearly visible to the naked eye of the defeat aphids insects indicate warped tops of the shoots, twisted leaves and sweet selection (honeydew) on leaves and shoots. Subsequently, these secretions settles sooty fungus. If you see that some ants running around plants, be sure to check for the presence of aphids. Usually attracts ants honeydew that aphids highlights.

For aphids symbiotic ants. Some ants protect ( “shepherd”), aphids and receive from it in return release containing sugar.

Aphids live in large groups on the underside of leaves around growth points, on young shoots, buds, stalks, feeding on plant juices. They are dangerous in that weaken the plant, reduce its resistance to disease, and may also be vectors of viral diseases.

In damaged plant leaves curl and turn yellow, form nodules, buds do not develop or produce ugly flowers. In mature leaves appear sticky plaque, which can settle the fungus. Particularly affected by aphids roses, carnations, fuchsia, many Araceae, vygonochnyh bulb culture.

Many species of aphids can spread plant diseases in the form of viruses and cause the plants a variety of abnormalities, such as the Gauls and gallopodobnye education.

The diet of aphids

Aphids can settle on almost any garden and indoor plants, it is important not to miss the moment and start a fight at the time. Especially attractive to aphids green fruit trees and shrubs, roses, chrysanthemums, many houseplants. For black – beans, garden cornflower, etc.

prevention

Carefully inspect all new plants brought into the house, or bought for the garden and bouquets of fresh flowers – they may already have aphids. Upon detection of the enemy – to urgently take measures to combat it, otherwise it will occupy your plants and the struggle will require you to disproportionate effort.

When it comes to aphids in the garden Put umbrella plants – carrots, dill, fennel, parsley and others. Thus you will attract to the garden tireless eaters of aphids – hover flies. Arrange the flower pots in the garden with wood chips – they can settle earwigs also big fans of aphids for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Attract birds in the garden – arrange for these feeders, bird houses, ruining not found in the garden of the nest, the birds eat aphids in large quantities.

Lavender planted in the rose garden, the green scare aphids.

Thyme (savory), seeded next with legumes, to protect them from the black aphids.

The cherry tree trunks Sow nasturtium – it will attract the black aphids, reducing the load on the tree, in addition to combat aphids on nasturtium easier than on a tree.

Do not overuse chemicals unnecessarily – with the pests you destroy their enemies, hover flies, earwigs, ladybugs, lacewings, riders, ground beetles and predatory bugs.

It is important to a balanced feeding of plants – aphids prefer overfed or weak from lack of nutrients the plant. In addition to regular feedings strong healthy plants should be the right choice growing location, sufficient light and water, good air circulation – all this also is the prevention of the pest. It is important to loosen the soil under the plants, but better – mulch.

Ways to combat aphids

Insecticides against aphids

Aphids fairly easily destroyed by insecticides. Insecticides aphid separated into preparations contact, intestinal and systemic action.

contact action drugs penetrate the insect body surface and kill him. An example is the preparation of such formulations: Fufanon (Malathion)

Preparations intestinal action enter the digestive system of insects, causing his poisoning and death.

The most common combination of drugs produce a contact-intestinal action: Akarin, aktellik, Bankole

Systemic medications penetrate into all cells of the plant, including the fruit, and kept it for 2 to 4 weeks, not washed away by rain and irrigation. Systemic medications have the largest waiting time, easy to use, but the most dangerous. You must be careful to use them. The most advanced system drugs: Akhtar, Biotlin, Tanrek.

Folk remedies against aphids

Decoctions and infusions of herbs against aphids

Effectively act decoctions of herbs and crops, e.g. Dryopteris , wormwood , tansy , tobacco dust , yarrow , hot pepper , dandelion , garlic , onion , foliage of tomato , potato haulm , mustard , rhubarb (from black aphids). Wanted 2-3-fold processing at intervals of 7-10 days.

It is suitable infusion garlic or onion : 30 grams of minced garlic (onion) and 4 grams of soap pour liter of water. If pour houseplant liter of warm water, which dissolve 80 grams of sodium chloride, it is possible to get rid of the aphids, and ticks. Spraying and watering should be carried out at least three times with an interval of 10 days.

You can use the infusion of onion peel , tomato leaves . Treatment should be repeated 3 times at intervals of 8-10 days. When heavily infested by aphids small plants can be omitted in this solution, previously covering the ground. It is also possible around the affected aphids plants put for 2-3 days scented pelargonium, and aphids will disappear.

Pestilent insects are opposed to the infusion of cayenne pepper . 100 g of fresh fruits pour water and boiled for at least an hour in a sealed container liter. Then, insist two days, pepper rubbed, and filter the solution. Spray tenfold concentrate is diluted with water, add a tablespoon to soap powder.

Abundant watering with liquid fertilizer nettle can sometimes expel aphids in a few days. Plants rapidly absorb this nutrient, reinforcing mixture and for this reason in a short time become more resistant to pests.

Celandine harvested during flowering (take the whole plant). 300-400 g or 100 g of fresh chopped dry weight necessary to insist in 1 liter of water is boiled for 24-36 hours or 30 minutes. It also helps by Coccidae and thrips.

Taraxacum officinale (300 grams of ground roots of either 400 g of fresh leaf insist 1-2 hours in 10 liters of warm water (not more than 40 degrees), filter and sprayed.

Tagetis (marigold) at the time of flowering (dry raw material bucket is filled 1/2, poured 10 liters of warm water, insist 2 days, filtered and added to 40 g of soap).

Other teas and infusions

100 grams of dried peels of citrus fruits pour 1 liter of warm water and leave for three days in a warm place. Then spray.

Tobacco and tobacco. 40 g of dry raw insist in 1 liter of water to 2 days, filtered and added to another liter of water.

Also, when a plant aphids are sprayed with a solution of tar of soap (10 g per liter of water) or to settle and the filtered broth wood ash prepared as follows: 300 g of the sieved ash is poured boiling water and put on fire for 30 minutes. Topped up with 10 liters of water before use.

Wood ash. 2 ash glass soaked in 10 l. water, add 50 grams. shaving soap.

Manual assembly

If all the plants appeared a few aphids – remove them with a damp cotton swab.

Of course, at first glance, it seems that destroy these “small parasites” can not be looking at moth aphid plant, hands down immediately, but do not despair so early! For example, my grandmother is struggling with aphids only traditional methods and I want to say, they work!

A Geranium by any other name…

 

by OCMGA Master Gardener Vicki Schilleman

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Geranium ‘Brookside Blue’

When you hear ‘geranium’, I’m guessing you picture the beautiful annuals that are so beloved by northern gardeners. While I, too, love those gorgeous full heads of color all summer long, there is another geranium that I love as much: the ‘hardy geranium’.

Hardy geraniums are distant cousins of the tender plants known as geraniums. The irony is that the hardy plants have technical rights to the name (they belong to the genus Geranium), but it is the tender ones that most people think of when they hear “geranium”.

Technically, the familiar houseplants are not geraniums. They belong to the genus Pelargonium. But the confusion is natural. Both the hardy and tender versions belong to the Geraniaceae family, and they both used to be in the genus Geranium. Then the tender ones got split off into Pelargonium, but people kept right on calling them geraniums.

Pelargoniums were brought to Europe from South Africa early in the seventeenth century. They found immediate favor, but it was their scented leaves and not their flowers that caused the sensation. By the time they came to the U.S., more than a century later, Pelargoniums’ large clusters of bright red, orange, or hot pink flowers had taken center stage, a position they still hold; scented-leaved geranium fans are passionate, but a minority.

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My Cranesbill: ‘Bikova’ clustered at the base of a tree peony

Meanwhile, back in the temperate British and American countrysides, numerous species of native Geranium, known to the populace as cranesbills, were finding their way into gardens. The cranesbills do double-duty, offering beautiful, long-lasting leaves as well as loose umbels of flowers in a wide range of pinks, blues, and purples.

You can usually tell these plants apart by general appearance: the leaves of Pelargonium are thicker than those of true Geranium, their flower stems are stiffer, and though individual flowers are smaller, they tend to be clustered more densely. And if you look closely at the individual flowers, you can usually see a tiny spur on the pelargonium flower stalk (geranium flowers don’t have them).

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Cranesbill ‘Bikova’ in bloom

Color helps too: although both kinds might be white, plants in the genus Geranium come in purples, blues, and blue-tinged reds and pinks; those in Pelargonium may be true red, orange-red, pink, or orange, but they do not sing the blues.

Note: Wild geranium, also known as cranesbill,  (Geranium maculatum) is a hardy perennial excellent for naturalizing, or filling in, under bushes or wherever there is dappled shade or part sun. The American native wildflower, with it’s flat, delicate-looking pink-lavender flowers and deeply notched foliage, is very easy to grow, ultimately reaching between 12 and 18 inches.