The Three Cs of Summer Gardening:
Coleus, Caladiums & Copper Leaf Plants
(And Thoughts on Fertilizers)
You may have heard of the ABCs, but have you heard of the CCCs of summer gardening? No, this has nothing to do with Clear Channel Communications, which, by the way, is the parent company that GardenLine is broadcast from. Hey, but now that I think about it, I wonder if the suits in Corporate can find a way to market this tip sheet via all off Clear Channel because the three Cs
Hmmm?!?!? Actually, the CCCs I'm talking about are Coleus, Caladiums and Copper Leaf plants.
When I talk to people one-on-one like I did just this past Saturday at Buchanan's over in the Heights, and I get to recommend lots of color alternatives other than the standards of Vincas and Zinnias, I always recommend people check out the option of Coleus, Caladiums and Copper plants. While they are not loaded with flowers, they are packed with color for our landscaping purposes.
I've written about my love for coleus in many of these past email tips. So, if you're new to these tip sheets, please link to these series of past email tips and here is just a sampling of what I've written in the past.
Caladiums were also once only intended for the shade, but how now developed several varieties that can endure full sun as well. The only stand-alone in this discussion of the three Cs, is with Copper Leaf plants. They like full sun as much as possible, and I have yet to find one that works in the shade. But, hey it's summer, and we should be looking for those sun-loving plants anyway.
Meanwhile, I hope to overview how I feed my summer annuals as well in this week's tip sheet, because we had a couple of interesting phone calls and emails regarding why I don't recommend Miracle-Gro. Or put another way, someone was convinced I owned stock in Nelson Color Star which is why I recommend it all the time.
And, from the "oh-by-the-way" department, all these foods I'm about to overview work just fine on Coleus, Caladiums and Copper Leaf plants
Here are some random thoughts on the whole "what-to-feed; what-I-recommend" department:
First off, I do not own stock in Nelson Plant Food, as it is a privately owned company by Dean Nelson and his family out of Bellville, TX.
I like Nelson's Color Star because, it is a slow-release blooming plant, and was the first of its kind. Everyone else has been imitating Color Star since it's inception over 20 years ago.
A slow-release blooming plant food is perfect for the lazy gardener in all of us, because you don't have to feed every couple of weeks. Instead, you feed annuals and/or perennials once every 3-4 months.
Someone did try to introduce a once-a-year fertilizer over a year ago, (actually, it was for 9 months) but I think the economy bit them on the backside, and you don't see hide-nor-hair of them this year.
Fertilizers that come in with a splash of advertising and disappear after one year always worry me. There was a fertilizer called Watch Us Grow that I really did like for years, but I know it has completely disappeared because of corporate in-fighting. The fact that Color Star has been around for over 20 years and as the leader in slow-release blooming plant foods speaks volumes to me.
I have recommended Miracle-Gro for specific use purposes, and I actually think it is a good product. I just don't want to apply it every two weeks as the instructions on the package suggests for my flowering plants that's too much work.
Miracle-Gro has come out with their slow-release blooming plant food in a "shaker" canister. This is good stuff and I recommend it, if it's all you can find. I try to support local businesses first, and Nelson's is local.
But if you are an "attentive" gardener, and you don't mind feeding those flower plants every two weeks, then by all means try Miracle Grow.
However, where folks want to stay more organic, that's where and when I recommend Medina Hasta Gro Liquid Plant Food. It too is a 1-2-1 ratio like Miracle-Gro's 15-30-15, but it's more earth-friendly, and based more in organics; and its ratio is 6-12-6. But this too, can be dropped into a hose-end sprayer, and applied just like Miracle Grow.
I also like both Miracle-Gro and Medina Hasta Gro for Vegetable Gardens, because that IS where you want to apply a light application of liquid fertilizer once every couple of weeks.
Names of other slow-release blooming plant foods:
Nitro Phos Pansy Food
Carl Pool's Colorscapes
Carl Pools' is based out of Dallas, but has really lost its presence in the Houston area in the past 10 years. And while it is just as good as Color Star, and actually less expensive by the pound, it's gotten ridiculously hard to find.
There are "nationally-marketed" products like Osmocote with great reputations, but again, I try to support the local businesses.
Speaking of local, and without naming any names, many independent nurseries and/or garden centers have a slow-release blooming plant food with the name of the nursery on there. Wanna take a guess what company made the food and put the nursery's label on it? If you guessed Nelson's, you would be right.
So, for me, it all comes back to DANCE WITH THE ONE, WHAT BRUNG YA!! I use Color Star because it works, because it was the first, and because it is local!!!
Until next issue, here's to Great Gardening from the GardenLine, heard exclusively, 6-10 a.m. Saturdays and 7-10 a.m. Sundays, only on NewsRadio 740 KTRH.
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