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The Art of Bonsai Free Class

Be sure to check out our next FREE class, The Art of Bonsai on Saturday, September 13. For more on Bonsai, plants and more, be sure to check out Dan Kosta's Blog: Dan the Plants Man


Spotlight On: Rudbeckia


Scientific Name: Rudbeckia

Common Name: Black Eyed Susan, Brown Eyed Susan

Plant Type: Perennial

Sun: Sun, Part Sun

Water:  Moderate

Bloom Time:  Mid-Summer through Autumn

Bloom Color: Orange, Yellow, Gold, Red, Bronze, Rust

Height:  1 to 6 feet

Rudbeckia, or black-eyed Susan as they’re more commonly known, are a beautiful perennial that will brighten your garden from mid-summer through the fall.  While they are a common perennial, they should not be overlooked. Planting a mass of these beauties in your garden will ensure a brilliant show come August.

Rudbeckia come in a variety of heights and colors, giving you lots of options on were to plant them.  They can grow anywhere from one to six feet in height, and as long as you have plenty of sun, these natives will do well in your garden. 

No matter the variety, rudbeckia have a daisy-like flower with a dark brown or purple center surrounded by petals in golden hues. They are drought tolerant and disease resistant as well as a great flower for butterfly gardens. Rudbeckia are great cut flowers, usually lasting for three weeks after they are cut.

With their low-maintenance and guaranteed beauty, rudbeckia are a great choice for beginning and veteran gardeners alike.


Spotlight On: Perennial Hisbiscus

Perennial Hibiscus

Scientific Name: Hibiscus

Common Name: Hibiscus

Plant Type: Perennial

Sun: Sun

Water:  Keep moist

Bloom Time:  Mid Summer through Fall

Bloom Color: Pink, Red, White

Height:  3 to 15 feet

When most people hear the word “Hibiscus,” they think of the tropical plant that many people use in their containers and the bright, beautiful colors it has.  There is another variety of hibiscus, that while not as popular, it is just as spectacular.

Perennial hibiscuses are larger plants then their tropical relatives, growing to be as tall as 15 feet.  They have huge blooms, often

six to eight inches in diameter, that may only last a day, but are abundant from mid-summer through the fall. Blooms range in color from pure white to deep red or bicolor.

Much like their tropical relatives, perennial hibiscus should be planted in an area with lots of sun.  They like to be kept in moist soil, but not soaking wet. 

No matter where you plant them in your garden, know that they do not begin to emerge from their dormant winter state until late May or early June.  So while the rest of your garden is getting started, you will have to wait to see your hibiscus until the soil has really warmed up.



Spotlight On: Iresine


Scientific Name: Iresine

Common Name:  Beefsteak Plant. Bloodleaf, Chicken Gizzard

Plant Type: Annual

Sun: Part Sun, Shade, Sun

Water:  Moderate

Foliage Color: Green, Burgundy, Bicolor, Purple

Height: 1 to 3 feet

Iresine, or bloodleaf as many gardener’s call it, is a great accent foliage for almost any container, as well as a great houseplant.  Much like coleus, iresine is known for its brightly colored foliage rather than a flower.

Iresine can be grown in sun or shade containers, and is a great for adding height.  The more sun the iresine gets, the more colorful its leaves will appear. Plants can grow to be anywhere between one to three feet in both height and width depending on the variety.  You can also keep the plant from getting to leggy and the shape fuller by pinching back the iresine plant.

Iresine is an annual in the Midwest, but can be brought in as a houseplant during the winter months.  When you keep iresine as a houseplant, keep the plant in a bright, southern-facing window.  You can tell if it is not getting proper light because it will begin to stretch for light, becoming quite leggy in appearance.  While iresine does not need as much water when it is indoors in the fall and winter months, do not let the soil dry out.

Whether it’s indoors or in your containers, iresine gives a great burst of color without a lot of maintenance.


Spotlight On: Butterfly Bush

Butterfly Bush

Scientific Name: Buddleia

Common Name: Butterfly Bush

Plant Type: Perennial

Sun: Sun

Water:  Moderate

Bloom Time:  Summer

Bloom Color: Blue, Pink, Red, White, Purple

Height:  3 to 10 feet

Butterfly Bushes are a great perennial that brings butterflies and hummingbirds to any garden.  The beautiful flower spikes smell wonderful to both butterflies and people, so everyone can enjoy these plants.

Their arching shape adds a unique look to any garden, with blooms that range in color from blue, pink, red, violet, yellow and white.  The overall size of the bush depends on the variety you purchase.  There are dwarf varieties that grow to be about three feet tall, while larger varieties grow to be ten feet tall.

To grow a healthy plant, find a sunny spot in your yard with moist, well-drained soil. Keep pruning the flowers as they finish blooming, or use them as cut flowers in a vase. 

Butterfly bushes are a perennial in the Midwest, but they can be tender perennials.  To be sure they make it through the winter, spread mulch up to six inches deep at the base of the plant.  The plant will die back but will come back the next spring.