Canna ‘Striata’

 Canna Flower

Common Name: Canna ‘Striata’

Botanical Name: Canna ‘Striata’

Color: Orange flowers; variegated green and white leaf.

Type: Bulb (Rhizome)

Size: 4 to 6 feet tall by 1.5 to 4 feet wide

Soil: Organically rich, well-drained soil

pH: Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

Exposure: Full sun

Bloom Time: July to September

Watering: Medium

Zone: 7 to 10

Origin: Hybrid origin

Use: Back of the border in clumps. Hummingbird fave.

Orange really is the new black! A touch of orange can add value to just about any garden.

Canna ‘Striata’ grows best in moist, organically rich, well-drained soils in full sun. The bulb, actually a rhizome, may be left in the ground for much of North Carolina landscapes, zone 7-10, however, in cooler climates, it is best to lift the rhizomes to overwinter each year. Others grow this beauty as an annual in there NC garden.

Canna ‘Striata’ adds a versatile tropical element to the garden, with bright white and green variegated foliate. The canna is worth growing just for the leaves alone, yet the hummingbirds will find your flowers and, no doubt, supply you with much amusement.

You may know Canna ‘Striata’ as ‘Bengal Tiger’, ‘Pretoria’, or Malawiensis Variegata’. Each of these names are synonymous with Canna ‘Striata’.

Reaching 4-6 feet tall, Canna ‘Striata’, with  10-20 inch long foliage, and orange flowers up to 3 inches across, also works to punctuate the garden with tall, spiky interest, easy to repeat for added rhythm.

Widely available in nurseries in North Carolina, be sure to pick up some Canna ‘Striata’ and pretty-up your landscape this season.

Words by:  Helen Yoest

Sponsored by the North Carolina Nursery and Landscape Associatio






Words by:  Helen Yoest

Sponsored by the North Carolina Nursery and Landscape Association


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Wordless Wednesday — Azalea



Words by:  Helen Yoest

Sponsored by the North Carolina Nursery and Landscape Association


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North Carolina Garden Chores — April

The entire month of April is wrapped in spring. With March madness behind us and the merriment of May ahead, many feel the need to stop and appreciate our gardens in April (or at least we do). The month of April is full of tulips, daffodils, Virginia bluebells, Yoshino cherry and crabapple blossoms, flowering dogwood, candy tuff, azaleas, creeping phlox, and more.

Everyone is a gardener in springtime.

landscape by Gardening with Confidence®
Prune azaleas. The time to prune your azaleas is just after they bloom. If you wait too long, you will cut off next year’s bloom. Same with your forsythia. Prune soon after flowering to shape or manage the size.
Southern MagnoliaEnjoy southern magnolias. It is normal to see a large amount of southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) leaves shedding beginning this month. Some find this messy, but if you leave the magnolia to grow naturally, and not cut the limbs, the leaves will fall within the drip line and hide under the tree’s skirt.In the old days, encouraging southern magnolias to have a ground-touching skirt was helped along by weighing the lower branches down with rope and bricks. A skirt on the tree hides the leaves and makes the tree very stately from the ground up. Once the limbs are cut, there is no going back.
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Plant annual herbs such as basil after the season’s final frost. Biennials such as parsley and perennial herbs such as rosemary, chives, thyme, and mint can all be planted now.
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Plant tomatoes. If you are planning to preserve tomatoes, plant determinate bush types. Determinate tomatoes will fruit and ripen all at once (within a week or so). If you want to enjoy vine-ripened tomatoes all summer through frost, plant indeterminate tomatoes.

WaterWater wisely. Being water wise doesn’t mean never watering. It means watering wisely. Plants need water on a regular basis the first weeks after planting or transplanting, and during development — even those that are drought tolerant.I have my garden beds divided into watering zones: oasis, transitional and xeric.

  • The oasis zone is for thirstier plants; it’s located near a water source.
  • The transitional zone is for plants that need occasional watering, particularly during times of drought, and is located a hose-draggable distance from the water source.
  • The xeric zone is for plants that need no supplemental water. These plants are never watered once they are established.
Employ sustainable practices. A sharpened hoe is your best friend in a sustainable garden. Put your chemicals away and hoe your weeds. It’s good exercise and better for the environment.
PaperwhitesTransplant bulbs. If you forced paper white narcissus indoors over the holidays using a soil-based medium, you can plant it outdoors now for years of enjoyment. If you forced it in the absence of soil, it’s spent — compost it.I know it drives you crazy to see the fading leaves of daffodils; take a deep breath and put those clippers away. Yes, it really is necessary to keep the yellowing foliage as long as possible; the leaves are needed to collect food for next year’s nourishment.
Plant annuals after the frost. Wait until after the last frost before planting tender annuals such as impatiens and petunias. The National Climatic Data Center can help you determine your region’s last frost date. Don’t be in a rush to plant; garden centers often stock summer annuals and tender perennials well before planting time. Know when it’s safe to plant tender annuals.

Watch for mildew. Problems with your landscape impatiens last year? Impatiens downy mildew (Plasmopara obducens) has become a problem for North Carolina gardeners. There have been reports of entire beds dying in weeks. Here’s what to look for:

  • The foliage turns pale green or yellow, and a whitish growth appears on the underside of the leaves.
  • The edges of the leaves will also curl downward.

Sadly, there isn’t much that can be done. The best defense is to stay aware; if you suspect your impatiens are infected, remove them along with all debris in the area. Don’t plant impatiens in that bed again for several years.

Words by:  Helen Yoest

Sponsored by the North Carolina Nursery and Landscape Association



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Wordless Wednesday: Happy Holidays!

Helen Yoest Gardening with Confidence ® amaryllis

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Tulips in containers: advantages!

North Carolina bulbs planting time Helen Yoest Gardening with Confidence ®Nurseries and garden centers in North Carolina are a great resource for tulip bulbs. Planted in the fall, and yes, they can still be planted in December as long as the ground isn’t frozen, they will bring you spring delight. For pennies each, adding tulips bulbs to the garden is a great value!

If you’ve ever shied away from planting tulips because you did want to invest the time digging a bulb that is effectively used as an annual in NC, than container gardening is the perfect solution.

Why not try something different? Plant your Dutch hybrid tulips in pots, instead of in the ground.

Add masses of tulips to each pot. Fill the pots about three quarters full with potting soil, then lay the tulips on the surface with the pointed ends up, and covered with more potting soil to the top of the container.  This allows enough room to plant bulbs at their recommend depth of three times the height of the bulb, or in this case, about six inches deep.

 You can keep the containers where you want them in the spring, or store the planted pots in an area that is less visible until they bloom. Once the blooms opened, move the flower filled pots  to spots in the garden to add a splash of color, creating  wonderful spring displays…without a lot of digging.

Placing your containers close to the entrance of the house (and seen from the street), you will be creating a wow statement, receiving high marks on curb appeal, as well.

Simple, easy, and just as rewarding, if not more so, than if the bulbs were planted in the ground.  So plant up some tulips now and wait for spring to put on her show.

Words by:  Helen Yoest

Sponsored by the North Carolina Nursery and Landscape Association



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Wordless Wednesday: Winter Red holly

Red Holly Gardening with Confidence ® Helen Yoest at Architectural Trees

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December garden chores in North Carolina

Snow on rosemaryDecember can be a quiet time in the garden. Most of us are busy with other things, so the timing is good. But there is much to enjoy, and some tending to take care of. Here is some of what we are doing in our North Carolina gardens and landscape. Remember, too, the NC nurseries are are busting with great winter plants right now and it’s a great time to plant in most of the state.

Indoor plantsRosemary topiaries are widely available now from nurseries, garden centers, big-box stores and grocery stores.

They make an excellent seasonal display, providing fragrance and decor for the tabletop inside or in a container outside.

If kept outside, protect from freezing the first year. Potted rosemary can easily dry out. Keep an eye on this. That shouldn’t be a problem because you will be passing by often for a snip for cooking.

Helen Yoest Gardening with Confidence ® amaryllis Bulbs. Amaryllis abound during the holidays. With colors including whites, strips, reds and pinks, there is sure to be a color to help you celebrate the season.

This spectacular bulb makes an ideal gift. When handling the bulb, be careful not to break fragile roots.

  • Select a pot large enough to allow an inch of potting soil around the sides of the bulb.
  • Plant your amaryllis in potting soil, leaving about an inch of the neck exposed above the soil level.
  • Water well, and place the potted bulb near a window with bright light. In low light, the stalk will grow tall and weak, losing the ability to hold the flower heads without staking.
  • When the flowers fade, treat amaryllis as one of your houseplants.
  • Fertilize monthly with 20-20-20 or similar analysis. Remember, the foliage has to grow to replenish the food reserves in the bulb.

After the treat of frost, you can plant your amaryllis in the garden.

Bird care. Remember the birds through spring. I actually tend to my bird friends year-round — it gives me a great deal of pleasure. They add so much to the garden and to the gardener’s enjoyment.

Be sure to provide a continual supply of seed, suet and water. Did you know that a bird is three times more likely to die from lack of water in the winter than lack of food? Break the ice, if need be.

Pests. Check camellias and other evergreen shrubs for signs of scale insects on the back of the leaves.

Dormant oil spray on the leaves and stems is an effective control.

Pruning. Late December is a good time to prune apple, peach and pear trees. It’s also time to cut back grape vines.

Gardening with Confidence  Red magnoliaDecorating. Deck the halls with boughs of holly.

There is so much to use to add festive natural adornments to your home, both inside and out.

December is a prime time to prune evergreens anyway. Burford, Foster and Nelly Stevens hollies usually have good color on their berries now.

Recut the stems at an angle and insert them in a bucket of warm water for several hours to condition before using.

Boxwood, ligustrum, and aucuba are also excellent for holiday decorating.

Gardening with Confidence ® mantleTrees and shrubs. You still have time to plant trees and shrubs, as long as the ground has not frozen or is not likely to freeze in the next few days.

Mulch your trees and shrubs, being careful to keep it away from the trunks.

Water on a weekly basis in the absence of rain or other precipitation. Planting now allows the roots a chance to develop and withstand the heat of next summer.

Helen Yoest Gardening with Confidence ® winter color winter red hollyWinter color. Add color in your garden with pansies, violas, and other cool-season annuals. Dig and divide spring and summer perennials, and water well before and after dividing.




Words by:  Helen Yoest

Sponsored by the North Carolina Nursery and Landscape Association


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Wordless Wednesday: Broccoli


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Plant Pick: Diospyros kaki, Oriental Persimmon


Common Name: Kaki tree

Botanical Name: Diospyros kaki, Oriental Persimmon

Color: Showy edible fruit, good fall color.

Type: Small fruit tree

Size: 20 to 30 feet by 20 to 30 feet

Soil: Wide range of soil tolerance but prefers moist, sandy, well-drained loams.

pH: Slightly acidic

Exposure: Full sun

Watering: Medium

Zone: 7 to 10

Origin: Kaki is native to India, Burma, China, and Korea, and is widely cultivated in Japan

Use: Medium residential tree with editable fruit.

Have you ever seen a tree in the fall full of pale reddish-orange fruit and wondered what it was? It looks exotic in North Carolina landscapes, even though there are native varieties. In any case, what most likely caught your eye is the persimmon, and what you are curious about is Diospyros kaki, otherwise known as Japanese or Oriental persimmon. This tree is noted not only for its edible fruits but also for its excellent ornamental features.

Oriental persimmon can a conversation piece–when the fruit is ripe for picking, when the foliage turns red in the fall, and even to enjoy the fruit sliced or eaten whole, or the leaves made into tea even.  Fruit is commonly sliced or eaten whole. Flesh may be added to jellies, jams, salads, salsa, ice creams or even pancakes, pies, and syrups.

You might want to consider the placement in an area where the unpicked fruit doesn’t land on the patio or other areas of foot traffic. In that regards, persimmon can be considered a messy tree.

Diospyros kaki, Japanese persimmon is a medium-sized deciduous tree with a rounded, spreading crown and outer branches that may droop, particular when in fruit. Genus name comes from Greek dios (divine) and pyros (wheat or grain) meaning divine fruit.

Trees are usually dioecious (separate male and female trees), but some trees have both male and female flowers and in some cases also some perfect flowers.

There are two types of persimmon fruit based on the fruit astringency: astringent or non-astringent.

The astringent persimmons are sour (astringent) until the become very ripe and soft. Astringency isn’t lost until the fruit is ripened. It’s best to eat astringent persimmons that are either fully ripe or to use for drying.

The non-astringent persimmon are sweet and crunchy. These are best eaten fresh while the fruit is still mature and firm.

Favorites for eating fresh are ‘Wase Fuyu’, ‘Fuyu’, and ‘Fuyu Imoto’.

Favorites for drying are ‘Saijo’, ‘Hachiya’, and ‘Tanenashi’ varieties,

Persimmon Gardening with Confidence


The fruit should be harvested when ripe. Ripeness is determined by the fruit’s color. Take care in handling the fruit since, when ripe, the fruit bruises easily.

After harvest, the fruit may be whole stored for several weeks in a refrigerator. Persimmon fruit can also be stored for longer periods by freezing. They can be stored whole and then used as needed, or processed before freezing, by peeling first, then pureed, and stored into tightly sealed plastic bags or container. It’s good to know, some astringency is lost during the freezing process, so the fruit from astringent varieties, doesn’t need to be fully ripe (softened) prior to freezing for the astringent varieties. But, it is also OK if it is.

There are several other features of the persimmon as ornamental tree with edible fruit, particulary ‘Fuyu Jiro’. During the spring, your persimmon tree will have the most delightful little flowers. Tiny white, bell-shaped blossoms dangling from the branches. In the winter months the ornamental bark puts on a show. The trunk appears as it it’s covered in square or rectangular, dray grey plants. But of course, the persimmon truly shines when its fall harvest begins. The fruit stars out green, but slowly transitions to a deep shade of orangeish-red. During this time, the leaves will transform to yellow, reds, and purples to add to the fall glory.

Check with your local nursery to see what is available in your agree. A persimmon will add value to any North Carolina landscape.

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Wordless Wednesday: Cuphea, the candy corn plant


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