Sunday, May 27, 2012

It's About Time!!

Time. Nobody ever has enough of it. It passes by quickly, we waste it, and it waits on no one. I joke all the time that if I only had 36 hour days and 10 day weeks, I could get more done, but alas, I would just fill that in too.
Mother Nature gives us different plants that, although we named them, shows us different aspects of time.
Let's start off right at the beginning of the day with, The Morning Glory.

Botanically it is Ipomoea purpurea. They are considered an annual, which means you have to re-plant them every year because they die. Even as I sit in my quiet living room I can hear all my Master Gardener friends screaming....DON'T PLANT THEM! They are considered invasive. Even though they are an annual and die back, they will reseed themselves prolifically.
It simply can not be easier to grow these though, and I am sure everybody that has had a grandmother remembers her growing them. Requirements are full sun, well draining soil, moist, not wet soil, and something for them to grow up, on and over. They will easily reach 10-15 feet in a single season. They come in White as well as hues of Red, Pink, Purple, and of course Blue. There are stripped ones available also.
Here are a couple of tips so that you can enjoy these beauties and not have them take over your neighborhood.
Grow them in a container:

This can be done with a very large pot and a large Tomato cage or any kind of trellis like structure. You will have to keep the vines trimmed back so it does not grab any small children.
While on the subject of cutting, you will also want to cut off the seed pods after the flower has expired, this will save you from pulling the volunteers out of everything.
Ripe and unripe seeds will look like this:

Okay, you have your morning off to a pretty good start. Now Mother Nature has something waiting for you when you get home in the afternoon, namely the Four O'clock. Hey, it's four o'clock somewhere.

Mirabilis jalapa if you want to be scientific. As you can see these also come in an amazing array of colors, White, Red, Yellow, Pink, Splotched, Stripped, and on and on. Here again those voices in my head are screaming at me as these too can be considered invasive if not kept in check. Their habit of opening in the late afternoon and staying open all night is what has given them their name. Grown as an annual, though, with the way they can reseed themselves it is almost considered a perennial. Full sun, moist soil and just about any type of soil, clay, sandy, etc. They are fast growers, reaching 2-4 feet in a single season. They hybridize very easily and you may never know what color you will get if you save the seeds. They are large and black and usually hidden down in the throat of where the flower use to be.

Many times you will have both ripe seed and flowers on the same plant.
Okay, you might be home all day, weekend, off from work, whatever. You enjoyed the Morning Glory but didn't want to wait until late afternoon to enjoy the 4 O'clock. Not to worry, Mother Nature has you covered with....The Day Lily.

This is a perennial (comes back every year) and botanically known as Hemerocallis spp. The spp. stands for species, there are SO many of these things that it is easier to list like that. There are literally thousands of registered cultivars, which means there are thousands of colors and sizes to choose from. The colors range from Yellow, Orange, Pale Pink, to vibrant Reds, Purples, Lavenders, Greenish tones, near-Black, near-White, and more.
This plant received it's name because, typically, the flower only lasts 24 hours. When planted in mass you would hardly notice that you are seeing a different flower everyday. Depending on exactly what kind you have, they can grow from Zone 1 all the way to Zone 11. Some reaching a height of up to 4 feet, they will grow in practically any soil type. Full sun, or light shade it can tolerate moist soils and drought conditions. They will, of course, produce more flowers given optimum growing conditions. Division of clumps in the late Winter or early Spring is the best way to propagate them.
Lastly, on the topic of time for Mother Nature, there is a plant that is really for the LONG term thinking....namely, The Century Plant.

Agave americana, mostly found in the Southwestern United States and Mexico, it does well in Zones 8-11. This plant is actually kind of named incorrectly, it doesn't really take a century to bloom, but it does take 10 years or so in warm regions and as much as 60 years in colder climates. Once the plant flowers it dies, but there are usually many baby plants, called pups, around the base to continue the heritage.
They grow in sandy, well draining soil, full sun. These things are desert plants, once established they are extremely drought tolerant.
Century Plants are almost evil. The leaves get up to 6' long and 10" wide, and have sharp spines on the edge and tips. The side spines are recurved like fishhooks and the tip spines can be more than an inch long. When it does come time to flower, there is nothing more spectacular when it comes to shear size. The flower stalk can be anywhere from 20-40 feet in the air, with 3-4 inch yellow green flowers in clumps. Imagine the talk of your neighbors if you had this in your yard:

Well, I hope you have enjoyed your time with me on this very timely subject. Like sand through the hour glass, the seconds are slipping away and I must run, like I said at the beginning, Time waits for no one!
Happy Growing!


  1. What a great blog Darren. I knew about Morning Glory's and Day Lilies, but had no clue about the Four O'Clocks...they are beautiful! Thanks for educating me =).

  2. I have a question about morning glories... I planted some 2 years ago (I love them and how they reseed themselves)...and while the vine grew, after the first year they NEVER flowered again!!! Do you know why this might have happened?


  3. I absolutely love the morning glory. My husband, however, grew up on a farm and still looks on them with disdain. No matter. They look pretty climbing up my trellis...and over the garden rail...and out in the grass...and around the mailbox...

  4. I came from Blog Train. Nice blog! I love the morning glory pictures. I need to get mine growing. They're like our honeysuckle - easy to maintain as long as you prune it a couple times every season. I'll be following you.