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Jade Plant Leaf Cutting Propagation

Jade plant, jade tree, and money plant, are some of the common names for Crassula ovata. Jade plants are evergreen succulents with thick branches and green, oval leaves. They're one of the easiest succulents to grow, and they are also one of the easiest to propagate. Jade plants can be propagated through cuttings of stems and branches, but jade plant leaf cuttings are easy to propagate as well.

How-to Root Jade Plant cuttings


Garden Picture Book

Recently, a representative from Blurb contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in trying and reviewing the book making service. Since 2012 was the 7th anniversary of the MrBrownThumb I decided to give it a try and make a garden picture book.


Poinsettia in a Can

If you're looking for holiday houseplants there are better options than poinsettias. As much as I dislike poinsettias, I couldn't resist buying this poinsettia in a can when I came across it at the dollar store the other day. Technically, it isn't a gag gift, and there is no poinsettia crammed inside of this can. At least not yet.

Poinsettia in a can


Collecting Wild Blue Violet Seeds

Wild violets may be considered a weed by many, but I like. Unfortunately, they don’t spread in my garden like I wish they would. I know many gardeners battle to eradicate them from their lawns in order to maintain a perfect carpet of grass. It’s unfortunate that wild violets don’t grow a prolifically in my grassy area like they do in my neighbor’s yard. So I collect wild violet seeds and sow them in parts of the garden I want them to grow.

Wild blue violet flowers, Illinois state flower


Coleus "Under the Sea" Hort Couture Collection

I’m a big, big fan of coleus. As far as I’m concerned there is no wrong coleus to grow in the garden. Granted, there are some coleus color combinations I’m not too fond of, but to each their own. I always thought the only way coleus plants could be improved is if they were bread to produce large flowers. Then I was introduced to the “Under the Sea” collection of coleus plants at a garden show a couple of years ago and fell in love with them. This year Hort Couture sent me a box of sample plants to trial in my garden. Below are pictures of the plants from the “Under the Sea” collection that performed well in my garden, and that I’m comfortable recommending to gardeners looking for unusual garden plants.

'Bone Fish'

Coleus Under the Sea 'Bone Fish'


Cool Wave Pansy 'Violet Wing'

If you want to insult a man, call him a pansy. It's one of those words that can be used in mixed company and stings without the need to resort to profanity. But the only man that will take umbrage with being called a pansy is a man who hasn't grown one in a garden before. A man that gardens knows pansies are tough. Pansies are among the few annuals you can plant in your garden in the spring that will take the cold and rain and keep coming back. This year I grew 'Violet Wing' pansies that came in the plant sample box that Ball Horticulture sent out to garden communicators to trial in our gardens.

Cool Wave Violet Wing


Saving Gaillardia Flower Seeds

The annual plant, Gaillardia pulchella--sometimes called Indian blanket, blanket flower, Indian blanket flower or firewheel-- is an herbaceous annual native to the central U.S. It's an extremely easy-to-grow plant in the garden, and just as easy is saving Gaillardia seeds.

Gaillardia red and yellow flower


'Spellbound' Garden Mums

I've never really been a fan of garden mums. I don't have anything against planting mums in the garden, but I've just never been enthusiastic about these fall color providers. I guess I'm just missing the gene that makes gardeners excited about mums this time of year. Earlier this autumn, an unexpected shipment of plants arrived. Inside were these 'Spellbound' garden mums from Raker up in Litchfield, Michigan. 

'Spellbound' garden mums


Saving California Poppy Seeds

Eschscholzia californica, better known as California poppy, is a perennial and annual poppy native to the United States. This poppy is the official state flower of California, and different than Papaver somniferum, which is better known as Opium poppy. While California poppies are just as easy to grow as opium poppies, saving seeds from California poppies is a little bit different.

California poppy flower


How to Save Cockscomb Seeds

If you’re looking for easy-to-grow annuals for your garden, you can’t do better than Celosia cristata. Commonly known as cockscomb or woolflowers the flowers of this tough annual plant resemble the comb of a rooster, hence the name. Saving cockscomb seeds is easy, and I recently learned a new trick for collecting these seeds.

Cockscomb flower, Celosia cristata


Saving Nicotiana Seeds

I can’t say enough positive things about growing Nicotiana plants in the garden. They’re tough plants than can take some heat and drought, several species and hybrid cultivars have some beautiful flowers, and the sweet-scented blooms attract moths and other pollinators. Saving and collecting Nicotiana seeds is really easy.

White Nicotiana flower


Troy-Bilt Battery-Powered Garden Cultivator:Giveaway!

A couple of years ago I reviewed the batter-powered garden trimmer and the TB154E garden cultivator from Troy-Bilt. Both of these garden tools have been a source of great help to me in the garden. In 2012 Troy-Bilt introduced the TBC57 cordless cultivator. A Lithium Ion battery-powered garden cultivator that’s easy to use, easy to assemble, and eliminates the need for gas and extension cords. 


'Black Boy' Bachelor's Button Flower

About 6-7 years ago, during my Gothic gardening phase, I received a packet of seeds labeled ‘Black Boy’ Bachelor’s Button. I put the seeds away in my seed pack keeper bin with the intention to sowing it one day. I love black flowers, but there was something about this flower that nagged me without me truly understanding.

Bachelor's Button 'Black Boy' Centaurea cyanus


'Indigo Rose' Tomato: Another Blue Garden Tomato

If you're a regular reader of this blog you may remember that last year I grew some 'OSU Blue' tomatoes in my container garden. This year I'm growing 'Indigo Rose' tomatoes. 'Indigo Rose' is another blue tomato by the same plant tomato breeders at OSU. You should read the post on 'OSU Blue' if you want to know the history of the tomato and what causes this unique blue color in the tomato fruits.

Indigo Rose Tomato


Calendula 'Zeolights'

I've been content with growing Calendula officinalis in my garden for years. Pot marigold, as it is most commonly known, is a great garden annual that can be grown in a container garden, or in the ground in poor soil. A couple of years ago at a seed trade a friend talked me into picking up some Calendula ‘Zeolights’ seeds. I reluctantly took the seeds and put them away. This spring I decided to give them a try and am now wondering why I didn’t grow ‘Zeolights’ in my garden before. 

Calendula officinalis 'Zeolights'


How to Collect & Save Bachelor's Button Seeds

Since my interest in gardening lead to me collecting and saving seeds that I can distribute through my seed library I've been focusing more and more on old fashioned flowers. The "old lady" garden flowers I would have turned my nose up at a few years ago are now my obsession. Seeds for these flowers are easy to buy, trade, and most importantly: they're easy to save and share with new gardeners. One such flower is Bachelor's Button. Collecting and saving Bachelor's Button seeds is really easy.

Saving and collecting bachelor button seeds


Blossom-end Rot is What's Wrong with Your Tomato Plant

About this time of year I started getting the same question from new gardeners. In particular, new gardeners who are growing their own tomatoes for the first time start to panic when they notice a brown spot start to develop on the bottom of their tomato fruits. "What's wrong with my tomato plant" they all ask after noticing a small,brown spot beginning to form on a tomato fruit. It's blossom-end rot.

Blossom end rot tomatoes. Brown Spot on tomatoes


Petunia 'Black Cherry'

Petunia Debonair 'Black Cherry' is a new introduction from the Ball Horticultural. I believe this black petunia will be widely available next year. I received a few plugs of the 'Black Cherry' petunia this spring from Ball to trial in my garden. As a lover of black plants and flowers I was really excited about trialing another dark blooming plant.

Petunia 'Black Cherry' black petunia


Allium christophii Star of Persia

I've planted several alliums in my garden, but I haven't added any new ornamental onion bulbs in a few years. This spring when I went into the garden to photograph another plant I was met with an allium I didn't plant. The mystery bloom belongs to Allium christophii, commonly known as Star of Persia.

Allium christophii


Plastic Lawn Chair Scrimshaw

A plastic lawn chair isn’t something I thought I would ever feature on this garden blog, but here we are. Ordinarily, these lawn chairs are nothing special. They’re so cheap-both in quality and price- yet they’re found everywhere. Even in the winter they serve a purpose in places like Chicago where we use them to hold parking spots we shoveled out of snow. Captain’s Chair by Michael Dinges is your typical plastic lawn chair that employs scrimshaw and trench art techniques to make a statement.


#TomatoBomb Louisiana


Black Iris Flower

I've written before about this unknown iris that I grow in my garden. It was a mislabeled perennial in a box from Menards a few years ago. I've also shared pictures of it in the past, but I couldn't resist sharing this picture of my "black" iris flowering this spring. Just look at this Gothic-looking beauty for yourself.

Black Iris Flower, Gothic blooms and flowers


'Mahogany Splendor' Hibiscus

I haven't grown a tender or tropical hibiscus in my garden since the year I forgot to bring one in before the first frost and it died. The joy of growing a potted hibiscus all summer long doesn't make up for the stress at the end of the season caused by deciding between attempting to overwinter it inside or composting it. I was pretty sure I was done with non-hardy hibiscuses in my garden until last year when I toured the gardens at Ball Horticulture. I saw what I thought was an amazing Japanese maple from a distance. When I ran up to it I discovered it was a 'Mahogany Splendor' Hibiscus.

'Mahogany Splendor' Hibiscus. Japanese maple-looking hibiscus


Living Wall Planted with Nasturtiums

I love growing nasturtiums, but I had never thought of them as plants that could be used in a living wall. Living walls and vertical gardens are usually planted with low growing plants-primarily succulents-that, to me, don't make me want to go out and install a living wall. Although, this living wall planted with nasturtiums is giving me ideas.

nasturtium living wall Chicago Botanic Garden


'Boxwood' Basil

I've been thinking a lot about basil this spring and wishing I had land to grow a lot of basil. In particular, I really want to grow a knot garden of 'Boxwood' basil and inside the geometric shapes plant dark basil varieties like 'Purple Ruffles' and 'Dark Opal.' I didn't grow the 'Boxwood' basil picture below, it was photographed at the gardens of Ball Horticulture, but all winter I've been revisiting the picture in my computer.


Seed Starting Tips for Beginner Gardeners

Over the past few years, I have amassed a number of posts here about growing from seed that should be helpful to beginner seed starters. While these seed starting tips are aimed at beginners hopefully, they will be of use and interest to more experienced gardeners who may not have done much seed starting in the past. These tips on seed starting cover what items you can repurpose in your home to make seed starting pots, seed germination, and the types of seed staring mixes you can use. If you find that there’s a seed starting question that has not been answered you can leave a comment below or try my seed snatcher search engine which is exclusively devoted to information on seed starting and seed saving.

Organize Your Seeds Before Seed Starting

Seed organizer for seed starting


Macy's Flower Show Goes to Brasil

Earlier today I attended the press preview of the Macy's Flower Show for 2012 at the State Street store in Chicago. This year's flower show is titled Brasil: Gardens in Paradise. In previous year when I've encouraged people to attend the flower show I've been told that it wasn't necessary because they had already seen the pictures on this blog. So I'm only showing a few shots of the show because I want people to see the changes themselves and experience the gardens. Brasil takes you through a tour of gardens in the country's colonial past, arid landscape, lush tropical forest, slum gardens and modern Brazilian gardens.

Toucan topiary Macy's Flower Show State Street


'Purple Ruffles' Basil

The year before last I tried to grow 'Purple Ruffles' basil from Burpee seeds which unfortunately didn't come true. The seeds did produce basil plants-they were just some genetic green basil. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. Last spring I managed to find 'Purple Ruffles' seedlings at a community garden's plant sale and purchased a few.

'Purple Ruffles' basil


How to Sow Small Seeds

The only part of starting my own plants from seeds that brings me any kind of frustration is sowing really tiny seeds. Small seeds are easy enough to handle, but if you're trying to sow seeds that are no bigger than the tip of a pencil and make sure they're distributed evenly across your soil it can be a challenge. If you're having trouble sowing tiny seeds you can use this old gardener trick.

How to sow small seeds


Grandpa Ott's Granddaughter

I love morning glories, but there has always been one morning glory that I've never taken a liking too. Ipomoea purpurea ‘Grandpa Ott’s’ is a ubiquitous morning glory. When I started trading seeds online it was always offered, and even as a SASE seed trade you couldn't get me to take any of its seeds. I’ve always been partial to the Japanese morning glories and the more dramatic ones like ‘Sunrise Serenade.’ I guess I’m a morning glory snob.

morning glory seed pods


Grow Lights for Indoor Seed Starting

One of the most popular seed starting questions I get from people interesting in growing from seed is whether they need grow lights when starting seeds indoors. The answer to that question depends on several factors. How many seeds are you trying to start? How much money can you invest in buying grow lights? Do you have any south-facing windows? Is your season long enough for direct seed sowing in the garden? The way I see it, buying grow lights for indoor seed starting is a luxury, not a necessity.

Grow Lights for Indoor Seed Starting


Amaryllis cybister 'Chico'

I was gifted a bulb labeled as Amaryllis cybister ‘Chico’ this year. As I’ve mentioned before, amaryllis, the name I prefer, is technically incorrect. The proper name for an amaryllis bulb is Hippeastrum. So, the proper name of Amaryllis cybister ‘Chico’ is H. cybister ‘Chico.’ There is some debate online about whether or not H. cybister ‘Chico’ is a hybrid produced by the late Fred Meyer, or just a selected clone of the species H. cybister. Honestly, after reading various websites, forums and blogs-I have no idea.  Each source sways me in a different direction. What I do know is that it is the tiniest and most exotic of all the Hippeastrums I’ve ever grown myself.  I can understand why it is sometimes called a “Spider Amaryllis.”

Amaryllis Cybister 'Chico'flowering


The Pathogen in your Poinsettia

Guest post: Kathie Hodge is a mycology professor in Cornell University's Dept. of Plant Pathology. She likes fungi best, and writes about them at the Cornell Mushroom Blog.

Poinsettia production greenhouse 


What Does "P.V.P" on Seed Packets Mean?

I love seed packets almost as much as I love the seeds inside. Sometimes I purchase a seed packet just because I like the photo or seed packet design and I have no intention of ever growing the seeds. My seed keeping bin is stuffed with old seed packs of some seeds I've sown and packs that are there just as curios. Take, for example, this seed packet for ‘Lumina’ pumpkin. In the upper-right corner of the seed pack you’ll note that “P.V.P” is printed on the seed packet next to the name.

Lumina pumpkin seeds. What does P.V.P on seed packs mean?


Give Seeds Instead of Roses This Valentine's Day

In Radical Gardening author George McKay quotes a Colombian activists as saying, “Behind every beautiful flower is a death. Flowers grow beautiful while women wither away.” She is speaking to western buyers on behalf of the 40,000 women that work in the Colombian cut flower trade. According to this CNN article, the United States imports more than 80% of its Valentine's Day roses. Most of them imported from Columbia and Ecuador. In the language of flowers, roses symbolize love and passion. The gifting of roses on Valentine’s Day will probably lead to many Valentine’s Day babies nine months from now, but will anyone involved in the ritual stop and think of the women withering away behind every stem rose? Giving seeds for plants that symbolize love and romance is a way to participate in Valentine’s Day that is slightly more sustainable and will create a connection to nature that will last longer than a week.*

Giving Seeds on Valentine's Day instead of roses


Miniature Gardening is a Real Trend

Recently there's been a lot of talk about garden trends for 2012. While I find that many of those trends are more like people trying to make fetch happen, the talk about miniature gardening is the real deal. Back in November of 2011 I wrote about fairy gardening bringing miniature plants back in style. Since then I've seen examples of miniature and fairy gardens on television, print and on the Internet. Take this photo for example.

Miniature garden in a broken pot
Photo Copyright Reddit user, wwjdforaklondikebar. Used with permission. 


The Seed Sharer

I'm always looking for ways to store seeds I saved from my garden and creative ways to share seeds with other people. When I see a product my mind automatically finds a way that I can put it to use saving and storing seeds. The seed organizer made from a plastic shoe box is one example. Another would be the pocket seed banks made from candy tins. When I saw this container of candy sprinkles for baking I thought it would be a great way to make a gift of some seeds from my garden. After removing all the sprinkles The Seed Sharer was born.


The Real Gardens of Downton Abbey

Back in October You Grow Girl posted about some issues of Garden News a friend had brought her after a recent visit to England. I commented on the post after visiting the link to GardenNews, a weekly newspaper about gardening, that I wished I was in England because the next issues were about “The Real Gardens of Downton Abbey,” and being a superfan of the show I was really interested in reading them. The next day I awoke to an Email. It was Lindsey Holmes, Editorial Assistant at Bauer Media, which publishes Garden News, asking for my address so she could send me the issues.

The Real Gardens of Downton Abbey