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Flowers & Bees Communicate In Electric New Ways

Bumblebee ElectricityWe all know how bees use flowers to collect pollen for food and sustenance. You might even be aware of how bees see ultraviolet light, color and shape to determine different types of flowers. But, there’s more to pollination than just sight and smell — according to a very new study conducted by the University of Bristol and published in the journal Science, flowers actually communicate with bees through electric fields!

“This is a big finding,” says Daniel Robert, who led the study. “Nobody had postulated the idea that bees could be sensitive to the electric field of a flower.”

Flowers and plants tend to possess negative charges and are electrically connected to the ground, allowing them to conduct electricity very slowly. Bees, on the other hand, have a positive electrical charge because they fly in air. When the two connect, sparks may not fly, but pollen sure does. “We found some videos showing that pollen literally jumps from the flower to the bee, as the bee approaches… even before it has landed,” says Robert.

Now the electric side of pollination isn’t exactly new, as far back as the 1970s, botanists suggested that electric forces enhance the attraction between pollen and pollinators. But it wasn’t until now that we started asking the right questions, “Does the bee know anything about this process?”

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What Is This Red Lily Found In Tulsa OK?

Ask the Expert: What is the name of this flower (attached)
It was in a flower bed in Tulsa, OK   –  Barb
Red Spider Lily

Creating A Butterfly Garden With Your Local Florist

Attract Butterflies With A Butterfly GardenLast week, while our team members were at the Florida State Florists’ Association Design Summit, they took a detour to visit one of our great member florist, Tim Ryan of Botaniq in Santa Rosa Beach Florida. Tim was in the middle of teaching a Butterfly Garden Workshop right there at his flower shop! You might be surprised at all the things local florists are doing these days to bring back the love of flowers in their community.

This isn’t Tim’s first workshop, he’s done: fresh cut flower arranging, orchid gardens, terrariums and more! Guests get together and learn what it takes to create a beautiful floral designs and gardens, as well as the techniques it takes to take care of them all. For the butterfly garden, guests will put together a beautiful planter filled with tasty plants for butterflies. Tim shows his workshop guests how to take their planter to the next level by adding river cane as a trellis. A simple technique that adds big impact!

So, watch Tim in action as he hosts his workshop in the video below!
[Read more…]

Garden Reminder: It’s Spring Bulb Planting Time

Fall Is The Time To Plant Your Spring Bulbs

As we move into the cooler seasons of winter and fall, we all will miss the beauty of nature’s colorful canvas, painting our landscapes and gardens. Yes, flowers will be gone soon, but by acting now, you can ensure your garden flowers will be first to show their flashy heads next spring!

So this is a reminder for those of you looking to enhance your garden for 2012 or are just starting from scratch, now is the time to get to planting your spring bulb plants. These include: daffodils, hyacinths, crocuses, and many more! To learn more about bulb flowers, check out our article about planting spring bulbs.

Of course, colder months don’t have to be totally bleak. Order a cheery bouquet of colorful flowers from your favorite florist to enjoy inside while we wait for our bulbs to spring up next year!

If you have any questions, don’t forget our wonderful Ask The Plant Expert resource.


Spruce Up Your Spring: It’s Bulb-Planting Season!

Now’s the time to spruce up your spring! If you want more spring color in your garden, plant spring bulbs today! It may sound strange… planting in fall for spring flowers, but bulbous plants need the winter dormant season to grow roots to support their big, beautiful blooms in the spring.

Popular Bulbs For Spring:

  • Daffodils
  • Hyacinths
  • Crocus
  • Ornamental Alliums
  • Tulips
  • Grape Hyacinths
  • Amaryllis
  • Fritillaria
  • Scilla

There are lots of other spring bulbs that you could also plant, but these are the most popular and available ones. Select bulbs that are firm and free of mold. Generally the bigger the bulb, the bigger the flowers.

The best time to plant bulbs is just before the first frost, or just before you know it’s going to turn cold. This really depends on the climate zone you live in and can be different for different plants. Check with your local nursery or garden center for exact planting times for your specific location.

Planting Spring Bulbs

When planting spring bulbs, make sure you have carefully chosen your planting location. Consider the needs of your plants: full or partial sun? (Tip: Remember, for early spring bloomers, your trees will still be bare and you may have more sun than you have now.)

Select rich, well-drained soil for your new bulbs. You will need to talk to your garden center or nursery about the exactly planting requirements for your bulbs, but as a general rule, a depth of about 2-3 times the width of your bulb will suffice.

Add fertilizer into the bottom of your hole and mix it in with the returning soil. Be sure to plant your bulb with the roots down. Push on your soil to ensure the bulb is firmly in place and that there are no air pockets. Water thoroughly. Plant your bulbs the recommended distances from each other to allow them enough room to grow.

Tip: If you live in an area where the temperature regularly drops below zero, pile a layer of mulch on top, about a foot high. Then, in the spring, remove this layer. Otherwise, spring flowers are fairly hardy and can take regularly cold, winter temperatures.

Planting Indoor Spring Bulbs

If you can’t wait until spring for a dose spring color, plant amaryllis or paperwhite daffodils in containers now! Both are great, blooming plants for indoors. Select a decorative container and cover your bulbs about half way with soil. Keep them watered and soon you will see tiny shoots of green peeping out of the top of the bulb and will have gorgeous blooms by Christmas! (*fingers crossed*)

Planting bulbs differs from location to location. Before planting your bulbs, consult your local garden store or nursery for exact planting instructions.

This post is brought to you by local Cedar Rapids Iowa florists.
Not in Cedar Rapids? Use Flower Shop Network’s handy directory of real local florists to find a florist near you.

Vibrant Garden Decor Ideas!

Spruce Up Your Garden

After scouring the internet for new trends this spring in garden decor, I found an awesome trend forming that I simply could not ignore!


Do you have a bare and bland wall or fence in your garden? You are in luck! People all over the nation are beginning to spruce up their gardens with a few tricks!  Take that fence from bland to beautiful with only a few steps!

Go to your local nursery or home and garden store and pick up a few terra-cotta pots, flowers/plants of your choice, and a few pot hangers that can mount onto your wall or fence. After you come home with these the ideas or limitless, you can spray paint designs onto your new pots, or leave them all natural.  Place them on your wall and fence in a stylish manner to create a more inviting feel to your garden.

For the artist’s garden—take your wall and fence and paint a mural or design that blends with your garden.  You can even incorporate the pot hanging idea into your art design! Either way, these quirky and fun fences and walls provide an element of surprise and beauty to any garden.

Be lavish or be simple, the choice is your’s—express yourself in your garden and be sure to show it off to all your friends!

Find a local garden nursery or a local garden supply store near you and get started today on your stylish garden! Who knows maybe we will see you in the next Home & Garden Magazine!

This blog is sponsored by The Flower Shop Network: Find A Local Florist Near You!

January Gardening For Beginners


I have been fascinated by flowers and gardening since I was little. My great grandmother used to have enormous flowerbeds and vegetable gardens; some of my fondest memories are of helping her with them. Now that I’m all grown up (24!) I want to reconnect with this lost love of mine. I am a designer and normally stay indoors and within 25ft of a computer at all times. I plan to break that bad habit and really give gardening my all this summer. Each month I will be writing a new installment of happenings in my garden. Hopefully it will inspire you as well, because if I can do it.. you can too!


1. Test soil and get results.

2. Began construction on backyard compost. (video how-to)

3. Finish broad garden calendar

While researching the various plants, flowers, and vegetables to see what I wanted to plant, I saw the interesting and creative uses for herbs. I fell in love with the idea of making my own potpourri, face masks and skin care creams, and herbal teas. Not to mention the vast culinary uses!

My plan is to grow mostly herbs in my garden and use them to make many fun crafts and foods. I will be posting all of the recipes that I find/use. (as well as the not-so-successful stories that I’m sure will happen) I will also be posting video and pictures along the way! I would LOVE it if our subscribers joined in the fun with their own garden images and stories. Leave us a comment (below) and let us know what you think! This is a little bit different than our normal posts here at the Bloomin’ Blog but we think it will be a lot of fun! Subscribe to our RSS or bookmark us for later by hitting CTRL+D. I can’t wait to see the garden in all it’s glory!

The winter weather in Northeast Arkansas, where I live, is still too cold to start any major changes to my garden just yet. Here is what’s going on so far:

Quick and Easy Cardboard Mulch

Cardboard GardeningI have read a lot about cardboard mulching and began the process in late October. It is a great way to begin gardening with very little effort. Laying a layer of cardboard and mulch down before winter helps in many ways. (1) Kills all grass and weeds (2)Keeps the ground from freezing worms tend to migrate to the area (3) Enriches the soil

1. Lay down large sheets of cardboard over the area you plan to garden. Make sure the layers overlap to block out the sun and keep weeds from germinating.

2. Water the cardboard thoroughly.

3. Lay down a layer of mulch.

That’s it! At least I hope. It’s a bit of an experiment. I began this in October of last year and I am planning to test the soil regularly to see how this process works for me. I’ve read several positive articles on this process so I think it will have good results. I have also put old flowers on top of my mulch for extra nutrients.

Testing The Soil

Picture of SoilPlanning early can be a (plant) life saver! Most plants can grow in a variety of pH levels, however it’s a good idea to test your soil to know exactly what you’re working with. Test your soil now to see if it is ready to grow plants. The soil in our area contains a lot of clay which tends to be towards the acidic side. Clay is the most nutritious of the soil types (Sand, Silt, and Clay) but binds the roots of the plant with its density and keeps them from expanding their roots. By finding out your soil composition now you have time to correct this before its time to plant.

To test the soil, contact your local gardening center to find out where to get a soil testing kit in your area. Most of the time you can get one from them. Follow the instructions and send it in to your Cooperative Extension Service which will test your soil and send you a reading. The reading can be tricky so take it to your local garden center and let them help you. Because they are local gardeners too, they will know exactly what you need to correct your soil and have it ready for planting!

Garden Calendar

Now is a great time to fill out a garden calendar. It doesn’t have to be incredibly detailed but have all of your major events planned out. Our state extension service’s department of agriculture website has a wonderful monthly gardening calendar that lets you generally know what to do each month. Google can help find the something similar in your area. Use broad planning for now. Mark your calendar to buy your plants in March and plant early April or the appropriate dates for your zone. Just use a highlighter to remind yourself.

If you know what plants you are going to grow, look for instructions on when to plant and jot those down on your calendar. I plan on having my (mostly) detailed calendar done by next update. Stay tuned!

What to expect next month

Soil test results and explanation

Video how-to on backyard compost creation

Detailed garden calendar example

Got The Blues? Check Out These Blue Flowers

Himalyan Blue Poppy courtesy of istock photo

courtesy of istock photo

Adding cool blue to your garden lends a feeling of calmness and restfulness. Because there are so few flowers that are truly blue, this color is most coveted by gardeners. One of the most beautiful blue flowers in the world is the Blue Himalayan poppy (Meconopsis betonicifolia). I haven’t tried to grow them because they are temperamental and quite a challenge to grow in hotter areas, such as my Zone 7. The sight of a cluster of Blue Himalayan poppies blowing in the breeze will make you sigh.


Introduce lovely old-fashioned ‘Nikko Blue’ or ‘Blue Wave’ hydrangea to your garden as a foundation plant. Hydrangeas have the ability to change color based on the alkalinity of the soil. That means even the lovely ‘Nikko Blue’ has a chance at blooming pink instead of blue! The bloom colors will be pink in alkaline soil. In more acidic soil (5.2-5.5ph), the bloom colors are blue. To ensure that stunning blue hue, you need to manipulate your soil’s pH level and mineral content. This must be done several times during the growing season. You can lower the pH by watering with 2 tbsp of aluminum sulfate per gallon of water. The results are well worth the extra effort!

delphiniumConsider the enchanting Delphinium (also known as Larkspur). Delphinium derives its genus’ name from the Greek word for “dolphin” and is suggested by the shape of a gland in the blossoms that secretes nectar.  Delphiniums make wonderful long-lasting cut flowers and bloom in red, blue and yellow, as well as blended varieties. They prefer cool, moist places and bloom in late spring. Often growing six to eight feet tall, there are some dwarf varieties that top out at just two feet in height. They grow best in full sun, but will tolerate partial shade, and need staking to keep the stems upright. Keep the soil moist to feed quick growth and add a general purpose fertilizer once a month until they have bloomed.

loveinamistThe ethereal, light and airy Love-in-a-Mist (Nigella damascena) is a beautiful Victorian garden annual blooming in soft shades of blue, pink, white, and lavender. This annual herbaceous plant is in the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae), readily self-seeds, and is common in old-fashioned cottage gardens. It grows in full sun to partial shade and blooms from late spring through fall. Nigella is short-lived, so for continuous bloom, repeat sowing every four weeks. You can cut and deadhead this plant to keep it flowering longer.

grape-hyacinthIt just wouldn’t be spring without masses of tiny Grape Hyacinths (Muscari) planted as bulbs in swaths throughout your garden. Growing no more than 10 inches tall, the tight conical heads of tiny round flowers do look like clusters of grapes. Blue is a predominant color but they also come in pale ice blue, white and yellow. Muscari, a member of the Lily family, are quite prolific, making them perfect for naturalizing. Look for the popular ‘Heavenly Blue’, bright blue ‘Dark Eyes’, mid-blue ‘Cote d’Azur’,  sky blue ‘Valerie Finnis’, and the frosty ‘Blue Spike’.  I  have the double-flowered ‘Fantasy Creation’ variety in my garden—their flower heads look like clusters of blue broccoli! Easy to grow in full sun to part shade in zones 3-9 and low-maintenance—what’s not to love about these little blue jewels?

spring-starflowerStar-shaped, pale blue Spring Starflower (Ipheion uniflorum), with grass-like foliage is a spring perennial grown from bulbs and is very long-blooming (3-5 weeks). This plant naturalizes very swiftly, spreading by self-seeding and from bulb offsets. Often used in rock gardens and woodland gardens, they grow just 4-5 inches tall, and are perennials in Zones 6 to 7 (with mulching to protect from frost) and in Zones 8 to 9 without mulching. They can be grown in full sun to part shade, require medium watering, and are low maintenance.

morning-glory-1In my humble opinion, a garden without ‘Heavenly Blue’ Morning Glories (Ipomoea tricolor) is incomplete. Their fleeting beauty will take your breath away. These vigorous climbers are grown from seed and will cover a trellis or wall in just one season- growing up to 20 feet and blooming prolifically. One year, I counted over 300 blooms on the vines that covered my front wall! An herbaceous annual twining vine, it will reach out in a clockwise direction and take hold of anything near it. The 4-5″ trumphet-shaped flowers come in a variety of other colors, including reds, pinks and purples—but there’s nothing more heavenly than the classic  ‘Heavenly Blue’ variety.

bluebellsThe buds of the herbaceous perennial Virginia Bluebell (Mertensia virginica), a member of the Borage family, begin as a pinkish shade and transform into pale blue-violet colored, trumphet-shaped flowers as they mature. Blooming in mid-to-late spring, they can be found growing en masse in moist woodland areas in partial to full shade. Plant them with hostas and ferns as companion plants.

blue-eyed-grassBest planted in large groups for maximum visual impact, Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium), a member of the Iris family, is a late spring-blooming perennial with very tiny (less than 1/2 inch!) iris-like blue flowers with yellow centers. Blue-eyed Grass does well in moist areas with some sun, and if happy in its spot, will spread to form stands. Its diminutive size makes it great for adding a grasslike addition to a small garden where ornamental grass would be overwhelming.

brookside-blue-hardy-geraniumThis Hardy Geranium (Geranium ‘Brookside’ cultivar), also known as Cranesbill, is a deciduous, herbaceous perennial that forms a neat mound that is about 18″ high and wide. Flowering begins in spring. If you cut it back after flowering, it should bloom again in the summer. It makes a great filler for mixed borders or full-sun perennial beds and grows well in containers. It prefers full sun but can tolerate part shade for half of the day. It does best in moist, well-drained soil. Hardy in zones 5-8.

Salvias also provide that saturated blue color that gardeners seek. Look for Mealycup Sage (Salvia farinacea ‘Victoria Blue’), a member of the mint family. This herbaceous perennial is commonly grown as an annual in cold areas. Striped Squill (Puschkinia libanotica) is a beautiful spring bulb flower growing just 4-5 inches tall, with pale white-blue petals with darker blue center stripes. If you’re an Iris fan, look for the lovely blossoms of the Giant Blue Flag Louisiana Iris (Iris giganticaerulea) with its four foot stems; or ‘Sky Beauty’ Dutch Iris with its combination of white and french blue petals with a single lemon yellow blotch. Agapanthus, or ‘Lily of the Nile’, with its blue ball-shaped clusters and funnel-shaped flowers on four foot stems, is a showy addition to any garden.

forgetmenotsAnd finally, we can’t forget the diminutive Forget-Me-Nots (Myosotis alpestris)! This perennial grows 5-12 inches high in alpine meadows (or your garden!). Each dainty flower is a mere 1/3 inch wide, with sky blue petals, a white inner ring, and a tiny yellow center. Blooming in May and June, hardy Forget-Me-Nots prefer partial shade and spread by reseeding. These charming old fashioned flowers can help fill in the blanks in your garden!

If you don’t have the blues, you certainly should – for your garden, that is!

Don’t keep the blues to yourself.  Did you know that local florists use many of these blue flowers, Hydrangea, Delphinium, Niegella, Grape Hyacinths, Iris, Agapanthus, and Forget-me-nots, in flower arrangements? So even if you don’t have a garden full of blue flowers, you can share a beautiful blue bouquet with a friend.

Cindy Dyer is a freelance graphic designer and photographer in Alexandria, Virginia. Visit her blog at www.cindydyer.wordpress.com and her botanical gallery at www.cindydyer.zenfolio.com. She can reached at dyerdesign@aol.com. All photos © Cindy Dyer, unless specified otherwise.

Kitchen Window Garden

Ask the Expert: Kitchen Garden Window

What would be a good plant(s) to put in a garden window that faces East?  Janet

Let the Daffodils Go Free

Ask the Expert: tie off daffodils?
After 27 years in Florida we moved to mid Georgia where gardening is a whole different game. My neighbor told me she was told that after the daffodil blooms die to tie the green in a bundle by knotting it together. I thought it needed the greenery to develop new bulbs. What is correct?  Kathy