Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Balloon Flower Plant Profile

Balloon Flower Plant Profile

Balloon Flower (Platycodon grandiflorus) is an attractive perennial flower that is native to parts of Russia and Asia. It is a member of the Campanula family that includes Lobelia and Bellflower. It is hardy to USDA Zones 3 to 8.

The flowers bloom in summer and are typically a true blue, white, or pink. The flower gets its name from the buds that form a hollow balloon then pop open into a star-shaped blossom.

The flower stalks are generally between 18 to 36 inches tall, though some dwarf cultivars top out at about 12 inches high.

Balloon Flower prefers to grow in full to part sun in moist, but well-draining soils. Fertilizer is not necessary. You can give it a light mulching of composted leaves once the plant emerges in spring.

It is deer-resistant and fairly disease-free. Slugs and snails can be an issue for it in some climates.

If you let the seed heads form, it can self-sow around the mother plant, but is not really weedy or invasive. To prevent reseeding, simply deadhead the spent flowers. You can also propagate new plants by saving the seeds and planting them in mid- to late-spring.

The roots are fragile and resent disturbance so once planted in a spot, avoid digging around the root zone or moving the plants.

Balloon Flower: You Can Grow That!

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine as part of our Plant Profile series for Mid-Atlantic USA gardeners.

Video and editing by Taylor Edwards

Audio and text by Kathy Jentz

If you enjoy this video, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe to our Youtube channel (thank you!)

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~ Podcast: GardenDC

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Monday, August 28, 2023

Monday Thoughts: “Before, a garden had to be structured and controlled and it was man’s control over nature. Now, for many people, it’s more of man’s appreciation of nature and giving up control. It’s a beautiful thing.” - Janet Draper

“Before, a garden had to be structured and controlled and it was man’s control over nature. Now, for many people, it’s more of man’s appreciation of nature and giving up control. It’s a beautiful thing.” 

~ Janet Draper

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Tomato Taste Results: Sun Sugar on Top

We had more than 150 people come to yesterday's Washington Gardener Magazine 13th Annual Tomato Taste at the FreshFarm Silver Spring Market. Here are the results of the ballots submitted.

  1. Sun Gold from The Farm at Our House 
  2. Cherry Bomb from The Farm at Our House 
  3. Chocolate Cherry from Mock's Greenhouse
  4. Cherokee Purple from Mock's Greenhouse
  5. Heirloom Mix from Audia's Farm North
  6. Carolina Sun from Barajas Produce
  7. Red Morning from Barajas Produce
  8. Sweet Grape from Spiral Path Farm
This year the #1 tomato had double the votes that the #2 tomato did -- so it was a true land-slide. The rest of the pack were separated by just a few votes. This shows you that there were no real "losers" in this batch and that every tomato had its share of hard-core fans. 

Do take a minute to click on the photo link here to view the Facebook album of photos from the event. I think you will agree that the market tomatoes are absolutely gorgeous and very photogenic -- and so are the market patrons!

In addition to the tasting, many people stopped by to create colorful tomato art and to pick up the free tomato seeds, growing tips, and recipes that we gave out.

We gave out a gift bag full of gardening goodies, tomatoes, and market money to one of the tomato taste voters! 

Most of the taste attendees were local, though we also had many who came quite a distance. About two-thirds live in Silver Spring. Another third live close by in Washington, DC or the neighboring towns of Takoma Park, Chevy Chase, Bethesda, etc. A few are from far outside of the area, we even had votes from New York, South Carolina, California, and Georgia!

Thank you to all who came and participated. Thanks to the farmers for growing great tomatoes and to FreshFarm Markets staff for hosting us. Special thanks also to our volunteers MD Smith and Alexandra Jentz for helping with all the tomato sample cutting, vote tallying, and helping greet all the tasters in the short, but jam-packed two-hour event!

Saturday, August 26, 2023

GardenDC Podcast Episode 162: Garden Myth Busting

In this episode of GardenDC: The Podcast about Mid-Atlantic Gardening, we chat with Derek Haynes, the Chocolate Botanist, all about busting garden myths and untruths. The plant profile is on Monkey Balls and we share what's going on in the garden as well as some upcoming local gardening events in the What's New segment. We close out with the Last Word on Bears and Blueberries by Christy Page at the Food Gardening Network.

If you liked this episode, you may also enjoy listening to:

~ GardenDC Podcast Episode 92: Universal Gardening Truths

~ GardenDC Podcast Episode 125: Garden Lessons Learned

BTW, YOU can become a listener supporter for as little as $0.99 per month! 

Show Notes: 01:11 Welcome Derek Haynes, the Chocolate Botanist 01:30 Why it’s important to share correct information about gardening 03:11 Don’t be afraid to make some mistakes and kill a few plants 04:23 Haynes’ background in gardening 06:00 Getting a sense for how plants grow – and knowing how the food you eat was grown 08:31 Common names and some misconceptions they can bring 09:25 Haynes nonlinear road to his degree in plant biology 11:55 What Haynes’ life is like in Durham, North Carolina 13:32 Home and urban gardening in zone 7 and Haynes’ favorite plants to grow 15:55 Find Haynes at TheChocolateBotanist 17:21 How alkaline water got Haynes into busting plants myths on social media 19:53 Why do people believe in gardening myths? 23:06 Why would someone post gardening misinformation? 25:48 Misleading pictures on social media 26:22 Jerry Baker and how garden misinformation was prevalent before social media 28:03 Nicotine as a gardening tool: don’t use it 30:06 The use of the word “natural” in online garden myths 32:37 The misleading use of “chemical-free” 34:28 Myth busting: combating fungus gnats 37:55 Myth busting: electroculture 39:18 “You can really debunk something if you learn about it,” says Haynes. 41:40 Myth busting: air layering 43:20 “When you take grafting into consideration, you have to make sure the plants are closely enough related,” explains Haynes. 45:45 Catching editing glitches in social media videos 46:38 Combatting gardening misinformation: use the comments section 47:43 Find Haynes on Instagram @ TheChocolateBotanist, on his website, and on Twitter/X @ TheCrazyBotanist 48:39 Where can new gardeners find legitimate information? 50:23 “Growing plants is a journey where not only are you learning about the plants that you are caring for, but you’re also having the opportunity to learn about yourself,” says Haynes. 53:01 Plant Profile: Monkey Balls 54:37 What’s new in the garden? The ‘Ferrari’ green bean is doing nicely in the community garden 55:38 Upcoming events: Flower arranging demo on Sunday September 10 at the DC State Fair at Franklin Park, September 12-15 Urban Tree Summit 2023 online at 58:14 The Urban Gardener by Kathy Jentz and Teri Speight 59:15 Groundcover Revolution by Kathy Jentz 01:00:36 The Last Word on Bears and Blueberries with Christy Page at the Food Gardening Network 01:02:40 “A very large bear was having my blueberries for his morning breakfast,” says Page.

We welcome your questions and comments! You can leave a voice mail message for us at: Note that we may use these messages on a future episode.

And be sure to leave us a 5-star review on your favorite podcast platform plus share us on social media with #GardenDC, so other gardeners can find us too!

Episode Credits:
Host and Producer: Kathy Jentz
Interview Editor:  Mitchell Hang
Show Notes: Alexandra Jentz


Friday, August 25, 2023

Fenton Friday: Peppers and Cosmos


What I Grew This Summer

By Marissa Yelenik

During my internship at Washington Gardener Magazine, I've learned a lot about plants and gardening as a whole. While I had some knowledge—primarily of growing plants indoors—I was able to see the firsthand growth of a large variety of outdoor plants.

I was given the opportunity to grow my own edible plant and a cut flower. I chose to grow Peppers and we used some seedlings that had been sent to us to try out. Unfortunately, some had been chewed down by a garden critter and labels were mixed up, so some pepper varieties were more of a guess. 

We grew three 'Sweet Cherry' Peppers, one 'Where's the Heat' Pepper, one 'Prism' Pepper, and one unknown 'Habanero' Pepper, which we initially had mixed up with the 'Lunchbox' Pepper, which is supposed to be a sweet variety. For my cut flower, I chose the Cosmos 'Apricotta', a beautiful variety with orange and pink hues to it. 


The Peppers were incredibly simple to grow. We planted them on June 7, fertilized them a couple of weeks later, and consistently weeded and watered the surrounding area. The Cosmos weren't planted until about June 21 and those were direct-sown seeds—giving them less time to grow and mature before the end of the summer session.

The Peppers quickly shot up and did a great job of growing. I took some home and found they were each delicious. The 'Sweet Cherry' was not quite ready to be eaten, but we found the 'Where's the Heat' Peppers held a small amount of heat with a good flavor for Pepper lovers that struggle with eating very hot varieties. The 'Prism' Pepper, which had just turned orange, held almost no heat but had a very distinctive true-pepper flavor that would be good to add to any recipe that uses peppers. The unknown 'Habanero' Pepper was incredibly hot, even while green, and didn't hold a lot of additional flavor. Each of them could be used for different individual purposes.

However, the Cosmos took their time in blooming. While the Zinnias that were planted from seed at the same time started blooming in late-July, the Cosmos didn't form any blooms until mid-August. When they did bloom, they were absolutely beautiful and made an incredible addition to arrangements of garden flowers including a pink Dahlia, some Celosia, and the Zinnias.

This experience really reminded me of the importance of getting your seeds into the garden. While they take off quick, it will take some time to let the blooms (or vegetables/fruits) really thrive in the garden. I absolutely love growing my own plants that I can bring home and enjoy myself or watch others enjoy. Giving fresh Peppers to my brother and showing my mother the beautiful flower arrangement really reminded me how much bringing the outdoors in can do to lift up people's mood. I will absolutely be working to expand my talents and grow my own little garden at home.

About the author: Marissa Yelenik is a rising junior journalism and psychology major at the University of Maryland, College Park, and an intern this summer with Washington Gardener. She is a Savage, MD, native and amateur gardener.

How is your garden plot growing this week?

About Fenton Friday: Every Friday during the growing season, I'll be giving you an update on my community garden plot at the Fenton Street Community Garden just across the street from my house in zone 7 Mid-Atlantic MD/DC border. I'm plot #16. It is a 10 ft x 20 ft space and this is our 12th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.)  See past posts about our edible garden by putting "Fenton" into the Search box above (at the top, left on this blog).

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Win a Gardener’s Harvesting Set from Garrett Wade

The winner is Anamaria Anderson, Arlington, VA!

For our August 2023 Washington Gardener Reader Contest, we are giving away a Gardener’s Harvesting Set from Garrett Wade. 

   The set includes Forged Carbon Steel Hand Pruners, French Harvesting Knife, and Galvanized Steel Trug (value $103). These three items are beautifully made, highly functional, and built to last.

   Garrett Wade ( is a Brooklyn-based company that partners with craftsman around the globe for the best-in-class hand tools for the home, garden, and kitchen.

   To enter to win the Gardener’s Harvesting Set, send an email to by 5:00pm on August 31 with “Gardener’s Harvesting Set” in the subject line and in the body of the email. Tell us what your favorite article was in the August 2023 issue and why. Please also include your full name and mailing address. Winners will be announced and notified on September 1.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Shasta Daisy Plant Profile

 Shasta Daisy Plant Profile

Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum × superbum) is a perennial plant with a classic white daisy flower and yellow center.

It was bred by American horticulturist Luther Burbank from the oxeye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare), English field daisy (Leucanthemum maximum), and Portuguese field daisy (Leucanthemum lacustre).  He intended this hybrid to be an easy-care plant combining the best traits of these three wild daisy species. It is named after the snowy Mount Shasta in northern California.

It is hardy to USDA Zones 5 to 9 and blooms in spring and summer. If you deadhead the first set of flowers when they start to fade, you can often get good re-blooming into early fall.

Plant it in full sun to part-sun and in well-draining soils. Regularly fertilize it with compost or a slow-release pellet fertilizer.

Note that it is a short-lived perennial so will need replacing after a few years. You should divide the plant in the early spring time every couple of years to prolong the life of the plants.

It is a good pollinator plant and also makes a sturdy cut-flower. It is said to be deer- and rabbit-resistant.

The many Shasta Daisy cultivars available include those with double rows of petals, pale yellow petals, and shorter dwarf versions.

Shasta Daisy: You Can Grow That!

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine as part of our Plant Profile series for Mid-Atlantic USA gardeners.

Audio and text by Kathy Jentz

Video and editing by Taylor Edwards

If you enjoy this video, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe to our Youtube channel (thank you!)

Remember to TURN ON notifications to know when our new videos are out

FIND Washington Gardener Magazine ONLINE





~ Podcast: GardenDC


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