For height, drama and a tropical look in northern gardens, nothing beats canna lilies. Native to tropical and semi-tropical areas of North and South America, canna lilies evolved along damp, semi-shady riverbanks. They are perennials in parts of the southern United States, but in northern climates they are annual plants for the back of a…

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Wondering what to grow in your cutting garden? Check out this list of best plants for a cut flower garden from author Susy Morris. For tips on growing cut flowers, check out this post. Annuals — These will bloom all season long and are the backbone of your cutting garden! Sweet peas have a wonderful…

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This article by Theresa Mieseler originally appeared in the May/June 2020 issue of Northern Gardener. Basil is a pleasure to touch, smell, taste and harvest. It pairs with tomatoes as deliciously as strawberries pair with rhubarb and can even be used in desserts! While northern gardeners love the traditional sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum), basil downy…

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This article by Plant to Pick columnist Debbie Lonnee appeared in the July/August 2019 issue of Northern Gardener. Since 1990, the Perennial Plant Association, a group of professional perennial growers, designers, retailers and educators, has promoted a “Plant of the Year.” These plants are chosen because they are low-maintenance, have multiple seasons of ornamental interest,…

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Flowers are traditional for Valentine’s Day, but a houseplant lasts longer and is a gift that fits many situations—friend, child, parent or significant other. String of hearts seems like the perfect houseplant for Valentine’s Day. Officially, the plant is Ceropegia woodii, one of more than 60 species of Ceropegia. Most are native to South Africa,…

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If you’re looking for a houseplant to add color and drama to your home, consider croton (Codiaeum variegatum), a plant that comes in a variety of leaf shapes and colors, is relatively easy to grow and can go outside in the summer. A member of the euphorbia family, croton is native to Indonesia, Australia and…

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Usually when we write these plant profiles it’s about a plant we think makes a great addition to northern yards and gardens. Garlic mustard—not so much. But this is a plant that you should know so you can identify it when it enters your yard—and get rid of it ASAP. To Learn More If you…

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Last year, when the City of St. Paul removed 33 ash trees from the two blocks around my house, they planted a variety of trees to replace them. Some ginkgos, a few crabapples, a few others, but the largest number of trees planted were swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor). It’s a great choice for an…

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If you enjoy watching hummingbirds in the garden or seeing lots of pollinators on your plants, be sure to plant some annual salvias next year. Salvia is an enormous genus of plants with more than 1,000 species, including those that are annual, perennial or shrubs. The herb sage (Salvia officianalis) is also a salvia. Note:…

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Trees and shrubs are the backbone of most gardens. They provide height, structure and (sometimes) interest all year long. But if your garden is smaller—as mine is—finding right-sized shrubs is a challenge. That’s when I turn to perennials that act like shrubs. These are perennials with some height (3 feet or more) and some heft.…

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