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Growing Elephant Ears

Elephant Ear Mojito

Elephant Ear Mojito

Elephant Ears are a gardeners’ dream; Huge, unique foliage adds drama to the garden and containers in the summer months. Native to tropical Asia, Elephant Ears thrive in full sunlight, heat and moist areas. They are happiest in damp soil, including low-lying areas where rainwater collects.

If you want to enjoy the huge, vibrant leaves of Elephant Ears in the garden all summer long, plant bulbs once the chance of frost has passed and the weather has warmed significantly. Most varieties enjoy full sun, but if you’re in a particularly hot and dry area, try planting Elephant Ear Bulbs in partial shade. Water consistently; keeping the soil moist and adding fertilizer monthly will create larger, fuller leaves and a bigger statement in the garden.

Plant these foliage favorites in areas that are consistently damp. If you want to create a huge statement on a patio, balcony, or in window boxes, plant Elephant Ears in large containers. Growing tip: Plant smaller annuals such as Petunias and Marigolds in the containers with your Elephant Ears. This helps to fill in around the bare stalks in the lower part of the container, as well as add a splash of color.

Elephant Ear Imperial Taro

Elephant Ear Imperial Taro

In hardiness zones seven and up, foliage will die back in the fall and bulbs will return year after year. If you’re in an area that gets a hard frost, save bulbs and re-plant each year by digging them up before the first frost. Remove soil from the roots and place roots in a cool, dry area to dry out for about a week.

Elephant Ear Black Magic

Elephant Ear Black Magic

Then, place in a cardboard box or paper bag and store in a cool area (that doesn’t freeze) for the winter. Plant again in the early spring once the danger of frost has passed.

We carry ten unique varieties of Elephant Ear Bulbs for spring planting, many of which you won’t find in the big box stores. Add versatility and unique foliage to your summer garden this year with these tropical beauties.

November 23, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos

New Perennials For Spring 2015

Lenten Rose Double Queen

Lenten Rose Double Queen

One of the best pastimes during the colder months is planning and dreaming of spring. This year, we have over 40 new perennial varieties for spring planting and are excited about the wonderful diversity and dependability of our selections. We’ll highlight a few of our favorites and you can browse through them all here.

New Varieties for Shade

Gardening in shade can sometimes be a bit of a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be! There are a large variety of versatile plants that thrive in the shade and put on a spectacular show in the garden. This spring, we have several new shade-loving varieties. Lenten Rose Double Queen boasts gorgeous, double blooms that create a splash of vibrant color in the early spring garden. This heat-tolerant perennial thrives in partial to full shade and becomes a true conversation starter in any garden. Coral Bells Circus is a must-have for any shade garden and definitely steals the show! The brilliant foliage changes color throughout the season and the gorgeous red scapes boast elegant bells in the early summer. Our Astilbe Mix is an amazing shade-loving choice, providing a variety of color to the mid-summer garden with unique, spiky flower plumes that don’t require staking. Also known as False Spirea, our sAstilbe Mixture is deer resistant and amazingly easy to grow.

New Varieties for Containers

Lavender Platinum Blonde

Lavender Platinum Blonde

Containers not only make it possible for any gardener to create a gorgeous landscape, but also add color, texture, and fun to a porch, patio, or walkway. We have a variety of new perennials for spring that thrive in containers. Platinum Blonde Lavender is a compact variety, growing to be 16-24” tall, making it perfect for a small space or container garden. Deer resistant and highly fragrant, this Lavender makes for amazing fresh and dried bouquets, sachets, and more. Hens and Chicks Spring Beauty is extremely easy to grow and is the perfect choice for rock gardens, container gardens, rooftop gardens, and more, growing in almost any condition. Blue Fescue Beyond Blue’s colorful foliage forms graceful clumps, making its own proper statement in the garden all season long. We recommend planting this easy-care beauty in a rock or container garden.

New Deer Resistant Varieties

Dwarf Butterfly Bush Blue Heaven is the perfect choice for any garden! Growing to be only 2-3’ tall, this compact variety is drought tolerant, disease resistant and blooms from spring through fall. Big Bluestem Grass Red October crates a fiery red statement in the fall garden with its foliage colors. Growing to be about 6’ tall, plant this ever-changing beauty in the back of the garden bed for an amazing backdrop for all of your favorite plants. With a little deadheading, Arizona Red Shades will bloom all summer long, providing vibrant color to almost any perennial garden. Like all Gaillardia, this variety thrives in full sun and tolerates most soil types.

Hens and Chicks Spring Beauty

Hens and Chicks Spring Beauty

Other Favorites

The Hollyhock Halo Mixture is perfect for planting in the back of the garden and creates a spectacular backdrop of color for the rest of the garden. Single blooms delight in the late summer until fall, flowering in a variety of white, yellow, red, and purple, with contrasting eyes. A bright, uniquely-colored Asiatic Lily, Trogon creates a show-stopping statement both in the summer garden and cut for bouquets. This easy-to-grow Lily is dependable, growing in almost any garden, as long as it has sun. Coreopsis Polaris’ pure white blooms reflect the moonlight in the evening hours and are perfect for a moon or sensory garden. The long-lasting, neutral blooms look amazing planted with almost any other perennial and become the true backbone of any formal or wild garden.

You can view all 45 of our new perennial varieties here. What are your favorites? Please share in the comments below or on our Facebook Wall. Happy Gardening!

November 16, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos, Perennials

How To Store Your Seed for Spring Planting

Wildflower SeedsWith the fall Wildflower planting season in full swing, many gardeners ask us what to do with their leftover seed. Storing seed for next season is extremely easy and effective; simply place the seed in a ziploc bag or tupperware, making sure to label it clearly, and store in a room-temperature area. A dark closet or room is the perfect storage area, just make sure that the seed is not exposed to moisture or extreme temperatures. Seed will keep like this for months and maintain a high germination rate.

Did you Know?

All of the seed at American Meadows is lab tested to ensure the highest purity and germination rates possible. When storing your seed for the winter (or even for the year), you may lose a few percentage points of the germination rate, but you’ll still have high quality seed that will thrive in your garden.

A lab test for our Cosmos Sensation Mix - 96% Germination Rate & 99.64% Pure Seed

A lab test for our Cosmos Sensation Mix – 96% Germination Rate & 99.64% Pure Seed

Is this Seed Still Good? Do Your Own Germination Test to Find Out.

If you’ve been storing Wildflower Seed for a long time and aren’t sure if it’s still good, conduct your own germination test to find out. It’s really easy:

  • - Choose ten seeds at random.
  • - Dampen a paper towel.
  • - Place the seeds on top of the damp paper towel.
  • - Place the paper towel/seeds in a dark, warm place.
  • - Wait 10-14 days.
  • - Check every few days until you see sprouts.

The number of seeds that have sprouted tells you the germination rate. For example, if 6/10 seeds sprout, you have a 60% germination rate.

Baby Snapdragons

What’s a Good Germination Rate?

The standard here at American Meadows is 75% germination rate, with most of our seed coming in higher than that.  Anything above 60-70% will produce great results in your garden or meadow.

How do you store your leftover seed for the winter? Please share in the comments below or on our Facebook Page. Happy Gardening!

November 5, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos, Wildflowers

New Bulbs for Spring 2015

Dahlia Alauna Clair-ObscurEach season, our garden experts choose a selection of new varieties to carry and all of us here at American Meadows get really excited to see the list. This year, the excitement level was met with an amazing selection of vibrant, unique summer-blooming bulbs that we’ll all be adding to our landscapes this spring.

New Dahlias

As the Dahlia gardener knows, there is always room for new varieties in the garden and each year must top the last! The Dinnerplate Dahlia Peaches and Cream gets its name from the delightful contrast of peach and cream blooms that can reach up to 8” across. The Semi-Cactus Dahlia Striped Vulcan requires almost no care, growing in any sunny spot and blooming from mid summer to frost. With unique blooms that fade from deep pink to white in the center, Cactus Dahlia Hayley Jane is a unique variety that is a true conversation-starter in any sunny spot. Like the city itself, the Dinnerplate Dahlia Manhattan Island is full of life and color, boasting huge, red blooms with a hint of yellow in the center. View all of our new Dahlias for Spring here.

Gladiolus Princess Margaret Rose

New Gladiolus

Gladiolus take up little room in the garden and are perfect for tucking amongst perennials or adding to containers on the patio. We’re excited to be carrying three new varieties for spring 2015. Igniting the summer garden with yellow-orange blooms edged in red, Gladiolus Princess Margaret Rose creates a huge statement both in the garden and cut for summer bouquets. One of the richest, most luxurious purple Gladiolus around, Purple Flora is a must-have for any summer garden. A fabulous color combination of purple, green, and white, the Gladiolus Glad You Are Here Mixture is extremely easy to grow and creates a cool color statement in any landscape.

New Canna Lilies

Canna Lily TropicannaCanna Lilies add a unique, dramatic look to the summer garden with boldly-colored blooms and variegated foliage.  A perfect choice for the backdrop of a garden bed or large containers, Tropicanna Gold shines brightly in the summer garden with vibrant green, variegated foliage and light orange blooms. Canna Lily Orange Magic is extremely easy to grow and can be planted in large pots or window boxes. With bronze foliage that illuminates the summer garden and blooms to match, Canna Lily Tropicanna is a must-have for any Canna lover. 

Other New Favorites

Why not add a little diversity to the garden? Harlequin flowers are easy to grow and at only 10” high, are perfect for containers, borders, rock gardens, and containers. A unique addition to any garden, Caladium Tapestry’s gorgeous heart-shaped leaves are deep green with vibrant pink veins and cream centers, growing in any shady spot. Looking for something to “wow” your neighbors? This Pineapple Lily Mix is the perfect choice, boasting fun, spiky flowers and decorative top tufts.

Caladium Tapestry

View our 24 new Spring-Planted Bulb varieties here. What are your favorites? Please share in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Happy Gardening!

October 28, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Spring and Summer

The Three Most Important Steps to a Successful Wildflower Meadow

Mixed WildflowersWe’re frequently asked to go over the step-by-step process of planting a Wildflower meadow with gardeners. In fact, it’s one of the most common questions I received while working in customer service for over 3 years. Although all of the steps are important, I wanted to highlight the three most important steps so you’ll know to take extra care to do everything right during these parts of the process. You’ll be thrilled that you did when your meadow is bursting in blooms!

1. Clearing existing growth. This is technically under the “preparation” part of the process, but clearing existing growth during preparation is a big one. Wildflowers won’t compete well with existing plants, weeds, etc. and really need bare soil in order to thrive. Whether this means pulling everything by hand or renting a tiller, you should spend extra time on this step! A little extra work during the preparation stage will provide better results both short and long term.

Sunflowers

2. Choosing the right varieties. This is very important!! Many Wildflowers prefer 6+ hours of sunlight a day, so if your area receives less than this, you’ll want to choose specific shade-tolerant varieties. Some varieties prefer sandy soil, others hate the cold, several varieties need a place to climb, etc. We’ve solved this problem by creating a filter on the left side of our Wildflower pages where you can choose your region, soil type, light requirements, etc. and it will show you the best varieties for your property. If you’re still not sure, one of our regional mixtures is always a great bet for a rainbow of blooms; they are specially formulated to thrive in certain regions of the country. Don’t forget – Our helpful gardening experts are also here to help 6 days a week. You can either call them at 877.309.7333 or send them an email.

Morning Glory Seeds3. Seed coverage/compression. OK, I cheated a little and lumped two important steps into one. But they are both so important! Seed coverage is one of the main reasons customers don’t have success with planting a Wildflower meadow. Over-seeding an area can result in the seedlings choking each other out, therefore not growing at all. Our seed mixtures cover 1,500-4,000 square feet per pound, depending on the coverage you want (lush blooms to a scattered, meadow look). Any more than this and you will have trouble with growth. Individual species vary greatly by variety. Before planting, check the coverage for each variety; for example, a pound of Red Poppy seed can cover up to 10,000 square feet and a pound of Sunflower seed can only cover up to 400 square feet. For more information, read our article "How Much Seed Do I Need?" here.

Zinnia Seeds

Compression is a super simple and extremely important step. Depending on the size of your planting area, either walk on the seed after you’re finished planting or use a seed roller to compress the seed into the ground. The seed-to-soil contact is important for strong, healthy growth!

Don’t forget, if you ever have any questions about planting you can contact the Seed Man. With over 25 years of Wildflower experience, he’s our resident expert on all things seed! Find him on Facebook here or email him here.

Do you have questions about Wildflower planting? Feel free to ask in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Happy Gardening!

October 21, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos, Wildflowers

Winners of our 2014 Wildflower Photo Contest

We had hundreds of beautiful, inspirational, and hilarious entries to our first ever Wildflower Photo Contest! It was hard to pick 4 winners for each of our categories. A refresher of the categories: Selfie, Close-up, Landscape, and Miscellaneous. We hope you enjoy as much as we did!

Category One: Selfie in the Garden

Cosmos, Submitted by Richard G.

Cosmos

Daisies and Hersperis, Submitted by Debbie D.

Daisies

Sunflowers, Submitted by Steven K.

Sunflower

Midwest Mix, Submitted by Amy K.

Midwest Mix

Category Two: Close-up Shot

Sulphur Cosmos, Submitted by Dennis K.

Sulphur Cosmos

Echinacea, Submitted by Marsha S.

Echinacea

Sunflower, Submitted by Melnee B.

Sunflower

Poppy, Submitted by Brady K.

Poppy

Category Three: Landscape Photos

Sunflowers, Submitted by Arthur T.

Sunflowers

Poppies, Submitted by Arthur T.

Poppies

Mixed Wildflowers and Friend, Submitted by Janet M.

Mixed Wildflower Seeds

Zinnias, Submitted by Christine W.

Zinnia Seeds

Coreopsis, Submitted by Andrew P.

Coreopsis

Category Four: Miscellaneous

Sunflowers, Submitted by Donna W.

Sunflowers

Llama, Submitted by Wendy G.

Bouquet, Submitted by Jinn F.R.

Wildflower Bouquet

OxEye Daisies, Submitted by Teddy M.

Daisies

Stay tuned for another Wildflower contest soon… Happy Gardening!

October 9, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · One Comment
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Contests, Customer Stories, Wildflowers

Create a Wonderful Spring Display with Tulips and Daffodils

Melanie Lee is a farmer and gardener living in Maine. She is the author of In Pursuit of Maine, a blog dedicated to the natural beauty of the state of Maine.

Tulips and DaffodilsAhhh, fall at last.  It has been a wonderful year.  You worked hard in your garden, and it showed.  You had beautiful color from your many flowers, scrumptious vegetables to eat, and appreciative neighbors who loved the gift of seeing a beautiful garden every day.  It’s time to put the garden to bed now.  Almost.  There’s just one last thing, and it’s one of the most important things to do.  It’s time to plant your fall bulbs.  I know you’re tired and you’ve worked hard and you deserve a rest.  Believe me, I understand, but if you put this last bit of effort in now, you will be rewarded tenfold with a wonderful display come springtime.

Two of my favorite bulbs are Tulips and Daffodils. There are dozens of varieties, colors, shapes, and sizes of these bulbs.  Take your time deciding which bulbs to buy.  Decide what kind of effect you want to create.  If you want the flowers to complement one another, then choose bulbs that will flower at about the same time, and choose colors that go well together.  For example, the bright yellow color of Daffodils is stunning alongside deep purple Tulips.  If you want to prolong your spring garden, then choose bulbs that flower at different times.  For example, just as the yellow daffodils are starting to decline, turn the volume up with brilliant red Tulips and let them steal the show!

Tulips and Daffodils

Whatever you decide, there are a few rules to remember.  First, never plant bulbs in a straight line.  They don’t have enough foliage to complement their flowers, and they end up looking too contrived and sparse.  Always plant bulbs in groups of 12, if you have the space, in a sunny well-drained location.  These groups should be of the same type of bulb, that is, 12 daffodils, then 12 tulips, then 12 daffodils, etc.  Plant the bulbs in a somewhat circular pattern, but don’t be too stringent about this.  Again, you don’t want a contrived look.  You want a natural look.  When they are planted together, they appear to have more foliage, and that really draws the eye to your garden.  Large clumps of color and greenery are very welcome after a long winter.

Tulips and Daffodils

Plant your bulbs a few weeks before the ground freezes.  People often plant too soon and then end up with fall growth that compromises the bulb’s quality.  Plant with the point upward and the tiny roots downward.  You want a minimum of twice as much soil on top of the bulb as the bulb measurement itself.  For example, if your bulb measures two inches, you want a hole at least six inches deep–two inches for the bulb itself and four inches of soil on top.  Bulbs planted deeper are hardier.  You can dig a large hole and place all the bulbs at once, or you can use a bulb planting tool and just dig individual holes.  I prefer this latter method because I feel that it helps to deter hungry squirrels.  They like fresh loose soil that they can easily dig into, and a large freshly dug hole is just too tempting.  Space the bulbs at least four to six inches apart because eventually they will multiply and will need room.

Really, that’s all there is to it.  I know you’re tired now, but if you take just a couple of hours this fall to plant bulbs, your reward in the springtime will seem astronomical, especially after a long winter when the eyes are so hungry for color.

October 3, 2014 · Garden Writer · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Fall, How-Tos

The Seed Man’s Wildflower Scavenger Hunt

We’re excited to announce the start of The Seed Man’s Wildflower Scavenger Hunt on Pinterest! We’re giving away twelve $50 gift certificates throughout October, so participate in our hunt each week for the chance to win.

It’s As Easy as Three Steps:

1. Create a Public Board. Create a public Pinterest Board. Name it anything you’d like (the more fun, the better)! Post a link to your board in the comments below.

2. Pin! Go to our website each week & pin Wildflowers from our weekly themes on your board. See below for weekly themes and follow us to learn more.

3. Share: Use the hashtag #AMISEEDHUNT with each post & share the URL to your board in the comments below.
Weekly Winners Chosen Each Friday Through October 31st. Good Luck!

Week Three: What’s Your Favorite Color?

Many gardeners want to plant Wildflowers, but don’t know if they will grow in the shady spots on their property. This week, pin your favorite shade-loving Wildflowers to your board for the chance to win!

Wondering Where to Start?

Annuals or perennials? We want to know your favorite Wildflowers! This week is easy; simply head on over to our Wildflower page and pin your favorite Wildflowers to your Pinterest board. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #AMISEEDHUNT in the comments to be entered to win!

Week four of the contest: Annuals or Perennials?

Week Three of the Contest: What's Your Favorite Color?

Week Two of the Contest: Shade-Loving Wildflowers

Week One of the Contest: Feed the Pollinators!

Follow our Boards or Check Back Here Each Week for the New Theme to Start Searching!

The Seed Man's Wildflower Scavenger Hunt

September 29, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · 2 Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Contests

Photo of the Week: Picking Flowers on the West Coast

This week’s photo of the week is a series sent in by our customer Suzi D. in Washington State. She planted our Pacific Northwest Wildflower Mix and shared these gorgeous photos of her daughters enjoying the blooms. We hope you enjoy and don’t forget to sign up for our email newsletter to get more photos, gardening tips, news, and more!

Pacific Northwest Wildflower Mix

Pacific Northwest Wildflower Mix

Pacific Northwest Wildflower Mix

September 25, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Customer Stories, Photo of the Week, Wildflowers

Create a Big Splash of Color in Your Garden

As fall planting approaches quickly, many of us are planning on adding new garden beds or filling in existing ones that may need extra color. I wanted to share an extremely simply garden tip with you that can go a long way: Limit your plant selections!

Peonies

Customer Photo: Peonies Planted in a Group

In the garden, a little bit of everything doesn’t always have as much impact as a wealth of a few well-chosen plants. Choose several reliable perennials that you know will grow in your area and repeat the plant combinations to set the overall tone for your garden. Love the early color Peonies bring to the spring garden? Instead of planting 1 or 3 plants, try planting 9 for a dramatic effect. Love the way Butterfly Bushes attract pollinators to the garden? Try planting 3-5 in one area for a show-stopping look.

Customer Garden

Customer Garden

As you’re planning for fall planting, remember also to think about seasonal blooming – Spring-Blooming Bulbs, Columbines, Peonies, and Bleeding Hearts all offer gorgeous spring blooms. Daylilies, Butterfly Bushes, Astilbe, and other Lilies provide fabulous summer color. Hydrangea, Sedum, and Echinacea provide late summer and fall blooms in the garden.

Do you have any photos of your garden design that you’d like to share? Please head over to our Facebook Page to connect with over 120,000 other gardeners. Happy Gardening!

September 16, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos, Perennials