The way to Tell the Black Gum Tree & Live Oak Tree Besides

Once you understand how and where to look, distinguishing a black gum tree (Nyssa sylvatica) from a live oak (Quercus spp.) Becomes simple. Form, foliage, flowers and vegetables all highlight the gaps between these trees. Black gum simplifies the task once it drops its leaves for winter. A live oak — as its name implies — remains evergreen. Southern live oak (Quercus virginiana) illustrates that the qualities that separate various types of live oaks from a dark gum tree.

Silhouette and Size

Black gum’s characteristic pyramidal shape remains intact during its existence. Narrow but conical when young, the tree gradually widens as it ages. In Mediterranean-climate landscapes, black gum generally grows 30 to 50 feet tall and 20 to 30 feet broad. It grows much larger in its native eastern U.S. habitat however still includes a pyramidal type. Southern live oak grows 50 feet tall in Mediterranean climates and taller in its native southern U.S. kingdom; its rounded, umbrellalike canopy spreads twice as broad as the tree grows tall. A broad southern live oak on the horizon won’t be mistaken for a black gum tree.

Leaf Characteristics

Following a winter spent with bare branches, black gum creates shiny, green foliage in spring. Each widely oval leaf widens at the center prior to its smooth margins form a stage. Even in mild climates, black gum treats onlookers to a fiery show of orange, red, purple and gold foliage before fall takes its leaves. The southern live oak holds its leaves year-round in all but the coldest regions of its growing range, and also it falls only a portion of its leaves. The narrow, oval, smooth-edged leaves have softly rounded tips and are shiny and dark green on top and white beneath.

Preferred Conditions

Black gum and southern live oak develop best in full-sun and partially shady websites, and both bear highly acidic to highly alkaline soil pH. Hardy at U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9, dark gum withstands wide-ranging dirt and soil conditions. Compacted, drought-stricken, urban plots and excessively moist, poorly drained sites evenly match the versatile black gum. The tree has moderate salinity tolerance at a coastal site. Hardy in USDA zones 7 through 10, southern live oak adapts to a range of conditions, but its optimal growth requires always moist to wet soil. Even so, southern live oak excels in warm, inland climates and low-desert gardens that provide sufficient moisture. Its salinity tolerance is great to medium on a shore and great at an inland site.

Flowers and Fruits

Some tree flowers have male and female parts within the exact same blossom, but dark gum flowers are either male or female. With occasional exceptions, the male and female flowers occur on separate trees. Following a male black gum tree flowers pollinate a feminine black gum tree inconspicuous spring blooms, the feminine tree bears fruits, that appear in clusters and are dark or blue-black, 1/2- to 1 1/2-inch, olivelike drupes in autumn and winter. Southern live oak also has separate male and female blooms, but they appear on the exact same tree. Those blooms are trivial and appear in spring; they give 1/2- to 1 1/2-inch vegetables — brown acorns with spiny tips.

Additional Live Oaks

While dark gum blazes with fall color and berrylike fruits, live oak species native to Mediterranean, coastal climates stick with acorns and spiny, evergreen leaves. The coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) is among these species, and canyon live oak (Quercus chrysolepis) is just another one. Hardy in USDA zones 9 through 10, the coast live oak grows up to 70 feet tall, has a canopy spread wider and creates acorns quantifying 1 1/2 to 3 inches. Every spring, it deals leathery old leaves for shiny new ones — all with sharp, spiny borders. The canyon live oak is hardy in USDA zones 8 through 10, grows 65 feet tall and broad, and has sharp-tipped, 1/2- to 1 1/2-inch acorns. Its leaves may have sharp spines or be smooth; one tree may have both spiny leaves and smooth leaves. Each leaf is gray-green on the planet and pale-blue on its bottom.

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Make Your Own Wildflower Nursery

My backyard just turned 6 years of age. For years, I kept buying new crops to fill in the gaps — even after I’d no openings left. It got to the point where if I had been near a nursery when running errands, I would poke my head and nab a few things — especially during late summer and throughout the fall sale season. When I got home, I would slip my purchases into the backyard, nestle them among adult plants and hope that my wife never noticed. In fact, I knew she would not care, but maybe deep down I cared. My addiction was costing me money, but it did not have to.

Benjamin Vogt / Monarch Gardens

Fall is my favourite season — crisp mornings and evenings, hot afternoons, bright blue skies, stunning sunsets and a backyard with a rainbow of fall blooms and foliage colors. When the leaves begin to drop, it is a lot easier to tell where any plant openings are and to plan what could yet proceed in.

Fall is perhaps the best time for gardening — the cooler temps make things easier on you and the plants, and the warm soil enables roots to get established and plan to remove even sooner next spring. But why buy plants when you can easily harvest and cultivate your own?

Benjamin Vogt / Monarch Gardens

Just look at this bounty. Fall not only shows the structural bones of your backyard, but seed heads add another level of attention. These seed heads mean hundreds of free crops for you, aside from the fact that they are feeding birds and other creatures. But when can you gather the seeds?

Benjamin Vogt / Monarch Gardens

Gather Seeds When They Are Ready

My guideline for seed collecting over the course of late summer into fall is rather laissez-faire: When the seeds begin falling off or blowing away, they are prepared. (Then you really have to be on the ball, especially if it gets windy.) Here, old Liatris blooms are all puffed up, prepared for the seeds to be collected.

I walk around the backyard a few times every week using any temporary container that I will find, from glass to plastic to paper bags. The wider the container mouth, the greater for seeds which take easily to the wind — you want to grab as many as you can once you start choosing.

Benjamin Vogt / Monarch Gardens

Sometimes it’s a lot easier to cut off the tops of crops, like this ironweed, and drop the entire mess into a bag. The seed heads are so small, you’d be out there indefinitely otherwise. Why not save picking the seeds out for a chilly winter day in front of a fireplace? You can even turn it into a date with your spouse or some kind of amorous game. Hey, you have to spice up seed pruning.

Benjamin Vogt / Monarch Gardens

Grass seeds are frequently very easy to collect. Just run your hand up the stem, from bottom to top, cupping and collecting seeds as you go.

One major benefit of collecting wildflower seeds grown in your backyard is that you may trust them — if you do not use pesticides or chemicals, you know the seeds are organic.

In addition you know the mother plant — where it grew, what it enjoys, the very fact it thrives in your soil. Using locally sourced seeds is all roughly as ecologically friendly as any act you can perform in the backyard, and you can’t get more locally sourced than outside the back door.

Benjamin Vogt / Monarch Gardens

Coneflower seeds are not these spiky pointy things. Rather, the seed is deep down in there, little rectangular tan bits half the size (or less) of your pinky’s fingernail. To get at them, I have discovered that sacrificing my thumb is greatest — I push it across the flower head, getting poked and jabbed, causing the spikes to pop off and allowing the seeds slip out.

Benjamin Vogt / Monarch Gardens

Mountain mint and monarda seed heads make your hands smell great, but the seeds are very small and loose within the faded tubular blooms. I snip off entire clumps of seed heads and, while holding them within a container, crush them with my fingers or hands. This easily releases the very small seeds.

Benjamin Vogt / Monarch Gardens

Plant Before Winter

OK, so now you’ve got these seeds. Some have fallen onto the backyard bed and will resow, and you’ll be able to move them in spring or let them have free will and choose their own places.

Or you can winter sow. Many seeds need chilly or wet stratification — which can be a period of several weeks or months of freezing, moist conditions. Here from the U.S. Central Plains we call this period winter.

I hope you kept your old nursery pots or got some from a neighbor who had been throwing them away. Fill them around halfway with potting soil or perhaps just your normal garden soil (clay, sand, whatever), and broadcast the seeds evenly across the surface. Let winter snow bury the seeds to you.

Come spring you’ll have dozens of seedlings in each container, ready to pot up or put in the backyard once they have rooted better within a couple weeks. Congratulations! You’ve become your own wildflower nursery.

Benjamin Vogt / Monarch Gardens

Or Shop Seeds for Later

If you don’t use all your seeds, you can certainly save them. Some may not be viable next year, but many will — if you store them properly. Here’s the way:
Strip each seed from the chaff, which is frequently the feathery or crunchy piece connected to the seed. Let the seeds dry out, in the few days to a week. If you select seeds when they’re falling off the plant, then they ought to be pretty dry. But if you pick them following rain or other wet weather, they will need several weeks or days to wash out inside — dispersing them on a table or pan helps accelerate the drying. Shop in a paper bag, which provides good air flow (glass and plastic will encourage mould growth). I have discovered that college lunch totes, folded over two and stapled, function good. I label them with all the plant and year accumulated. Store the bags in a cool, dark, dry place. That may be in a dry garage, an outbuilding, a storage seat out or in a cellar. The benefit of storing them out is that you’ll be cold-stratifying the seeds — some may also require moisture, but people that just need it chilly will be prepared to sow again come spring or summer.

Benjamin Vogt / Monarch Gardens

The first year I winter-sowed seeds in 24 containers. Let me tell you I was as giddy as a kid in a candy store the subsequent spring. I had sufficient plants to strike some problem areas in my beds, with plenty left over to gift or even sell.

Now I have discovered I have a new addiction — amassing plastic pots and cluttering up my backyard every October and November. However, no need to hide this addiction, since the crops are liberated, and that I know for certain they will thrive in my backyard.

More: 3 Ways Native Plants Make Gardening So Much Better

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Create Your Own Shangri-la With Bird of Paradise Plants

If you’re looking for a great houseplant to give your decor a tropical flair, then Strelitzia,commonly known as bird of heaven,won’t disappoint. While it’s often wrongly known as a banana plant (it is a toast), you won’t find any bananas growing, however if you’re lucky (or rather, if a plant is truly joyful) following three to five years then you might just discover some gorgeous blooms.

The two most common species at the Strelitzia household, each of which may be purchased as a houseplant, seem very similar, and it is a good idea to know which kind you’re purchasing, as the end result will not be exactly the same. Strelitzia reginae grows to a maximum height of 5 to 6 feet and blooms with the traditional orange bird of paradise flowers; it also has a dwarf version, where the leaves are quite small comparatively. Strelizia nicolai can grow to be a giant shrub and blooms with dramatic cream and black bird of paradise flowers; it is not as likely to be sold as a houseplant, although surely some confusion is always a chance. Choose wisely. It’s always a good idea to become an educated houseplant purchaser, especially when it comes to investing in something that you hope to enjoy for years to come.

Below you’ll find examples in which bird of heaven was utilized in an assortment of configurations, and I have added some hints that I hope will be helpful as you navigate the path into using houseplants to enhance your property.

Melissa Lenox Design

The large green bird of heaven leaves are a great complement to the peacock blue partitions within this eclectic San Francisco living room. I want to find some more green plants to balance the ocean of intense shade, especially behind the lotion seat in the foreground, however this is a superb start.

Bosworth Hoedemaker

The plant is a fabulous addition to this neutral Seattle living room. Its tropical flavor is an ideal match for its bamboo dividers, sisal area rug and neutral beachy decor, which adheres to the sea view beyond. 1 plant looks great, though a second one on the right side of this window will perfectly frame the opinion and really bring the outdoors in.

This complete bird of paradise plant well balances the blooming orchid on the coffee table in this Portland, Oregon, home and functions to cancel the formal decoration that could on occasion make a room look more like a hotel lobby than a house.

Plants are a great way to add life to a distance, since not only are they alive and breathing, but they are also not ideal! Just a little imperfection in the shape of a plant that has its own mind may be a great way to make a home feel comfortable and resided in, especially if you’d rather not have a cluttered appearance. On the flip side, a cluttered plant accounts a modest family-made mess also.

Grossman Photography

Bird of heaven is a superb selection with this contemporary high-rise living area in Miami, since it connects the residents to the tropical surroundings far beneath and detracts from the sterility of the cityscape. The pair of plants provides grounding symmetry within this open area, as well as adds perpendicular interest, which is always a significant element in any room.

Moment design + productions, llc

In this Manhattan pied-à-terre, bird of heaven does a great job of providing a human touch to the intriguing though impartial cityscape view. Some true green is a welcome touch of colour in a sea of black upholstery, and in fact, I would really like to see much more green in that way corner by way of a chunkier bud and two birds of heaven planted together — there is quite a bit of blank wall area that could benefit from a large tropical leaves.

A Interior View Interior Design Studio

Following is a perfect example of an area that will profit greatly from a Strelitzia nicolai, as the ceiling height in this Seattle house warrants an extremely tall plant. The plant used is well positioned, however, functioning as a visual anchoring point at the conclusion of the curved couch, and also our eye has a moment of relaxation before taking in the huge ocean perspective beyond.

Lasley Brahaney Architecture + Construction

Bird of paradise works well within this modern Philidelphia house and matches this corner well, bringing the outdoors in. In this scenario, however, the plant really could be taller to fill the vertical space and also to bring up the eye rather than down. Here I find myself looking at the bottoms of the seat rather than at the garden beyond, and wondering whether the ceiling is really low or whether it only seems like that. Is not it fascinating how one thing whose proportions aren’t quite right can change everything?

To not worry; there are a few ways to solve the issue of a plant that is lacking height while you’re hoping and waiting for it to grow: a plant stand, a tiny low table, a stool of some type or maybe even a couple of cinder blocks if your decoration (and your partner?) Can handle them. Just do not forget to fertilize so you can send these cinder blocks on their way earlier rather than later.

Choosing the right plant for your house isn’t always so simple, as there are lots of options, and one must always consider the requirements of this plant first. Add Strelitzia to a list of possibilities, and even if it not blossoms indoors, you’ll still appreciate its exquisite green leaves and the touch of heaven it brings into your house.

How to care for bird of heaven:
Light: Bright light with some gentle indirect sun; too much sun can burn the leaves of plants that are designated houseplants. Temperature: Bird of heaven is generally not a cold-tolerant plant, and above 60 degrees Fahrenheit is preferable in sunlight. Water: Maintain the soil always moist year around, though bird of heaven is also known to be drought resistant, so don’t worry too much when the soil gets dry between waterings; just do not overdo it. In case your house temperatures drop in sunlight, water less frequently. Soil: Plant in rich, well-drained potting mix, at a broad, as opposed to deep, bud — bird of heaven has a shallow root system and likes to disperse. Feeding: Fertilize every 2 weeks in summer and spring with a balanced fertilizer to promote blooms. General care: Dust the leaves often. High humidity is preferred, although not compulsory. Mist the plant or put it on a bed of rocks sitting in water. The water in the tray will vanish, providing humidity for the plant. Furthermore, bird of heaven enjoys to become pot bound; it will blossom better this way. Therefore, if you divide the plant or move it into a bigger pot, it might take a few more years to blossom. Air purification: While it isn’t known as a superhero in reducing airborne toxins, all broad-leaved plants are effective in improving indoor air quality. Poison indicator: even though it is not considered poisonous, toxins are found in both the leaves and seeds that could adversly affect humans, cats, dogs and dogs if consumed. Children and tiny animals are at higher risk, and foliage intake is more worrisome than seed ingestion. Native habitat: South Africa

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Fantastic Design Plant: Joe Pye Weed

Sometimes we dismiss a great design plant because we’re more used to watching it over the street than at a manicured backyard, or because it has the word”marijuana” in its ordinary name. Joe Pye weed is one such plant. This indigenous, frequently overlooked beauty grows up to 7 feet tall, adds showy purplish blossoms in late summer to early fall and can be quite simple to grow straight out of seeds.

Its colours and textures produce dramatic clusters and draw butterflies to the garden, and Joe Pye weed thrives in those tricky areas where water stands after a storm. Get to know Joe and decide if you’d like him to come over and hang out in your lawn.

Botanical name: Eutrochium purpureum (previously Eupatorium purpureum)

Common title: Joe Pye weed (other, more common, common names include Queen of the Meadow and Snakeroot)

USDA zones: 5-10

Water necessity: Moist. Grows nicely along ponds, wetlands and streams. Soil should be damp.

Light requirement: Full sun to light shade

Mature size: The conventional native plant can grow up to 7 feet tall and 4 ft wide, but you can find dwarf varieties available that grow to about 4 ft high, such as E. purpureum’Little Joe.’

Tolerances: Requires damp soil; can withstand hot full sun

Seasonal attention: This native plant is a late bloomer, with large, showy purple-mauve-ish blossoms. Its blossoms will continue into early fall.

Best time to plant: Fall. Joe Pye weed can be grown quite easily from seed, or even out of container crops, which are easily available in nurseries.

Interesting fact: Joe Pye weed is an herb that was mainly used medicinally for many years; some believed it inoculated individuals against poisons. One legend has it that the plant is named after a Native American called Joe Pye, who used it to heal typhus.

Barbara Pintozzi

Distinguishing attributes: Joe Pye weed (seen here amid purple coneflower) includes a wonderful all-natural appearance; it’s a native plant we frequently see in the end of wetlands or drainage ditches on the side of the street. The flowers form large clusters that have a general domed shape.

Joe Pye weed attracts hummingbirds, bees and butterflies, which will add much more life and color to your backyard.

Milieu Design

The best way to use itChoreographing fall bloomers can be complicated. But when you plant clusters of Joe Pye weed from the perennial mix, in border gardens and along wet locations, you will make certain to receive a burst of purple in late summer or early fall.

The plant’s soft colours coordinate with a wide array of foliage and blossoms, whether it be the yellows of Black-eyed Susans or goldenrod, additional colors of purple from fall-blooming asters and mums, or even a gray-green background of blue spruce. You might also want to use it with other butterfly-attracting plants like butterfly bush, coneflower or lantana.

Liquidscapes

Planting notes: There are several simple methods to plant Joe Pye weed.
Start seeds indoors in late spring and then transplant them outside in the late summer or early fall. Directly plant seeds into the soil in the fall. Purchase container plants in the nursery and plant them at the fall.If you plant out of containers, make sure that the soil never dries out for more than a day or two. Since each plant can get very large, look at the seed package or plant label to determine how much space to leave between crops.

Keep the soil damp, especially for the month following planting. You may split Joe Pye weed every couple of years. Cut the plants back to about 6 inches from the spring. To create your crops shorter and fuller, pinch them back into the early summer.

Watch more guides to good design plants

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