The Cultivation, Issue 8
Updated: Oct 21, 2020
June 23, 2020
The Cultivation by Staghorn Living is a weekly newsletter offering expert insight for garden-filled living. Here you'll find ideas and hands-on guidance for everything from planting tricks and patio decor to the tools and tips we treasure.
With the official start of summer, we’ve entered the season of outdoor living in earnest! Whether enjoying our morning coffee, taking a phone call, catching up on yard work, or hanging out with friends — from a distance, we’re looking for every opportunity to be outside. This week, we’re exploring both fun and practical ways to enhance your home for the season, indoors and out. We’ve capped it off with a saucy bit of plant lore, too. Enjoy.
Terrariums: Bring Summer Indoors
In the last few years, the terrarium has shed its crusty and complicated grade-school-project past and emerged as one of the coolest ways to add indoor greenery without a lot of hassle. From simple moss assortments to elaborate woodland tableaus, there are styles and sizes to suit all tastes, conditions, and skill-levels. Finding ready-made terrariums for sale online can be tricky, so check out your local plant or flower shop. Or try a DIY option. The resources out there are plentiful for those who want to pick their own vessel and plant assortment. Terrain has great options. Here, some terrarium ideas to inspire you:
Mini Geodesic Desertscape
Sedums, succulents, and cacti are all available in mini, terrarium-friendly sizes. Plant a selection of these low-water wonders in a mix of fine and coarse sand then place near a sunny window. Try a faceted terrarium like this one from Wayfair. Sedums, succulents, and cacti do not like humidity, so a terrarium with an open side or top to keep things drier is ideal.
Woodland in a Bottle
If you're a fan of moss, a woodland-themed terrarium is the perfect way to go. Try mixing in mini ferns, fittonia, or even a small tree with your favorite moss or mosses—there are many enchanting varieties. For a more Japanese-inspired mix, add in a few larger river rocks and go heavy on the moss. We love the clean simplicity of these cork-topped terrariums made of recycled glass from Crate & Barrel.
Cloche of Curiosities
For a terrarium that evokes the elegant and studious compositions found at a natural history museum, we suggest using a cloche cover like these beauties from Terrain. Keep it simple with a single specimen plant, like a mini orchid surrounded by moss. We love the way they styled theirs with a perfect teeny piece of driftwood. We don't recommend using succulents, sedums, or cacti in a cloche—they will not do well with the humidity that's create underneath.
There are a few special flowers that take the spotlight only after the sun has gone down. Check out these elusive nighttime bloomers below and tips for incorporating them into your outdoor space.
Moonflower (Ipomoea alba)
A cousin to the familiar morning glory, this twining annual vine features giant white trumpet-like flowers that begin opening around dusk, but fade and close (or fall off) come morning. Train against a trellis or along a railing with full to part-sun conditions for the best effect.
Tobacco Flower (Nicotiana alata)
Commonly known as the tobacco flower, this annual grows up to 3’ tall and features a panicle — or cluster — of medium-sized white tubular flowers. While some blooms may open during the day, they truly burst out at dusk when their fragrance grows exponentially stronger. Easily grown in full sun to part shade.
Night-Blooming Jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum)
This tropical plant, which is actually related to jessamine not jasmine, has a larger shrubby habit and minimal ornamental value. But what it lacks in color and form it makes up for in fragrance, blooming only after dark and emitting that classic jasmine scent. Try incorporating it in a mix of more colorful plantings in full sun to part shade to get the best of both worlds.
While it might feel counterintuitive, consistent yearly pruning is key to promoting stronger growth and more prolific flowering in your lilacs. And now is the time to do it. Pruning is also an opportunity to shape the growth habit of your lilac, whether you prefer a taller, tree-like form or a shorter denser shrub. Check out our tips for best lilac-pruning practices below.
Remove dead wood - it’s not coming back.
Cut out crossing branches: Repeated rubbing between two branches can cause wounds which invites sickness/fungi to infect the shrub. Choose whichever of the two branches contributes best to the overall shape of the shrub and lop off the other.
Prune off or deadhead spent bloom panicle.
Thin out the weakest stems.
Remove wayward growth.
Like much of gardening, pruning is more of an art and less of a science — don’t overthink it, just go for it!
Plant Lore: Horny Goat Weed
Barrentwort, Fairy Wings, Bishops Hat. There are plenty of benign names for this plant, but nothing grabs your attention quite like Horny Goat Weed. Known scientifically as Epimedium, this shade- and drought-tolerant perennial originates from China where its medicinal qualities far overshadowed any use as an ornamental plant. Legend has it that a goat herder noticed that his flock was especially frisky after eating the plant and the rest is history. While the science is a bit murky, ingesting the foliage is said to improve circulation and perhaps stimulate the production of certain hormones. (Please don’t try this without consulting a doctor.) What is certain, is that it's a lovely, dependable perennial with delicate orchid-like flowers that appear to float above the foliage in early spring. It’s an especially good option for planting beneath trees.
We hope you enjoyed Issue 8 of The Cultivation.We want to provide content that captivates, educates, and inspires you, so let us know if there's something you'd like us to include next time. Please send your thoughts by emailing us here. Want to catch up on previous issues? Click here to read through all of our prior editions.
See you next week.