December Garden Clean Up

There’s a lot of gardening chores to be done in December to prep for winter weather. Here’s a quick run-down of some activities to think about doing:gardening tools

  • Keep mowing lawns until the grass stops growing and let clippings lie one the soil to return some nitrogen into the ground.
  • Clean up beds by pulling weeds, battling garden pests, and removing unnecessary debris from around plants and off of lawns.
  • This time of year is a good time to start thinking about the birds in your yard. Putting out a feeder is helpful for them during the winter months and they greatly appreciate an always-available, unfrozen water source.
  • Any plant that will not weather the winter well should be stashed in a safe spot for over-wintering. You can pot small plants or herbs like chives or rosemary and bring them indoors to continue growing them during cold months.
  • Make sure all of your bulbs are planted. They won’t do you any good come spring if they’re still sitting in the garage and you’ll be happy to have those beautiful blooms next year. It’s not too late to plant them and we still have bulbs in stock!
  • Get any trees or shrubs you want planted into the ground so they can thrive next year. We’re getting a new stock of trees in this month, so stop by and check them out.
  • Prep your new beds for next year’s plantings by laying newspaper or cardboard down to smother grass or weeds, then lay mulch on top.
  • Prune out or remove any plants, trees, or shrubs that look dead, diseased, or damaged. Don’t do aesthetic pruning now because new growth could begin and get damaged by the cold—save it for the spring.

It’s That Time: Poinsettias are Here!

Poinsettias: few other flowers are as synonymous with Christmas as this one! This plant was brought to the United States from Mexico in the 1828 by Bright Pink PoinsettiaJoel Roberts Poinsett. In Mexico, this plant is a perennial shrub and can grow 10-15 feet tall. The part of poinsettias which most people think of as the flowers are actually colored bracts, or modified leaves. The flowers are the center of the bracts. To get the longest-lasting poinsettias, choose plants with little or no yellow pollen showing because the plant drops its bracts and leaves soon after losing their pollen.

While poinsettias have long been rumored to be poisonous, this is not true. Ingesting the leaves of this plant will cause a child or pet to be sick with an upset stomach, vomiting and nausea, and they would have to eat 500 to 600 leaves to experience those side effects (and the leaves are not tasty). Despite that, it’s still best to be cautious about where you place house plants with pets and children in mind.

Red PoinsettiaThere are over 100 varieties of poinsettias on the market, ranging from red to pink, white, and purple. The red variety is the most popular and traditional. Although most poinsettias sold in the US come from California and their sales contribute over $250 million to our economy, our Poinsettias are grown locally. They are the bestselling potted plant in the US, which most being sold in the six weeks leading up to Christmas.

When bringing poinsettias home, make sure to place them poinsettias near sunny windows, or somewhere where they will receive plenty of sunshine. Be careful not to let the leaves of the plant press against the cold window panes, as they are tropical plants that dislike cold. They do not do well with very hot or cold drafts, so take care to keep them away from air registers and open windows or doors. Water only when soil feels dry and when watering, ensure that water soaks the soil down to the bottom of the pot, and then discard any excess water. If you plan on keeping your plant for several months, apply a soluble houseplant fertilizer for best results.Speckled Poinsettia

It is possible to keep your poinsettia going for longer than the Christmas season. You will need to care for it as you would any houseplant, and probably cut back the old flowering stems in February or March to maintain a good shape. Continue to fertilize the plant as needed.

For those who just want holiday blooms, take advantage of our “Dead or Alive” Program. Save the “Dead or Alive” tag and bring it back in the new year for a $5.00 discount on any house plant.

Our beautiful stock of Poinsettias is ready and waiting for you, so stop by and see us! Our knowledgeable staff can help you with any questions you have about caring for these festive flowers!

Time for One More Fertilization Before Winter!

As we get closer to winter, it’s a good time to think about fertilizing your plants and lawns one last time before the cold sets in. While it appears that plants go dormant or die in the winter, there’s actually a lot of activity going on under the soil. The roots are in growth mode and giving plants one last infusion of nutrients will help them build a stronger root system and thus help them better thrive next season.

Plants need a whopping nineteen elements to grow, with the primary three being nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. To ensure that your plants have ample access to all of the necessary nutrients, it’s best to regularly apply plant food. Fertilizers are labeled with three numbers, which designate the ratio of those nutrients. The first number represents the amount of nitrogen, which promotes foliage or grass blade growth. The second number is the amount of phosphorus, which helps root growth. The final numbers is the amount of potassium, which helps cell functioning and also helps plants absorb trace elements.2014-09-14 17.48.13

For late fall lawn fertilization, it’s best to use a formula that’s higher in phosphorus to stimulate root growth before winter sets in. This will help your lawn be more winter-hardy and green up more quickly in the spring.

Perennials will benefit from a fertilizer with high phosphorus as well, and fertilizing them will help them be stronger plants and produce more flowers next spring. Trees and shrubs will also appreciate fertilization before the cold sets in because over the cold months, their roots are taking in nutrients from the soil and applying them to health-promoting functions, like root development and disease resistance. The roots will store any extra nutrients so that they are readily available for new growth in the springtime.

Read the directions on fertilizers and follow them to make sure they are applied properly for maximum effect.

Come by and see us and we can help you figure out which fertilizers will work best to ensure that your plants build their strength up over the winter and come back strong in the spring!

The Incredible, Edible Pansy!

Yellow PansiesNow is a great time to clean up your planted pots that may be looking a little bedraggled coming off the summer heat. Pansies are a great option to spruce things up, because they will grow and bloom all winter and into spring. Many pansies are bright and bi-colored, making them an eye-catching addition to any garden or pot. Once spring rolls back around, pansies that were planted in fall are usually more robust, having been able to establish strong roots. This plant doesn’t like extreme heat or humidity, which is why they enjoy our fall and spring weather.

Pansies are compact and low growing, so they are ideal for edging, borders or container plantings. They grow into clumps as opposed to spreading along the ground, and most varieties will reach a height of 4 – 8 inches. This flower is a great match with spring bulbs. A popular method for mixing pansies with spring-blooming bulbs is to plant bulbs in a garden bed, and then plant pansies right over the bulbs. In the spring, the bulbs will bloom and, as their flowers wilt, the pansies will be beginning their spring bloom. This is an excellent technique to maximize your garden bed color in the spring. Tulips or daffodils are a couple options that look great with pansies. Some cool-season annuals that complement pansies well are snapdragon, calendula, and nemesia. Purple Pansy

Pansies are fairly easy to grow and will flourish under most conditions as long as they have good soil and at least partial sun. They like steady moisture so don’t let them dry out too much. One of the top reasons pansies fail is not getting enough water, so keep an eye on them and water if you notice they have dried out. Pansies respond well to deadheading, so keep plucking the wilting flowers off of ‘em. Ensure the plant has adequate nutrition by amending the soil with soil conditioner and Bio-Tone starter fertilizer.

A fun fact about the pansy flower: it’s edible! It has a mild, almost minty flavor and tends to be used a lot for decorations and as a garnish. (If you decide to sample some pansies, make sure no pesticides have been used on the plant.)
Drop by and see us, we have a fantastic supply of pansies right now that will do a great job of giving your garden or containers a fun pop of color!

Plant Fall Bulbs for Spring Blooms

Planting flower bulbs in fall is a fast and easy way to have beautiful flowers pop up in the spring. Just imagine: a little work now means that you’ll wake up one spring morning to a flower-filled garden! Bulbs are a favorite of both beginner and experienced gardeners because they are easy to plant and most require very little maintenance. Here are a few quick tips for planting bulbs:2014-09-20 13.27.40

  • Read the label and keep it with the bulbs up until the moment you plant. It’s the only way you can keep track of what you have so that when you start designing your spring garden, you can keep track of which plants and colors you are putting where.
  • Don’t plant bulbs in an area where water collects because they don’t like to sit in extremely wet places and they can rot under those conditions.
  • Make sure they get enough sun—bulbs like full sunshine.
  • Plant bulbs with the pointy end up and if you can’t discern the pointy end, check to see if there are any flattened or shriveled roots on one end, which would be the end that needs to point downwards.
  • Mix compost in the hole with the bulbs because like any plant, they enjoy well-drained and nutrient-rich soil.
  • Water bulbs well after you plant them to encourage them to send their roots out into the soil and start growing.

Selection of Spring BulbsWhen it comes to designing your spring garden, plant bulbs in clusters for the greatest impact, it gives a concentration of color that is impossible to miss! For a natural-looking drift effect, toss a handful of bulbs in the air and plant them wherever they land. Another fun technique to try is to do a “double-decker” effect where you plant small bulbs in a layer on top of larger bulbs. As long as they all flower at the same time, this will create a beautiful mixing of two flowers. You could also use this method with bulbs that will bloom at different times to ensure that you keep color in the garden bed as long as possible.

If you are interested in learning about planting bulbs this fall, don’t miss our class: Fall Bulbs for Spring Blooms on Thursday, September 25th, from 6pm – 7pm. Our experts will help you learn fall bulb planting so that you have a masterpiece garden come spring!

Fall is the Perfect Time to Plant Trees and Shrubs

As we begin to transition from summer to fall, now is prime time to plant trees and shrubs. If planted now, trees and shrubs will put all their trees and shrubsenergy into root growth.  Roots will grow throughout the winter months to store nutrients for next season. Trees and shrubs need less water during winter, because shorter and cooler days decrease the rate of photosynthesis. Trees planted in the fall are better able to withstand the heat and drought of the next summer. Soil is warmer now than it was in the spring, and it will remain warm even after air temperatures start dropping.

Pick a good location for your tree or shrub that will provide it with the appropriate amount of sun or shade and meet its moisture requirements. Dig a hole that is twice as wide as the root ball and no deeper (the top of the root ball should be above soil level). The root ball will lower a bit as the soil settles, and you don’t want it to end up too low in the ground. If planted too deeply in the ground, the plant can suffocate because not enough air will reach the root system. Break apart and loosen the roots if they are pot bound, so that they can more easily spread out once in the ground.

Once your hole is dug, use the shovel a few times in the bottom to loosen the soil and make it a little easier for the roots to expand outward. Amend the soil with composted cow manure, soil conditioner and organic fertilizer. Organic fertilizer is good to use in the fall because it contains a healthy dose of good bacteria and micro-nutrients, so it isn’t going to drive a lot of foliage growth, but will help the root system immensely. The mixture should end up being composed of a third of the existing soil, a third cow manure and a third soil conditioner. In addition to that mixture, we suggest using Espoma Bio-Tone. This is a starter fertilizer that contains myccorhizae (a type of fungi that roots rely on to help them gather nutrients) and other beneficial micro-nutrients that will help the plant establish a bigger and healthier root ball.

 

Spread a couple inches of mulch over the area to protect the roots and water well. Trees and shrubs have high water needs as they attempt to establish a strong root system.

Any tree or shrub that has been grown in a container or has burlap around its root ball can be planted in the fall. Do you have more questions? Stop in and see one of our friendly staff members who would be glad to assist you with your fall planting needs!