Deer Resistant Plants

Garden Supply Co. – Cary, NC

Seems to happen at my house every year without fail. Just as soon as my garden is at its peak in early summer, the deer find their way into my yard and being nibbling at all those lovely blossoms. Short of building a fence, the next best defense against these pesky creatures is adding deer-resistant varieties of plants to your beds and borders. You can still have beautiful blooms and interest in the garden while keeping pests at bay. Here’s a few of our favorite deer resistant choices.


Best known for their fragrant white flowers, gardenias are heat-loving evergreen shrubs that are happily unattractive to deer. Most gardenias grow into a round shape with dark green, glossy leaves and white, fragrant flowers that bloom from mid-spring into summer. Although once a mostly shade loving plant, there are varieties now that thrive in full sun, making these a wonderful plant option for foundation plantings.


A North American wildflower, Gaura is now widely grown across the continent. Plants bloom for many weeks, with loose sprays of small flowers. In the breeze these move constantly, looking like a cloud of small butterflies. Although Gaura may not always winter reliably, plants flower for the entire summer and fall, so consider using it even as an annual in colder winter regions. New plants will often appear from self sown seedlings. Superb in containers, the subtle color blends easily in borders. Drought tolerant once established.


Lantana’s aromatic flower clusters are a mix of red and orange florets. Other colors exist as new varieties are being selected. Many cultivars display multiple colors within each two inch wide disc shaped flower head. The flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Use lantana as annuals or perennials in flowerbeds or containers. Spreading cultivars are attractive as groundcovers or trailing over containers and walls.


Creeping sedums, also commonly known as stonecrops, are among the most versatile, drought-tolerant, and easy-to-grow perennials. Renowned for their ability to spread quickly, these low growers keep weeds from taking hold and perform well in rock gardens, borders, and containers.


Coleus are prized for their colorful foliage which may combine shades of green, yellow, pink, red and maroon. New introductions of this popular annual have been selected for increased sun and heat tolerance. The brilliant and widely varied colors of coleus foliage make it a natural for use in summer bedding and as a color accent. Coleus also grows beautifully in containers, which can be used to highlight patios, porches and garden terraces.


Agastache, also known as Hummingbird Mint, are a showy, fragrant group of perennial herbs. The tubular flowers are borne in whorls all summer
long, and are very attractive to many species of insects and hummingbirds. All  agastache species and cultivars have strong, square stems that hold up great in harsh weather  conditions and laugh at heavy rain and extreme heat.


Salvia boasts tall wispy wands of lavender or blue flowers that produce a very showy display. This perennial earns its keep with fast-growing ways, beautiful blooms, and a flavor deer find distasteful. Once established, plants shrug off drought, although it’s wise to keep plants well-hydrated through the hottest parts of summer if you want a steady supply of supple foliage.


Lamb’s Ears

Lamb’s Ears is a low growing spreader with very fuzzy, pale, silvery gray-green foliage. They are grown primarily for the color and texture of their foliage, although the species does have flower spikes early in the season. Lamb’s Ears are often recommended for children’s gardens because of their soft feel.


Many people appreciate lavender for its fragrance, used in soaps, shampoos, and sachets for scenting clothes.  The blossoms are also useful as a remedy for a range of ailments from insomnia and anxiety to depression and fatigue. Research has confirmed that lavender produces slight calming, soothing, and sedative effects when its scent is inhaled. The lavender plants themselves make a lovely small bushy shrub useful in beds, borders, and container plantings alike. Lavender plants will tolerate many growing conditions, but it thrives in warm, well-drained soil and full sun. Lavender is a tough plant and is extremely drought resistant, once established.

For more tips on growing deer-resistant plants in your area, stop by the garden center and speak with one of our friendly experts. We’re on hand seven days a week with answers for all your gardening questions. Hope to see you soon!


It’s Bagworm Season

Damage on Arborvitae from Bagworms

Worms are not often a critter that I spend much time thinking about. Beyond a usefulness in composting, worms seem rather mundane and unremarkable.  But right about now, An insidious little worm that often goes undetected may be causing all sorts of mischief with your favorite trees and shrubs. If your plants have suddenly gone from healthy to half-dead, you may have come down with a case of the bagworms.

Bagworms are caterpillars that make distinctive cone-shaped bags on a variety of trees and shrubs. They attack both deciduous trees and evergreens, but are especially damaging to juniper, arborvitae, spruce, pine, and cedar. Large populations of bagworms can strip plants of their foliage and eventually cause them to die. Infestations often go unnoticed because people mistake the bags for pinecones or other plant structures.

Bagworms on Spruce

Now is the time to treat your plants while the bagworms are still small. Keep your eye out for older bags from last season. One or two bags from last season can mean 50-100 new bagworms this year.

Cone Shaped Bags

If you catch the bagworms now, you can treat them yourself with a number of products that we carry here at Garden Supply Co. Thuricide, a natural product, works well, as does Dipel or Bifenthrin. Or of course our friends at Leapfrog Landcare can treat your problem spots if your plants are mature and the bags are out of reach.

For more gardening tips, stop on by the garden center and speak with one of our friendly experts. We’re here seven days a week for all your gardening needs. Hope to see you soon!

Heat-Tolerant Summer Lovin’ Plants

So far this year, we’ve been quite blessed with beautiful weather. What was a relatively short and mild winter has given way to a long and lovely spring. For all you gardeners out there, it’s been a great time to work in the yard. And even though summer’s heat will soon be upon us, that doesn’t mean that you have to give up on flowers for the season. There are plenty of heat-tolerant plants out there that will provide color and beauty all summer long. Here’s a list of some of our top favorites.

Lantana- Garden Supply Co.- Cary, NC

If you’re looking for a continuous burst of color all summer long, look no further. You can choose from a bevy of lantanas in just about every shade but blue. Most popular are the low-growing, spreading types, which are great for using in hanging baskets, cascading over walls, or massing in large sweeps. Although some selections boast flowers in solid colors, many have bi-colored clusters. They are notoriously easy to grow and require little attention. Better yet, a  lantana garden is butterfly heaven.  No flowers do a better job of attracting them.

Black Eyed Susan

The Black Eyed Susan is sturdy and easy-to-grow, boasting two to four-inch yellow flowers with a prominent purplish-black cone. These cheery flowers make great cut flowers for indoor arrangements, and actually benefit from a cutting back by producing more flowers later in the season. They grow well in just about any kind of soil, and also attract bees and butterflies to the garden.


The numerous selections of this flower are some of the garden’s most colorful, useful, and easy-to-grow plants. They bloom in late spring, thrive in heat, and tolerate drought. Verbenas are mainly grown for their remarkable length of bloom with most blooming from spring until close to frost if trimmed back once or twice in mid summer. Flower color ranges from white through pink, red, lavender, blue and purple.

Threadleaf Coreopsis (Tickseed)

One of the easiest perennials to grow. Delicate, daisy-like flowers complement fine-textured green foliage on this herbaceous perennial. Blooms, about the size of a nickel, come in a variety of yellows. Tickseed starts flowering in June and lasts through frost, with blooms surging throughout the summer and fall. This perennial is a low-maintenance plant and requires very little care once established.


This “fleshy” annual plant is well known for brilliant flowers in a variety of colors. Plants are low-growing spreaders with thick succulent stems and vibrant, cup-shaped flowers. Portulacas love it hot and dry. You can plant them in poor, even sandy, soil.  They will also self-sow in the garden. Plant them in a rock wall or along a sidewalk and they may show up next year in the cracks and crevices.


This is a plant that is started incredibly easily from seed, flowers very quickly, has a wide range of flower types and colors. Zinnias withstand full sun and heat, make an excellent cut flower, and attracts bees and butterflies.

For more gardening tips, stop by and chat with one of our helpful experts. We’ve got answers to all your gardening questions.



Spring Lawn Care Tips

Cary, NC-

Growing a healthy. lush green lawn in North Carolina can be a bit of a challenge. Poor soil conditions paired with high heat and humidity during the summer months are well-known contributing factors to our difficult growing conditions. But did you also know that two basic lawn-management practices, mowing and fertilizing, can either “make” or “break” a lawn by promoting good lawn health or opening it up to a weed infestation. Here’s a few tips for establishing a healthy and beautiful lawn in your home landscape.

Sharp Mower Blades

Always mow with a sharp mower blade. Sharp blades cut the grass cleanly, which ensures rapid healing and regrowth. When dull blades tear and bruise the leaves, the wounded grass becomes weakened and less able to ward off invading weeds.

A good rule to follow is to have your lawn mower serviced in late winter or early spring before peek grass growing commences later in the spring. If you haven’t had your blade sharpened in several years, you can be pretty sure that they are in need. Take a peek at your freshly mowed lawn and look at the tips of the cut grass. If you see tearing or ripping, you are in need of some service.

Mowing Height

Mow at the proper height for your lawn. For example, mow tall fescue at 3 inches during the summer months. By maintaining the proper height, you will allow the root system to fully develop, helping the grass tolerate summer heat and stress.

One-Third Rule of Thumb

Follow this mowing rule-of-thumb: Remove no more than one-third of the grass height at any one mowing. Cutting off more than one-third at one time can stop the roots from growing, which is an open invitation to weeds.


Fertilize lawns with the right amount of fertilizer based on soil-test results and at the proper time of year. Cool-season grasses like tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass should be fertilized in the fall.

Weed Whackers

Avoid trimming grass with a weed-eater near the trunks of trees and shrubs. The rapidly spinning monofilament line can easily damage the bark, exposing it to attack from insects and diseases. Instead, maintain a shallow layer of mulch around the bases of trees and shrubs to help suppress weed growth.

For more lawn care tips, stop by the garden center. Our helpful staff is on hand seven days with answers to all your gardening questions. Hope to see you soon!

Gloomy Scale

Cary, NC – Gloomy Scale – (photo credit)

Our friends at Leapfrog Landcare recently shared an interesting article about Gloomy Scale that is valuable information to share here with our Garden Supply Co. readers, too.  Gloomy Scale is a tiny bug that infects the healthy tissue of maple trees, especially the soft maples such as boxelder, red maple and silver maple. Grape, soapberry, native hollies, mulberry, sweetgum, and buckthorn may also be infested. And if left untreated, these little buggers can cause all sorts of havoc.

Seems that Gloomy Scale insects have been spending the winter snuggled up in their arboreal homes, and are about ready to resume development next month with their first offspring crawlers showing up in May. Crawlers are produced until the middle of August at which time practically every stage of development can be found. Males emerge in August and September and mate with new females. There is one generation per year.

Gloomy Scale detail- (photo credit)

Here’s what Greg, of Leapfrog Landcare shared.

“Gloomy Scale is a parasite that sucks the sugar out of the sap of Maple trees and when they multiply each female can reproduce up to 500 more!!! If a tree has only 50 females of this tiny bug and each of them reproduce 500 more, then that tree now has 25,000 or more Gloomy Scale that are all drinking from the tree. They keep populating the tree until it is just covered one scale on top of the other and it makes the tree trunk and limbs turn black and eventually as the infestation turns severe the tree can’t force enough sap past them to get all the way out to the ends of the limbs. So, at that point the tree starts dying from the ends of the limbs back causing a slow, ugly death.”

If left untreated, your maple trees can suffer severe damage from limb die-back or even death. But there is treatment. A horticultural oil as a dormant application is probably the most effective chemical treatment for gloomy scale control. However, sometimes trees are so large that thorough coverage is difficult. That’s when it is a good idea to call in the experts, like Greg. But hurry, you’ll need to treat your trees before their leaves come out this spring.

For more information on Gloomy Scale and it’s treatment, come talk to our friendly experts at Garden Supply Co. or look up Greg at Leapfrog Landcare. They offer full tree and shrub treatment plans as well as organic lawncare services for all your home garden maintenance needs.

Pruning 101

Cary, NC

To Prune or Not to Prune

To prune or not to prune is a question that often comes up in gardening discussions. When is the right time of year, and just how far back should a plant be pruned? For a concept that seems fairly simple in theory, these questions leave lots of room for doubt. So how do you know what and when to prune? Here are some general rules:


Right now, we are sitting on the fence between two seasons. It’s not quite full winter anymore, yet not quite spring, either. Deciduous plants are still without their leaves, evergreens are resting, and perennials have died back to the ground. This is a good time of year to prune some plants.

For many plants, time of year really does make a difference in successful pruning. Pruning is an invigorating process that stimulates plants to put out new growth. If you stimulate growth at the wrong time of year, such as fall or early winter, a plant will be encouraged to develop new and tender branches that are easily susceptible to weather damage.  A plant expends energy to grow these branches that typically break in a windstorm and have minimal flowering and fruiting capabilities. Simply by waiting to prune until late winter or early spring, a gardener can reduce the number of tender, susceptible sprouts on a tree or shrub.

Always prune a spring-flowering shrub after it blooms. Pruning in winter would eliminate its spring blooms.

Evergreen, non-flowering shrubs can be pruned at any time, however if they are pruned in the spring they will have a chance to put out new growth and get fuller before the following winter.

Dead, Damaged, or Diseased

Dead, damaged, or diseased wood can be pruned out of plants anytime of year. It is important to remove such branches as soon as they are discovered. Dead or damaged branches become easy targets for insects and also allow for the entry of diseases. And once a disease infects a plant, it will continue to spread to healthy tissue unless removed.


With pruning, develop a less-is-more methodology. Prune only if you need to. Choose plants that reach their desired height and shape with minimal pruning.

Remove suckers at the base of trees. Also remove crossing branches from the center of small trees and shrubs back to a main branch or trunk. Branches that cross and rub across each other cause damage to plant tissue, thus allowing insects and diseases a way in.

When pruning limbs and branches, prune back to about a one-quarter inch above a bud using a slanting cut. The bud is where new growth occurs. A slanting cut will help keep the pruned area dry after a rain.

Never prune back more than one-third of a shrub. Too much pruning will shock a plant, and can cause death.

Ornamental grasses should be cut back to a few inches above the ground before they put out new growth in the spring.

Large Trees

Large trees should always be pruned by a certified arborist. Trained arborists will take care to only prune if needed, and in the correct manner. They also have all the necessary equipment and experience to prevent injury to yourself or your property.

Care Tip

Once you’ve finished pruning, it’s a good idea to use an anti-bacterial spray on your pruners before putting them away. This will help prevent bacterial diseases from spreading.

For more tips on pruning, stop by the garden center. Our friendly experts are on hand seven days a week with answers to all your gardening questions.