Winter/Spring Blooming Bulbs

Spring brings the welcome sight of flowering bulbs after a long and cold winter, starting with early snowdrops and crocus, then daffodils, and last but not least, tulips. Most varieties will be perennial, and many multiply in number yearly. Their successful showing next spring depends on the steps you take now in planning, planting, and care for your bulbs. So if you’re looking forward to beautiful blooms this winter and spring, here’s what you need to know.

Planning

While bulbs are commonly planted in formal beds, borders, or containers, many work well in naturalized plantings. Plan to create some naturalized areas in your landscape in the following ways:

Randomly scatter crocuses, daffodils, grape hyacinths, snowdrops, and snowflakes, and plant them where they fall. They look better when planted in clumps or drifts, so you may need to move them around a bit.

Plant spring-flowering bulbs along the edges of woodland areas or beneath the canopies of deciduous trees. Keep in mind that they should receive plenty of sunlight and finish blooming before the trees leaf out.

Insert bulbs such as crocuses in your warm-season lawn. The crocuses will brighten up the lawn and be finished blooming before it’s time to mow next spring.

Spring Blooming Bulbs from Garden Supply Co.

Planting

Now is a good time to plant spring-blooming bulbs. Remember that these bulbs require an extended cold period to bloom reliably. When bulbs don’t receive sufficient cold treatment, they produce flowers on shortened stems that are lower to the ground and often hidden by their leaves. So if you haven’t already done so, place your spring-blooming bulbs in an old refrigerator for several weeks of chill down before planting.

Follow suggested planting depths when placing your bulbs. The general rule is this: plant bulbs at a depth equal to three times the height of the bulb. Be sure to use a time-release bulb fertilizer at planting time.

*helpful hint* – some bulbs naturally resist attack by squirrels, chipmunks, and voles, but many make tasty winter-time snacks for hungry animals. We suggest dipping your bulbs in I Must Garden’s Squirrel Repellant before planting. For already established plantings, spray or dust formulas are available for surface treatment.

Care for Your bulbs

Fertilize new and established beds with a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer. Don’t wait until spring, because the bulbs are producing roots and foraging for nutrients now. Keep in mind that naturalized bulbs need to be fertilized on an annual basis to encourage perennialization.

Summer bulbs which could be killed by winter freezes should be lifted, dried, and stored. Cannas, dahlias, gladioli, caladium, and tuberous begonias should be removed after their foliage is killed by frost. Because they won’t survive the winter outdoors, they need to be cleansed of soil and stored indoors in a cool but frost-free location.

Mulch plantings with compost, pine straw, or hardwood mulch to protect tender and semi-hardy bulbs from the winter cold.

And finally, clean up and remove old, dried iris leaves, stems, and other debris to help eliminate overwintering eggs from nasty pests or iris borers.

As always, our friendly staff is available 7 days a week to answer all your spring-blooming bulb or any gardening questions you may have.  And we have a fabulous selection of bulbs to choose from, from all your classic favorites to more unusual and unique offerings. Stop by and let us help you create the garden of your dreams.

Prime Time Planting

What a welcome relief it’s been to finally have temperatures dropping and a respite from summer’s heat and humidity. In just a few short days, Autumn will be officially here. And I, for one, couldn’t be happier. Now we can look forward to cooler days and crisp air, football season,  and the color of changing foliage. Fall is also the prime time of year for planting new trees and shrubs in your home landscape. Planting now will allow your new plants to become firmly established before the heat of next summer kicks in. Here are a few handy planting tips to keep in mind for when you’re ready to get started.

Handle balled & burlapped (B&B) plants by the ball and container plants by the pots as much as possible.  If your new plants must be held for several days before planting, put them in an area where they will be protected from excessive sun or drying winds.  Water thoroughly every 2-3 days until planting.  Check daily, as more or less frequent watering may be necessary depending upon weather conditions and the size of the plant.

Consider the mature size of the plant and be familiar with sun and moisture requirements as well.  Pick an area that will accommodate these requirements.  Do not plant in excessively wet or dry soil.

Your hole should be dug at least 1 1/2 times the width, but NO deeper than the size of the root ball.  Mix existing soil in equal parts with soil conditioner and composted cow manure.  An adequate amount of Bio-tone, Plant-tone, or Holly-tone and Dynamite fertilizer should be added to insure nutrient content.

Remove the plant from its pot by placing your hand on top of the root ball and turning over.  Tap and pull the pot until the root ball slips out.  Loosen any roots if necessary on pot-bound plants.  On B&B plants, do not remove any wire, string, or burlap.

Place a portion of your amended soil mixture in the bottom of the hole so that 1/4 of the height of the root ball is above ground level, depending on the moisture content.  Backfill around root ball, using soil mixture.  Lightly tamp soil to hold plant in position and help insure good root-to-soil contact.

Mound remainder of amended soil mixture up to the edge of the root ball to produce a “ring” for water retention and root insulation.  See photo above.  Place mulch at a maximum depth of 1 to 2 inches on top of root ball and 3 inches elsewhere.  Soil conditioner or hardwood mulch is best for trees.

You can find these full instructions, along with other helpful tips on watering and lawn care, in our handy Planting Guide, available for free in the Greenhouse.  We also have a video tutorial by Garden Supply owner, Keith Ramsey, full of helpful tree planting tips on our website. And as always, our helpful staff is on hand 7 days a week to assist you with all your gardening plans.

August Care for Annuals & Biennials

Cary, NC

Our Carolina summers sure can take a toll on the average homeowner’s yard and landscape. Although a few small signs of cooler days are starting to make an appearance, we still have a little more summertime weather to get through. If your annual and biennial planting beds and containers are looking a little worse for wear right about now, here’s a few gardening tips and tricks to keep them looking in top form during this last bit of summer heat and humidity.

Care For Your Annuals

Do not disturb the soil in your flower beds during these hot August days. Loosening the soil due to cultivation can damage those tender surface roots and increase water loss from the soil. You may notice that after you break up the soil around them, plants often look much worse. So just leave well enough alone for now.

Inspect the mulch in flower beds. If wind, rain, and natural decay have reduced its thickness to an inch or less, apply more mulch to raise the level to 2 to 3 inches between plants, but only about 1/2″ around the bases of the plants.

If your bedding plants look bedraggled, clear out the annuals that have finished blooming or are overgrown.

Watering

Check the soil in flower beds to determine if you need to water. Water deeply to wet the entire root zone of the plants.  Avoid wetting the leaves to reduce the risk of fungal diseases such as leaf spots and powdery mildew.

Container-grown flowers can dry out quickly, especially when located in full sun. Check the moisture level in pots daily and water when needed. Be sure to water long enough so that it runs out of the drainage holes. Keep in mind that porous clay pots will dry out more quickly than plastic or glazed pots. Also, small pots will dry out faster than large planters.

Check on the water needs of hanging pots and baskets daily. Wind and sun dry them much more quickly than plants in other kinds of containers.

Fertilizing

If they haven’t been fertilized in over six weeks, leggy plants that have been cut back will benefit from a light feeding of fast-release fertilizer. Use a water soluble fertilizer such as 20-20-20, following label directions.

Pest Control

Be on the lookout for aphids and spider mites. You can remove these pests with a strong spray of water, or resort to a pesticide if their numbers are too high and damage is great. However, if these plants are going to be removed and replaced by cool-season annuals, spraying with a pesticide may be unnecessary. Simply remove and discard heavily infested plants instead.

Weeds

Control weeds by hand-pulling and maintaining a shallow layer of mulch. Prevent weeds from going to seed by removing the flowers. Keeping the beds weed-free will prevent competition for water and nutrients, and will also remove overwintering sites for those nasty spider mites.

For more gardening advice and tips, ask the friendly experts at Garden Supply Co. They are on hand seven days a week with help for all your gardening questions. Hope to see you all soon!

Dividing Perennials

Winter sure seems cold and long for those of us who dream of lush green gardens and colorful flowers.  Feels like there’s nothing to do but sit and wait, stare out the windows at those bare trees, and dream of the spring to come. But although it may not be prime spring planting time yet, there are things that can be done in the garden now in preparation for the days ahead.

Perennial Dividing

It may seem like the ground is awfully hard due to some of the freezing temperatures we’ve been having lately, but now is actually a fabulous time to start dividing and re-planting any mature perennial plants in the garden. What feels like frozen ground is, in reality, only a thin crust, and dividing and re-planting perennials now will give your plants plenty of time to re-establish themselves and develop strong roots before the heat of next season kicks in.

Why Divide?

Perennials are divided to control their size and to increase their numbers. Short-lived perennials or old perennials that have become crowded with sparse flowers can be kept vigorous and blooming through division. After dividing, the younger sections will flower more prolifically.

A general rule-of-thumb for Piedmont gardeners is to divide spring and summer blooming perennials in the fall, and fall-flowering perennials in late winter/early spring when the new shoots have emerged. It is most important to divide the plants when they are not flowering.

How To


Garden Supply Co. owner, Keith Ramsey, recently shared with me a few tips and tricks for easily and successfully dividing perennials. Step one: carefully dig around the base of your established plant with a pronged pitchfork or sharp-tipped shovel, digging up the entire plant in one piece.

Once the plant is out of the ground, you can now divide your perennial into smaller clumps. Depending on the original size of the plant, you may divide your new plants into 2, 3, 4, or more pieces. Keith divided his one-gallon plant into 4 new sections.

Use a sharp cutting tool to separate the roots of your old perennial. Keith recommends using a Soil Scoop, as the edges are ideal for cutting roots, while the scoop is also useful for filling and general potting. For thicker or more stubborn roots, try the Flex Rake Pruning Saw.

Planting

Now your newly-divided perennials are ready for re-planting. Dig a hole as wide as the root-ball and the same depth. Set the plant in the hole so the crown is at or slightly above ground level. Cover and firm the soil lightly around the plant. And to give your new plant a good head start, add a shot of starter fertilizer when planting.

We highly recommend Bio-Tone Starter Plus all natural plant food. This fertilizer won’t burn or harm your plants because it’s completely organic. Perfect for starting new plants or transplanting old.

For more tips and tricks on dividing perennials, replanting, or garden design, stop by the garden center. Our friendly and helpful staff is here 7 days a week to help you with all your gardening needs. If you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

Hope to see you all soon!

Fall Bulbs

The fall season is officially here, and down at Garden Supply, we are in full autumn mode. Not only is the Greenhouse bursting with fun fall and Halloween home decor and gift items, the Garden Center has also been fully loaded and re-stocked with glorious plants, just in time for your fall planting. It looks gorgeous down here. We’ve got all your fall favorites, whether it’s mums or pansies, ornamental grasses or cabbages. We’ve got trees and shrubs and perennial tables full of bloom. There are cold weather vegetables for those of you who like to grow your own. And we also have a wonderful selection of fall bulbs that are sure to fill your gardens with flowers come spring.

Spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips and daffodils must be planted in the fall or early winter to bloom in spring because they require a long period of cool temperatures to spark the biochemical process that causes them to flower. In fall, it’s important to get them into the ground before the ground freezes. This will give them time to develop strong roots.

Planting times vary, depending upon the climate zone, but as a general rule, planting earlier is better than later. Bulbs need to establish strong root systems, before the frosts of winter set in and the bulbs enter a new cycle in preparation for spring blooming. Remember to plant bulbs in an area that drains well and water newly planted bulbs to help those roots get going!

When digging holes for your bulbs, the general rule of thumb to follow is plant large bulbs 8 inches deep, and 6 inches apart and small bulbs 5 inches deep, 3 inches apart with all pointed ends up. Add fertilizer or bulb food before replacing soil. Top with 3 inches of mulch to retain moisture and protect the bulbs.

Come talk to our friendly experts about adding spring-blooming bulbs to your existing planting beds or pick up tips on naturalizing smaller bulbs directly in your sodded areas. Your efforts now will pay off with bounties of blossoms late next winter and well into spring.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you back here soon for more snippets from the garden.

Mum’s the Word-Care Tips

Good morning everyone! Yesterday I shared with you some of the beautiful autumn mums we’ve received this week at the Garden Center. Mums are, without a doubt, one of our most popular fall bloomers. They look equally great in containers on your front porch as in borders in your mixed beds, and come in a rainbow of autumn colors. The garden mum just cannot be beaten for beautiful fall color. And now that you’ve picked up a few mums for your yard, I have a few tips and tricks for keeping your new plants looking in tip-top shape.

Fall planted mums need a little attention to help them make it in the landscape through the winter. Get these fall-blooming perennials in the ground as soon as possible. If using mums as container plants, it’s unlikely they will make it through winter, so enjoy their seasonal color as you would annuals.

Plant mums in full sun, in well-drained soil that is moderately moist. If the soil is too wet or too dry, the mums will suffer. Keeping the soil moist will ensure good root development on the plants as they go into winter, even after the tops have gone dormant. They tolerate part shade, but if it is too shady, the mums will get leggy and have smaller flowers. If your area receives at least half a day of sun, your plants should do fine.

Plant the mums in your flower bed at the same depth that they were growing in their pots and mulch them to help stabilize soil moisture and temperature. Be sure to cut and loosen the outer root system of the plant to maximize root growth before planting. Do not plant chrysanthemum flowers near street lights or night lights: the artificial lighting may wreak havoc with the mums’ cycle.

Do not fertilize your plants until you see new growth next spring. Use a general purpose fertilizer such as 5-10-5 at the rate of 1 lb. per 100 square feet. Fertilize once per month through July.

Removing the spent flowers, called deadheading, will keep your plant looking neat and tidy and will help promote more blooms. Once your plant has gone dormant, do not cut back the dead growth. The dried flowers and stems serve as insulation to protect the plant during winter. When you see new growth in spring, cut the dead stems as close to the ground as possible.

Be sure to give your mums plenty of space in the garden. They can grow and multiply rather quickly. An added benefit, in my opinion. By every third spring, divide your mums to rejuvenate them.

With these care tips, you’ll be enjoying glorious fall color from your garden mums for years to come. Enjoy!