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!

Fescue Lawn Care for August

Hello everyone and happy Thursday to you! I’m sure most of you have noticed the slight dip in temperatures we’ve been enjoying these past few days. Looks like we’ve rounded the corner from 90+ degree hot summer days and can look forward to beautiful cooler weather instead. What a welcome relief! Could it be that fall is in the air?

Fall is the perfect time to be in the garden. It’s sunny and warm, yet cool enough to work. And best of all, there’s no bugs! Even though we’re still a few weeks away from the true fall season, there’s plenty we can be doing in the yard right now to get our gardens in top shape for next year. Now is a great time to start tackling lawn care and re-seeding projects. As soon as the night-time lows drop into the 60′s, like they already have, it’s time to get started. But before we talk about seed, we may need to tackle some nasty weed issues.

I don’t know about you, but the weeds have really taken over my lawn this past month. Things were in pretty good shape, and suddenly the weeds have just exploded. That’s because they just thrive in our hot and humid summers. I’ve got crab grass and chickweed as well as Bermuda grass, infiltrating my fescue sod. So if your lawn is anything like mine, you’ll want to tackle those weeds before turning your thoughts towards reseeding.

If your grass is less than 50% weeds, we recommend treating the area with Weed Out with Q by Fertilome. This ready-to-spray treatment kills crabgrass, dandelion, clover, plus 200 other listed weeds. It kills even tough weeds-roots and all.

Fertilome Weed Out with Q spray contains three proven weed killers that target lawn weeds and crabgrass. This product enters the lawn weeds through their leaves and moves throughout the plant to provide control. Recommended for cool season turf-grass such as Kentucky bluegrass, rye-grass, tall fescue, and mixtures of cool season grasses containing fine fescues. Also for warm season turf-grasses such as bermuda, zoysia, and buffalo grass. Application to bermuda grass may cause temporary yellowing or discoloration, but full recovery can be expected.

Note that this product should be used only when daytime temperatures drop below 90 degrees (85 for bermuda grass). And since we’re in the 80′s now, go ahead and give your lawns an application or two of this. Once treated, let your lawn sit about 2 weeks before re-seeding. Be careful not to over-apply which may cause burning to the grass.

If your lawn area is more than 50% weeds, you’ll need to go ahead and apply Round-Up to the entire area. And if you’re like me and have bermuda grass coming up in your fescue lawn, you’ll need to use Round-up on that, as well.

Now that we’ve talked about weeds, it’s time to think re-seeding.  Fall is the best time for re-seeding, and actually should be the only time you re-seed. Planting fescue seed in the fall allows the seed to fully root in and get established before the heat and stress of the summer hit again. Once night time temps dip into the 60′s, like now, you can get started. And you can safely seed until mid November.

For fescue lawns, we recommend Shady Nook lawn seed mixture from Wyatt-Quarles. Shady Nook is locally blended so it is perfect for our Piedmont growing conditions. And it is tested here at NC State to provide a better blend with fewer weed seeds. It is also perfectly suited for full sun into part shade, giving you a better mixture of drought tolerance and wet growing conditions.

We offer Shady Nook in 25 lb. bags, as well as  5 lb. bags for smaller areas.

If you have areas of full shade, we recommend mixing Creeping Red Fescue in with your Shady Nook blend. Creeping Red Fescue is shade tolerant, and it’s dark green color and finely textured blades will mix in perfectly with the rest of your lawn.

I hope these helpful hints will get you on your way to beautiful looking grass in no time. Remember, our helpful experts are on hand 7 days a week to answer all your lawn care and gardening questions. Stop by and pay us a visit! We’re always happy to see you down at Garden Supply!