Not all flowers are created equal. We're not just talking about size, shape and color. When it comes to flowers that will stand the test of time, there are only a few that thrive once they're cut for floral arrangements. And come Fall, the pickings are even more slim. But, we've got good news! These eight Fall flowering plants are perfect for any cut flower arrangement and we carry them all at GSCO!
Mosquitos have headlined the news for months due to the Zika virus outbreak. While there are shelves full of chemicals to repel those pesky insects, there are also many plants we can add to our gardens to detract mosquitos. Using citronella as a mosquito deterrent is common knowledge, but did you know that these six plants repel mosquitos too?
March is here and you know what that means! It's time for spring cleaning. Now that the winter weather is fading away and the forecast is looking sunny, you might as well start your spring cleaning outdoors. Save that closet cleaning for later!
March is the best time to prune all of your trees and shrubs except those that are spring blooming. So skip the azaleas, cherry trees, quince, forsythia, pear trees and other spring bloomers and get those pruning shears out for all of your other trees and shrubs.
- Do you see where the trunk meets the branch? This is called the collar. Cut just above this area on your tree branches at a 45 degree angle.
- Begin with your tree's branch stubs (1) And damaged branches.
- Does your tree have a few of those funny-looking branches that shoot straight upwards? These are water sprouts (3). They can take excess energy from your tree, so these should be pruned out.
- Now, check out the bottom of your tree. Do you notice any suckers (4)? These are branches that shoot up beside the trunk. Prune these to keep your tree looking nice and clean.
- Take a step back. Do you notice any closely spaced branches (5)? Prune these branches so that they're not so close together to promote even growth and appearance.
- Last but not least, you'll want to look for weakness. Branches with a narrow angle between the branch and the tree (6) are generally weak and should be clipped.
Still have questions? Make a visit to see us or fine out more about our landscaping services here. We can save you the trouble of doing it yourself!
Conifer trees have unique leaves or needles which are mostly evergreen. They are often fast-growing trees and can be large in size or small, depending on whether they are a dwarf variety. These trees need little pruning unless needed to keep them the right size for the space they are growing. Conifers can make a statement in your yard or have a utilitarian use as a hedge. They provide structure for yards and are important in winter months—not only do they provide green when most trees are bare, they also offer protection for birds from wind and precipitation. We have a selection of unusual conifers in right now which would be a distinctive addition to your yard:
Slenderina Blue Spruce
This tree grows up to 20 feet tall and can spread as much as 12 feet. It has a unique blueish color and grows in a graceful drooping pattern. It is slow growing with a low canopy, and can live for 80 years or more.
Weeping Blue Alaskan Cedar
This tree is an eye-catching addition to any landscape. It can grow up to 35 feet tall with a 5 foot spread and takes on a conical shape with branches that curve downwards.
This is an extremely dwarf selection that grows 36 inches tall and only a few inches wide. Foliage is compressed on irregular, stubby branches and evergreen.
This evergreen plant is upright and narrow with twisted growth. It is a great screen plant for a narrow hedge and is deer resistant. This conifer grows to 4.5 feet tall and 2.5 feet wide and likes full sun.
This is a dwarf hinoki cypress is an extremely dwarf conifer, growing 8 inches high and 12 inches wide. The bright green mounding foliage creates interest in any season. It likes full to part sun.
Soft textured silvery-blue foliage on this specially pruned conifer give it a unique look. To keep its shape, pruning is needed.
Japanese White Pine
This is a hardy tree that thives outside in the sun and is very ornamental. It grows in an irregular but mostly conical shape that can get up to 25 feet tall and just as wide.
This conifer has beautiful bright golden-yellow foliage and is conical growing. It reaches 20 feet tall by 8 feet or more wide and full sun is needed for best color.
Redbuds are relatively small, ornamental trees with short trunks and branches that spread out. This tree is well-regarded for its hardiness and adaptability. It blooms early with beautiful flowers that last for at least two to three weeks. Redbuds like moist soil and can tolerate full sun to shade.
Cherry trees are also early bloomers that make a striking showcase with their white-pink, fragrant flowers. Weeping cherry trees have slender branches that gracefully arc down to the ground. They grow in to a rounded shape and when covered with blooms, make the whole tree look like one blossom. Cherry trees prefer full sun and well-draining soil.
Both of these trees make perfect specimen plants and their early blooms will signal the start of spring to you year after year. We have a selection of redbuds and cherry trees which are blooming and this is the perfect time to plant them.
Stop by and one of our friendly associates will gladly help you get set up with one of these blooming trees in your garden.
As we truck along through the cold winter weather, we decided to discuss some perennials which thrive in the winter. We have created a special display out front that showcases an assortment of hardy winter perennials so if you’re looking for ideas, you may want to check that out. Here are a few plants to consider:
There are a wide range of varieties that fall into the Euphorbia species—over 2,000 plants ranging from weeds to trees to succulents are encompassed in this group. We have a selection of evergreen Euphorbias in an array of colors.
We have Glacier Blue, which has wonderfully variegated leaves and conical flowers in the spring. There is also the Mini Martini variety, which is a dwarf hybrid, and on which new growth appears as a deep burgundy. Ascot Rainbow is another species of Euphorbia we have which is stunning at this time of year, with green and yellow variegated leaves with touches of red and orange on them.
These plants enjoy full sun to part shade and well-draining soil with moderate water levels. They can handle drought conditions well and overall, are fairly easy to care for. They will flower in the spring and are a great evergreen choice for this area. If you are looking for a way to give your garden a splash of color in the winter, these plants are perfect!
Heucheras are a shade-loving perennial plant that overwinters well in our climate. These plants have exploded in popularity in recent years and a lot of cultivars are on the market. They come in range of colors from black, burgundy, orange, and green, and with an variety of variegation and leaf shape. Some, like ‘Mocha’, turn from a dark brown/black color to a beautiful red/orange in the depths of winter, giving your garden a pop of color just when you need it most.
Heuchera like moist, well-draining soil in a spot that is protected from harsh afternoon sun. They like to be divided every three to four years and enjoy some fertilization on a regular basis. A bonus—they attract hummingbirds and butterflies when they bloom. They are a sturdy plant that can provide constant interest in your garden and thrive in those shady spots that can be tough to fill with color.
Every year, the National Garden Bureau selects one annual, perennial, and edible plant as their “Year of the” plants. They choose these based on how each plant’s popularity, easiness-to-grow, adaptability, genetic diversity, and versatility. This year they have selected: Annual of the Year: Coleus
Coleus is a sturdy plant that doesn’t need too much care from gardeners. These plants are available in a wide range of colors and varieties and make a stunning statement wherever you decide to put them.
Perennial of the Year: Gaillardia
This is a beautiful flowering plant is in the sunflower family and comes in shades of red, orange, yellow, brown and white. It has a long season of bloom and attracts butterflies.
Edible of the Year: Sweet Pepper
Sweet peppers offer something for everyone—they come in a lot of different shapes, sizes, and colors. They are a garden favorite and are ideal for spot planting around your garden.
We’re still in the midst of winter but spring is just around the corner! As we approach warmer weather, consider finding a place for some of these plants in your garden. Come in to see us to learn what we have in stock and tips to make these plants thrive.
Cacti and succulents are excellent houseplants that add character to any room. Firstly, understand that the words cactus and succulent are general terms that refer to a wide variety of plants. Anything called a “cactus” belongs to a certain family of plants but may be one of many different species. “Succulent” is not a family of plants, but refers to any plant with fleshy parts for storing moisture. A wide range of plants from many different parts of the world falls into the succulent category. Cacti are defined as succulents and what sets them apart as their own sub-group within that classification is that they produce growths (areoles) such as spines. These spines help defend the plant against being eaten, as well as helping to reduce water loss by diminishing the air flow close to the cacti stem and offering a little shade. What sets cacti and succulents apart is their ability to exist on low amounts of moisture. Both of these categories of plants are adept at conserving water and nutrients. Keeping indoor cacti or succulents require a special kind of care which is different from most other houseplants. These plants are tough and can stand extreme conditions with little water, but in order to thrive, they need regular care and attention. During their growth season (which is usually spring to fall), cacti and succulents will appreciate regular watering and fertilizing. Check out the tag on your individual plants to identify the specific needs of that species and ensure you successfully care for the plant. These plants do enjoy a lot of sunlight and whether they like direct or indirect light will depend on the variety, so make sure you have the right spot to meet its needs. You can always supplement light needs with a grow light if you don’t have enough daylight in your house. Cacti and succulents like a well-draining soil and should be repotted every year or two, as they outgrow their current pots and to give them fresh soil.
We have a selection of cacti and succulents, so stop in and check them out! They may be the perfect plants to supplement your indoor houseplant collection and our friendly staff will be glad to assist you in understanding their care!
Ferns are a lacy, whimsical plant that add visual interest to any room. Their beautiful delicate appearance and easy needs make them an ideal choice to grow indoors. They gained popularity as indoor plants in the Victorian Era and the word “fern” comes from an Anglo-Saxon word (fearn) which means feather. These plants happen to be one of the only plants that do not produce flowers. They produce spores to reproduce. Ferns are native to the tropics and so enjoy high humidity, making them a good option for a bathroom. You can also mist them daily with a spray bottle, and if the humidity levels are not right, you may notice the tips of the fronds turning brown or dying. Another option to increase moisture levels around ferns is to double pot them. Place the potted fern in a larger container that is lined with moist sphagnum moss and be sure to keep the moss moist.
Depending on the type, ferns can have a variety of sunlight needs. Some like indirect sunlight, some will do fine with dappled or morning sun, and some can handle full sun. Check the tags on your chosen variety to ensure proper conditions. Their soil should stay evenly moist—not too wet and not too dry. When overwatered, their leaves will turn yellow and wilt. Water slowly and evenly until water runs out the bottom of the pot into the saucer. Ferns like light applications of houseplant fertilizer to stay happy and healthy.
Ferns should be repotted every couple years. If your fern starts looking lackluster, rejuvenate it with some outdoor time in the warm months. Place the pot in a shady spot so it can experience the fresh air and rain.
We currently have an incredible selection of ferns so if you want to give this beautiful plant a try, come see us! Our friendly associates can get you set up with everything you need to make your indoor fern a success.
What’s more fun and healthy than being able to grab a lemon, lime, or orange from your very own indoor citrus tree? Citrus plants can easily be grown indoors in a container and they will produce fruit as well as give off a refreshing fragrance. You can start these plants indoors in pots and then transfer outside when the weather is warm, or keep them inside permanently. Maintaining the plant in a container minimizes the shock involved with transplanting and allows you to control their growth (in case you don’t have space for a 12-foot tree inside). Citrus trees like soil that is well draining so their roots don’t sit in water for too long. Putting Styrofoam peanuts or rocks in the bottom of the container helps retain the water while allowing the roots to stay dry. Citrus trees like a specific amount of watering. If you scratch just under the surface of the soil and it’s moist, then the water level is correct. Overwatering can lead to weak roots and open the door to diseases. If the leaves are curling, are muted colors, or starting to drop off, then the plant needs more water. It’s best to keep a consistent watering schedule of about once a week in the winter to ensure the tree maintains the right amount of moisture.
These trees like a lot of sunlight, so choose a spot where they’ll get an adequate amount. A grow light can supplement for sunlight if there’s not a sunny-enough spot. A fertilizer specifically for citrus, fruit, or nut producing plants is recommended because these will have the right mixture of nutrients for fruit production. Follow the directions on fertilizer packaging for the frequency and amount of fertilizer to be used.
If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at growing a citrus tree, come down and see us! We have a selection of lemons, oranges, and limes to choose from and one of our friendly associates can help you get started growing your own citrus fruit. We even have some plants that are currently producing fruit to choose from!
- 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.
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 Joel 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.
There 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.
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!
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.
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!
Now 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.
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!
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:
- 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.
When 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!
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 energy 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!
We’re heading into the homestretch of summer, which can only mean one thing: it’s time to plant cool season vegetables! Here in North Carolina, spring temperatures can climb quickly, which makes vegetables such as lettuce or spinach develop a bitter flavor. Those veggies, along with others such as broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, generate the best flavor when they mature during cooler weather. Planting these crops now means you’ll have a harvest of produce that will carry you well into the fall and winter. There are a number of cold-hardy crops that prefer the cooler temps and higher moisture levels that come at this time of year. Late planted vegetables usually have less competition from weeds and there are fewer pests around to bother them. Some of these plants can grow very quickly from seeds and be ready to eat in a little over a month. Arugula, mustard, spinach, turnips and radishes all germinate from seeds and are ready to harvest in about 40 days.
To ensure success of late harvests, make sure seedlings have enough time to create well-established root systems before the first frost hits. It’s best to plant cool season vegetables in raised beds or mounded rows, and seeds should be planted deeper because the moisture level of the soil is lower and the surface temp is higher. The planting depth may be as much as twice as deep as for spring planting of the same crop. Give your plants a layer of manure or compost that is several inches thick to help the plants establish strong roots, provide adequate drainage, and supply the necessary nutrients for proper plant growth. Sprinkle fertilizer over top of your plantings for extra nutrients and continue to fertilize them regularly in the early growth stages.
Most vegetables need about an inch of water per week. For cool season veggies, it is best to do a single watering that seeps deep into the ground, rather than several applications that soak more shallowly. Young seedlings, germinating seeds, and transplants may require some light watering between the weekly soak.
Most cool weather vegetables can tolerate a light frost, but if a harsh frost hits, you will want to cover your beds with burlap, tarp or a blanket to protect plants.
Below are some suggestions of cool season vegetables to plant:
- Brussels sprouts
If you’re thinking about starting a cool season vegetable garden, stop in and see us! Our friendly staff is on-hand seven days a week and can help you with all of your gardening needs.