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Wednesday
Jun042014

Season-Long Blooms

 

You spend a lot on your flowers and dedicate a lot of time to planting and watering your garden. You want to enjoy its beautiful blooms as much as you can, so how can you get the most bang for your buck? Believe it or not, there are little tricks you can use to keep your annuals and perennials blooming all season long.

The first and one of the most important things to look at is where you’re planting your annuals.  Geraniums are one of the most popular annuals that people use because they have great big blooms and are low maintenance.  However, without sufficient sunlight, geraniums will stop blooming.  The plant will keep on living, but will just be very green. So when you choose your annuals and perennials, make sure you are choosing flowers that require the type of light you have.  If you don’t have a lot of sun, you’ll want to choose a begonias or impatiens rather than a geranium.

Once you have selected your plants, you’ll need to make sure you know how to take care of them. The biggest trick to use to encourage re-blooming is deadheading or pruning. Deadheading is when you remove the flowers that are done blooming. Plants have flowers for one reason, to attract pollinators.  The goal in a plant’s life is to reproduce and create seeds to do so.  By deadheading flowers, you are preventing plants from going to seed, thus keeping their need to produce flowers.

When it comes to pruning, each plant is different, and even annuals and perennials differ.  For instance, geraniums need to be popped off where the stem meets the stalk of the flower while marigolds just need to have the spent flower heads popped off. Some newer varieties of petunias claim to not need to be deadheaded. While this is true, due to the science behind breeding those plants, deadheading can be done to help keep the energy of the flower towards making new blooms and to keep a cleaner appearance. 

Annuals are great, because they will bloom all season long. Perennials are great for coming back year after year, but they only bloom during a specific point during the season.  There are a few varieties that you can trick into re-blooming for you by deadheading them as the blooms start to die off.  This will prevent the perennials from producing seeds, much like with annuals, so they are forced into setting a second set of blooms. Some perennials that this trick will work on includes coneflowers, Shasta daisies, gaillardia, delphiniums, spiderworts, coreopsis and yarrow.

Other than pruning and planting, your basic care of the plants can help with re-blooming as well. Making sure your plants are getting enough water will help them from going through any type of stress that will distract them from their purpose. They put a lot of energy into making these blooms, so by giving them enough water, they will thank you by continuing to bloom and looking beautiful.

The final trick to getting your flowers to re-bloom all season long is fertilizer.  This will help give them nutrients to keep the blooms coming and look flush and healthy.  The best fertilizer to use for the purpose of creating more flowers is one with a high amount of phosphate, the middle number. One we recommend to our customers is Miracle Gro’s Bloom Booster which is 10-52-10.

As long as you keep your plants watered, fed and cleaned, you will enjoy blooms all summer long.

Wednesday
May282014

Dan on the Mike Nowak Show

This past Sunday, which also happened to have been his birthday, our very own Dan Kosta was on the Mike Nowak radio show on WCPT.  Dan and Mike discussed the winter burn that is plaguing everyone's landscapes this year after such a hard winter.  If you don't know what winter burn is, it's the brown, dead patch on your boxwood, roses, evergreens and other perennials.

In case you missed it, listen to the show here 

Wednesday
May142014

Thinking Outside the Flower Box

Working at a garden center, we hear many of our customers say they are bored with their containers. They plant the same thing every year, and while it works for them, they want to mix it up a bit.  This is when we like to direct them to some not so traditional plants that are amazing in containers.  Sure the spike, geranium and vinca vine combination is beautiful, but sometimes you need to think outside the flower box.

The first great container plant is Diamond Frost.  This plant is from Proven Winners and has been around for several years already, but it is now becoming more and more popular. It is an airy plant with white flowers that bloom all summer long.  It’s low maintenance and is a great filler plant because it grows in whatever spaces it can find.  It is drought tolerant, doesn’t need deadheading and helps lighten up any planting.

OxalisA great container plant for shade containers oxalis, more commonly known as shamrocks.  They are available in a wide variety of colors, from lime green to deep purple and more.  They also bloom in a variety of colors like yellow, white and lavender.  They mound and are a great filler plant. When they are not blooming, they are beautiful for their foliage and for adding texture to your containers.

Mexican Heather is an amazing plant that works best in full sun, is drought tolerant and is low maintenance.  The delicate lavender flowers bloom all summer long with the lacy leaves that have great structure for containers.  They don’t get too large and they do not trail, so once again, they are an amazing filler plant.

Iresine is a great plant to use for height in full sun or part shade. Like many of our favorite plants, it’s low maintenance and provides a splash of color in the center of any container. Whether you go with the lime green and white plant or the blood-red leaf to give your pot height,you can’t go wrong with iresine.

ScaveolaChleome or spider flower is a great plant for sunny containers.  It’s airy blooms look like a firework exploding in the center of your containers.  They grow fairly tall and look beautiful when paired with other tall, airy flowers like verbena bonariensis (the tall purple variety).  The unusual bloom also gives great texture to your containers.

Succulents like sedum are another way to add texture to your containers.  They generally make great trailers, creeping over the edge of your pot and contrasting against the rest of your container.  There are many to choose from, varying in shapes from round pedal-like leaves to thinner, needle-like foliage, as well as colors, from a bright green to a gray or purple.  They are very drought tolerant and can handle a good amount of sun, and many even bloom at some point during the season.

Laurentia is a great filler plant, used in sun to part sun containers. Many of our customers refer to it as the blue star flower for its beautiful sky blue, star-shaped flowers. It has unusual leaves as well, giving you lots to look at.  It has a mounding habit and grows to be fairly thick. Adding these to a red, white and blue summer container is a must.

SedumScaveola is another great blue flower that many people don’t know about.  It is a trailing flower that likes the sun and is again, low maintenance.  They come in white as well, but the blue is definitely the most popular.  Maybe try skipping the petunias and grab one of these this year.

Finally, shade containers can seem like a real challenge for some people.  We encourage our customers to use houseplants like variegated rubber tree plants, ferns or crotons in their shadier spots.  These plants can give you textures and colors in your containers that you thought you could only use impatiens and some ivy.  Make your shade pots look just as fun and unusual as your sunny spots by mixing up annuals and houseplants alike.

These are just a few of the non-traditional flowers we have in stock and love to use in our containers. If you want help mixing up your containers this year, be sure to stop by our Design with the Experts Nights. These are every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in May from 6-8 p.m.

Happy Planting!

Tuesday
May062014

Design with the Experts

 

Wednesday
Apr302014

Home Remedies

As the gardening season warms up, gardeners begin making many trips to the greenhouse to pick up plants, fertilizers, animal repellant and more.  There can be a lot of tools that go into maintaining a garden and believe it or not, there are lots of tools you already have at home.  Using some of these home remedies can save you an extra trip to the store.

One of the first home remedies is to extend the life of fresh cut flowers. Try putting a penny and a pinch of sugar into the vase of water with the cut flowers, and it will help keep them fresh longer. This way the cosmos and roses you cut from your garden will stay blooming on your table a little bit longer.

Another plant food that you may have at home already is tea. Believe it or not tea is a natural plant food that acid-loving plants especially like.  You can brew the tea and water your hydrangeas, rhododendrons and ferns with this. If you don’t want to brew it first, sprinkle new or used tea leaves around the base of these plants and then cover them with mulch. With each time you water, the nutrients will go into the soil and feed the plants.

For the coffee drinkers, used coffee grounds can be great for the garden.  Using them as mulch around your edible plants, tomatoes and blueberry bushes helps add organic nutrients to the soil. Coffee grounds can also be used to deter slugs away from plants. Something in the texture of the grounds keeps these pests away from your plants.

Bananas are also useful in the garden when you are done using them in the kitchen.  Cut up the peels and bury them around the base of your rosebushes to help prevent aphids from attacking your plant.  You can also use overripe bananas to attract butterflies. These will also, however, attract bees and other unwanted critters if left out overnight, so be sure to place them off to the side or where these insects won’t interfere with any outdoor activities.

There are a few more home remedies for dealing with insects. The first is using aluminum foil strips in with your mulch to help keeps bugs out of your garden. Salt is another natural pest killer. Pouring salt on slugs and snails will dry them up and help rid your garden of them.  Slugs and snails can also be killed by pouring beer into a shallow dish and set it outside in your garden. The bugs are attracted to the beer and never quite make it out.

Salt can also be a great weed killer. Mixing one part salt to two parts water and pouring it directly onto weeds can help prevent the growth of these unwanted plants. This is mostly good for areas like your sidewalks, patios and driveways.

Finally, newspaper is a great tool to use in the garden.  Laying newspaper down in sheets over the soil and then covering this with mulch helps keep the soil moist and the weeds out.  You can also add wet, shredded newspaper in with your compost to help remove odor. 

Come springtime, everyone is short on time. Between spring cleaning, bridal and baby showers and all the yard work, every gardener runs short on time.  Using a few of these home remedies to hold you over until the next time you can make it to the store can help keep your garden under control.