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Planting Bulbs FAQs

Fall is the time of year to plant your spring bulbs. To get those first sprigs of green next spring and have beautiful tulips and daffodils after a long winter, you need to get them in the ground before the ground freezes. Here are some of the most common questions we get about planting these. Let us know if you have any questions of your own and we’ll get you the answers you need!

Q: What can I do about animals that are moving or eating my bulbs when I plant them?

A: There’s nothing worse than taking the time to get a beautiful selection of spring bulbs planted and having squirrels and other critters dig them up, move them or eat them.   Gardeners mainly have an issue with animals and tulip bulbs, because other bulbs like hyacinths are poisonous for these guys.  So one solution is to plant bulbs you know they won’t go after. However, everyone likes to see tulips in the spring time, so here are a few other ideas on how to deter the critters.

When planting your bulbs, you can add chicken wire over the top of the bulbs to keep the tiny paws from getting a hold of the bulbs. Be sure to secure the sides by bending the edges downward and push the edges into the soil. You’ll add this wire over the top of the bulbs before filling in the area with soil to cover the bulbs.

You can also try products similar to what you use to keep animals away from your plants. Sprinkle the area with animal repellants like Repels All, use some hot pepper spray or even coyote and fox urine in the area.  These will hopefully scare the smaller animals away and prevent them from even trying to dig for your bulbs. 

Q: Can I put them in pots or do they have to go in the ground?

A: Spring bulbs like tulips, daffodils and hyacinths are perennials, and like other perennials you have in your garden, they need protection from our cold winters.  So the best way to ensure your tulips will bloom next spring, is to plant them in the ground. But, there is a way to plant them in containers and overwinter them.

The first step is choosing a pot. Make sure the container has drainage so the bulbs do not rot by sitting in overly-wet soil.  Also, the container will need to be at least 24 inches in diameter. Having a large container allows for a lot of soil, which will help insulate the bulbs.  If there is not enough soil in the pot, the bulbs may freeze during the winter and never grow for you the following spring. If you have smaller containers you want to use, you will have to insulate them by either burying them in mulch or bringing them into your garage or shed where it is cooler, but not as cold as the outside.

Once you have chosen a pot, fill it with a high-quality potting mix, not garden soil, and plant the bulbs just as you would in the ground (about 2-3 times as deep as they are long. For example, a daffodil bulb is about 2 inches tall, so plant is 6 inches deep).  Water the pots after you have planted the bulbs.

Once the warmer temperatures begin to warm in spring, bring any smaller containers you stored away outside. You’ll notice the bulbs starting to sprout just as they would in the ground.

Q: Can I transplant bulbs?  (Cannas, Elephant Ears, etc)

A: Yes! Bulbs like elephant ears and canna lilies are not hardy in our area. When the evening temperatures start to dip below 40 degrees, it is time to store them for the winter in order to be able to grow them again next year.

To store the bulb overwinter, you will need to first dig it up out of the soil. When digging up the bulb, be careful not to damage it in any way.  Any bit of damage could lead to rotting over winter. To prevent damage, start digging at least 6 inches out from where the plant is growing out of the ground.

Once the bulb is dug up, you will want to clean the bulb off. Gently rinse them in water, not scrubbing or using any sort of chemical. Cut off the remaining foliage that is coming out of the bulb at this point, as well. Now that the bulb is clean, it has to be dried to prevent rotting.  Keep the bulb in a warm, dark room with good air circulation around it for about a week to be sure it is completely dried.

Once the bulb is dried, wrap it in paper and keep it in a cool, dry room for the winter. Once the ground has warmed up in May, go ahead and plant the bulb in your garden again.


Decorating with Pumpkins!

Carving pumpkins has become more of an art form it seems, with people using different tools, pumpkins, and materials to create this traditional Halloween decoration.  Here are a few ideas of what you can do with your pumpkin this year, other than the classic smiling Jack-O-Lantern.

One idea is to use your pumpkin to help decorate for your favorite football team. From "Da Bears" to "Go Hawks" or "Boilers," you can decorate for Halloween and show your team spirit all at once.

Another alternative to carving the traditional face is to use other pumpkins and gourds in your Halloween display.  You can carve the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in a grouping of pumpkins, adding the correct colored headbands of course. Or you could use a miniature pumpkin or gourd that's being eaten by your much larger pumpkin (see photo).  Carving a scared or surprised face into the small gourd as it gets devoured by the much scarier, larger pumpkin.

Going along with using little gourds, you could skip the traditional pumpkin all-together and pick out one of the many interesting large gourds to carve instead.  Use a white pumpkin or the large blue gourds and carve it just like you would a pumpkin.  Scoop out the insides, and get creative with the faces.  There are lots of unique gourds to choose from, and even a few extra-warty pumpkins that could make great witch faces for your porch.

There are also a lot of ways to decorate your pumpkins without having to get out any knives or spoons.  Pumpkins can be easily painted with black, silver, or dark purple paint, adding scary faces or just polka-dots.  Add some glitter to the pumpkin to make it really sparkle!  You can also use miniature pumpkins and paint to make creative place cards for fall dinners or your Thanksgiving table.  Simply paint the first name of the guest, or write it with a paint pen,  and they have a party favor to take home as well.

Another way to use pumpkins to decorate is to create a stack.  This is very popular with Cindarella pumpkins. These pumpkins are not as round as your traditional jack-o-lanterns, and come in shades varying from a pale yellow to a deep red-orange.  Add a little bit of straw or fake spider webs to fill your urns for the fall.

Finally, a great use for pumpkins is to use them as your planter.  Cut the top of the pumpkin off and clean out the pumpkins as you would if you were going to carve them.  Then fill them with dirt and create a beautiful fall arrangement, or simply drop in a large mum.  This unique planter gives a creative spin on the usual bushel basket planters you see on everyone's porch, but they do not last as long as traditional pots.  Depending on the weather, the carved pumpkin or gourd will begin to rot after three or four weeks.  The warmer and wetter it is, the quicker they will rot, so keep them under a protected porch or put them in the garage if it's going to rain. (The pictured container was planted three weeks ago and is still holding up quite well.)

So try something new this year with your Halloween decorations, adding a few more gourds and faces to your front porch. 


Winter Container Workshop



Easy Bloompads for Planting Bulbs

Fall is a time for planting; planting everything from perennials, to shrubs to your spring bulbs.  This year, Vern Goers Greenhouse is offering a new way to plant your bulbs, with the Easy Bloompad.


The biodegradable pad makes planting your spring bulbs easy, quick and clean. On each bloompad, bulbs have been pre-spaced, so all you need to do is dig a hole where you want them to pop up next spring.  Then place the bloompad into the hole, and cover with soil. 


Depending on the type of flower and the size of the bulb, there may be anywhere from seven to twenty bulbs in each bloompad.  The size of the pads also make them easy to plant in pots and containers for anyone with limited garden space.  Just be sure to protect your pots from the cold winter temperatures by keeping them in a cool, dark place indoors.

In case you are more traditional and enjoy making your own combinations of spring bulbs, however, Vern Goers Greenhouse is still carrying the traditional bags of bulbs that you can purchase and mix together as you please.



Cool Nights? Time to Bring in Your Houseplants!

Ferns are easy houseplants that thrive in the summer weather, but need to be brought indoors as the temperatures drop.Not only do gardeners enjoy the outdoors during the warm summer months, but their houseplants do, too.  Bringing your indoor plants outside on a shady porch for the season always helps them grow and keeps them happy.

As the weather begins to turn cooler, however, it comes time to bring them back into the house, along with a few other plants you may have in your garden.  The specific date to bring them in by varies with the weather, so it changes each year.  There are some general guidelines on when to bring your houseplants in, which additional plants you can overwinter in your home, and how to do so.

There are two ways to tell when you should start packing it in: the first is when the leaves start falling from the trees. The second is when overnight lows start dropping below 45 degrees.  Once these cooler nights start to occur, you will need to begin to make the adjustments for bringing in your plants.

Each houseplant has different requirements for light, water and soil, so before you make the space for them inside, be sure you know what will keep them happy.  Generally speaking, a room with southern exposure is the best place for plants during the winter, because there they will get the most light. 

Another thing to look at is the distance between the window and the plant.  Certain tropicals that you bring indoors may not do well if they are directly next to the window, as it may be too cold in January or February.  Other plants could get fried by getting too much direct sun being close to a window.

An additional care requirement may be cutting the plant back.  For example, hibiscus need to be cut back when you are overwintering them, while peace lilies can just keep growing.  So be sure you know what each plant needs that you are bringing in, as well as if you have the space for it. If you have a plant that you’re not sure about, feel free to contact us by phone (630-323-1085) or e-mail (verngoersgreenhouse@gmail.com) and we can help you with the care requirements.

There are other houseplants that you can overwinter indoors in addition to the typical houseplants. Some popular plants to overwinter in our area include hibiscus, croton, palms and gardenia.  Other annuals, like begonias, geraniums, coleus and shamrock, or oxalis, can make it indoors overwinter as well. There are also plants that come from a bulb that you can dig up and store in a cool dry place in a paper bag over the winter.  These include caladium and elephant ears. 

Unfortunately, there are a lot of plants that cannot make it indoors.  Flowers like petunias, zinnias, impatiens and marigolds to name a few, do not grow indoors. These are bred to only grow one season, so unfortunately we have to toss them once frost has hit them.

Once you have found which plants you want to save, and where you are going to keep them, there are a few techniques you need to get them adjusted to their new environment. Wash the plant down with a light spray on all sides of the leaves to get rid of any bugs that might be on the plant.  Some of your plants can also be repotted into a larger pot with fresh soil to give them room to grow over the winter.

When you move them indoors, there is a chance that they’ll go into a little bit of shock due to the change in climate.  To avoid this you can gradually move them into conditions more like what they are going to be in once inside your home.  If not, they may not look that happy for a few days, but they will come out of the shock.

Once the plants are inside, remember that they will not need to be watered as frequently during the winter months.  Rather than every other day, you may need to water them as little as once a week.  You can also mist plants like ivy once a week to help prevent spider mites, which can often occur on ivy when they are indoors.

While the weather outside gets to be cold and frightful, you can keep your gardening going indoors with the right plants and the right conditions.