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Holiday Gardener’s Calendar

Winter is upon us. Depending upon the temperatures, there may still be time to finish remaining chores. If you have any questions about the following procedures or products, please come in and see us. We can help you select the correct dormant oil, fertilizer, selective herbicide and frost protection method. We’re always here to help.

General Landscape

  • Mulch with bark, compost or other local materials to enrich soil, protect plant roots and prevent erosion.
  • Protect plants from frost and wind.

Houseplants

  • Perk up tired houseplants by removing dead and dying leaves. Wash under a soft shower in the sink or tub.
  • Spider mites proliferate in warm dry winter homes. Check for mites by looking for tiny speckles on leaves.
  • Transplant if roots are growing through the drainage holes or over the pot edge. If you don’t want to move into a larger pot, untangle the roots and cut back by 1/3, scour the pots and replant with new soil.
  • Remember to turn your plants each week as they begin to grow towards the weaker window light.
  • For indoor bloom, plant amaryllis, paper white narcissus, hyacinth, crocus and indoor cyclamen.
  • Popular holiday plants such as poinsettias, chrysanthemums and orchids fill the stores. Check them thoroughly for “hitchhikers” before bringing into the home or spray with household plant insecticide or soap.
  • Be creative in your arrangements and combine them with metallic painted twigs, pinecones or seashells.
  • If using a live tree for a “living Christmas tree”, prolong its time indoors by using Wilt-Pruf to reduce the loss of moisture from the needles.

Lawn:

  • Remove leaves, toys, hoses, etc, from lawns to prevent dead spots.
  • Apply winter fertilizer, if not already done. The middle number, phosphorus, aids root growth during the winter.
  • If you have weeds in your lawn, consider using a winter fertilizer with weed control.
  • Mow one time after lawn goes dormant and before freezing. This last mowing should be 2 ½” tall.
  • When temps are freezing, stay off the lawn as much as possible to reduce blade breakage.

Vegetables:

  • Protect cool season vegetables with row covers, leaf or mulch cover.
  • Mulch beds to enrich and protect from rain/snow erosion.
  • Review gardening notes and plan next year’s garden.
  • Test germination rate of leftover seeds, if wanting to use again.
  • If gardening under lights or in heated greenhouse, start seeds of early spring crops: lettuce, kale, mustard, spinach, and other greens.
  • Harvest carrots, lettuce, greens and over-wintering crops.

Trees and Shrubs

  • Stake young trees and vines if needed. In case of a heavy freeze, use Wilt-Pruf or similar product to reduce transpiration of moisture.
  • Prevent southeast trunk injury, a form of winter freeze damage. Use light-colored tree guards to protect the trunks of young trees for at least two years after planting. After two years, paint the trunks with white latex paint. These two methods prevent the tree trunk from splitting when sunlight warms the bark on side of the trunk.
  • Fertilize shrubs and trees, if not done already, and the ground is not frozen. This allows roots to absorb when temperatures are above 40⁰ and when spring returns. Granules and spikes provide nutrients effectively and easily.
  • Prune out dead and diseased tree branches to prevent from falling on roof or pedestrians.

Fall Gardener’s Calendar

SEPTEMBER

Spray Bonide All-Season Spray on hemlocks to control woolly adelgid.

Spruce up the landscape by planting Fall Pansies, Flowering Cabbage & Kale,  Garden Mums,  Fall-Blooming Perennials as well as Trees and Shrubs.

Test your lawn pH to determine if you need to apply lime this season.  A 5o lb. bag of Lime will raise the pH about a half a point per 1000 square feet of turf.

Pick up your Spring Flowering Bulbs like tulips, daffodils, crocus, hyacinths, snowdrops and more!  An Auger for the drill will also help make planting easier.

Plant cool-season salad greens (arugula, corn salad, lettuce, radishes and spinach) in cold frames.

Apply Superphosphate now to coax stubborn plants into bloom next year.

Aerate, re-seed and apply Fall Lawn Food to the lawn.  Keep grass seed damp; water every day if necessary.  You will also want to check for grubs.  Increased activities of skunks, raccoons and moles as well as brown patches that peel back easily are an indication of grub activity.  Apply granular Sevin to control the grubs as well as chinch bugs and sod webworm.

Treat houseplants with Systemic Granules and Concern Insect Killing Soap now to get rid of any insects before bringing them into the house prior to the first frost.

Clean out garden ponds and pools.  Cover with Pond Netting before the leaves start falling.

OCTOBER

Plant bulbs.  Fertilize with Espoma Bulb-Tone and water in well.

Divide daylilies and spring-blooming perennials, including iris and peonies. Don’t be tempted to prune your spring flowering shrubs like forsythia, azaleas, camellia, holly, lilac, rhododendron, spirea or viburnum or you will destroy next year’s buds.

Rake leaves from the lawn and lower the mower blade.  Check your compost pile.  Now is a good time to add Concern Bio Activator to help break down brown leaves and lawn clippings.

Dig up summer-flowering bulbs, such as dahlias, cannas, tuberous begonias, caladiums and gladiolus after the frost kills the top growth.  Treat them with Bulb Dust, pack them in Peat Moss, and store them in a ventilated area for winter.

Fertilize your trees with Jobes Tree Spikes after the leaves fall. Fertilize azaleas, rhododendron, and evergreens with Holly-Tone and other shrubs with Plant-Tone.  Spray hemlock again with Bonide All-Season Spray Oil.

Set up bird feeders.  Clean out birdbaths, refill and purchase heaters for the winter.

Clean up and destroy diseased rose leaves and debris surrounding shrubs and perennials.  Mound 10-12 inches of dirt around roses to protect from winter damage.  After the ground freezes, cover roses with mulch or straw.

Remove annuals, roots and all, and add to your compost pile, but do not add any diseased material to it.

Cut back perennials unless they feature ornamental seed heads and Fertilize with 5-10-5.  Prune long raspberry and rose canes back to a height of three feet.  Clean up your beds and gardens to avoid harboring insects and diseases over the winter.

Pot hardy spring bulbs (anemone, crocus, daffodil, hyacinth, ranunculus and tulip) and place in a cold frame or cool garage (40 degrees) or sink into the ground and mulch.  Keep evenly moist.

Update garden records, noting successes and failures, gaps in planting, future planting and landscape changes.

Water all landscape plants well and mulch before the winter cold sets in.

Spray evergreens, azaleas, rhododendron, boxwood and rose canes with Wilt Pruf for protection against wind and cold weather.

Late Spring Gardener’s Calendar

Turn over your vegetable garden and add humus, mushroom compost or manure to enrich the soil.  Apply Bonide Fruit Tree Spray as buds swell and again at petal drop to all fruit trees.

Fertilize perennials with Dr. Earth Rose & Flower Fertilizer.

Continue spring cleanup.  Completely remove winter mulch.  Cultivate to remove winter weeds and debris from the planting beds, then edge.  Prepare your annual beds, and mulch landscape beds with shredded mulch, bark chips or gravel.   Apply Preen or Corn Gluten and scratch it in to prevent future weeds, or try the new Preen Mulch Plus which combines mulch and Preen and prevents weeds for up to 6 months.

Plant and transplant trees and shrubs, including roses, ground covers, and perennials (including hardy lilies and lily-of-the-valley).

Seed or sod new lawns.  Reseed bare spots in established lawns.  Keep the area moist until seedlings appear, then mow when the new grass is 3” high.

Put down a second application of Team or Tupersan (newly seeded lawns) for pre-emergent goosegrass control and control of crabgrass the rest of the year.

Transplant cool-season seedlings into the garden.  When the soil temperature reaches 60 degrees, sow warm- and cool-season vegetable and herb seeds.

Dig and divide crowded spring bulbs after they have finished blooming. Enrich the soil with compost, manure or Espoma Bulb-Tone.

Prune forsythia and other spring-flowering trees and shrubs after the flowers fall.

Place gro-thru sets and link stakes over or around peonies, grasses or any other perennials in need of support.

Check arborvitae, cedar, juniper spruce and pine for bagworms.  Hand-pick bags from the host and spray with Ortho Systemic Insecticide.

Begin summer rose care program of deadheading, spraying and watering.

Fertilize roses with Bayer All In One Rose and Flower Care or Dr Earth Rose and Flower Fertilizer, azaleas with Espoma Holly-Tone or Dr Earth Azalea/Camelia Fertilizer, and fruit trees with Dr Earth Tomato and Vegetable Fertilizer.

Deadhead bulbs, but leave foliage to mature and yellow before removing.  This will help nourish the bulb for next year’s flowering. Fertilize with Dr Earth Bulb Fertilizer.

Prune new growth on needled evergreens.

Dig and divide early blooming perennials after flowering.

Apply Encap Fast Acting Iron Plus or Bonide Liquid Iron Plus to azaleas, hollies, junipers, laurel, pines, rhododendron and spruce to provide iron for chlorophyll production by foliage.

Fertilize container plants and window boxes weekly with a Master Nursery Bud and Bloom Plant Food, or use Dynamite All Purpose Plant Food for season-long feeding, to promote healthy, vigorous plants all summer.

Pay close attention to the watering needs of these plants as well as hanging baskets, because they tend to dry out quickly on hot summer days.

Check plants for spider mite damage and treat with Bayer 3 in 1 Insect, Disease and Mite Control then alternate every 7-10 days with Bonide All-Season Oil Spray.

Basil: King of the Herbs

It’s edible, a member of the mint family and ornamental. Grown for over 5,000 years, it flavors foods around the world and is well-known in many household kitchens… Have you guessed yet?

Of course, it’s BASIL!

A flavorful ingredient of foods from Italy to India and Thailand and America, basil adds flavor and flair to any recipe. Add fresh or dried basil just before serving for the most intense flavor. However, the kitchen isn’t the only place it reigns as king… Give it a throne in your garden, too!

Growing Basil

Like other mints, basil is easy to grow. Choose young, bushy, compact plants that show no signs of diseases or pests. Plant in full or partial sun, in well-draining soil and provide adequate moisture. As an annual, it’s also easy to grow from seed, just follow the package instructions.

The most difficult decision about basil is deciding which basil you want to grow and eat. The basil family, Basilicum, has a natural variety of colors, growth shapes and fragrances. Plant breeders complicated the decision by creating over 30 hybrids commonly used today.

For ornamental gardening use, four “shapes” are commonly available. All are deliciously edible.

  • Sweet Green Basil: 2′ tall, with large leaves and white flower spikes. The clove/anise taste is typical of many types of basil. Others in this group include lettuce-leaf, Genovese, Thai (spicy) and the intensely fragrant and flavored Siam queen.
  • Dwarf Basil: Up to 12″ tall, small leaves, white flowers. This group includes well known Spicy Globe and Boxwood basil (perfect edging plants due to rounded growth) and Green Bouquet.
  • Purple-Leafed Basil: Favorite varieties include Dark Opal, Purple Ruffle and Red Rubin, all with “fancy” leaves, very aromatic, with pink to lavender-purple flowers.
  • Scented-Leaf Basils: This group includes varieties of stronger aromas. Lemon basil (gray green leaves, white flowers) is aptly named as are cinnamon basil (dark pink flowers), and anise basil (blue purple flowers).

Basil, especially the purple-leafed, is wonderful in containers. Design as you would with any ornamental. Don’t overlook the value of placing a container near the BBQ and kitchen for easy use while cooking. It’s said that planting basil, especially aromatic varieties, around the patio or deck will deter flies… It certainly can’t hurt!

Enjoying Basil

Used throughout the world with different regional foods, basil truly reigns in many different cultures and cuisines. Although pesto is probably one of the best-known uses here in the United States, basil is great in soups, sauces, pastas or in salads, vegetables and martinis. Remember to harvest before flowering for the best flavor. This also keeps the plant bushy and compact. Simply cut the entire stem just above a pair of leaves to promote new shoots. If you plan to use some leaves as garnish, cut with scissors to reduce bruising. Store unused basil in the refrigerator to retain its flavor and freshness.

Extra basil can easily be dried for future use. Cut the plant at ground level, hang upside down in an airy room and let dry. After it’s fully dry, remove the leaves from stems and store in airtight jars away from direct light.

Benefits of Basil

Did you know using basil is also very good for you? For many reasons basil is called the “holy herb” in other cultures. Research now shows it has strong anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial qualities. Additionally, it is rich in essential nutrients, minerals and vitamins including beta-carotene, vitamins A and K and iron. Need we say more? Add basil to your healthy, delicious diet today!

Butterfly Bush

What could be more enjoyable than relaxing in your favorite lawn chair or hammock, your sunglasses on and a cool beverage in hand, staring at an enchanting array of colorful butterflies milling around their favorite plant? What could possibly be an easier way to accomplish this vision than by planting a simple butterfly bush?

About Butterfly Bush

Buddleia davidii, the butterfly bush, is a flowering maniac. It pushes its proliferation of perfumed blooms straight through summer and well into fall, providing nourishment to butterflies all season long. Available in a multitude of colors ranging from white to pink to red to purple, there are colorful butterfly bushes to match any garden or landscape color scheme. The fragrant, long, spiked panicles are borne in profusion on long, gracefully arching branches that add drama and elegance to the yard. And it really is a butterfly magnet!

Growing Butterfly Bush

This quick growing, deciduous, woody shrub is winter hardy in zones 5-10. In the northernmost areas of its hardiness range, Buddleia behaves like a herbaceous perennial, dying back to the ground in very cold winters. In the southernmost areas, Buddleia is grown as large shrub and can flourish all year. In either location, however, you should treat this plant as a cut back shrub. Because butterfly bush blooms on new wood, it benefits the plant to be cut back to the ground each spring. This judicious pruning will stimulate lavish new growth and an abundance of flowers. It will also keep some of the larger varieties at a manageable size, particularly in smaller yards, corners or other confined spaces.

Plant your butterfly bush in full sun in just about any type of soil and it will thrive. Don’t worry about fertilizing as over-fertilization can encourage too much leaf growth over flower formation. Deadheading will encourage additional growth and new flower buds to extend the blooming season. Buddleia has a good tolerance for drought once established, but should be carefully watered when young. A good, thick layer of mulch will help maintain soil moisture and keep weeds down to keep the shrub healthy. Just be sure not to use insecticides or pesticides on your butterfly bush or you may be harming the very fluttering fliers you hope to attract.

Not sure which butterfly bush to try? Consider these varieties to choose the perfect color and style to suit your yard.

Recommended Buddleia Varieties by Color

White Butterfly Bushes

  • ‘Nanho Alba’: 6-8’ height, blue-green leaves, mildly fragrant
  • ‘Silver Frost’: 5-6’ height, silver-gray leaves
  • ‘White Ball’: 3-4’ height, silver foliage, compact habit
  • ‘White Bouquet’: 8-10’ height, gray-green leaves, flowers have orange throat
  • ‘White Cloud’: 8-10’ height, gray-green leaves, flowers have yellow eye
  • ‘White Harlequin’: 8-10’ height, variegated leaves

Pink Butterfly Bushes

  • ‘Charming’: 6-10’ height, blue-green leaves, flowers have orange throat
  • ‘Fascination’: 8-12’ height, lilac-pink flowers with cupped petals
  • ‘Pink Delight’: 4-7’ height, gray-green leaves, true pink flowers, fragrant
  • ‘Summer Beauty’: 5-6’ height, silvery leaves, pink-rose flowers
  • ‘Summer Roae’: 8-10’ height, mauve-rose flowers, strong fragrance

Red Butterfly Bushes

  • ‘Burgundy’: 8-10’ height, magenta-red flowers, fragrant
  • ‘Dartmoor’: 8-10’ height, magenta flowers
  • ‘Harlequin’: 6-8’ height, variegated leaves, reddish-purple flowers
  • ‘Royal Red’: 10-12’ height, purple-red flowers, fragrant

Purple / Blue Butterfly Bushes

  • ‘Black Knight’: 8-10’ height, deep violet-dark purple flowers
  • ‘Bonnie’: 8-10’ height, light lavender flowers with orange eye, sweet fragrance
  • ‘Ellen’s Blue’: 5-6’ height, silver leaves, deep blue flowers, orange eye, fragrant
  • ‘Moon Shadow’: 3-4’ height, lilac purple buds open to lavender flowers
  • ‘Nanho Blue’: 6-8’ height, gray-green leaves, mauve-blue flowers, fragrant
  • ‘Orchid Beauty’: 6-8’ height, lavender-blue flowers, fragrant
  • ‘Potter’s Purple’: 6-10’ height, deep purple flowers, mild fragrance

Rain Barrels

You’ve heard it said, “When it rains, it pours.” In gardening terms, this could easily refer to the amount of rain on the roof going through the gutters and downspouts, and then out to the storm drains and pouring away from your garden. With the unpredictability of rain and the cost of water, don’t you wish you could keep some of that rain and put it to better use? You can, by installing a rain barrel, or two, or three or more. Rain barrels don’t have to be expensive or an eyesore.

The Best Rain Barrels

By diverting the gutter downspout to the rain barrel, rainwater is collected during a storm and stored. A fine mesh screen across the top prevents rocks and debris from entering the barrel and mosquitoes from laying their eggs. It’s a good idea to use a small amount of algaecide to prevent algae from building up in the barrel as well. Some barrels even have a solid cover with an opening to fit the downspout into, and the darkness inside the barrel helps inhibit algae growth.

Most rain barrels have two spigots, one at the top and one by the bottom. Attaching a hose to the top spigot redirects excess water when the barrel is full. You may use this to connect to another rain barrel that stores the overflow from the first, or you may position the overflow hose to direct excess rain to a nearby flowerbed, tree, garden or other plantings that can benefit from a good soaking.

A hose attached to the bottom spigot allows the stored water to flow for use. Incidentally, the water pressure increases if the rain barrel is elevated even just a few inches, allowing gravity to assist getting every drop of precious water out of the barrel so it can be put to use.

Value of a Rain Barrel

Is it worth it? According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), a rainstorm measured at 1/10th of an inch, over a 20’x30′ roof, would more than fill a 32-gallon rain barrel if all the water is properly directed. Multiply this amount by your water charge per gallon and you’ll see it won’t take long to pay back the small investment made in a few barrels.

Furthermore, rainwater is often better for watering garden plots, containers, flowerbeds and new plantings, and is even better for many houseplants. Rainwater does not contain the same chemical treatments or compounds found in tap water, so collecting rainwater is a healthier alternative for keeping all your plants well hydrated.

Not sure which rain barrels will suit your style or how to set them up effectively? Stop in to see our collection and consult with our experts to choose exactly the barrel that will help meet all your watering needs.

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Heavenly Hosta

Hostas are amazing plants, truly glorious with heavenly foliage that is stunning as a specimen or in mass plantings. The thin spikes of purple or white, trumpet shaped flowers appear for several weeks in the summer and are an added benefit to this divine perennial. But how much do you know about hostas, and which can you add to your landscape?

Phenomenal Foliage

Hostas are praised by many for their magnificent variety of leaf sizes, colors and textures. These angels will grace your garden with heart-shaped, lance-shaped, oval or nearly round leaves, and leaf sizes vary as well. Smooth, quilted or puckered textures, with either a matte or glossy sheen, add to the glory and hostas’ radiant glow.

The leaf margins can be either smooth or wavy and range in color from light to dark green. Foliage colors also include chartreuse, gray and blue, depending on the cultivar. Variegated hostas with cream, white or yellow margins will radiate in a dark area of your garden.

Where to Plant Hostas

While most hostas are shade worshippers, some types will tolerate sun, depending on the overall climate and moisture levels. Hostas remain attractive from spring until frost and can withstand a wide range of growing conditions.

As choice groundcovers or single specimens in the landscape, hostas are certainly divine. Some hostas are quite unusual and rare and may increase in value each year, especially as the plants thrive and can be divided and transplanted with ease.

Best Hosta Care

Little maintenance is required to care for hostas. Cut off old flower stalks after flowers have faded. Divide plants occasionally to increase their quantity. Keep an eye out for pests, especially slugs and snails that munch on the foliage.

Types of Hostas

With so many selections and varieties, you can find a hosta the will fit into almost any garden situation. The most popular options include…

  • Dwarf & Small Hostas: In addition to being planted in secret little pockets throughout your garden or next to paths, dwarf and small hostas can be used in difficult places. Plant them among tree roots, on a slope or terrace or in rocky places containing little soil.
  • Edger Hostas: These hostas are 12” or less in height and have more horizontal growth. They are able to control weeds as they leave no light, when well established, or room for weeds to grow.
  • Groundcover Hostas: This group of hostas grows to 18” or less in height. They do a great job in areas difficult to weed or maintain. If you are in need of a hosta for use as a groundcover, keep in mind it works great to plant spring-flowering bulbs among them. The hosta comes up after the show of flowers and covers the fading foliage of the bulbs.
  • Background Hostas: Selections from this group grow to 24” or taller at maturity. They can be used to increase privacy where you sit and relax or to provide definition to your property line as a unique hedge.
  • Specimen Hostas: Specimens may be any size. Choose a site close to where the plant will be viewed so that every detail (texture, color pattern, buds, flowers and fragrance) may be enjoyed.

Not sure which hosta is right for you? Come in today and let our landscape and garden experts help you choose the right heavenly hosta to add a bit of the divine to your yard!

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Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses can reduce your watering costs, lessen your mowing time and increase the interest level of your garden. No matter what your garden’s needs, there’s a grass to solve it. From short ground covers to tall bamboo, there’s something for every site.

About Ornamental Grasses

Generally defined as “a plant with narrow upright leaves growing from the base,” ornamental grasses come in different sizes, shapes, colors and with differing growing requirements. While they may be cut to the ground each year, they are not mowed regularly, and work well as borders, specimen plants or part of coordinated beds. When choosing an ornamental grass for your site, consider the following:

  • Size
    Some beautiful grasses are just inches tall. Others, such as bamboo, grow to 20 feet or even taller. A shorter grass is a perfect edge for a walkway or to border a flowerbed, while a taller grass provides screening or background height.
  • Deciduous or Evergreen
    The winter form of a grass can be very different from its summer form. Evergreen grasses do not die back in the winter, their form remains the same. Winter colors may change and provide interest. Deciduous grasses die back or lean over. Consider the plant’s use when choosing between deciduous and evergreen. If using a grass as a screen, deciduous may not be a good idea.
  • Running or Clumping
    Clumping grasses stay where they planted, and as they grow, the overall plant width increases. However, a running grass sends runners through the ground to grow another grass plant. Sometimes this can be up to 6 feet away. This is advantageous when using the grass as a groundcover or trying to fill in a larger area. Clumping grasses can be divided if they become too large for the site.
  • Color
    Ornamental grasses are available in many colors, including variegated shades with contrasting edges. Additionally, many grass colors change throughout the year. Blues, reds, greens, yellow and variegated shades work well in different situations. A gold or white-hued grass can brighten a dark corner, whereas a dark green grass may be a perfect backdrop for smaller colorful plants.
  • Growing Requirements
    Sun, water, wind and soil requirements vary among grasses. Some require full sun; others grow best in the shade. Some grasses are ideal in rain gardens or wet soils, while others thrive best in drought conditions. Some don’t mind a breezy location, while others need to be more protected. Some prefer a rich, organic soil, while others will look great even in poor soils. And, of course, there are grasses for every range in between.

Before going to the garden center to purchase an ornamental grass, make a list of your requirements. You may want a short grass to line a walkway in full sun with sandy soil. Alternatively, you may need a grass to fill a dry and shady corner. Perhaps you would like to watch a grass clump emerge in the spring, grow to 6′ tall, change colors through the summer and harvest dry seed heads for an autumn arrangement. Choosing the correct grass ensures the beauty of your garden for years to come.

Succulent Container Garden

Have you noticed how a container garden can really jazz up a front entryway, back deck or porch? Perhaps you’ve thought twice about including this addition to your plantscaping because you just don’t have time every day to water. 

Cheer up! You can plant a container with succulents (plants with fleshy or thickened leaves, stems or roots) and you will not have to worry about watering frequently. Succulent container gardens are relatively carefree, and they’re so easy that you don’t have to limit yourself to just one. If one container makes a statement, several will create a conversation! 

Succulent Container Garden Tips and Tricks

To have the greatest success with your new succulent container garden, consider… 

  • Exposure
    Full sun is a must for all succulents and will help show off their subtle colors and textures. If your viewing location has less than adequate sun, place your succulent garden in a full sun area for the majority of the day and move to your desired location when you have company or time to enjoy it yourself. Remember to move it back out into the sun when company leaves.
  • Containers
    Because succulents do not have extensive root systems, your chosen containers may be shallow. Too much soil can hold excessive water causing the succulent’s roots to rot. Perhaps a strawberry pot would make the perfect focal point at your front door, and many front doors look great with a single shallow round planter sitting on the stoop. If you have several steps to the door, try a pot on each step. How do you want your front entrance to say “hello”?
  • Height
    Think about varying the heights of your containers. Perhaps your containers will require a pedestal or something else for elevation. This could be an inverted pot, a table, shelf or even pot feet. You may even consider hanging your container for elevated elegance. Whatever you choose, it’s important to remember succulents require excellent drainage. Therefore, the containers must have holes.
  • Soil
    All succulents need fast draining soil. Pre-mixed soil is available that is specifically blended for succulent container plantings. You may also use a general all-purpose potting mix and add perlite, coir or sand to increase the drainage sufficiently.

Plants for Your Succulent Container Garden

When making your plant selection, it is fun to let your imagination go wild and embrace the full range of amazing succulents available. As a good container gardening rule of thumb, Use a thriller (something stunning to catch the eye), a filler (a sturdy, reliable choice to fill in bare spots) and a spiller (a trailing plant to blur the container edges) and you’ll never go wrong. 

Succulents come in an extensive variety of colors, striking shapes and varying sizes. As when planting any container, evaluate plant color, texture and shape when making your selections. You may feel overwhelmed when choosing your plants. If you can’t decide, here is a simple “recipe” for planting one 16″ container to be seen from all sides. Maybe it will give you some ideas: 

  • 1-thriller (Euphorbia tirucalliSticks on Fire‘) planted in the middle.
  • 3-fillers (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) to surround the thriller and provide texture or color contrast
  • 5-spillers (Sempervivum arachnoideum) to drape over the container’s edge.

As an extra bonus, many succulents bloom, adding extra unexpected beauty. Blooms can be few and far between, however, but they will be exciting and rewarding when they are spotted. 

The Importance of Topdressing 

After planting, gently brush off any residual soil from the succulents’ leaves. Add more interest by topdressing the container. This is a layer of material will give your container garden a finished appearance. Desert type plants look great with a thin layer of light tan-colored gravel or red lava rocks. Create sparkle with sea-glass toppings or add a clean, contemporary look to Zen-like or Asian inspired plantings with smooth black river stones. Other popular top dressings include glass marbles, colored aquarium gravel or tiny seashells. You might even add a fairy garden surprise in the container, such as a miniature hut, hidden gnome or other quaint character who will call your succulent garden home.

Most importantly, have fun!

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Rose Care Basics

Beginners often become confused with the many recommendations and suggestions for growing roses. However, it is important to start with the basic guidelines for successful rose growing. Roses can thrive under many conditions, but they are sure to grow better, with more luxurious blooms and fewer problems, when you follow the basics. 

Prepare the Soil 

The proper soil is essential to nourish roses so they can grow to their full potential. To make the soil ideal for roses… 

  1. Take a soil sample to test the pH, either with a home testing kit or through your local extension service. Roses like a pH of 6.0 to 6.8. You may need to add lime to raise the pH or sulfur to lower it to the optimum rose range.
  2. Incorporate composted cow manure or other healthy compost into the soil. This will provide superior drainage and excellent organic material for roses to absorb.

Planting Roses

If they aren’t planted properly, roses won’t thrive as well as they could. Improper planting could even damage roots and destroy a rose bush. 

  1. Select a sunny spot with good soil drainage – roses require at least 6 hours of full sun daily. Early morning sun is preferred because it dries the leaves, which helps prevent disease.
  2. Dig a wide, shallow hole that is 2-3 times as wide but not quite as deep as the root ball (about 1 inch shallower). The plant should sit on solid ground so it doesn’t sink when the soil settles.
  3. Remove the plant from the pot and loosen any circling roots. If you can’t pull the roots apart, use a knife to make 4-5 vertical cuts in the root ball. This will allow new roots to grow out into the surrounding soil as the plant becomes established.
  4. Place the plant in the hole slightly elevated above ground level. Backfill with soil until the hole is half full.
  5. Soak the root ball with a mixture of a Root Stimulator & Transplanting Solution.
  6. Fill the rest of the hole with soil and water thoroughly. Apply mulch to a depth of 2 inches, being careful not to mound mulch against the trunk of the plant, which could encourage rotting or insect damage.

Pruning Roses 

To look their best, roses must be properly pruned. This can be intimidating for rose-growing novices, but once the basics are mastered, the techniques for pruning roses are not difficult. 

  1. In spring, remove winter mulch when new grow appears. Prune out all dead wood and twiggy growth and cut back to sound wood with a clean slanting cut, just above a good bud eye.
  2. During the growing season, remove fading roses promptly, cutting just above a five-leaflet leaf. This will help encourage reblooming on many cultivars, and will help prevent rot or disease infestation.
  3. To winterize, remove all fallen leaves and debris from the base of the plant, cut back to 10-12 inches after the ground freezes, then apply a mound of mulch over the canes to protect them from temperature shock. 

Food and Water 

Roses need the proper nutrition – water and fertilizer – to bloom well and develop stunning colors and fragrances. 

  1. Roses thrive best when given 1 inch of water weekly. A thorough soaking from rain or hose will keep roses blooming all season. Try not to overhead water unless it is early in the day, as the damp leaves can promote disease.
  2. Fertilize monthly with Espoma Rose-tone or similar products specially formulated for the nutritional needs of roses.

Treat for Disease and Pests 

There are times when roses will succumb to diseases and pests. Quickly recognizing these problems and treating them properly will help minimize outbreaks that can damage several rose plants at once. 

  1. Fungus diseases cannot be cured, so a regular spraying schedule is very important. Keep an eye on plants that were infected last year and spray with a fungicide to prevent outbreaks this year.
  2. You may also need to use an insecticide for severe insect problems. Minor problems can be handled with less harsh methods, but diligence will be necessary to keep pests from taking over the rose bushes.
  3. Many rose lovers find it convenient to use an all-purpose insect and disease spray once a week or a systemic control every 6 weeks.

It may seem like a lot of work to cultivate roses, but when you wander through your rose garden or see your favorite rose bush in full bloom, that effort will be well rewarded.

Spraying the roses

rose new budding

Garden Fence, Pink Roses