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Planting Basics – Trees & Shrubs

Are you ready to add trees and shrubs to your landscape? You don’t need to hire professionals to do the planting when you learn the basics of doing it the right way yourself.

Soil Preparation

How quickly and how well trees become established once they are planted is affected by the amount of stress they are exposed to before and during planting. Minimizing planting stress is the goal of proper planting. Trees and shrubs should also be thoroughly watered prior to planting to minimize water stress.

Ideally, soil preparation should be carried out well ahead of planting. Preparation could include incorporating organic matter into the soil to improve aeration, assist drainage of compacted soils and improve soil nutrient-holding capacity. Specific preparation may be needed if the soil has an inappropriate pH or is lacking in certain elements. Trees and shrubs with a limited soil tolerance range may require very specific soil preparation to meet their requirements.

Additional soil preparation is essential when you are ready to plant trees and shrubs. Dig the planting hole 50 percent wider but only as deep as the root ball. Prepare soil by mixing one-third existing soil, one-third organic matter and one-third topsoil.

Planting Container-Grown Trees & Shrubs

When you buy a plant from a garden center or nursery, it often comes in a small pot that holds the roots. Remove the plant from that container gently, but without pulling on delicate stems or foliage. Squeezing the container all around can help loosen the root ball so it slides out more easily, or the container may be thin enough to cut away.

Because the plant was grown in a container, its roots have been restricted by the shape of the container. Loosen the roots all the way around, even on the bottom. If the root system is too tight to loosen with your fingers, cut through roots slightly with a knife or pruning sheers. Make three or four one-inch deep cuts, then gently pull the roots apart.

Center the plant in the prepared hole, keeping it 1-3 inches above grade. Keep roots spread out.

Planting Field-Grown Trees & Shrubs

If you are transplanting a tree or shrub that has been field grown, it may have bare roots or be lightly bagged or burlapped. Center the plant in the prepared hole 1-3 inches above the grade. Cut and remove all cords or twine from the root ball and trunk. Burlap should be left on, but loosened and pulled away from the trunk and below the soil surface. Remember to move trees carefully. Roll the root ball on its side and “steer” it into the hole with the trunk. Straighten the tree upright in the hole, checking it from different angles to be sure it is fully upright.

Completing the Planting

For both container-grown and balled and burlapped plant material, backfill the planting hole with soil your mix and pack firmly. Make a rim of soil around the plant to act as a “saucer” for holding water.

Water thoroughly with a slow soaking, and use a root stimulator fertilizer to provide good initial stimulus for the roots to spread out.

Apply a 2-inch layer of mulch around your new planting, keeping an open space of 3 inches around the trunk or base of the plant to allow for air circulation.

Staking Container & Field Grown Trees and Shrubs

When larger trees or shrubs are planted, they are not yet firmly established in their new locations and may tip or lean as the soil settles. For larger trees, use three wires secured to anchor stakes in firm ground (never into the root ball). Where the wires touch the tree, they should be covered with rubber hose to prevent damage. Remove stakes as soon as roots become established. This can be as soon as a few months, so check your tree frequently. Stakes should not be left in place any longer than one growing season.

New Plant Care

All newly planted trees and shrubs need gentle care as they settle in to their new locations. To keep them healthy and encourage good initial growth…

  • Water Properly
    Plants should be slowly soaked to a depth of 4 inches, which is the equivalent of about an inch of water per week. This is necessary during the first year or two. Let the hose run slowly at the base of the plant until the water has penetrated to the root depth. Too much water can also be a problem. Feel the soil. If it is soggy or squishy, do not add water. Frequent light watering is not as good as a thorough soaking once per week, which will encourage strong root growth.
  • Fertilize Appropriately
    Your new plants should be given a Root Stimulator type fertilizer right after planting. You should not use a fertilizer meant for mature plants on new material, as it could cause damage to your plant. It is essential for new plants to develop a healthy root system – top growth will follow. After the first season, regular fertilizers can be used.
  • Prune Safely
    Pruning at planting time may be necessary for larger trees to reduce leaf surface to match cut roots. Remove one-third of smaller twigs. Do not cut back the main trunk or larger branches. If shaping is necessary, trim side branches enough to get uniformity.
  • Be Alert for Insects and Diseases
    Keep an eye out for holes or brown leaves or needles. This could be a sign of insect or disease problems. Ask our staff for help identifying the insect or disease and to prescribe appropriate treatments.
  • Special Care Plants
    Some plants need extra special care because of their finicky needs. For example, azaleas, hollies, rhododendrons and dogwoods all need well-drained, acidic soils, high in organic matter and a shady location. Research the trees and shrubs you are planting to be sure you are meeting their needs right from the beginning.

It can seem intimidating to plant your own trees and shrubs, since they are an investment in your landscape that you hope to enjoy for many years. By understanding planting basics, however, you can easily give every plant a great start in its new home.

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What is “pH?” Why Is It Important?

Devised in 1909, the pH scale measures the concentration of hydrogen ions in a solution. The scale ranges from 0-14. Pure water is “neutral” and has a pH of 7, midway between 0 and 14. If a solution has a low concentration of hydrogen ions, the rating will be a higher number and is considered basic or alkaline. Likewise, a high concentration of hydrogen ions rates a lower number and is considered acidic.

What pH Means to Your Garden

There are four important reasons to monitor your soil’s pH level:

  1. pH affects the availability of other nutrients in the soil. If the nutrients are not available because they are chemically bound to something else, plants can’t use that nutrient.
  2. A high or low pH level in the soil allows some plant diseases to multiply more quickly, infecting an entire landscape or garden.
  3. Most organisms living in the soil have pH preferences. For example, earthworms are not as plentiful in acidic soil.
  4. Most plants have specific pH requirements to flourish. Those specific requirements are what the plants need to absorb nutrients more efficiently and resist pests more effectively.

Where Soil pH Occurs

Acidic soil generally occurs in heavy rainfall areas, as the rain will pull acidic compounds from the air and allow them to leach into the soil. Alkaline soil, then, is more common where there is less rain. However, this is just a generalization and neighbors across the street from each other may have a large pH difference. Reasons could include the origin of topsoil brought in, the tillage done in the area and prior occupants’ gardening habits. Even simple changes like how drain spouts are positioned or a watering schedule can impact pH.

The pH Your Plants Need

Most plants will grow well in the neutral zone of 6.5-7.0. However, some plants grow best in specific soil pH conditions. Interestingly, hydrangeas grow well in both slightly acidic and slightly alkaline soils, but the flowers will be blue in acidic soil or pink in alkaline soil. The colors and flavors of fruits and vegetables may also vary somewhat depending on the soil’s pH, even if the plant will thrive in a wider range.

This chart illustrates how slight pH changes can dramatically impact which plants will thrive in certain soils…

Highly Acidic Conditions

(pH between 5 and 6)

Slightly Acidic Conditions

(pH between 6 and 6.5)

Slightly Alkaline Conditions

(pH between 7 and 7.5)

Rhododendrons Blueberries Arrowwood Viburnum
Azaleas Magnolias Box Elder
Camellias Ferns Locust
Pieris Firs Philadelphus
Astilbe Viburnum davidii Hellebores

As you see, pH can influence your gardening choices. Knowing the pH of your soil is the first step towards understanding your soil and improving your garden. By knowing the pH, you may choose the best plants for your site. You may also decide to amend your soil to increase or decrease the pH to grow a wider variety of plants.

We offer several inexpensive and easy-to-use pH test kits. We also offer amendment advice and can help you choose the best plants for your soil’s condition. Stop in for pH help today and we’ll help you make the most of the natural acidity or alkalinity of your soil, or else help you turn that soil into just the pH you desire!

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Watering: How Much?

Water is critical for a healthy garden and landscape, but how much water is too much, how much isn’t enough and how much is just right? Unfortunately, there isn’t a specific answer that suits every gardener’s needs. All plants have different water requirements, which change depending on the type of soil, amount of sun, temperature, humidity, season, maturity of the plant and overall growing environment.

Initial Watering

All plants, including specimens described as drought tolerant, will require water when first planted. This is because many of the smaller roots responsible for water uptake are usually damaged during shipment and planting. Build a small circular soil wall around the plant to contain water while it percolates into the soil. Watch new plants carefully and keep them well-watered as their roots settle in and they adapt to their new or transplanted location.

Groups Are Good

It’s a good idea to have some knowledge of the plant’s water requirements when determining the location in the garden. It will keep watering simple if you plant a new specimen near other plants with similar water requirements. In this way, there is no need to readjust an irrigation system or watering schedule, since all the plants in the group have similar needs.

Need a Drink?

Because plants’ watering needs can change through the season, how can you tell if a plant needs more water? Most plants will wilt as the soil becomes too dry. The leaves may droop, and if it’s an upright plant, the top ends may become soft and bend over. Glossy plants may begin to look dull, while thick leaves will shrivel. If you notice these signs, it is time to water! Most plants will revive if watered quickly enough, but be sure to water deeply rather than allowing moisture to run off the surface.

How can you tell if you should water? Push your finger into the soil an inch or two from the base of a plant. Perfect soil should feel cool and slightly moist. Some soil should stick to your finger. If none does, it’s too dry. If it’s muddy, don’t water. Overwatering kills plants by depriving the roots of oxygen. Some gardeners use water meters to see the precise amount of moisture. If you’re unsure, this tool can be helpful.

Adjusting Your Watering Schedule

The amount you have to water your plants or landscape can change from day to day. A cool morning will allow more dew to form and drain to the soil, or a sudden afternoon thunderstorm can be enough water to keep your plants hydrated for a few days. An overly hot day, however, can rapidly deplete water resources and extra watering may be required. Check your plants and landscape regularly to be sure they are getting adequate water, and make adjustments as needed to keep them suitably moist without either too much or too little water.

Need help monitoring water? Stop by to see our collection of water gauges, meters and monitors that can help you be sure you are watering your landscape correctly.

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Soil 101

How well do you understand your soil? It’s more than just dirt, and the more you learn about soil, the better you’ll be able to care for it to ensure a stunning landscape, healthy lawn and productive garden.

All About Soil

The four elements of soil are minerals, water, air and organic matter. Different combinations of the four elements create the four main categories of soil: sand, silt, clay and loam. Of course, we all want loam – that rich, vibrant soil thriving with beneficial bacteria and with a smooth but crumbly texture ideal for root growth. Unfortunately, true loam soils are rare, especially around homes where topsoil was removed and heavy machines compacted the remaining soil during construction or renovation. Most of us have clay soil, which has finer particles that compact easily into a dense mass. Clay soils also retain more water and can easily become too soggy or waterlogged for healthy plants. But just because your soil may be clay, it doesn’t have to stay that way!

Improving Soil

Improving soil is actually quite easy. All soils are improved by adding minerals and organic material that help balance out the overall components of the soil’s structure.

Before adding minerals, test the soil to determine its pH (acidity or alkalinity) and determine any mineral deficiencies. Lime decreases soil acidity, gypsum adds calcium and helps break up heavy clay and sulfur increases acidity. Other soil amendments to add to a clay soil include sand, cottonseed meal and peat moss, all of which will help improve the drainage and structure.

Organic matter refers to plant or animal materials decomposed into compost or “humus.” This residue comes from leaves and other plant materials, as well as certain animal wastes. Grass clippings, paper and certain types of decomposing food can also be ideal compost. The quality depends on the origin of the original biodegradable matter. Many people make their own compost using bins in which materials are mixed until they decompose. Others purchase finished compost. When compost is added to soil, it releases nutrients that are vital for healthy plants, and healthy bacteria and microbes will thrive in organically-rich soil.

The Magic of Mulch

Mulching is a simple way to add biodegradable materials to the soil. Evergreen needles, tree leaves, lawn clippings, chicken manure, etc., can be worked into the soil to decompose. This process improves the air spaces between the soil particles and rearranges the sand, silt and clay to produce optimum soil structure, improving the water retention and drainage balance and making nutrients available to plants.

When soil has proper structure and sufficient nutrients for healthy plants, optimum health has been achieved, and great soil will lead to great landscaping, turf and gardens. Congratulations and keep on growing!

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Cold-Tolerant Flowering Plants

Cold doesn’t have to kill your dreams for beautiful flowerbeds overflowing with vibrant color and stupendous blooms. While the deepest freezes of winter will put a stop to any flowering plant, there are beautiful plants that can chill out without damage or difficulty. The trick is recognizing which of these cold-tolerant flowering plants will work best in your climate and garden, and we’re here to help with that.

Freeze Tolerant Annuals

These are annuals that can withstand freezing temperatures and hard frosts for short periods with little or no injury. The best options include…

  • Marguerite Daisy (Argyranthemum frutescens)
  • Swan River Daisy (Brachycomb iberidifolia)
  • Million Bells (Calibrachoa x hybrida)
  • Dracaena Spike (Cordyline australis)
  • Dusty Miller (Scenecio cineraria)
  • Gazania (Gazania rigens)
  • Nemesia (Nemesia fruticans)
  • Cape Daisy (Osteospermum spp.)
  • Petunia (Petunia x hybrida)
  • Sweet Pea (Lathyrus odoratus)
  • Verbena (Verbena x hybrida)

Semi-Hardy Annuals

These are annuals that are perennials in warmer zones and can actually overwinter in cooler areas during mild winters of if they are located in a warm, sunny, protected spot. These are very frost and freeze tolerant annuals…

  • Annual Carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus)
  • Annual Pinks (Dianthus chinensis)
  • Pansy (Viola x wittrockiana)
  • Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’)
  • Mealycup Sage (Salvia farinacea)
  • Variegated Vinca Vine (Vinca major ‘Variegata’)

Perennials

Perennials are plants with roots that survive through the winter months, sending out new growth each spring. Appearing in your garden year after year, they become old and treasured friends. Perennials come in many sizes, shapes and colors with various bloom times and periods. It is best to plan your garden by the bloom time of the plant along with its cultural needs (sun/shade and drought-tolerant/water-lovers, etc.) to be sure you have a good, healthy balance of plants that will keep your garden and landscaping lush for months. Because these plants have evolved to survive the winter’s cold, they are all cold-tolerant to at least some measure. Popular favorites include…

  • Dicentra ‘Luxuriant’ – No garden is complete without a patch of Bleeding Hearts. This fringed variety is longer blooming than the old-fashioned selections. Rose-pink flowers are borne gracefully above soft green foliage with a slight blue cast that looks fresh all summer. 18-24” tall. Plant in part shade.
  • Bergenia – Spikes of delicate pink blooms soften the bold evergreen foliage of this early blooming perennial in March or April.
  • Armeria (Sea Pink) – Another evergreen perennial, this bloomer sends out masses of papery pink or white flowers above grass-like clumps of foliage.
  • Basket of Gold (Aurinia) – Charming yellow flowers float above dense mats of attractive gray foliage on this old-fashioned favorite. Plant in full sun. Excellent for a rock garden.
  • Candytuft (Iberis) – Flat-topped clusters of white flowers cover this evergreen perennial in early spring. Excellent as an edging in a border or to use in a rock garden.
  • Columbine (Aquilegia) – Beloved by hummingbirds and butterflies, columbine is also a great cut flower. Available in many color shades and bi-color combinations, columbine is perfect in any border or landscape situation.
  • Coralbell (Heuchera) – Tiny bell flowers on 1-2’ slender stems bloom from spring into summer. Shades of foliage vary from green to pink to deep burgundy. Plant in sun or shade.

Not sure which plants are best for the cold in your yard? Stop in and see our landscaping experts today for help choosing just which blooms will heat up even on cold days!

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Herbs As Companion Plants

Practiced by organic gardeners for years, companion planting has become very popular for all gardeners. The concept is to plant together species that will benefit each other, to help prevent disease and insect infestation without the use of chemicals. In general, herbs and other aromatic plants like tomatoes, marigolds and onions are helpful in warding off insects. Certain colors, like the orange of nasturtium flowers, are thought to repel flying insects. While these practices have not been scientifically proven, many gardeners have been using them for years with positive results. Try it – and see if it works for you!

Best Companion Herbs

The exact herbs you choose to pair with other plants will depend on what you want to grow and what problems you want to eradicate. The most common herbs and their purported benefits include…

  • Basil – Enhances the growth of tomatoes and peppers. Dislikes rue. Repels flies and mosquitoes.
  • Borage – Companion to tomatoes, squash and strawberries. Deters tomato worm.
  • Chamomile – Companion to cabbages and onions. Improves the growth of all garden plants.
  • Chervil – Companion to radishes.
  • Chives – Companion to carrots. Deters Japanese beetles, blackspot on roses, scab on apples and mildew on cucurbits.
  • Dill – Improves the growth of lettuce, cabbage and onions. Dislikes carrots.
  • Fennel – Most plants dislike it – avoid using it as a companion herb and instead plant it away from the garden.
  • Garlic – Plant near roses and raspberries. Deters Japanese beetles.
  • Horseradish – Plant at the corners of your potato patch; deters potato bug.
  • Hyssop – Companion to cabbage and grapes. Deters flea beetles and cabbage moths. Dislikes radishes.
  • Marigolds – Plant throughout the garden as they discourage nematodes and other insects.
  • Mints (esp. Spearmint and Peppermint) – Companion to cabbages and tomatoes. Deters aphids, flea beetles and many types of cabbage pests.
  • Nasturtium – Companion to radishes, cabbage and cucurbits. Plant under fruit trees. Deters aphids and squash bugs.
  • Onion – Repels cabbage loopers, potato beetles, carrot flies and imported cabbage moths.
  • Oregano – Improves the growth of beans.
  • Parsley – Enhances the growth of roses. Repels asparagus beetles.
  • Pot Marigold – Companion to tomatoes, but plant elsewhere, too. Deters tomato worm, asparagus beetles and other pests.
  • Rosemary – Companion to cabbage, bean, carrots and sage. Deters cabbage moth, bean beetles and carrot fly.
  • Rue – Companion to roses and raspberries, dislikes sweet basil. Deters Japanese beetles.
  • Sage – Plant with rosemary, tomatoes, strawberries, cabbage and carrots. Dislikes cucumbers. Deters cabbage moth and carrot fly.
  • Summer Savory – Companion to beans and onions. Deters bean beetles.
  • Tansy – Plant under fruit trees. Companion to roses and raspberries. Deters flying insects, Japanese beetles, striped cucumber beetles, squash bugs and ants.
  • Tarragon (French) – Enhances the growth of all vegetables.
  • Thyme – Improves the growth of tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant. Repels whiteflies and cabbageworms.
  • Wormwood – Use as a border, keeps animals from the garden.
  • Yarrow – Plant along borders, paths and near aromatic herbs. Enhances production of essential oils. Attracts beneficial insects including ladybugs and predatory wasps.

Exactly how much benefit companion plants give to one another will vary; be sure to choose varieties to group that have similar soil, light, water and fertilization needs. Even if their companion benefits may not pan out, you’re sure to enjoy a more diverse and vibrant garden filled with delicious vegetables and herbs!

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Plants for Wet Soil

More water is always good for plants, right? Wrong! When water stands in the soil, air is displaced, which in turn smothers the plant roots. Once the roots are damaged many symptoms appear on leaves and shoots including wilting, marginal and inter-veinal browning of leaves (scorch), poor color and stunted growth. But the excess water isn’t always coming from overwatering, it may be the result of poor draining soil.

Poor drainage is often produced in disturbed sites when heavy clay soil is compacted by construction machinery or other excessive use, such as yards where several children are often playing. Areas cultivated for plantings, such as flowerbed or borders, then collect water running off the compacted ground – this is called the teacup effect. Wet areas may also be the result of swales, drain spout runoff and low areas even when soil percolation is adequate in most of the site but when general moisture levels are routinely high.

To check for a potential drainage problem, dig a hole at least 2 feet deep, fill it with water and note how long the water remains. If it doesn’t drain completely away within 24 hours a severe drainage problem exists.

Fortunately, you can correct drainage problems in different ways. Easy options include…

  • Divert water past plantings using drainage pipes, splash blocks or rain chains.
  • Plant in mounds or raised beds so water will run off and away from the plants.
  • Install drain tiles in saturated areas or use French drains to contain excess water.
  • Amend the soil with organic matter such as compost to improve its structure.

An even easier solution is to simply select plants that tolerate wet sites. The following trees and shrubs tolerate wet sites and flooding better than most. Few tolerate standing water for long periods (those that grow in truly swampy conditions are marked *), but all will do better in wet areas.

Shade Trees

  • *Acer rubrum/Red Maple
  • *Betula nigra/River Birch
  • Liquidambar styraciflua/Sweet Gum
  • Alyssa sylvatica/Sour Gum
  • Platanus occidentalis/Sycamore
  • Quercus phellos/Willow Oak
  • *Salix spp./Willow
  • *Taxodium distichum/Bald Cypress

Flowering Trees

  • Amelanchier Canadensis/Serviceberry
  • Magnolia virginiana/Sweetbay Magnolia

Evergreen Trees

  • Calocedrus decurrens/Incense Cedar
  • Ilex opaca/American Holly
  • Thuja occidentalis/Pyramidal Arborvitae

Deciduous Shrubs

  • *Aronia arbutifolia/Chokeberry
  • Clethra alnifolia/Summersweet
  • *Cornus spp./Twig Dogwoods
  • Enkianthus campanulatus/Enkianthus
  • Ilex verticillata/Winterberry
  • *ltea virginica/Virginia Sweetspire
  • Lindera benzoin/Spicebush
  • Myrica pennsylvanica/Bayberry
  • *Rhododendron viscosum/Swamp Azalea
  • *Salix spp./Pussy Willow
  • Viburnum spp./Viburnums

Evergreen Shrubs

  • *Andromeda polifolia/Bog Rosemary
  • *Chamaecyparis thyoides/White Atlantic Cedar
  • *llex glabra/Inkberry
  • Kalmia atifolia/Mountain Laurel
  • Leucothoe spp./Leucothoe

Perennials

  • *Arundo donax/Giant Reed Grass
  • Aster nova-angliae/Asters
  • Astilbe spp./Astilbe
  • Chelone/Turtlehead
  • Cimicifuga racemose/Snakeroot
  • Helenium autumnale/Helen’s Flower
  • Hibiscus moscheutos/Hardy Hisbiscus
  • *Iris kaempferi/Japanese Iris
  • Iris siberica/Siberian Iris
  • *Lobelia cardinalis/Cardinal Flower
  • Lobelia syphilitca/Blue Lobelia
  • Monarda didyma/Bee Balm
  • Myosotis scorpiodes/Forget-me-nots
  • Tiarella cordifolia/Foam Flower
  • Trollius europaeus/Globe Flowers
  • Viola spp./Violets

Ground Covers

  • Gallium odoratum/Sweet Woodruff
  • Gaultheria procumbers/Wintergreen
  • Hosta spp./Hosta
  • Mentha spp./Mint
  • Parthenocissus quinquifolia/Virginia Creeper

Annuals

  • Cleome hosslerana/Spider Flower
  • Myosotis sylvatica/Forget-me-nots
  • Torenia fournien/Wishbone Flower
  • Viola wittrockiana/Pansies

Not sure which water-loving plants to choose? We’d be happy to help you evaluate your landscape moisture and other conditions to help you choose the very best plants for your yard!

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Create Successful Shrubs With Proper Pruning

Gorgeous yellow, pink, red, orange, white and purple blooms put on a show in early spring from plants like forsythia, lilac, azaleas, rhododendron, mockorange, weigela and bridal wreath spirea. Summer then greets us with bold blossoms in hues of purple, magenta, blue and red from butterfly bush, hydrangea, crape myrtle and rose-of-sharon. These deciduous shrubs provide a beautiful backdrop for the garden and most of these plants only require basic watering, fertilizing and pruning. Why not add them to your yard today?

More Blooms, Better Blooms

To keep your shrubs healthy and blooming prolifically, it is important to know which plants to prune at what times. Before you go chopping away, do a little research about when your shrub should be pruned. If you don’t do it at the right time, you won’t get many (or any) of those gorgeous flowers to enjoy.

Shrubs to Prune When Dormant

Shrubs that produce flowers on wood grown in the same season should be pruned in late winter or very early spring. This allows time for the wood to grow and the current year’s buds to set to produce more beautiful blooms the next year.

  • Abelia
  • Beautyberry (Callicarpa)
  • Bluebeard (Caryopteris)
  • Butterfly Bush (Buddleia – except Alternifolia)
  • Cinquefoil (Potentilla)
  • Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia)
  • Hydrangea (Paniculata and Arborescens)
  • Rose
  • Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus)
  • Spirea (all species that bloom in summer)

Shrubs to Prune Immediately After Flowering

Shrubs that bloom on year-old wood and need to be pruned just after blooms fade. This allows enough time for the new branches to form next year’s buds.

  • Azalea
  • Barberry (Berberis)
  • Beautybush (Kolkwitzia)
  • Heather (Calluna)
  • Daphne
  • Deutzia
  • Forsythia
  • Honeysuckle (Lonicera)
  • Hydrangea (Macrophylla, Seratta and Quercifolia)
  • Kerria
  • Lilac (Syringa)
  • Mock Orange (Philadelphus)
  • Pieris
  • Rhododendron
  • Scotch Broom (Cytisus)
  • Spirea (spring blooming varieties like bridal wreath)
  • Weigela
  • Witch Hazel (Hamamelis)

Still Not Getting Any or Many Blooms?

Even with proper pruning, it is possible you may not be seeing the blooms you’d hoped for. Some routine maintenance will help keep your plants healthy so they can produce those fantastic flowers.

If you haven’t already done so, fertilize plants this spring with Plant-Tone, Holly-Tone or similar products (for those acid-loving azaleas and rhododendron). Move the mulch and sprinkle the food lightly over the soil at the outer edges of the plant, then water well. Replace the layer of mulch to help conserve moisture and prevent most weed growth.

Though an established shrub can endure a moderate drought, it will flower more reliably if you help it through the dry weather with a weekly watering. Consider a drip system to provide good water and minimize evaporation.

Other reasons your shrub may not be putting on its best flower show might include improper lighting or incorrect soil conditions. Similarly, if a plant does not receive enough sunlight or if the soil pH isn’t suitable for that type of plant, it will not flower as it should.

If you’re having trouble with a particular plant, stop by or call us to help you find out why. And, remember, sometimes it just takes patience. Some plants, like wisteria, can take up to seven years to produce flowers, but will be well worth the wait for the amazing show they produce.

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Azaleas – An American Favorite

Azaleas are true garden favorite and are popular in all types of landscape designs. To keep them blooming prolifically and as beautiful as they can be, however, you will need to follow a few special directions for their best care.

Planting Azaleas

Azaleas need a well-drained location, as they will not thrive in an area that stays overly wet. They prefer afternoon shade, and too much sun can harm their leaves and fade the flowers, depleting their beauty. For their best growth, it is important to shelter azaleas from drying winds. The best locations in the landscape will be along the north, northeast or east side of a building or stand of evergreens or in the filtered shade under tall trees.

Azaleas may be planted any time of the year, even when in full bloom. Spring and early fall are ideal planting times so the plants are not stressed by the heaviest summer heat. Before planting, loosen the matted roots with a hand cultivator so they can spread and establish more easily.

To give azaleas the excellent drainage they require, they should be planted high, with half the root ball above the existing ground level in a hole at least twice as wide as the root ball. Amend the planting soil to provide good nutrition for these hungry plants. Once the plant is set in the planting hole, fill in around it with the planting mix, packing firmly to eliminate air pockets. Mound soil up to top of root ball. Water shrubs thoroughly with a diluted plant starter fertilizer to encourage root growth and help them establish more quickly. Mulch 2-3 inches deep over the planting hole, with mulch pulled away from plant stem to avoid insect infestations and rotting.

Watering Azaleas

Spring and summer plantings should be watered 2-3 times per week until fall the year they are planted, then once a week until Christmas. Plants may need to be watered as often as once a day if they are small or the weather is hot. Always check the soil moisture level before watering. It should be lightly moist several inches down, but if it is drying out more frequent watering may be needed. In following years you will need to water your azaleas about once a week unless there is a good soaking rain. Plants will need more water in hot summers and while in flower to keep their growth and form lush.

The Need for Mulch

Mulching around azaleas is always a good idea, and can help them thrive. A 2-4″ layer of mulch should be maintained at all times over the root area of the plant, but pulled away from the stems. This keeps the soil cool and moist, helps control weeds and protects roots in winter.

Pruning Azaleas

Azaleas rarely need to be pruned. When pruning is required it should be done immediately after blooming, since if you wait to prune until summer you may cut off next year’s blooms and miss an entire flowering season. Azaleas may be sheared, as they will send out new shoots anywhere on a branch, or you may choose hand-pruning to create a neater form.

With a bit of considerate care, azaleas can be a showstopper in your landscape. Stop by today for help choosing the best azaleas and learning all you need to know to keep them gorgeous year after year!

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Endless Summer® Hydrangeas

Do you love the look of large, stunning hydrangeas? Do they evoke wistful images of summer and floral nostalgia? Don’t you wish they would last longer in the landscape? Unfortunately, many hydrangeas have relatively short bloom cycles, but there are amazing cultivars you can investigate that provide longer lasting blooms without losing any of their beauty or richness as the season progresses.

Endless Blooms, Color and Summer Luxury

Endless Summer® The Original and Endless Summer® and Blushing Bride® are the first mophead (large, ball-shaped flower) hydrangeas that bloom on both old and new growth, providing you with beautiful flowers and gorgeous color all season long. Young plants produce blooms that are 4-6 inches wide, while mature plants can have blooms as large as 8-10 inches wide, making these massive hydrangeas real show stoppers in your landscape or garden. Flower color for Endless Summer® The Original ranges from shades of blue through shades of pink, depending upon the pH level of your soil. Pink blossoms are the result of alkaline soils (pH 6-7), while more acidic soils (pH 5-5.8) will cause the plant to produce blue flowers. Adding Master Nursery Hydra Blue or other acidifying agents to the soil can help produce the lovely blue colors if your soil is initially alkaline, or you can adjust bloom color throughout the season for a vibrantly changing show. Endless Summer® Blushing Bride, as its name implies, initially offers pure white blossoms that mature to a sweet, pink blush or pale blue tinge, again depending on the soil pH.

Large, deep green leaves provide a lovely background for these spectacular flowers, which are excellent for cutting for fresh arrangements and for drying. Endless Summer® hydrangeas mature at 3-5 feet in height and width and are perfect used as standalone specimens, planted in borders or as hedges, massed under deep-rooted trees or even set in large containers. These plants perform best in partial shade with moist soil. Another big plus for Endless Summer® hydrangeas is the fact that they are cold hardy to Zone 4, giving northern gardeners a beautiful plant that will bloom well year after year.

Perfect for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, weddings and house warming celebrations, potted Endless Summer® hydrangeas make beautiful gifts that will provide years of beauty and enjoyment. If you already have these stunning blooms in your yard, consider cutting a few for a bouquet and share the joy with friends, neighbors, family members, coworkers and acquaintances, and the interest in these amazing hydrangeas will continue to spread until the world is blooming all summer long.

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