Force Bulbs Indoors for an Early Taste of Spring!

Who says you have to wait until spring for the colorful beauty of bulbs? Forcing bulbs to bloom indoors is a fun and easy way to brighten up your home’s interior over the colder months ahead.

Bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocuses can all be brought into bloom earlier than normal. Since time spans from planting to blooming will differ from bulb to bulb, it’s important not to mix varieties in the same container. Also, only top-quality, good- sized bulbs should be used.

 

Planting

In a plastic or clay pot, plant your bulbs in a mixture of three parts garden loam, two parts peat moss and one part sand, leaving about 1’ of space at the top of the pot. The pointed ends of the bulbs should remain exposed. As a rule of thumb, sex tulips, sex daffodils, three hyacinths or 15 crocuses will fit a 6’ pot.  Water the bulbs immediately after planting, and be sure that the soil stays moist afterward.

Cold Treatment

Once planted, your bulbs will need to be kept in a cool (35 to 48 degrees F), dark location for a minimum of 12 weeks (an unheated cellar works well). Remember to keep soil moist, since developing roots can dry out and die quickly.

Forcing

As soon as the shoots reach 3’ or 4’ in height, move your pots into bright, indirect light for three or four days. Then, move the pots into direct sunlight until the flowers bloom, at which point they should be moved back to indirect light. You can extend blooming periods by keeping the roots moist and moving the pots to a cool spot at night.

 

For a continuous supply of flowers, try plating your bulbs at weekly intervals, bringing just a few pots at a time out of cold treatment. Enjoy!

Try These Bulbs for a Color Explosion!

Tulips

Thinking about planting bulbs, but not sure what kind you want? Any of these choices will enhance your garden with breathtaking beauty and radiance next season. Mix them up for an unforgettable flower display!

Tulip: Looks great when mixed with annuals or perennials.

Ranunculus: Peony-like blooms are 3” o 5” across.

Ipheion

Daffodil: Great for cut flowers. Deer resistant.

Iris: Comes in purple, blue, mauve brown, orange, yellow and white.

Ipheion: Easy to grow, with small, light-blue blooms.

Anemone: Single or double blooms with contracting center color. 

Ixia: Tall flowers that look best in groups of 25 or more.

June Update

What a spring so far…we started off with 70+ degree-days in March and it was cool and wet for most of May. Mother nature certainly is challenging us this year.

LAWN UPDATE

There may be a Fungus Among-us….

Not sure if you are seeing it, but I am. There is Red thread and Dollar spot fungus all over the lawns this year. If you see a browned out area on your green grass, it certainly could be an indication that a fungus is brewing. Look a little closer now.

Dollar Spots- circular, sunken patches measuring several inches. The patches turn from a brown shade to straw in color, they may also have small lesions on the grass blades.

Red Thread- patches that are reddish-brown in color from 1” to 2’ in diameter. When areas of grass experience more than 10 hours a day of foliar wetness (for several consecutive days) this fungus could occur.

What do you do to eradicate a fungus? Well…keep the lawn well fed. You can rake out any of the infected turf areas and throw away the debris. And heck, if you don’t want to do that…. give us a call. We can apply a liquid fungicide to your grass to help stop the infection in its’ tracks.

Fertilizers

For all of you “do it yourself-ers”…. it is time! That is, time to fertilize your lawn again.  Remember the goal is 4-5 pounds of Nitrogen per one thousand square feet, per growing season, or about 1 pound per feeding (5 times per year). So, when you see a bag of fertilizer with 3 numbers such as 20-5-20…the first number represents Nitrogen and indicates that 20% of the product is Nitrogen. If you took 100 and divided it by the first number (100/20) the result if 5, meaning you need 5 pounds of the product per 1,000 square feet of lawn area. Therefore, if your lawn measured out 12,000 sq.ft, you would need 60 pounds of fertilizer (5 pounds x 12 = 60 pounds)

It is extremely important that you calibrate your spreader prior to the application, this way, you know how much fertilizer you are applying…and remember more is NOT BETTER!

Weed Control

Spray the heck out of any broad leaf weeds that exist in your lawn. What are they you ask? Well they could be: Clover, Dandelion, Chickweed, plantain, etc…. you have about 4 weeks of cool enough weather to treat the weeds…. spray away!

IRRIGATION

If you have an irrigation system, please be mindful of the amount of water your lawn is getting from the rain. On Monday June 4th, we had temps of 59 degrees during the day and a lot of rain. What does that mean? POWER OFF YOUR SPRINKLERS if it’s raining like it is. You do not and you should not be watering everyday if it is raining daily.

So how much water is enough? At my house, I have watered once per week for the last 3 weeks, because we have had that much water. In fact, I shut off my drip irrigation in my lawn beds because all of my plant material has been adequately watered. Now, if the temperature during the day goes back to 90 degrees for 3 days in a row…I’ll be watering (and you should too)

Come July that irrigation system will be running daily…and it should be.

If you are manually watering, make sure your hoses and sprinkler heads are all ready for the upcoming summer months. You’ll need to start watering daily in a few more weeks.

PRUNING

If your landscape is anything like mine (and I think it is…) I bet your shrubs have been growing like weeds. The hemlocks and taxus (yews) have displayed a great flush of growth already this year. But they are still growing.

If you can tolerate the appearance of the new growth on the shrubs…let it grow! I believe that the plant material will continue to grow for the next couple of weeks…. and then you’ll be ready to prune them (in July).

In addition to “growing shrubs” are the growing weeds…the abundance of wet weather has led to a copious amount of weeds. Don’t let them get out of control…. keep up with their removal. And when in doubt…MULCH! Mulch is your friend. A bed with a good layer of mulch is a happy bed!

SEASONAL COLOR

You are safe…safe to plant the ole’ annuals in the ground. And take some chances by trying new plants. Have you seen Zinnia’s bloom? How about Heliotrope? Or Lantana?  The industry has done a great job creating new hybrids that are resistant to the many problems of the past. And do “super-charge” them…. incorporate a slow release fertilizer in the planting bed, as well as an organic fertilizer. You’ll be very happy with the results.

Not only is it OK to plant annuals, but you are good to go with the veggies…try some container plantings to supplement your raised gardens. Herbs grow well in planters, as do patio tomatoes. Take a bag of potting soil, make a slit or two, and plant a couple of cucumbers in the bag. It’s fun!

 

 

 

 

Hummingbird- Friendly Plants

If you’re interested in attracting hummingbirds to your property without using a feeder, keep in mind that they visit plants with lots of blooms and nectar. Red flowers are helpful, but they aren’t a necessity. You might want to try planting some of the

se around your landscape:

Shrubs:

  • Butterflybush
  • Trumpet vine
  • Summersweet

Perennials:

    •  Bleeding heart
    •  Butterflyweed
    •  Beardtongue
    •  Daylily
    •  Bee balm
    •  Cardinal flower
    •  Coral bells
    •  Delphinium
    •  Foxglove (bi-annual)
    •  Hollyhock (bi-annual)

Annuals:

  •  Impatiens
  •  Nasturtium
  •  Salvia
  •  Spider flower
  •  Snapdragon
  •  Morning glory
  •  Petunia
  •  Flowering tobacco

Hummingbirds are a delight to watch, and common North American species can beat their wings up to 53 times per second!

Have You Heard About Hostas?

The plants that keeps on giving

If you have hostas in your landscape, you already know how well they work as perennial bedding plants. With beautiful foliage and flowers, hostas are perfect for groundcovers or backdrops in shady areas. Even better, they’re durable, easy to maintain, and can be divided in the fall to create more of a good thing!

Diving hostas is a relatively simple process. The first step is to dig up a clump with a sharp spade, then separate out sections by hand or with a knife. The larger the clump, the more sections it will produce. When making the divisions, it’s important to ensure that each new section has roots intact.

The sections can then be planted. Planting holes should be as deep as the root ball, and one-and-a-half times as wide. As with any new planting, the new divisions will need room to grow. So, the space between the planting holes should be equal to the diameter of the mature clump the divisions came from. Once planted, a thorough watering will help the new divisions get off to a great start in their new location.

Whether you’re looking to share some plants with a friend or get more mileage out of your current plantings, dividing hostas is a great way to do it!

Limited Space

Try a Container Garden!

Even if you don’t have room for planting beds on your property, you can still get plenty of enjoyment out of growing your own flowers, herbs and vegetables.  With container gardening, a deck, patio, balcony or even a doorstep can provide all the room you need.

Choosing a Container
Containers come in many sizes, shapes and materials. Depending on your specific tastes, you may prefer plastic, ceramic, wood or clay containers. For adequate drainage, make sure they have holes in the bottom.

The container size you will need can be determined by the type of plants you’re growing. Shallow-rooted plants (e.g. lettuce, herbs and most annuals) require a container t least 6” across and 8” deep. For deep-rooted perennials, tomatoes or cucumbers, on the other hand, you’ll need something larger.

Soil Type
Regular garden soil tends to hold too much moisture when used in a container, depriving the roots of much-needed oxygen. Instead, lightweight, packaged potting soil may be used, or you can make your own mix using one part peat moss, one part garden loam, and one part vermiculite or perlite. Whether you’re starting with seeds or seedlings, your container should be filled to within 2” of the top with your planting mix.

Care After Planting
Most containers need daily watering in hot, dry weather. Lighting needs will vary depending on plant type, and your container can be moved if a spot is too sunny or shady. To improve plant vigor, a slow-release fertilizer can be added every two weeks.

Herbs Vegetables Annual Flowers Perennial Flowers
  • Anise
  • Carrots
  • Begonias
  • Yarrow
  • Basil
  • Kale
  • Pansies
  • Rudbeckia
  • Chives
  • Eggplant
  • Zinnias
  • Sedum
  • Tarragon
  • Bell Peppers
  • Snapdragons
  • Shasta Daisies
  • Parsley
  • Beets
  • Geraniums
  • Chrysanthemums

Creating A Mailbox Garden

Are you looking to brighten up your landscape but you just don’t have the space or time? Don’t worry; you can solve this problem by planting your very own mailbox garden! This arrangement can be the perfect splash of color for your landscape. With a few simple steps you can jazz up your ordinary mailbox.

First you will need about 10 different types of plants. If you don’t want as much of a variety you can use around 5 different plants. My favorite flowers to use for this design are:

  • Impatiens
  • Petunias
  • Daisies
  • Alyssum
  • Dahlia.

All of these flowers are annuals and their colors mix together very nicely. You may also want to add a plant like clematis, which is a vine that can be wrapped around your mailbox post. This vine will eventually bloom beautiful flowers that will decorate the post of your mailbox. Along with these flowers it is always good to add in some hardier plants such as globe amaranths and geraniums.
Once you have all your flowers picked out, you can then begin to prepare your planting bed. To prep the bed properly first pick the space that you want to use. You can mark this by using a garden hose to define the perimeter of the area. Then use a shovel to dig along the marked border, creating an edge. If grass is currently covering the area you plan to use remove the grass using a straight edged shovel. It is easier to do this if you wet the surface first.
After you removed the grass from your garden space and loosen the soil at least 5 inches deep. This will make it easier to plant your flowers and bushes.
Now its time to plant! When it comes to planting trees and shrubs, dig a diameter that is about twice the size of the root ball. The top of the soil should be even with the top of the root ball. Then fill in the hole with soil to support the plant. After doing so, water thoroughly.
When planting the annuals place them in a hole a little larger than the pot and/or root ball. Lightly water them once they are planted.
Good luck with your garden!

Annuals Versus Perennials

When it comes to annuals and perennials they are quite similar. Each type of flower has its own characteristics. So when deciding here are some pointers:

  • Annuals are flowers that last for one growing season. After the first frost they are done growing. Some examples of annuals are marigolds, impatiens and petunias. Annuals tend to bloom from spring until autumn and then they are done for the season. Although they only last for one season they are sure to turn heads, they are ostentatious and a great accent to your landscape. Their colorful appeal makes them a popular choice.
  • Perennials are flowers that can last for a long time. They will continue to appear in your landscape year after year which can make your gardening quite simple once spring comes around. Perennials are not as bright and showy as annuals but there are still beautiful options to choose from. For example, daylilies, hosta, black-eyed Susan and peonies are well know perennials.

If you are baffled which type of flower you would like to plant you can always make things easy and plant both! Together they make a stunning landscape. By having both flowers you can get the extraordinary color of annuals and the convenience of perennials! Good luck!

It’s Time to Clean Up and Make Amends!

 

Both vegetables and flower gardens will be much more productive next year with the addition of organic soil amendments this fall. The idea behind organic amendments is to improve soil structure so that plant roots get more of the air, water and nutrients they need for healthy growth. Before amendments can be made, however, it’s necessary to clear planting beds of any unwanted items.

 

Cleaning Up

Spent vegetable plants and annuals should be removed and added to the compost pile (if you have one). Leaves, sticks and other organic debris should also be removes (and composted).

 

Since perennials will come back next year, they can stay put. But if they’re due for dividing, this is the time for it. By dividing spring- and summer- blooming perennials every three to five years in the fall, plant size can be controlled and the number of perennials can be increased. Periodic division will rejuvenate perennials as well.

 

Adding the Amendments

There are several types of organic amendments that can improve soil structure for better vegetables and flower growth. Sphagnum peat moss, finished homemade compost and well-aged cow manure are all good choices.

 

The best way to incorporate organic amendments is to spread out 3” to 4” over the entire planting area, then till it into the top 8” to 10” of soil. In perennial beds, it will be necessary to work around the existing plants, but the same amount of amendments should be used.

 

Right now it’s a great time for organic amendments, since soil tends to be drier and easier to work with at this time of year. Whether you’re growing vegetables, flowers or both, it will be well worth the extra effort.

 

How to Plant and Care for you Bulbs

It’s about that time to plant bulbs! Bulbs are flowers that are planted in the fall and flower in the spring. Before your bulbs develop they will resemble the picture to the left and won’t have flowers on them yet.  When planting your bulbs you only need one simple tool, a bulb planter, which can be found at your local gardening/ hardware store. An example of bulbs that can be planted in the fall would be tulips and daffodils.   Bulbs should be planted about six weeks before your first frost.   Planting bulbs could be a great way to spend your Labor Day weekend this year.

Follow a few simple steps when planting bulbs:

  1. Prepare your soil before planting. Make sure your soil does not have any weeds in it and it should be turned so that there are no clumps in it and so the soil is loosened.
  2. Digging the right depth is key to successful growing. This is why a bulb planter comes in handy, but if you prefer to do it yourself you should make a hole that is about 6 inches deep. If your hole is too shallow, your bulbs will freeze over the winter but if they are too deep your bulb will be unable to break through in the spring. Once your hole is made, place the bulb inside of it with the roots facing down. Then slightly cover the hole with soil.
  3. Now you must wait until the spring to see the results of your planting process. If  your area is experiencing a harsh winter (a lot of snow, and cold temperatures) you may need to cover your bulbs half way through the winter, to help protect them.

Good luck growing your bulbs!