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                                              Perennials – Dividing

Has it been several years since you last divided the perennials in your landscape?  Are you now ready to divide some if not all of them?
When perennials are first planted, they grow and mature into vigorous plants.  It’s the beauty that these plants project that certainly makes planting them a joy, plus once they are in the ground, it can be several years before dividing them becomes important.

Essentially, there are two types of perennials, hardy perennials and tender perennials.  Hardy perennials are those that can be planted and basically be left alone at the end of a season.  Tender perennials are those that must be dug up at the end of the season, cleaned, and properly stored. Various locations have different requirements as to what is considered “tender” perennials.  If you are not in the Treasure Valley area of Idaho, it would be advisable to check what’s considered “tender perennials” in your area.

By dividing perennials, you are providing your landscape with the opportunity to continue producing quality blooms on beautiful, vigorous-growing perennials plants.  It also allows you to control plants that may have overgrown an area of the landscape that was designated for them.  And by dividing perennials, you are enhancing the overall health of a plant.  Dividing plants also gives the gardener an opportunity to introduce some of your existing perennials into new locations around the home without spending more money on new plants.  

So you might ask “What is the best time of year to divide perennials”?  We recommend dividing them in the fall of the year after they are starting to show dormancy (the leaves are turning or have turned yellow).  They can also be divided in the early spring months prior to them growing actively. Not all perennials meet these requirements.  Tender perennials for example may require early digging.
 
Just as a reference, most perennials can be planted any time of year if they are container grown, however in the bulb form they must be planted within a specific time period.   

So how can I tell if my perennials need dividing?  One way is to look at the center of the plant and see if it is woody or is dying.  Most gardeners translocate or divide plants when they begin looking over-crowded.  You may also notice that the flowers are somewhat smaller than then they were originally planted.  Depending on the perennials planted, you may want to consider looking at them closely after the third or fourth year from the initial planting.   Keep in mind this is only a reference and some perennials can go much longer before needing dividing.  

When dividing perennials, care should be taken to carefully dig the entire plant from the soil.  This allows you to inspect the root system for insects and diseases as well as giving you the opportunity to divide the plant with care.  Typically, you don’t want to leave the plant out of the soil for long periods of time.  Avoid freezing and thawing and keep out of direct sunlight as best possible.  Depending on the perennial you are dividing, you may need a spade or sharp knife to aid you in dividing plants.  After dividing, check to be certain that you have removed any dead or unhealthy parts of a plant.
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                            Tree/Shrub Protection – Winter

Trees and shrubs add value and beauty to any home.  It’s been said that a quality landscape can add 15% of more to the value of a home, so protecting your precious landscape plants are of utmost importance.  We will briefly discuss some protection that a homeowner should provide to the landscape to ensure a healthy landscape the following spring.

We may be faced with a harsh climate in our area from time to time which may severely damage plants in our landscape.  In part, this is due to the fact that a lack of moisture may not have been provided to the plants during the mid to late fall months.  Think about this; if you stop watering in September, a tree or any shrub for that manner may receive little if any moisture until early to mid-spring the following year.  So what if it snows in December or January.  The soil is frozen and what might be available would typically melt and run to the gutter and away from to plant where it is needed.  Keep in mind that the soil surface thaws much quicker than the soil beneath the surface. Besides a lack of moisture, branches may break and the bark could also become damaged. Other problems may arise also.  Plants that are marginally hardy may suffer when an occasional hard winter exists.  We saw this happen in our area in 2014 when the temperatures dropped well over 60º within a three week period.  Extreme fluctuations in the temperature can also cause problems to plants, especially delicate plants such as rhododendrons and other broadleaf evergreen plants.  Keep in mind however that plants can suffer winter damage other than just the winter itself.  Plants can be susceptible to animals, wind and other factors.

When protecting trees, they should be wrapped with tree wrap.  We recommend wrapping trees in mid to late October and unwrapping them about mid-march.  This prevents sun scald from taking place during the winter months.  Sun scald occurs most often when there is snow of the surface of the soil and no leaves are present to add a layer of protection to the trunk of the tree.  Besides the sun beaming down upon the trunk of the tree, it also reflects sun back from the sun.  If you have ever seen an avid skier in the winter, you may notice that he often has as good a sun tan as he would during the summer months.  This in part is caused by the reflection to the sun coming off the snow. 

 Typically we recommend wrapping trees for the first 4 to 6 years or until the bark on the trunk has thickened, giving protection to the tree. Young trees and trees that may have been in a shady location or recently planted are most susceptible to damage.  Even if you purchase a well-established tree,  when you replant the tree, it’s not likely that it will be replanted facing the same direction as it was in the ground to begin with and the bark will thicken more over time on the south and west sides of a tree.  You can purchase “Tree Wrap” from most any nursery for a fraction of the cost of replacing a tree.  Tree wrap typically is available in brown or white colors.  We prefer the brown wrap since in less conspicuous on the tree.  Start wrapping from the bottom of the tree and overlap the tree wrap until you reach the first or second branch on the tree (this is typically sufficient on most trees that are branched at the American Association of Nurseryman standards.  Once you reach the desired height, cut off the remaining wrap and tie off with masking tape (you can also buy stretch tape and accomplish the same task). 

Dieback often occurs in plants where young shoots exist during the late fall months, although dieback occurs nearly every year in plants such as roses.  Even with a great deal of effort, some dieback should be expected.  Perhaps a key to preventing dieback is controlling the amount of nitrogen applied in the early fall months.  Actively growing plants in the late fall months are certainly most susceptible to winter dieback, but most evergreen plants are a problem in our area.  When fertilizing, do so in the late fall to early winter months, we recommend fertilizing around mid to late November.  

Evergreen shrubs are the highlight of the winter.  They provide the assurance that plant life still exists, even during the coldest of the winter.  This type of plants are somewhat harder to protect and more susceptible to winter conditions.  Broadleaf plants such as rhododendrons, azaleas and laurels are best protected by spraying with an anti-desiccant such as ‘ShrubSaver”.  These products protect plants from winterkill and well as leaf burn, summer drought and transplant shock.  They typically provide protection with a clear, flexible film on the leaves that holds moisture in as it provides protection from the cold winter months as well as the extreme summer temperatures.  Less attractive but also effective is the use of burlap or a similar material and wrapping the plant.  Frozen soil along with sunny days can cause excessive transpiration.  Another problem occurs when the chlorophyll within the foliage is killed, causing the foliage to turn near-white.  We often see this in boxwood in our area, but it may occur in arborvitae and other needled evergreens.  If pruning is required, wait until about March 15th, this is typically when severe freezing past.  Prune to where live tissue exists, then fertilize with a good fertilizer such as Ferti-lome “GreenMaker”.  This product promotes growth as well as providing the iron and sulfur needed for all plants in our area.

We recommend using anti-desiccants on fresh cut Christmas trees to hold moisture in for a period of time when the plant is inside a house.  It certainly won’t prevent a tree from catching on fire, but it may help to less the chance of such a problem from happening.  For best results, you must coat the entire tree with an anti-desiccant.  
To further protect precious trees and shrubs, apply bark mulch approximately 3 inches deep throughout your landscape area the first year and then recoat each succeeding year about 2 inches deep.  How mulch actually depends on the type of mulch you use.  For example, fine grind mulch was used in the example above, but if you used rock bark, there is no need to apply additional product.  Use your best judgement in this scenario. 

Rodents are known to create problems for homeowners.  They often damage the root system, causing some plants to suffer from a lack of nutrients and water come spring.  This is true when rodents have the eaten roots that provide these elements to the plant.  The best experience we have had is to use a bait to control rodents.  Caution must be used however when children and pets are nearby.  Always follow the directions printed on the label of all products, especially products that are poisonous to humans and animals.
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                                   Fall Sprinkler Winterization

As the weather changes from the warm summer months into fall and winter, we begin thinking about blowing out our sprinkler systems.  At times the weather will gradually change and other years, it can be quite suddenly.  Because of the amount of sprinkler systems that some companies experience, some professionals start far too early and by doing so, it may cause concern to the homeowner and rightly so.  We recommend blowing out a sprinkler system no earlier than mid-October in our area, but the actual time can vary depending on the kind of fall weather we experience.
Before turning off your sprinkler system, we recommend doing a few tasks beforehand.  First, turn on each sprinkler station and count the number of heads on each station.  This will come in handy next spring should a head not perform correctly.  It’s best to make a diagram showing where each head is located.  Second, we use a program such as Microsoft ‘Word”, create a table and list each station with the number of heads on each station.  We then print this information and place it near the sprinkler controller.  This ensures us next spring that all heads are popping up and working correctly at that time.
The firm blowing out the system does not need access to the sprinkler controller, although it’s handy and we recommend using the controller.  With the use of a sprinkler key, they will turn off the water to the sprinkler system.  Next, he will connect a wheel mounted air compressor to the system and force air pressure through each valve to remove water and continue doing so until all heads are blowing air.  Once this procedure is completed, he should open the drain valve that allows any water that might get by the turn-on/turn-off valve to disperse into the soil.  The final step is opening the drain ports on the anti-siphon valve.  This allows any water trapped in the unit to escape and prevents damage to the unit.  A broken anti-siphon valve can cost $150.00 to $250.00 plus labor, so protection of this unit is extremely important.  Above ground anti-siphon valves are most vulnerable to freezing.  Nearly all new systems now have below-ground anti-syphon valves.

You may wish to turn off the system yourself.  Since most homeowners don’t have the equipment to make a complete blowout of their system, this can sometime cause problems.  If you have a system that includes poly pipe (black pipe), you may be able to avoid having it done professionally. Typically, the shutoff valve is located near the perimeter of the property.  This valve should be buried approximately 3 feet below ground surface to prevent winter damage.  With the use of a sprinkler key, completely turn off the sprinkler valve, then turn the brass drain ports which are typically located on the anti-syphon mechanism a half turn.  This may require a flat-headed screw driver to open these ports.  A half turn typically opens the valve (We always recommend having a professional installer perform any operation which you may be unfamiliar with).  
Be certain to turn off the sprinkler controller (system clock) for the winter.
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The old saying about good things coming in small packages couldn’t be truer than with bulbs.  They are easy to grow and are sought after by both the beginner as well as the master gardener and the best thing about planting bulbs is designing a bed for your bulbs.
Inside the layers of scales lies a nondescript, brown skin, one of Mother Nature’s most inventive creations. A flower bulb is really a self-contained flower factory.  It’s more than a root with the potential to grow – it’s a self-contained unit of roots, stems, and flowers, plus a food storage system triggered into motion by time and temperature.  All bulbs need from you is to be placed in the ground at the appropriate time of year, mixed with a little bone meal and given a liberal drink of water, then left to work their magic the following spring.  When you buy bulbs, think of it as color for another season.  Fall bulbs produce spring color and spring bulbs produce summer color.  
Bulbs are a natural product and, as such, follow a natural cycle of growth and rebirth. Enjoying their fabulous flowers means planting ahead; simply "drop, dig, done" in one season then "delight" in the next. Bulbs provide the most stunningly color. Even a novice gardener can create a breathtakingly beautiful spring, summer and fall garden with bulbs.
Generally speaking, larger bulbs produce the largest blooms and small, sometimes called “promo” bulbs produce little or no flowers and often have weak flower stalks.  As you would assume, we are referring to bulbs of the same kind and variety.  Naturally, small bulbs like anemones produce small flowers and bulbs such as amaryllis produce large flowers.  Bulbs are graded and sold to retailers in centimeters.  Most garden centers buy the larger centimeter bulbs and leave the promo bulbs to the discount merchandisers.
As most of you know, the finest bulbs come from Holland but did you know that not all bulbs sold in the United States come from there.  There are lots of tulips, daffodils, and other kinds of bulbs grown in the United States and partially in the state of Washington.  It seems the soils in Holland are better adapted to growing quality bulbs and we suggest staying with a proven commodity.  The package or container bulbs are in will often tell you if they are grown in Holland, however it may not state its origin if grown in this country.  When choosing bulbs, they should feel solid and heavy for their size.
People commonly use the term "bulb" to refer to any plant that stores its own food underground. But, in truth, many popular "bulbs" are not true bulbs at all. These include corms, tubers and roots and, while they all produce beautiful flowers, technically the plants are different.
Flower bulbs come in a seemingly limitless variety which makes them perfectly suitable for any garden design you can dream up. Planting just a few can easily provide beautiful color in your garden for several months. The three most important factors to keep in mind are color of course, but also plant for height and flowering times.
The three types of bulbs are: True bulbs, which include daffodils, hyacinths and tulips; the second type of bulb is tubers, which include iris and peonies and the third type of bulb is corms which crocus, gladiolus, and freesia are a member of.  True bulbs grow from its basal plate and new leaves emerge through its top.  These bulbs store their food in their scales while corms store food in their basal plate.  
As we just mentioned, part of the bulb family consists of corms and tubers.  Corms have smaller scales and an enlarged basal plate. This gives corms a flatter shape versus the rounder shape of bulbs.  They multiply as bulbuls in the leaf axils, as bulblets on the stem underground or as offsets at the base of the bulb. You will also find concentric rings when you slice the bulb in half; a good example is an onion, which is a bulb.  Corms have basal plates where roots emerge and multiply by producing cormels.  The difference between a bulb and a corm is that the mother corm does not survive.
Whether in contrasting or complementary shades, achieving a bulb-flower color mass such as those often seen in magazines requires you to plant every square foot of space.  For the larger types such as tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths allow four inches at most from one bulb to the center of the next.  This is approximately 80 bulbs per square yard.  Small bulbs such as crocus should be planted even closer.
You can use color to lead the viewer’s eye smoothly from one grouping of flowers to the next.  Make gentle transitions by easing from one tone to another within the same color group, or dramatically jump from any spot on the color wheel directly opposite to its complementary hue.  Use warm colors close to the border and cool colors farther away to heighten the spatial effect.  The appearance of space between foreground and background increases because warm colors seem to advance while cool colors seem to retreat into the background.  The result is that the entire space appears larger.
Except for a few varieties such as Stella d’Oro daylilies, the blooming season for most bulbs is short.  The time these plants are in bloom however can produce a magnificent array of beauty.  The best way to use bulbs is to combine them with annuals, perennials, and shrubs.  For example, consider planting daffodils and hyacinths with candytuft and yellow-flowered pansies.  A combination of height, color, and a long blooming cycle among the different varieties of flowers will create excitement to your landscape from early spring and continue until late fall.  Think about color, size, and time of bloom when choosing bulbs.  We recommend laying out an area where each type of bulb is to be planted and carefully throwing the bulbs in that area.  This way you avoid a pattern when planting. This provides a natural look that is aesthetically pleasing to the landscape.  Any bulbs that are touching can be moved before planting is completed.  After blooming, always cut faded blooms before they set seed.  This will help the bulb to store its energy for new blooms in the next growing season.
One of the easiest ways to plant bulbs is with an auger designed for such use.  Simply attach to your drill and auger away.  We recommend using a 3-inch diameter auger, although small diameter augers are more readily available.  Using a bulb auger requires only a modest effort in planting and your modest efforts are rewarded with speculator color.  
Don’t forget to provide good soil conditions for bulbs.  All the life of the plant is stored in the bulb and by providing adequate soil conditions; you will enjoy your efforts with incredible color in the landscape.
Plant bulbs at the recommended depth; bulbs such as peonies and iris should be planted just below the surface while bulbs such as tulips are generally planted four to six inches deep, depending on the location of the bulb.  Before planting, understand what the proper depth is for the bulbs you’re planting.
Tubers have growing points, or eyes, scattered across the surface, where plant shoots and roots emerge.  For that reason, tubers and roots come in a variety of shapes including cylindrical and flat. Many come in clusters and have no protective tunic.  Tubers and roots are really just enlarged stem tissue. Familiar tubers include dahlias and begonias.
Spring blooming bulbs are typically planted in September or October and can produce masses of color as early as February or March.  Crocus and hyacinths may bloom while snow still exists on the ground.  Tulips will bloom in March and April depending on the variety.  Plant a few of these bulbs under low growing juniper such as Blue Rug or Prince of Wales.  Scatter them among perennials and under trees also.  We like planting them with hostas and ferns in areas when there is some shade.
The conventional wisdom is to set each bulb so that its top sits two and one-half to three times the depth of the bulb itself.  Although this rule applies to most bulbs, it does not work well for tulips that should be planted with their bases from four to six inches below the surface.  We like to plant most bulbs (other than tulips) about two times the depth of the bulb itself when planting on the north or east sides of the house.  Our reasoning for this is that soil thaws slower on the north and east sides than it does on the south and west sides and by planting a little shallower, the roots will warm up quicker and thus bloom sooner.  When planting bulbs, plant with the point of the bulb facing up. 
Planting bulbs in the right conditions will ensure a glorious show of colorful blooms.  Fall bulbs can tolerate our soil with little amendments, however better quality can be expected if amendments such as Hi-Yield “Bone Meal” is added to the soil.  Bulbs that are over watered will rot, so planting them in well-drained soil will yield your best return in the way they bloom and thrive.
Although this may sound drastic, to effectively create masses of color, you should plant spring-flowering bulbs annually.  Given the large number of species and cultivators available, it is easy to vary planting schemes from one year to the next.  Because spectacular color is the most significant characteristic of spring-flowering bulbs, starting with a clean slate each year has its advantages, generating an ever-changing vista of color and providing fresh, vigorous bulbs.
When thinking of bulbs, most gardeners think of tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils.  The most valuable characteristic of tulips is their ability to create a dense swath of color.  Daffodils on the other hand, regardless of number, appear less massive and lend a more natural look to a planting.  Adding them to tulips takes the rigid edge off the tulips appearance.  Hyacinths, too, have a formal look that the addition of daffodils eases somewhat.  However, the color palate of hyacinths is much smaller than that of tulips, limiting your design options with them.
After spring bulbs have bloomed, cut off the blossoms.  This will prevent the plants from expending energy to develop seeds.  Fertilize them with Hi-Yield “Blood & Bone Meal” after they have completed blooming.  To prevent burning of the leaves, wash off any fertilizer that is on the plant.  Let the foliage die back naturally.  Removing leaves early lessens the energy they collect and reduces the bulb’s vigor and size, resulting in fewer flowers for the following year.  You should always wait till the leaves turn yellow and die back before you trim them down to the ground.  Some gardeners fold them into an accordion with a rubber band after they start to die.   That way they are less noticeable in the landscape.
Summer color…Plant summer blooming bulbs in late April or May.  Summer bulbs come in many colors, shapes and sizes.  Lilies, cannas, begonias, gladiolus and dahlias are a few of the summer blooming bulbs available for the Treasure Valley.  Keep in mind where each variety grows best.  Bulbs such as tuberous begonias and caladiums should be planted in shady areas while bulbs such as gladiolus prefer sunny locations.  Many varieties of summer blooming bulbs are excellent for cutting because they grow on long stems and can last a long time when placed in water.  Bring in gladiolus when they start showing color at the base of the plant.  This way they will continue to open from the bottom and up to the top of the stalk while in a vase.  
Summer flowering bulbs make excellent indoor arrangements.  You can place a single variety in a vase or mass three or four varieties that are in the same color or of complementary color schemes together.
Most all summer bulbs prefer well-drained soil. A common problem among many gardeners is over-watering.  We suggest amending the soil with equal amounts of a good quality potting soil, vermiculate, peat moss, and topsoil to a depth of eight to ten inches.  Mix in four ounces of bone meal per square foot of surface area.  Bone meal stimulates root growth and flower and fruit production.
Come the end of summer, summer blooming bulbs such as gladiolus, tuberoses, oxalis, dahlias, begonias, huge-leaved elephant ears and caladiums should be stored in a cool, dry, above ground facility where they will not freeze.  An exception of course is lilies.
 Don’t remove bulbs from the soil until the foliage has dried or yellowed since bulbs stores their nutrients from the leaves back into the bulb.  After digging up, cut off all growth just above the top of the bulbs to allow them to dry out before storing.  Dahlia tubers should have a bit of the stem or they may not grow the following spring.  Gardeners sometimes use sawdust, peat moss, vermiculite, sand, or perlite when storing tubers, bulbs, or rhizomes.  They should not touch each other when storing.  At some point during the winter months, add a little moisture to the bulbs.  You may use an anti-desiccant such as Easy Gardener ‘Shrub Saver’ since this seals the bulb from evaporating moisture, just follow directions when doing so.  When checking for moisture, be sure that none of the bulbs have rotted and if so, remove them so other bulbs, tubers, or rhizomes aren’t affected.  A good place to store the bulbs is in a crawl space, basement or a garage that does not freeze during the winter months.  
Using bulbs…Have you thought about planting bulbs in containers?  They add stunning color to an entryway, deck or patio.  Any kind of container will work that has drain holes in the bottom.  If you use small containers, water often and provide some protection from the cold.  Wooden boxes are a favorite of ours because they can be rather large without being expensive.  Larger containers allow for planting groundcover such as creeping phlox among bulbs.  Terracotta pots and glazed pots offer aesthetic value as well.  
When planting flowering plants in containers; aim the top side of the plant toward the edge of the pot.  This will allow the bottom leaf on a tulip to grow over the edge.  This will soften the harsh edges on containers.  Use the potting mixture as described when planting.  When planting fall bulbs in containers, place them in a cool area such as the basement, garage or other area to protect them from the cold winters we experience in Idaho.  Water several times during the winter and set them out in late February or early March.
Think about using bulbs and annuals in Easter egg colors to create a cheerful spring bouquet.  Some bulbs to use are hyacinths, tulips, (parrot tulips are spectacular in display boxes) crocus, freesia, and anemones (Note: All anemone plant parts are poisonous).
A word of caution: Do not use pre-emergents such as Ortho “Casoron” over bulbs.  Doing so will likely result in little or no flowers, distorted leaves and stems and in some instances may even kill the plant.
The tools you should have for planting bulbs is a kneeling mat and a garden spade, hand trowel, rake, auger or bulb planting tool and a hose.  We like to use a wheelbarrow or garden cart to mix the planting mixture in and then using a container to carry small amounts from the wheelbarrow with you while planting bulbs.  An empty 5-gallon nursery container works exceptionally well for this use. 
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Horseradish

If planting from root cuttings, you can plant this perennial as soon as the soil allows you to do so.  To do so, make a farrow approximately 8 to 12 inches deep in a good, well-drained soil.  Place the roots at a 45 degree angle with the top of the root about three inches below the soil surface (leaves of the plants should be a soil surface).  Space each root approximately 12 inches apart.  Hi-Yield ‘Bone Meal’ is great for increasing the quality of your horseradish.  Cover each plant with a good compost/top soil mixture.  We recommend Foxfarm ‘Soil Conditioner’.  After planting, water each plant thoroughly.  Water horseradish as you would most other vegetable plants (don’t overwater!).  Fertilize horseradish with Ferti-lome ‘Gardeners Special’ just after planting.  This should be adequate for the entire growing season.  
This plant is a fast grower and can become invasive, so be certain to allow adequate room for growth.  It’s best to plant horseradish in its own garden or in a deep container.  Horseradish will perform best in full sun but it will grow in partial sun.  Since this plant grows well in soils with a pH of 7, it is ideal when mixing in a small amount of Hi-Yield ‘IronPlus’ which will lower the alkalinity of our Idaho soils.  You can expect this plant to reach approximately two feet tall and 15 to 18 inches wide at maturity.
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Broad-leaved Evergreen Plants

Oregon grape, ivy, Rhododendrons, Holly, Boxwood and Laurel are a few of the many plants that fall into this category.  Nearly all broadleaf evergreen plants are acid loving and require sufficient amounts of Hi-Yield “Iron Plus Soil Acidifier” to maintain a healthy, dark green texture.  Applying ten to fifteen pounds of product per thousand square feet three times per year is advisable.  During the cooler spring and fall months, Ferti-lome “Liquid Chelated Iron” is a quick and safe way to obtain a lush green effect, but applying Liquid Chelated Iron may burn plants once temperatures reach 80 degrees or more.  Keep this product off cement since iron will stain concrete.  

Several varieties of broadleaf evergreens produce colorful blooms and need regular feeding to bloom the following year.  Use Ferti-lome “Azalea, Camellia, Rhododendron Food” for all blooming broad-leaved evergreen plants.  Apply a light application every three to four weeks starting in mid-February and continue through mid-June.  These frequent applications allow the plant to produce at its fullest extent without lapsing in the nutrients needed to maintain a healthy condition.  Many blooming evergreen plants produce buds immediately after blooming for the following year.

Only light pruning is required on most broad-leaved evergreens.  A few evergreens require light pruning several times after blooming to maintain shape.  Do not prune too late in the season however or you may remove some if not all of next year’s blooms on plants such as Rhododendrons.

During extremely hot summer months, it may be necessary to spray broad-leaved evergreens with an anti-desiccant.  On a hot summer day, the plants root system may be unable to keep up with the plants ability to transpire water.  This is especially common then soil temperatures are high.  Applying an anti-desiccant slows the water loss process.  Pay particular attention to broadleaf evergreens during our hot summer months and again during cold winter months. 

 When leaf tips and/or the edges of the leaf begin to turn brown or die back, it’s likely that not enough water being applied to the plant.  This is the tenderest part of any plant and is the first part to be effected when there is a shortage of moisture.  If the center of the plant starts to die, then the plant may not be fertilized properly.  There are several causes regarding this scenario, but the most common is too much nitrogen.  The second most common cause is alkaline soil.  A nutrient deficiency can cause the entire plant to turn yellow, often caused by a lack of magnesium, iron, sulfur or a combination of these elements.

Spray broadleaf evergreens with an anti-desiccant during the winter months.  You might ask, “How does this help my plant since it’s dormant?”  Anti-desiccant’s seal the leaves and slows moisture loss.  During cold months, the soil freezes and moisture may not be available to the plant.  When the winter sun shines and especially when snow is on the ground, plants leaves can transpire water and without available replenishment of water, the leaves die.  Leaves are very slow to come back on broadleaf evergreens and may take several years before the plant looks healthy again.  Apply an anti-desiccant to both the upper and under sides of the leaves.  Spraying the topside of leaves after each snowstorm will wash anti-desiccants off leaves. Normally, applying an anti-desiccant to the underside of the leaves once or twice each season is sufficient since water is less likely to get to the undersides of leaves.

Don’t be extremely concerned when broadleaf evergreen plants lose a few leaves in the fall.  This is a natural occurrence, particularly for rhododendrons and a few other broad-leaf evergreens since they may lose the oldest set of leaves.

There are very few insects that attack broadleaf evergreens.  Black vine weevil is the most prevalent in the Treasure Valley, but they don’t limit themselves just too broadleaf evergreens.  Look for notches in the leaves of all plants.  Although the notches they chew in the leaves don’t really harm most plants, the damage they do to the root system certainly does. Don’t expect to find them during the daylight hours since these insects are nocturnal.  Apply Bonide Liquid Insect Control to eradicate these and many other insects in the garden.  A few homeowners may experience problems with whiteflies, but if you are spraying for black vine weevil, Bonide Liquid Systemic Control will eradicate this culprit also.  

Another common insect in our area is spider mites.  These small creatures are often about the size of a speck of dirt.  Gardeners who find cobwebs on plants are more likely seeing common spiders in the landscape than the possibility of spider mites.  Spider mites damage plants by sucking moisture from leaves or needles.  Spider mites start in early to mid-spring but the result of their damage often doesn’t show up until summer or early fall.  Check for spider mites by placing a white sheet of paper under a few branches and shake each branch vigorously.  Hold the paper still and watch for these very small mites to move.  If you have had problems with them in the past, apply Bonide Liquid Insect Control every 30 days starting in late spring as a precautionary measure.  Once they have damaged a broad-leaved or conifer plant, it may take several seasons to recover.

Since many broad-leaved plants are on the North or East sides of a home, moisture can become a problem.  In some cases root rot may occur.  Should this happen, apply Ferti-lome F-Stop Lawn & Garden fungicide to the soil according to instructions listed on the label.   

Since many of our broadleaf evergreens store moisture in the leaves throughout the year, you must “harden-off” these plants in the fall.  This allows them to survive our winter months without as much stress to the plant.  To do this, start reducing the amount of water to the plant in mid-fall.  Cut water off to the plant entirely until the leaves start to droop.  After this, water heavily again for several days followed by another reduction of water until the leaves droop slightly and then repeat heavy watering.  This should cause the plant to harden off and often increases survivability.  Water all shrubs and trees extensively as they near the end of the growing season. Plant survival may depend on how well the plant was watered late into the season.

A favorite…One of our favorite evergreen plants are rhododendrons.  They have spectacular blossoms, attractive foliage, and a wonderful fragrance.  Rhododendrons come in a huge assortment of sizes, colors, and shapes.  From this vast assortment, we are somewhat limited in our area because of climate conditions. Be cautious when planting, paying attention to location, light conditions and winter protection.  Never plant a rhododendron in direct afternoon sun.  The best location is one where the plant is shaded by 1:00 p.m.

Rhododendrons do best in acidic, moist, humus-rich, well-drained soil.  A preferable pH is between 5.6 and 6.2.  It’s important to apply Hi-Yield “Iron Plus Soil Acidifier” three times per year at the rate of ten to fifteen pounds per thousand square feet to lower alkalinity.  

When planting, we recommend digging a hole twenty-four to thirty inches deep and wide.  Mix 1/3 sand, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 topsoil together and use as the medium for planting.  Next, place about one foot of rock (gravel will work just fine) in the bottom of the hole.  Cover the rock or gravel with a piece of weed fabric to keep soil from filtering into the rock.  The rock or gravel allows excess water to dissipate from the root system.  Fill the hole to the proper depth, (to a depth where the top of the root system is slightly above ground level after backfilling is completed) and then fill the hole with water.  Now add Ferti-lome Root Stimulator to the water and set the rhododendron in the hole containing the water and Root Stimulator mixture.  Adding Ferti-lome “Chelated Iron” at the rate of 2 tablespoons per diluted gallon of water will free up chemicals and allow absorption into the root system.  Allow the rhododendron to set for approximately twenty-five minutes in this solution.  Should the water dissipate into the soil, refill with water only.  The next step is to backfill using the mixture described above.  Carefully step around the plant to remove any air pockets that might exist.  Apply Ferti-lome Root Stimulator around the plant again after 30 days.  The best and easiest way is to pour approximately 15 to 18 tablespoons into a watering can, add water and then slowly pour the solution around each plant.

Mulching rhododendrons is critical since the roots are very shallow.  Apply three inches of bark mulch around these plants for best results.

After the rhododendron has flowered, deadhead it back at a point where the brittle flower is attached to the main stem of the plant.  This allows the plant to send its energy back into the plant instead of producing a flower seed.  Doing so will also increase the number of leaves on the plant.

 In the information above, we described how to plant and care for a rhododendron.  Most broad-leaved evergreen plants (as well as many other shade loving plants) will benefit immeasurably when you follow these directions.

Other information…Bonsai is the art of pruning and shaping plants and to dwarf them for display in special bonsai pots.  If you are into this hobby and want to use rhododendrons, the Kurume and Satsuki hybrids are excellent for this use.  When selecting a rhododendron to bonsai, choose one that has an interesting form.  Evergreen plants are popular plants to Bonsai.
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CODLING MOTHS

Codling moth is the main cause of damage to apples and pears in the United States and they are found extensively throughout the Treasure Valley, year after year.  You will see the codling moth fluttering around each spring and they themselves are not the cause of fruit damage but the larva itself that creates havoc with apples and pears.

The best time to find them in your fruit orchard is during the night and early morning hours.  Codling moth has been known to attack cherries, apricots, nectarines, and peaches, however this is uncommon.  Many folks forget about spraying crabapples when attempting to control this insect; however it’s often a host for codling moth.  An adult codling moth is approximately one-half inch in length and the color of an adult is grayish in appearance with slightly narrow bands of creamy white and brownish-gray colors.  The tip of each wing is coppery in color.  When night time temperatures are approximately 62 degrees, the codling moth is most active and may lay eggs on both the leaves as well as the blossom.  A female codling moth can lay between 25 to 100 eggs each spring and they begin to hatch out as our temperatures warm up.  The time frame is typically between 10 and 14 days from egg to hatch.  As they hatch, they will burrow into the fruit.  As you inspect an apple, it’s not uncommon to find several larva in an apple.  The larva is creamy white when young and can change to a slight pinkish color as the season progresses.  The larva will have a rather large brownish-color head.  Later, the larva leaves the fruit and creates a cocoon where they change to an adult.  The codling moth (caterpillar) will spend the winter in this cocoon, pupating in early spring.  The cocoon may be found on the fruit tree or on the ground beneath bark or other debris.  Although uncommon in our area, it’s possible for codling moths to mate more than once in a season.

Some gardeners rely on codling moth traps which contains a pheromone to attract them.  Codling moth traps may eliminate a few codling moths, but certainly not all of them.  You should provide at least one trap for each tree and replace them once a month.  Of importance is that no matter how great you do at controlling them on your property, if your neighbor doesn’t effectively control them, your efforts may not be completely satisfying.  

We have found that codling moths attack the fruit at various stages of growth.  They often lay their eggs in the blossom of apples and pears, causing damage throughout the summer and then bore out in the fall.  To prevent this from happening, spray the blossoms with Ferti-lome ‘Fruit Tree Spray’ when approximately 10% of the blossoms are open and again when 90% of the blossoms have fallen from the tree.   When applying any insecticide, fungicide or herbicide, you should always wear goggles, a long-sleeved shirt and protective gloves or other protective gear.  As a note of precaution, you are required to follow Federal Regulations when using any product that is labeled with their warning.  Codling moth may also bore into the fruit at a point called a ‘Sting”.  This may be found when closely examining the fruit and noticing a small amount of frass (excrement) at the entry point on the fruit.  Throughout the season, codling moth larva will tunnel the fruit and feed on the seeds.

Another recommendation for controlling insects on listed fruit trees is Ferti-lome systemic ‘Tree & Shrub’ insect control.  On cherries and other fruit listed on the package, this product has been found to be effective at controlling many insects, both on fruit trees as well as other shrubs and trees.  Controversy has arisen concerning the safety of neonicotinoids, an active ingredient found in this product.  Reference is sometimes made to it perhaps killing bees.  When applying this product according to the directions printed on the container, we have found it to be as safe as many other products available.  In part, this is due to the fact that when using this product on fruit trees, it recommends applying it to the trunk and surrounding soil of the tree, not where bees are typically found.  Any product including Insecticidal Soap, Neem Oil, and Spinosad will kill bees when sprayed directly on them.
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Billbugs

If you have not applied Hi-Yield 'Grub Free Zone III by the end of March, you should certainly do so quickly. Billbugs are active beginning in March in the Boise, Idaho area and the damage typically doesn't show up until July. Two applications are necessary, one in MARCH and the second application should be applied in JUNE.

When a bag of grub control states that it will last a full season, that means ONE (1) season. Seasons are Spring - Summer - Fall - Winter! So when you apply the first application and it states all season, that means SPRING. Billbugs are active from March through September in our area. There are at least 4 types of billbugs found the the Boise area. Make the first application now.
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Roses

There has never been a flower that has been more cherished, revered, or steeped in tradition more than a rose.  It has been named America’s national flower because of its beauty and hardiness.  Unlike annual flowers which live for a season and must be replanted again each succeeding spring, the rose provides color year after year with fresh, vibrant, fragrant blooms.  They are often used to enhance property around a foundation, as a border along a fence, a walk, or a vegetable garden or when potted up for a splash of color on a patio or climbing on a trellis.  When used against a fence, a row of grandiflora roses makes a perfect backdrop to smaller shrubs, annuals and perennials.  Most everyone is drawn to the color, form, and fragrance of rose flowers.  A traditional symbol of love, you see roses used in weddings, on anniversaries, at mother’s day, for birthdays, and just about any time a special event takes place.  Roses are one of the most widely used plants available and probably the most popular plant sold in the nursery or floral shop.  

Beginning gardeners are sometimes reluctant to plant roses, thinking they may be difficult to grow and care for, however most rose problems are a reflection of the plants environment. 
 
Six rose types are listed for your information…When planting your rose garden, keep in mind that there are different types of roses for the environment you intend to use them in.

Hybrid Teas…The most popular type of rose because of its long-stem cutting quality and for the size, shape and fragrance of each rose.  Each stem bears one terminal bud.  Hybrid tea roses can attain a height of 3 to 5 feet and should be spaced at least 3 to 4 feet apart when planting.

Floribundas…Noted for massive color displays; floribunda roses are often used in hedges, borders and foundation plantings.  Each stem bears “clusters” of roses rather than individual flowers.  Flowers are usually smaller than hybrid teas but provide a dazzling display in the rose garden.  Floribundas typically grow from 3 to 4 feet in height and are often spaced 36 to 48 inches apart when planting.

Grandiflora’s…A “cross” between a hybrid tea and a Floribunda rose. They produce a large background rose with some stems bearing clusters of floribunda-type roses.  These roses grow 4 to 6 feet tall and are often spaced three feet or more apart.

Polyanthas…These “border beauties” are a dwarf floribunda that is ideally suited for miniature hedges and borders.  These roses grow 18 to 24 inches tall and should be spaced the same distance apart.

English roses…The blooms on these roses are perhaps the most impressive of any rose available.  The petal count on many English roses usually exceeds fifty or more petals and the flower often droops down from its massive flower weight.  These roses grow 5 to 6 feet tall and should be spaced at least four feet apart.

Climbers…These “ramblers” typically require a trellis or fence as a means of support.  There are two types of climbers: “True” climbers such as Blaze and Don Jaun and “grafted” climbers such as Peace and Angel Face.  True climbers bloom a lot the first year they are planted and can be trimmed back the following spring to allow growth from “new wood”.  Grafted climbers don’t bloom much the first year because they require “secondary” wood from which to bloom.   It is important the following spring to prune this type of rose no more than one-third to one-half of last year’s growth (the lighter colored wood) to insure an abundant display of beautiful blooms.  Climbers can grow from eight to fifteen feet high, so this type of rose should be spaced at least eight feet apart.   

Additional information…The best way to insure a healthy plant is proper planting and cultivation.  Roses require a minimum of five hours of sunlight each day.  Be careful not to plant them where the soil is continually moist.  Roses prefer a rich loamy soil.  Proper planting is essential for roses.  

To plant a potted or bare-root rose, dig a hole 20 inches wide and 18 inches deep.  Next, mix equal parts of peat moss, potting soil, vermiculate, sand and topsoil (existing topsoil is normally sufficient). This formula will provide a rich, well-drained soil which is necessary for roses to thrive in.

When planting boxed roses, remove the box entirely if the plants are not leafed out, then carefully set the plant in the amended hole and spread the roots evenly.  Once a rose has leafed out, plant the rose in the box by removing the top of the box without disturbing the roots and plant in the amendment stated above.  After backfilling the hole to the proper depth (a point where the union is just above ground level), fill the hole with water, add 12 tablespoons of Ferti-lome “Root Stimulator” and set the plant back into the hole, allowing the plant to soak up water and root stimulator.  Allow the rose to set in the Root Stimulator/Water solution for ten to fifteen minutes (refill the hole with water only if it dissipates within the allocated time) and then backfill, stepping the plant firmly into the soil to remove any air pockets.   

Start fertilizing roses in early to mid-March.  Fertilize every three to four weeks throughout the summer with Ferti-lome “Rose Food” to promote large, healthy blooms.  Roses benefit by adding Hi-Yield ‘Copperas” to the soil.  Copperas creates a dark green color to the leaves and helps with the intake of insecticides that control aphids and other insects on roses.  You might wonder why Ferti-lome “Rose Food” is high in nitrogen. Most roses bloom on new growth and nitrogen promotes growth.  We recommend stopping a fertilizing program for roses in early September.  This allows the plant an opportunity to go dormant and harden off prior to our sometimes cold winter months.  

The ideal pH for roses is between 5.8 and 6.5.  Our soil is alkaline which ranges from 7.2 or higher.   Applying Hi-Yield “Iron Plus Soil Acidifier” three times per year (Spring – Summer – Fall) at a rate of fifteen pounds per thousand square feet is very beneficial for the overall health of roses.

If roses are not blooming as they should and have been fertilized properly, the problem may be due to watering or perhaps a lack of phosphorus.  Roses bloom poorly when over-watered or there is a lack of available phosphorus.  Although most roses bloom on new wood, there are some that bloom on secondary wood as mentioned above.  If watering and fertilizing is properly administered and roses still do not bloom, it is possible the roses you own bloom on secondary wood.

Be certain that the roses you purchase are certified to be virus free.  A deadly virus known as mosic can destroy every rose in your flower garden and it shows up in Treasure Valley gardens nearly every year.  Beware of cheap roses that are not certified to be virus free; you may get more than you bargained for.

Basic tools that every gardener should have when maintaining roses are rose gloves, pruners, a shovel, hoe, and a watering can.  Materials often necessary for the care of roses are Ferti-lome “Rose Food,” rose collars, Ferti-lome “Pruning Paint, Ferti-lome “F-Stop” and Ferti-lome “Tree & Shrub Systemic Insect Drench.”  

Insects and diseases on roses…It seems aphids are the number one problem each spring with roses after they leaf out.  They are usually gray, black or lime-green in color.  They can be found on the underside of the leaves and massed on buds.  An excellent way to eradicate aphids is to apply Ferti-lome “Rose Food with Systemic” or Ferti-lome “Tree & Shrub Systemic Insect Drench” as described above.  With Ferti-lome Tree & Shrub Systemic, one application will control aphids and many other insects for an entire year.

You may find it necessary to apply a fungicide such as Ferti-lome “F-Stop.”  A few of the many fungus diseases controlled with this product is leaf spot, rust, and fusarium blight. 

Spider mites are much harder to control and we’ve found the best way to eradicate this insect is with Bonide “Liquid Insect Control.”  Keep in mind that our alkaline soils tie up insecticides, sometimes rendering them nearly useless.  To control spider mites and most other insects when using Bonide Liquid Insect Control, it’s important to add Ferti-lome “Chelated Liquid Iron,” which will improve the effectiveness of this and nearly all other insecticides.

There is a fungus that may attack roses called Pseudomonas syringae.  Pseudomonas syringae first appears as a red area on the bark and later turns black.  To verify the problem, scrape the bark and see if it’s moist and has red to chocolate coloring.  If so, prune a few inches below the infected area.  Always disinfect pruning shears between cuts to avoid spreading diseases.  Use a mixture of 3 to 10 parts chlorine bleach to water and disinfect after each cut.  One way diseases spread is by splashing water.

Fungus such as black spot can be controlled reasonably well by raking up all leaves in late-fall since the fungus is contained in the leaves of roses as well the leaves of other plants.  Carefully clip off any remaining leaves that are clinging to a plant prior to raking.  Never use rose leaves or Quaking Aspen leaves as mulch around plants since these leaves may transmit fungus diseases.  
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                    FOXFARM Lawn and garden products...   

The Home & Garden Store takes pride in offering outstanding products to you, our customer. We have built our reputation on offering quality products at reasonable prices to gardening enthusiasts for the past 16 years.

Foxfarm Soil & Fertilizer Company is a small family run business that has produced some of the finest products available anywhere. Their products are handcrafted in small batches to ensure superior consistency and quality. They are considered the micro-brewery of premium plant foods and soil mixes. Foxfarm is committed to promoting an ecological balance and participating in the environmental restoration of our planet. 

We use and recommend all their products and we consistency use their Happy Frog ‘Potting Soil’ and Happy Frog ‘Soil Conditioner’ in our landscaping projects. (Our distributor for Foxfarm was growing tomatoes directly in their 'Soil Conditioner' last year with fantastic results).  Foxfarm blends their soils in small batches, checking for quality in every bag. These products are a blend of pH balanced forest humus, earthworm castings and bat guano along with beneficial microbes that stimulate root development which will help plants access nutrients in the soil. We use these products along with Natural Guard ‘Soil Activator’ to help increase the uptake of important micronutrients found in all Foxfarm products. These products cost us a little more, but with nearly 40 years in the landscape and garden center industry, we know that these handcrafted soils are certainly superior to many of the products you find on the market today!

Here are a few other great products from Foxfarm Soil & Fertilizer Company that we recommend: Foxfarm Organic 'Big Bloom' - Foxfarm 'Grow Big' - Bush Doctor 'Kangaroots' - Bush Doctor 'Microbe Brew' - Bush Doctor 'Sledgehammer' - Bush Doctor 'Wholly Mackerel' fish fertilizer - Bush Doctor 'Boomerang' (highly concentrated soil drench) - Bush Doctor 'Bemb'e' ( enhances the soil; contains 3 types of molasses and is highly concentrated ) - Bush Doctor 'Coco.Loco' coconut coir potting mix (has calcium, beneficial to tomatoes, peppers and many other vegetables and plants) - Foxfarm Original 'Planting Mix' (great as a top dressing as it provides a rich, dark brown color to the soil surface.  When using as a planting mixture, use at a rate of 60% Foxfarm 'Planting Mix' to 40% existing top soil) and Light Warrior 'Seed Starter'.  These and other great products are available from Foxfarm Soil & Fertilizer Company!

Sometimes Mother Nature needs a boost, especially in older homes where nutrients may have depleted over a period of time...  Our recommendation: FERTILIZE - It's your insurance policy!

Garden Tip: Rejuvenate your roses and other shrubs by working in a three-inch layer of Happy Frog® Soil Conditioner around the base of the plant in spring and fall. You can also rake it into your lawn by mixing one-half Happy Frog ‘Soil Conditioner’ and one-half native (existing) soil every time you plant.
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