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Fall Garden

Although we usually think of the Spring when it comes to gardening, Fall gardening can be key to a healthier, more beautiful garden. We've put together a few articles to help you get your garden ready for the Spring, added a few on House Plants (because the Fall is a great time for indoor gardening) and then threw in a few tips for the upcoming Winter. We hope you enjoy it.

Readying for Winter

Fall Clean Up - Putting The Garden To Bed

The Benefits Of Fall Planting

Lifting And Storing Bulbs

Preparing For Cooler Weather

Planting Bulbs In The Fall For A Beautiful Spring Display

Your Fall & Winter Garden - Plants That Like The Cold

House Plants - Enjoy The Health Benefits

Winterizing - A Few Tips For The Upcoming Winter

Readying for Winter

Fall is here and after a sizzling summer, most of the country is finally starting to cool down. Now is the time to begin thinking about preparing your garden for the upcoming winter weather. Winterizing may seem like a daunting task, but a little bit of hard work and a little bit of know-how is all you need for success.

The most important factor in successfully winterizing your garden is knowing your plants' limits. For example, a tropical hibiscus would be doomed if left outdoors during a Minnesota winter. By learning as much as you can about your plants, you will be well-equipped to avoid leaving vulnerable plants exposed to winter weather.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

The USDA has divided North America into eleven hardiness zones based on average minimum temperatures in each area. Familiarize yourself with your hardiness zone and keep it in mind when selecting plants for your garden. Only planting perennials in-ground that are appropriate for your area is crucial for success and will save you a lot of money and heartache. However, do not let this keep you from experimenting with plants that are not hardy in your zone. With some special care, even the most tender plants can be kept from year to year.

If you are growing a tropical plant in an area that experiences freezing weather, you will need to plant it in a container, then bring it near a southern-facing window and treat it like a houseplant over the winter. Once the temperature drops to 55°, tropical plants begin to become uncomfortable and need to be brought indoors. However, instead of bringing them straight in, it's beneficial to move your plants to a shady location outdoors for a couple of weeks. This will help to ease the stress on your plant as it transitions from outdoor sunlight to filtered indoor light. Of course, this will require keeping an eye on your weather forecast and planning ahead, but it can mean life or death for your tender plant! While your tropical plant is indoors, do not fret if you notice some yellow leaves. This is simply the plant's way of expressing displeasure with its least favorite time of the year.

For in-ground plants, especially evergreens, it is crucial to keep them well watered up until the ground has frozen. Although plants do not actively grow during their winter dormancy, they do lose moisture through their foliage and can easily desiccate as the winter wind blows. Providing your plants with plenty of water will prevent winter burn which can ultimately lead to the death of your plant.

Mulch is a gardener's best friend when it comes to in-ground plantings. A 4-6 inch layer of straw, shredded leaves or wood chips can make all of the difference when freezing weather arrives. As counterintuitive as it may seem, mulch helps keep the soil frozen, not warm. It also helps by retaining soil moisture and preventing root damage as the ground cycles between freezing and thawing.

Roses require a little bit of extra care when it comes to winterizing. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the base of the plant needs to be protected. This can be accomplished by mounding soil 6-12 inches up over the base of the plant, then adding a layer of mulch. In addition to mounding soil and mulch over the base, climbing roses should have their canes tied together and wrapped in burlap. If they are on a trellis, make sure it is sturdy enough to withstand the imminent wind and snowfall.

Trees also need some extra care for the winter. To protect the roots, apply mulch around the base of the tree, making sure to cover an area at least as large as the span of the branches. Young trees are especially vulnerable to damage from harsh weather conditions and hungry rodents. To minimize this risk, wrap the trunk of the tree with plastic tree guards, commercial tree wrap or burlap.

Winterizing containerized perennials is just as important as winterizing plants that are in the ground. Ideally, they should be moved into an unheated garage or basement that does not freeze for the winter, allowing them to go dormant. Of course, this is not always feasible, especially if you do not have a garage or basement. Some options for winterizing containerized plants is to bury the pots in the ground, then apply mulch like you would for in-ground plants. This is a good option to provide your plants with the protection their roots would have if they were planted in-ground while still enjoying the benefits of a containerized plant. You may also move your containers beside your home, wrap them in an insulating material such as bubble wrap or burlap and apply mulch to the top.

Keep in mind that not all containers are created equal, and when it comes to winter, bigger is better. The more soil your plant's roots have around them, the more likely they are to survive the winter. The material your containers are made from is also important. Ceramic or terracotta pots are more likely to crack and break than their metal or plastic counterparts. Heavy pots can be difficult to maneuver, but lightweight pots are more likely to topple in the wind. Always take these factors into consideration and purchase pots that best suit your needs.

Not only is it time to winterize your garden, it's also the time to begin forcing bulbs for winter blooming. Plants such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocus can all be manipulated into blooming before spring arrives, bringing color and cheer to an otherwise dreary winter. Simply plant the bulbs with their tips exposed in the container of your choice, water them well and store them in a cool place. This can be a garage, a basement or even a refrigerator—just be sure to store them away from fresh fruits and vegetables to prevent rotting. While the bulbs are chilling, do not let them dry completely out. After the allotted time has passed, bring the container out into a sunny spot in your home and wait for the show! They will bloom in approximately 2-3 weeks.

Here are some guidelines for the amount of time each type of bulb needs to chill.
  • Tulips – 10 to 16 weeks
  • Hyacinths – 12 to 15 weeks
  • Crocus – 8 to 15 weeks
  • Daffodils – 12 to 15 weeks
  • Grape Hyacinths – 10 to 15 weeks
Autumn is all about planning ahead in the garden. Whether you're winterizing your plants or forcing bulbs indoors, you can be assured that your hard work will pay off and reward you with success in the future. So break out your gloves and gardening shoes and get to work—your garden will thank you!

Fall Clean Up - Putting The Garden To Bed

Fall clean up in the garden is made up of a few quick and easy tasks which will pay huge dividends in the upcoming year.

Fall Clean Up
  • As annuals stop blooming or die, pull them up and throw them on the compost pile.
  • Lift and store tender bulbs.
  • Stake young trees to help protect from wind damage.
  • Completely clear the garden of weeds before they drop their seeds and create a problem for next year.
  • Cut herbaceous perennials to 2-3" tall and toss the scraps on the compost pile.
  • Give all plants a long, deep watering so that they are fully hydrated for winter.
  • Remove all leaf debris, twigs, and miscellaneous organic material that can harbor pests and disease.
  • Empty clay pots of annuals. Bring the pots inside to keep them from freezing and cracking.
  • Take down unused stakes and empty trellises to clean for reuse next spring.
Raking Leaves for Compost Fall Pruning

  • Remove and discard dead or broken branches on shrubs and trees.
  • Prune shrubs and roses no later than 4 weeks before the first frost so that the fresh cuts have time to harden off and callous over.
  • Cut herbaceous perennials to 2-3" tall and toss the scraps in the compost bin.

Fall Mulching

A fresh layer of mulch in the fall helps reduce water loss, suppress weed growth, and protect plants from extreme temperature swings.

Commonly used mulches:
  • Chopped or shredded leaves.
  • Wood shavings. Hardwoods seem to work better for moisture retention.
  • Straw (not hay).
  • Compost.
Watering
  • A deep root watering is needed prior to the first freeze. Gradually reduce the watering for your plants from a daily watering to weekly watering to monthly through out fall and winter.
  • Allow the water to extend beyond the drip line of trees and large shrubs. A thirsty plant going into the cold season will be much more susceptible to winter damage than a well-watered one.
  • If you made a basin around the base of the plant/shrub to hold water during spring and summer months, make a hole in it so water can drain away and not freeze the plant.
  • Monitor weather conditions and water during extended dry periods without snow cover - one to two times per month.

Benefits of Fall Planting

Early Fall is a great time to get back out in the garden to plant your favorite perennials, shrubs and trees. I know what you are thinking; "I planted everything back in the spring and I'm done until next year." That's what most people think, but a budding gardener like yourself should realize all of the benefits of planting in the fall.

Fall Planting Let me explain

First, and most importantly, is the mild weather. Every outdoors fanatic and gardener loves this time of year! Not too hot, not too cold. And guess what, your plants love it too, and for the very same reason. If you take the time to plant hardy perennials during these pleasant temperatures they can focus all of their energy on root growth. Don't be surprised when you don't see much happening to the plant. The real work is going on underground. Down there the plant is busy developing strong, thick, feeder roots.

Those are the roots that will be ready to bring water and nutrients up to the top of the plant in the spring and give your garden a big head start over the neighbor's garden. Make sure you give your new additions a chance to get good and cozy before winter comes. You should allow six to eight weeks for trees and shrubs, and four to six weeks for perennials and ornamental grasses. A good rule of thumb is to plant by the end of August in the North and by the end of November in the South.

Secondly, is watering. The cooler daytime temperatures and mild nights will reduce the amount of water your garden needs. This will be a blessing to your checkbook after trying to keep the grass green all summer. Immediately after planting, give the plant a good long drink. Add enough water so that it soaks all the way down below the depth of the plant. Then, keep an eye on it and water as needed to prevent the soil from completely drying out. Always be sure to plant in a well-drained area. Over watering or lack of drainage can cause as many problems as under watering.

Third is fertilizing. You don't have to do it until spring! How easy is that? Fertilizing this late in the year could stimulate a flush of tender growth that may not have time to harden off before cold temperatures arrive and could be subjected to winter damage. Stop fertilizing all of your plants by September 1. This allows the plants plenty of time to comfortably harden off and enter a dormant state for winter.

And the fourth benefit is cost. Most garden centers and nurseries will have many plants for sale at discounted prices this time of year. Be sure to look over the plants carefully for signs of pest or disease damage, and don't buy anything that looks unhealthy or improperly cared for. While you're there, buy some mulch to put around the plant. The mulch will help maintain even soil temperatures and resist root heaving that occurs after repetitive freezing and thawing of the ground.

So, now that you know that fall planting is easy, inexpensive, and most importantly beneficial to the plants, take a few hours to get the drop on your neighbors and raise your garden to the next level!

Storing Bulbs

Lifting and Storing Bulbs

So, you enjoyed the beautiful bulbs in your garden throughout the season and would love to see them back in your garden next year. Gardeners in zones 8 and colder can get the best value from their summer-blooming bulbs and enjoy them year after year by taking a little time at the end of each growing season to lift and store the bulbs. Like all Fall Gardening, a little work at the end of the season really pays off at the beginning of the next.

  • The time to lift and store your bulbs is near end of fall or beginning of winter. The plant will let you know the exact time with yellowing or dying foliage. Use a spading fork or shovel to lift the bulbs from beneath the soil. Brush away any soil that clings to the bulbs.
  • Cut any remaining foliage 1-2 inches above the tops of the bulbs. Dry the bulbs for two to three days in a shaded location by spreading them on a newspaper. Bulbs not allowed to dry out properly may rot, so don't skimp on this step!
  • Place bulbs in peat moss, sawdust, sand, perlite or vermiculite inside a well ventilated container. Containers like paper bags, cardboard boxes, or very loose knit sacks work well, but avoid non-breathable plastic food containers or sealable storage bags. Once stored, you may not be able to recognize the different types of bulbs so be sure to clearly label each container.
  • Store the containers in a cool, dry, dark location like an unheated garage, basement, or utility room. If storing containers in a refrigerator, keep them away from any fruits or vegetable as the ethylene gas produced by the edibles can cause bulbs to break dormancy prematurely. Be sure that air can circulate around your stored bulbs.
  • Inspect your bulbs once a month for signs of disease or mildew. Discard any bulbs that are undersized, spotted, or are not firm.

Preparing For Cooler Weather

As the air begins to turn cooler (OK, just in some areas) and the daylight begins to grow shorter, it is apparent that the onslaught of fall is before us. Even though the temperature is not significantly cooler, the shorter days are enough to tell your plants it is time to begin preparing for colder weather and their annual rest period. Here are a few things to "do" as well as some "do nots" to prepare your plants for winter.

Do
  • Keep plant debris and litter picked up to prohibit insects and diseases from over-wintering around the plants and planting areas.
  • Eliminate weed growth any way you can to keep weed seeds from sprouting next spring.
  • Once the weather cools, drop the cutting height of your lawn mower. Doing so will make it easier to remove leaves while the warm soil and cool air serve to encourage root growth.
  • Fall is a great time to amend your soil with organic matter. If you are waiting to plant next spring, amend the soil in the fall to give it time to mesh and produce better results next spring when it is time to plant.
  • Plant bulbs. Now is the best time to plant several types of plants like spring flowering bulbs, German Iris, and Daylilies.
Do Not
  • Fertilize. You do not want your plants trying to put on lush growth in the fall. New growth is susceptible to freeze damage if the temperatures turn cold which could cause the plants to perish if severe enough.
  • Prune or shear. Pruning triggers a growth response in the plant that is also susceptible to freeze damage. If you must prune, wait until you get some frost and be sure the plant is going into dormancy before you prune.
  • Get rid of your leaves. Rake your leaves into a spot where they can compost. You can then incorporate them into your soil or use them as mulch in the garden for the winter. Bare garden soil is not a good thing for the beneficial organisms in your soil. The organisms are essential components that are the key to growing productive plants.
Preparing for Cooler Weather

Remember, fall is a great time to plant a number of plants. The warm soil coupled with cooler air temperatures creates a great environment for plants to thrive and grow a healthy root system in anticipation of next spring's growth. There are also a number of plants that can be moved successfully only in the fall. Spring flowering bulbs such as Tulips, Daffodils, Hyacinths, and other blooming bulb plants are in this category. They need the cold weather of winter to initiate flower development.

Other plants, including German Iris and Daylilies, naturally transplant easier at this time of year. During the fall, they are harvested from the field where they are growing and shipped in a bare root state that is both economical and easier for transplanting.

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." This famous saying fits well when thinking of your fall garden. If you want to get ahead of the game, do not wait for spring to clean up your act. Enjoy the cool, clean fall weather in your yard now and reap the benefits next spring when it comes time to plant and you are ready.

Planting Bulbs In The Fall For A Beautiful Spring Display

Planting Bulbs

Spring bulbs are one of the most welcome sight in gardening. September through November, as the temperature begins to cool, is the perfect time to prepare an exciting spring show by planting daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, and tulips. The best time to plant depends on your zone. If you live in the Northern United States you should get your bulbs in the ground closer to September. If you live in the Southern United States you should plant your bulbs closer to the end of November. If you're unsure if you should plant your bulbs in September, October or November, err on the side of caution and plant in late September or early October.

As Spring approaches and your bulbs explode from the ground in masses of color, they begin the growing season and assure us that milder weather is on the way. Gardeners are lucky that these harbingers of springtime are both beautiful and forgiving.

Bulbs provide a foolproof floral display that brightens gardens, feeds the newly awakened bumblebee queens, and lifts our spirits. Selecting from the myriad of species and varieties is the hardest part. Once you have the bulbs, all that's left is proper placement and planting.

Choose a site where they will receive at least part sun throughout the spring. They look beautiful growing beneath deciduous trees, and there they will receive ample sunlight before the trees leaf out. Areas of constant shade, like the north side of a building, will not work as well because the plants need some sun to make food for future flowers. Also choose a spot with good drainage or the bulbs may rot. Amend poorly drained, heavy soils with organic matter to improve tilth and drainage. Alternatively, many gardeners simply plant bulbs in raised beds or berms.

The ideal planting depth depends on the size of the bulb. The general rule is to plant three times as deep as the bulb is wide. That means about 4 to 6 inches deep for small bulbs like snowdrops, crocuses, and scillas, and about 8 inches deep for large bulbs like hybrid tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. Typically, smaller bulbs are spaced at about 16 per square foot and larger ones around 9 per square foot; but for maximum impact gardeners can plant them closer as long as they are not touching.

Planted en masse, the exuberant colors of spring bulbs make a grand statement. Because more is better, the shovel is my preferred planting tool. I can get more bulbs in the ground for less work. To duplicate the mass effect in your garden, buy fewer types of bulbs in larger quantities as opposed to many types of bulbs in fewer numbers. For example, instead of buying 10 bulbs each of five different types of tulips, buy 50 'Hemisphere' tulips for a dazzling display. Order with friends so you can share leftover bulbs and help each other dig.

Once they are planted, the gardener's work is done. The bulbs develop throughout winter, and with no assistance from us, start sprouting in early spring. All that's left for the gardener to do is admire the flowers and cut a few for vases.

Spring bulbs are especially stunning when combined with other spring flowers. Add them under crab apple trees, amidst wildflowers, and alongside spring annuals for memorable combinations. Also interplant them with each other. Placing crocus with mid season daffodils and late tulips gives a succession of blooms from one planting. Or choose varieties that bloom at the same time for a vivid explosion of flowers.

For the novice and master gardener spring bulbs are great plants. Whether you are growing a common 'Carlton' daffodil or a not-so-common fritillaria, success is easy. Even beginners can feel confident to experiment with new and exciting varieties. Start planning and selecting now for a spectacular spring.

Tips for Spring Bulbs:
  • Order in mass for an eye-popping display.
  • Add organic matter/compost to the soil for nutrients and drainage.
  • Wear gloves when handling bulbs.
  • Plant bulbs immediately when they arrive or store in a cool, dark, dry place.
  • Place shorter-growing bulbs in the front of beds and borders.
  • Try to have everything planted well before the ground freezes.
  • Mulch the planting area to avoid heaving from winter thawing and freezing.

Alliums – These flowering onions are the attractive sisters of the culinary onion, garlic and leek. Tightly packed umbels with scores of flowers resemble colorful balls suspended in air. They make good additions to herb gardens, and the larger alliums combine well with hostas, geraniums, and other low perennials. Alliums are one of the best landscape values available. They bloom for weeks and thereafter that the decorative seedheads remain attractive into the summer months. Wildlife resistant.

Crocus – One of the earliest of spring bulbs, crocuses literally begin the gardening season. They sparkle like little jewels. The flowers open fully on sunny days and release a sweet fragrance that attracts the first pollinators (usually bumblebees) to visit. Crocuses naturalize and multiply quickly.

Hyacinth – This extremely fragrant flower was a favorite of the Romans. The scented, tubular, starry flowers form on a thick spike, making them a valued and long-lived cutflower. They come in a rainbow of colors and are excellent for vibrant bedding displays as well as formal plantings. Wildlife resistant.

Fritillaria – Fritillarias are dramatic plants with leafy stems topped with colorful hanging bells. The stately crown imperial (F. imperialis) is the empress of the spring garden with 3-4' stems and large, pendant, lily-like flowers. Wildlife resistant.

Narcissus – This genus includes daffodils, jonquils, and paperwhites. Narcissus are perhaps the most wildly grown flower in the world. Their buttery yellow (or shimmering white) blossoms signal spring time. Many narcissus have powerful fragrances ranging from sweet to perfumy to clean, adding to their appeal as a cut flower. A hardy naturalizer, narcissus are perfect for hillsides, meadows, woodlands and gardens of all sizes and shapes from coast to coast. For those in southern areas, jonquils withstand heat better than the other divisions. Wildlife resistant.

Tulips – The elegant form and kaleidoscope of colors available in tulips started the greatest horticultural craze in history: Tulipomania. Fortunately, today we don't have to sell our horse drawn carriage or mortgage our cottage to enjoy their beauty. Their bright flowers are available in a vast array of colors, sizes, and bloom times. Species tulips are typically smaller but better naturalizers than the hybrid cultivars. All types are excellent for bedding displays, formal plantings and cut flowers.

Don't forget that fall is the best time to get your spring-flowering bulbs into the ground. Even though summer just ended, spring will be here before you know it!

Your Fall & Winter Garden - Plants that like the cold

Just because the cold weather is settling in, nothing says your garden can't be beautiful. Some plants actually love the cold and will bring life and color to your home through the Fall and Winter.

Plants that Like the Cold

You should make sure you know which zone you live so you can make educated choices on which plants will perform the best in your garden ( click here if you would like a little help determining your zone - then use your browser's back button to return). This is true for any season you are planning a garden. Although the plants we suggest here are considered fall and/or winter plants, they will perform better in some zones than others. A little research up front can make a great difference in your garden's success.

Fall Color

There are many plants that provide color through late Summer, the Fall and up to early Winter (or your first frost). Here is a short list of a few plants that should do well in your Fall garden (remember to check them against your zone to ensure the best performance).

  • Asters
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Ornamental Kale
  • Rudbeckia
  • Russian Sage
  • Sedum
  • Spider Lilies
  • Spiderwort (Tradescantia)
Not Just Color

There are many plants that bloom in other seasons that can still provide beauty to your garden in the Fall and Winter. Some, like the Lavender, will provide color in the warmer seasons and beautiful foliage in the cooler seasons. Others, like the holly, provide green (and sometimes variegated) leaves all year long and splashes of color depending on the plant and the time of the year. Finally, trees like the Birch and Crape Myrtle provide green and/or color when it's warmer and beautiful bark during the colder times of the year.

  • Euonymus (some are evergreen - some provide color at various times of the year)
  • Nandina
  • Weigela
  • Forsythia
  • Ligustrum
  • Holly
  • Boxwood
  • Juniper (depending on the plant, they can be groundcover, privacy screens or borders)
  • Arborvitae 'Green Giant'
  • Birch Tree
  • Crape Myrtle
  • Cypress
Early Winter / Early Spring

Although few plants are going to give you flowers in the coldest of Winter, some will provide blooms up to the early parts of Winter or some so early in the Spring that it still feels like Winter.

  • Crocus (late Winter - early Spring)
  • Lenten Rose (Helleborous)
  • Loropetalum
  • Pansy
  • Spirea
Roses

Just like other plants, different roses bring blooms and color at different times of the year. However, many roses will provide blooms from Summer all the way to your first frosts. And some also give you intersting foliage along the way. Since roses come in everything from groundcovers to hedges, they are an excellant element in your garden as a spring, summer and fall addition.

  • Groundcover
  • Hedge
  • Shrub
  • Climbing
  • Tree Formed
  • Miniature
Explore your options Our goal here wasn't to suggest specific plants for your Fall and Winter garden, but to open your mind to the idea that your garden can still be beautiful when the cold weather moves in. Make sure you know your zone and then look for plants that, in your area, will do well into the Winter or start very early in the Spring. Throw in plants that stay green all year, have interesting bark, or other winter attributes, and with a little planning, your garden can be the envy of your neighbors year round.

House Plants - Enjoy The Health Benefits


Have You Cleaned Your Air Today? Indoor Plants That Clean Air

NASA once reported that astronauts were having a problem with poor air quality on space missions. Through numerous experiments in a two-year study, scientists not only concluded that houseplants were by far the best way to cleanse the air, but they were astonished at how efficient they were in performing the task. So, how does it work? Through photosynthesis, plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. During this process, they also absorb toxins, mold, and bacteria that are eventually deposited in the soil or stored in the plant's cells. The end-result is not only cleaner air, but also higher levels of oxygen, which improves brain function. Today, houseplants ride on every space mission. If plants are the best way to cleanse the air for NASA, imagine the benefits for your office, home or dorm room!

Is this not an amazing product of nature! I'm not talking about some altered, mutated, genetic phenomenon--this is all natural! Sometimes the most advanced discoveries are just realizing that the answer is already right in front of you. Think about this: In today's world, with all of its technological advances, scientific studies and specialization, the best way for NASA to cleanse the air in a space ship is to incorporate plants. Does that not say it all?

Live plants in your home

On average, American's spend over 90% of their time indoors.

Surprisingly, studies show that indoor air is more polluted than outdoor air and it is nearly impossible to avoid exposure to harmful toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide. These toxins are given off by a countless number of common household products including: carpets, plastics, furniture, cigarettes, paints, cleaning products, inks, dyes, foam, and rubber, just to name a few.

What can you do to make your home a safer and healthier environment? The good news it that simply adding live plants to your interior decor vastly reduces the amount of toxins in your home and provides a calm, relaxing setting for you, your family, and your guests.

More than just a decoration...
  • By naturally reducing our ecological footprint, indoor plants are a key element to achieving the "green" ideals of good health and sustainability.
  • Indoor plants act like air purifiers. Plants recycle carbon dioxide by converting it back into oxygen.
  • Increased oxygen improves focus, creativity, relaxation, and health while it decreases stress and illness.
  • Plants "breathe" and eliminate dangerous toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide from the air, along with reducing the level of many other air-borne volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
  • Toxins can be eliminated by as much as 1800 micrograms per hour.
  • Interiorscaping provides appealing aesthetics and noise reduction while also lowering humidity and moderating temperatures.
  • Plants are the fastest, most cost-effective agents for changing perceptions of an area and improving psychosocial health.
  • Indoor plants increase positive feelings and reduce stress, fear, and anger.
  • Problem solving skills, idea generation, and creative performance improve substantially when we are around houseplants.
  • Houseplants reduce glare and strain on eyes so they tire less.
  • Interscapes can be used in any room of your home to add a finishing touch.
  • Larger plants can even be used as room dividers for larger areas.
  • Houseplants are easy to care for, only requiring moderate light and watering.
  • Interiorscape plants are affordable--with prices to fit into any budget.
For homes, one plant in smaller rooms and two in common areas is enough to vastly improve air quality!

Winterizing - A Few Tips For The Upcoming Winter

Winterizing

Preparing your garden for winter will minimize cold damage and ensure much healthier plants in the spring. The following guidelines will help you in preparing your landscape for the cold winter months.

Tropical, potted plants need to be brought indoors before the first frost. Place them near a window with strong sunlight--preferably on the south side of your home. Hardier potted plants need some winter protection, especially in colder climates. It is a good idea to place them in a protected area like a garage and bring them out into shaded areas on warm days. Another alternative is to place the plants on the south side of your home against a wall. The sunlight will last longer on this side of your home�heating the wall so that it will radiate heat out through the night. It will also give the plants protection from northerly winds. To get the best results, you should mulch heavily around the containers.

After the first frost, when your perennials are starting to turn brown and die back, is the best time for mulching. You will want to cover the perennials with a 2"-4" layer of mulch, straw or evergreen boughs. This will help protect the plant through their winter dormancy. In very cold climates you can add mulch up to 6" deep for a heavy layer of protection. When spring arrives be sure to remove mulch and clip off the dead foliage. New growth should start appearing shortly as the ground continues to warm.

Some plants, like roses, need to be protected in the colder climates. A heavy mulching is called for, and if in doubt, mulch!

If you live in area that receives less than 1-inch of rain per week, your trees and shrubs will need to be watered throughout the winter. For individuals who live in areas where the ground actually freezes you will want to do one good deep watering before the ground freezes. This should provide enough moisture for the deep roots below the frozen soil. Apply a good 2"-4" layer of mulch on top of your landscape fabric around your trees and shrubs. This will help hold in the soil's warmth and moisture throughout the winter. In very cold climates you can mulch up to 6" layer of protection and even higher around the trunks of trees and shrubs.

By following these few simple guidelines, you can help your plants, trees, and shrubs survive the harsh winter conditions.

Winterizing Tips

The weather outside may be getting frightful, but there's no need to worry about your plants! Protect your garden investment by following this winter preparation checklist.

  • When temperatures reach 45 degrees, move all tender / tropical plants indoors. These can be grown as houseplants.
  • Before your temperature reaches 32 degrees, move any other containerized perennials into an unheated garage or basement and allow them to go dormant. If you do not have a basement or garage, pull containers up to the south side of the house and mulch heavily over the entire container.
  • Let bulbs die back to the ground, and then prune off the dead foliage. For hard winter areas, dig up your tender bulbs and store them in a cool, dark place. Hardy bulbs will be strong enough to stay in the ground.
  • After your first "killing frost", prune back any unwanted, unsightly, or damaged branches. Also, remove any decaying matter that could lead to reoccurring pest and disease problems.
  • For windy or heavy-snow areas, stake trees for added support.
  • Depending on your location, mulch accordingly over in-ground plants and wrap all grafted plants in a breathable material for insulation. Northern locations require increasingly more mulch as you enter colder regions. Southern areas need only light mulching.

Give one last good, deep watering before the freeze sets in. Reduce watering and discontinue fertilizing until after your plants show new growth in the spring.

Winterizing Tender Perennials and Tropicals

You've invested a lot of time and money into your garden. Get the most out of your investment and ensure your garden returns year after year by following these few simple steps.

Tender plants are some of the most unique and colorful plants in existence. They can be grown anywhere in the country during the summer. However, since these plants are native to southern regions of the continent and even South America, they very rarely experience cool weather, much less snow. Many people treat tender plants as annuals, leaving them to the frost and snow for the winter and replanting each season.

But why replant each season and throw away all of this season's work and hard earned money? Most tender plants do well as houseplants during the cooler months--they stay nice and warm in your house and you get a decorative piece to accentuate your interior decor. Or, if you do not have room in your home for additional plants, you may also store them in a cool basement or garage (between 40 and 50 degrees) and allow them to go dormant for the winter. No matter where your store them, wait until after your last spring frost to return them outdoors.

A few tips on overwintering:
  • When kept indoors, keep the temperature between 60 and 70 degrees.
  • Since your plants are not out in the heat, reduce your watering so the plant does not stay too wet.
  • Make sure to place them in a sunny area where it's warm, but do not place them under air vents.
  • Some plants may prefer the bathroom or a tray filled with rocks and water to replicate outdoor humidity.
  • Some plant varieties may bloom indoors, but most will not due to lack of plant energy or light levels.
  • If you store your plants in a garage or basement, make sure the temperature is not below 40 degrees. If it is going to be, take extra caution to insulate their containers.
  • Check your plants for bugs before bringing them in. If you find an infestation, treat it immediately.
  • You may lightly fertilize your indoor plant about every month. Do not fertilize dormant plants. This can burn their roots!
  • It is recommended that bulbs and tuberous plants be kept dormant during winter for maximum spring performance the following year.

More Winterizing Tips....

Winter Mulching
  • Cold weather mulching protects perennials just like a heavy blanket of snow insulates the ground.
  • Add a few inches to the fall mulch for an extra layer of winter protection.
  • In hardy zones 3-6, winter mulching needs to be done after the ground has frozen.
  • In hardy zones 7-10 add winter mulch just prior to the first hard freeze.
  • In very cold climates you can safely mulch up to 6" deep.
Move Potted Tropical and Tender Plants Indoors
  • Tender and tropical plants that should not be allowed to freeze can be enjoyed in the home
  • To avoid bringing pests into your home, treat both the plant and the soil with insecticidal soap mix.
  • Place tropical plants indoors near a window with strong sunlight, preferably on the south side of your home.
  • Use a saucer with rocks added to the bottom of the saucer to hold your plant. Water will collect while watering to keep the plant from drying out. Do not let the water stand in the saucer for over a day or two.
Move Potted Tropical and Tender Plants Indoors
  • Non-tender potted plants can be kept in a protected area like a garage, basement, or other area that offers protection and doesn't freeze.
  • To avoid bringing pests into your home, treat both the plant and the soil with insecticidal soap mix.
  • You can also put them on the south side of your home, then mulch heavily in and around the containers or wrap the containers in heavy burlap.
  • If you live in an area that receives less than 1-inch of rain per week, trees and shrubs should be watered throughout the winter.

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