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Archive for 2014

Host a Welcome Home Party for the Monarch Butterfly!

August 8th, 2014

Monarch_Milkweed

The story of the Monarch Butterfly, unfortunately, is turning out to be a sad one. Due to habitat loss and the widespread use of insecticides and herbicides, that orange and black butterfly that used to be literally everywhere, is now hard to find. Do you realize some children have never had the joy of seeing a Monarch Butterfly? Many adults have not seen a Monarch in years. It's true! How sad is that?

When is the last time you saw a Monarch Butterfly?

The amazing part of this story is that we all have a way to help the North American Monarch Butterfly return home. The solution is simple and relatively inexpensive.

PLANT ASCLEPIAS

a.k.a.

MILKWEED or

BUTTERFLY WEED


Tuberosa_MilkweedIf you don't have a back yard of your own, ask a friend, ask a neighbor or ask your apartment manager. Most will love the idea of saving the Monarch, and who can object to a bit of free landscaping?

The life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly is nothing short of amazing. You may think that these brilliantly colored and oh-so-recognizable butterflies have a short life span, only 4 to 6 weeks, but the truth is that every fourth generation of Monarch Butterfly will migrate some 3,000 miles south to the warmth of Mexico and Southern California, living there for 6 to 9 months before migrating back north. But the winter of 2013-2014 saw the Monarch Butterfly colony numbers hit their lowest populations in recorded history!

Why Should You Care?

  • Because they are an endangered species
  • Because by feeding them, you attract other beneficial pollinators
  • Because they help scientists monitor global warming and ecological health
  • Because every child should be able to see and appreciate the Monarch Butterfly
  • Because seeing a photo is absolutely nothing like meeting the real thing
  • Because they are simply beautiful

Asclepias is the ONLY food

Monarch Larvae and Caterpillars will eat


Monarch_Caterpillar-1Female Monarch Butterflies will lay their eggs on other plants, if they have no choice. You may have noticed them on the leaves of your Echinacea, Buddleia, Delphiniumor Syringa(Lilac). However, that will have been a labor of love with no benefit; the Monarch larvae and caterpillars must have Milkweed in order to survive. It's a fact, plain and simple.

This inbred instinct also has to do with survival of the larvae and adult

Butterfly Weed leaves contain a toxin that is not harmful to the life cycle of the Monarch, but it makes the Monarch taste incredibly nasty to all but a couple of predators. The black and orange coloration warns those hunters that the Monarch is not a tasty morsel, enabling this delicate beauty to survive when many other species of insects fall prey to birds and other exterminators.

However, its ‘instinct' is also leading to its demise. Milkweed, with its connotation of ‘weed' and its prolific growth habit, is being systematically eradicated from farmers' fields and North American back yards. The emergence of genetically modified (GMO) seeds, those which are immune to the most common herbicides, enables farmers to spray their fields so that weeds, including Butterfly Weed, are no longer a problem. Additionally, the number of people growing Asclepias in their yards is declining, even though it is becoming widely known that this easy-to-grow, fragrant, non-invasive wildflower is critical to the Monarch Butterfly's survival.

Ways to Save the Monarch Butterfly

Monarch_Way_StationThe easiest way to do your part is to plant Asclepias plantsLOTS of them:

  • This perennial (in Zones 3 through 9) will come back every year
  • It is available in colors from white to yellow to the traditional pink
  • Butterfly Weed can last forever; it can be dried for year-round enjoyment
  • This wildflower is NOT invasive
  • Milkweed tolerates salty environs well
  • It is nicely fragrant and reblooms from early summer through fall
  • Asclepias is adaptable to many soils and has average moisture requirements
  • It will bloom best with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily

If you appreciate the beauty of butterflies, don't miss the butterfly enthusiast page on Facebook, where people share their photos and their passion for these beautiful and delicate creatures.

Also, view this Pinterest page for more information on ways to show your love for Monarch Butterflies.

We would like to thank you, in advance, on behalf of Monarch Butterflies everywhere!

Colorful Plants for Shady Flower Beds

July 31st, 2014

Colorful annuals growing in a shade gardenPartially or fully shaded flower beds present a unique challenge for gardeners. When it comes to shade-loving, colorful annual plants, there are only a few to choose from. However, a little bit of imagination and a little bit of knowledge can combine to create fantastically stunning, vibrant displays in your more challenging areas. The imagination part is up to you, but here's the knowledge you need to maximize the potential of your semi-shady flower beds.

All of these shady flower bed selections are relatively disease-free, require little maintenance and provide lots of color. You can mix and match 'em, or plant your favorites en masse for bold, eye-catching spectacles. Just as an artist paints a picture, you can use a selection of shade-friendly annual plants to create your own masterpiece. Depending upon the play of dappled sun and shadow, the palette of colors can be an ever-changing kaleidoscope for your viewing pleasure.

Are You Inspired Yet?

Let's get started. In alphabetical order:

  • BegoniasThere are plentiful Begonias to choose from. Begonias will bloom throughout the summer and fall, and all are adaptable to being moved indoors for the winter. One of the most popular shade-friendly annual plants, they are comparatively easy to grow and will tolerate varying amounts of sunlight. You can learn more about growing Begonias here.
    Each type of Begonia has its own characteristics:
    • Angel Wing Begonia -You may also know these as Cane Begonias. Red begonia plants in landscapingFlourishing on segmented stems somewhat similar to bamboo, the foliage on Angel Wing Begonias provides color throughout the season, even when the plant is not in bloom. Angel Wing Begonias enjoy partial to fully shaded locations and can be planted in containers or in the ground.
    • Bonfire Begonia – Also called a Tuberous Begonia. Equally happy in full sun or partial shade, the serrated leaves sport bright blossoms from late spring through fall.
    • Crackling Fire Begonia – A Suntory creation, these Begonias have a compact growth habit, are able to withstand periods of drought and will bloom endlessly, without deadheading.
    • Dragon Wing Begonia – This is a hybrid between Angel Wing and Wax Begonia varieties, the offspring possessing the best qualities of both. It grows equally well indoors and out, is heat tolerant, and will bloom prolifically in full sun to light shade.
    • Solenia Begonia – This Begonia has been bred to be a sun-lover, though it will perform just as well in partial shade. This heat-tolerant variety is also resistant to mildew and has some of the most unique coloration.
    • Tuberous Begonia – The Santa Cruz® Sunset Begonia is the only one in this category, because it is truly unique. Bred to brave the rain, heat and sun, this is the Begonia to grow if you are ‘iffy' about Begonias. Once a breeder hits a home run like this, you can expect to see more of the same.
    • Wax Begonia – This may be the Begonia you are most familiar with. Its waxy leaves retain water for the plant, while also displaying some really striking color. They will all perform well in shady beds or containers and will be covered with single and beauty_lyon_Mdouble blossoms from late spring through early fall.
  • Coleus – Coleus plants are grown almost exclusively for their colorful foliage, some varieties sporting amazingly unique patterns and hues. In fact, one idiosyncrasy is that you should pinch the insignificant blossoms before they go to seed. Coleus has the distinction of thinking its life is over once it goes to seed and, subsequently, the plant will die out. Some Coleus will have the best color in full shade, while others prefer a bit of sun. All will provide gorgeous pigment in partial shade and will perform equally well in containers or beds. Coleus is also quite adaptable to indoor living. You can check out this article, How to Grow Coleus Plants, for more information about this pretty foliage plant.

 

  • Ipomoeacolorful sweet potato vine plants – You may know these as Sweet Potato Vines or Plants. Exhibiting fantastic growth over a single season and available in a variety of leaf shapes and colors, Ipomoea is often grown as an annual ground cover, but is also utilized as a spiller or filler with any number of annuals in containers. Ipomoea will be happy in partial shade to full sun, though it is happiest in dappled shade, especially in the warmest environs.

 

 

 

  • SunPatiens Impatienslilac_sunpatiens_M – There is literally a SunPatiens for everyone! Classified as Compact, Spreading, or Vigorous, each has attributes and colors to suit every grower's tastes. The Compact SunPatiens have shorter stems with exceptional branching, and will grow up to 36 inches high and wide. The Spreading SunPatiens have a more cascading habit, spreading up to 40 inches, with sometimes variegated foliage. The Vigorous SunPatiens are not only adaptable to container growth, but are being utilized as a super gorgeous flowering ground cover. Vigorous SunPatiens will spread up to 48 inches. All SunPatiens are self-cleaning and are unaffected by downy mildew.

 

 

  • Torenia – This fun and colorful shade-tolerant plant is a little-known relative to the Snapdragon. Looking quite whimsical, these blossoms have velvety-looking cheeks, wide open mouths and yellow or orange tongues. Slow growing, though exceptionally heat tolerant, Torenia, a.k.a. the Wishbone Flower, will bloom nicely in the shade. In northern climates it will tolerate full sun. Blooming throughout the summer, right up to the first frost, Torenia will be as happy indoors during the winter as it is outdoors the rest of the year.

 

 

So there you have it. Now you know exactly what to plant in that semi-shady flower bed. You can fill that container you've been wanting to plant and you can hang it where the sun doesn't shinemuch. It's time to put your creative skills to work.

 

Can I Put Coleus In An Inside Window Box?

July 15th, 2014

I am interested in buying Coleus for indoor window boxes.  I live in Manhattan, NY, and the window boxes are directly inside north-facing windows. The apartment gets full filtered sun all day, since there is also a skylight in the room.  I am hoping to find a coleus plant that will grow well in these conditions.  If possible, a trailing variety.  Humidity is very low, since I keep air conditioning on all the time in the summer. Can you offer some guidance?  Thank you! Sandie

Answer: Sandie,

Coleus could be a challenge for the conditions you describe since they tend to like warm tropical climates and you want to keep them in an air-conditioned space. Coleus were originally found in shaded areas but in the past few years new varieties have been hybridized that are fully sun tolerant. Your conditions would be considered full shade, so you would want to choose varieties that best tolerate shade; no coleus will do well without some sun exposure. As for temperatures, they will offer their best color performance in the 80- to 90-degree range but will grow well as long as the temperatures aren't sustained in the low to mid-60s and without draft from a vent.

So, that said, I am always one to experiment and push a plant’s comfort zone a bit, knowing full well that the experiment might succeed but if it doesn't, well that opens the window to try again!

Growing Coleus InsideSome of the ones you might try are:

Dark Star

Gold Lace

Mariposa

But experiment with any that we have in stock. None of the Coleus are cascading plants. They are all upright, so you might want to add one of our Hedera Ivy plants for the spiller plant. Play with the wild color combinations and leaf textures available with Coleus to create a stunning arrangement.

Coleus do not like a wet soil, so keep the soil evenly moist. They do best if you keep the blooms trimmed back and are easily trimmed and shaped to keep the plant shorter and fuller. A monthly dose of a water soluble fertilizer will also help keep them growing to their fullest.

Happy Gardening,

Karen

Why Are My Bell Peppers Rotting?

July 8th, 2014

Green pepper rotting on the plantI am staying with my daughter for a month and she has a Bell Boy Pepper plant that was getting too big for the small pot it was in, so I transferred it to a larger pot. I used Miracle Grow potting soil and put it outside on the covered front porch. Within days it shot up 2-3 inches and it is now covered with little buds. The directions said to keep well watered, so I water it every day. The problem is that the 3 fairly good size fruits are starting to rot before they are full grown. Also, they are not turning red as specified on the tag. Can someone please tell me what I should do to prevent this from happening to the rest of them? P.S. I have also had this problem with large size tomatoes in the past. Thanks, Lori.

Answer: Lori, you did not specify where the rot begins, so there are a couple of things that could be happening.

If they rot starting at the blossom end, it could be blossom end rot. On peppers, the affected area usually appears tannish in color in the beginning and then will turn dark as secondary molds appear. It can occur on the sides of peppers, but it’s generally at the blossom point. Blossom end rot is due to a calcium deficiency in the plant. This can be caused by various reasons, soil moisture fluctuations, or over-fertilization with a high nitrogen fertilizer. You mentioned using Miracle Grow soil and it comes with fertilizer built in, high in nitrogen, to make plants grow quickly. It’s a good practice to always check the soil moisture before adding water. It might be that it doesn’t need it or it could need moisture twice a day to keep it evenly moist. Container growing can be tricky, especially with the heat we’ve had this summer. A good fertilizer for peppers would be HyR-BRIX® Tomato and Pepper Fertilizer. In the future use a container soil mix that has no fertilizer added.

I suspect you are experiencing blossom end rot since Anthracnose Fruit Rot, a fungal disease, is a little less likely in container plants, but not impossible. In this disease, the lesions will develop as circular or angular sunken spots on developing fruits; you might also see spots on leaves and stems. It can be spread from overhead watering or watering late in the day when the plants do not dry before sundown. For this there isn’t a cure other than to remove and destroy diseased fruits and plants. You can compost the remaining soil if no plant debris remains and your compost pile does heat sufficiently.

As for the coloring, they will start green and stay that way until they reach mature size, then develop their red pigment somewhere between 10 to 28 days for full color. They, like their relatives the tomatoes, are sensitive to temperatures, so they might be waiting on some cooler temps to finish their maturation. The tag on the plant should give you an indication of days to maturity, which will give you an idea of when to start seeing color shift.

Good luck with your peppers, and happy gardening.

Karen

What Size Container For Peppers and Tomatoes?

June 30th, 2014

pepper plant growing in a containerI am putting together a container for Early Girl tomatoes and one for jalapeno peppers for a friend. My question is: what size of container and how many plants per container?  I would also like some watering and feeding instructions for each container. Thanks, Pam

Answer:

Pam, How many plants depends on how large the container. For an average 15-18 inch, lightweight pot I would not plant more than one plant per pot. When gardening in containers you have to remember that you are restricting the plants’ access to nutrients and moisture that are naturally occurring in the soil. If you over-plant you are putting your plants under stress because they compete with each other for very limited nutrients. It’s better to go with one plant with a slightly smaller pot and use several pots for multiple plantings. If you use square pots they will all nicely line up in a row like a garden!

Because they are confined, moisture will be an issue, unless you happen to live in a location that receives daily rainfall. If not, daily watering will most likely be necessary to keep the soil evenly moist. During periods of extreme heat they may require water more often. Growing plants are thirsty plants. If you have the ability to set up a drip system for each pot and can put it on a timer, then watering very early in the morning is ideal.

The confinement also limits the supply of essential nutrients to the plant, so more frequent feeding will be needed as well. Adding a slow-release fertilizer that is evenly balanced when you pot the plants is a good start. This will give plants the needed micro-nuritents not found in a sterile potting mix. Read our blog article Container Gardening for Tomatoes and Peppers for detailed fertilizing instructions.

Happy Gardening,

Karen

Why Is My Asparagus Not Growing Well?

June 19th, 2014

Asparagus Growing In Raised BedI planted my asparagus behind my garage that has a SW facing of 245 degrees.  The rear row, the one closest to my garage, is not faring well.  Soil prep for both rows was essentially the same.  I had tried to water a little more heavily for the row near the garage, thinking the foundation might be heating and drying out the soil adjacent to it and impacting that row of asparagus.

Pictures attached. Any suggestions?  This is the first year.

Thank you, Phil L.

Answer:

Phil, It is possible that the radiant heat from the concrete wall is keeping the bed too dry. Keeping consistent soil moisture is important. You want to make sure to keep all weeds out of the bed for the best production; asparagus hates any competition, and I would suggest mulching the bed with shredded leaves or straw to help maintain the moisture level. Also make sure your soil pH is above 6.0. It's possible the concrete or any pea gravel could be altering the pH near the wall. You might also try feeding the plants with a mild formula Vegetable Fertilizer. Be sure to leave the foliage over the winter and remove before the new growth appears in the spring.

For more helpful asparagus growing tips, read Just About Everything About Asparagus.

Karen

I Have NEVER Received Plant Orders So Well Protected!

June 17th, 2014

Azelea plants in shipping containerTo everyone who works at Garden Harvest Supply,

I was so happy with my first order that I decided to make Garden Harvest Supply the first site I shop when looking for plants online.

On June 10, I ordered two Bloom-a-Thon Azaleas in red, choosing to ship USPS Priority Mail. Yesterday, June 12, I was checking my email to see if my order had shipped. My husband went out to get the mail and brought me a box marked “LIVE PLANTS.” I thought it was an order from another site that I placed on May 28, and had not yet received. It was the order from your company!

The plants were packaged with loving care and arrived in great condition–the soil was still moist. I have NEVER received orders online so well protected and in such fabulous condition. The plants I received from your company are in better health than plants I have shopped in brick and mortar stores. Sincerely, thank you Garden Harvest Supply for the excellent work you do.

Your Truly, Pamela S

 

Reply: Pamela, it’s very gratifying to know our plants make others happy.  We really appreciate your taking the time to write to us, and we hope you’ll share photos of your Azalea plants as they get established.

Thank you for sharing that you were so pleased with your order from us.  It helps prospective clients shop with confidence when they read letters like yours. We’ll look forward to serving your plant needs in the future, and we hope to always exceed your expectations.  Don’t ever hesitate to ask, if you have questions for us.  We’ll do our best to continue earning your business.

Best regards,

Joe, and everyone at GHS

These Are The Best Flowers EVER!

June 3rd, 2014

Neon flowers blooming in plantersI’ve been planting these SuperCal Neon Rose Petchoa Plants in my porch flower boxes for the last few years now, and plan to continue using them there as there is just NOTHING that beats them!  They start blooming immediately when planted from small plants, and fill out so fast with a solid mass of flowers that is non-stop until frost.  They do not need to be dead-headed, are very hardy, and for pots and planters are just the absolute best.  I’ve tried a few colors of the Petchoas, and each of them has a little bit different growing habit, with this Neon one growing the fullest, from what I’ve found so far.  It doesn’t really vine and trail very far, but as you can see in the photo, it turns into a mass of flowering plant. It does actually hang, but does not get leggy and thin; it stays very thick.  My railing boxes here are about 24″ long and I only put four plants in each of them for it turn into this mass.  There were a few purple wave petunias that had come up volunteer in these boxes, which I left in there that particular year, but as you can see the Petchoas really do not need them in there with them.  I’m attaching a photo of them.  Sincerely, Sue V.

Answer: Sue, we appreciate your sharing your enthusiasm and photos, because no one would believe the dense carpet of color and plush foliage these flowers provide, unless they saw it with their own eyes.  Your photo is proof of how these Petchoas perform.  Thanks for letting us and others see the beauty you’ve created for your porchand we’re sure your neighbors are enjoying the view! GHS

My First Order From Garden Harvest Supply

May 30th, 2014

To the growers, shippers and others who took part in sending my first order from Garden Harvest Supply, I have been buying plants online since I installed two border beds last summer. I found your business when searching for fuchsia plants. Even though you didn’t have the exact plant I was shopping for, I ordered two of a similar type.

Today, four days later, I received my two fuchsia plants by USPS. The flat shape of the box was unusual for my experience and I thought that it might have been a different order arriving super early, as I order a lot online. Once I opened the packaging, I was surprised. The two fuchsia plants were in a custom made plastic container and were in perfect condition. I am totally impressed by your attention to detail. I order frequently from a competitor and their plants are best described as tiny plugs. What I received this morning was so much more than I expected. Both plants are healthy and over 5 inches tall. I will shop your site first from now on. Thank you for providing such a quality product. Yours Truly, Pamela S.

Reply: Pamela, we can’t tell you how much we appreciate your taking the time to write us, and we’re thrilled you are so happy with your first order!  Thank you for your business, and we hope we’ll continue surprising you by going beyond your expectations.

It’s good to know your fuchsia plants made it there safely, and we hope they produce well throughout the summer months.  Please share photos of your blooming plants on our website and our Facebook page!

Best regards, All of Us at GHS

Think Inside the Box: Growing Veggies in Containers

May 12th, 2014

Container_Garden_VegetablesDid you know you can grow everything you need for a fresh salad on your deck, patio, or porch? As long as you have an area that gets a good amount of sun, you are in luck. Container gardening offers great ease and convenience: no weeds to speak of, fewer pests and diseases, and it is generally much more efficient, considering our busy lifestyles. Those with no outdoor green space find they can grow almost all the crops they would have wanted to plant in a conventional garden. So forget about rototillers and wheelbarrows, and pick up your trowel. We're going to tell you how to get started with container gardening!

Choosing a Container

The only qualities required for a planting container are solid sides and enough holes in the bottom for water to drain freely. You'll want to consider how deep the container needs to be because different crops have different size root systems. What you want is a container deep enough for the root systems of the crops you intend to plant; this varies between 9 and 18 inches. Here is the recommended depth for several common crops:

Containers can be as diverse as those who use them: some people turn their junk into containers by drilling holes in broken watering cans or using frayed baskets. Others put as much care into their choice of containers as they do any other home furnishing, and purchase artistically designed containers such as the Carolina Hanging Deck Planter or the Cedar Wheelbarrow Planter.

There are faux terra cotta self-watering stacking planters that ingeniously prevent both over-watering and under-watering, and their multiple compartments can be used to grow a whole herb garden in one unit. And, of course, some people like to grow their veggies from hanging baskets. Among those designed for planting, the ones using coco fiber are the best, and we carry several varieties.

Add Potting Soil

Always use potting soil, for it is designed to provide a greater amount of aeration than even the best dirt can offer, a necessary factor when growing in containers. Our Premier Pro-Mix Ultimate Potting Soil also includes fertilizer that will slow-release for 9 months, and Perlite, which enables you to water less often. If you need to be away from your plants for short periods, the Perlite will keep them hydrated until you return.

Sun, Water, and Wind

Vegetable_Garden_ContainerKeep your containers in the area where they will get the most hours of direct sun each day. If the sun really beats down in your region, avoid black containers that might overheat due to sun absorption. Water regularly, following the directions that came with the plant, but know that your plants might require different watering frequency than with a conventional garden. If you live in an area subject to high winds you might want to secure your containers to prevent them from getting knocked over. To ensure good drainage, be sure that the bottom of your container is raised up from the ground a little bit. This can easily be done by placing small wood blocks under your container. (But be careful not to block the holes.)

Pots, Soil, Plants: Action!

You are now ready to plant. You can either grow your veggies from seed, or order them as plants. For beginner gardeners, we recommend getting the pre-started plants because it's the easiest way to go. Later you might want to save money by growing from seed. Children especially like to see a plant develop from the first sprout to the first harvest.

If you plant from seed, take note of the planting depth and carefully follow the directions on the package. If you go with pre-grown plants from Garden Harvest Supply, know that we guarantee each plant to arrive healthy and ready to thrive. We offer the biggest selection of pre-grown plants on the Internet, and we are proud of our unique way of packaging plants for shipping to avoid damage in transit. Feel free to call us toll-free at 888-907-4769 if you have any questions or need the advice of a Master Gardener. You can also email us and we will get back to you promptly.

Happy Container Gardening from Garden Harvest Supply!

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