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All About Clematis

February 6th, 2017

Clematis are loved both for their ability to climb and for the lovely flowers they produce.

All you need to enjoy the beauty of clematis is to provide them with a minimum of 6 hours of sun, well-drained soil, and proper support, such as a wall, fence, trellis, rocks, tall shrub or another vine. Once these requirements are met, they are happy planted in gardens or in containers. If planted in full sun, keep a heavy layer of mulch around the roots.

Jackmanii purple clematis plant growing on a bamboo trellisIf you are a first-time clematis grower, here are a couple of short videos that will take the guesswork out of planting.

Clematis grow best if these watering, feeding, and pest control instructions are followed:

  • Watering: For newly planted plants, keep the soil moist for the first few weeks. After that, watering only needs to be done during hot dry periods. Its better to do a deep soak rather than a few light waterings.
  • Fertilizing: Feed the plant with a fertilizer that’s rich in potassium. Look for a fertilizer that has an N-P-K ratio with the third number being the highest value. Feeding can be done each spring and fall.
  • Pest Control: Slugs are the main pest, and they can be kept away by putting down a slug barrier each spring. Sluggo® works very well.

Clematis plants require pruning, but how you prune depends on the variety and the planting location.  The amount of cutting and the correct time to prune is determined by when your clematis blooms and other factors, such as your preferred growth habit.  Some clematis bloom only in the spring, others later in the summer, and a third variety can bloom both early spring and late summer.  Once you’ve chosen which clematis is right for your growing conditions and bloom-time preferences, you’ll want to do some research to find the pruning method that fits your circumstances to ensure you get the maximum amount of blooms the next season.

With the proper care, your clematis will provide you joy for many years!

Vegetable Planting Guides for all 50 States

September 1st, 2016

Vegetable planting guides for all 50 statesGrowing your own vegetables isn’t hard. The first step is to determine the location; most started in areas that receive at least 8 hours of sunlight per day. Next you’ll want to make sure you have a handy source for water. Then comes the fun part, determining what vegetables you want to grow. Part of this process is knowing how much space they will need, how long they will be growing, and the best time of the year to get them started.

Depending on where you live, vegetables can be grown at different times. Some areas of the country only have one season, while others have multiple seasons. Knowing the proper planting time will help maximize your growing space and ensure a rewarding experience.

We have vegetable planting guides for all 50 states. To get started, click on the state you will be gardening in.

Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas | California (Northern) | California (Southern) | Colorado | Connecticut | Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | New York | North Carolina | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Vermont | Virginia | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming | District of Columbia

How To Grow Cucumbers

September 21st, 2015

Growing cucumbers from a trellis nettingCucumbers are a low-maintenance, high-yielding, low-calorie, nutrient-rich and scrumptious vegetable. Widely popular with home gardeners, cucumbers are one of the easiest vegetables to grow, with an assortment of selections adaptable to any gardeners space limitations.

Cucumbers When to Plant

Cucumbers are a warm-weather crop that, once established, should produce well into the fall. When putting out transplants, wait one to two weeks after your last frost date; seeds can be sown directly into the garden on your last spring frost date. You can find your average last frost date here.

Cucumbers Where and What Variety to Grow

To successfully grow cucumbers, you should choose a spot that gets at least 8 hours of sunlight daily and is easily accessible for watering. Once you’ve found the ideal location, space and personal preference will be the next factors to take into consideration. There are lots of cucumber varieties on the market:

  • Dwarf Cucumber Plants such as our Bush Crop Cucumber Plant, are the perfect cucumbers for container gardens or for very small garden areas. This is also a popular choice for schoolyard gardens. Their growth is more upright than vining, and they do not require a lot of space.
  • Semi-Dwarf Cucumber Plants such as our Fanfare Cucumber Plant, are also adaptable to container growing and will only take up a bit more space in your garden than a dwarf variety. They grow a little taller than vigorous varieties, but with vines about half the length.
  • Vigorous Cucumber Plants sometimes referred to as vining cucumber plants, will require the most room in the garden. Some vigorous varieties grow on vines reaching up to 6 feet (or sometimes longer) in length. The fruits are most often 8 to 12 inches long and will grow best upon trellises. Our most popular vigorous variety is the Garden Sweet Burpless Cucumber Plant.

Cucumbers How to Fertilize and Water

Cucumbers will grow best with adequate nutrition. Cucumber plants should be fertilized, preferably with an organic fertilizer, when first transplanted, again about a week after blooming, and then every 3 to 4 weeks afterwards. Use a low nitrogen fertilizer in order to avoid leggy, leafy, beautiful, but potentially fruitless vines.

Cucumbers also require consistent watering; inconsistent or negligent watering can result in bitter fruit. Water thoroughly two to three times a week, depending upon the climatic conditions in your area. Container plantings should be monitored closely and never allowed to completely dry out. Bear in mind that watering around the roots, as opposed to on the leaves, will provide the most efficient hydration to your vegetable plants and will help to prevent foliar diseases, mildew and leaf scorch.

Harvesting cucumbers from the gardenCucumbers When to Harvest

When choosing a variety, be sure to know the estimated number of days to maturity. Remember, this is just a guideline; Mother Nature may have her own agenda. Climatic conditions, soil health, moisture and disease can greatly affect your cucumber harvest in terms of time and yield. And, since cucumbers produce throughout the entire season, it is virtually impossible to gauge the number of days any specific cucumber has been on the vine.

Cucumbers at their peak will more easily separate from the vine when you harvest. If you really have to aggressively tug or cut the vine, you may want to wait a day or two. Its a good idea to wear gloves when picking cukes, as their skins and stems are covered with prickly spines that can usually be removed easily by simply wiping with a glove or cloth. Make sure the skins are smooth before serving!

Delaying harvest until a cucumber starts to turn yellow can result in bitter fruit. Though your cucumber variety may generally produce 8- to 10-inch fruits, there are always exceptions, so don’t go by size, but rather by appearance. Pick cukes just as soon as they ripen to encourage the plants to keep producing fruit. Store them in the fridge for one to two weeks, or prepare vinegar-based cucumber salads that will keep for up to a week when refrigerated. Canned pickles keep for weeks or months. The skin contains valuable dietary fiber and nutrients, plus it adds a lot of crunch, so leave the skin intact when eating raw or using in recipes for the most dietary benefits.

Cucumbers Companion Plants

All plants do not grow well together. For instance, cucumbers should be planted well away from tomatoes, sage and other aromatic herbs, such as lavender, mint or lemon grass.

On the other hand, vegetables such as radishes, beets and dill are good choices for planting in close proximity to your cucumber plants. Not only do they benefit your cucumbers when it comes to utilizing and providing needed nutrients, many of them will also help deter the most common cucumber pests, such as aphids, cucumber beetles, spider mites and pickle worms. Dill, for instance, will attract lacewings, which in turn will decimate an aphid population in short order. Lacewings will also eat the eggs of the cucumber beetle.

Growing cucumbers with marigold flowersMany flowers, such as nasturtiums and marigolds, are an effective form of pest control, naturally reducing the need to utilize chemical pesticides in your vegetable garden while adding an attractive border or colorful accent. Experts recommend planting the most pungent marigold varieties, such as French or Mexican marigolds.

The healthiest and most pest-free gardens will grow in a naturally beneficial environment. To learn more, you can read our article on Natural Pest Control.

Got photos? We’d love to see them!

How to Grow American Pillar Arborvitae Plants

August 13th, 2015

Growing arborvitae treesHere are some easy tips on how to grow American Pillar Arborvitae plants: These evergreen shrubs do best in deeply worked, fertile, well-draining soil. Till 10 in. deep; add 1 part peat moss or compost to 4 parts soil (increases drainage). The planting hole should be twice as wide as the root ball. It is best to plant shrubs in the fall after they become dormant (around early November) or in the spring before new growth (about late March).

Pronunciation: are-burr-VEE-tie or are-burr-VY-tee

Description: These fast-growing (3-4 ft. a year) evergreen shrubs with their tall, narrow shape make a great natural privacy screen. They can grow 25-30 ft. tall and 3-4 ft. wide. They are long-lived, have strong root systems, and can stand up to wind and ice. The dark green branches are very dense. American Pillar Arborvitae shrubs can be transplanted, even at a height of 12 ft.

Propagation: By semi-hardwood cuttings or by seed

Origin: Native to North America

USDA Hardiness Zones: 3a-8b

Companion Plants: Place American Pillar Arborvitae shrubs 2 ft. apart to create a natural screen for privacy or to block out noise or visual pollution.

Fertilizer: Like most broadleaf evergreen shrubs, Arborvitae prefers a slightly acid soil, with a pH from 5.5 to 6.0. It is best to have soil tested before planting. If there is less than 5% organic matter in the soil, amend soil by adding peat moss or compost. Newly planted shrubs need a water-soluble starter fertilizer to boost root growth. Check with your nurseryman for product specifics.

Sun/Light Needs: Full sun is best, but will grow in part sun to some shade.

Maintenance: Very low. 2-4 in. of mulch will hold moisture in soil.

Display/Uses: Adds privacy to yard or garden; screens out unwanted views; blocks noise. American Pillar Arborvitae can be grown as a hedge that needs only minimal pruning.

Wildlife Value: Deer resistant

Diseases/Problems: These shrubs are hardy, and mostly disease and insect-proof.

 

How to Grow Lantana Plants

May 4th, 2014

Growing_Lantana_PlantsHere are some easy tips for how to grow Lantana plants.

Over 100 varieties of these hardy flowering shrubs grow as perennial plants in temperate zones and as annual plants in cooler areas. They grow in a wide range of well-draining soils. Keep soil moderately moist. They do best in full morning sun. Vining varieties can be trained up a trellis or arbor. Lantana plants can grow up to 15 ft. tall and 8 ft. wide. Warmer = larger.

Description: These perennial plants are vigorous growers and bloom from summer into fall. The flowers grow in clusters 2 in. wide in pink, lavender, purple, yellow, orange, or bronze, depending on variety. Some may have up to 3 different shades of color in one flower cluster. The leaves (2 to 5 in.) and the stems are covered in rough, scratchy hairs. If crushed, the leaves give off an unpleasant smell. Lantana plants are found in both humid and dry, desert-like areas. Compact varieties grow less than 12 in. tall

Propagation: Stem cutting. Keep warm (70-80 degrees) and out of direct sun. If slightly dry, add water until damp. After 4 weeks, carefully remove each cutting to a 6 in. container of potting soil.

Origin: Tropical regions of the Americas

USDA Hardiness Zones: 7–11

Maintenance: Low. Deadhead as needed. Prune larger shrubs to control size and shape. In areas of killing frost, mulch Lantana plants with 3-4 in. pine mulch.

Fertilizer: Use a 20-20-20 water-soluble feed once a month. If growing as a perennial, no fertilizer is needed after the first year. Excess fertilizer means fewer blooms.

Wildlife Value: Attracts hummingbirds, butterflies.

NOTE: Berries are toxic to humans and pets. Entire plant is poisonous to sheep and cattle.

Photo credit: From flickr user Karen&2mutts

How to Grow Amsonia Plants

December 16th, 2013

Here are some easy tips for growing wildflower Amsonia plants: Amsonia plants prefer moist, well-draining soil rich in organic matter, but they do well in most garden soil. Dry conditions will stunt growth, so in drier areas, plant Amsonia in semi-shade. Indoors, grow in a soil-based potting mix. Put Amsonia in bright light, and water freely. Fertilize every two weeks during active growth. In winter, just keep moist. Repot in spring.

Description: These eye-catching perennial plants are low maintenance. Amsonia plants are drought-tolerant but will also tolerate wet soil. These plants grow 1-4 ft. tall and 1-4 ft. wide. The pretty, light blue, star-shaped flowers peak in mid- to late spring. In the fall, the feathery green leaves turn a beautiful, butterscotch-yellow color.

Common Name(s): Thread-leaf Blue Star; Blue Star

Origin of Amsonia (am-SO-nee-uh): Some types are native to North America; also found in Southern Europe and Japan.

Propagation possible three ways: root division (in April/May); by seed collected in late summer and planted in Feb/March of following year; stem cuttings (in March/April).

USDA Zones: 3-11

Sun Needs: Full sun to partial shade

Maintenance: Low. After flowering, cut stems of Blue Star plants back by 6 in. to keep these perennials upright and in a mound shape. Remove seedpods to stop Blue Star plants from self-seeding.

Display: Containers, borders, rock gardens

Companion Plants: Purple coneflower, Peonies, Iris, Speedwell

Diseases: No serious diseases

Fertilizer Needs: Slow-release feed in spring, then use nutrient-rich organic mulch

Color: Sky blue

Wildlife Value: Deer resistant; attracts butterflies

Health Risk/Bonus: Amsonia plants have a latex-based milky sap that may irritate sensitive skin. This sap will keep slugs and snails away.

How to Grow Dracaena Plants

December 5th, 2013

Here are some easy tips on how to grow Dracaena plants: These popular foliage plants are easy to grow. Indoors, they like bright, filtered to low-light areas, average room temperatures, and little water. They do not like cold drafts. Outdoors, Dracaena plants grow best in a fertile, well-drained soil in full to partial sun. A rule of thumb: the darker the leaf, the less light it needs. Indoors, use only distilled water or day-old tap water. The fluoride in fresh tap water can damage the leaves.

Pronunciation: druh-SEE-nuh

Common Name(s): Corn plant, Dragon plant

Origin: Africa; Asia; S. America

Description: These annual plants grow as a single, upright stem with ribbon or strap like leaves. The plant usually looks like a mop upside down, but some types of Dracaena grow in small, shrub-like shapes. The glossy leaves come in many colors: medium to dark green, or variegated with white, cream, or red. Dracaena plants grow 1-10 ft. tall (indoors) and up to 20 ft. outdoors in tropical climates. They can be from 1-3 ft. wide.

Propagation: Root cuttings; air layering

Sun/Light Needs: Depends on type and where grown (indoor/outdoor.) Outside, does well in full to partial sun. Indoors, most Dracaena plants do well in bright, indirect light. These annual plants will grow in low light, but the leaves may not be as thick and strong.

USDA Hardiness Zones: 10b-11

Fertilizer Needs: An all-purpose granular (6-6-6) for outdoor plants. For indoor plants, a water soluble fertilizer every few weeks. Check with the nursery where you got the plant; each cultivar may have a different need.

Maintenance: Low. Outdoors, prune (in spring to summer) to make plant grow new shoots. Indoors, repot every three years or so to avoid a root-bound potted plant. When watering indoor plants, allow soil to dry between waterings.

Companion Plants: Cannas or Hibiscus

Problems: The leaves of Corn plants can be toxic to pets and small children. These annual plants can suffer from scale, spider mites, and mealy bugs. Leaf spot can be a concern.

How to Grow Dichondra Plants

November 13th, 2013

growing dichondra plants in landscapeHere are some easy tips on how to grow Dichondra plants: If by seed, first prepare planting area by spraying with glyphosate (herbacide.) Mix as package directs. After 2 weeks, till soil 2-3 in. deep, water, and re-apply herbicide to any new weeds. After another 2 weeks, rake seedbed and sow seed (1 lb. per 1,000 sq. ft.) Rake to cover; water but don't soak. Temperature needs to be at least 70 degrees, with no chance of frost. If using nursery plants, work 2-3 in. organic matter into soil. Place rooted plugs in holes 2-3 times the size of the root ball. Space the plugs 3-4 in. apart. Mulch with peat moss when done. Soil should be well draining and rich in nitrogen. (If adding nitrogen, use 1 lb. per 1,000 sq. ft.)

Pronunciation: die-CON-druh

Common Name(s): Silver Ponysfoot, Kidney Weed, and Lawn Leaf

Description: Members of the Morning Glory family, Dichondra plants are ornamental groundcover used in areas where grass won't grow. It's not meant to replace turf grass in high foot-traffic areas.

Propagation: Stem or leaf cuttings

Sun/Light Needs: Prefers full sun, but will grow in partial shade.

USDA Zones: A perennial in zones 8-11; elsewhere as an annual.

Fertilizer: Yearly, during the active growing season (April-October). Apply 4 lbs. nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. Water afterwards to wash fertilizer off leaves and into soil.

Maintenance: High. When sowing, mist daily (3-5 times), depending on how hot and sunny it is. Water deep, but not too often. Let soil dry slightly in between. Mow every two weeks; bag the clippings. To control broadleaf weeds, weed by hand.

Companion Plants: Salvia or Ornamental pepper

Wildlife: Lawn Leaf is deer resistant

Display: These annual plants can also grow in window boxes, hanging baskets and containers.

Problems: Flea beetles, rust, nematodes, southern blight

How to Grow Colocasia Plants

November 5th, 2013

Here are some easy tips on how to grow Colocasia plants: These tropical beauties grow best in temperatures of 68-86 degrees F. Any exposure to 50 degrees or below may damage them. Plant the bulbs 2-3 in. below the soil; lay each bulb on its side. Space bulbs 2 ft. apart. Make sure the soil is rich in organic matter. Soil must also be very loose and well draining. Colocasia plants like wet soil, so keep the soil moist and keep the plants mulched.

Common Name(s): Elephant Ear, Taro

Pronunciation: kol-oh-KAY-shah

Origin: Polynesia, S.E. Asia

Description: In North America this tropical beauty is grown for ornamental use: the heart or arrow-shaped leaves are showy and beautiful. Colocasia plants have large (8-60 in.) leaves in dark, glossy green or dark plum. The green, dark red or black stems grow from 3-7 ft. tall. Elephant Ear plants can also be variegated. In their native lands, these annual plants are grown as perennial plants and the roots are eaten.

Propagation: Root division in winter or early spring.

Sun/Light Needs: Full sun to part shade.

USDA Zones: 8-11 In Zone 5 and cooler, grown as annual plants.

Fertilizer Needs: Every 3-4 weeks with a general fertilizer.

Maintenance: Medium to high. Keep soil moist at all times. Keep mulched with organic matter: bark or pine needles are best.

Companion Plants: Caladium, Coleus, Licorice plant.

Display: Borders, containers, water gardens.

Diseases/problems: Aphids, whiteflies, mosaic virus, root rot. Colocasia plants are invasive in some areas; check with your nurseryman. The sap will irritate skin, so be careful handling the stems.

Interesting Note: In Hawaii, the dish called Poi is made from the roots of Elephant Ear plants. Colocasia plants are thought to be the oldest cultivated plants in the world.

How to Prune Perennial Mums

November 1st, 2013

Pruning_Perennial_MumsHow to prune perennial mums depends on whether they are new or established plants and whether you purchased and planted them in the spring or in the fall.

Spring-planted new mums or already established chrysanthemum plants should be cut back after the first hard freeze in the fall or winter. Use sharp scissors or shears to trim them back to 2 to 4 inches above ground level and then add 4 to 8 inches of mulch, depending upon the severity of your winters, to prevent the plants from heaving out of the ground and the roots from freezing.

If, throughout the winter, your nighttime temperatures stay above 40°F, you probably won't need to mulch, but you may have to stay weather-aware and cover them during any extremely cold, unexpected weather events. If you've mulched, you can remove or pull back the mulch once the nighttime temperatures are consistently above 40°F in early spring.

Newly planted, fall-blooming chrysanthemum plants have not had the time to develop a strong, well-established root system, as they've been devoting most of their energy to blooming. You should NOT cut back any new fall-planted mum plants in the first season. Wait until the following spring when the temperatures start to warm to cut back the foliage. Until then, your plants should either be heavily mulched, or potted and moved to a protected spot, in all but the most southern areas of the U.S. If you opt to pot and move them, do so before the first hard freeze.

If you'd like to prevent your chrysanthemums from blooming in mid- to late summer, preferring to have fall blossoms instead, pinch the new growth back periodically throughout the summer once your plants reach 4 to 5 inches tall, repeating every few weeks until about the middle of July. This will encourage bushiness, as well as a mass of flower buds ready to bloom in September and October. Then, clip the copious amounts of blossoms to make bouquets and live arrangements, which will also encourage extended fall blooming.

Happy Gardening from Garden Harvest Supply

 

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