Monday, March 30, 2015

PREEN - Weed Preventer

Preen Weed Preventer stops weeds from germinating in flower and vegetable gardens, in ground covers and around trees and shrubs. Preen will not kill existing weeds. It will prevent new weeds from sprouting — eliminating the need for difficult and time‑consuming hand‑weeding. Without weeds, your valuable plants can grow larger and stronger.

Your beds will stay neat and weed-free all season long!

How to Apply
When plants are dry, sprinkle this product on soil surface at rate given below for your specific planting situation. Once activated by watering, it forms a weed control barrier in the top layer of soil (1 – 2 inches), preventing weed seeds from germinating. Disturbance to the soil surface after activation may result in erratic weed control.

When to Apply
Apply Preen Garden Weed Preventer during the growing season around established plants and transplants. Preen should not be used on flower seeds. It can be used after flowering plants have germinated and are 2 – 3 inches tall. Preen may also be incorporated into the soil when seeding vegetables or applied after mulching beds. By applying Preen as early as possible, you can eliminate the need for hand‑weeding.
Rain does not wash this product out of the soil. To keep beds weed‑free all season long, reapply Preen weed preventer every 9 – 12 weeks.

Applying Around Established and Transplanted Plants
For flowers, roses, herbs, ground covers, ornamental grasses, shrubs, trees, and listed vegetables at least 2 – 3 inches tall, sprinkle Preen Garden Weed Preventer evenly over the entire soil surface, at the rate of 1 oz per 10 sq ft, being sure to keep granules away from plant roots and foliage. Immediately water. If watering-in is not convenient, lightly rake into soil surface. Always wash or brush off stray weed preventer granules from plant foliage to avoid damage or discoloration.

Applying with Mulch
For best weed control, we recommend applying Preen Garden Weed Preventer after spreading mulch on your flower and shrub beds. Sprinkle Preen on top of the mulch being sure to keep granules away from plant foliage. Immediately water this product into the mulch. If watering-in is not convenient, lightly rake into top layer of mulch. Always wash or brush off stray granules from plant foliage to avoid damage or discoloration.

This is not the product label. Always read and follow directions on the product label. 
Use only as directed.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Get Hooked on Hellebores!

Click to enlarge...

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Growing Beautiful Gardenias

Gardenias were discovered in China in the 1700’s.  Their fragrance is unmatched in the floral world, and the extracted oil from the flowers is used in making perfume and tea.  They are not hard to grow if you meet the plant’s basic requirements for good health.

LIGHT:  Gardenias need at least 4 hours of sunlight a day.  During the hot summer months, a light curtain filters out some of the intensity and protects foliage.  Without this much light, the plant won’t bloom.

WATER:  Gardenias do not like to dry out.  Keep the soil moist but not sodden.  They should never be allowed to stand in water.  During the winter, the plant may use less water due to reduced light levels.  Cut back on the watering, and let the top 1/2 inch of soil go dry before watering.

HUMIDITY:  Gardenias do enjoy humidity.  If the winter air in your home is dry, especially if you heat with forced hot air or a wood stove, try growing your plant on a pebble tray.  Get a large, plastic plant saucer and put a layer of gravel in it about 3/4” deep.  Pour water into the stones, but do not let the water reach the top of the gravel where the plant roots could come in contact with it.  Place the pot on the wet stones.  As the water evaporates, it forms a little pocket of humidity that the plant can enjoy.

TEMPERATURES:  This is a crucial point if you want your plant to bloom.  During the day, temperatures that are comfortable to humans are fine for gardenias.  At night, temperatures should drop to 50-55 degrees, no more than 63 degrees.  The flower buds will drop off if temperatures are higher.

FERTILIZER:  Gardenias need an acid-based fertilizer to keep the soil at the proper pH.  Much of our water in this area is alkaline, so it is very important to use an acid based plant food.  Fertilize monthly.  Cut back on feeding in the winter months.

RE-POTTING:  Use a peat-based potting soil to which no lime has been added.  Gardenias do not need to be transplanted frequently, only when their roots have almost filled their pots.  Soil should be well-drained.

BUD DROP:  Usually caused by plant stress - not enough water, humidity too low, temperatures too high.  Problem is usually self-correcting if above plant needs are met.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Oxalis Plants

These are among the best of the indoor bulb plants.  Not only are they easy to find and easy to grow, they have a long bloom period and come in a variety of colors including pink, white, yellow, red and purple.  Oxalis plants have rather slender flower stems and low growing foliage that looks like enormous clover leaves.

Oxalis plants can be brought into bloom anytime from fall through spring.  They need to rest through the summer.  Pot the bulbs from September to March, setting them 1 inch deep in a mix of equal parts of peat moss, packaged soil and either sand or perlite, with a dusting of ground limestone added.  The plants are small and look better in a group, so set 6 bulbs together in a shallow 6-inch pan.  Once they're planted, moisten the soil and set the pot in the sun.  If Oxalis don't have at least a half day of sun, they are very disappointing because of their weak growth.  Their leaves and blooms are sensitive to light and only open on sunny days.  During darkness or cloudy weather, the flowers close and the leaves fold up.

Within 2 weeks of potting, there is a healthy show of foliage from the bulbs and flowers within a month.  The flowers will last for about 2 months.  During this growing period, the plants need night temperatures in the 50s, constantly moist soil  and a monthly feeding.  At the end of the bloom period when the flowers fade and the foliage starts to turn yellow, gradually reduce the amount of water and eliminate fertilizer altogether.  Leave the bulbs in their pots until fall when they can be re-potted again.  Take some care during this re-planting operation.  The bulbs will have produced a pot full of small bulblets, and even the tiniest of them - no larger than the head of a corsage pin - will produce a small  plant and some flowers.  Eventually all those little bulbs will grow to full size.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Growing Tropical Air Plants

Looking for something fun and easy to grow?

These tropical "air plants" (epiphytes) are in the Bromeliad family, genus Tillandsia.  They are first cousin to Spanish Moss; in their native habitat they live in the treetops, often among ferns and orchids.  Good air circulation and bright filtered light are essential to their environment.  Their food comes from dead leaves, bark and insect droppings that fall into the rainwater stored in the center "cup" of the plant.  As it all decays, the nutrients are absorbed by the leaves; the roots are used only for clinging to the bark.

Air plants may be wired or stapled to a piece of wood, or glued to any surface using Liquid Nails or a silicone-based glue.  They also grow well in coral or lava-rock, or can be potted in any container using bark, moss or twigs.  They should be firmly attached or wedged in order to take root, and cannot be sitting in constant moisture as this will rot the plant. 

When grown indoors, air plants need a drenching mist twice a week or a good soaking once a week.  Completely submerge the plant for awhile - even overnight is OK.  If they're kept in a container with no drain holes, shake excess water off of the plants, or turn container upside down to get rid of any standing water so the plant won't rot.  Never use chlorinated water, or water that goes through a softener.  Rain water is the best - they love to be outside during a summer rain!  Otherwise you can use well water or distilled water.  If you must use city water, let it stand overnight so the chlorine evaporates before using it.  To keep your Bromeliads healthy, fertilize once a month (half strength), or use a small amount of fertilizer every time you water.  Use any water-soluble plant food such as Miracle-Gro or Peters.  Mix at half stength with water and spray-mist all over the plant, or use it in the soaking water.  If you need an insecticide or fungicide, wettable powder is the best, and use at half-strength.

Bromeliads bloom when full grown, and then produce young plants ("pups") from among the leaves.  Separate the pups when half the size of the mother plant; pot in sphagnum moss until roots start growing, then mount them if you like.  The mother plant will slowly die, but can produce up to a dozen pups.  

Air plants need bright filtered light and should be shaded from the hot summer sun.  These are tropical plants; they will thrive with no attention hanging under a tree for the summer, but must be moved indoors before the first frost.  While inside with either heat or air conditioning on, you may need to water them more often.  Be sure to keep them out of the direct draft from the vents.  During the winter, take your plants outside on warm days (55°F); protect them from cold winds, but let them get some fresh air.  Full sun in the winter won't hurt them.  

Bromeliads are most interesting and versatile plants.  In deciding on arrangements, you are limited only by your imagination!

All Brolemiads are not air plants - many will grow only in dirt.  Others grow in the humus on top of the dirt and can adapt to being either mounted or potted.  These need additional care.

All mounted Bromeliads need their leaves and roots sprayed drenching wet twice weekly, and the center cup refilled when nearly empty.  Bromeliads in pots need the potting soil watered when nearly dry, in addition to spraying the leaves.

Time-release fertilizer (such as Osmocote) may be used on the potting soil instead of spray-feeding.

Pups should be potted in equal parts peat and perlite (add bark if needed to stabilize the plant).