Do not plant deeply. Burying the stems of most plants is a mistake. The stem will rot if covered. Otherwise follow directions for annuals.Always plant as the label suggests (sun/shade). Covering marginally hardy plants with leaves, or flax straw in late fall and removing in early spring will ensure better overwintering.
Enjoy your plants. They are beautiful and with a little knowledge and love, your yard can be stunning!
Annuals and veggies can be planted outside once the plants can fully handle the weather. Each plant has a different cold threshold. Some may be able to handle minus 5 while others only survive frost free weather.
Water when you plant. Plant in moist soil. Rain may sustain plants but during a dry spell you will need to check the soil. If you use your finger as a dipstick again and the soil is dry and hard, water is needed. If the soil can still be rolled between your fingers, no water is needed.
Fertilizing a flower bed or garden can be done several ways.
- Use a well decomposed compost/manure and work in to the soil before you plant.
- Use a granular fertilizer monthly during the growing season.
- Use a water soluble fertilizer attachment to your garden hose - several different products are available.
Fertilizing can make the difference between having a few tomatoes or a plant full of fruit. Flowers will also be more prolific if “fed” well.
When planting, plant at the existing level of roots/soil.
Hanging baskets and containerized plants are beautiful! Keeping them that way is easy. Here are a few tips. Water as needed and check often. Watering is the single most important ingredient in maintaining your plants. Think of all plants as a car engine. We don’t add oil once a day or once a month on a schedule. We add oil when the dipstick reads “low”. The plants and their soil will tell you, and your finger is the dipstick. If you stick your finger in and the soil feels dry and the basket is light, it is time to water. Water until the water comes out of the bottom of the container and then let the container dry out again - until the soil is dry and the basket is light. Over watering will only occur if you don’t let the soil breathe (dry out a little). If your plant is wilting and the basket is light, water is overdue. This is most common on hot and windy times of the year. Check your baskets for water once a day, and during extreme heat, twice a day. Wilting can also occur from over watering (not allowing a little bit of dry time). Unfortunately, when a plant wilts from over watering the problem is usually terminal as the wilting is caused by root rot.
Fertilizing is also necessary. Pale leaves and reduced blooms are signs of an under fertilized plant. Follow the directions on the product label as each will be different. Water soluble is great - we use it but it must be used every or every other time we water. Slow release is a little bit less maintenance. When using slow release fertilizer it is still a good idea to supplement with water soluble fertilizer once every week or two to give the plant a boost.
If your plant becomes lanky or is not blooming as much in mid summer, it can then be cut back by half. The new growth will look great until frost hits.
Wind can cause your basket to fall or become battered. If you know it will be a windy day, take your plant down and to a more sheltered area.
Protect your plants from frost. Most plants will not handle any frost. If you bring them into a building for night, you can extend the life of your basket into the fall.
First winters in a new environment can be a concern if there is not adequate snow coverage on the roots as they are the most cold susceptible part of the plant. If by mid-November there is not at least 4” – 6” of snow around your plant, cover with 8” of flax straw in a 3’ circle. (Wheat straw can be used but is more attractive to rodents.)
Evergreens and marginally hardy shrubs benefit from the use of screening with burlap to protect from winter sun and wind. Put 4 stakes in the ground around the plant to make a square frame. Staple the burlap to the frame ensuring the branches are not touching the burlap. Plants generally do not like to be rubbed. Leave the top open to allow snow to drop in and cover the roots. Marginally hardy plants also benefit from placing bags of leaves around the stems for extra insulation.
If you are trying to start trees in more open areas or are toying with less hardy varieties, it is a good idea to surround the stem with insulation for the first several winters. A reasonably priced way to do this is to use stucco wire as a main frame. Place wooden stakes on wither side of the tree to brace the stucco wire. Make a narrow fence approximately 2’ wide around the tree with the wire. Fill the structure with flax straw. Place a jar of mouse poison sideways near the stem. The top branches will stick out, but they are the hardiest part of the tree. Once the tree is established, this will no longer be necessary.
Plants should be insulated near the end of October or early November. Unwrap them again in early April. You do not want to leave it on too long because it could cause stem rot from warmth or moisture.
Please return your pots for a discount towards your next purchase and as good stewardship of our environment. Though we accept smaller pots form perennials, etc. only black 1 gallon size and up will merit a discount.
Purchase a protective stem wrap or guard for winter for trees that are appealing to rabbits and mice. These trees include Fruit trees, Honey Locust, Mancana Ash, some Maples, Lindens, Flowering Crabs and on occasion Green Ash. If deer are a problem, fencing with stucco wire is one solution. Broad shrubs that cannot be stem wrapped may also benefit from fencing. Sprays are also available to deter deer.
Watch for leaf damage due to insects. Damage can usually be recognized by holes and small discolored spots. Spray chemicals such as Malathion, Diaznon or House & Garden Raid if insects are visible.
Watch for fungal issues, which usually appear as tan or dark brown spots or as a white powder on the foliage. To help avoid fungal problems on Apples, Roses or other more susceptible plants, water only at ground level, and not on the leaves. If you are overhead watering, do so in the mornings and not evenings so that fungus does not have a chance to settle in over night.
Always keep a black ring of soil around young trees for the following reasons: a) Grass will rob moisture and nutrients and cut growth rates by 50 – 70%; b) Weed whacking around trees strips off the bark, stunting and eventually killing the tree c) It is simply easier to mow around. The circle of black dirt should be a minimum diameter of 2’ – 3’ and should be maintained until the tree has a 4” – 5” caliper or larger. For shrubs, maintain the circle of soil for the life of the plant. Bark or stone mulch may be placed on top of the soil to help retain moisture and reduce weeds. Weed disks are also an affordable, organic, simple way to achieve the same results.
Fertilizing should be done from mid-April to mid-July only, with the exception of a very late fall application if desired. Because the plant needs to slow down its growth in August and September, it does not need any extra nitrogen at that time. When fertilizing, remember that the highest needs occur during the most vigorous growth period. This period coincides with the most heat and moisture, usually mid-May to mid-July.
Yellowing of leaves is very common to see on several varieties of plants. Yellowing can occur for several reasons. The plant may be too wet or too dry. The third reason is lime induced Iron Chlorosis. Too wet or too dry can be identified by leaves being uniformly pale yellow and starting at the center of the plant, not at the fresh growth. Iron Chlorosis can be identified by leaves of fresh growth being yellow but the veins remaining green. It is most evident in July. Iron Chlorosis can be resolved with an application of iron or sulfur. Sulfur has proven to be the most economical solution.
Staking trees is beneficial if planting in a windy location. If only using one stake, place it on the side the wind usually comes from (generally the west or north west). If using two stakes, place them across from each other. Place the stake 10” – 14” away from the young tree. Use a piece of rubber garden hose as a cushion between the tree and the wire. Do not put the stake right up against the tree because the tree will get scarred by the stake during wind movement and because the tree will not develop tissue strength to resist wind in the future.
When planting, try to remove the plant with soil intact. For larger plants or trees, lay the pot sideways and pull the plant out. The soil will slip out easier if the soil is on the dry side. Allow it to dry out for 24 – 36 hours if having difficulty. For 1 – 2 gallon pots, tipping upside down and holding the soil with the palm of your hand works well. Dig a hole three times the width of the pot but only as deep as the pot. Make the hole “saucer shaped”. Digging deeper can cause the plant to settle too far down and drown or rot the stem. Place the plant inside the hole and refill the hole with a mix of 30% peat moss and 70% original soil. Make sure you only cover the top of the plant soil ball with ½” soil. No more. Too much soil on top will cause the stem to rot. The pot soil should be level with the native soil. Old manure can be used as a replacement for peat moss at a slightly reduced rate. This ensures good side root growth into the soft soil. Make a dike around your plant approximately 3” high to hold the water rather than having it run off when you water. The dike should be around the outside edge of the hole and at least 18” in diameter for a 1 – 3 gallon plant and 3’ for anything larger.
After planting, fill up your dike with water and allow to soak in and water once more. Do Not Water Everyday. Give the plant an equivalent of 1” – 2” of rain each week. Water at 3 – 5 day intervals depending on weather conditions. Fill the dike slowly at each watering. Water at a ratio of 1 gallon of water to 1 gallon pot size.
Over watering and under watering are the two most common ways to stress your plant. If it rains 1” – 2” per week, do not water. If your plant is in a very hot, sunny location, it will need to be watered more often. The best rule for watering is water well at planting time. There after check with your finger at a 2” – 3” depth. If the soil is sticky enough to roll between your fingers, it is still moist enough. If it is hard, dry and crusty at a 2” depth, it is either due or overdue for watering. Remember that wilting can occur with both over and under watering. Note that sprinkler systems on lawns should be set for only every 3 – 5 days. All plants develop a deeper root system if they need to search for water. It is better to water heavier and less often.
ENJOY YOUR PLANTS!
THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL AND WITH A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE AND LOVE,
YOUR YARD CAN BE STUNNING!
KNOWLEDGE IS 80% OF YOUR SUCCESS!
Even plants that are very hardy to the prairies can benefit from proper location and winter wind protection. If we go all the way back to the basics, we would begin by growing a shelter belt around your yard, especially if you live on the bald prairie or on the edge of town. The difference in climate is substantial between a sheltered yard and an open area.