Care of your seasonal poinsettia is not difficult, but it is specific. Enjoy for the season and then, once they begin to look tired, compost them or take the challenge to maintain this holiday flower through the Spring, Summer and Fall, encouraging re-bloom next November/December. This challenge is encompassing; best to research ways that are best in your area or methods that you are willing to attempt. (Personally, we love them and let them go, but everyone feels differently about this…)
1. Poinsettias don’t like a lot of water. Always remember that the plant’s root bale should neither dry out nor be drenched. Overwatering can quickly lead to waterlogging, which in turn causes root rot and leaves you with a dead plant.
2. You should get into habit of inspecting its leaves. If they’re turning yellow or falling off, you’re probably not watering it right. Many flower enthusiasts mean well but overwater poinsettias when they only really need a little. A small sip once every two days will be sufficient, or if you’re opting to immerse the whole root bale in water, rather than pouring, then just one dip per week should do.
3. Poinsettias need warmth and light. It can be kept close to a radiator but it must be kept away from draughts (that means NO fireplaces, open doorways, open windows or breezy hallways).
4. Just keep it somewhere that attracts daylight; a windowsill would work, so long as the window isn’t left open, and bear in mind its favourite temperature falls between 15 – 20°C, so it should be happy in most living rooms.
Houseplants are popular again – last time they were as trendy and hot was the 1970’s. AND, macramé hangers were all the rage then (to hold the plants) and they too are back in style!! Novice and experienced gardeners are embracing the trend of having plants in their homes for air purification; it’s a bonus that plants also add depth and texture to the decor of your home.
The tips listed below have been generated by our knowledgeable staff, lead by Master Gardener Christine Freeburn:
Success with house plants depends on: Location (including light level) and Water/Care
Plants for high/bright light: succulents, cacti, tropical plants (wintering indoors or permanent)
Medium Light (most homes can provide): philodendrons, pothos, ivy, fiddleleaf figs, orchids, most flowering/seasonal plants, ferns, goldfish, lipstick. Plus: spider plant, anthurium, peperomia
Low Light: peace lilies, ZZ Plants, snake plants, Chinese evergreens
When transplanting, go up one size (i.e. 4” pot to a 6” pot) as we tend to water to the size of the pot and can “flood” a plant that is too small for a big pot
Drainage holes are key – water retention trays help keep spills from happening, plant dollies help move large plants for cleaning purposes
Our homes have been studied and a Canadian home in the middle of the winter is “drier than the Sahara Desert”, so humidity is key for many house plants. Plus, our modern homes are NOT friendly for house plants – we turn on our furnaces for our own comfort (air con in summer too) or heat with wood (very dry heat), have air tight windows and doors (energy conservation) and new windows have low-e glass emitting in VERY little sunlight in, especially the weak winter sun, so houseplants struggle in our homes in the winter.
Humidity trays (a plastic or clay tray with rocks on it, plant sits on top) ans misting do help with the dryness; signs of stress due to dryness include: dried up leaves or brown tips on leaves
Water used should not be run through the water softener and should sit in your watering can for a few hours so it is room temperature and allowing the chemicals in the water to disperse.
Plants should not sit in water; drain out any water left in the saucer or decorative over pot
Fertilizer should be used only during months of growth (not winter) as plants rest when light levels are low (winter)
Pests can be monitored with “Sticky Strips” and/or controlled by spraying an insecticidal soap (Safer’s End All is a great option)
Air Plants should be soaked in the sink in ½ inch of water, upside down (so crown is not soaked too much) for about 20 mins once per week. Dab off on a towel and tuck back in to arrangements, holders etc. Skip misting, not enough water for them! Medium light is best, not too sunny of a spot.
Fiddle leaf figs are the “It” Plant – very desirable as they are used in many home design magazines and on HGTV shows such as “Fixer Upper” and “Masters of Flip”. Best in a bright to high light location; water as needed. It is relatively easy to grow in our modern homes.
One of the most “blogged” about plants for 2018: Pilea Pepperomia, the Chinese Money Plant (pictured). It prefers a medium light and a pot with drainage.
There are so many types of Hydrangeas! Some are great for this area (Peterborough and surrounding area, hardiness zone 4/5) and some are not so great for this area. The goal is to know what is the best for your location and what impact it will make on your garden – which should be FABULOUS!
Hydrangea Macrophylla, or mop/round headed hydrangea, come in a lovely array of colourful blooms. The ones that usually take our breath away are the blue, pink or purple ones. Magazines make these Hydrangeas the cover shot every chance they get. Varieties such as Endless Summer, the Cityline Hydrangea series (Venice, Rio, Paris), Pistachio and the like are show-stoppers…somewhere else. Here, in our zone, they struggle over winter and bloom sparsely. This type of hydrangea sets it’s bloom in the Fall, for the next year, and our winters can be harsh, often burning off the buds. These hydrangeas prefer a partial sun location and a sheltered growing space. The local people who indicate they have success with them also share the information that their plants are usually planted close to the house, in a nook or corner near a building or, as one woman confided, beside her dryer vent. Those warm spots help maintain these varieties and their buds over our cold winters. Regardless, they still rarely boom like we see in the photographs, causing disappointment.
People are rarely disappointed when they plant Hydrangea Paniculta. Varieties of Panicle Hydrangeas include: Limelight, Little Lime, Little Lamb, Pinky Winky, Quickfire, Little Quickfire, Phantom, Bobo, Vanilla Strawberry and ZinfinDoll. All are hardy hydrangeas that perform very well in our area. They have cone-shaped, dense blooms that will change colour (usually to a dusty rose) as the colder nights come upon us in the Fall. Planted in partial to full sun, there is a size for any space: EXTRA LARGE (Phantom), LARGE (Limelight, Pinky Winky, Quickfire) , MEDIUM (Zinfin Doll, Little Lamb) and SMALL (Bobo, Little Lime, Little Quickfire). This type of Hydrangea can be cut back in the late Fall (November) or left with dried blooms on over winter and then cut in the early Spring. Cutting back 1/3 the overall size of the plant at either time will ensure fullness and enhanced blooming performance. Leaves begin to sprout in May and blooms open in late July, remaining showy until at least Hallowe’en.
Additional varieties that do well in our area are Mountain Hydrangeas such as Tiny Tuff Stuff and Ruby Slippers, an Oak Leaf Hydrangea. Both are more rugged and less stylized for a formal garden. Tiny Tuff Stuff has an open, lace-cap blooms and is suited for a partial sun location. Ruby Slippers can be planted in a almost full shade spot, needing only 3-4 hours of filtered sun. It has an open bloom, not dense that will turn red toned in the Fall. The leaves on both plants turn nice colours (red-toned) in cool weather, often prettier than the blooms themselves.
Annabelle Hydrangea is a staple in gardens of our zone. It is the old fashioned “snowball” variety that was our only choice until recently when the newer Hydrangeas began being introduced. Annabelle is a good choice if you have a lot of shade as she blooms best in partial sun to shade. She has trouble holding up her big blooms and is often very floppy; that is her downfall. Incrediball is a newer introduction that is an improved Annabelle and it is sturdier and less likely to flop over.
All Hydrangeas like to be hydrated, hence the name. Hot, dry spots are not the best for this breed of flowering shrub. That said, they do not need to be on a constant H20 drip. Water them very well the first month of planting and then the normal prescription of one inch of water per week, whether from your hose or Mother Nature, is sufficient to get a beautiful flush of bloom – if you have the right hydrangea in the right location.
In our Container Gardening workshops we always talk about the importance of soil. One just can’t go out to the vegetable garden and shovel a container full of heavy soil and expect to grow beautiful, light flowers. Annuals, mainly grown in containers, need a lighter soil, similar to what they are grown in. Our container mix is called “Veranda” and it is sold in 30L bags and in 2.2 ft compressed bales.
But, what do you do if you are adding soil to the flower bed or vegetable garden? Forget about black earth. Yes, it is inexpensive, but it is devoid of much nutrient; it’s great for filling in a hole or casting over grass seed, but not much else. At the minimum, we suggest you use Triple Mix. It is a combo of peat moss, topsoil and manure. It adds volume and nutrient. We think the best of the best if the “Sea Soil”. Kyle has coined the phrase, “jet fuel for your plants” and Fafard, the Quebec company who produces it has started using that in it’s literature! We love it for top dressing your gardens, giving new energy to existing plants and for adding handfuls of it to the holes when planting perennials and shrubs and then casting some on top of the newly planting so when you water, the nutrient goes directly to the roots. We also suggest handfuls of it (it is never to be used solo, it’s a soil additive) in your container plantings, herb and veg gardens.
Soil is very important soil is to your planting success. An old family gardening book from 1950 had an underlined passage: “…for every dollar spent on gardening, spend ten cents on plants and ninety cents on soil…” A little to the extreme, but an exaggerated example of how important soil is to achieve good growing.
The gardening community was excited when Pantone, a well-known colour expert company, announced that the Colour of the Year for 2018 was Ultra Purple. Last year, to stay “on trend” the colour to integrate in your garden was Greenery – how easy was that? In 2018, adding tones of purple will be intentional. Splashes of lavender, purple and rosy blues will POP amid green leaves and will contrast with variegated leaves.
For annuals (and yes, all good gardens have a combination of colourful annuals and valuable perennials) consider the beautiful blooms of petunias, impatiens and geraniums. Each of these garden basics bloom in many shades, but one of the most popular for all three is violet or purple. In impatiens (and yes, they will be back, in small quantities, in many local garden centres) mixtures with bright violet or even violet on its own will shine in shady gardens. Always be careful though, in deep shade gardens to avoid too many deep, dark colours; rich dark shades are lost in the shadows and it’s best to add in white or lighter shades of the same dark hue to brighten the darkness.
Other annuals to consider in hues of violet: african daisy (pictured), salvia, dahlias, ageratum, cleome, coleus, fountain grass, ornamental cabbage and kale, alyssum and verbena.
Purple or violet blooms are not as common in perennials; some to note may not bloom purple but feature purple leaves: heuchera (coral bells), lupins, ground phlox, tall garden phlox, coneflowers malva, delphiniums and flowering shrubs such as weigela, ninebark and hydrangeas.
A simple, less permanent way to integrate a specific colour in the garden is to add colourful accents. How about purple outdoor cushions on patio furniture? Or why not paint metal furniture, a trellis or a wire obelisk with a can of Ultra Violet spray paint? Have fun and be “on trend” for 2018!
Spring has sprung and we are thrilled! We do love crisp, white snow (especially for the protection it gives to perennials), but after three months, enough is enough. It’s time for mud, sightings of red breasted robins and visions of green leaves of bulbs pushing through the soil. Ah, Spring!
Early April is too early to do much in the garden; we need to be careful to not rake aggressively and pull out tender grass shoots or to walk repeatedly and heavily on garden soil, compacting it and eliminating necessary air pockets. As the month progresses and soil dries and warms and grass is thickening and approaching green, you can begin the annual gardening tasks of raking, cutting back perennials and weeding.
Other Spring-time tasks: clean and sharpen tools, plant seeds or tend to seeds already popping out of seed growing soil mix, set out containers and fill them with fresh potting soil. A few of your freshly filled pots can even be planted with a cheery mix of Spring blooms.
Only specific plants can tolerate the inconsistent outdoor temperatures in early Spring. Consider freshening up the look of your front entrance with pots with pretty pansies, English daisies, stocks, ranunculus, ivy and Spring blooming bulbs like tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocus. Create some height in these pots with red or yellow dogwood sticks and pussy willow branches. Fun elements such as pin wheels or chicks and bunnies on sticks can be added.
As the weather fluctuates in Early Spring do protect seedlings (outdoors to “harden off”), tropical plants (outdoors to catch some quality sunshine) and even your cool weather plants like pansies. Tropical plants and seedlings should be removed from freezing or near freezing conditions while pansies and other pretty Spring blooms can be covered with light sheets to protect from frosty nights.
How time flies! Our winter hibernation is a blurr – well, a blurr of long naps, bingeing on Netflix shows, long lunches with friends and, for Ann and Jack and a few other members of our team, languishing on lawn chairs in the sunny south. It’s all over now as we ready the greenhouse for plant production and prep the Barn Store for Opening Day.
We will fling open the doors to the store on Thursday March 01, 9-5. We will be open on Friday March 02 (9-5) and Saturday March 03 (9-5) as well. We will be closed on Sunday March 04 (to catch our breath) and on Monday March 05, our regular Early Spring hours will begin.
What’s to see? Well, the Display Greenhouse will be empty still, but the Barn Store will be filled with new merchandise, fresh potted flowers and our sunny smiles. We will have a free plant and pot give-away for the first 100 people who visit us during these three days (one per family) and be offering an “Opening Weekend Workshop” (see the workshop page of this website) for those who want to get their hands a little dirty.
Also, don’t forget, if you’re a fan of or interested in joining the URN CLUB, the EARLY BUY BONUS is on March 01 – 17. Those who purchase an Urn Club program will be given a FREE $20.00 gift card to use at another time. WooHoo!