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Showing 11-20 of 64 articles.

Are my Hydrangeas and Butterfly Shrubs Dead??

Are my Hydrangeas and Butterfly Shrubs Dead??

All day long, at the office and on the road in my clients gardens, I get the same question: are my hydrangeas DEAD??? Probably not is my answer. But most of the plants that bloom on current year’s wood lost a lot, if not all, of their old wood and are taking a long time to re-sprout. Examples include Rose of Sharon, butterfly shrubs, Caryopteris, and Hydrangea macrophylla and H. serrata species.
 
 
Hydrangea 2The first thing you need to do is scratch the bark. If it is green below the bark, the wood is alive. If the branches are brittle and dried up and there is no green wood below the bark, the branch is not alive. Continue doing this until you find live wood. If it means you have to cut the plant back to ground level, do not worry. This category of plants will regenerate an entirely new top as soon as it gets a bit warmer. A couple of years ago I took this photo before I dragged my tarp filled with butterfly shrub and crape myrtle branches to the compost. They all died to the ground and guess what? They grew and bloomed just beautifully later that summer.Hydrangea 3
 
Hydrangeas can be a complicated subject and I get tons of questions about how to prune them. Pink and blue hydrangeas (H. macrophylla and H. serrata) bloom on NEW SHOOTS off of LAST YEAR’S wood. It appears that a lot of last year’s wood did, in fact, die over the winter. Look for live buds as the weather warms up.Hydrangea 4 We generally refrain from pruning...
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Spring Cleanups-tips and tricks from pros

Spring Cleanups-tips and tricks from pros

One of the first things to do each season is to start with a good spring clean-up; an all-over clean up and review of your lawn & landscape (including plants, shrubs, trees, and their beds). Fallen branches, debris that has been blown in from the neighbor’s yard, and “gifts” the snow plow delivered (chunks of sod, anyone??) all need to be removed. It is a huge part of maintaining a clean, crisp, great looking landscape.
 
Repair snow mold on the lawn: When snow lingers on the lawn for too long, especially when the large piles of snow sat for months, the grass can become infected. The best thing to do is lightly rake the area to break up the mold and promote some air flow. The new grass growth will quickly fill in. Problem solved.
 
Pruning: As soon as the weather begins to warm up in late winter and very early spring, plants should be uncovered (if covering took place at you fall clean up) and any dead dying or broken limbs should be pruned. Roses may also be pruned at this time. The goal is to encourage new growth, and “open it up” allowing air movement and sunlight to reach the inner limbs. Shrub roses are more forgiving than hybrid roses; they can be cut back almost half way with little worry.   One thing you DON’T want to do, is prune your Lilacs, Forsythias, or anything that blooms on old wood!  They set their buds for the bloom season, in the summer prior. If you prune them in before they...
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Mulch-what's the big deal?

Mulch-what's the big deal?

Mulching is an important part to the landscaping, and one of the most beneficial and easiest steps. There are many reasons to mulch around your plants. The first is to retain moisture. Mulch helps to slowly release water into the soil as you water. This allows for greater soil infiltration. This results in even soil moisture levels and a healthier root system. The mulch also helps the soil to keep the water that it does absorb by reducing the amount of moisture evaporating into the air. All in all this makes it easier for you because it reduces the amount of water needed to be applied.

Mulching helps to regulate the temperature of the soil surrounding your plants. It keeps soil cool in the summer, as much as 30 degrees cooler than the air temperature compared to bare soil or soil covered with stone. It also acts as a natural insulator in the winter. It allows for a slower freezing and more uniform temperature to make for less drastic temperature changes and prolongs the plant life.

Mulch can come in many forms. They can be organic or inorganic materials. Organic materials are ones in which they used to be a living plant form (i.e. bark nuggets, shredded wood chips, pine needles, and hay or straw). Inorganic materials include anything that would be considered man made. The natural or organic materials are best because they naturally decompose to add nutrients to the soil beneath. These nutrients are carried deep into the root systems by earthworms. These earthworms also ...

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Corn Gluten

Corn Gluten

How many times have you said “learn from your mistakes.” Well, that is exactly what Nick Christians, a research at Iowa State University did. His mistake was spilling corn gluten meal (CGM) while working in the research fields. He was using the CGM as an ingredient in fertilizer. He noticed that in the spot where he spilled the CGM, no seed would germinate. Aha! He learned from his mistake that CGM is not only a great source of nitrogen for plants but may also work as a pre-emergent weed seed control!

Corn gluten meal is a fine powder that is a byproduct of the corn milling process. Traditionally it had always been used as a supplement in hog feed. There is a natural protein in CGM that is a good nutrient for lawns and gardens and also an effective at suppressing new weed growth. Although we cannot refer to CGM as Organic because it is not made from organically grown corn, it is non-toxic and safe.

How does corn gluten meal work? The Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium (N-P-K) ratio of corn gluten is 10-1-0, or 10% nitrogen by weight. The reason why it is a natural weed suppressant when applied at 20 pounds per 1000 square feet is because as soon as the seed germinates, the tender root is dried out. Combined, these qualities make CGM an ideal weed and feed product.

Does corn gluten meal hurt my plants? When applied at the recommend rate of 20lbs/1000 square feet, CGM only works by inhibiting root formation at the time of germination, it does not harm ...

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Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

Will he see his shadow or will he not?  That is the question!

Groundhog Day is celebrated on February 2nd, each year in the United States and Canada.  For a nice welcomed break during the winter, on this day the groundhog awakens from his nap and goes outside to see if he can see his shadow.  It is believed my many that if the groundhog sees his shadow that there will then be six more weeks of winter. If this is so,  he then retrieves back into his den and goes back to sleep.  If he is not able to see his shadow, the groundhog remains outside to play and people celebrate believing that spring is just around the corner.

As the Germans settled in the hills of Pennsylvania, they brought this tradition with them.  The tradition was based on Candlemas, which is the day that is the midpoint between winter and spring.

Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania has been chosen as the site for the annual Groundhog day event.  Thousands of people come to the town of Punsxutawney on Groundhog Day for this day of celebration.

Although already a well known day, Groundhog Day received widespread attention as a result of the 1993 film Groundhog Day, which was set in Punxsutawney and portrayed Roger Rininger as the groundhog.

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Salt Burn

Salt Burn

Road runoff contains dissolved salts that not only injure plants directly but also can change the structure of the soil, causing it to become compacted. This condition restricts the nutrients, water,and oxygen available to the plants, putting them under stress. Shoot tips and young leaves usually receive the most damage. One of the salt-damage-bigsymptoms of salt damage is dried, burnt leaf edges.
 
How do I fix it? Where runoff is unavoidable, flush the area around the plants in early spring by applying 2 inches of water over a two- to three-hour period, repeating three days later. This will leach much of the salt from the soil. If salt spray from the road surface is a problem, use water to rinse the foliage and branches of any affected plants when salt spray is heavy and again in early spring.
 
How do I prevent it?  Salt burn has a simple solution.  Don’t pile snow containing salt around plants or trees or put it where runoff might reach plant roots.  Ask road-maintenance workers if they can direct salty runoff away from your property.  When selecting species for a new roadside planting, minimize the potential for salt damage by planting salt-tolerant selections.  Install a low wall or hedge of salt-tolerant evergreens, which can deflect salt spray away from sensitive plants nearby.
 

Here is a few salt-tolerant plants that are hardy to our area.

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Don't Leave "That Kind" of Footprint

Don't Leave

Before I started working with Beautiful Blooms, I had never really paid attention to frost, I just knew that my lavender plants would get fussy after a harsh winter. During the beginning of spring, we typically start an hour later than we would during the summer. The crews come in on time, load up their trucks, and are eager to head out to fulfill their tasks for the day. One morning, after our daily “morning meeting”, Loriena gave a little lecture on frost. She explained to the crew why it’s important to stay off our client’s grass until the sun has come up and melted the frost. She explained how frost can form and how to avoid damaging lawns and other plant material. Continue Reading…


Post to blog article on website: The temperature can be perfect for frost, she explained, but if it’s overcast and windy, frost either won’t occur or it will be light. But this doesn’t mean the grass cannot freeze, or form ice. It is important to keep off grass that has a heavy frost, especially when the height is kept short.
Here’s the easiest way I can describe why it’s best to keep off frozen lawns. When you walk on frost or frozen grass, you can literally break the grass blades. It is no different than if you dropped a full glass of water on a hard floor. The glass breaks and all the contents leak out. In the case of turf we break the cell membranes which causes internal damage to the plant. This typically results in...

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What does it take for insects to overwinter?

What does it take for insects to overwinter?

Does a warmer winter mean more pests to manage during spring and summer?  Actually, there are a few other factors to consider before concluding this theory.

  1. Insects that overwinter below ground (Japanese beetle grubs) might not be affected by a mild winter because soil temperatures tend to be more constant. If the frost layer is deep, the survival rate may be lower.  If the frost line is shallow, there may be more survivors.
     
  2. Temperature is the key to all insect development. Have you seen a slow moving fly a few weeks ago, on a warm winter day? The higher winter temperatures “wake up” and activate the insects such as the common house fly, or woolly bear (caterpillar). They are using up stored fats they depend on to survive until the spring. Without access to food, these active insects could starve to death before food becomes available.
     
  3. Most insects adapt to cold winters by slowly preparing in the fall and staying dormant until the spring. Therefore, large temperature swings can be detrimental to insects… (There was at least one day this winter, from what I remember, where the temperature dropped a total of 50 degrees within just two days!).  We could expect some insect mortality due to cold intolerance when regularly fluctuating from 0-50 degrees.
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Disease During Drought

Disease During Drought

Plant disease-causing fungi are usually inhibited during periods of drought. Most fungi require water to infect and develop. Although drought factors tend to reduce the risk of disease, there are some disease situations that are enhanced.Leaf spotting fungi in the Helminthosporium complex are more severe when the potassium levels are low. The lack of soil moisture due to droughts can affect the availability of these nutrients although there may be adequate levels in the soil. During dew periods and other sporadic moisture periods, nutrient deficient plants can become infected and disease can develop. These leaf-spotting disease fungi can reduce hay quality.
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Fall & Winter Perennial Care

Fall & Winter Perennial Care

 

Many perennials are better left standing over the winter than cutting them down. There are several reasons for this. In addition to many of the perennials having attractive foliage and/or seed heads, they offer food resources for birds. Many birds find the seeds of perennials particularly tasty. The stems of perennials also offer a place for some birds to hide during the winter. With some marginally hardy perennials, leaving the stems up for the winter aids in overwintering. The foliage helps to insulate the crowns. Mums seem to benefit a great deal from this practice. Another reason to leave stems stand is that if the perennial is a late riser in the spring, the stems will help to mark the spot and prevent any accidental digging in the area that might harm the underground portions of the plant.

Cutting back perennials in the fall may be something you would want to do especially if you were bothered by foliage diseases. Removing the old foliage would be a positive in this case as it helps to reduce the amount of innoculum present to re-infest next year’s foliage. Removing foliage can also be one of pure aesthetics. Some gardeners like to see standing perennials in the winter and others don’t. When perennials are cut down, do so after they have gone dormant. This is usually after the plants have experienced several hard frosts. Cut the plants down to within 2-3 inches of the crown. Cutting too close can result in winter injury on some perennials due ...
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