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2017 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show Walk-Through with Garden Answer

Laura from Garden Answer guides you through this walk-through of the 2017 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show, “Holland: Flowering the World.” Laura breaks down the design elements from the show so gardeners can bring the natural look of Holland gardens to their own back yards. Explore the bridges, windmills, canals and water gardens on this tour that is inspired by the Dutch New Wave Movement.

Like what you see? Check out this video to learn how to plant blooming bulbs in your own yard.

Why Fall is the Best Time to Plant Perennials

This month we’ve covered fall gardening basics, how to plant cool-season veggies and fall planted bulbs. If you’re starting to wonder what you can’t plant in the fall, the answer is almost nothing.

We’re going to help you get a head start on spring by planting perennials in the fall. Perennials, those plants that return each year, provide a low-maintenance way to have a beautiful, colorful garden. Your garden will take on a life of its own as the perennials continue to expand year after year.

Perennials, those plants that return each year, provide a low-maintenance way to have a beautiful, colorful garden.

While fall is for planting, Al’s Garden Center still has a few tricks that will ensure your plants look their best in that first season.

Plant Fall Perennials in 8 Steps

  1. Start by preparing the soil. Dig out rocks, weeds and other debris.
  2. Dig a hole deep enough for the root ball and twice as wide.
  3. Gently remove plant from pot and gently loosen roots.
  4. Mix in 3 inches of compost or other organic matter.
  5. Remove the plant from its pot and loosen roots before planting. Place plant in hole and backfill the hole with a good quality garden soil.
  6. Water immediately. Cover the planting area with a natural mulch of bark or straw. Mulch keeps soil moist and protects new roots from freezing.
  7. Finish by adding an organic plant food such as Espoma’s Start!
  8. Water at least 1 inch per week until the ground freezes. This keeps roots growing and helps plants get established before winter dormancy.

Fall Perennial Plant Picks

  1. Choose perennials that add color to your garden in early spring such as hellebore and astilbe.
  2. Plant or transplant spring-blooming power-house shrubs such as rhododendrons and azaleas.Perennials, those plants that return each year, provide a low-maintenance way to have a beautiful, colorful garden.
  3. Choose pollinator friendly plants such as phlox, coneflower and aster. You can plant, divide or transplant.
  4. Divide and replant hostas and daylilies. Learn more about dividing perennials.
  5. Peonies should always be planted or transplanted in the fall. Plant 2 inches above the root ball.
  6. Plant and transplant irises, Asiatic and Oriental lilies.

Have a question we didn’t answer? Visit our Facebook page and ask us!

Al’s Garden Center is a third generation owned and operated local family business.  Established in Woodburn, OR in 1948, Al’s is now the largest full-service independent garden center in the Willamette Valley.  Through its three retail stores, Al’s provides an extensive selection of plants, plant care essentials, garden accessories, outdoor furniture and home décor.

Your Fall Planted Bulb Questions Answered

This month we’ve covered how to plant cool-season veggies. If flowers are more your thing, then it’s time to plant spring-blooming bulbs. Favorites such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinth and alliums are planted in fall but burst forth with color in spring.

There’s nothing difficult about planting bulbs and you can plant dozens of them in just a few minutes. Here are three easy steps for planting fall bulbs.

Today, the experts at North Haven Gardens answer the top 10 most common questions about planting bulbs.

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Top 10 Burning Bulb Questions

1. When should I plant spring flowering bulbs?

Spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips and daffodils are planted September to November. They need several weeks underground to grow roots before the ground freezes.

Check your hardiness zone to be sure when the best time is to plant. Usually, Zones 1 – 4 can plant late August through late September and Zones 4 – 7 can plant mid-September through early November.

2. How far apart and how deep should I plant?

The bulb package should tell you how deep and wide to plant bulbs. If you’ve lost your package, follow the 3×3 rule. Plant bulbs three times as deep as their height and keep 3x the diameter of the bulb between plantings.

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3. Which end is up?

Bulbs with pointy ends make it easy: plant the pointed end up. Corms and tubers should have roots attached. Plant those down.

4. When should I feed my bulbs?

Bulbs do store their own food, but a little extra nutrition will help them last years. Add a sprinkle of Bulb-tone to the hole of each newly planted bulb. Come spring, sprinkle a little more Bulb-tone on top of the soil to give them an extra boost.

5. Should I water the flower bulbs after I plant them?

We call spring-flowering bulbs drought-tolerant. While they’re not exactly, you only need to water immediately after planting them.

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6. Should I mulch bulbs?

We are huge advocates of mulch as long as it’s applied correctly. In cool climates you can mulch after the soil freezes. In warm climates, Zones 8 and above, mulch after planting and watering.

7. What should I do with the leaves after the flowers have faded?

Give leaves at least 8 weeks of growing, after the flowers fade. You can cut the stem, but the foliage provides energy for next year’s blooms. This is also a good time to feed bulbs, as they’re building up reserves.

One solution is to camouflage the fading foliage. Plant perennials or cool-season annuals. They will emerge right as unsightly foliage is fading.

8. Are there any bulbs deer don’t eat?

Daffodils are the most pest free spring bulbs you can grow. Alliums, in the onion family, are also unappealing to deer. However, if they’re really hungry, they’ll eat anything.

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9. What about other pests?

There are measures you can take to keep unwanted visitors from eating your bulbs. Lay a small layer of hardware cloth or chicken wire over the top and around the sides of the new plantings. Just don’t forget to remove it come spring.

10. Will my flower bulbs come up again next year?

Flower bulbs are divided into three groups: annuals, perennials and naturalizing. Annual bulbs such as tulips produce their most beautiful display during the first year and if you’re lucky, may also emerge the following year. Perennial bulbs such as daffodils and hyacinth emerge and continue to bloom year after year. Naturalizing bulbs such as muscari, snowdrops and crocus will emerge every year and better yet, increase in number.

Have a question we didn’t answer? Visit our Facebook page and ask us!

Grab Your Books for a Lesson in Gardening 101

Going back to school is equal parts nervous jitters and genuine excitement for what could be. Remember what it was like to have a new backpack, a fresh outfit that makes just the right statement and your stack of empty notebooks waiting to be filled?

It feels like anything is possible at this time of year!

Molbak’s Garden + Home is here to help teach you gardening basics. Already an experienced gardener? Now is the time brush up on your lessons.

Espoma’s Gardening School 101

1. Build a Foundation for Success. For a garden to be great, superior soil is a must! Perform a quick soil test, study the results and your garden will be A+ in no time!

soil test

2. Back to School Shopping. Examine your garden equipment to see what should stay — and what needs to go. Look for cracked handles, rust and missing or loose parts. Then, go shopping for replacements.

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3. Get a Whole New Look. A new school year means it’s time to reveal your new look. Do you want to be refined? Edgy? Colorful and bold? Sweet and simple? Define your garden look and do your homework — then start pinning!

Espoma Pinterest

4. Make a Plan for Success. The only way to improve this year’s performance is to analyze the successes and failures of last year’s garden. Your assignment: create a new garden plan.

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5. Meet the Teacher. Hi! It’s a pleasure to see you! At Espoma, we’ve been teaching organic gardening practices since 1929. Comment with questions below, post them to Facebook or tweet us. We’re here to make you the best gardener you can be.

Espoma Facebook6. Sharpen Pencils. Clean and sharpen your garden tools to get them ready for the new season! You can DIY or take them to your local garden center.

Garden tools

7. Find New Friends. Follow us on Facebook and check out our posts to find gardeners who are just as passionate about organic growing as you are.

Garden Party

Patio Party photo by Proven Winners

Throw your cap (or gardening gloves) up in the air! You passed the Back to Gardening School Class! Your garden will thank you for it later!

Fall Is the Best Time for Planting

Every gardener knows it. Fall is for planting. From the cooler weather and heaps of rain to fewer pests, diseases and weeds, fall has distinct planting benefits.

Throughout the fall we will identify some of the best plants and activities to do in fall. Stay tuned for our expert tips, guest blog posts and giveaway’s.

But in the meantime, learn why planting in fall can make spring gardening much, much easier.

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6 Reasons Why Fall is the Best Time to Garden

1. Work is Easier on Plants… And You

The cooler air temperatures are easier on both plants and gardeners. Neither of you need to suffer through the intense summer heat. Yet, in fall, the soil is still warm enough for roots to thrive. They will grow and get established until the ground freezes.

2. There is More Time in Fall

There are more good days for planting in fall than in spring, when bad weather can make being outside impossible. Plus, you have more free time as a gardener than during the spring rush.

Note: The window for fall planting ends six weeks before your average hard frost, usually September or October.

3. Mother Nature Does the Watering for You

In many regions of the country, fall showers happen often. You might not ever have to water new plantings, which means less maintenance for you. However, due to the cooler temperatures, it’s a cinch to water plants if it doesn’t rain at least 1” per week.

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4. Easier Weed Control

In the fall, weed seeds are dormant, i.e., they don’t grow. So any weeds that do grow up in your flowers are easily removed when they first appear as sprouts in spring.

5. Bye-Bye Pests and Diseases

Pests and diseases are less prevalent in the fall. Most of the bugs are either dead or preparing to hibernate in fall. Plus, the humidity that promotes many diseases fades away.

6. Fall Planting Results in Earlier Blooms

Like fall-seeded lawns, fall-planted wildflower seed has a chance to “settle” into your site during the winter, and is ready to burst into growth in early spring. This is why fall-planted wildflower seed is up and in bloom about two weeks earlier than spring-planted seed.

While all of these make compelling reasons to garden in the fall, the season also means bargain time at garden centers. Check back often for the best deals.

Have a picture of your fall garden that you want to share? Drop by our Facebook page!

To-Do List: August Gardening Tips

August is an exciting time. After all, your flower beds are radiant and your vegetable garden is thriving!

Although it may seem like watering and weeding are your only tasks this month, there’s still a lot to do. Help your garden beat the heat and prep for fall at the same time.

Keep your garden beautiful during August:

Maintenance and Preparation

  • Level low spots in your lawn.
  • Remove weeds.
  • Choose your autumn flower seeds and order in advance.
  • Fertilize and fortify your lawn with Espoma’s Summer Revitalizer.
  • Harvest produce regularly and hoe weekly to weaken weeds.
  • Add compost and mulch to keep your garden cool and prepared for fall planting.
  • Plant fall veggie starts or transplants.
  • Remove fallen fruit from fruit trees to limit insect infestations.

Pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, play a big part in getting our gardens to grow. They help fertilize flowers, carrying pollen from one plant to another.

Mind the Flowers

  • Divide and transplant spring and summer-flowering perennials after they bloom.
  • Spray water onto plants to evict seasonal pests like aphids, whiteflies and spider mites.
  • Remove diseased foliage before leaves drop.
  • Deadhead summer-flowering perennials and lightly shear to encourage more blooms.
  • Move houseplants back indoors to acclimate them to limited sun exposure.

Although it may seem like watering and weeding are your only tasks this month, there’s still a lot to do. Help your garden beat the heat and prep for fall at the same time.

Water, Water, Water!

  • Water plants deeply. Avoid getting leaves wet in the direct sun and avoid soaking containers during the hottest part of the day.
  • Water before 9:00am. If you can’t water in the morning, aim for watering in the early evening, to avoid letting the water sit all night. Letting the water sit all night can cause mildew and disease.

Although it may seem like watering and weeding are your only tasks this month, there’s still a lot to do. Help your garden beat the heat and prep for fall at the same time.

Looking Ahead

Congratulations on all your hard work on the August garden!

How will you and your garden be celebrating the end of summer? Let us know in the comments!

Pollinators: Nothing to Sneeze At

Did you know that honeybees are directly responsible for pollinating one third of the food we eat?

Pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, play a big part in getting our gardens to grow. They help fertilize flowers, carrying pollen from one plant to another. In return, pollinators only ask for food — the nectar and pollen from flowers they visit.

Lately, pollinator populations are declining. Thankfully, you can still “bee” an ally for pollinators by creating habitats for them in your own garden.

A garden frequented by pollinators is both healthy and beautiful. Give pollinators what they need and you’ll watch your whole garden bloom livelier than ever.

How to Keep Your Garden Beautiful and Attract Pollinators:

Pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, play a big part in getting our gardens to grow. They help fertilize flowers, carrying pollen from one plant to another.

Location. The best way to attract pollinators is to plant flowers that appeal to them. Either add to an existing garden or designate one specifically for pollinators. Choose a sunny location and remove weeds from the plant beds.

Pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, play a big part in getting our gardens to grow. They help fertilize flowers, carrying pollen from one plant to another.

Layer. Entice pollinators with native flowering plants that bloom at different times throughout the year, provide food and habitat. Include several types of flowers that produce nectar and sticky pollen.

At the back of your garden, plant tall flowers such as coneflowers, sunflowers, black-eyed Susans and asters. Their petals provide landing platforms for pollinators. In front of the tall flowers, plant medium flowers, like catmint and yarrow. In front of those, plant shorter flowers such as verbena, or herbs that flower, like oregano.

Pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, play a big part in getting our gardens to grow. They help fertilize flowers, carrying pollen from one plant to another.

Planting. Plant tall flowers 18-20” apart, medium flowers 12” apart and short flowers 8-10” apart.

Sprinkle flowers with Plant-tone, an organic plant food that won’t harm any visitors to your garden. Or, try our new Start! organic liquid plant food to quick-start your plants’ growth.

Now that your garden is set up to welcome pollinators, wait for the flowers to bloom!

Share pictures of your pollinator habitat with us on our Facebook page!

Fix It to Nix Hydrangea Problems

Hydrangeas are supposed to be forever gorgeous! The most flawless, must-have flowers in the garden! Yet, you may see black spots on your hydrangea’s leaves. Or worse yet, blooms are turning brown!

Don’t worry.

Stick with us, and we’ll have your garden favorite looking tip-top again. Here’s how to easily fix those common hydrangea problems.

Here’s how to easily fix those common hydrangea problems.

Simple Steps to (Once-Again) Stunning Blooms — How to Solve Common Hydrangea Problems

1. Not a Spot! When it’s unusually rainy (or if you’re overwatering), hydrangeas’ leaves develop unsightly, black spots. This is a pretty harmless leaf fungus with a scary name — Cercospora! Prune away heavily affected areas and spotted leaves to prevent the fungus from spreading.

2. Will to Wilt. Hydrangea blooms drooping or wilting? Most likely, your plant is soaking up too much sun and not getting enough water. Check to see if the soil is moist 1-2” deep. If not, water deeply. For best hydrangea care, repeat weekly. Add a bit of mulch to help conserve water, too. If that’s not the case, check your soil’s nitrogen levels using a soil test. Add necessary amendments.

3. Brown Blooms. If your hydrangea blooms are turning brown too soon and quickly petering out, they likely need more water. Ditto if your flowers wilt during the day and don’t bounce back at night. To confirm, look for brown spots on leaf edges. To fix, deeply water hydrangeas once a week.

Here’s how to easily fix those common hydrangea problems.

4. Holey-Moly Foliage. Fruit worms and slugs munch holes through hydrangea leaves. Lift up a holey leave. If you find what looks like a caterpillar, that’s a fruit worm! Get rid of them with soapy water. If nothing’s there, it’s likely slugs. You can hand pick them at night — or give them a night cap. Bury a plastic cup near the hydrangea, so the rim is level with the soil. Then, fill the cup halfway with beer.

5. Blooms Be Gone. No flowers on your hydrangea? You likely pruned your hydrangea at the wrong time — and cut off all its new blooms. Skip the pruning this year, and check out our tips for pruning hydrangeas so you never prune hydrangeas at the wrong time again.

6. Purple Pout. If your leaves have purple spots, remove the affected leaves and branches. If the entire leaf is purple, your soil may not have enough phosphorous. Perform a soil test and amend as needed.

Abracadabra! Your hydrangea problems will be gone soon. Then, you can focus on all the best parts of growing hydrangeas — like admiring those big, fluffy flowers!

To learn more about hydrangeas, check out our organic growing guide. Find the right hydrangea for you by choosing one that loves sun, blooms all summer or is perfect for beginners.

Container Garden Tip: Extend Summer Color

Fabulous and fun, containers filled with bright blooms are easy to maintain and thrive with the right care. They’re great additions to any patio, yards or landscape.

Before summer’s heat and dry conditions get the best of them, give them what they need. Keep containers in tip top shape with these easy tips.

Here’s how to extend the life of containers for a summer of color.

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Deadhead. Use pruners or shears to snip off dead or dying flowers, stems and foliage. This is called deadheading. Don’t be afraid to clip stems back a little to encourage new growth. This not only makes the plant look better, it helps encourage more blooms.

Want even less work? You can always opt for plants that do the deadheading on their own, like Million Bells.

Feed. Feed established containers with Bloom! liquid fertilizer to promote & prolong flowering. Simply flip, fill and feed. Or, sprinkle granular Plant-tone on the soil surface and gently work in.

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Water. Containers need to be drenched – generally every day – and make sure to get the roots. Water until it pours from the drainage holes. Be sure to empty saucers to keep roots from getting waterlogged.

Replace. If all else fails, simply replace the leggy or tired plants in your container garden with late-season bloomers, like ornamental cabbage, coneflowers or sedum.

Now that your containers are taken care of, sit back and enjoy the heat of summer!

Spruce Up Your Garden Before Memorial Day Weekend

As the official kickoff to summer, Memorial Day weekend is the perfect excuse to tidy up the garden. So before you bring out your red, white and blue and get ready for the summer season, spend a little time cleaning up around the yard.

And yes, Memorial Day may be the start of summer fun, let’s not forget the real reason behind the holiday and thank our veterans.

This federal holiday, observed the last Monday of May, honors those who’ve died serving in our country’s armed forces. Formerly known as Decoration Day, the holiday originated after the Civil War to commemorate both Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the war.

Take some time and  follow these simple, inexpensive and necessary gardening tips to get your yard in tiptop shape.

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Five Ways to Spruce Up:

CLEAN.

It’s not the prettiest task but it is one that can have the most impact. First, give lawns a nice clean cut and trim. Next, rake leaves out of garden beds and borders. Shred or leave them whole and place in a compost pile. Finally, remove tools, debris and the uncoiled hose that may be sitting on the patio.

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WEED.

Another task that’s low on the fun list, but necessary for a clean yard is weeding. Pull any weeds and discard. Do not compost weed seeds.

MULCH.

Adding fresh mulch to the garden makes everything look clean. Mulch with shredded bark, compost or other biodegradable mulch.

FEED.

Now is a good time to apply the second application of your annual feeding program for your lawn. It’s also a good time to give your plants a boost with liquid fertilizer Bloom! to ensure they’re looking their prettiest and peppiest for the party.

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DECORATE.

Colorful flowers do a world of wonder for a garden. Buy annuals and plant them along borders. Choose heat-loving flowers that will bloom all summer. Decorate with colorful containers and place by front door and at focal points. Putting a few plants out around the patio will really set the mood.

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend! If you used any of our tips, let us know! Share your pictures with us on our Facebook page!