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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!

How to Fertilize Trees

Laura from Garden Answer demonstrates how to fertilize a tree using Espoma’s Tree-tone. The slow release formula provides a long lasting nutrient reservoir to feed the entire tree, leaves, trunk, and roots.

 

 

No Way Blue Jay! Keep Birds from Eating Berries

 

Sun-kissed, slightly tart blueberries. Sweet, juicy raspberries. Scrumptious strawberries as sweet as candy. Sugary, tart blackberries.

Who can resist such delightful, fresh flavors right from the garden?

Certainly not local birds! Crows, blackbirds, robins, jays and more swoop in and eat your berries right from under you!

If you’re growing blueberries (or any berries!), you want to make sure you get to enjoy them, not the birds. Here are our tips for protecting your berries from those hungry birds — while still being kind.

Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

If you’re growing blueberries, make sure you get to enjoy them, not this sparrow. Here are our tips for protecting your berries from those hungry birds — while still being kind.

Take Back the Patch — How to Protect Fruit from Birds, Naturally and Organically

1. Location, Location, Location. Plant or move berries away from hedges and larger shrubs since birds like to rest there.

2. Take Cover! When your berries are immature, add a row cover or bird netting. Make sure the netting is secure, so the birds can’t undo it. This is, hands down, the best way to protect berries.

3. A Sprinkle of Sparkle. Tie a shiny bird scare tape, or foil tape, around your berry bushes or plants to deter birds. Birds don’t like the movement or the tape’s bright reflection.

4. A Dash of Pepper. Sprinkle cayenne pepper around your berry plants as they begin to ripen. This method is super easy, but makes it hard to enjoy eating berries as you pick! You have to wash off the berries before eating to remove any remaining pepper.

5. Snack Attack! Install a few bird feeders to encourage birds to eat there — and not your berry bushes!

Victory! Now, make sure your blueberries continue to thrive by feeding with Holly-tone. Keep the soil acidic, too, with Espoma’s Organic Soil Acidifier.

Learn more about growing organic blueberries in our berry guide. You’ll be a pro in no time!

Plant Hydrangeas to Get the Best Blooms

Large, beautiful hydrangeas are a great addition to any landscape. Their bold colors make them perfect for freshly cut or dried flowers. Getting off to the right start in the right location is the difference between a hydrangea bush that blooms for years and one that never does.

Get the beautiful blooms you desire with these hydrangea planting tips.

Care for hydrangeas by planting them in the right spot.

Where should I plant my hydrangea? Choose a spot with moist, well-drained soil. Hydrangeas can grow from 4’ to 12’ in height depending on the variety, so plan accordingly. Most hydrangeas benefit from some shade, especially in hot climates. Too much shade means your hydrangea may not grow flowers.

Check the plant tag to find out how many hours of sun your hydrangea should be getting per day. Panicle hydrangeas tolerate more sun than do other species. And if you live in a region where it gets seriously hot, your hydrangea will need more shade than those grown in colder zones. Hydrangeas in southern climates especially need frequent watering to tolerate that stress.

If you’ve noticed your hydrangea has stopped blooming in recent years, it may be time to evaluate the location. Make sure hydrangeas are still receiving enough daily light and check the growth of nearby trees. Consider moving the hydrangea to a sunnier spot.

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Get Ready to Plant. Once you’ve found the perfect spot, dig a hole twice as large as the hydrangea’s container. Mix in an organic starter plant food, such as Bio-tone Starter Plus, to keep roots strong. Add 1” of compost or Espoma Organic All-purpose Garden Soil to help with nutrients and drainage. Place the hydrangea in the hole at about the same height it was in the container, spreading its roots wide. Backfill the hole with soil and top with 2-3” of mulch.

Water Well. After you plant, water the hydrangea until a puddle forms. Water twice a week for a month. Then water deeply once a week until fall.

The Finishing Touch. Feed blue hydrangeas with Holly-tone to keep the soil acidic. Otherwise, opt for Flower-tone. For the best hydrangea care, feed 2-3 times throughout the growing season, which is spring until fall.

Learn all of our hydrangea secrets in our hydrangea growing guide.

How to Plant Blueberries in Containers

Laura from Garden Answer shows how to plant blueberries in containers and fertilize with Espoma’s Holly-tone. Watch the video below to see just how easy it is!

 

 

$100 Mother’s Day Giveaway from Espoma

This Mother’s Day, it may be a little easier to make mom happy.

Enter the Espoma Mother’s Day Giveaway for a chance to win a $100 gift card.

‘Like’ Espoma on Facebook and beginning May 2nd simply share our Mother’s Day container photo for your chance to win.

Enter the Espoma Mother’s Day Giveaway for a chance to win a $100 gift card.

While you’re at it, tag your mom, aunt, neighbor, sister or best friend who has kids. And dads, don’t forget about the mother of your children! If you win, you can use it to do something nice for any of them.

Give her the gift she’s always wanted, whether it’s a new hydrangea or brunch. Surprise mom today!

But, you have to enter to win so….

One winner will be announced Friday, May 6th and awarded a $100 VISA gift card.

And to all the mothers out there, we wish you a happy Mother’s Day. Thank you for your dedication, support and unending love.

Tried and True: The Best Way to Plant Hydrangeas

Lush, lavish blooms you’ll instantly love! Hydrangeas are like the little black dress of the garden. They’re chic and always in style. Though, hydrangeas will deliver way more wow with their color-changing flowers.

Plant one this season to enjoy its bloom in the yard — or in a vase!

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Say Hi to Hydrangeas with These 5 Easy Planting Steps

Beautiful flowers. Many hydrangea colors. Little care. Super disease and pest resistant.

What’s not to love about growing hydrangeas?

Pick Perfect. Big? Small? Low-maintenance? Color-changing, perhaps? There are SO many wonderful hydrangeas to choose from. Find the perfect one for you here. While hydrangeas typically prefer sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon, there are full-sun hydrangeas.

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Dial Mild. While you can plant hydrangeas at any time, the best time is spring or fall. If you plant in the middle of the summer, they’re going to need lots of attention to survive.

Place and Plant. Once you’ve found the perfect spot (ideally with well-draining soil,) dig a hole twice the width of the hydrangea’s container. Mix in an organic starter plant food, such as Bio-tone Starter Plus, to keep roots strong. Add 1” of compost or Espoma Organic All-purpose garden Soil to help with drainage. Then arrange the hydrangea at the same height it was growing, spread its roots wide and fill the hole with soil. Finish by adding 2-3” of mulch.

Water Well. Right after planting, water the hydrangea until a puddle forms. Continue to water your hydrangea twice a week until it’s established. Then water deeply weekly — or when you see its leaves or flowers wilting.

How ‘Bout Holly. If you’re growing blue hydrangeas, feed with Holly-tone to keep the soil acidic. Otherwise, opt for Flower-tone. For the best hydrangea care, feed 2-3 times throughout the growing season, which is from spring until fall.

Say hello to your new hydrangeas! While they look handsome in the yard, they’ll look even finer as cut flowers inside.    

To learn more about hydrangea care, visit our growing guide. Want to change your pink hydrangea blue? Click here.

Smarty Plants: 5 Easy Planting Tips

Raise new plants that grow as big and mighty as Jack’s Beanstalk with these five tips for planting success. Your new plants will look so perfect your neighbors will think you plucked them right from a fairy tale!

Before you even think about picking up your garden trowel, check out these tips.

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Say Yes to Success: 5 Tricks for Planting New Flowers, Veggies and More  

1. Start with the Best. Make sure you have the right light, space and soil for each plant. Then select plants with shiny, blemish-free leaves that you can easily lift out of the container.

2. Royal Soil. Before planting, test the soil and add necessary amendments. If your soil is lacking, your plants will be too. For an extra oomph, add Espoma Organic Vegetable & Flower Garden Soil or compost to the planting hole. And if direct sowing seeds, mix in an organic seed starting potting soil, so seeds can take root easily.

3. Feed Now… and Later. When planting, mix in an organic starter plant food. Adrianna, an Espoma customer, loves Bio-tone Starter Plus. She can even tell “when the roots begin to take up the plant food because they start to grow MUCH faster.” Bio-tone Starter Plus’ secret is mycorrhizae, which promotes bigger blooms and helps plants get established faster. Continue to feed plants with an organic fertilizer for starter plants. Try our new Start! liquid fertilizer to speed up the process.

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4. Stay Strong Seedlings. Before moving indoor seedlings outside, toughen them up. Otherwise, they may not make it. To help seeds adjust, begin hardening them off two weeks before transplanting. How-to instructions here.

5. Don’t Forget to Water. While still in their nursery containers, water your plants. Then water deeply after planting. Water reduces plants’ stress levels and helps them adjust to their happy, new abode.

Get ready, your organic flowers, veggies and plants are about to be bigger and healthier than ever! You grow, gardener!  

Plain as Day – Find Your Perfect Hydrangea

Who can resist color-changing blooms as huge as snowballs?!

No one! That’s why no garden is complete until it has at least one hydrangea. With their picturesque foliage and magical blooms, these flower shrubs are a constant delight. Plus, hydrangeas are easy to care for — as long as you pick the right variety for your space.

Before choosing what hydrangea to grow, answer these questions. Then check out our hydrangea varieties guide to pick the best for your garden.

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Couldn’t Ask for More! Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Hydrangea

Growing hydrangeas is easy! Simply answer these questions to find a hydrangea variety that will thrive in your garden.

1. How much sun do hydrangeas need? Most hydrangea varieties like a blast of full sun in the morning followed by a nap in the afternoon shade. Though, be sure to check since there are a few hydrangeas that thrive in full sun.

2. What hydrangea color do you want? While color of hydrangeas may seem important, it’s actually not! You can turn blue hydrangeas pink and vice versa. Hydrangea color and saturation all depend on the soil acidity. The only exception? White hydrangeas don’t change color.

3. What size hydrangea would you like? Hydrangeas come in small, medium or large-size. Larger varieties can grow up to 20’ tall and 18’ wide while dwarf hydrangeas are only 3-5’ tall and wide. No matter the size of your garden, you can find a hydrangea that works — even in container gardens.

4. What type of hydrangea to grow? Depending on what type of hydrangea you grow, it needs to be pruned at different times. Make note of what type of hydrangea you have to make pruning easy later on. Here are a few of the most common hydrangeas: bigleaf, oakleaf, panicle and smooth.

5. Is the hydrangea evergreen or deciduous? Evergreen hydrangeas, as their name implies, stay green all year. Most hydrangeas are deciduous shrubs, so they shed their leaves annually.

From hydrangea care to hydrangea fertilization, we’ll be here to help each step of the way as you’re growing hydrangeas. Learn more about growing great blossoms in our Hydrangea Growing Guide.

Fun in the Sun: Best Hydrangeas to Grow in Full Sun

Most hydrangeas prefer only morning sun. Yet one type of hydrangea can soak up the sun all day: the panicle hydrangea. While they can stand the sun, these do just fine in partial shade, too. Plus, panicle hydrangeas are the hardiest hydrangeas.

Here are the best hydrangea varieties to grow in full sun.

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Pinky Winky Hydrangea – As fun to say as it is to look it. The Pinky Winky is everything ombre was meant to be. Its two-tone flowers come back every year and thrive in urban gardens.

Hydrangea Type: Panicle

Shrub Type: Deciduous

Light: Full-part sun

Size: 6-10’ H x 6-8’ W

Zone: 3-8

Blooms: Mid-summer-first frost. 12-15” blooms that open white then transform into a hot, irresistible pink

Features:

  • Fast growing
  • Blooms every year
  • No drooping blooms
  • Can be a hedge or small tree

Soil: Prefers moist, well-drained soil. Will grow in nearly any soil

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Limelight Hydrangea – As refreshing as a lime in summertime! This cool-colored hydrangea is super unique and performs reliably year after year. The Limelight is not picky about much. And, there’s any even cuter, dwarf Limelight!

Hydrangea Type: Panicle

Shrub Type: Deciduous

Light: Full-part sun

Size: 6-8’ H x 6-8’ W

Zone: 3-8

Blooms: Mid-summer-fall. Refreshing, cool chartreuse blooms that fade to pink then beige

Features:

  • Heat tolerant
  • Can be a hedge or small tree
  • Grows in containers
  • No drooping blooms
  • Deep-red fall foliage

Soil: Prefers moist, well-drained soil. Will grow in nearly any soil.

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Quick Fire Hydrangea – A super-fast grower with sizzling blooms!  This hydrangea blooms a full month before other hydrangeas. Then it re-blooms in late fall. Quick Fire, or its dwarf sibling, love to bask in the sun!

 Hydrangea Type: Panicle

Shrub Type: Deciduous

Light: Full-part sun

Size: 6-8’ H x 6-8’ W

Zone: 3-8

Blooms: Mid-summer-early fall. Blooms open white then turn a sweet salmon color

Features:

  • Drought tolerant
  • Repeat bloomer
  • Can be a hedge
  • Works in container gardens

Soil: Prefers moist, well-drained soil. Will grow in nearly any soil.

Now start growing! Want more? Find out which hydrangeas bloom all summer. Learn about the best hydrangeas for beginners. Find out even more about hydrangea care in our Ultimate Hydrangea Guide