Dig Canna, Dahlia and Caladium

Some of our favorite summer show-stoppers like Cannas, Dahlias and Caladiums, need to be dug up in the fall for overwintering. It isn’t a difficult job and you’ll be rewarded with larger and larger plants every year. You’ll also get more of them. That’s how these plants spread.  Besides, it feels good to be outside on a crisp fall day wearing that faded out sweatshirt you love. Let someone else rake the leaves while you divide and conquer.   

Canna

Cannas are amazing planted in the ground. And, rising three to five feet tall, they can really elevate large container combinations. Their rhizomes are modified roots that store the plant’s energy for the next year. The rhizomes of a happy canna can easily double in size after one growing season. Just imagine how showy they’ll be next year.

Digging

In late fall, when the stems and leaves have died back or been killed by the first hard frost, is the perfect time to lift them. Make sure to do it before the ground freezes. First, cut stems back to two inches. Then, use your shovel to cut a circle at least two feet in diameter around the plant’s rhizomes, and gently lift the clump. Using your hands, shake off all the excess soil. If the soil is sticking to the rhizomes, rinse them with the hose until they’re fairly clean.

Drying and Storing

Pick a spot in your garage, basement or someplace dark with good ventilation. It should be at least 70 degrees F. Spread them out on several layers of newspaper. Let them dry for at least a week, it helps to discourage mold. Now they are ready to store. Use paper grocery bags or crates, something that allows airflow to put them in. Look for a cool (but not freezing) dark place to store them like a basement or a garage. Check them now and again to make sure none are shriveled or mushy, discard those as soon as possible.

Planting

Plant the following spring after the threat of frost has passed and the soil has begun to warm. Always add Espoma’s organic Bulb-tone when planting to give them the specialized nutrients they’ll need to flourish.

Dahlias

Dahlias come in hundreds of shapes, heights, sizes and colors. Besides being superstars in the garden they make excellent cut flowers. Some flowers are dinner plate sized and many reach four to five feet in height. They enjoy full fun in moderate climates. Prepare to be wowed!

Lifting

After the first frost, cut the dahlias back to four inches and dig the clumps just like you would have for cannas. The tubers are breakable so, go slow and gently shake off extra soil. No need to rinse them. Let the clumps air dry for several days in a dark place with good ventilation.

Storing

You can pack dahlia tubers several ways. Planting them in large nursery pots with damp soil is one way. Storing them in cardboard boxes, filled partially with damp potting soil, peat moss or vermiculite will also work. It’s also possible to store several clumps in large black plastic bags. Gather the top of the bags loosely so there is still some air circulation. Store in a cool dark place that does not freeze. A frozen tuber is a dead tuber. Check on them now and then, go easy on the water since you don’t want them to be too moist. If they are dry, you can mist them or add some damp organic potting mix.

Planting

In the spring, divide the clump into several with some of last year’s stem. Plant outdoors after the threat of frost has passed and add Bio-tone Starter Plus to help them get a good start.

Caladium

Caladiums are popular for their large foliage in shades of white, red and pink, often in wild mosaic patterns. They like shade to part sun, making them perfect for displaying in less than sunny spots in the garden. There are now a few varieties that are sun tolerant. It will say so on the plant tag. While they do thrive in sun, regular, perhaps even daily watering will be needed.

Lifting

When temperatures begin to fall below 60 degrees F, dig up tubers and leave stems attached. You don’t need to remove all of the soil just yet. Leave them to dry in a cool, dark space for two to three weeks.

Storing

After the tubers have cured, brush off the remaining soil and cut back the withered stems. Store them in a cool dark space. Packing them in sawdust or sand will help keep them from drying out too much.

Planting

You can plant them outside after the threat of frost has passed and the ground has warmed up. They can also be started early indoors. Just pot them up on a good quality potting soil like Espoma’s organic potting mix and give them some Bulb-tone to give them the best possible start.

Here are links to some of our other blogs we hope you will enjoy.

Get Easy Blooms with Spring Planted Bulbs

5 Reasons to Start a Cutting Garden

Winter is Coming – Frost Preparedness

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Fall Flowers Extend the Season In Your Garden and Beauty in Your Home

It’s not too hard to walk through the yard in mid-summer and pick enough flowers for a vase. But, oftentimes, gardens are less showy in autumn. Heare are five winners you should look for now and plant next spring. All five varieties can be grown from seed for pennies. They will liven up your fall bouquets and your fall garden next year. Best of all, three of them dry beautifully and will last all winter. Don’t forget to feed your flowers Espoma’s liquid Grow! fertilizer for the best possible harvest.

Chinese Lanterns

Chinese lanterns, sometimes called Japanese lanterns, have bright orange seed pods that look like puffy lanterns hanging from their stems. These dry beautifully and may be used in arrangements for many months, even years. Their vivid orange color makes them ideal for all things Halloween. You can sow the seeds indoors in the spring or outside directly in the soil. They are vigorous growers and can be grown in pots to keep them in check.

Blackberry Lily

This is a twofer. Blackberry lilies have beautiful, bright orange flowers with deep orange freckles on tall graceful stems. After they bloom, seed is produced inside puffy capsules. In late summer the capsules break open and you’re left with a cluster of black seeds that looks exactly like big, fat, juicy blackberries. The glossy berries look beautiful in fresh or dried arrangements. Together with the Chinese lanterns, you’ll have the ultimate Halloween combination.

Zinnias

Zinnia’s have been garden favorites for hundreds of years because they are so easy to grow from seed and come in so many different colors, shapes, and sizes. They’ll start flowering in mid-summer and bloom until frost, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds. They make outstanding cut flowers and long-lasing bloomers in the garden. They like good air circulation and always water at ground level, wet leaves can lead to mildew. 

Money Plant

Money plant, also called the silver dollar plant is not the same as the house plant. Its botanical name is Lunaria. This lovely annual blooms in spring with bright pinkish-purple flowers but don’t cut them. After they bloom, they develop an oval seed pod. Toward the end of summer, the pod becomes papery and if you carefully rub them the husks and seeds fall off and you are left with a stem of almost transparent, silver dollar-sized disks that look like parchment. They are so unusual and because of their neutral color, they blend well in any bouquet. Throw the seeds back where they came from for and you’ll get more the next year.

Sunflowers

Annual sunflowers now come in a wide range of colors from yellow, orange and bronze to ruby red and even white. They also come in a variety of heights from six feet tall to shorter branching varieties to dwarf varieties that reach just a foot or two. They are all easy to grow from seed and are especially fun to grow with kids because they grow so fast. Cut them early in the morning, when the flower petals are just beginning to open for the longest lasting cut flowers.

Foraging

If you don’t have enough varieties of fall blooming flowers, foraging may be an option. Foraging isn’t legal everywhere but if you have friends or family with some property ask if you could cut some wildflowers. Goldenrod, asters, and tansy can add beautiful and flare to a cut flower bouquet. Think of berries too. Many shrubs have fall berries and many roses offer hips. Don’t forget about adding dried grasses, hydrangeas and foliage with fall color. The most important thing is just to be creative and have fun. Mother Nature already made the flowers beautiful, so you can’t miss.

Here are links to other blogs we hope you’ll find interesting.

Nature Never Goes out of Style – Transition into a Fall Cutting Garden

Create the Perfect Centerpiece for Fall Gatherings

Fall Foliage Adds Spark

Espoma Products – Grow!

Grow! Plant Food

6 Kid and Pet Friendly Plants

Danger could be lurking anywhere when you’ve got kids and pets. That’s why parents do their best to baby-proof and petscape. And when you’re a plant parent, the last thing you want to think about is your real babies or furbabies snacking on your plant babies.

Whether it’s because they’re poisonous or prickly, some plants are just not safe for consumption.

Luckily, many plants are non-toxic and safe for the whole family to enjoy.

Photo courtesy of Costa Farms

Boston Ferns

Not only are Boston ferns safe to have around pets and kids, but they also clean the air every minute of the day. Studies from the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) have found that levels of indoor air pollution can be two to five times— and in some cases 10 times — more polluted than outdoor air. Feed ferns every two to four weeks with Espoma’s liquid Indoor! fertilizer to keep plants growing.

Image courtesy of Costa Farms

Spider Plant

This 70s mainstay and easy care plant is one of the safest you can find. Spider plants also great for teaching small children about plant propagation. Just snip off the babies and transplant into Espoma’s organic potting mix to create more plants.

Christmas Cactus

With their flat green leaves, stunning blooms in pink or lilac and longevity, Christmas cacti can sometimes be family heirlooms handed down from one generation to the next. To trigger blooming, these plants need darkness for at least 14 hours a day and sunlight between 8 to 10 hours a day for six weeks. You can cover your cacti if your indoor lighting is bright to create the needed rest period.

Echeverias

The entire echeveria family is safe for pets and children, although we still don’t advise eating them. This desert native comes in a variety of colors and does best in dry conditions. Echeveria should be watered only once it has dried out. For optimal results, place echeveria in full sun and ensure the soil is well drained. Use Espoma’s Cactus! liquid fertilizer to give succulents the optimal amount of nutrients.

Zebra Plant

Another favorite of succulent lovers, this striking plant gets its name from the horizontal stripes covering its leaves. Growing about 5” tall and 6”wide, the zebra plant is tidy, contained and a perfect addition to any small space. Zebra plants require a moderate amount of sunlight and water.

African Violets

These stunners are known to bloom continuously, even throughout the darker months of winter. Place them throughout the house to enjoy their colors and velvety texture throughout the year.  Once you get in a regular routine of taking care of African violets, you’ll find they’re very easy to grow. All of their basic needs need to be met though, or they won’t bloom. Give them the right temperature, light and a good feeding with Espoma’s Violet! liquid fertilizer, and you’ll be blooming in no time.

Safety First

Tiny hands and paws often find their way into the dirt and end up in the mouth. Picking non-toxic plants is a step in the right direction toward keeping your little ones safe, but go one step further by choosing organic products and soil for your plant babies. Plus, it’s healthy for your plants, and the planet, too.

Espoma Products for Happy Houseplants

Potting Soil

Plant Azaleas in Early Fall

Fall is a great time to plant. First of all, the cooler temperatures make it much more appealing to be outside. Secondly, fall plant sales are the best. Many garden centers offer deep discounts because they don’t want to overwinter plants. Take advantage of these deals to add some spice to your yard and garden.

Photo courtesy of Encore® Azalea

Star of the Show

Azaleas are some of the most beautiful and popular shrubs you can buy. The plants are covered with delicate blooms in spring and summer and many have attractive fall color too. In the right location, they are easy to grow and they’ll soon become the stars of the garden.

Soil and Light

Azaleas are acid-loving plants. That means that they prefer soil with a low pH. Fertilizers like Espoma’s Holly-tone were developed especially for acid-lovers. You apply it once in the spring and again in late fall at half strength. Well-drained soil is also a must. They do best in bright shade. Too much sun can burn the foliage and too little will result in poor flowering.

Photo courtesy of Encore® Azalea

Planting with TLC

Azaleas are shallow-rooted shrubs meaning the roots don’t go deep looking for water. Adding some compost to the soil when planting will help hold moisture around the roots. It’s also a good idea to add Bio-tone Starter Plus to the planting hole. It’s a great starter fertilizer to help make sure your new plant gets established quickly. Water deeply after planting.

Mulching

Fall isn’t the best time to mulch. It can hold warmth in the soil instead of letting the temperatures gently drop, encouraging the plant to go into its natural dormancy. Add a layer of mulch next spring after the soil has warmed up. Bark, pine needles and leaf mold are all good choices.

Photo courtesy of Encore® Azalea

Pruning

Generally speaking, azaleas don’t need to be pruned unless you are trying to reduce their height. In that case, prune the shrubs back after they flower. You can remove dead or damaged branches any time of the year. It is also a good idea to deadhead the flowers once they have finished blooming. That way the plant can use all of its energy to grow bigger and stronger instead of producing seed. Be careful when you snap off the old flowers as the buds for next year are right below them.

Here are some other blog posts we hope you will find interesting.

Step-by-Step: Prep the Garden for Winter

How to Plant Colorful Flowering Shrubs: Azaleas and Rhododendrons

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