Long Term Care Tips For Your Poinsettia

As the holiday season progresses, many of you may notice that your pretty poinsettias start to wilt and drop their leaves. Yes, poinsettias are gorgeous and bring a nice pop of color to long dreary winter days, but they also need a little more pampering than most houseplants to stay healthy and beautiful well into the winter season. We here at Toadflax love our poinsettias, and feel like they are worth the little extra effort needed to stay healthy, so we put together some tips of the trade to help you keep them viable for several months or more.

Choosing the Perfect Poinsettia

When purchasing poinsettias, make sure to take them home as soon as possible. Even though we love our poinsettias in the winter, they are a tropical plant, and as such cannot tolerate cold temperatures. They are typically grown at about 60 to 70 degrees in the greenhouse, and that temperature range is the best to keep them at in the home as well. It is also necessary to keep poinsettias away from dramatic changes between hot and cold, and make sure to not store them anywhere where the temperature can dip below 55°F. Cooler temperatures at night however (around 60 degrees) is ideal for extending their bloom time.

How to Display Your Poinsettia

Choosing the right spot to display your beautiful poinsettia is also important for its longevity. Poinsettias need lots of natural sunlight, so a spot near a sunny window is perfect for them. Just make sure none of the leaves touch the cold glass as the cold will cause the leaves to wither. It is also best to choose a spot away from any cold drafts; needless to say, a perch near the front door will result in a dead poinsettia in no time.

Poinsettia Watering Guide

One common mistake that many poinsettia owners make is over watering. These plants need to maintain hydration, but do not like being overly wet. It is best to wait until the surface of the dirt or compost starts to dry, and then you can generously water them. To keep your bracts (the colored leaves) looking great, try keeping the plant on a pebble tray to maintain that humid environment they love. You should also feed your poinsettia with a regular houseplant fertilizer once a week. If your poinsettia begins to wilt, don’t give up hope and throw it out just yet. Many poinsettias can be brought back to life by soaking their root ball in warm water. Take a bucket of warm water and submerge the root ball for about an hour. Oftentimes, this is all it needs to perk up once again. It is certainly worth a try before you head for the compost pile.

Keep Your Poinsettia All Year Long

Getting your poinsettia to last through the year until the next holiday season can be tricky, but certainly doable. Once March rolls around, you can slowly reduce watering. You should also prune the plant back hard once the leaves drop. At this time you should also keep the plant fairly dry. In early May, you need to begin increasing your watering again. New shoots should start to develop, and you will need to re-pot at this time. Once the poinsettia is well developed again, you will need to feed it once a week with a balanced liquid fertilizer, different from the regular houseplant one you used in the winter months. In mid-October, allow the poinsettia to have about 12 hours of sunlight each day; you can also use an artificial light if needed. The other 12 hours they will need to be kept in the dark, no colder than 65°F. As winter approaches, over the next eight weeks, you will see the green bracts turn to red, just in time for the holiday season once again!  

Deer‐Resistant Perennials and Useful Tips for Planting in the Northeast

You take pride in your landscaping and we take pride in ensuring you, our valued  customers, have a positive experience in creating beautiful areas on your property.

We also know that in this area, we experience issues with deer feeding on our plants and flowers. We have compiled a list of deer‐resistant perennials, as well as some useful tips and options for keeping deer away. A deer‐resistant perennial is defined as a perennial plant or flower that deer may overlook and not eat in favor of a more preferred plant. Some deer‐resistant perennials are:

Broom (Genista tinctoria ) ‐ 3′ tall and wide, zones 3‐8, full sun. Conical‐shaped panicles up to 3″ long of golden yellow flowers adorn this deciduous shrub from spring to early summer. Adapts to poor soil.

Siberian Iris (Iris siberica) ‐ 28″ tall, zones 4‐9, full sun. Beautiful, grassy foliage makes a good contrast in any garden. Drought resistant but also does well in moist soil. Once established, there’s no weeding these expanding clumps.

Juniper (Juniperus sp.) ‐ Grows to a height of 3 to 10 feet with an equal spread. Form can be variable from low and spreading to an erect shrub. Cones are berry‐like. Leaves are evergreen needles but can turn light brown during the winter. Tolerant of a wide variety of soils. Grows best with full sun. Zones 2‐6. Native.

Peony (Paeonia sp.) ‐ 30‐36″ tall, zones 3‐8, full sun to part shade. Variety of colors, bloom times range from spring to early summer. Stunning cut flower. Avoid planting your peony too deeply and be patient with it as it can take a few years to settle in before it begins to flower ‐ the blooms are well worth the wait!

Oriental Poppy (Papaver Orientale) ‐ 30″ tall, zones 3‐7, full sun. Make your neighbors jealous with this superbly beautiful flower. Deeply cupped satiny petals, each with a pure black center, are borne above toothed, hairy foliage. Oriental poppies love to be planted in the fall for bloom the following spring. They love rich soil, feeding, and regular watering.

Potentilla (Potentilla cinquefoil) ‐ 2‐3′ tall, 5′ wide, zones 3‐7, full sun. White, pink, or yellow flowers throughout the summer. Blue‐green foliage, spreading habit. The name comes from the Greek word “potens,” meaning powerful, from reputed medicinal qualities. Enjoy the summer‐long flowering qualities of these selections and your deer will leave the taste testing to the drug companies. These tough, deciduous shrubs thrive in almost any soil.

Spiraea (Spirea sp.) ‐ Grows 2 feet high with 3 to 4 feet spread. Early bloomer with luxurious shows of white flowers. Yellow‐red new growth makes this spirea attractive all season. Best in full sun, tolerates shade, but will flower less. Moist soil. Zones 4 –8.

Ornamental Chives (Allium sp.) ‐ 6‐12” tall, zones 4‐9, full sun. Globe‐shaped flowers fascinate folks with their gravity‐defying structure. Even though many Alliums are all under a foot tall, they will catch your eye, accenting shrubs or borders. Foliage has enough onion smell to keep those deer at bay.

Northern Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica) ‐ Typically grows from 5 to 6 feet high but can reach 10 feet. Spreads easily and forms colonies. Foliage is semi evergreen, aromatic. Will grow well in dry, infertile, sandy, acidic soils. Grows best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade. Zones 2‐6. Native.

Other options include deer fencing, noisemakers, and deer repellents. Fencing seems to be the surest option, but selecting deer‐resistant perennials is highly recommended. Visit the Garden Center and our staff will help you pick the right perennial for the right place.

Fall Decorating Essentials For Home and Garden

Fall … goodbye hot summer days and hello crisp mornings and falling leaves. With the change in seasons, it’s time to also change the decorations, both in your home and in the garden. Here are some of our autumn favorites and maybe you’ll “fall” in love with them too!

Pumpkins and Gourds

pumpkins and gourds displayIt just wouldn’t feel like fall without these traditional mainstays. From tiny Jack Be Little to Dill’s Atlantic Giant that can grow to over 1,000 pounds, pumpkins come in every shape and size, making it easy to spice up your fall display. Add different colors by including white Baby Boo and blue Jaradale with your traditional orange pumpkins. Shapes can be varied too, with the square-like Blue Doll and flattened Cinderella that looks like a cheese wheel. With harder shells than pumpkins, and less “meat” inside, gourds often outlast pumpkins in a display and can last for months if cured properly. From the warty looking skins of some ornamental gourds to the mottled, long necks of the Speckled Swan variety, gourds are sure to add unique colors and textures to any fall arrangement.

Bittersweet

This vine-like plant sports orange-red berries and has a woody stem, adding some more of Fall’s color palette to your autumn display. It can be mixed in with other decorations, used on its own, or made into wreaths- use your imagination!

Cornstalks and Hay Bales

Cornstalks are great for adding height to fall displays, especially when the display is next to a vertical feature such as a lamp post or tall mailbox. Although hay bales are similar in color, they are more useful for creating layers, providing “seats” for other decorations such as pumpkins, and allowing your arrangement to have multiple levels.

Mums

decorating with mumsWe would be remiss if we didn’t include mums, fall’s flower of choice. Either planted in a garden bed or simply in a pot on the porch steps, these beauties can provide long lasting color that’s still around when the trees drop their leaves and the landscape becomes drab. Mix and match colors or plant all the same, the choice is yours! If you’re like us, you’ll find it fun to experiment with all of these seasonal elements until you get the arrangement you’re looking for. If you need help to make it all come together, talk to our friendly Garden Center staff, or even better, let our Retail Services division do all the work for you … just sit back, relax, and enjoy the season!

10 Simple Tips for How to Garden in Small Spaces

If you live in an urban area, don’t want the maintenance of a big garden, or simply don’t have the space for very many plants, your green thumb might need a little help growing the garden of your dreams in the space that you have. With the right design and the proper planning, however, you can do a lot with small space gardening. Here are some helpful tips to get you growing:

1. Decide what to grow

Choose appropriate plants for where you are going to plant them. Some plants must be planted side by side, while others, such as climbing vines, can be planted vertically, giving you color and texture and saving space at the same time.

2. Decide where to grow

If you live in a city apartment, you may only be able to grow plants on your porch or balcony, but if you have a small yard, you may be able to plant directly in the ground. Growing can be successful in either place but location does affect what varieties of plants you can grow.

3. Watering considerations

All plants need water so determine where you will get it from before you plant. Ideally, choose a growing place that is close to an outside water source or not too far from your door if you have to water with a watering can.

4. Decide how to grow

Some plants take a long time to produce either flowers or fruit, while others take less. Decide ahead of time whether you want to plant something that will grow and produce all season, or whether you want to rotate crops. This is true for both flowers and vegetables.

5. Planting budget

Determine how much you want to spend and then find the best price. Sales around holidays such as Memorial Day, Father’s Day, or July 4th are great for saving you a little money.

6. Time and maintenance

If you’re short on time as well as space, choose plants that require less for daily maintenance, are drought and disease tolerant, and can be planted in pots where weeding will be less of a concern.

7. Function or beauty

Before shopping, decide whether you want plants that provide function, beauty, or both. For example, some lilies are beautiful to look at but can also be put on top of salads so you get two-for-one in the same space.

8. Plan for sunshine or shade

Pay close attention to how much sun your chosen garden spot gets every day and at what time of day it gets it. This will help you choose whether you need to buy full-sun plants or ones that are shade tolerant.

9. Use existing structures

Look at how you can add to or enhance existing landscape features. Planting vines that grow up a wall or annuals around an existing lawn statue can provide more color and texture without taking up a lot of space.

10. Have fun

Gardening should be enjoyable so have fun with it! Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect the first time- evaluate what works and what doesn’t and soon you’ll be gardening like a pro!

Now, it’s time to get to work! Following these simple tips will get you growing in the right direction but if you still need a little help, give us a call or stop in to the garden center.    

Garden Planning in Upstate New York

Gardening can be a means to produce food for your family, produce to sell, or a personal hobby that you just enjoy. No matter what your purpose, gardening takes planning in order to experience success.  There are not many homeowners out there who have the perfect garden location or all of the necessary knowledge to perfect the art of gardening, but we have put together some of the most critical information to help you make the most out of your plants and enjoy the many benefits that growing vegetables and feeding your family with healthy foods can bring.

The perfect location is not always possible, but there are a few important things to remember when planning the area you will use.

  • Sunlight is important and your garden will do best if it gets full sun
  • 6 hours a day of direct sun is the minimum needed by most vegetable plants for optimum growth
  • Leafy crops like lettuce and spinach produce reasonably well in a partly shaded location
  • Root crops such as carrots and beets need more light than leafy vegetables, but may do well in a garden that receives only morning sun
  • Fruiting plants such as peppers, tomatoes, and beans are sun worshipers and will yield poorly, if at all, with less than 6 hours of direct sun
  • If your garden is shaded, experiment with the more shade‐tolerant vegetables to see which do best and put the full‐sun plants in containers that can be placed in a sunny area of your yard.

Just like some farm animals, there are also some vegetables that when planted next to one another, do not grow well. Companion planning is something that many amateur gardeners overlook but it could mean the difference between producing crops or not. Certain plants love each other and certain plants hate each other. This system of planning can be complex and even overwhelming, but planning and preparation can often alleviate that. As you gain more knowledge and experience as a gardener, companion planting will become clearer. Some planting techniques are related to health, nutrition, physical compliments, weeds, insect and animal relationships.

Companion Planting Chart for Vegetables

Plant (Vegetable)
Good Companions
Bad Companions
Asparagus
Tomatoes, parsley, basil
Beans
Potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower,
cabbage, eggplant, summer savory, most
other vegetables and herbs
Onions, garlic, gladiolus, chives
Beans, bushPotatoes, cucumbers, corn, strawberries, celery, summer savoryOnions
Beans, poleCorn, summer savory, sunflowerOnions, beets, kohlrabi, cabbage
BeetsOnions, KohlrabiPole beans
Cabbage family (cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, broccoli)Aromatic plants, potatoes, celery, dill, hyssop, chamomile, sage, peppermint, rosemary, beets, onionsStrawberries, tomatoes, pole beans
Carrots
Peas, leaf lettuce, chives, onions, leeks,
rosemary, sage, tomatoes
Dill
CeleryLeeks, tomatoes, bush beans, cauliflower,cabbage
ChivesCarrots, tomatoesPeas, beans
CornPotatoes, peas, beans, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, squashTomato
CucumbersBeans, corn, peas, radishes, sunflowers, lettucePotatoes, aromatic herbs
EggplantBeans, potatoes, spinach
LeeksOnions, celery, carrots
LettuceCarrots and radishes (lettuce, carrots, and radishes make a strong team grown together), strawberries, cucumbers, onions
MelonsCorn, Nasturtium, Radish
Onions(garlic)Beets, strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce, summer savory, leeks, chamomile (sparsely), pepperPeas, beans
ParsleyTomatoes, asparagus
PeasCarrots, turnips, radishes, cucumbers, corn, beans, most vegetables and herbsonions, garlic, gladiolus, potatoes, chives
PotatoesBeans, corn, cabbage, horseradish (should be planted at the corners of the patch), marigolds, eggplant (as a lure for the Colorado potato beetle)Pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, sunflowers, tomatoes, raspberries
PepperOnion
PumpkinsCornPotatoes
RadishesPeas, nasturtiums, lettuce, melons, cucumbersHyssop
SoybeansGrows with anything, helps everything
SpinachStrawberries, eggplant
SquashNasturtiums, cornPotatoes
StrawberriesBush beans, spinach, borage, lettuce (as a border), onionsCabbage
SunflowersCucumbersPotatoes
TomatoesChives, onions, parsley, asparagus, marigolds, nasturtiums, carrotsCorn, Kohlrabi
TurnipsPeas

Table courtesy of http://www.thevegetablegarden.info/companion‐plants

Knowing your hardy zones can also help give you an idea of when to plant vegetables. While many factors such as temperatures, weather patterns and your specific area can determine more details about your planting, it is still helpful for all gardeners to know what to expect and when. Our particular area in South Glens Falls is categorized as a 5A zone.

Each USDA planting zone has its own schedule for sowing seeds. If you’re new to vegetable gardening, you’ll want to know that there is a right time to sow each variety of vegetable seed. By following the rules for both cool and warm season vegetables, you’ll be sure to sow your seeds in the correct window of time, enabling optimum sprouting and yield.

Where and when you plant is vital, but it is also important for gardeners to understand other environmental factors that could hinder crops. Most insects found in gardens are not pests. Many are beneficial, preying on pests or performing other useful tasks.  Many experts agree that gardeners should know the strategies for dealing with insects. This begins with learning about insect life cycles, behaviors, habitats, and diets, and to recognize which are pests and which are actually lending you a helping hand. Experts also suggest the following gardening tips to damage caused by insect pests without harming beneficial insects or drowning your food in harsh chemicals.

  • Grow vigorous, healthy plants.
  • Rotate crops.
  • Choose varieties carefully.
  • Use proper sanitation practices.
  • Check over transplants.
  • Time your plantings carefully according to season and growing patterns.
  • Pick out pests and remove by hand when possible.
  • Use barriers.
  • Consider the use of row covers.
  • Mulch with aluminum foil for small area.
  • Take advantage of natural enemies.
  • Consider natural pesticides when all else fails.
Remember, however, that when managing pests, beneficial insects will move elsewhere if there aren’t enough pests to feed on. Also keep in mind that most pesticides don’t discriminate between beneficial insects and pests. Follow all label directions carefully!

Sometimes, vegetables also get sick and gardeners need to know how to fend off disease‐causing bacteria, viruses, and fungi. But if conditions favor the disease and your plants are weak, the disease sometimes gains the upper hand, often leading to early death of the plants. To minimize the effects of plant diseases on your garden by keeping plants as strong and healthy as you can and to minimize the conditions that favor disease and make it easy to spread.

Vegetables need room to eat and grow and flourish amongst your garden. Square foot gardening is one technique and one way to plant your vegetables. One way to ensure a constant harvest of vegetables is to plant using the square foot method. Select a 4‐foot‐by‐4‐foot section of your garden and divide it into 16 squares (each section is 1 square foot). Each square will have a different number of plants, depending on what you’re growing. Gardening author Charlie Nardozzi suggests:

  • 1 plant per square: Tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, corn, melon, squash
  • 4 plants per square: Lettuce, garlic, Swiss chard
  • 8 plants per square: Pole beans, peas, spinach
  • 16 plants per square: Beets, carrots, radishes, onions

Unless you have a large area for gardening, you are probably confined to a smaller space like most people. The best way to keep a successful garden with organically grown produce on your dining room table is to grow as much as you can, and preserve plenty to eat for when your garden isn’t producing. Consider growing vegetables in 3‐ to 4‐foot‐wide beds with paths in between instead of just creating one large area for your garden. This will maximize space and still give you an opportunity to grow your favorite variety of vegetables.

Grow what you can and grow what you love, but have fun doing it and know that you are doing something healthy and positive for your family when you can put homegrown, fresh vegetables on the table straight from your own garden. When you find vegetables that excel in your garden, growing as much of them as your family can eat will take you a huge step closer to food self‐sufficiency. At the same time, think about what you and your family really like to eat before planning your garden. Vegetables will go to waste if what you grow doesn’t match what you eat. Organic, homegrown produce is more nutritious, delicious and sustainable than the typical store‐bought fare. As you attempt to grow more organic food, be realistic about the time you have to maintain your garden and manage its harvest, and don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Enjoy your garden and reap the benefits by preparing ahead of time, learning as you grow, and finding the little successes when helping your garden reach its potential.

Water It Right

Most gardeners, whether novice or an expert green thumb, know that watering your garden, flowers and plants within your landscaping is vital to their survival and nutrition. Inside and out, you can easily spot plants that have not received enough hydration and are showing signs of drying up and dying a slow death. When the summer months arrive, gardeners all over the country share the same concerns – what the high temperatures and potential water restrictions could do to their plants and flowers. When heat and drought put water supply sources in danger, municipalities must find ways to limit water use in their region to protect the supply and prepare for the demand. Knowing how and when to water your landscaping is important in order to survive the summer months.

Properly watering your garden means taking the time to reflect on your watering practices. In many cases, we know that many gardeners are wasteful and inefficient when it comes to watering plants and flowers. It is important to know your landscaping needs and follow these simple guidelines. In exchange, you will conserve water and bring your garden to life.

  • For established plantings, deep and infrequent watering is recommended. An inch per week (rain plus irrigation) should be sufficient. Applying that inch of water in one deep watering will encourage deeper rooting, which leads to stronger, healthier plants.
  • Check your local water municipality’s summer restrictions, if any. Typically, once per week to fill that inch will fall within the restriction.
  • Shallow, frequent watering, on the other hand, will lead to shallow root systems and high water loss through evaporation.
  • Shallow, frequent watering tends to waste more water than is used and won’t meet the demands of your plants.
  • The best time of day is early morning before the temperatures get too high. It also means  lower winds so less evaporation.
  • Late afternoon is a good time as well, but be sure to leave enough time for the leaves to dry to avoid fungal diseases.
  • A lawn sprinkler may be a good method for the lawn, but it may not be the best way to water a vegetable garden. Pick a device that meets your specific needs.
When deciding on how and when to water your garden or plants, be sure to consider all of the factors that could make or break the success of your landscaping. The devices we use, the times of day we water, and what we water matter. Here at our nursery and garden center, we are prepared to assist you in making sure you have the proper tools and information to help your plants thrive and your garden produce as much as it should during the summer months. Watering your garden shouldn’t result in water waste or inefficient techniques which do not meet the needs of your garden space.