Now that spring is here, I bet you are chomping at the bit to start filling planters. Planters can be used for annuals, perennials, vegetables, shrubs, trees and succulents. Choosing the correct planter size will improve plant health. If you think of a planter as your plant’s home, you might be more inclined to consider the importance of the planter size and shape. These factors impact the air:water ratio within the soil. Other factors include drainage and planter material. Believe it or not, taking the time to select the right pot is a big part of growing outdoor plants that thrive.
The most common pot materials are plastic, fiberglass, resin, and terracotta, or clay. Plastic, fiberglass and resin pots are colorful, lightweight and low-cost. They tend to retain moisture, so you'll water less frequently. Choose plastic when weight counts, such as with hanging baskets or plants on a wall shelf. Resin pots can be made from recycled materials, making them earth-friendly. In addition, resin withstands expansion and contraction with weather changes, and is very lightweight. Terracotta pots are heavier, offer beautiful patterns and typically cost more. These pots are porous, so plants need water more frequently. Once filled, a large terra cotta pot may be too heavy to move without help. Terracotta is the perfect choice for plants that like dry or well-aerated soil, including cacti, succulents, orchids and bromeliads. Porous ceramics like terracotta will dry more evenly than plastic pots, and any wood planter will dry even faster than terracotta.
Always select planters with drainage to prevent root rot. It's totally possible to make planters without drainage work with a little finesse:
Knowing that for containers with identical volume, tall, narrow pots dry out faster than short, wide pots. Steer clear of choosing a tall, narrow pot for plants that like to be kept uniformly moist at all times. That same tall, skinny pot could be perfect for a specimen cacti.
Conversely, a short and wide bonsai dish style pot could be ideal for carex or iris plants that naturally live in bog-like conditions and like to be kept wet. Although you’ve probably seen succulents planted in narrow containers. This only works if that same short and wide bonsai container has a succulent soil-less mix and has drainage holes located in the container’s base. A tall narrow container would be more ideal for succulents.
A plant's roots need room to grow in whatever container you choose. If the roots are restricted, it can affect the plant's ability to thrive. Containers that restrict roots can affect a plant's flowering, nutrient uptake and photosynthesis along with plant yield. (This is why you want to plant root-bound nursery stock in appropriate containers sooner rather than later in order to keep them healthy.) Containers that allow for more soil between the side and bottom of the container and plant roots protect the roots from hot and cold temperature extremes. Plants growing in a planter box without adequate space for root development may exhibit certain symptoms that can alert you to a problem. Plants with compacted roots will exhibit reduced growth. Chlorosis, which is a yellowing of leaves often caused by a plant's inability to take in key nutrients, is often seen in plants with inadequate root systems. You can also watch for other symptoms of restricted root growth, including dropping of new leaves, small leaves, stunted growth and plant wilting.
Planters for Vegetables
For most plants, a 6-to 8-inch-deep planter is sufficient. The depth may vary for some vegetables, however. Turnips, cucumbers, broccoli, beets, lettuce and green onions can all grow well in a planter box at that depth, but other vegetables, like cabbage, need a deeper depth of at least 10 inches. Vegetables like tomatoes, carrots and peppers require a deeper container of at least 12 inches. To make sure any vegetable root balls have adequate growing space, leave 2 inches of space on the roots' sides and 6 inches on the bottom.
Planters for Flowers
Annuals flowers most often have a shallow root system and grow well in a planter box with an 8-inch depth. Perennials, like bulbs, require a deeper planting box depth. Large bulbs require a planting depth of 8 inches, which means the planter box should allow for the 6 inches needed at the bottom, as discussed earlier, making the depth at least 14 inches. Most smaller bulbs are planted at 3 to 4 inches deep, so they would do fine in a planter box with an 8-inch depth. Reading the package or container planting instructions can help when determining proper planter box depth.
Planters for Trees and Shrubs
Planters need to be large enough to allow sufficient root development relative to the top growth and to anchor the tree when the wind blows. Even the smallest trees (except perhaps the smallest dwarf conifers) should have pots of at least 20 inches across. You can undersize the pot if you compensate with diligent watering and feeding, but generally, the larger the pot, the better. Adequate pot size will minimize the stress of fluctuating soil temperatures and moisture. A well-sized pot for a tree placed on a deck should prevent it from tipping in a windstorm. Pots also need to be frost-proof and resistant to UV damage. Wooden, fiberglass, cast concrete and high-grade plastic are most desirable. Planters must drain freely to prevent waterlogged roots. According to Monrovia Growers, taller shrubs and trees should be planted in containers ⅓ of the plant’s height.
As you’ve learned from this blog, there’s more to selecting the right container for your outdoor plant than picking a pretty pot. Be assured that paying attention to air:water ratio will help your plants thrive in their outdoor containers. For design ideas, read our previous blog, Color Combinations for Your Containers. Enjoy making your outdoor spaces more colorful!
In case you missed it.....
"I realized when you look at your mother, you are looking at the purest love you will ever know."
Spring will be in full swing by Mother's Day. What better way to honor the sweet woman who raised you than by choosing a unique gift which celebrates her devotion to her garden? Mothers of all ages would be grateful to receive any of these charming presents. Hoping you get to spend quality time with your mother this Mother's Day!
When performed properly, pruning maintains the health and beauty of a tree. It is a blend of science and art. If done hastily and improperly, it can cause irreversible damage and introduce diseases and pests. Every pruning cut is a wound, and done correctly allows the tree to heal itself. There are common mistakes to avoid when pruning trees and shrubs:
Pruning Without Purpose
Knowing what you are trying to achieve determines the tools you will use and the cuts you will make. Why prune plants? Some reasons include:
Over the decades I have fond memories of creating a children’s garden with my four children (now grown). In the 1990’s I started my first perennial and annual garden and had many successes and failures. I’d like to share some of my lessons learned and my favorite easy-to-grow seeds. I call these my ‘toss and grow’ seeds. You basically toss them into the ground, rake a little soil over them and water.
Zinnia: These are my favorite and top the list because: deer and rabbits do not eat them, they come in a variety of colors, heights and sizes. The flowers make excellent bouquets and the plants thrive with the pruning from cutting the flowers. They require full sun and air circulation to prevent mildew.
Cosmos: These are second on the list as they are also deer and rabbit resistant. They come in a variety of colors and sizes. The only reason they are not number one is that they tend to self seed and come back as their parent plant...tall (3’ or more) and all pink/purple. The finches love to eat the seed heads in the late summer. In your fall clean up, be sure to remove these plants at the end of the season.
Cleome: These are literally toss and grow seeds. These seeds need light to germinate, so you don’t even need to rake soil on top of them. The flowers are pink, purple, white and fuchsia. They will self-seed and also resemble their parent plant. Remove the seed pods before they burst or leave them for larger flowers the following year. However if your original seeds were short and a unique color, the self seeding will be tall and pink/white. Deer and rabbit-resistant is another big pro to this prolific bloomer!
Pumpkins : We have had so much fun growing Cinderella pumpkins. Once we even received a citation from the municipality because a grumpy person didn’t like the leaves growing on the broken, public handrail near the garden. We had a good giggle at this. Choose seeds that have a short growing cycle so they are ready for fall carving. Be sure to throw out old pumpkins because decaying pumpkins attract rats, deer, and other rodents.
Nasturtium: These flowers have large seeds and a high success rate, making them wonderful for children to plant. The flowers are also edible! They come in a variety of colors. Deer tend to avoid this peppery- flavored plant. An old-fashioned plant, nasturtiums deter pests by masking the scent of plants commonly targeted. The strongly-scented leaves actively repel certain pests and attract others as a “trap crop.” Nasturtiums can be planted as a sacrificial companion crop to attract cabbage white butterflies. This way, they’ll lay their eggs on your nasturiums, not your brassicas: broccoli, cabbage and kale. Nasturtiums can also help repel insects from eating your cucumbers and squash. Lastly, this charming plant’s blooms are important pollinators for bees and hummingbirds.
Other plants which are easy to grow but unfortunately, tasty to deer, groundhogs and rabbits are:
For plants that readily self-sow, the cycle begins when spent flower heads drop their seeds in autumn, and the seeds germinate in the spring as the soil warms. Seeds from heirloom flowers grow true to the parent stock. Hybridized seeds regrow with a variety of characteristics from the plants used to create the hybrid, so results are unpredictable. What you get is fun if you’re open to all of the possibilities. But if you selected the hybridized seeds for a specific quality, such as height, you might be unhappy with seedlings from the previous year’s flowers.
Be sure to read seed labels for spacing and sun requirements. Always plant once the soil has warmed and the risk of frost has passed. If you don’t have a sunny garden spot, consider planting some seeds in a pot on a bright deck or patio. Happy Planting! And Happy Spring!
As temperatures rise, people like us (avid gardeners) flee to warm and inviting greenhouses to herald the beginning of spring. Filling your pots with the proper soil mixture ensures long blooms and healthy potted plants. We’ve spent several blogs on container gardens (link) and design. In this blog, we will explain what soil is best for potted plants and how to purchase or create your own.
Potting Soil Myth
“Potting soil” actually doesn’t contain soil. It is a soilless blend of ingredients used to grow plants. Regardless of what you are planting, the differences between good quality potting mixes and soil are:
In general, soil straight out of your garden is too heavy, drowns roots and prevents air circulation in pots. Tip for success: Do not buy bagged garden soil or use soil taken from or intended for garden planting. Potting soil and garden soil are not interchangeable.
Before purchasing or making your own potting mix, it is always a good idea to start with these questions:
Why Potting Mix Matters
Potting mixes are lightweight, retain moisture, and they supply plenty of air space around the roots. Air space is actually one of the most critical aspects of potting mix. If the roots don’t have enough air, a plant usually doesn’t survive. Although the ingredients tend to vary, good mixes always contain an organic component (peat moss, compost, bark), vermiculite or perlite (to help retain moisture), sand, nutrients and limestone. Some contain fertilizer or moisture-retaining treatments, usually indicated on the label. Knowing what is in the potting mix is key to determining whether it will be a good match for the plants you are trying to grow. General potting mixes will work fine for most annuals and vegetables grown in containers, but they may hold too much moisture for orchids, succulents or cacti. Specialty mixes are sold for these plants and, while not absolutely necessary, can provide benefits. (Emma Erler, a landscape and greenhouse field specialist at the University of New Hampshire Extension)
Potting Mix Ingredients
Educating yourself on the basic ingredients is a good way to determine the best potting mix for your needs.
For a review of the best gardening soils to purchase, try the links below. Nowadays, it is hard to decipher whether the review is being sponsored and if reviews are honest. Regardless, these sites contain some useful information. There are some excellent quality bagged soils available. Just make sure to read the labels to ensure the ingredients match your plant’s needs.
If you are a DIY, you can easily make your own potting mix, and even include children in the process. Be sure to know what you plan to grow. Use the recipes to create a mix to best care for your plant. Happy Spring Planting!
6 DIY Potting Mix Recipes from Savvy Gardening
Don’t let the winter blues get you down. Spring will be here soon. Take advantage of these last few weeks of hibernation to consider getting a head start so you can hit the ground running. The theme of a winter garden to-do list is anticipation. While you hum the Carly Simon ballad, dream up a crop of fresh gardening goals. Research new plants you’d like to try this year. Below are some ideas to motivate your spring planning.
Swap Plants. If you have plants that are ready for dividing, consider sharing. Get together or video chat with some gardening friends and organize a plant exchange for spring. Think about what plants need dividing and coordinate with your group on who, what, where and when you’ll host a garden swap. This article from Homestead Brooklyn has some great planning tips: How to Organize a Plant Swap Like a Pro.
Plan a low-effort garden. If you’ve got a busy summer planned, consider planting pots in self watering containers (available online and garden centers) and plan your drought tolerant containers. Window boxes, which can be difficult to water, benefit from self- watering window boxes. Swallowtail Garden Seeds is an informative resource with pictures for drought tolerant plant ideas.
Take inventory of your tools. Buy any tools you need so you’re prepared when spring arrives. Care for your tools by cleaning and sharpening them. Create a cleaning station for your hand tools for the growing season. Sanitizing pruning shears prevents the spread of disease between plants. Garden Betty has an informative blog on making a DIY tool cleaning station.
Get Healthy. Get soil healthy by taking a soil test. Purchase it from a hardware store or your local extension office. Now is the time to start the testing process so that you have results in time to amend your soil in the spring.
Start composting with worms. A great approach to recycling and producing natural fertilizer is vermiculture. It takes about one year to reap the benefits. If done correctly there is little to no smell and no rodents. For more information read this article called: Worm Composting Basics for Beginners.
Create Buzz: Help your garden and local farmers by attracting and supporting pollinators. Use the winter to evaluate your yard and determine how you can create an environment that attracts pollinators. Bees, bats, hummingbirds, butterflies and more are needed for a healthy environment. This beautifully illustrated guide by the US Fish and Wildlife Service is worth the download.
Incorporate Native Plants: Commit to planting one native plant. Native plants support local wildlife, thrive in your environment and therefore require less care and chemicals. Native plants adapt to our local climate and conditions, provide food for native animals and insects, support native pollinators, are low maintenance and support biodiversity. The DCNR provides native plant lists for your area. PA natives are listed on DCNR website.
Purge: Eliminate at least one invasive plant in your yard. Non-native invasive plants become established in the wild and prevent native plants from growing. Many people have invasives in their yard and don’t realize it. These invasives don’t support the local flora and fauna. Eliminating an invasive plant once and for all saves you time from weeding out new shoots, and gives your other plants a fighting chance. Even though it is hard to justify ridding your yard of a thriving plant, you’ll support our woodlands and wildlife by eliminating invasive plants like: burning bush, Japanese barberry, Japanese honeysuckle, and tree of heaven. The Smithsonian lists the top six invasive plants in the United States on their insider website. For the most extensive list of invasive plants specific to where you live, contact your county extension office.
A harsh winter like this one makes the arrival of warm breezes and spring blossoms all the sweeter. As you anticipate the thaw, commit to game-changing, practical steps to maintaining a healthy landscape.
With the holidays approaching, we’ve compiled a list of items any home gardener would like to receive. The common theme here is pragmatic and affordable. Prices for gifts range from $10-$80. Each of these items serves a purpose, whether it is to start a cutting garden or protect your hearing. When you decide you want some of these items, remember to share the link with your loved ones.
This kit is perfect for the budding flower grower and contains all the essentials to kick off a successful growing season. Save 10% off individual retail prices when you purchase this collection that includes:
Rose Success Kit
Grow your loveliest roses yet with our top three rose products, and save money too. We've put together everything you need to ensure healthy, abundantly blooming roses.
Hand selected for color and form, these special assortments of Floret's cutting garden favorites are guaranteed to create abundant, foolproof bouquets all season long.
Galvanized Flower Caddy
Unique flower caddy goes from garden to house with ease. This rustproof and watertight container carries cuttings or displays seasonal bouquets. Vintage-inspired caddy is made up of four conjoined French flower market buckets, which give it stability as well as unique style. Galvanized-and-wood handle for single-handed carrying ease. Gather long-stemmed blooms, dogwood, willow branches, winterberries, and more. It's actually perfect for picking; with a little water in each bucket, cuttings will stay fresh until you can get them indoors.
These winter shrub and small tree protectors are superior to burlap, and will last for years. Cut this durable and flexible coconut husk fabric to size with scissors. You invest a lot of time and money to purchase and care for your plants. Protect them from sun scald, wind, snow and salt spray.
Crescendo Gardening Ear Plugs are the first ear plugs designed especially for gardening and yard work. Whether you are just whacking a few weeds or working toward that picture-perfect golf course quality lawn, Crescendo Gardening is the perfect way to ensure your hearing stays protected while you work. And thanks to the enormous selection of home and garden gadgets available today, keeping a nice lawn and a beautiful garden has never been noisier. These great ear plugs provide NRR 16 hearing protection overall, with up to 25dB of protection at some frequencies.
Crescendo Gardening Package Includes:
2 sets of interchangeable tips (small and large)
1 set of interchangeable Gardening sound filters
1 rugged aluminum screw-top carry case with key chain
Deep Drip Watering Stakes
$7-$10 each (pending length)
Plant roots will reach and grow towards where they find water. DEEP DRIP® stakes release water deep into the ground, encouraging plant roots to grow deep into the soil, instead of coming up to the surface looking for a surface/shallow water source. Deep root watering leads to healthier, stronger, and of course, deeper roots. Deep seated roots also help to prevent tree uprooting during strong winds, hill erosion, and damage to structures, foundations, and sidewalks that could otherwise be caused by uprooting.
Mechanic's supplies help you lay the foundation for beautiful arrangements that stay in place. Pin frogs allow you to securely arrange heavy, woody branches in even shallow vessels. Hairpin frogs allow you to insert stems at any angle and create lush, trailing bouquets.
This gorgeous journal brings the beauty of Floret to every note and memory. With seasonal photographs of glorious blooms and inspiring quotes about the natural world throughout, this is the perfect companion for any flower lover.
This list is certainly not exhaustive. But it should inspire our family and friends to select a gift we’ll actually use more than an ugly Christmas sweater! Some of our blogs compliment these gifts, so be sure to read during the holidays and share the links with your friends and family.
Many gardeners pack away their container inspiration when they empty and store their outdoor pots for the long winter. When days shorten and grays and browns dominate our view, color and plant form (height, shape, texture) are vital to four-season interest in our gardens and landscape. A perfect way to brighten our front doors, patios, and sidewalks is with a seasonal arrangement that’s intended to be outside.
My piano teacher, Andrea (If you're need an amazing piano teacher in Pittsburgh, visit her website.) greets her students with seasonal decorations and tastefully decorated pots. I have always admired her beautiful and creative front porch inspirations. Her pots are coordinated with her handmade wreath and entrance decorations creating a welcome and seasonal vignette.
Creating a winter container is not difficult and can be inexpensive if we incorporate cuttings from our garden. When choosing plants for winter containers, the general rule for plant survival through the winter is to use plants hardy to at least two zones colder than your USDA Hardiness zones. Many trees, shrubs, and perennials that are hardy in your zone will live and even thrive in containers through all four seasons. A frost-proof pot, like fiberglass, lead, iron, heavy plastic and stone will work. A drainage hole is necessary. Terra cotta is not advisable because this material eventually expands and cracks with repeated freezing and thawing.
Assemble your designs early enough for plants to acclimate to new pots before freezing. Also, winter containers usually need to be checked monthly for water. When soil is frozen solid, watering is no longer necessary. Apply an anti-desiccant such as Wilt-Pruf to broadleaf evergreens and branches of cut greens to protect against drying winds.
If you prefer a low maintenance pot, select non-living elements such as branches, dried or silk foliage, mosses, orbs of a variety of natural materials, and artificial embellishments such as holiday ornaments, ribbon, and fairy lights.
Cool Winter Container Design Tips
When it comes to design consider these tips:
Strong lines and architectural forms: Sheared boxwood or topiaries create living architectural forms.
Contrast Shapes: Spike and round (Yucca & Berries) or geometric and loose (sheared round boxwood and grassy leaves of dried grass or sedge).
Strong Vertical form: Young columnar arborvitaes or junipers act like an explanation point and draw attention. Mix in boughs of pine or cypress greens as contrast. Strive for complementary colors and textures.
Mix dark and light foliage: Plant a young holly and add branches from a white birch. The white birch branches will pop against the dark holly branches. Add seed pods, pinecones, or any natural elements to make the pot your own.
Silver hues and whites shimmer with night lighting. Lambs ear or a silver-leaved coral bell (Silver Scrolls), reflect light.
Attractive containers provide mass, bold texture and color. This grouping makes a tasteful statement.
To make a pot stand out, add reflective colors such as silver, gold, and even white. It is easy to spray paint pine cones, branches, and twigs of artificial berries. Add cuttings with contrasting leaf shape, such as large magnolia leaves and cypress for an eye-popping arrangement.
Monochromatic colors are a calming approach to container designs.
Don’t forget to repurpose your hanging baskets and window boxes for winter container gardens.
Choose a focal element for the eye to rest and to attract attention. A focal element can be a plant, added greens, pot...have fun.
Transform potted evergreens with holiday decorations, bows of evergreen magnolia, holly, or pine branches.
Mix in fruit (preferably fake to deter animals and rodents).
Embellish with oversized seasonal ornaments.
Architectural accessories give structure and prominence.
We’ve scoured the internet for inspiration and created a list of plants and decorations to use in your winter containers. Use them as guides for your own creations.
Fresh Cut Boughs—Seasonal branches and berries:
Hopefully these pictures and the ones below will inspire your next cool weather container garden! For even more examples check out my winter container garden board on pinterest .
One way to think about creating your garden is to compare it to a musical. The bones give it the
beat or rhythm that you can tap your foot to throughout the seasons.
You're familiar with the phrase, "This house has good bones." Like a home, a garden must also have "bones" that provide structure through all four seasons. Fall and winter are the best time for the gardener to assess and reevaluate gardens and landscapes. Would adding some boulders or a stone bench balance your front garden in the months when flowers aren't blooming? Do you have enough shrubs and trees to serve as the bones of your garden through all seasons? If not, fall is the perfect time to plant them so their roots can spread and establish. Does your garden contain plants that stand out in the fall? Does your large perennial bed contain a balanced variety of bloom color, height, texture, and shape? Have you transplanted flowers which are hidden, or were planted in the wrong spot? These are a small sample of the questions we should ask ourselves this time of year.
Each landscape is dynamic, ever changing, and transforming. Plants and bulbs will multiply. Shrubs and trees sometimes exceed our growth expectations in a few seasons. Reevaluation in the fall is the way the most successful gardeners keep tabs on their outdoor spaces. So walk around outside, take photos, and make notes in your garden journal. Set yourself electronic reminders for when to tackle these tasks.
Why are the bones of the garden important? They provide structure, dimension, and foundation for the rest of the plantings on your property. Bones offer winter interest and can be living like a hedge or inanimate like an arbor, fence or gate. Bones are the first design element to consider when updating or starting from scratch.
For those who live in climates with all four seasons, it is worth considering what your garden looks like when deciduous plants have lost their leaves. It is best to evaluate the bones of your garden when all the flowers have faded and plants have dropped their autumn leaves. Views from within the house and those seen by the public are especially important. Southern gardeners also benefit from starting with a strong backdrop to support the continuous seasons of flowers and greenery. Bones of a garden include structure, rhythm and winter interest. They serve as the backdrop for the landscape. Without good bones, a garden looks like a sloppy, hodgepodge collection; the result is unpleasant on the eyes. Even perennial and casual country gardens have bones. Purposefully including garden structure gives the gardener the luxury to splurge purchase a favorite plant without creating a mismatched landscape.
One way to think about creating your garden is to compare it to a musical. The bones give it the beat or rhythm that you can tap your foot to throughout the seasons. Certain plants dance in the chorus line and during the various acts, star performers take center stage. Some plants, like those with a beautiful voice, command more attention than others, like the color yellow or variegated foliage. In the winter, the star performers are the bones of the garden.
If you prefer a gray- green color theme, use the varied sized blue spruces. Iseli fastigiate is tall and narrow, globe type is lower and round. Pancake or Bowling ball (cypress) offer a shrub layer. Heuchera leaves have all- season silver interest. Special note about variegated foliage: for example, Daphne, boxwood, certain iris, and others. Use these unique plants with interesting foliage as focal points or place in areas to attract attention. Too much variegation looks busy and fussy. Variegation also does not show up well against light- colored backgrounds, such as pale stone, white or vanilla- colored brick, light siding, and white fences.
With some thought and planning, using color to offer structure is easier than you might think.
Texture is another way to create rhythm and bones. For example, if you are a collector of daylilies, ornamental grasses, hydrangeas, or camellia, you can provide rhythm by repeating your collection throughout the landscape. Then mix in contrasting foliage to make your favorite plants pop. For example, for grasses or daylilies, add oakleaf hydrangea or other large-leaved plants, or strongly structured evergreens.
Perennial, English or Cottage Gardens
While all landscapes benefit from having a strong foundation, it is even more critical for perennial, English or cottage gardens. Without structure or rhythm, these areas may look weedy and hodgepodge. There are a couple of ways to create rhythm. First, you can use evergreens or structural elements like trellises or obelisks and repeat them within the bed. Second, plant larger structural herbaceous perennials like ornamental grasses, baptisia, peony, or cohosh or large hostas and repeat like you would a shrub. Then add your favorite perennials in between. Another option is to create groupings. Each grouping would include 4-6 plants, one for each season: early spring, late spring, early summer, late summer, fall, and winter. Repeat these groupings throughout the planting beds. Perennials tend to only bloom for 2-3 weeks, so varying seasonal bloom time ensures color and visual interest throughout the year.
When creating or evaluating your existing landscape, the first step is to evaluate its bones. Do you have too many star performers stealing the stage? Is there one season when your garden appears flat and one-dimensional and could benefit by adding the height of a flowering tree or tall evergreens? What does your landscape look like in the winter? What is creating a beat? Is it color? Evergreens? Hardscape? Keep views in mind as you evaluate the landscape. In a front yard where traffic may travel quickly, use bold statements of rhythm with strong color or structural evergreens. For informal gardens, or gardens experienced while strolling or meandering along a path, you have the opportunity to use more subtle forms of structure, like groupings of perennials. Remember that creating the bones of your landscape doesn’t have to be the repetition of a tightly sheared, round boxwood. There are infinite ways to achieve good bones in your own garden. Each method is a chance to infuse the landscape with your personal style and creativity.
Hope springs eternal when the gardener spies the first green sprouts of the crocus. Amongst the backdrop of drab greys and browns, the bright green almost looks like a color image superimposed onto a black and white photograph. Do you have flowering bulbs in your gardens that will greet you with their optimistic green shoots next spring? Bulbs are a breeze to plant, and don’t require your attention for most of the year. Flower bulbs are one of nature’s miracles; everything they need to bloom is contained in the bulb. Fall is the time to plant. To ensure bulbs are protected from critters, here are some tips.
Avoid Tasty Treats
There’s nothing more discouraging than to discover that chipmunks, squirrels, deer, skunks (yikes!,) dogs or cats have unearthed our bulbs. The simplest strategy is to plant bulbs they dislike: daffodils, alliums, hyacinths, gritillaria, and snowdrops.
Hide your Tracks
Disguise any clues that something tasty is in the ground. Chipmunks are territorial and squirrels are curious, and freshly dug soil invites investigation. Spreading mulch will help hide the evidence of newly planted bulbs. Recent studies have proven that adding bone meal to the planting hole in fact encourages critters. Instead, work some slow-release fertilizer into the planting hole.
Plant bulbs inside a wire or plastic cage. These are effective, but can be costly if you are planting many bulbs. A plastic cage that holds 6 bulbs costs about $7. You can build your own (link) using 2” mesh such as chicken wire. While this will deter digging, it is not full proof. Hardware cloth is another alternative, though it is much more difficult to work with.
You can purchase repellent or use crushed stone or oyster shells. The gritty texture deters digging and chewing. To use, sprinkle in the hole both under and over the bulb when planting. Feed stores usually carry crushed oyster shells. Purchased repellents only last for a specific period of time, so the crushed stones or shells is a longer- term solution. In addition to deer repellent, spreading granulated garlic or crushed pepper flakes will discourage snacking.
The month of October is the perfect time to plant spring-flowering bulbs. Just follow my instructions to ensure they are not disturbed by curious critters. For a small investment in time and money, you will be rewarded for years with cheerful pops of spring color.
Thank you for finding us! Holly and I have collaborated to bring you informative, fun, and seasonal garden inspiration blogs.
Subscribe to receive our blogs on the 1st and 15th of the month--Gwen
Follow my landscape & garden design Pinterest Page to see more pics, inspiration and Gwen's home garden journey!
Gwen Wisniewski: Landscape and Garden Designer. Contact me. Let me help you integrate these garden inspirations. Choose the links below to find out more about my landscape design service or to make an appointment.