Archive | September, 2012

‘Mum’s the Word

19 Sep

By Linda Kay Harrison

When the days become a little shorter, and the nights a little longer, hardy Chrysanthemums take notice and begin their magnificent fall display of color. Chrysanthemums are one of the most popular perennials in the world, because of their fall blooming habit.  When many other perennials are done for the season, the hardy Mum is just getting started.  A pot of bright colored ‘mums’ is sure to help ease the painful farewell to summer.

Hardy mums come in a wide variety of flower colors, including white, yellow, gold, bronze, red, burgundy, pink, and lavender. Mums grow to about 2 or 3 feet high, depending on the cultivar and growing conditions.  They are easy to grow and are long lasting as cut flowers.

Chrysanthemums work great in pots, but can also go right into the ground.  They need well drained soil, and plenty of sunlight.  They look great planted in masses, but don’t over crowd them, they need good circulation to avoid disease.  To keep your mums a tight and busy plant, it’s a good idea to cut them back to about 8 to 10 inches after they are done blooming, then when the new spring growth is about 4 to 6 inches, pinch or cut back the center of the plant to encourage side shoots to fill in.  Pinching just an inch or two every 3 or 4 weeks is enough.  Then stop pinching by early summer so that flower buds can set. Don’t forget a good fertilize for your mums.  We recommend Dr. Earth Bud and Bloom once a month from early spring to about July or early August for the best fall display.

Check out the beautiful selection of Chrysanthemums at any of our Dennis 7 Dees locations!


Fall Bulbs for Spring Color

14 Sep

By Stacie Palmer of Dennis’ 7 Dees

September through November is THE time to plant bulbs for a succession of color next spring. Ideally, you’ll get your bulbs in the ground before it becomes sopping wet, and in time for root set prior to winter arriving. Why do we plant bulbs now? Spring-blooming flowers that come from bulbs need a period of cooling in order to flower; alas, NOW!

When selecting flower bulbs, choose as many as you have the space and energy to plant! When it comes to bulbs, more (versus less) is the key to big color and presence in spring. Inspect each bulb for a solid, healthy appearance, free of mold. Ideally you will get them planted as soon as possible after you make your purchase. Because life happens, plan to store your bulbs in a cool, dark place until you have the opportunity to dig.

Prior to planting, your soil will need to be enriched/amended . . .don’t skip this step! Work compost into the first 12-18 inches of soil—this is the amending part. You’ll also need on hand fish bone meal and/or Dr. Earth Bulb formula. Plan for about 2 cups bone meal for every 10 square feet of bed space. If using Dr. Earth Bulb formula, follow package directions. (In the spring a water soluble fertilizer solution may be used just when shoots emerge, then no more fertilizing).

The general rule of thumb when planting bulbs is to plant them two to three times deeper than the bulb is tall, with the pointed end UP. Regarding method of planting, you can either use a bulb digger or prepare large areas in which bulbs will be placed together. If some bulbs need to be planted deeper than others, no problem! Simply create mounds of soil within the larger hole, so that the more shallow bulbs are raised up to their needed soil depth. Another method is to simply toss your bulbs in the air, and plant them where they land. Not only is that fun, it also results in a more naturalistic look.

Equally important when planting bulbs is to provide them with nutrients, specifically a good source of phosphorous. For proper root and shoot development bulbs need phosphorous. Most commonly used is bone meal. This component is mixed into the soil just below where the bulb is placed. An alternate to bone meal is Dr. Earth Bulb formula (see above).

Whatever method you choose, once bulbs are placed at the appropriate depth, fill in the hole with soil, then water just enough to support root growth. A word of caution: over-watering newly planted bulbs puts them at risk of rotting long before they have the opportunity to bloom. This is also why you must take the time to amend your soil with compost: improve drainage.

The final step is to apply 2”-3” of mulch over the newly planted bed. Not only will the mulch help maintain optimal moisture level within the soil, it also minimizes fluctuation in soil temperature. Exception (there’s usually one, right?!): small, early blooming bulbs (such as Galanthus/snowdrops)—either apply a thin layer of mulch, or skip it entirely.

Go ahead, plan now to take advantage of bare spots in your beds that will be under trees and shrubs once they’ve lost their leaves. That’s prime real estate for bulb planting! Can’t wait until spring to see the blooms? Plant autumn flowering crocus (Crocus sativus ‘Saffron’) NOW! These sweet little lilac purple flowers each produce 3 fancy red stigmas, which is the source of saffron. Plant a couple dozen of them and harvest enough saffron to use in a few delicious meals.

Careful planning will result in bodacious blooms from January to June! Better yet, nearly all of the bulbs we commonly grow in our area are deer resistant! Round up your compost, shovel or bulb digger, bone meal, and fresh spring blooming bulbs. . .it’s planting time!


Planting in the Fall Makes Cents!

6 Sep

by Linda Kay Harrison

At the garden centers, we are often asked, “Is fall REALLY a good time to plant?”
The answer is… “Actually… yes!”

In the Pacific Northwest almost anytime is a good time to plant; but there really ARE some very good reasons to do it in the fall.

When new plants are installed in the spring or summer they have to go through the stressful heat of the summer with a small root system.  They are often expected to bloom and sometimes even produce fruit under these stressful conditions. That can take a lot out of a young plant.

By filling your beds in the fall, your plants miss out on most of that stress. With the days being shorter, photosynthesis slows and stops, so plants aren’t actively growing. They go dormant and often don’t even know they’ve been moved.  Even though the air is cooler, the ground is still warm, so the roots keep growing for weeks or even months without having to produce nutrition for growth or blooming. By the time your plants ‘wake up’ in the spring, their roots are strong and pretty well established in their new home.

You’ll also want to plant with plenty of Black Forest compost to break up that nasty clay soil, and give the roots something to work with over the winter.

One more great reason to plant in the fall… BARGAINS!  Even though the selection may be smaller, the sales and specials are fantastic!  You can save a lot of dollars, and that makes a lot of ‘cents’.

So when you tuck those plants into their beds for the winter, you can feel confident knowing that you saved a bundle, and your new plants will ‘wake up’ happy and ready to grow in spring.

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