Archive for January, 2010

January: Gardening Activities

Our Average Daily High Temp for January in Michigan is 28°.

I look at January as the planning month. Since the majority of the northern states are usually covered with snow during this month, it is an excellent time to create a garden plan.

Hopefully you have take photos of your garden during the active months or you can remember what is where. Take some time to draw a layout of your garden and label where each plant is in the garden. Then decide if there are any changes you wish to make in plant layout. Also, make note of any plants that may need to be moved or divided. Next decide if there are any new garden projects you want to complete this year.

January is an excellent month to go back and page through your favorite gardening magazines for new ideas or new plants. Once you have a plan in place decide which plants you need to purchase this spring. Garden Crossings offers an early order discount for orders placed in January. This also helps you reserve the plants that you know you need. Remember, Garden Crossings also has a policy that you can place your order anytime, but you do not pay until your order is shipped.

Most of January’s activities are inside activities, but don’t forget to brush the snow off bushes, evergreens or small trees. The light fluffy snow will not cause much harm and is beautiful, but wet heavy snow or ice can damage your plants. Plants which are dormant tend to be more brittle and can crack off easily with the weight of the heavy snow.

Lastly, remember to feed your feathered friends. With greater amounts of snow covering the ground, birds can have a hard time finding food. Even if you are not a bird watcher, they can add life to a cold inactive garden.

To-Dos:

Create a Garden Plan
Go through past issues of your favorite gardening magazines
Organize your new projects and things you want to change
Began placing orders to reserve your new plantings
Brush heavy snow from bushes, evergreens or small trees
Remember to Feed the birds
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Caring for Your Echinacea

Preferred Conditions: Echinacea prefers to be planted in locations with moderately fertile, well-drained soils. They do not perform well in locations with poor drainage or soils that remain constantly damp. Provide ample water during the first year after transplanting. Once Echinacea are established (2-3 years) they are quite drought resistant. Coneflowers prefer to be planted in full sun, but also grow well under partial shade. When they are grown in a shadier location they will not grow as vigorously and fewer flowers will be produced.

Maintenance: These exciting perennials are easy to grow and generally require few maintenance activities. Deadheading the spent flowers will promote additional blooming, but will not produce as spectacular flower display as the initial flush of blooms. Taller cultivars may need additional support from cages to prevent the flower spikes from lodging. Pinching them back in the late spring and not providing excessive nutrients will often eliminate the need for caging.

Pests and Diseases: Some of the most common insect pests that may be observed feeding on Echinacea include aphids, caterpillars, grasshoppers, Japanese beetles, leafhoppers, and whiteflies. Most of these pests, under normal circumstances, do not cause significant injury to them with the exception of leafhoppers. Leafhoppers transmit a disease called Aster yellows which often causes the plant to appear abnormal (most notably the flowers often remain green and become distorted). Besides Aster yellows, Echinacea are also susceptible to powder mildew and root rot diseases.

Uses in the Garden: Coneflowers are commonly used as accent plants or in mixed borders, open woodlands, and mass plantings. Coneflowers are also deer resistant.

Other Uses and Attributes: This native of the eastern and central United States is widely used as an aromatic border plant to attract butterflies and birds in to the gardens. They are commonly used as cut flowers or in dried floral arrangements. When Echinacea are not cut back in the fall, the seed heads will provide added winter interest to the often barren landscape and provide a source of food for songbirds.

Field of Echinacea

Field of Echinacea

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Clematis Pruning

Depending on the cultivar, Clematis bloom from various types of growth each year. It is important to understand how each cultivar blooms in order to properly prune them. When done properly, pruning will promote flowering. Conversely, when Clematis are not pruned properly, the flowers will be delayed or they might not flower until the next growing season. For example, certain varieties flower only on the previous year’s growth. These cultivars should only be pruned to remove weak or dead stems after they have finished flowering.

To help avoid confusion, Clematis can be separated into groups based on their flowering characteristics and pruning preferences. For your convenience, these groups are listed below. You can also view the specific pruning requirements for each cultivar by clicking on the ‘More Detail’ link at the end of each cultivar description in our online catalog.

Our general recommendation is to prune all Clematis to about 12 inches within the first year of planting. This encourages them to form a strong root system and promotes new shoots to develop which leads to more flowers in the future. In the following years, they should be pruned to a height of 3 to 5 feet or by following the specific pruning guidelines for each specific cultivar as outlined below.

  • Group 1

    Clematis cultivars in this group flower on the previous season’s growth. Generally, they can be left unpruned. If pruning is necessary, wait until the flowering is completed and remove only the weak or dead stems.

  • Group 2

    These cultivars produce early season bloom on the previous season’s growth and late season flowers on new growth. Generally, these cultivars are only pruned to shape. In the early spring (February or March), prune them lightly above the first pair of new swollen leaf buds, removing about 12 inches from each shoot. Also remove any dead or weak stems at this time.

  • Group 3

    Varieties within this group flower on the new season’s growth; they are often the most vigorous cultivars. Prune all of the main stems back to about 3 feet above the ground in February or March, leaving at least one pair of strong looking buds on each stem. Also remove any dead or weak stems at this time.

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Strawburst™ Yellow Bracteantha

In my opinion every full sun combination planter should have at least one Bracteantha ‘Strawburst™ Yellow’ plant in it. I love the HUGE blooms this plant creates. Plus I also think that the texture of this flowers is very fun.

(Strawflower) Bracteantha ‘Strawburst™ Yellow’ PPAF has excellent heat tolerance and since it is also frost hardy it will perform all season long. ‘Strawburst™ Yellow’ PPAF has outstanding flower color and a well-branched habit. The flowers are the largest we have seen on any other Bracteantha.

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Rudbeckia ‘Early Bird Gold’

I love the big splash of color that Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’ displays in the late summer. So last year when I was introduced to the earlier blooming ‘Early Bird Gold’ I was excited to know that I could enjoy the bright gold color most of the season.

(Black-Eyed Susan) Rudbeckia ‘Early Bird Gold’ PPAF has a sturdy upright habit and golden yellow flowers with brown cone centers. An amazing discovery from Dupont Nursery in Louisiana, ‘Early Bird Gold’ PPAF has the ability to bloom from early summer into mid-fall. Wow! Enjoy the advantages of this variety in decorative containers or in your landscape designs.

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