Archive for the ‘Container Gardening’ Category

This is the number one question we get from customers when they are trying to decide if they want to ‘try’ and hanging basket again this year…

For many,  growing Hanging Baskets, Planters, or even annuals in landscape design is a task they just don’t know if they want to take on again this year. Last season their annuals just did not ‘last’ all summer. They looked good for a month or so after they got home but then went down hill from there. Many people will say ” but I watered every day”!

If the above statement sounds like something that you may have running through your head, let me give you a few simple steps to succeeding at growing annual baskets and planter.

#1 “But I water every day” to that statement I would first ask you, ” When you are watering do you water enough that you see the water running freely from the bottom of your basket/planter?” If not, I dare say that you are under watering your plants. If the water is not reaching the bottom of the pot your roots are not able to evenly drink up the water that they require.

#2 My question to you is ” How often do your fertilize? Have you fertilized at all?” At Garden Crossings we recommend fertilizing your baskets/planters at least every other week, although weekly would be great with a low concentrate water soluble fertilizer. We recommend and personally use Proven Winners Water Soluble Fertilizer.  The reason you need to fertilize your plants is because every time you water you are flushing a little bit of the nutrients/fertilizer from the pot. Like humans, plants need nutrients to perform to their highest standards. The fertilizer will help keep your flowers flowering and your foliage nice and green. You may even feel like you have a plant on steroids if you keep up on the fertilizing. If you do start to feel like you have ‘too much’ growth we recommend giving your plants a ‘haircut’ or a trim to keep them nice and full. Don’t cut back on the fertilizer because this is keeping your plant healthy.

Now if you are thinking there is no way I am going to fertilize every one to two weeks we do have another option for you. That option is a continuous release fertilizer. Generally we recommend Continuous Release for ground planting as it will not flush away in the ground as fast as in a basket. But if you are feeling like “I will fertilize, but I am only going to do it one time” , This option is better than nothing.

And Lastly #3 if watering is a problem for you and you feel like you just can’t keep up or are always forgetting to do it, we recommend installing an inexpensive self watering system. We have found a system that is easy to use, and does a great job, it is the Waterwise System from Proven Winner. Basically all you need is the kit and a scissors. Here is a link to show how simple and easy it is to install the Waterwise System. You can go away on vacation for a week and come home to beautiful flowers.

If you have any questions on watering or fertilization of annuals please feel free to contact us at

To Make your Investment Last ALL Season!

In the spring gardeners/decorators/landscapers get excited that the weather is warming up and that they can start to create their beautiful combination planters in the beautiful pots that they have purchased.  For many of you the pots/containers that you use are a pretty good size investment since you were looking for just the ‘right’ pot. Your perfect container maybe made of molded plastic, clay, ceramic, wood, and so on. These containers quite often are the focal point of your yard,  garden, or the front of your house. (Here are some combination ideas if you are interested HERE.)

Once the season turns and fall arrives you may plant some garden mums in your favorite pots for a great fall accent look. But after the first frost and the mums turn brown, your container sets empty and you are done with that container and decorating with it, until spring.  For many of you this maybe what you are seeing right now.

I am here to tell you that the season does not have to end once the frost has hit and the snow fly’s! I was driving to Garden Crossings today and was shocked at all the great winter container planters that I saw.  On my way home I stopped at a few of the homes that I had seen and took some pictures.

Here is a very simple arrangement that almost anyone could put together.  This person just took their         trimmed branches, presumably from their Christmas tree that need to be trimmed down and stuck them   into the left behind dirt. It is very simple, easy to do and as I drove past at 55mph I saw it right away. Nice, Simple & Quick!

The Next house that I drove by and later returned to had this additional twist on their pine branches. They took their dormant grass plumes and added them in for some vertical interest and also this will give the container a little ‘motion’ .  I really like to have a ‘thriller’ that adds motion to many of my personal combination planters.   Below is another combination that I saw at this same residence (when I went to knock on the door and asked if they mined me taking photos) again, using the grass for height and motion and the pine boughs for a filler. Very Nice!

Here is a picture of a combination planter put together by someone who is very creative and used many  dormant plants and flowers, but also added in some of the evergreen shrubs like Ilex and also utilized the bright red berries from the Ilex for an added zap of color. When I took a real close look at what all was in this combination I was surprised to see Milkweed-very neat touch. Also included was dried flowers from Hydrangea, dried seed pods, and a little field grass tops.  Love it!

And finally the last home that I stopped at had another cool decorating idea.  Here the home owner took her welcome planter and filled it with pine branches and berries for that zap of color. For height she took Red Twig Dogwood branches and left some their natural color of red and the spray painted others white. A very stunning touch for some added height and color.  Also on the adjacent corner of her garage she took her urn planter and placed a wreath around the top(with lights) and stuck a big bunch of spray painted white branches for a great focal point planter.

I hope you feel inspired to refresh your containers and make the most out of your investment!

Much of the flower color for the holiday season comes in the form of the Poinsettia.  Poinsettias now come in such a vast array of colors, it is no longer the traditional Red, White, and Pink. They have speckles, have been died, and even come in peach, burgundy, a white and pink mix and so much more. Every Christmas we like to have Poinsettias around for their color and the joy they add to the season. But this year we wanted to add a little spice to the plants that we bought ( yes bought, we do not grow Poinsettias). We found a decorative pot that we carry at Garden Crossings and added a little flare. For the center piece in this combination planter we choose Amaize n’ Blue™ ChamaecyparisAmaize n’ Blue™ is an evergreen variety that generally is planted outdoors. The soft silvery blue foliage is very ‘touchable’ as it does not poke. This is a compact evergreen growing only 1-3″, it would make a very cute border plant.  In addition to the Chamaecyparis, we added 4 boxwood plants, 2 of each variety North Star™ & Wedding Ring™. North Star™ Boxwood is an evergreen shrub that has a nice mounding habit and reaches only 3″ tall, little to no pruning is needed with this variety. Also in the mix is the second Boxwood, Wedding Ring™.  Wedding Ring™ has shiny green foliage with a chartreuse green edge, in the summer it turns to gold. A great variegated choice for both planters and in the landscape. Again, this Boxwood only reaches only 1-3″ tall.  All the great shrubs that we used in this colorful combination  A Proven Winners® ColorChoice® Evergreen Shrub.

The reason I wanted to share with you my holiday combination is to just show you that sometimes when decorating( for any season) you have to think outside the box and put together some not so traditional arrangements. The first person who came over to our house and saw this said “Wow! Where did you get that? I want one!”  and that my gardening friends in the comment we all want to hear when we are planting our gardens and containers!

Peace, Love & Joy!  Merry Christmas!

How to Spice Up Your Holiday Arrangemets

Goldilocks Rocks™ Bidens

The fall season is all around us here in Zeeland, Michigan at Garden Crossings. The leaves are just starting to change color, the landscapes are looking tired, but there are still a few signs of summer all around us.  There are a couple annuals that still have outstanding color despite being hit by several early frosts. One in particular that really stood out to me this weekend (10/1) was Goldilocks Rocks™ Bidens. The deep yellow flowers still looked just as nice as they did when they were first planted. And the mass of blooms has been a constant all season long also. Even the foliage is still green and lush. I will be perfectly honest here, these have not seen much fertilizer either for the past month or more. I have been really impressed by the performance of Goldilocks Rocks™, one thing in my mind that really makes a great annual is when it last well past the season it is intended for. And here in Michigan, if you can keep your annuals looking good until Labor Day you should get a gold star for your efforts. Now I will follow that comment up with if you put the effort into your plants your will get the outcome that all home owners with plants desire. My top 3 tips for annual longevity… Fertilizer!!! every 10-14 days, water consistently, and give them a good hard ‘haircut’ when needed!

Goldilocks Rocks Biden

Goldilocks Rocks Bidens

Color brings excitement and creativity to container gardening. Use color to create impact, complement décor, and catch the eye of the viewer. If your color combination’s seem to fall a little “flat” you can take a little help from the color wheel available at your garden center or an art and craft store.

Reds, oranges, and yellows are warm colors while greens, blues, and violets are cool colors. Colors that are opposite on the color wheel are complementary. Analogous colors are those that sit next to each other on the color wheel. Monochromatic designs use different intensities of one color. Different shades of green can serve as a serene backdrop or pop a design with its bright color. Chose combination’s that will contrast to give a pop or create harmony to make a calm, tranquil display.

Play with colors for your mixed containers. There are guidelines to help but ultimately if you are pleased with your combination’s that is all that matters. Use the guidelines, create your own, or “borrow” ideas that will create container combination’s that make you happy!