Archive for the ‘Your Questions’ 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

Color Flash® Lime Astilbe

Astilbe Color Flash Lime

Today when I was at The MSU Kent County extension office I saw this most amazing Astilbe. Astilbe Color Flash Lime was showing off! The multi colored foliage was super striking and caught me in my tracks. Astilbe are great for your part sun locations and prefer to be kept on the moist side. Color Flash Lime has amazing lime green foliage that turns colors of the sunset with a little sun exposure. The pale pink blooms are a beautiful contrast. Astilbe are a long blooming perennial with the added bonus of being deer and rabbit resistant.

In response to this comment I tell you check out our 4 1/2″ petunias anything that we carry in this size for the petunias does not need to be picked at or dead headed. Occasionally we will trim some of the length off the bottom of our baskets to ‘thicken’ them up so they are not so stringy but that in addition to fertilizing and watering is the only maintenance they require. It’s that easy!

The petunias that need picking at are sold generally in flats.

This is a very popular question when customers come into the garden center.
I have a couple of responses for them.
i3 Planters

i3 Planters

  • When watering your baskets make sure that the water is dripping through the bottom of the pot. Many people just give it a splash of water every few days, this is not enough. In most cases your baskets will need to be watered every day to every other day depending on the temperature, humidity and wind in your area.
  • Another thing I always recommend is to feed your baskets about every other week with a water soluble fertilizer like the Proven Winners Water Soluble Plant Food. Your plants use up the nutrients in the soil along with them getting flushed out with watering.
  • Worrying About Watering?
    With the New Proven Winners® WaterWise Easy Container Watering Kit your worries are over. Our easy-to-use, self-contained kit makes it simple to water container plants, hanging baskets, flower boxes, and landscape beds automatically. In fact, you can water up to ten containers or 30 feet of landscape beds from a single faucet.
  • Another great product that helps to keep your baskets looking there best is our i3 Planters. The i3 Planters are a gorgeous hanging basket solution for both indoors or out! i3 Planters have a unique combination of a bell shaped low voltage lighting fixture, hanging basket and the patented Aqua-Air™ liner to make your hanging baskets hassle free. It can also be easily attached to your existing sprinkler system or attached to a water source for automated watering. Even when you are gone for the week you can come home to beautiful baskets that have been watered hassle free while you were gone enjoying yourself.

What is Your Best Flower Source for Butterflies?

Swallowtail Butterfly on Tall Phlox

Swallowtail Butterfly on Tall Phlox

Butterflies are a gardeners delight as they flutter and swoop through our gardens. Their bright colors and beauty bring a welcome addition to our gardens as long as the benefit they provide with pollinating our flowers. Attracting butterflies involves incorporating plants that serve the needs of all life stages of the butterfly. They need a place to lay eggs, food plants for the larva (caterpillar), a place to form a chrysalis, and nectar sources for the adult. Most butterflies can live up to 10-20 days but the Monarch (pictured below) can live up to 6 months.

Butterflies attract to flowers that are red, orange, yellow, purple and pink. The style flower they most prefer are flat topped (like Tall phlox)&  short tubes (like Buddleia). They like flowers that have clusters of flowers all grouped together. Also sun light is important as butterflies generally like to feed while basking in the sun.

One of my personal favorites for attracting butterflies in the Tall Garden Phlox. I have several Phlox clumped together in an area in my garden. I have chosen several different Phlox colors to create a patchwork of color that has been a true butterfly attraction.

Monarch Butterfly on Asclepias

Monarch Butterfly on Asclepias

Common Butterflies and the Plants they Eat

  • Acmon Blue – buckwheat, lupines, milkvetch
  • American Painted Lady – cudweed, everlast
  • Baird’s Swallowtail – dragon sagebrush
  • Black Swallowtail – parsley, dill, fennel, Queen Anne’s lace, common rue
  • Cabbage White – members of mustard family
  • Coral Hairstreak – wild black cherry, American and chickasaw plum, black chokeberry
  • Dun Skipper – sedges, grasses including purpletop
  • Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – wild black cherry, ash, tulip tree, willow, sweetbay, basswood
  • Giant Swallowtail – prickly ash, citrus, common rue, hoptree, gas plant, torchwood
  • Gray Comma – gooseberry, azalea, elm
  • Great Purple Hairstreak – mistletoe
  • Gulf Fritillary – maypops, other passion vines
  • Henry’s Elfin – redbud, dahoon and yaupon hollies, maple-leaved viburnum, blueberries
  • Monarch – milkweeds
  • Painted Lady (Cosmopolite) – thistles, mallows, nievitas, yellow fiddleneck
  • Pygmy Blue – saltbush, lamb’s quarters, pigweed
  • Red Admiral/White Admiral – wild cherries, black oaks, aspens, yellow and black birch
  • Silver-spotted Skipper – locusts, wisteria, other legumes
  • Spicebush Swallowtail – sassafras, spicebush
  • Sulphurs – clover, peas, vetch, alfalfa, asters
  • Variegated Fritillary – passion flower, maypop, violets, stonecrop, purslane
  • Viceroy – willows, cottonwood, aspen
  • Western Tailed Blue – vetches, milkvetches
  • Western Tiger Swallowtail – willow, plum, alder, sycamore, hoptree, ash
  • Woodland Skipper – grasses
  • Zebra Swallowtail – pawpaw
Butterfly plant source from