Summer Watering Success

Most of us buy some sort of plant product each spring in the form of trees, shrubs, annuals, perennials, and/or vegetables.  Garden and landscape plants provide curb appeal and give you a sense of accomplishment when your planting, fertilizing, weeding, deadheading, and overall nurturing pays off.  But now it’s hot, dry, and just like you your plants get really thirsty when temperatures exceed 90°. Follow these tips to be a good plant parent during the hottest days of summer.

Warning Signs

Plants crave warmth, but too much takes a toll on them. Dry plants will often show signs of heat damage: wilted, yellow, or crunchy brown leaves. Trees and shrubs leaves/needles will begin to brown and drop. Vegetables may fail to produce, drop their blossoms, or show signs of blossom end rot.

Solutions

Water slowly and deeply so that the liquid has the chance to reach every section of the soil and roots. It’s more important to water thoroughly when needed rather than watering often in small amounts.  Soil that has gone completely dry can begin to repel water, but watering slowly encourages soil to begin absorbing liquid again. Mulching keeps plants cool and prevents moisture from escaping.

Perennials and Annuals

Plants that bloom in July and August need extra water when the climate gets really dry, but many are equipped to survive the heat of the summer. Early spring blooming perennials suffer the most when the weather is at its hottest. Assist them by cutting off blossoms and stems that have finished blooming. Remove excess foliage that looks damaged and brittle. Plants will shift their energy toward their root system, and most likely push out fresh foliage. Annual beds may need refreshing with new, heat-tolerant annual varieties if you wish to keep color throughout the growing season.

Container Plants

Container plants need water regularly this time a year, which may be daily depending on the ratio of container size to root ball. If possible water in the morning or evening so the moisture has a chance to absorb and leaves aren’t scorched by the sun. If the top inch of soil is dry, the container plant needs to be watered. Continue to pour until water begins to leak from the drainage holes. In extreme cases of drying out, you might try submerging the container into a tub of water for a half hour. This will jump-start the absorption process.

Hanging baskets also dry out quickly, and it’s easy to judge when they need a drink. Just lift up on the pot and you’ll find the weight of a dry basket is noticeably different when the basket has been watered. You can also tell that hanging baskets need watering when soil is barely moist. Baskets and moss-lined wire cages can also be dunked in a large vessel of water to quickly revive them (IF they aren’t too far gone).  Trimming back some of the foliage will encourage fresh growth and new blooms.

Vegetables

Warm-weather veggies like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, corn, melons, and squash do best when watered on a regular schedule.  Sometimes rain helps, but during dry periods supplemental water is required.  Inconsistent watering is the culprit of many bad crops.  Plants suffer and won’t produce healthy fruit if they go from extremely wet to extremely dry.

Shrubs and Trees

Prune shrubs and remove their sucker sprouts in the summer. As with most plants, keep soil moist but avoid over-watering, and apply mulch. If trees show signs of fading during the summer, use sprinklers and soaker hoses to efficiently water plants.  Saturate the soil within the parameters of the tree’s canopy slowly and deeply by using a hose or leaving a sprinkler running for half an hour to forty-five minutes.

Keep in mind, the symptoms of under-watering are very similar to the symptoms of over-watering and are often mistaken for each other. Grab a yard tool and dig down far enough to get an accurate assessment. Soil may be dry or too wet if you’re having drainage issues. You’d be surprised how often this is the case, even in summer.  You’ll be thankful you checked in the long run.

Cincinnati Zoo Plant for Pollinators Challenge

Plant for Pollinators

You can provide beautiful, vital habitat for pollinators by adding pollinator-friendly plants to your yard and landscape. Enjoy colorful blooms all season long that bring many beautiful butterflies and other pollinators to your yard.

It’s easy to do. Whether planting just a few pots or a larger garden, you can do real conservation at home to support our pollinator friends as they do their job to keep our environment healthy.

Take the Plant for Pollinators Challenge

3 easy steps:

  1. Plan your garden.
  2. Choose the best plants. 
  3. Register your garden and order an optional yard sign.

Share the challenge with your friends and help us reach our goal of registering at least 500 pollinator gardens in 2019Together, we can make a big difference for our littlest friends and most important neighbors!

Plan Your Garden

Of course, the larger a pollinator garden, the better it is for our buggy friends, but even a small garden or a few well-appointed containers can make a difference. Gardening should be fun and enjoyable, so be careful not to overcommit yourself. Only you know your limitations on time, money, energy, and interest. Starting small with the option to grow your garden larger in the future is better than becoming overwhelmed and giving up altogether.

(Photo: Lisa Hubbard)
(Photo: Lisa Hubbard)

As a rule of thumb, we estimate that a 100-square foot garden (10’ x 10’) will take 4 to 6 hours to till, prepare, plant, and mulch. Once planted, it will require 10 to 20 minutes a week to weed, and just a little time to set up watering during drought.

Choose The Best Plants

You might be tempted to rush to the garden center and pick the first plants that catch your eye, but you, your garden, and pollinators will all benefit if you consider which plants perform best in our area for pollinators. Fortunately, through our plant trialing program, we have already done this work for you!  For over 20 years, we have been trialing plants for their function and appearance in regional landscapes. There’s no better method of determining whether a plant will live and look good over time than to plant it in soil conditions typical of the region and observe it.

As a result, we have created the following lists of spring, summer and fall-blooming plants that grow and look best and benefit pollinators most in the Cincinnati region. We encourage you to grow a diversity of plants from these lists to help feed and host our pollinator friends throughout their life cycles. (Note: registered gardens should include at least one nectar and one host plant.)

Register Your Garden

Now that you’ve added pollinator-friendly plants to your yard or landscape, it’s time to register your garden. Remember, you can register a garden of any size as long as it includes at least one nectar and one host plant. Help us reach our goal of registering at least 500 gardens in 2019!

Once you submit a completed application form, you will receive a digital certificate recognizing your official Plant for Pollinators Garden certified by the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. You’ll also have the option to purchase a yard sign to place in your garden, letting your friends and neighbors know that you care about pollinators.  

Click here to go to the Cincinnati Zoo registration page. 

A Tree By Any Other Name

A tree by any other name would smell as sweet, but yours will be truly unique!

Your tree brings magic to your home at Christmas.  It holds your memories on its branches, lights up the room, and hugs your gifts under its’ canopy.  Your tree has its own personality, so isn’t it fitting that it should have a matching name?

Are you partial to Braydon, Madison, Luke or Isabella? Choose a tree that has style, character, and a name that reflects your families unique personality.

Each tree at Delhi Flower & Garden Center has a one-of-a-kind, handmade (by our own elves of course) ornament with his/her name hung from its branches.

Stop in to find your tree by name!

 

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Plant Now For Spring Blooms

Get a head start on planting season next year by planting spring bulbs this month.  After spending most of your time indoors for several weeks at a time, blooming bulbs will be a welcome site for your wintery weary eyes.

Preparation

You can plant bulbs anytime between now and when the ground freezes.  Try not to wait too long though since the ground needs to be soft enough for digging.   All bulbs aren’t alike, so be somewhat selective when purchasing bulbs in order to get the best results. Healthy bulbs are never dry, withered, spongy or moldy. Also, keep an eye out for relatively large bulbs since they tend to produce the most flowers.

Location, Location, Location

Spring flowers thrive best in specific locations, so think about your plants’ needs before committing to a certain spot. Most bulbs need a lot of light to produce blooms.  Be sure to find sun/shade preferences before planting.  A well-drained patch of land is ideal because soggy bulbs will rot.

When considering how to arrange the locations of multiple bulbs, know that they look best in clumps or drifts. To achieve a natural effect, scatter bulbs.  For a clumping effect, plant several bulbs in a large dug hole.  Backfill and add bone meal to the dirt at the bottom of the hole to strenghthen roots.

If you’ve ever have rodent problems in your garden, you might try adding red pepper flakes to the mix or around the soil line. An alternative solution is to place a sort of hardware mesh around the space where vulnerable bulbs have been planted.

A bulb should be placed in its hole roots-first once the soil is prepared for them. Roots will emerge from the flatter side of the bulb; the stem, or pointed side should face up. Now that the bulb is planted in its proper place, give your new plant its first drink of water in its new home.  Additional watering isn’t necessary unless the climate gets particularly dry.

Now it’s time to sit back and give your bulb the time and space to establish itself. Your effort will be rewarded come spring, when beautiful blossoms emerge.

Summary

Plant bulbs at the correct depth.  As a general rule most bulbs should be planted to a depth 3 times their size.  For example, a 2” bulbs should be planted 6” deep.

Plant in the proper site.  Bulbs need good drainage – if the soil is heavy clay improve it by adding compost, peat moss or other organic material to a depth of 12-18”.

Plant the correct side up.  Root remnants should identify the bottom of the bulb.  Generally the pointier end will be the top.  If you cannot determine from either end it is better to plant it sideways rather than chance planting it upside down.

Use proper fertilizer when planting.  Add a bulb fertilizer or compost to the bottom of the planting area & mix it well into the soil before planting the bulbs.

Water bulbs in well.  Make sure to water well after planting to settle the soil around the bulbs.  Do not plant in soggy ground as bulbs can rot if constantly wet.

Consider critters.  If chipmunks, rabbits, mice, deer, squirrels, etc are going after your bulbs, try planting Daffodils & Hyacinths which are much less attractive as a food source and naturalize well.  If burrowing animals such as moles or voles are a problem, plant the bulbs in wire mesh baskets to protect them.

General care during & after blooming.  Fertilize monthly until blooms begin to fade with either a bulb fertilizer or organic 10-10-10 formula.  Suppliment rainfall, if necessary, to ensure 1” of water weekly.  Leave foliage to die back naturally as this feeds the bulb and strengthens it.  To avoid the eyesore of yellowing leaves plant annuals in front of & between the bulbs to disguise them or plant the bulbs behind perennials that will grow up to mask them.   Remove leaves only as they turn brown.

General Planting Depths:

Anemone – 1”

Crocus – 2-3”

Muscari – 3”

Iris – 4”

Tulip – 6-7”

Hyacinth – 6-7”

Daffodil – 7-8”

 

 

Top 5 Heat-Tolerant Annuals

Choosing colorful annuals for your pots and/or landscape is an activity we all look forward to each spring. Knowing the right plants for your pots/landscape is a little more challenging. You want your plants to grow and thrive before your eyes all season long. Get the most out of your purchases by choosing plants that don’t need much pampering. In fact, these tough varieties handle summertime heat with grace and continuous blooms:

Lantana

Lantana is a workhorse of an annual. Tough on the hottest days, even in direct sunlight for several hours at a time. A versatile performer, Lantana is equally as nice in a porch pot, hanging basket, and planted in the landscape.

Lantana’s great paired with other heat tolerant annuals including geraniums, million bells, petunias, and any other annual that enjoys 4 or more hours of direct sunlight. Depending on the variety Lantana can serve as a Thriller, Filler, or Spiller. It also makes a striking addition to the landscape when planted directly into beds. The occasional deadheading keeps blooms looking fresh from spring until frost.

Attracts Butterflies/Hummingbirds. Deer Resistant.


Angelonia

Also known as Summer Snapdragon, Angelonia is a must-have in porch pots. Angelonia holds up in any condition, with 4 or more hours of sun, and continues to bloom beautifully with very little deadheading. Some varieties make a nice Thriller in containers while shorter varieties work well as a Filler.

Attracts Butterflies/Hummingbirds. Deer Resistant.


Euphorbia

A fantastic Filler! This drought tolerant favorite is a showstsopper. Easy to care for and no deadheading necessary. Many mistake Euphorbia for Baby’s Breath, which it closely resembles with its frilly, airy blooms. Euphorbia’s is a stand out in a porch pot mix.

Deer Resistant.


Vinca

If anything, cold and wet is the only thing this plant won’t tolerate. Sun loving vinca virtually take care of themselves. Very little, if any, deadheading necessary. Vinca look especially nice planted in clusters in the landscape or as a porch pot filler.

Deer Resistant.


Portulaca

Portulaca is a fun Spiller plant that is super easy to grow in the hot hot sun. In fact, the sunnier the better! This dainty plant is deceiving because it’s more forgiving than meets the eye. Portulaca foliage is similar to succulent, waxy foliage.

Attracts Butterflies. Deer Resistant.

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Tomatoes for Newbies

You Can Do This!  Growing Tomatoes For Newbies.

You don’t need to be a farmer or have a large garden to grow fresh, juicy tomatoes at home.  With a little instruction and the right environment, you can grow your own and enjoy tasty tomatoes as a reward for your efforts.  Ask anyone with experience, store bought tomatoes simply can’t compare to the flavor of a homegrown tomato!

Start with a planting location.  Most tomatoes grow best in a sunny location (4 hours or more of direct sunlight) and rich, moist but well-drained soil.  Tomatoes also prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil.  Select tomatoes will grow in a container that allows for plenty of root space.  Look for tomatoes that grow to a fixed size or labeled as determinant.

We recommend fertilizing with Espoma Tomato-tone, an organic plant food formulated specifically for growing plump and juicy tomatoes. Tomato-tone is all natural and contains Bio-tone®, a special blend of beneficial microbes.

Choosing The Right Plant For You

Almost everyone likes tomatoes in one form or another.  Some enjoy their natural form while other prefer tomatoes as a sauce or as a condiment.

The Health Benefits

»  Rich in Lycopene – A vital anti-oxidant that helps fight certain types of cancer and other health issues.
»  Rich in Vitamin K – Regulates blood clotting, protects bones from osteoporosis and helps reduce the risk of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis.
»  Rich in Vitamin C – helps lower the risk of cancer and aids in the absorption of iron.

The Benefits of Growing Your Own

»  Immediate Gratification – Having vegetables handy means you are more likely to go out of your way to use them.
»  Healthier – If grown organically, or chemical free, you’ll get a higher concentration of vitamins and lycopene.
»  Tastier – Studies show organically grown vegetables have more flavor than store bought fruit.
»  You Know What You Eat – You have more control of the types of pesticides and chemicals being used on them.
»  Great For Children – Kids are more likely to eat food grown in their own garden versus store bought.

Terms To Help You Get Started

DETERMINANT – Plants will only grow to a fixed size (tall/wide).  These are sometimes called “bush” tomatoes.  Most grow to a compact 4-5’ tall and you receive most of your tomatoes at once, which is useful when making sauces. These are good plants to use when growing your plant in a container.

»  Patio – A dwarf variety with cue ball sized fruit.  One of the most popular varieties for growing in containers on decks, patios or wherever space is limited.  Produces a small but flavorful bright red tomato.
»  Roma – One of the most popular varieties for paste, sauces and canning. Bright red, pear-shaped fruit with a meaty texture and few seeds.
»  Celebrity – A great well-rounded plant.  Baseball sized fruit, very flavorful and disease resistant.  Great for containers or small spaces.

INDETERMINANT – May require staking as they keep growing and producing fruit until frost.

»  Sweet 100 – A sweet round cherry tomato, about 1″ in size.  Grow in clusters.
»  Red Grape – A small and sweet, grape shaped tomato. Delicious in salads!
»  Big Boy & Better Boy – Very popular and easy to grow hybrid tomato. Softball-sized, great for slicing, disease resistant and flavorful.
»  Early Girl – As the name suggests, the first slicing tomato to produce fruit and a customer favorite. Great flavor and disease resistant.
»  Big Beef & Beefmaster – Delicious meaty tomatoes, baseball-sized and perfect for sandwich slices

HEIRLOOM/INDETERMINANT – Non-hybridized, very flavorful tomatoes. There are many varieties, but to be certified heirloom the tomato must be grown from a seed of the same variety for at least 50 years and deemed organic. Some won’t produce the abundance of fruit that hybridized varieties do, but they make up for this in flavor.  These are just a few popular varieties:

»  Cherokee Purple – Large, meaty tomato with purple flesh.
»  Brandywine – Large fruit with a classic tomato flavor.
»  Golden Jubilee – A yellow medium size fruit.
»  Marglobe – A determinant heirloom with large, globe shaped fruit.  Disease resistant.
»  Mortgage Lifter – A pink medium to large beefsteak tomato.
»  Mr. Stripey – A red and yellow medium to large beefsteak tomato.
»  Rutgers – An old favorite with medium sized, round fruit.
»  Yellow Pear – A small yellow pear shaped fruit.

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