Propagating Fears Alleviated

bloomngardens seedsThe other day I was doing my weekly grocery at the Kroger and I ran into an old friend.  After exchanging pleasantries about college age children the conversation steered toward propagating hydrangeas.   I know big leap, but I get questions like that all the time.  In fact it is a great topic that more people should investigate.  One of my earliest memories is of my mother rooting spider plants on the window sill. She was not much of an outdoor gardener, but loved growing houseplants on our sun porch. Truth is the same principles apply to outdoor plants. I love getting “pass along” plants or even multiplying the number of plants just in my own back yard.  It’s a great way to garden frugally.

Many of you would never consider propagating your own plants, because it may seem very intimidating, but there are a quite a few plants that practically propagate themselves.  There are three main ways of propagating plants that every homeowner can be successful at. Collecting and planting seeds, dividing root stocks, and cuttings. [Read more…]

Its gonna be a HOT one…….How to protect your garden in summer.

Bloom n gardens turf grass legionAh summer, seems like all we do each winter is pine for summer. Well it is here and it is about to get hot.  How do you think your yard and garden will fair in the scorching temperatures?

Summer temperatures can brutally affect the overall health and look of your landscape.  Not to mention how the abundance of rain may actually do more harm than good as we move into the hot summer months.  As a precaution it is always best to spend some time now preparing your garden or yard space and then you must take a proactive approach in combating the issues that arise before they get out of hand.

If you were to play the word association game, when I say Rain, what is the first word that pops into your head? For me it would be…………FUNGUS.  An abundance of rain brings the exact environment that fungus just thrives in.  Although you need to be on the lookout for signs of fungus on your shrubs and annuals, the number one area of your yard you should be concerned about is your lawn.  [Read more…]

How to use a color wheel

Flower Color WheelFrom the most experienced plantsman to the rankest amateur, the one thing everyone wants in their outdoor space is COLOR!  But how do you effectively use color in your garden?  First, remember that there is no right or wrong when it comes to color in the garden.  Color choices are a matter of personal taste.  For some, a riot of color is just the ticket.  Others prefer to work with a single hue.

 

A basic understanding of color theory can help your figure out combinations that work for you, allowing you to combine blooms, foliage and other elements in ways that you will find pleasing.  Let’s start with a simple color wheel which is essentially the colors of the rainbow arranged around a circle.  Note that on one side of the wheel are what we call warm colors — yellows, oranges and reds. On the other side of the wheel are the cool colors — greens, blues and purples. [Read more…]

The reward of starting seeds

Bloom n gardens seed startingDo you love fresh veggies from the garden? I do.  There is nothing quite like picking a ripe tomato straight off the vine, taste just like summer. …Yum!  Vegetable gardening is an art that has seen some resurrection in the past few years. It seems like everyone is focused on eating healthy and saving money, which bodes well for backyard vegetable plots.  Ask the old farmer when to plant a summer vegetable garden and he will tell you Mother’s Day.  Why Mother’s Day you ask, that is around about the time the soil warms enough making it hospitable for seeds to germinate and roots of transplants thrive and grow.  More technically, for summer vegetables, the soil temperature should be about 60oF. [Read more…]

Don’t Pull Your Hair Out Over Weed Issues!

bloomngardenslandscape Yard Cleanup Before and AfterDo you gaze out your window each summer and just want to pull your hair out there are so many weeds?  Why does your neighbor’s yard look so weed free, when you never see him out there pulling and pulling and pulling.  Stop suffering from yard envy and do what the pro’s do. Put out PRE EMERGENT HERBICIDES (Pre-M).  What exactly is this wonder of a substance? Pre-M is a class of chemicals that you spread/spray in the spring and fall that prevents germinating seeds from growing.  Mind you this means just about all seeds, including those that you actually wanted to germinate (more about that later).  They work by forming a chemical barrier in the top 1” of soil where most seeds lay in wait until optimal growing conditions rise allowing them to pop open and begin to grow.  They don’t prevent the seeds themselves from germinating, but interrupt the process before a sprout has the opportunity to push through the soil.

Are you ready to jump on board the PRE-M train?

Well, first off, timing is critical for Pre-M to be effective. As the chemical barrier begins to break down after six to eight weeks, you do not want to apply it too early, else you lose effectiveness.   But applying it too late can mean you missed out as well. Tricky, Tricky, Tricky, I know, but you need to actually read the weather cues to hit the mark. Additionally, if you plan to plant any new plants from seed (i.e. seeding a Fescue Lawn or direct sowing perennials), you must skip the PRE-M step and deal with pesky weeds after the new plants are established. Oh and by the way, as with any chemical, make sure you follow the label instructions when handling and applying the product.

Why do I still have weeds?

So, you put out your PRE-M, but you still have weeds showing up, what gives? Well several factors could affect the application. The first obvious cause for failure is that your weeds did not germinate from seeds but were perennial weeds that rose from existing root stock. Pre-m only works on seeds. If this was not the case, did you put your PRE-M out too early, or too late? Maybe you never watered it in. The easiest way is to apply it right before a rainstorm or you can use your irrigation system to water the area down. One other cause might be that the soil layer was disturb somehow breaking down that chemical barrier. Lastly, I hope you weren’t trying to save a few pennies and did not put it out at the appropriate rate listed. READ THE PRODUCT LABEL.  

In all, one chemical is not foolproof, but with good attention to detail, you can greatly reduce your weed population and get the landscape that you love.

Don’t Get Convicted of…….CRAPE MURDER

As early as mid December, I began seeing crimes committed all over the area, terrible, heinous crimes of the landscape.  What is sad to say is that most people do not even realize they have committed CRAPE MURDER; they are simply following the lead of their neighbor’s neighbor. Unfortunately, for those folks, I feel my advice may be a bit mute for this year, but if you have not pruned your crape myrtles yet, please heed my warning and instructions. 

First and foremost, you must prune your crape myrtles during the right time of year.  If you prune them later in the year, say November or December, you run the risk of having them try to produce new growth, if we get a warming trend in January, that new growth will freeze when temperatures cool again and this will be very stressful for your plant.  In actuality, pruning tells a plant it is time to grow, so hold off until later in January and February.  The next important factor to consider is to use good, sharp tools that will make clean cuts.  It is most healthful for a plant if cuts are clean and free of jagged edges or tears otherwise you are opening up the plant to potential invasion from unwanted pests and disease. 

Bloom N Gardens Crape Myrtle-001When you begin your pruning, first start by removing any dead, diseased or crossed branches, this is also a good time to remove any suckers from the base.  Next, begin thinning the canopy, a general rule of thumb is to remove twigs that are less than a pencil width.   With that done, as you examine your tree, you will typically see two lateral branches emerge close to where you cut the previous year.  You will want to head back these branches to within 6” of last year’s growth; this will prevent the “knuckle” look that can be so unattractive and unhealthy for the plant

One of the biggest excuses many people have for pruning their crape myrtles incorrectly is that they do not want their crape myrtle to be too big.  This problem is best solved by removing the tree and choosing one that is better suited to the confined space. There are many varieties of crape myrtle that grow from shrub sized to giant sized and all sizes in between.  Choose wisely from the beginning and you will be happier in the long run. Additionally, there is a fallacy that drastically pruning a crape myrtle will make them bloom more.  In reality, a correctly pruned crape myrtle will produce twice the number of branches, and therefore, twice the number of blooms than the previous year.  Additionally, the branches will be stronger and better able to withstand the weight of the heavy bloom. 

If you have a crape myrtle that has been incorrectly pruned for many years, there are ways to improve the overall health and look of the plant by reconstructive pruning, a process that you may want to bring in a professional to provide. Good luck and happy pruning.

How to Effectively Transplant an Existing Shrub with the Greatest Success

Tree Installation Have you ever experienced that “Oh dear” moment when you realized that a plant has been planted in the wrong place and is now beginning to take over.  Perhaps it is a Japanese maple planted along the front walk, or a Camellia Japonica planted too close to the foundation.  The best way to avoid these mistakes is to put careful planning into selecting the proper plant for the spot in the first place, but hey hindsight is 20/20, right. So what can you do about it now?

Transplanting shrubs in the landscape

Many shrubs and small trees respond reasonably well to transplanting. How quickly you can transplant after you have made the decision depends a few factors.

1.      How important is it for your transplant to be successful?

2.      How soon do you need to transplant?

3.      What type of plant do you want to transplant?

Ideally, you want to root prune your shrub at least 6 months in advance to ensure the most successful transplant.  Root pruning reduces the overall size of your shrubs root ball. You see, the workhorses of the root system are the feeder roots found at the outer perimeter of a plants root ball. By cutting down the size of the root ball, in advance of transplanting, you allow the plant to produce new feeder roots giving your plant a better chance of survival after transplanting. So how do you prune the roots if they are underground? Since the majority of a plants root system is 6”-24” below the soil surface you can simply take a sharp spade and cut a ring around the plant that is slightly smaller than the root ball you want to transplant.  If you want to transplant a larger specimen, you may want to actually dig a trench around the plant and backfill it with fresh soil. 

Transplanting Day, Hurray!

So you have done everything right and it is now time to perform the actual transplant. The most important thing is to first dig the new hole where you will be transplanting your shrub to.  This will minimize the amount of time your root ball is exposed to the outside air.  Next carefully, dig around your plant releasing the root ball from the soil and wrap it in natural burlap to hold the root system together.  Use either twine or pins to lash the burlap tightly around the root ball. Always use a wheelbarrow or cart to move the plant from one location to the other so as to protect the root ball from cracking and breaking. Plant the root ball slightly higher than in the previous hole, back fill, mulch and water immediately.  Pay close attention to watering especially during the first growing season following transplant. 

Remember root balls can be very heavy, let the expert staff at Bloom’n Gardens Landscape assist you with any plants that may need to find a new home in your landscape.

Tackling Winter Pruning: Roses

rose bushMany a movie has portrayed a similar portrait of the Southern woman: perfectly coiffed hair, a smart blouse, and stylish gardening gloves wielding pruning shears over brilliantly blooming rose bushes. The perfect presentation may be a myth, but it’s no exaggeration that roses are a Southern staple. Whether you prefer trimmed rose bushes against a white picket fence or wild blooms in an English style garden, proper care is essential to keeping your roses healthy. Here are three things to keep in mind when you pick up your pruning shears.

  1. The best time to prune roses is winter. Thanks to our temperate Georgia climate, Vinings gardeners can prune their roses as early as January. Winter pruning allows you to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each bush. The unimpeded view allows you to cut away dead wood and thin overfull areas of your rose bush. Winter pruning primes your plants for spring growth, but their dormant state keeps your bushes from blooming too soon. Research the hardiness of your variety of roses and schedule your pruning between late January and early April.
  2. Overgrown roses die more quickly. Unlike trees and most shrubs, roses don’t grow exponentially larger. Old stems tangle with new ones, blocking sunlight and air from new blooms. Thinning and shaping your rose bush redirects nutrients to newer canes, allowing your roses to flourish.
  3. The biggest detriment to bright, hearty roses is a lack of preparation. Always wear heavy gloves to protect your hands from sharp thorns. Sharpen your shears before you begin pruning; dull blades will damage and tear the tender parts of your plant. Make each cut at an angle mimicking the natural growth of your rose bush. Assess how much height and thickness you want to remove before you begin pruning, but step back and reassess every so often. Poorly trimmed rose bushes can take seasons to recover.

Does your garden need a touch of grace? Call Bloom’n Gardens Landscape to help you incorporate Southern garden classics into your Smyrna landscape.

Plants: Avoiding the Pool

Waterlogged GardenPatio furniture isn’t the only thing getting soggy this summer; with the excess of rainfall, plants have been getting more hydration than they can handle. While many plants are greedy drinkers, too much water can lead to insufficient oxygen and fungal growth in the roots

Recognizing root rot starts above the surface. Yellow, withering leaves is one of the first signs that something’s not right in your garden. Other signs include browning stems and visible mold on your foliage. Stagnate water pooling around your plants is another indicator, and nearly unavoidable these last few months. But once you’ve recognized the problem, what to do about it?

While plants with root rot are difficult to rescue, the task is not impossible. The first step is to manage the flow of water. You can’t stop the rain, but you can control it. Digging runoff streams will direct pools away from your plants and make managing hydration simpler. You can also cover problem plants during expected storms to prevent them from getting flooded. Irrigation monitoring systems are helpful ways of knowing just how much water your plants are getting so you can combat or supplement the Georgia weather as needed.

Once you’ve controlled the source of the problem, it’s necessary to examine the environment of your plants. Is your plant getting nutrients? Cleaning the diseased roots is difficult in mature plants, but making sure they have the strength to fight goes a long way to facing root rot. Is the topsoil staying too wet? Remove a portion of the soil, taking care to leave the roots covered. Then ask a professional about mulching techniques that encourage drainage.

As we approach the early fall months, the rainfall may wane. Consider implementing irrigation techniques now to prevent garden disease in the years to come. Root rot goes deep and is difficult to fight, but with a little help from its gardener your plant can develop the necessary resilience to make it through another year.

If you have questions about root rot, don’t hesitate to contact us. Check out our Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for daily gardening tips, tricks, and photos.

It’s August, it is time to plant fall veggies, YUM!

            Over the weekend I made it round to several farmers markets, to include a few International grocery stores, in order to acquire the necessary items needed to begin my yearly task of “putting up” my own pickles and relish.  I love to can all sorts of items, from Jams/Jellies to pickles and soups, which my family can enjoy all year long.  Although I do grow some of my own vegetables, I sometimes just don’t have the yield necessary to do mass canning, so I find it easier to use my local farmer and grocery to help round out my stock.  Typically, I am well aware of what I will pay for the additional produce, but on this trip I was continually confronted with a markedly high rise in costs.   Each time I pulled out my wallet, it reinforced the thought that I really needed to work on my vegetable garden and increase my production.

            You may think it is too late to address your vegetable garden this year, after all tomatoes and cucumbers were planted way back in April and May and there is no chance of starting any of those now, Right? True, but did you know a whole new crop of veggies can be started in August.  Now is the time to start seeds of winter vegetables. Below is a brief list, just to name a few.


Great fall veggies, some are planted by seeding, others by transplant. All Delicious!

  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Garlic
  • Lettuce
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Parsnip
  • Cabbage
  • Turnip

              By August, many of us have lost the steam needed to keep a vegetable garden going year round, but with our grocery budgets shrinking, you may want to reconsider.  Growing fall vegetables is not at all difficult, and working in a fall garden can be a lot more enjoyable than your summer plot.  Cooler temperatures and bug free environments can be thanked for that. Fall gardening is not much different than summer gardening, to get started you will want to transfer the old spent summer vegetables to the compost bin after you have completed your harvest. Next you need to replenish the nutrients of your soil with some new compost and start your seeds and install your transplants.  What could be simpler? A good trick to extend the harvest of many of your vegetables is to add row covers to your vegetable plot.  If using, it is best to construct your framework now prior to sowing, that way you will be ready to add the frost protection when needed.  Now that you have completed the work, sit back and know that you will have fresh vegetables into the fall and won’t have to rely on the supermarket quite as much.