Gardening Resources

Getting Started

Planting & Care of New Trees
Watering 101
Pruning Basics
Lawn Care Basics
Starting a Vegetable Garden

 

 

How to Plant a Tree

  1. Choose your site. Your tree will have the best chance of survival if you pick the right plant for the right place. Be sure to account for levels of sunlight and water the tree will receive, as well as checking for overhead or underground power and gas lines, and private irrigation lines.
  2. Dig a hole. It should be no deeper than the tree sits in its nursery pot, and about twice as wide as the pot. Work the edges of the hole so the soil is loose.
  3. Remove your tree from its container. Gently pull the roots free if they're circling, or slice them with a sharp, clean knife in a few places if they are pot bound. It's important that the roots are trained to spread outward rather than circling.
  4. Place your tree in the prepared hole. Take a minute to make sure it's sitting straight, with the root flare just above the soil surface.
  5. Backfill your hole. We recommend mixing the existing soil from the hole with 50% compost to provide a space for the roots to spread outward and get used to our tough clay soils. Mound the soil up over the root ball (not over the root flare) so when it settles after watering it sinks down level with the ground.
  6. Water and fertilize. Mix a plant starter with water, and thoroughly soak the root ball. Check to make sure the soil hasn't settled too much. Add soil if necessary.
  7. Mulch. To help conserve moisture, you can lay mulch up to two inches deep around the base of your tree. Keep it away from the root flare to help prevent fungal issues. This mulch will break down over time and help nourish the soil. It will need to be replenished every year or two.
  8. Stake. Whether you use a staking kit or a DIY post and roping, make sure the material used to tie the tree to the stake is loose enough that it won't girdle the tree as the trunk increases in diameter. When staked, the tree should be able to move with the wind, so make sure the roping gives a little. The staking can be removed from small trees the next spring. Larger trees may benefit from an extra year of staking support, but make sure the roping is not rubbing the trunk.

Watering

The best way to determine if your tree needs water is to pull the mulch back from around the center of the plant and pick up a handful of soil. Squeeze it in your hand to form a ball. If the soil is sticky and muddy, there is too much water and it needs to dry out for several days. With the proper amount of moisture, the soil will form a ball but won't feel muddy or sticky. If this is the case, check back in a few days before watering. If the soil doesn't form a ball at all, it's dry and needs to be watered. When the tree is ready to be watered, lay a garden hose at the center of the plant and allow water to trickle out for half an hour. Make sure to lay the hose in different places around the base of the tree so the tree is watered evenly. There are also self-watering tree bags available to make this process a little easier!

New trees should be checked for water every seven to ten days during their first year. Extended periods of heat and high winds will dry trees out quickly, but be sure to consider how much rain we get and irrigation from your sprinklers. We have more problems with people over watering than under-watering their plants. Keep in mind that turf grass requires more water than most other plants, so the regular setting on your sprinklers may be too much for new trees. In late fall, deep water new trees to give them enough moisture to get them through the winter.

Fertilizing

An application of plant starter is all your tree needs this year. The tree will need a balanced fertilizer (like 10-10-10) to start off the next growing season. You can apply it in the fall once the tree has gone dormant, or early in the spring before the leaves emerge. You can continue to use the fertilizer throughout the growing season as often as directed on the label but avoid using a high nitrogen (the first of the three numbers on the formula) fertilizer later than July. This encourages new growth that will not be hardened off before the first fall frost.

Before planting, soak the plants in their containers to make sure the potting media is wet, and soak again after planting. Most new plants need about an inch of water each week (including rainfall) but could need more in hot and windy weather. Be sure to water the original root ball and the surrounding soil while the plant is becoming established. It can take up to eight weeks for roots to extend beyond the container media and out into the soil. Container media tends to dry out more quickly than soil, so account for that in your watering. Usually about five to seven weeks after being planted new foliage begins to develop, signaling the plant is becoming established. Start to back off on watering but keep an eye on the plant during dry spells. Watering deeply but infrequently will encourage plants to develop strong root systems that can withstand drought. Water requirements vary depending on the type of plant, soil quality, and the amount of sun or shade. Check with our staff for questions on your specific landscape. 

Trees

Check new trees weekly, they will need more than an inch to establish. Fill a 20-gallon watering bag or run a hose at a trickle on the root ball of the tree for about 30 minutes, or longer if the soil is very dry or the tree is large. Be sure to move the hose to make sure the whole root ball is getting water. 

Trees that are established (planted three to five years ago) in lawn areas may be getting enough water from irrigation. It's best to check the soil every couple of weeks during the summer to make sure the water is moving past the root zone of the lawn and into the tree's root zone. If the soil is dry, use the watering methods described above.

Shrubs & Perennials

For new plants, water every four to seven days, soaking the root ball and the surrounding soil deeply. Allow to dry out in between waterings, but watch for wilting on hot days.

If your plants are in their second or third season, they may not need this much water. Most well-adapted shrubs and perennials can survive on our average rainfall. Five inches of rain during June, July, and August is enough for many shrubs and perennials.

Annuals

In containers: water daily during warm weather to establish. Keep in mind 4.5 inch or small 6-pack plants don't have deep root systems at the beginning of the season and it is not beneficial to oversaturate your container. Shallow root systems will not be able to take in a large volume of water and can begin to rot. As the plants grow and the roots begin to fill the container, increase volume and frequency as needed. Most hanging baskets will need to be well soaked at least once a day in the heat of the summer. 

In the ground: water daily in warm weather to establish. Once new growth begins to emerge, water less frequently but with more volume.

Turf

Apply about an inch of water per week in intervals. Try running sprinklers three times a week, watering a third of an inch each time. Mow higher for more drought-resistant grass. Remember to water early in the morning to prevent fungus problems. 

How to Prune

Remove dead, broken, and diseased branches. If branches are crossing and rubbing up against each other, remove one of the branches. Broken or damaged limbs should be pruned as soon as possible after the damage occurs, it’s not necessary to wait until the proper pruning time for the plant.

To improve shape or control height, heading cuts can be made ¼ of an inch above a bud, sloping down and away from the bud at a 45 degree angle. The direction of the new growth will follow the direction the bud is pointing, so be sure it is pointed away from other branches. Vary the height of your cuts for a more natural form. Avoid pruning more than a third of the plant.

If the tree or shrub needs to be thinned to improve air circulation, remove branches just above the parent branch. Be careful not to thin too much, this type of pruning doesn’t stimulate new growth as much as heading cuts do.

Shrubs that grow from canes emerging from the base of the plant rather than a central trunk can be thinned by pruning at the base. Remove up to a third of the canes per year.

Shrubs that are old and need to be rejuvenated can be pruned back hard 10-12 inches from the ground. Dogwood, honeysuckle, hydrangeas, lilacs, altheas, spirea, and St. John’s wort can all be pruned back hard. This should be done in late winter/early spring, but the flowers on the spring-blooming shrubs will be sacrificed for the following season.

Do not prune trees when they are planted. Delay pruning until the first late winter/early spring period after the initial planting season.

Avoid heavy pruning of evergreens, other than varieties intended for hedges. Never prune behind the needles closest to the trunk, evergreens have a hard time producing new growth from old wood so new branches may not emerge past that point.

Clean tools with rubbing alcohol to prevent the spread of disease.

Seeding New Lawns

Site Prep:
Aerating can be done in the fall to loosen soil compaction, and improve water, air, and nutrient movement through the soil. Power raking can be hard on the turf and soil, so only use this method with heavy thatch that has built up to more than half an inch.


Seeding:
Start by spreading a seed starting fertilizer. Doing this first will prevent the wheels of the spreader to pick up freshly laid seed, which results in spotty seed coverage. While soil is loose, fill your spreader with half the amount of seed needed for your area. Walk in parallel lines across your lawn to spread the seed. Then turn 90º and repeat for the most even coverage. Cover the seed with straw or accelerator pellets to help hold both the seed in place and conserve moisture. The pellets contain a seed starting fertilizer, so you don’t need to spread the initial application of fertilizer separately.


Watering:
Seed needs to be kept moist during germination, which can take between 5 and 21 days depending on the type of seed used and the temperature. Plan on watering lightly two to four times each day for the first couple of weeks to keep the top layer of soil moist.
As the grass begins to come up, slowly start backing off on the frequency of waterings, but water a little deeper to encourage root growth.
Start to mow the grass when it reaches three or four inches. Mowing a couple of times before winter will help harden off the grass. Give it an extra boost for spring by fertilizing in late October or early November.

Starting a Vegetable Garden Starting a Vegetable Garden The best gardens take into consideration efficiency, convenience, and beauty. A little prep and planning on the front end can help save time and energy on hot summer days. Siting & Design Watch how the sun moves across your property. Fruiting vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers) need eight hours of sun for optimal production. Root vegetables like carrots or beets can produce with six hours. Leafy greens can grow with less.

If possible, site the vegetable garden north to south, with taller plants on the north end. This will prevent plants from shading each other as the sun moves across the sky each day. Cool-weather lovers like leafy greens and brassicas can be planted in shady spaces between sun-loving plants.

Raised beds have become a popular choice for gardens. They're simple to build, provide good drainage, and their long, narrow shape allows gardeners to work their plots without causing soil compaction. Keep them about four feet wide so you can work from both sides without walking in the garden.

To save space and add visual interest, consider trellises for plants like cucumbers and melons to climb. Tuteurs and tipis work well for beans. Planting small, shade-tolerant plants like salad greens in the shade of tall trellised plants can save space without competition between plants.
Nutrient Demands & Companion Planting Different plants use nutrients in different ways. For an efficient garden, organize plants by nutrient demand. Plants harvested their leaves, like spinach, use high levels of nitrogen. Plants grown for flowers and fruits like broccoli or tomatoes need phosphorus. Root crops like garlic and onions use lots of potassium. Rotating rows each year will prevent nutrient depletion. Beans and peas help replenish nutrients in the soil.

Plants in vegetable gardens form communities, working with (and sometimes against) each other to grow and produce. For example, marigolds can repel squash bugs and tomato hornworms. Use a companion planting chart to create productive plant communities.
Soil A healthy soil community is the foundation of healthy plants and will make the gardener's job easier. Soils in urban areas, especially newer developments, are often compacted and starved of nutrients. It can take years to build healthy soils, but there are ways to amend and nurture the soils along to grow healthy plants even in the first year of your garden. Amend heavy clay with compost. Composted manure can add nutrients, but apply in the fall so it doesn't burn young plants. Raised beds can be filled with good-quality top soil and compost. Consider layering yard waste like leaves with compost and soil, over time these materials will break down and feed the soil. Healthy soils reduce the need for chemical fertilizers, but if your plants become nutrient deficient, especially in the first few years, they might need a boost. Organic fertilizers will deliver necessary nutrients to the plants and can help build soils to keep your garden productive. Planting Choose a warm spring day to plant. A few days of overcast weather will help transplanted seedlings adjust to their new home. Sun and wind can be hard on tender seedlings. Planting in the afternoon will also help transition seedlings, letting them adjust overnight. Rake soil up in mounds to create rows or beds of loose soil for the seeds and seedlings. Spacing Refer to the spacing on the seed packet or plant label. Keep plants far enough away from each other to allow air to circulate between plants, but close enough to shade out weeds later in the season. Seeding or Transplanting The following plants grow well when sown directly into the ground. Seeds should be planted in the ground at a depth two to three times their width. Water after sowing:

Corn, peas, beans, squash, melon, pumpkins, spinach, carrots, beets, radishes, turnips, kohlrabi

These plants grow best when planted as seedlings, whether started indoors or purchased from a nursery. Press soil around the base gently and water in to get rid of air pockets around the roots:

Tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, onions
Watering & Mulching Growing plants need about an inch of water a week. Water plants lightly and frequently when they are young. As plants grow, encourage healthy root systems by watering less often and forcing the roots to seek water deep in the soil.

Keep beds free of weeds while young seedlings are growing. A biodegradable, recycled paper weed barrier covered with mulch will help keep moisture in and weeds from germinating. At the end of the season, the paper can be tilled into the garden to decompose.
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Seed Starting Seed Starting Timing Planting seeds too early or too late can complicate the process. The seed packet will give instructions on when to plant inside or direct sow outside, based on the last frost. Our frost free date is May 9. Beginners should stick close to these dates. Seeds planted too early can outgrow their pots before the weather warms, those planted too late won't be ready to transplant and will miss valuable growing time outside. General sowing times are:
Early March: Brassicas like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, and salad greens
Mid March: Peppers and eggplants
Late March: Tomatoes
Early April: Melons, squash, and cucumbers, though these can also be sown directly into the ground later in the spring.
Planting Read the directions on the seed packets. Check for directions on seed prep, some will need to be scored, chilled, or soaked.

Fill your containers with a seed starting potting mix, leaving half an inch of space at the top of the container. Tamp down the soil, water until it's uniformly moist, then let it drain. Press the seeds into the containers. Fine seeds generally sit on top of the soil, larger seeds can be covered with soil. Seed depth should be one to two times the width of the seed. Gently water again. The best way to water is to soak the containers, allowing the soil to wick up the water from below. When the soil is moist, remove the containers from water and allow them to drain. Don't forget to label your plants!

The seed packet will tell you the average time it takes for the seeds to germinate. During this time, the seeds need to be warm and uniformly moist, but not wet. Cover the containers with plastic wrap or a plastic tray cover to create a humid environment, and set them on a heating mat or the top of your refrigerator. Check them every few days for signs of life.

When the seedlings start to emerge, move them to a location with lots of light and slightly cooler temperatures. This will encourage sturdy growth. Seeds will need about 12 hours of good light each day to prevent them from getting leggy. It's easiest to plug a grow light into a timer and set it appropriately. Grow lights need to start out within a few inches of the seedling, and should be adjusted as the plants grow.

Continue keeping the seedlings evenly moist, and fertilize weekly. When using an all-purpose fertilizer, mix it at one quarter strength so seedlings don't burn from the nitrogen. Organic fertilizers are usually low strength and work well for young seedlings. If seeds were planted close together, thin them out as they grow until only a few strong seedlings remain.
Hardening Off Seedlings will need to be hardened off before they're transplanted outside. Two weeks before transplanting, start to back off on water and fertilizer. A week before transplanting, set the seedlings outside in dappled sunlight for a few hours each day so they grow accustomed to natural light. Slowly increase the amount of time they spend in the sun. Continue to protect the seedlings from cold temperatures.
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Container Gardening Container Gardening Choosing a Container Good drainage is essential. Choose a material that works best with your site and the needs of the plant. Clay wicks excess water, glazed pottery and plastic hold onto water, and metal retains heat and water.

Use a shallow patio bowl for lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, and other leafy greens, green onions, herbs, and strawberries.

For larger plants like broccoli, celery, eggplants, peppers, squash, and bush-type citrus, use a 5 gallon pot. Beans and cucumbers can also fit into a 5 gallon pot, choose bush varieties or use plant supports to hold up the vines. Potatoes and tomatoes should be in at least 5 gallon pots, but would benefit from more space. Look for determinate tomato plants labelled "patio" for smaller mature sizes, and use a tomato cage to keep the plant upright.

Root vegetables like carrots, beets, and radish need pots deep enough to comfortably grow to their full size under the soil, but should be planted in wide containers with enough space for multiple plants.

Small perennial fruits can also be grown in containers. There are newer varieties that are grown to have smaller mature sizes for patio containers. Plant them in large 10 gallon pots and protect from the winter freeze and thaw cycles.
Light Most vegetables need six or more hours of sun to produce well. Leafy greens, radishes, beets, peas, and some herbs can produce well with four hours of sun. Potting Medium Use a light, soilless potting mix to ensure good drainage. Do not use garden soil or top soil. Water Plant Supports Tomatoes, peas, pole beans, and vining cucumbers need support to grow vertically. We like using tomato cages that fit directly into the pot. Use your finger to check the moisture content of the top few inches of soil before watering, and water thoroughly when dry. Water in the morning, and avoid watering foliage to prevent fungus problems. Consistent watering in the heat of the summer is especially important for container grown vegetables. Remember that containers on concrete will get much hotter than containers on grass or wood.
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Reference Guides

Landscape Maintenance
Edible Gardening
Houseplant Care

Bagworms Bagworms Bagworms are tiny insects that typically infest evergreens, but can also be found on deciduous plants. They are most obvious in their bag stage on leafless winter trees, but damage isn't always apparent until the infestation is heavy. It's important to time treatments based on their life cycle. Life Cycle Bagworms spend the winter as eggs in their cocoons. They hatch in May or early June, crawl out of their sacks and start feeding on their host plant. This continues for 8-10 weeks until August, when they begin to construct a sack out of silk and bits of their host plant's foliage. Once the sacks are complete they pupate inside for about 4 weeks. In September or October the males emerge from their sacks as moth-like insects and visit the females in their sacks to mate. Afterwards the females can lay 500+ eggs in their sacks. Control For small infestations, manually pick off the bags. Be sure to dispose of these pests by sealing them in plastic bags and throwing them in the garbage, or soaking them in water to drown the insects.

For heavily infested plants, bagworms are easiest to control when they are out of their sacks and actively feeding. A yearly tree & shrub drench (Bonide or Bioadvanced) can be applied in March just before the tree begins to bud, or just after flowering for trees that are pollinated by insects. Otherwise spray regularly every 3-4 weeks starting around mid-June with a product labelled for bagworms.
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Japanese Beetles Japanese Beetles Japanese beetles are an invasive insect with no natural predators in the United States. They feed indiscriminately on hundreds of species of plants, feeding in groups with a devastating effect on landscape. The beetles will eat the tissue in between leaf veins, leaving only the leaf skeleton remaining. Life Cycle Adult beetles lay their eggs in the soil during the summer, which hatch into grubs that live in the soil for 10 months, feeding and growing. They emerge from the soil as adults the following June, feeding in groups for the next 40 days. Control Using grub control on the lawn in early summer will help reduce the number of adults later in the summer. To prevent infestations on row crops, use a row cover for the adult feeding period: 6-8 weeks from late June to early August. The most effective method of control for small infestations is manually picking the insects off of plants and drowning them in a bucket of soapy water. For heavily infested plants, treat with Neem Oil, which will be ingested by the beetle and passed on to its larvae, causing them to die before maturing. The product will need to be reapplied after rainfall or overhead irrigation. Because the chemical needs to be ingested to be effective, this is the safest product to use on flowering plants to protect pollinator populations. undo Bagworms Pruning Clematis redo Pruning Clematis Pruning Clematis There are three different pruning types for clematis, depending on where the flower buds form. Buds that grow on old wood will form in the fall. Buds that grow on new wood will emerge with the new spring growth. There are some varieties that produce buds on both old and new wood. Incorrect pruning rarely damages clematis, the worst that will happen is loss of flowers for a growing season. For the best display of blossoms determine when your clematis blooms and prune accordingly: Group 1: Blooms on Old Wood These are typically the varieties that are the earliest to flower in the spring. This group doesn't need a lot of pruning, just trim lightly to remove dead stems. It's ok to take old, tangled plants down to the base of the wood to rejuvenate them. Do this just after flowering finishes in the spring so the plants have time to regrow during the summer. Group 2: Blooms on Old and New Wood These varieties usually flower profusely in the spring, followed by rebloom in late summer or fall. Lightly prune weak or dead stems back to a healthy set of buds, clearing out tangles after the spring flush of flowers is done. Old, tangled plants can occasionally be cut back by a third or more to reinvigorate the plant, but doing this will compromise the flowering the next season. Large and double flowers will bloom on older wood. Group 3: Blooms on New Wood These clematis are usually summer or fall bloomers. Cut these varieties down to 8-12" from the ground in late winter. New shoots will emerge from the crown of the plant in the spring, loaded with flower buds. undo Japanese Beetles Pruning Hydrangeas redo Pruning Hydrangeas Pruning Hydrangeas Bigleaf and oakleaf hydrangeas bloom on old wood, which means pruning in the fall or early spring will destroy the next season's flowers. Panicle and smooth hydrangeas bloom on new wood that develops in the spring, producing buds in the same season the flowers appear. For all hydrangeas, its best to let them grow the first couple of years without pruning. When you do prune, cut them back to 18 inches from the ground. Bigleaf Hydrangeas (H. macrophylla) Prune these varieties after the flowers fade in the summer. Buds for next year's flowers will form in the fall, so avoid pruning later than August 1st. Dead wood can be cut away in the fall or very early spring. If your plant has been neglected, it's ok to prune all the stems to the base of the plant. If you do this, you'll lose the blossoms for the year, but your plant will be rejuvenated and healthier. If you've had trouble with blooms on these varieties, try a mountain hybrid (H. serrata) which blooms on both new and old wood and may be a more reliable bloomer. Oakleaf Hydrangeas (H. quercifolia) These varieties are known for their hardiness, oak-shaped leaves, and beautiful burgundy fall color. Flowers deepen in color and last on the stems all winter. These varieties don't need to be pruned, except for broken, crossing, or damaged branches. Panicle Hydrangeas (H. paniculata) Panicle hydrangeas have giant, cone-shaped blossoms. If needed, prune broken, crossing, or damaged branches in late winter, before the new growth occurs in the spring. Avoid pruning to shape the plant. Flowers are reliable year after year, and don't need special pruning to bloom. Smooth Hydrangeas (H. arborescens) These are commonly called "Snowball Hydrangeas," with big white pom-pom flowers. Prune 12 to 18 inches from the ground in late winter. undo Pruning Clematis Roses redo Roses Roses Spring & Summer Care Fertilize three times per year: in early spring after pruning, during the first bloom period, and in mid to late July. Do not fertilize later than July. Deadhead regularly to encourage repeat blooming. On new roses, deadhead to the closest 3-leaflet leaf, on established roses deadhead to the closest 5-leaflet leaf. Fall & Winter Care Water roses until the ground freezes by soaking the plants every 2-3 weeks. Remove leaves from around the base of the plant to prevent diseases from overwintering in the debris. Prune broken, damaged, or diseased canes. Mulch with dry leaves, grass clippings, or chopped straw to a height of 8-10 inches around sensitive varieties to protect the plant from winter temperature fluctuations after the weather cools and the rose goes dormant. Rose collars can be used to keep the material in place. Selecting a Variety Hybrid Tea Large blossoms on upright canes used for cut flowers.

Prune dead, diseased, or crossing branches in early spring. Cut the oldest stems to the ground. Protect with mulch to the graft point in the winter.
Floribunda Small, elegant flowers resemble hybrid tea blossoms but bloom in showy clusters.

Cut back by a third in early spring, and prune dead, diseased, or crossing branches. Protect with mulch to the graft point in the winter. Grandiflora A cross between floribunda and hybrid tea, with large blossoms in clusters. Plants tend to grow taller than other roses.

Prune overcrowded or dead wood in early spring. Protect with mulch to the graft point in the winter. Climbing These varieties are floriferous and can be trained up trellises and pillars.

Trim back to structural canes in early spring. Shrub Hardy and easy-care

Cut back by a third in early spring. Reblooms well without deadheading.
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Spring Flowering Bulbs Spring Flowering Bulbs These instructions can be followed for spring-flowering bulbs, bare root peonies, and rhizomes planted in the fall. Siting & Planting Select a location with full sun to light shade and good drainage. Planting bulbs behind existing perennials allows the bulbs to stand out early in the spring when they're blooming, and as the perennials emerge, they will conceal the dying foliage of the bulbs later in the spring and summer.

Spring-flowering bulbs need a cold dormant period in order to flower. Plant in mid to late October when the weather cools but before the ground freezes. Dig a trench or hole at a depth three times the height of the bulb. Sprinkle bone meal in the bottom of the hold, place the bulb on top pointed-side up, cover with soil, and water in. Bulbs can be placed a couple of inches apart in clusters for better impact. Some bulbs, like narcissus, crocus, scilla, snowdrops, and grape hyacinths will naturalize, spreading by producing more bulbs. Mulch to insulate from winter temperature fluctuations and to conserve soil moisture. If squirrels are a problem, lay chicken wire or fine netting on top of the soil for the winter.
Care Leave foliage intact until the leaves and stem turn yellow and die back on their own. The foliage is essential for feeding the bulb for a strong display of flowers next spring. Deadhead tulips before the seedpod develops so the plant's energy is used in the bulb rather than in seed production. Top dress with compost early in the summer to add nutrients. Bare Root Peonies: Plant in late August through October. Eyes should face up and be no deeper than 2" under the soil surface. Peonies planted too deeply will not bloom. Iris Rhizomes Plant early in the fall when night temperatures are still around 40-50 degrees to give them time to root in. Plant the rhizome horizontally with the top exposed.
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Asparagus Asparagus Perennial Full Sun Good Drainage Planting & Care Asparagus takes several years to mature into edible spears, but once it matures, it will mature for years to come. We recommend planting 1-year crowns rather than seeds, which gives you a year's head start on your crop. Ten plants should produce enough for one to two people each season.

Asparagus prefer light soils with good drainage that warm up early in the spring, making raised beds a good choice.

Dig trenches 12" wide and 8-10" deep. Spread compost or manure over the bottom of the trench and cover with soil. Set the crowns 18" apart and spread the roots out flat. Cover with 2" of soil. As new shoots appear, gradually fill the trench. By midsummer the trench should be filled to the soil level. Mulch to control weeds and conserve moisture. Water and weed regularly for the first year or two. Old brown top growth can be cut to the ground in early spring.

Watch for asparagus beetles, spray with insecticidal soap if needed.
Harvesting Do not harvest during the first two years while the plants are establishing their roots. During the third season, pick the spears over a four-week period beginning in early spring. The next year, extend the season to eight weeks. Cut spears with a sharp knife at or just below the soil level.
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Blueberries Blueberries Perennial Full Sun Good Drainage Planting & Care Blueberries grow best in moist, well-drained, acid soils high in organic material. Most soils in this area will need to be amended with compost to add organic material, and peat moss, pine needle mulch, or soil sulfur for acidity. An acidic fertilizer may be required while these materials decompose into the soil. Plant in full sun and mulch heavily to keep shallow roots watered. Two or more varieties planted together will result in the biggest yield.

Blueberries can start to loose their productivity without regular pruning. Canes more than seven years old should be pruned out each year during the winter while the plant is still dormant. Diseased, broken, or crossing branches should also be pruned. Opening up the center of the plant to allow sunlight and air in will help prevent disease.
Harvesting Blueberries will ripen for 6-8 weeks beginning in July. Berries should easily pull away from the plant when they are ripe. Use bird netting or chicken wire coverings to protect your harvest from wildlife.
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Citrus Citrus Tropical Full Sun Good Drainage Protect from frost Planting & Care Citrus thrives with 6-8 hours of direct sun. During the winter, at least 4 hours will keep the plant healthy enough to produce the next summer. If plants are moved outside in the summer, gradually increase time in direct sun to allow the plant to adjust.

Plants should be kept at 60-70 degrees in the winter and 65-80 degrees in the summer. Dramatic temperature changes can result in leaf drop, but the plant should recover once it becomes acclimated.

Fertilizer every 3-4 weeks in the summer and every 2-3 months in the winter.

Plant in a well-drained potting mix with perlite to prevent over watering. Keep soil consistently moist but not too wet. Allow top inch of soil to dry out during the winter to prevent fungal growth. Mist weekly to provide humidity in dry homes during the winter.
Common Problems If the plant doesn't bloom, it could be a sign of the pot being too big or over or under fertilizing. If flowers drop without developing fruit, mist or place a humidifier close to the plant. If branches droop as fruit develops, prune back leggy branches to strengthen. Watch for curled, speckled, or yellow leaves as signs of pest infestations.
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Fruit Trees Fruit Trees Hardy Trees Full Sun Good Drainage Fruit trees have some pest and disease problems associated with them. Many new hybrids have better resistance to diseases than older varieties, and cultural practices combined with a well-suited site can help prevent problems. In some cases, a regular spraying schedule will need to be adopted to produce a healthy crop of fruit. Cultural Practices Regular pruning is an important maintenance practice to thin branches in the tree canopy for good air circulation and to make the remaining branches stronger to better support the fruit yield. Pruning also helps prevent pest and disease problems. In late winter, remove damaged or diseased branches, rubbing branches, suckers from the base of the trunk, and watersprouts (branches that grow upright and clutter the center of the trees). Excessive pruning on apple trees can cause more watersprouts, so prune lightly one to two times a year. Once those problems are addressed, prune for aesthetic value. At the end of the season, avoid leaving fruit or old leaves decaying around the base of the tree, this can cause disease and insect infestations. Do not use them as compost! Spray Schedule Some gardeners establish a spraying schedule for their fruit trees if there has been a history of disease or insect infestation. The following is a general schedule, be sure to read all labels before using any chemical to prevent damage to your tree or the surrounding environment. Winter Dormancy Use a dormant oil in February or March before the tree buds out to prevent damage from scale and spider mites overwintering in the bark of the tree. Early Spring We recommend using Bonide Fruit Tree & Plant Guard, which controls a wide range of fungal diseases as well as insects like mites, aphids, and scale. Begin treatment with one application when flower buds are visible but still in tight clusters. After Flowering After the petals have fallen from the tree, spray again. Applications can be repeated every 10-14 days throughout the summer. Read the label carefully to determine the proper spraying schedule and the pre-harvest interval. The pre-harvest interval will tell you how long you need to wait between the final application of the product and harvest. undo Citrus Garlic redo Garlic Garlic Perennial, but usually grown as an annual Full Sun Good Drainage Planting & Care Plant in the fall after the first frost, or as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring. Break bulbs apart into individual cloves and let them sit for a few days in their papery husks before planting. Plant cloves 2 inches deep and 4 inches apart, pointy side up.

Water regularly in the spring, trimming back any flower stalks that appear to preserve the flavor of the bulb. These "scapes" are edible!
Harvesting & Storage Harvest when tops begin to turn yellow and fall over. To cure, hang them so the bulbs get plenty of air circulation. Keep the curing bulbs out of the sun. When the husks are dry and papery and the root crown is hard, they're ready to be stored. Clean off any soil and store in a cool, dark, dry place. Tops can be trimmed or braided together to hang. Flavor will improve with age.
undo Fruit Trees Grapes redo
Grapes Grapes Perennial Full Sun Good Drainage Pruning First Growing Season Do not prune, let the plant establish and develop. First Dormant Season Choose the strongest shoot and trim the others down to the base of the plant. Second Growing Season Tie the shoot to a support stake and continue to support it until it can be tied to the top wire of a two-wire trellis. Then cut the top to encourage branching. Second Dormant Season Summer growth should have produced side shoots. Pick the four best lateral shoots and tie them to the trellis wires. Trim them back to 6-8 buds from the original shoot. These will produce fruit this summer. undo Garlic Horseradish redo Horseradish Horseradish Perennial Full Sun Good Drainage Planting & Care Plants can grow up to 18" wide and spread freely, so give them plenty of space or consider planting in a deep container. As soon as the ground is thawed enough to work in the spring, dig a whole twice as deep as the root is long and backfill with loose soil and compost. This will create loose soil around the deep tap root.

Plant the root at a 45 degree angle with the tip about a half inch below the surface of the soil.

Keep the soil moist until sprouts appear. Once the plant develops several sets of leaves, our regular rainfall should be enough for it. In drought periods, water occasionally.

Use only a low nitrogen fertilizer when necessary, compost is preferable.
Harvesting & Processing Harvest after first frost in the fall for the best flavor. As long as some root pieces are left in the ground, it will regrow as a perennial next year.

To process, grate roots and freeze or soak in cold water to prevent discoloration. Drain and mix with vinegar. Be sure to process in a well ventilated area, the fumes are potent and will burn your eyes and nose! This prepared horseradish can be stored for 6 weeks.
undo Grapes Onions redo
Onions Onions Perennial, but usually grown as an annual Full Sun Good Drainage Planting & Care For spring planting, select sets for green tops and smaller bulbs or plants for larger bulbs.

Plant into loose soil as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring. If you're planting sets, bury the bulb halfway into the soil. Water and fertilize regularly with a low nitrogen fertilizer until the bulb has enlarged at the soil surface. If flower stalks emerge, cut them before they open. Once an onion flowers, it has "bolted" and will not be good for eating.
Harvesting & Storage When tops yellow and flop over in late summer, they are ready to be dried. Pull them gently and allow them to cure for several weeks before braiding or trimming the tops for storage in a cool, dark, dry place.
undo Horseradish Potatoes redo
Potatoes Potatoes Perennial, but usually grown as an annual Full Sun Good Drainage Planting & Care Cut the potato into chunks so that there are at least two good eyes in each piece. Let the cut pieces dry for several days before planting.

Plant the pieces with the eye facing up four inches deep, 12 inches apart. Rows should be 24 inches apart. Fertilize or compost in bands beside the rows.

When plants are five to six inches high, mound soil from between rows into hills that cover the stems up to the lower leaves.

Water regularly. Under watering will cause hollow tubers.
Harvesting & Storage New potatoes are ready for harvest as soon as the plant flowers. For full-size potatoes, harvest when tops yellow and die back. Store in a dark, dry place.
undo Onions Raspberries redo
Raspberries Raspberries Perennial Full Sun Good Drainage Raspberries are easy to grow and long lived. There are two groups of raspberries: summer bearing product one crop per season, everbearing produce in the summer and fall. Planting & Care Plant three feet apart in early spring in a bed prepared with compost or manure. Water well (one inch per week) while the plant is getting established, and from flowering to harvest. Underwatering will result in small, seedy berries. Mulch well to discourage weeds and retain moisture.

Clean up any debris in the fall, this provides shelter for overwintering diseases and pests.

Fertilize established plants in early spring before new growth, do not fertilize in late spring or summer.
Pruning Summer Bearing Second year canes will fruit on these varieties. Cut back the oldest canes after fruiting has finished, leaving this year's growth for next year's fruiting. Supports should not be needed when the plant is well pruned. Everbearing These varieties don't need any special pruning, just trim out any dead or broken branches, and thin out occasionally. Supports shouldn't be needed on these smaller plants. Harvesting & Storage Berries will ripen over a two-week period. Pick berries every couple of days, gently pulling on each berry. They should come off the plant easily.
undo Potatoes Rhubarb redo
Rhubarb Rhubarb Perennial Full Sun Good Drainage Planting & Care Rhubarb is a perennial that grows well in our Nebraska climate. Choose a sunny location with well-drained soil, or build a raised bed. Rhubarb plants require lots of nutrients, so work compost or manure into the soil before planting. Young plants are sensitive to nitrates in fertilizers, so avoid using chemical fertilizers during the first year.

Plant in early spring 18-30 inches apart, with the crown an inch below the surface of the soil. Keep the plant well-watered.

Divide plants every three to four years when they're dormant in late fall or early spring. Add compost in the fall to provide the plant with food for the spring.
Harvesting Do not remove any stalks the first year so the plant can work on establishing its roots. Remove any flower stalks that appear. Stalks are ready to be harvested when they're 12-18 inches tall by cutting them at the base of the plant. Leave at least two stalks attached to the crown to continue production. If stalks become thin, add organic material to feed the plant. Don't eat the leaves, they're poisonous!
undo Raspberries Salad Greens redo
Salad Greens Salad Greens Annual Full to Part Sun Cool Weather Crop Planting & Care Temperatures between 46-65 degrees are ideal for salad greens, but seedlings can tolerate light frost. Plants bolt in warm weather, so plant early in the spring or fall for the longest growing period. Plant larger crops like broccoli around greens to shade them and keep them cool longer into the season. Amend soils with compost and use a high-nitrogen fertilizer if necessary.

Plant seeds half an inch deep. Space leaf lettuces 4 inches apart, loose headed lettuces 8 inches apart, and firm headed lettuces 16 inches apart. Planting a small section of your row each week in the spring will result in a continuous harvest.

Water lightly and regularly to keep seedling moist and produce the best crop. Chive and garlic can be planted with salad greens to repel common pests.
Harvesting Lettuces become more bitter as they are exposed to sun and heat during the day, so harvest in the morning when temperatures are cooler.

Leafy lettuces and spinach can be harvested as baby greens or allowed to grow to maturity. Plants will continue to grow after they are trimmed until they start to bolt. As the days grow warmer and with each trimming the plants will become more bitter and woody. Head lettuces can be harvested when the center is firm.

Rinse greens twice and dry thoroughly to increase storage time.
undo Rhubarb Strawberries redo
Strawberries Strawberries Perennial Full Sun Good Drainage Plant after threat of frost has passed in a sunny area with good drainage, and mix compost into the soil. Use edging to contain runners into their designated area. Choose a June bearing variety for a big harvest early in the season, or everbearing for a steady harvest throughout the spring and summer.

Avoid planting strawberries in areas previously occupied by tomatoes, peppers, or eggplants. Strawberry plants decrease in vigor after a few years, so start with fresh, healthy plants after four or five years. Mulch to keep fruits off the soil and conserve moisture. Early blossoms can be covered with mulch or row cover to protect against spring frosts.
Matted Row System Plant 18 inches apart, with 3 to 4 feet in between rows. Runners are allowed to grow, producing a mat 2 to 3 feet wide the length of the row. You can skip planting every other row space, plant the empty spaces the next spring, and allow the runners to fill in the space. Hill System Set plants in a hill 12 inches apart with 12 inches between rows. Dig a V-shaped hole 8 inches deep, spread the roots, and fill in the soil so the crown rests above the soil level. Pick off runners to allow the plant to put all of its energy into producing fruit. There's a lot more maintenance with this method, but it produces larger berries.
undo Salad Greens Sweet Potatoes redo
Sweet Potatoes Sweet Potatoes Annual Full to Part Sun Good Drainage Planting & Care Plant in full sun, though some afternoon shade is ok. Plant in May when the weather has warmed for the season in raised rows about 8 inches high to improve drainage. Space 12-18 inches in rows 3-4 inches apart.

Don't over-feed sweet potatoes. Mix compost into the rows before planting, but don't fertilize during the growing season. Keep the rows weed-free early in the season. Water well during dry spells.
Harvesting & Storage Stop watering 3-4 weeks before harvest to reduce splitting in the tubers. When the foliage begins to yellow, the tubers are ready to dig. The skin of a sweet potato is tender and easily damaged, so be gentle when pulling them up.

Cure the tubers in a warm (around 80 degrees), shady spot for a week or two. Don't let the potatoes touch each other during this time. After curing, wrap in newspaper and pack them in a box and store in a cool place for up to six months.
undo Strawberries Tomatoes redo
Tomatoes Tomatoes Annual Full Sun Good Drainage Planting Tomatoes need at least 6 hours of direct sun for the best production. They prefer well-drained soil amended with compost. Don't plant them in the same spot each year, that will invite pests and fungal problems. Rotate crops by nutrient demand: plant them where beans and peas were grown last year, avoid areas where potatoes, eggplants, or peppers were in the last growing season.

Start seeds inside or transplant a seedling grown at a nursery. Let the plant acclimate to being outside by slowly increasing its exposure to direct sun. Plant outside after last frost. Pull off lower leaves and plant deeper in the soil. If evening temperatures drop, a plastic bottle can serve as a make-shift greenhouse.

Basil helps enhance the flavor of tomatoes, and can also repel insects. They share soil nutrients without reducing yields. Other beneficial companions are marigolds, cosmos, nasturtium, chives, garlic, lemon balm, onion, parsley, sage, and mint.
Care Control growth pattern and increase air flow to indeterminate varieties by removing suckers and side branches while tying the main stem to your staking system. Tie up fruiting branches for extra support. Do not remove side branches on determinate varieties.

Tomatoes need an inch of water each week during the spring and up to 2 inches per week during peak production. Water deeply during the establishment period to encourage strong root development. Water at the base of the plant, overhead watering increases the risk of fungal diseases. A light shredded mulch or grass clippings help retain moisture and keep soil temperature consistent.

A high-nitrogen fertilizer will help stem and leaf development early in the season. Begin to apply phosphorous and potassium heavy fertilizers in mid-season to encourage blossoming and fruit production. High nitrogen at that time will result in less production. Fertilizers labelled for tomatoes usually have calcium and other micronutrients tomatoes need. A foliar spray of 2 tablespoons magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) diluted in a gallon of water once a month can also help increase fruit yields.
Harvest Harvest at full ripeness if possible, but pink tomatoes will ripen indoors at room temperature without much loss in flavor. Store at room temperature when fully ripe. Temperatures below 50 degrees will negatively impact flavor. Common Problems on Tomatoes Blossom End Rot Brown rotten spots on the bottom of the fruit.
Develops from inconsistent watering and warm weather early in the growing season. Mulch plants, ensure consistent water supply, and supplement with calcium. Leaf Blight Yellowing or dying leaves early in the season or during fruiting period.
Caused by humid conditions, overcrowding, and overhead watering. Pull off affected leaves before it spreads to the whole plant. Water plants early in the morning using drip irrigation or with a hose directed at the base of the plant. Space plants properly and practice crop rotation. Magnesium Deficiency Lower leaves turn pale green to yellow, spreading gradually to the whole plant and stunting fruit development.
Tends to affect plants more in cool, wet conditions. Water consistently and use a foliar spray of 2 tablespoons of magnesium sulfate diluted in a gallon of water once a month until environmental conditions improve to help the plant take up nutrients more efficiently. Tomato Hornworm Holes chewed in leaves and fruit
Check under the leaves for a large caterpillar with white diagonal stripes and a black horn. Pluck off the plant by hand and drown in soapy water. Inconsistent Watering Cracking fruit
Ensure the plant is getting consistent water each week, taking into account rainfall and supplemental watering.
undo Sweet Potatoes Asparagus redo

Houseplant Care Houseplant Care Light Low light: filtered, indirect near a north or east window, or a window shaded by a tree or building

Bright indirect light: a window with good bright light in the room, but the plant isn't sitting directly in the window

Bright light: at least 4-6 hours of direct, bright light without shade from trees or curtains
Soil & Repotting When repotting, choose a pot 2 inches larger in diameter than the current pot. Too much extra soil will retain water and lead to rot. Some plants prefer to be root bound, while others want plenty of room to grow. If the pot doesn't have drainage holes, fill the bottom with a few inches of gravel to give excess water a place to drain out of the potting soil.

Use an all-purpose indoor potting mix made up of peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite. Garden or top soil is too heavy for potted plants and can lead to disease and pest problems. To avoid mineral buildup and pest infestation, refresh soil every couple of years.
Fertilizer Fertilize once a month from spring through early fall, then cut back during the winter to give plants a rest period. Use an all-purpose fertilizer labelled for houseplants. If leaves start to yellow but veins remain green it could be a sign of a magnesium or sulfate deficiency, so try sprinkling one teaspoon of magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) per foot height of the plant directly onto the soil and water in. Watering Most tropical houseplants should be watered thoroughly every 7-10 days, ferns at least once or twice weekly, and succulents bi-weekly at most. Timing will vary depending on the size of the pot and the temperature and humidity of the room. Plants receiving more sunlight and heat will also require more water. Usually plants will need less water during the winter when changes in sunlight trigger a rest period with less vigorous growth. Misting leaves during this period can provide much needed humidity in dry winter homes.

Before watering, test the soil by sticking a finger two inches into the soil. If the soil feels moist, wait a few days and test it again. If the soil is dry, add water.

Add enough water so it percolates through the entire root zone of the plant. If the pot has drainage holes, water slowly until you see water coming out of the bottom of the pot. Pots without drainage holes may take some trial and error to find the right amount to thoroughly water roots without drowning the plant. Start slow and add water as needed, plants rebound from underwatering better than overwatering. Watch for yellowing leaves as a sign of overwatering, and brown, crunchy leaves when a plant is too dry.
undo Transitioning Plant Environments Amaryllis redo
Amaryllis Amaryllis Bright Indirect Light Well Drained Soil Amaryllis are some of our favorite winter plants. The giant, long-lasting flowers add life to holiday mantles and tablescapes. Watching the flower's stalk slowly emerge from the bulb and form a velvety blossom can brighten up the dreary post-holiday winter months. Getting Started Choose a pot that allows the amaryllis to be surrounded by at least an inch of soil. Soak the bulb and its roots in lukewarm water overnight to jump start growth. Then, plant the bulb so the top third is visible above the soil. Give it a good soak, then allow the soil to dry out until the bud and stalk emerge. Then begin watering whenever the soil feels dry to the touch. A warm, sunny location will help the stalk grow properly.

Amaryllis can also be forced in water. Layer stones or marbles in a vase and rest the bulb. Fill the vase so that the bottom of the bulb is just barely touching water. This will wake up the roots and encourage them to work down into the water. If the bulb is submerged too deeply it will rot.
Flowering Period On average, it takes 6-8 weeks for amaryllis to flower after potting. When the bud begins to show color, move the plant out of direct sunlight to extend bloom time. The blooms typically last about a month. Flowers can be removed as they fade. When all the flowers on a stalk fade, cut it back to the base of the bulb, sometimes another flower stalk will emerge. Older, larger bulbs generally produce more flowers. Rebloom Amaryllis will develop leaves after flowering. They can be treated as houseplants through the spring and summer, kept either in a sunny window or a partially sunny spot outside. In late summer, stop watering the plant and let the leaves fade away. The bulb can then be stored in a cool (50 degrees), dark place for an 8-12 week "winter." After this dormant period, bring the plant back into warmth and sunlight to restart the blooming cycle.
undo Houseplant Care Bromeliads redo
Bromeliads Bromeliads Bright Indirect Light Well Drained Soil High Humidity Bromeliads are native to the rainforests of South America. The "blooms" are actually colorful bracts. They absorb moisture and nutrients from the air through tiny leaf scales. Their rosettes form a reservoir to hold water and the rotting leaves and debris that serve as a fertilizer in their natural environment. Environment Bromeliads love a moderately moist environment where they receive direct light for half a day. Their root systems are small so plant them in small pots using an orchid potting mix or mount them onto wood or stones, wrapping the roots in sphagnum moss to hold moisture. Mist leaves and keep the reservoir at the base of their leaves filled. Dampen the soil only when it becomes very dry. Avoid oil-based leaf shine, this interferes with their ability to take in water and nutrients. Propagation The colorful bracts will last for several weeks to several months. When the color fades, the bromeliad slowly dies, but it sends up several "pups" to reproduce. When the pups are a third the size of the parent plant they can be cut away and replanted. Be patient, it takes three to five years for them to show color! Feed regularly in the summer at half strength, spraying the fertilizer solution onto leaves and the reservoir. undo Amaryllis Christmas Cactus redo Christmas Cactus Christmas Cactus Bright Indirect Light Evenly Moist Soil Mild Temperatures Environment Christmas cacti prefer humid conditions and richer soils than most cacti, rather than desert-dry conditions, so plant in a high-quality, all-purpose potting medium and mist regularly. They perform best with consistent temperatures around 65-70 degrees, evenly moist soil, and bright, indirect sunlight. Stimulating Blooms Stimulate blooming by reducing soil moisture and moving the plant to a cool (55-60 degree) area with 14 hours of complete darkness (including lamps and street lights outside a window) followed by 10 hours of sunlight for about 6 weeks. Use a high-phosphorus fertilizer (the middle number of the three on a fertilizer formula label) as directed when buds form. undo Bromeliads Cyclamen redo Cyclamen Cyclamen Bright Indirect Light Evenly Moist Soil Mild Temperatures Cyclamen are long-blooming, easy to grow plants that add color to winter homes. With a little extra care, they make beautiful houseplants all year. Environment Cyclamen prefer temperatures between 60 and 65 degrees. Keep the plants away from drafty windows and doors, and heating vents. They bloom best in bright, indirect light. Water when the soil feels dry to the touch. Water from the outside rim of the pot, not in the center of the plant or over the foliage. Fertilize every two weeks with a high-phosphorus fertilizer for sustained blooming. Flowering Period Multiple buds will shoot up from the center of the cyclamen. As the flowers fade, pinch them off at the crown of the plant and new buds will grow up to replace them. Cyclamen usually bloom from mid-autumn to early spring. Rebloom When blooming slows in the spring and the foliage dies down, keep the tubers in the pot in a cool dry spot and let the soil dry out. In mid-summer, re-pot the tuber with new soil, water and place in a warm spot to encourage root growth. As the plant grows, gradually return it to a cooler environment to encourage blooming in the late fall. undo Christmas Cactus Ferns redo Ferns Ferns Low Light Evenly Moist Soil High Humidity Environment Ferns are easy to grow with adequate moisture. Use a peat-based potting mix or amend a mix with sphagnum peat moss to hold water. Maintain humidity by misting plants regularly or setting them on trays with damp pebbles. Avoid placing ferns in hot, sunny windows or near heat sources. Ferns grow best with lower levels of light and many species can thrive with only fluorescent lighting. Care Water weekly indoors, or daily outside in the heat of the summer. Use an all-purpose fertilizer at half strength monthly during the spring and summer. In the winter feed only every other month or stop fertilizing. If foliage turns yellow, apply magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) with a solution of 2 tablespoons per one gallon of water soaked into the soil.

Repot in the spring when the plant is developing new growth. To control the size of larger ferns, prune off a quarter of the roots and repot with fresh soil.

Fern fronds are sensitive, so don't use leafshine or other oils to clean them. Remove pests by washing the leaves with water, picking insects off by hand, or using a systemic pesticide rather than a spray.
undo Cyclamen Orchids redo
Orchids Orchids Bright Indirect Light Well Drained Soil High Humidity In their native tropical environment, orchids grow attached to tree canopies or rocks than in the soil. An orchid potting mix made of bark and charcoal will help the orchid feel at home, letting water wash over its roots and allowing for good air circulation. There are over 30,000 different varieties of orchids all around the planet, but the most common types we have in our homes are Phalaenopsis, Oncidium, and Dendrobium. Care Orchids prefer bright, indirect light. Keep them away from sunny windowsills. The best way to water is to soak the plant thoroughly in your sink, and let it drain completely. Never leave the plant sitting in water. This can be done up to once a week when it's warm, or every couple of weeks when it's cooler. If you notice yellowing of the leaves, reduce watering. Bloom Orchid flowers can last for months. When all the blossoms drop off the flower stalk, trim the stalk back to its base. Often, a new flower stalk will emerge. Fertilize with a high-phosphorus (the middle of the three numbers on a fertilizer formula) orchid fertilizer according to the directions on the label, or a high-phosphorus all-purpose fertilizer at half strength. After the orchid has finished blooming, switch to a balanced fertilizer (the three numbers are the same or close to the same) until you notice a new flower stalk emerging. Generally, orchids bloom once a year. undo Ferns Succulents redo Succulents Succulents Bright Light Well Drained Soil Low Humidity Environment Succulents and cacti need at least 6 hours of bright, direct sunlight during the spring, summer, and fall. They can survive the winter with 4 hours of sun. If plants are moved outside in the spring and inside in the fall, allow the plant to gradually adjust to changing light and temperatures to avoid shock. Plant in a shallow pot with good drainage using a rocky cactus potting mix or amend a regular mix with rock or perlite. Care Water every 2-3 weeks during the spring and summer, weekly if the plant is outside in full sun. Reduce to every 4-6 weeks during the winter. Succulents will begin to shrivel if they aren't getting enough water. If this happens rehydrate slowly 2-3 times rather than soaking all at once. Use a cactus fertilizer once a month during the spring and summer only. Propogation Propagate during the active growth period in the spring and summer. Use a clean knife to cut a "pup" (a small offshoot of the plant) away from the parent plant. Allow the cut to callus in a dry spot for a few days, then place on top of lightly dampened soil. Mist the soil to keep it moist but not wet. New roots should develop within a month. Wait a few weeks after the roots appear before repotting. undo Orchids Transitioning Plant Environments redo Transitioning Plant Environments Transitioning Plant Environments When transitioning plants outside in the spring or inside in the fall, allow them to slowly adjust to their environment. Drastic changes to temperature, light, or watering habits can cause shock. Mist plants when moving them inside to allow them to adjust to changes in humidity levels. Tropical plants can thrive outside with low temperatures down to 50 degrees. Leaves may drop as the plant adjusts. Continue the transition process and monitor for insect damage, the plant should recover soon. Overwintering Tropicals When bringing plants inside for the winter, treat soil and plant with insecticidal soap or systemic insecticide a week before the transition. Existing pest problems can worsen indoors and spread to other houseplants. Tropical plants overwinter well with 4-6 hours of bright indirect light in the winter. Supplement with a grow light if necessary. If you're letting plants go dormant, store at 40-50 degrees with little to no light until the leaves turn yellow and drop. Store in an unheated, but not freezing basement or garage and water about every 2 weeks to keep from drying out. undo Succulents Houseplant Care redo