Category Archives: Spring

Perennial Favorites – early bloomers

Overview

Early perennial flowers herald the coming of spring and are a welcome splash of color in the late winter landscape. Perennials are plants that come back every year after declining during the winter months. Early blooming perennials include some bulbs, shrubs, ground covers or flowering plants.

Early Perennial Flowering Ground Covers

Early flowering ground covers work well with spring flowering bulbs as the bulbs come up within them and then die back allowing the ground cover to crowd out weeds during the summer. If needed, prune back ground covers after a bloom period. Examples of early flowering ground covers are evening primrose, ajuga, lily of the valley, creeping phlox and lamium.

Early Perennial Flowering Shrubs

Early blooming shrubs are often fragrant additions to the garden. Prune early blooming shrubs right after the bloom period because many set their blooms for the next season in summer. Examples are azalea, rhododendron, forsythia, viburnum, and spicebush.

Other Early Blooming Perennial Plants

Other plants that make a great choice for the early blooming perennial garden are dianthus, bleeding heart, lenton rose, sweet violet, lupine, and pasque flower.

Landscape Ideas

Plant early flowering perennials among plants that don’t reappear until the weather warms. For example, plant hyacinth, tulip or muscari bulbs in the same bed you plant annual flowering plant seeds. The annuals will come up and cover the declining foliage of the flowering bulbs as the season warms. Also, plant early flowering shrubs under trees that lose their leaves in the winter. The barren trees make an excellent backdrop for early spring blooming shrubs such as azaleas and viburnum.

SUCCULENTS

BEGINNER TIPS FOR SUCCULENTS

It’s easy to see why succulents are one of the trendiest plant groups right now. Their unique shapes, colors, textures and sizes add drama and interest to the décor of any room. They also look great on their own or paired with other succulents. Not to mention, they’re so easy to grow and can handle drought.

You have to start somewhere, though. With the right growing conditions and care, your succulents can survive year-round. Follow these beginner tips to get started.

7 Beginner Tips for Growing Succulents

  1. Pick a healthy succulent – Look for succulents with full shapes, good color and with healthy foliage. Avoid plants with insects or signs of damage.
  2. Choose the right soil – Succulents like to be dry and need a well-draining soil. Use Espoma’s Cactus Mixto keep plants healthy.
  3. Select containers – Succulents can be planted in almost anything that allows for proper drainage. Make sure containers have a drainage hole for water to flow through.
  4. Give enough water– Succulents with leaves that pucker aren’t getting enough water and ones with soggy leaves are holding onto too much water. Get into a regular watering schedule to help plants thrive. Water succulents when the top inch of soil feels dry by pour water into the pot until it flows through the drainage hole. Remove all excess water.
  5. Soak up the sun – Most succulents love light. Place them in spaces where they’ll receive four to six hours of sun.
  6. Feed them – Give succulents a boost by fertilizing as needed with Espoma’s new Cactus! Succulent plant food.
  7. Keep plants looking good – Remove dead or decaying leaves to keep plants looking nice and insects at bay.

Want to know more? Learn how to care for succulents in winter.

Courtesy of Espoma.com

House Plants

Five Reasons to be Thankful for Houseplants

While you’re counting your blessings and listing those things you’re grateful for this Thanksgiving, don’t forget to include houseplants. Indoor plants provide a pop of color and interesting texture to any space.

Houseplants are more than just a pretty face, though. They impact our everyday lives by cleaning the air and reducing stress. Give houseplants everything they need to grow and they’ll pay you back.

Here are the Top Five Reasons to Be Thankful for Houseplants

  1. Indoor Plants Purify the Air

Studies from the US Environmental Protection Agency have found that levels of indoor air pollution can be two to five times higher — and in some cases 10 times more polluted — than outdoor air. Houseplants such as bromeliads, spider plants and dracaena, remove the harmful compounds frequently found in homes and offices, produced by cleaning supplies, paint, furniture glue and nail polish remover.

  1. Houseplants help us relax

Researchers have found that being around plants—especially indoors, can reduce stress and help us feel happier and more relaxed. You can never have too many houseplants so choose one, or 10 that work for you.

  1. Plants Make Us Smarter

Having a plant around can enhance learning abilities by improving our concentration, focus and problem-solving skills. Make sure to place houseplant in home offices, studying spaces and at work.

  1. They Improve Our Physical Health

Plants offer physical benefits, too. One study found that adding plants to office spaces reduces headaches, coughs and sore throats. And employees typically use fewer sick days.

Know someone in the hospital? Bring them a plant. A Kansas State University studied found that patients in rooms with plants request less pain medication, have lower heart rates and blood pressure, experience less fatigue and anxiety and are discharged sooner.

  1. They’re easy to care for

Seniors feel better and more fulfilled when they take care of houseplants (or pets). Keeping plants healthy, helps make us more socially connected and happy. There’s a perfect plant out there for anyone, and certain plants, such as sansevieria and zz plant, are surprisingly low maintenance .

Show gratitude for your favorite plants by giving them proper care. Learn how here.

Courtesy of Epsoma.com 

 

How To Prune Tomato Plants

When growing tomatoes, the ultimate goal is to help the plant yield as much ripe fruit as possible. If you’re growing indeterminate or “vining” varieties (Big Boy, Beef Master, most heirlooms), pruning your plants to remove unwanted shoots and leaves ensures that all the nutrients are going to the tomatoes. If you’re growing a determinate variety (Biltmore, Heinz, Patio), too much pruning is counterproductive. See Step 1 to learn when and how to prune a tomato plant.

Step 1

Determine which variety you’re growing. Before you make any cuts, figure out whether you’re growing an indeterminate or determinate variety of tomato plant. Indeterminate varieties grow like vines, and they must be trained upright on poles and pruned in order to grow correctly. Determinate varieties contain themselves before they grow into a bush, and they naturally direct their energy toward fruiting without needing as much intervention. Here are the common varieties of each:

  • Indeterminate: Big Boy, Beef Master, Black Prince, German Queen, most cherry tomato varieties and most heirloom varieties.
  • Determinate:Ace 55, Amelia, Better Bush, Biltmore, Heatmaster, Heinz Classic, Mountain Pride and Patio.

photo-1

Step 2
Locate the suckers for removal.
Look for the tiny new branches sprouting in the spot where a branch meets the stem on an indeterminate plant. These are called “suckers” and they’re what you want to remove. Suckers left to grow will take energy from the rest of the plant and cause the plant to bear fewer fruits. This isn’t always a bad thing, but strategically removing suckers will help your plant bear large fruit all season long.

  • Wait for the stems and leaves below the first set of flowers to turn yellow before doing anything.

photo-2

Step 3
Remove all suckers and their leaves below the first flower cluster.
Do this no matter what kind of tomato plant you have. This keeps the plant strong by helping it grow a sturdy central stem. [1] This should ensure that the majority of the nutrients are sent to the fruits, instead of being wasted on the unwanted growing tips.

  • To remove a sucker, grab a growing tip by the base between the thumb and forefinger and bend it back and forth until it snaps cleanly. This should ideally be done when the shoot is young and supple. The small wound will heal quickly. This is called “simple pruning”.
  • As for stems and leaves, not the suckers, growing below the first flower cluster: If you live in a warmer zone such as Zone 9, you should leave them on until they turn yellow. They are important for helping to shade the ground until the plant matures. On the other hand, if your plant is in a humid environment (such as a greenhouse), remove everything below the first flower cluster to improve ventilation. Humidity can make it easier for sicknesses to flourish, and it also causes the wounds that are created while pruning to dry up more slowly making the plant longer vulnerable. By improving ventilation, you’re helping to protect the plant.

 

Step 4
Leave the thicker shoots.
Thicker suckers should not be snapped off, since this could damage the whole plant. If it’s thicker than a pencil, use the “Missouri pruning” method and pinch out just the tip of the sucker, leaving one or two leaves behind for photosynthesis and to protect developing fruit from sun scald. The drawback is that suckers will develop from the stem that you leave behind, which will require additional pruning. This technique is better when you’re dealing with large suckers; if the wound becomes diseased, it will be further away from the main stem. This method also leaves a few inches on the sucker to reduce the shock to the plant.

  • Prune suckers all summer long to keep the plant healthy. They grow quickly, so you may need to prune once or twice a week

photo-3

Step 5
For indeterminate varieties, pinch off all but four or five fruit bearing trusses.
These are the branches that grow from the main stem above the first flower cluster. Four or five will produce large, healthy fruit, but any more than that and the fruit will be small and scant. Choose four or five sturdy trusses to keep, then pinch out any additional side shoots, leaving the plant’s top shoot intact, known as the terminal shoot.

  • Make sure the vine-like plants are tied to supports after flowering occurs. Otherwise, the vine will grow along the ground and won’t produce healthy tomatoes.[3]
  • Determinate plants already have a predetermined number of stems that will naturally grow, so there’s no need to do any pruning above the flower cluster. If you prune above the flower cluster, you’ll be removing fruit-bearing branches without helping the plant.[4]

photo-4

Step 6
Remove yellow leaves.
Yellow leaves are leaves that use up more sugar than they produce. As the plant begins to mature, the lower leaves will naturally begin to yellow and wilt. This is perfectly normal, so pull these from the plant when they appear. It will keep the plant fresh and help ward off disease.

photo-5

Step 7
Top the plant.
To get the best out of the last growth of the season, it is necessary to “top” the plant. About a month before the first expected frost, or when the plant hits the roof of your greenhouse, remove the plant’s terminal shoot. At this point in the season, the tomatoes currently growing will have a limited time to reach maturity, so all nutrients must be directed straight to the fruit.

This article was sourced from wikihow – http://www.wikihow.com/Prune-Tomatoes