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Houseplant of the Week: Piggyback Plant

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Tolmiea menziesii is an unusual houseplant for a lot of reasons. First of all, unlike most houseplants, which tend to originate from tropical areas, this plant is a native of the Pacific Northwest. In its native environment, it’s groundcover in forests along the coastline.

It also has an unusual way of growing leaves, with new leaves sprouting directly from the center of large, mature leaves at the point where the stem attaches to the leaf. That’s where the plant gets its more common nickname, the piggyback plant.

Caring for Your Piggyback Plant

  • Humidity & Temperature: This is a plant that likes conditions that mimic its Pacific Northwest roots. It thrives with high humidity, so a pebble tray should be used to make it happy. It also likes cooler temps, ranging from 50 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Light: Piggybacks prefer indirect light.
  • Water: Keep your plant consistently moist all year long and mist if your home gets dry.
  • Fertilizer: Feed once a month during the plants growing season in the spring and summer.

This Week’s Specials

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These specials are good thru Sunday, June 4
  • All 1-gallon tomato plants, now $7 each (regularly $10.99)
  • All 1-gallon peppers, now $7
  • 20% off all roses
  • 1-gallon ‘Crazy Blue’ Russian Sage, now $9.99 (regularly $16.99)
  • 4-inch Campanula Blue Waterfall, now $6.99 (regularly $12.99)
  • Buy 2, Get 1 free on 1-gallon Coreopsis Solanna Golden Sphere (regularly $14.99)
  • Buy 2, Get 1 free on 1-gallon Bidens (regularly $12.99)

All specials while supplies lasts.

Container Shrubs

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If I say shrub to you, what do you think of? A row of hedges planted along your property line to give you privacy? Or maybe some dwarf evergreen shrubs in a xeriscape garden to soften the hard edges? Perhaps fast-growing plants like honeysuckle or forsythia that are great for quickly filling in a bare landscape?

Whatever example popped in your head probably involved a shrub that was firmly planted in the ground. But what if you are renting a property or live in an apartment or are looking for some patio décor – do you have to go without shrubs?

Happily, there are many shrubs that do well in containers. They will give you all the benefits of these beautiful plants, plus the flexibility to reposition them around as needed – or if you move!

Here are some examples of shrubs that do very well in containers:

  • Dwarf Alberta Spruce (and all dwarf conifers) – this small evergreen conifer has the classic Christmas tree shape.
  • Japanese Maple – with their fiery leaves, these shrubs make a big statement in a small space.
  • Dwarf Peach Trees – rarely getting taller than 8 to 10 feet, these trees will give you spring blossoms, summer green foliage and full-size fruit.
  • Serviceberry – this is an all-year shrub that gives you different looks throughout the year – flowers in spring, fruits in summer, colorful foliage in fall, and stark bark in winter.
  • Dwarf Crabapple “Lollipop” Shrubs – It really does look like a lollipop with its ball of fragrant white flowers on a sturdy trunk. Thanks to its dwarf genetics, this shrub always looks neat and needs minimal pruning.
  • Dwarf varieties of butterfly bushes – you’ll still attract the pollinators with these shrubs but without them taking up too much space in your garden.
  • Hydrangea – about a third of the size of a full hydrangea bush, dwarf hydrangea are another shrub that gives you beautiful blooms while requiring minimal pruning.
  • Barberry – the small round leaf clusters of the barberry look gorgeous in containers and can add color (and privacy) to a deck, patio or balcony.
  • Dwarf Ninebark – a shrub where the flowers are almost secondary to the bark, the name comes from the way the bark peels back, exposing a beautiful red underneath.
  • Low Scape Mound Aronia – this dwarf chokeberry has fast developing leaves and is great for attracting birds.
  • Boxwood – the classic border shrub that often give in-ground gardens their shape is also terrific in containers, and their evergreen foliage provides year-round color.

There are some things you need to consider when planting shrubs in pots. First, your container needs to be thick; plastic containers need not apply for the job of housing a dwarf shrub. Size matters too; your pot should be twice the size of the root ball of the plant to ensure the roots don’t freeze and thaw throughout the winter.

All this means you might have a heavy plant to cart around, so you might want to invest in a tray with wheels to make it easier to move and winterize. Speaking of winter, your container shrub will need water at least once a month during the winter, so make sure it’s accessible.

If you have any questions about selecting shrubs for container planting, please give us a call or visit the nursery. We have both the plants and the appropriate pots for them and can help with whatever advice you need.

Happy Gardening!

Houseplant of the Week: Ligustrum Bonsai

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The Ligustrum genus is part of the olive family of plants and has more than 50 evergreen and deciduous subspecies and cultivars with a diversity of leaf colors and forms. It’s an excellent choice for gardeners who are new to cultivating bonsai plants.

Caring for Your Ligustrum Bonsai

  • Light: This is a plant that loves its sun, so make sure that you position your plant where it will receive full sun for at least part of the day.
  • Water: Getting the balance right for your bonsai involves making sure they get enough water without overwatering. Make sure they are in well-draining soil to avoid root rot. Saturate thoroughly and then allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings.
  • Humidity: Bonsai like higher levels of humidity, so you can supplement your watering scheduled by misting the leaves every few days.
  • Temperature: This plant needs warmth as well as sunlight. Typically room temperature is ideal, but avoid placing your plant near a window or door when the temperatures drop.

Houseplant of the Week: Goldfish Plant

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It’s interesting how many plants have common names that remind you of creatures that live in the water. Heliconias are known as “lobster claws” because their flowers have that shape. Then there’s the String of Dolphins. Today’s fish-as-a-plant is the Goldfish Plant.

Columnea gloriosa features dark green leaves and flowers of red, orange and gold that do look a lot like goldfish.

They are an easy plant to grow and care for and are also great for propagating. Plus, they make quite a splash (sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves) with their colorful flowers.

Caring for Your Goldfish Plant

Goldfish plants want a lot of light, but direct sun will burn them so make sure it’s indirect. They also grow well under artificial light in the winter.

These plants love humidity, so make sure that their soil never fully dries out and if you have them in a hanger, mist them on a pretty regular basis. (And mist them with room temperature water, not cold, which can damage the leaves). If you want a really happy Goldfish plant, you might want to consider the bathroom, where they’ll thrive on the steam from the shower!

You’ll want to fertilize on a regular basis during the growing season (spring and summer). Controlled release pellets are a good choice.

Other tips

  • This is a long-living plant, and will thrive if you repot it every couple of years.
  • You can easily propagate this plant. Pick a stem a few inches long without a flower bud and they will take root very easily.
  • Also look out for aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs as these are common pests on this tropical plant.

Perfect Perennials

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Perennials are the backbone of any garden.

They offer almost endless diversity in color and shape. You can plant them almost anywhere in your garden because there are perennials that love full sun and ones that are happier with shade. Perennials also range in when they bloom, so with some strategic planting, you can have color and beauty all season long. Their root systems are also smaller than roots and shrubs, so there’s less root mass to keep watered.

In addition, perennials are also quite versatile. They are equally suited to garden beds or containers. In fact, here’s a cute little planter I did, all with shade-loving perennials:

Here are some of the many perennials we have in stock right now at Warner’s Nursery:

In the sun-loving category, we have yarrow, hollyhock, dianthus, daylilly, guara, shasta daisy, rudbeckia, gaillardia, echinacea, catmint, anise hysop, penstemon, winecups, coreopsis, lupine, scabiosa, sedum, creeping thyme, veronica, gallium, delphinium.

For the shady parts of your garden, try hosta, heuchera, lamium, foxglove, columbine, vinca, campanula, myosotis, astilbe, dicentra (also known as fern-leaf bleeding heart) and brunnera.

The one thing all perennials share – in addition to coming back year after year – is that they need to be planted right to thrive. Here’s how: 

  • Dig a saucer-shaped hole that is twice the width of the root ball of your plant and equally as deep. (It is better to plant a little above ground level than too deep.)
  • Amend your soil by mixing parts of the soil from the hole and a good planting mix (we recommend our own Supreme Planting Mix) and place some of this in the bottom of the hole.
  • Water your plant thoroughly before gently removing it from its container. (Support the stem of the plant with one hand as you turn the pot upside down and tap the bottom of it, sliding the pot away from the plant. Don’t yank!)
  • Tease out the roots of the plant gently.
  • Place the plant into its hole and backfill with your pre-mixed soil.
  • Water thoroughly with some Fertilome Root Stimulator to prevent transplant shock and promote vigorous root growth.

Once your perennial is planted, watering is vital. During that first week, water twice a day, then for the next two weeks, water once a day. After the first month, you should be fine watering every other day until winter, when you can water every three or so weeks during dormancy. 

After the first year, your perennial will be fine with watering twice a week from spring through fall and once per month during winter.

If you have any questions about perennials – or just want to see our awesome collection of these amazing plants – please stop by the nursery. 

Happy Gardening!

Houseplant of the Week: Rex Begonia

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This “king” of begonias, also often known as the “painted leaf” begonia, is famous for its beautiful variegated leaves that can grow up to six inches long and are available is shades of green, red, silver and purple.

This is a plant that you want for its leaves. In fact, it’s not uncommon that people pinch off the not-that-impressive blooms so as to not distract from the dramatic foliage.

To encourage the most beautiful leaf color, you need to give your plant plenty of (indirect) light and pretty high humidity. Here are the basics to giving your Rex begonia the royal treatment it deserves.

Caring for Your Rex Begonia

  • Plant your rex begonia in light, fast draining soil.
  • Rex begonias thrive with bright, indirect light year round. You don’t want to burn those gorgeous leaves, so no direct light. You also want to rotate the plant frequently to give it equal light on all sides.
  • This plant requires regular watering but be careful not to overwater. Let the soil surface become dry to the touch before watering. 
  • They also love humidity, but be careful if you decide to mist the leaves; if they stay wet, you might find yourself seeing powdery mildew. 
  • Rex begonias like moderate temperatures in the 60-70 degree range.

Houseplant of the Week: Alocasia African Mask

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Alocasias are considered some of the most striking houseplants available because of their eye-catching foliage. Native to the subtropics, they have close to 80 varieties with a wide range of looks. 

This week we are focusing on Alocasia Polly, which is also known as Alocasia Kris or the African Mask plant, because of the leaves resemblance to traditional ceremonial masks. The leaves of this plant are such a dark green as to almost look black and are contrasted dramatically with highly visible white striping along the veins and edges.

Alocasias can be a little tricky with their light, humidity and temperature needs.

They require bright, but diffuse lighting. In nature, these plants thrive beneath tree canopies and direct sun will lead to the leaves getting burned. They are also used to high humidity, so don’t place them in a place where they will dry out easily, such as an air conditioner vent or a heater. Employ a pebble tray to keep the air around them humid or mist them with distilled water.

The preferred temperature range for this plant is 70 to 80 degrees, year round. With enough water they can survive extra heat, but your plant might get damaged if the thermostat goes below 60 degrees in your home. 

Allow the top 2 to 3 inches of the plant to dry between watering to ensure that the plant isn’t sitting in soil that is too wet. Make sure your soil has good drainage!


Houseplant of the Week: Club Moss

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Club Moss Houseplant

Although they have no flowers, the club moss or Selaginella, is a charming, easy-to-care-for houseplant whose beauty comes from its foliage. 

Colors can range from green to gold and some species feature new growth that is white, which makes them look like they are frosted.

They also can be placed in a variety of containers, working well in pots and terrariums.

Caring for Your Club Moss

  • Soil – If planting in a pot, start with good commercial potting soil, which is lighter than top soil and often contains a mild “starter” fertilizer.
  • Water – Club Moss likes moist but well-drained soil. Check the soil moisture with your fingertips. If the top two inches are dry, or the plant is wilted, you need to water it.
  • Fertilizer – Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer monthly.
  • Temperature – The Club Moss is a native of sub-Saharan Africa and loves humidity. If you want to make this plant happy, place it in the kitchen or bathroom. Avoid placing in drafty, hot, or high sun locations.

Spring Prep After a Long Winter

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When our record snowfall melted away recently, I was finally able to see the ground and plants in my yard and realized that after this really long winter, spring prep looks different this year.

For example, the amount of snow we saw in the past few months – and the sheer heaviness of it – have caused some issues that you’ll probably have to deal with before you can really get your garden ready for spring planting.

Trees and shrubs probably saw more damage than in past winters, which means that proper pruning is going to be essential this year. Here are a few reminders as you pull out your loppers and shears:

  • Early spring is the perfect time for pruning because most plants are breaking dormancy, meaning that wounds will heal faster. However, if you have a spring blooming tree or shrub, you should ideally prune them before they bud. Otherwise, wait until after blooming has finished.
  • Never prune more than one third of the plant. Prune more than that and you run the risk of damaging the plant or at least stunting its growth.
  • Remember that there’s no such thing as “recreational pruning” with conifers, because they don’t replace growth like other trees and shrubs. Evergreen pruning should always be done for a particular reason, such as removing dead or diseased branches or controlling the size of a tree threatening to grow into other plants, buildings, or utility wires.

Other things to look out for due to the excess snow are fungal issues such as “snow mold” on lawns and garden areas. The best way to deal with this is to rake up old matted down leaves and pine needles and treat for fungus if necessary.

And if you didn’t trim back your perennials last fall, you’ll definitely want to do it now. Shoulder surgery last year meant I couldn’t winterize my garden as much as I wanted to. Normally, if I don’t cut back my perennials, the dead foliage just breaks off. But with the extra moisture this year, much of it is still attached to the plants and is just limp and soggy. This foliage needs to be removed and it will expose new growth ready to emerge.

Once you clean up your yard, remove broken branches, trim your perennials, and bag up old leaves and pine needles, your garden will be ready for you to amend the soil with mulch and compost and then add new plants for the new season. 

If you have any questions about spring clean up – and particularly if you are unsure about the best way to prune a tree or shrub with broken branches – please stop by the nursery. Bring a picture if you can, and we’ll give you some expert advise and direction. 

Happy Gardening!