Houseplant of the Week: Maidenhair Ferns

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maidenhair fern

Maidenhair Ferns are one of the many subspecies of the genus Adiantum, which means “unwetted,” a reference to the plant’s delicate, fan-like leaves, which naturally repel water.

It’s kind of ironic, however, because if Maidenhair Ferns love anything, it’s their moisture.  They thrive when they have moist (but not soggy) soil, moist air and a high level of humidity in their space.

So how to keep a Maidenhair Fern happy in high and dry northern Arizona? 

  • First of all, keep it in a spot with indirect sunlight. Naturally, these plants are found in forests, where they are covered by a canopy of trees. Direct sunlight will fry those delicate leaves. 
  • Also keep it away from heating or cooling vents in your house, which could dry it out.
  • Check on it every day or every other day to make sure the soil is moist. You do not want it to dry out. In fact, you might want to incorporate something like moss into the soil to help it retain water.
  • If daily misting is something you can’t do, consider setting your plant on a water-filled pebble tray.

You’ll be rewarded with a plant that is beautiful in all stages with its grey-green leaves providing a graceful addition to your home.

Some other things to keep in mind is that this is a slow-growing plant; most don’t reach full maturity until two or three years. Also, don’t panic when your plant’s fronds die. New ones will emerge to take their place – it’s a normal part of the process.

Winter is for the Birds

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Winter may be one of the best times for bird-watching. With the foliage down, it is easier to see and enjoy your backyard residents.

While certain species like hummingbirds migrate to warmer climates in winter, there’s still a rich diversity of birds to see year-round.

These birds could use your help to make it through the winter, and here are a few tips that will make their lives a little easier with the cold weather.

Warmth: Birds have a bunch of different strategies to keep warm in winter. Some grow additional feathers. They “fluff” themselves to create air pockets that increase the insulation ability of their down. Some even slow their metabolism to conserve energy, and more social birds like chickadees huddle together in the night.

  • You can help by keeping bird boxes clean and keep trees that have cavities, which are popular nesting spots.

Water: During the winter, fresh water is crucial to a bird’s survival. While birds can eat snow, that costs them precious energy. Plus water is valuable not only for drinking but for preening. Those extra winter feathers won’t help them if they can keep them clean.

  • You can help by keeping at least one birdbath in the garden that is consistently filled with fresh water. A heated birdbath is a plus, but more importantly place your birdbath where the birds will be safe (i.e., not near a place where predators like cats can hide and then pounce).

Food: Birds spend more calories to keep warm in the winter and therefore need more nourishment.

  • You can help by providing a variety of food through your garden vegetation and feeds. Suet, thistle, sunflower seeds, dried berries, fruit and seed assortments that are readily available will benefit a diverse population of birds. Also, if you have a dying tree, think about keeping it (unless it’s a hazard) this winter. These trees are great places for birds to find insects to feast on, and their cavities make great resting places.

We hope you and your birds are enjoying this winter. We’ve got a great selection of bird food, feeders and baths that can help you help the birds this winter.

Happy gardening (and bird-watching),
Misti

Houseplant of the Week: Paperwhites

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So let’s change the terminology here, shall we? It’s not forcing a Paperwhite bulb, it’s coaxing it. Specifically encouraging it to bloom out of season.

Most spring flowering bulbs need 12 to 15 weeks at temperatures between 41 and 48 degrees in order to produce a good root system essential to “force” them to flower. But if you are looking to have lovely blooms this winter, we suggest Paperwhites.

Narcissus tazetta – which in addition to Paperwhites also includes the Soleil d’Or and Chinese Sacred Lily  – are among the most popular forcing flowers that do not require the 12-week rooting period. They are easy to start and can give wonderfully scented, white trumpeted flowers until late March.

Paperwhites are most often (and most easily) potted in shallow containers of gravel or decorative stones. Place bulbs on a layer of gravel and carefully fill in enough gravel to hold bulbs but not cover them, or place them onto the stones, pushing them down just far enough so the bulbs are supported in an upright position. Put several of them together, not worrying about crowding. A crowded grouping will be the most attractive.

Add water to the container. It should just reach the base of the bulbs, but not touch the bulbs. If the water covers too much of the bulb, it will rot. Now put them in a cool dark place for one to two weeks. When the roots have begun to take hold, and the plant has sprung from the bulb, take the pot out into a brightly lit room. In about a month, your Paper Whites will be in bloom.

Tip: Plant them in succession so you have pots of Paper Whites blooming all winter! After blooming, cut the flower and stem off. Do not cut back the leaves. Put them in a sunny window and transplant them outdoors when the weather permits. It will take 2 to 3 years before they will bloom again. 

Gardening Resolutions for 2021

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It’s almost time to call it a wrap on 2020, and as we look forward to a new year, I wanted to talk about resolutions. Not your personal plans to eat better or exercise more in 2021, but your ambitions for your garden next year.

Now is the perfect time to think about what you want to do in the new year and make a plan so that when spring rolls around, you are ready to act.

To help out, here’s my list of 10 resolutions that gardeners might want to tackle in 2021.

  1. Have a bird feeder. Actually, this is one you can do right now. Birds are even more reliant on us right now than during the warmer months, so outfit a nearby tree with a bird feeder and keep it well stocked.
  2. Buy or make a compost bin. You can purchase a composter for anywhere from $50 to $500, but it’s also easy enough to make one for about $20 or less. Good for the environment and good for your garden.
  3. Learn to prune properly. Invest in good pruning shears (we have plenty at Warner’s) and learn how to take care of your trees. We have pruning guides for both deciduous and conifer trees.
  4. Ask your relatives what they planted in their gardens. Got a family Zoom call scheduled for the holidays? Ask your nearest and dearest what they planted this year and see if it inspires you.
  5. Plant a fruit tree. Been envious of your neighbors with their fresh pears or apples? Try your hand at planting a fruit tree this year. Not only will you get delicious eats, you’ll increase the value of your property.
  6. Test your soil. If you haven’t before, soil tests will help you amend your garden beds and get fuller, healthier plants.
  7. Explore native plants. Native plants evolve with the local climate and typically require less upkeep. For those of us in the high desert, this means plants that usually require less watering than non-native species.
  8. Invest in a rain barrel. One of the blessings of our region is the annual monsoon season. Having a barrel to capture rainwater is a great way to be water wise in 2021.
  9. Take care of bees and other pollinators. Absolutely essential in our ecosystem, pollinators account for about a third of the food we eat. Think about a bee condo or put in plants that are loved by birds, bees and butterflies. Here’s our suggestions for bees and another for butterflies and hummingbirds.
  10. Make plants your gift of choice in 2021. It could be a rose bush for Mother’s Day, mums in the fall, poinsettia at Christmas or houseplants anytime of year. Plants are a lovely, living gift that your recipients will enjoy for a long time to come.

And there you have it – my top 10 New Year gardening resolutions. If you have any questions or need any help as you plan for the new year, please give us a call. We’ll be in nursery every day until 1 p.m. on December 24, then are taking a break between Christmas and New Year’s, returning on Jan. 2, 2021.

Happy holidays and happy gardening,
Misti

Pothos

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It’s hard not to love the very easy-going Pothos. Which makes them not only a great plant for your home, but a good gift for your friends or loved ones who might not think they have green thumbs.

These versatile houseplants look great in a pot or hanging in a container (they look particularly fetching in macrame hangers, which have made a comeback.) They grow well in bright light or direct light, meaning they pretty much will flourish anywhere in your home.

Caring for Your Pothos – One of their very few demands is not being overwatered, so keep the top few inches of soil dry and test the soil prior to watering. You should feed them on a regular schedule from April or May through August. Just follow the instructions on the label of your favorite plant food. (We recommend VF11 organic liquid fertilizer once a month.)

Pothos love a good misting and it’s also important to dust them when needed so they photosynthesize efficiently. This also gives you a chance to inspect you plant for any pesky pests or bugs.

Should you have a cut or potted Christmas Tree?

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It’s a question we often get this time of year at the nursery – should we get a cut tree or a potted tree?

Each has its positives and negatives and most have to do with timing. You can have your cut tree up and in your house longer. On the other hand, even though your potted tree can only be in your house for about a week, it will soon become part of your garden landscape.

Here’s our guide to caring for both this holiday season:

Cut Trees

This year we have a selection of Noble Firs, Douglas Firs and Nordman Firs.

While you can bring your cut tree inside earlier than a potted tree, there’s often a fear that it will dry out before the holiday arrives. Here’s a few tips that will make sure your tree stays fresh throughout the season.

Before you bring your tree indoors, spray it with Cloud Cover to preserve the needles and help them keep their moisture. Make sure you make a fresh cut of at least half an inch off the trunk to allow the tree to take up water. However, remember you need to set up your tree immediately after making the cut (get it in water within 15 minutes at the most!) If you don’t, the cut area will seal off and not be able to take up water.

Once the stand is mounted and your tree is properly situated in its place of glory for the season (far away from heater ducts and/or fireplaces!) fill the water tray with luke warm water. Add Keeps-it-Green liquid to the water, to help keep the tree fresher longer. Check the water level in your tree stand daily. Always keep the trunk immersed in water. 

Potted Trees

Living Christmas trees are an excellent option for many homeowners. Given the proper care, the trees can be indoors for the main event, and then planted in the yard to enjoy for years to come. This year we have Colorado Spruce, Fat Albert Spruce, Austrian Pine, Dwarf Alberta Spruce, and Ponderosa Pine.

Your living Christmas tree can only remain indoors for a week at most, otherwise it will begin to break dormancy and won’t survive when you plant it outside.

Before you bring your tree indoors, place it in partial sunlight for one week, which will help the tree to acclimate to the heat inside your home. The day before bringing it inside, hose it down to remove dust and insects. Clean out any dead needles by hand. Finally, spray with Cloud Cover to protect against dehydration.

Once inside, set the tree in a large tray to catch water overflow and protect your floors. Make sure your tree is as close as possible to a window and away from any fireplaces or heating ducts. Water your tree daily with cold water (use ice cubes if possible). This will also help prevent the tree from breaking dormancy. 

After the holidays, place your tree in a shady spot and out of the wind until you’re ready to plant. Thoroughly water the tree immediately after transferring outdoors, then water once a week. Trees may be planted any time during the winter if the soil is not frozen. It is best to plant the tree as soon as possible. If the tree is to be left in a pot, water every 3-5 days.

Happy gardening and Happy Holidays,
Misti

Warner’s on Wheels at Candy Cane Lane Event Dec. 5

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Warner’s on Wheels, our mobile nursery, will be one of the exhibitors displaying seasonal cheer at Holiday Candy Cane Lane, a fundraiser for Shadows Foundation being held this Saturday, Dec. 5.

It’s a drive-through event being held at Flagstaff Subaru from 6 – 9 pm. For the price of a $10 car pass (which can be purchased here), visitors can enjoy 50 dazzling holiday luminescent displays including decorated trees, giant candy cane polls and a tunnel of dancing lights synchronized to holiday music.

Spectators will be greeted by Law Enforcement agencies at the entrance to receive a form so they can vote on their favorite exhibit. This festive fun family event is sure to bring a smile to your face and joy to your heart! Santa Claus will be making a special appearance with Mrs. Claus and his elves giving treats to all the children on their departure! (Children are encouraged to bring their letters written to Santa so that his elves can collect them.)

Also, in the spirit of giving, the Shadows Foundation will be collecting toys for the Northern Arizona Law Enforcement Toy Drive, so no child goes without this holiday season!

We look forward to seeing you there!

Houseplant of the Week: Poinsettias

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Tower of poinsettia plants

Here’s a fun fact about this week’s featured houseplant: Although they are only sold about 6 weeks each year, poinsettias are the most popular potted plant in the United States, with about 80 million sold annually.

And let’s dispel some of the bad PR this bringer of holiday tidings has had in the past: (1) poinsettias are easy to care for during their peak season and (2) no, they won’t poison your pets.

And while poinsettias are most visually dazzling during the winter, it’s possible to keep them as a houseplant all year long. It does require a bit of maintenance to get them to re-bloom, however.

Caring for Your Poinsettia

Water: Water only when the top inch of soil has dried out. A good rule of thumb is to carefully lift up the plant; if it feels light, it’s time to water. If the plant is wrapped in decorative foil, take it off before watering to ensure proper drainage. Don’t allow the poinsettia to sit in water and make sure not to get water on the leaves.

Light: Your poinsettia will enjoy a bright, sunny window, but away from direct sunlight.

Temperature: 60 to 70 degrees during the day and 55 to 60 degrees at night will extend the bloom time and keep your poinsettia happy! Avoid temperature fluctuations and warm or cold drafts.

After the Holidays

Poinsettias will thrive as a year-round houseplant and, with care, can even be coaxed into blooming again next year. It’s not hard, but it does require diligence.

Fertilize your poinsettia once per month prior to and during blooming, but do not after blooming.  In September, you’ll need to restrict the amount of light your poinsettia gets to only about 10 hours. It will need to be in total darkness the rest of that time, so try placing a bucket over it or putting it in a closet. Keep the plant in a cool place with a temperature below 75 degrees.

Once the leaves show some red, you can return your poinsettia to it’s bright, sunny place and resume care as described above.

Houseplant of the Week: Peperomia

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Looking for an easy indoor plant that doesn’t take up too much room and comes in an almost endless array of colors and varieties? Then you might want to pick a peck of peperomia.

Two potted peperomia plantsThere’s well over a thousand varieties of these plants, which most commonly come with green, purple, red, silver and variegated leaves. The most popular include the Peperomia caperata with its heart-shaped leaves and waffle-like texture; the P. argyreia, whose silver stripes against dark green leaves make it look like a watermelon skin; and the Peperomia obtusifolia, also known as the “baby rubber plant.”

Peperomia tolerate low light relatively well (although you might want more light for varieties that are more succulent). They can even grow under florescent lights, which makes them popular for offices. Water sparingly; many types of peperomia can hold water in their leaves, so it’s not a death sentence if you go on vacation or forget to water them once in a while.