“Ask the Landscaper” Blog

“Ask the Landscaper”

Welcome to “Ask the Landscaper” a column written for the Wabash Plain Dealer.

A former horticulture, botany, and agriculture teacher, and owner of Metzger Landscaping & Design, Leesa Metzger answers reader’s questions about gardening, plants, and landscaping.

To submit a question to the “Ask the Landscaper” column, call us at (260) 982-4282, find us on Facebook, or fill out the contact form below.

Interested in receiving the “Ask the Landscaper” column in your inbox? Sign up (in sidebar at right) to receive notifications of new posts.

 

Fall Mums

Fall is for planting! Fall seems to be the perfect season to get a new landscape established.  Cooler weather helps plants acclimate to their new surroundings easier than during the heat of summer.  Less watering is of course a welcome relief for homeowners establishing new plantings as well.  It’s a win-win!

September is a good month to landscape with fall mums, which are available in a rainbow assortment of colors.  Bronze, red, yellow, and white are among the more popular choices.  At Metzger landscaping we even carry mums that are tri-colored—that’s right—you can get three colors of mums all in the same pot!

The key to successful planting for mums for the landscape is proper site preparation.  Choose a sunny, well-drained spot.  Dig and loosen the soil to a depth of eight to ten inches in a hole twice the diameter of the plant’s pot.  Mix organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure into the soil.  If you want to try to overwinter your mums, once plant tops die back after blooming or severe frost, cut the stems even with the ground.  Apply a thick layer of straw or bark mulch at the end of October, removing it in the spring as the frost leaves the ground.  If we have a mild winter, or you live in a mild location, chances are better that they will survive.  The Garden Center at Metzger Landscaping in North Manchester has a fantastic selection of mums to brighten your landscape and perk up your front porch decorations!

Looking for long term fall color for your landscaping? Consider trees and shrubs that turn brilliant colors year after year.  A maple tree called ‘red sunset’ turns a reliable, brilliant red color each fall.  Pair the red sunset maple with a sugar maple or silver maple that turn a yellow golden color for a spectacular fall color.   There are many trees to consider for fall color, other than maples.  Many of the colorful large trees turn variations of yellow including yellowwood, American beech (a yellowish bronze), ash (a reddish yellow), ginkgo, honeylocust, quaking aspen, golden weeping willow, and elms.  For dark red colors in large trees consider some of the oaks such as the white, swamp white, scarlet, shingle, pin, and red oak.  Some of the other oaks’ leaves aren’t particularly showy in fall.  One of the few hardy flowering cherries for the north, the Sargent cherry, turns yellow to red.  A few shrubs that I use in our landscape projects for spectactular red fall color are Viburnum ‘brandywine’, old fashioned Burning Bush, and Virgina Sweetspire.  Shrubs to plant for yellow color include Buckthorne ‘fine line’, Dwarf Lilac ‘miss Kim’, and False Cypress ‘lemon thread’.

Ornamental grasses and flowering fall perennials add texture and color to landscape beds late in the season.  When most perennials are starting to wane there are several reliable perennials that  homeowners can turn to for a splash of late season color.  Sedum ‘brillance’ or ‘autumn joy’, Gaillardia ‘indian blanket’ and purple asters are stunning are all in the fall.   All ornamental grasses seem fabulous in the fall but a few personal favorites are Panicum ‘shanendoah’, Miscanthus ‘sarenbande’ and Dwarf Fountain grass ‘hamlen’.   Visit us at Metzger Landscaping’s Garden Center for a great selection of fall mums, ornamental grasses and colorful fall perennials.header_mums

Hummingbird Migration

Ruby-throated HummingbirdLate August is a happy time for me in the garden. While some gardeners dread the lull between the July daylily bloom and the September chrysanthemum and aster show, I look forward to the time when migrating Ruby-throated Hummingbirds return.

 

Soon hummingbirds will be passing through Northern Indiana on their way to warmer climates for the winter.  I think I see my “regular customers” at my feeders throughout June and July, but I see a much larger variation in visitors to our feeders in late summer and early fall.  The new visitors to our feeders signal that hummingbirds are on the move beginning in August.

 

Arriving between the last week in August or the first week in September, these mostly female and juvenile male birds visit feeders and plants while en route to warmer winter grounds. New visitors come and go until the first week in October.

 

Though some Ruby-throated hummingbirds are found wintering along the Gulf of Mexico and North Carolina’s Outer Banks, most make a long journey to Central America and Mexico. Mature males are the first to begin the journey south, departing July through August in daylight hours. To follow are the adult females in September. The juveniles are last to leave — depending on age — in late September to mid-November.  Of course, the farther south you live, the later your migration will begin. By the first of October, migrants are observed in Central America.  Many of the birds choose a direct route south, crossing the Gulf of Mexico with no stops. Quite a feat considering it’s nearly 500–600 miles during hurricane season!

 

While they make frequent feeding stops on the continental U.S., Ruby-throated Hummingbirds need to indulge in large amounts of nectar and protein before they cross the Gulf. It is beneficial that the Gulf Coast states have an abundance of blooming plants in the fall.

 

Feeders are a good way to bring the hummingbird activity close to view. Provide feeders in various locations in the yard, using a sugar water mixture. Don’t buy the colored mix as it’s really not good for the birds. A normal ratio for sugar to water is one cup sugar for every four cups water (1:4). Some offer a stronger solution of 1:3 in the fall. Clean your feeders often as mold builds and can harm the hummingbirds.

 

To assist the Ruby-throated Hummingbird along the migration path, plan a garden with some of their favorite flowers.  Include annuals such as red salvia, lantana, petunias and cannas and long blooming perennials that include bee balm (monarda), lavender, purple salvia, daylily, and catnip (calamintha) to attract the birds all summer. Flowering shrubs that attract hummingbirds to the garden include weigela, butterfly bush (buddleja), and flowering lepodermis.  All of these plants can be found at the Metzger Landscaping Garden Center here in North Manchester! An easy rule of thumb when looking for plants to attract hummingbirds is if the plant has a trumpet-shaped flower, a hummingbird will love it.

Now is the time to take notice and enjoy the fall migration of Ruby-throated hummingbirds and to plan for next year’s migration. If you are lucky enough to have visitors all summer, then you probably have many plants already and know those most attractive to the birds. In my garden, they love to visit many types of flowers. The perennial flowers in our landscaping attract hummingbirds and we also have suction-cup feeders that attach to a window on our front porch and another on our back patio for up close viewing from inside of our feathered friends.  A winning combination for a hummingbird buffet is to offer a few flowering shrubs, several varieties of perennials and annuals as well as a feeder.

 

Leesa Metzger

Metzger Landscaping & Design, LLC

www.metzgerlandscaping.com

Find us on Facebook!

 

 

 

Tis The Season….for Japanese Beetles

I now talk of my garden in relation to a new season — Japanese beetle season. Let the trumpets sound. It’s time to scout for Japanese beetles. Evidence suggests that adult beetles are attracted to previously damaged leaves. Reducing feeding damage now can result in less feeding damage in the future.

Japanese beetle adults are one quarter to one half inch long with copper colored wing covers and a shiny metallic green head. Kind of attractive in a buggy sort of way. 

Japanese beetles also have the munchies for your favorite rose, linden, grape, raspberry and some 350 different plants. They generally do not feed on dogwood, forsythia, holly, lilac, evergreens and hosta. Plants in the smartweed family such as Persicaria are good indicators for Japanese beetles since they usually find those first.

Japanese beetle adults feed on flowers and fruits and skeletonize leaves by eating all the leaf tissue and leaving the veins. Adults are most active from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on warm, clear summer days. Feeding is normally in the upper portions of plants. Beetles prefer plants in direct sun, so heavily wooded areas are rarely attacked.

Adults are present until mid-August. After mating, females lay eggs in turf which hatch into grubs in August. Grubs feed on plant roots until cold weather drives them deeper into the soil. Adults emerge in summer of the following year.

The bacterial control, milky spore, sold as Doom or Grub Attack is commonly recommended to control Japanese beetle grubs. However, it only controls Japanese beetle grubs and not our predominate lawn grub, annual white grub. Common lawn grub controls such as Acelypren, imidocloprid (Merit) and beneficial nematodes will control several species of beetle grubs.  Call Metzger Landscaping at 260-982-4282 to sign up for a greenkeeper lawn care program to control grubs and weeds in your lawn with a Greenkeeper Fertilizer & Lawn Care Program.

The beetles are good fliers and easily fly a couple miles in a single flight. They may travel 10 to 15 miles from where they lived as larvae. Typically, one-third of the adult Japanese beetles fly to a new host each day.

Generally pesticide sprays of cabaryl (Sevin) to control the adults can reduce damage for up to two weeks. However, Sevin is toxic to bees and other beneficial insects. Synthetic pyrethroids can also be effective to control Japanese beetles. Informally the repellent Neem has not been shown to be effective.

Picking Japanese beetles off by hand every morning may be just as effective as spraying. When disturbed, the beetles fold their legs and drop to the ground. Hold a can containing rubbing alcohol or soapy water below the infested leaves. Move the plant and the beetles will drop into the container and be killed. This is best done in the morning when they fly slower.

Japanese beetle traps are not recommended where a large beetle population exists. It has been shown repeatedly that the use of these traps results in increased plant damage compared to not using the traps.

A number of birds such as grackles, cardinals and meadowlarks feed on adult beetles. Two native predator insects and a couple of introduced parasites may help to keep Japanese beetle populations in check. Protect natural enemies by keeping the use of conventional pesticides to a minimum.

Several methods of control include floating row covers over the fruits, Pyola sprays (combination of canola oil and pyrethrum), and hand collecting.

Although damage looks devastating, Japanese beetle feeding rarely kills woody plants. Therefore, confine control of beetles to plants in important landscape locations or plants of value.japanesebeetle

Spring Pruning

 

It’s Spring; What Can I Prune? Confused about when and what to prune in the Spring? Spring has its own set of rules and reasons for pruning.

Spring is an awesome time for gardeners. You can focus your attention on lots of different tasks, each day bringing a completely different set of challenges and each task completed a new sense of accomplishment. Pruning is one of those tasks that can be a bit confusing, though. Pruning a plant in the wrong season can cause undue setbacks, but when done in the proper season pruning is extremely helpful. For healthy, tidy plants with great-looking blooms it’s important to prune the right thing at the right time.

 

Spring bloomers, like forsythia, quince, lilac and azalea, should be prunedlilacs

soon after they finish blooming. These shrubs bloom on “old” wood. Pruning early in the season allows the longest amount of time for them to grow next year’s buds. Use prudent judgement, however; these plants may not need pruning at all if they are in a good spot and healthy. They often look their best when they grow as naturally as possible. There is no need to prune just because you have time on your hands.

Repeat Bloomers is a category of flowering shrubs that produce multiple bloom cycles per year. Each year, new brands of roses, azaleas, hydrangeas and more appear in garden centers presenting the question: When should they be pruned? Many of these bloom on both old and new wood, with the first round of flowers appearing mid-spring. In spring, treat these shrubs as you would the spring bloomers by pruning as soon as the first bloom cycle is complete. If the plants are still well shaped and suitably sized, limit pruning to the

 removal of spent blooms.

 

When hedges such as boxwood, holly, ligustrum, yews and others which are grown for foliage rather than flowers, put on their first flush of new growth they may look a bit shaggy. For a tightly groomed appearance, shear them. Cut the young foliage only, about half the distance back toward the old growth (for instance, a flush of four inches should be cut to two inches). Pruning in this manner allows the plant to grow slightly larger, which helps the canopy stay deep and full. It will also help to minimize production of long shoots.

 

Old shrubs that have grown too large for their space, or have seen extensive damage from cold, disease or insects, may require renewal pruning. Simply put, they are cut to the ground and allowed to regrow from root suckers. This drastic measure is often used to get a f

ew more years out of shrubs that will in the future have to be replaced. Spring is the time to do this, at the time when the first buds begin to swell at the branch tips but before the new growth starts to emerge.

As the suckers grow back, pinch the tips to force these aggressive shoots to produce lateral branches for a bushier plant.

 

Basic tools for pruning these categories of plants include hand-held pruners, loppers, shears and pruning saw. Hand pruners work well for fine stems and branches up to æ inch in diameter. Bi-cut “loppers” are used for branches between 1/2 inch and 2 inches. A saw is necessary for larger branches. Shears are used to keep hedges and topiaries groomed by cutting through soft green growing tips.  Keep tools sharp and clean. Sharp tools make clean cuts which heal far more quickly than those that are full and leave ragged cuts.  A spring “haircut” or proper pruning will reward you for your diligent work with beautiful foliage and bloom all summer long!

Flowering Spring Trees

dogwood-white-travis-400-01

I’m a Hoosier girl, and spring is one of my favorite times of the year. In the springtime in Indiana bodacious blooms abound. From tulips and daffodils to crabapples, every plant appears to join me in a celebration of the end of winter and the beginning of a new season.

I get the most enjoyment out of all the small trees showing off and vying for our attention. Every vista is picture worthy. Crabapples adorn every branch with a flurry of flowers. Hundreds of crabapple cultivars exist so if a crabapple is in your planting future do your homework to make sure the tree and fruit size, flower color and disease resistance fits your needs.

The flowers of Redbud are a sure sign spring in the Midwest. Redbud, Cercis canadensis, grows as a native under story tree throughout the forests of the eastern US. It can grow to 30 feet tall and a bit wider at maturity. Redbud also blooms at an early age of 4-7 years. Even the trunks of older trees show off in spring as they parade their pink-purple flowers.

 

I would rank Flowering Dogwood as the most commonly desired spring flowering tree. The large white bracts (those actually aren’t flower petals) of Flowering Dogwood flowers are held at the ends of branches like chalices waiting for spring rains. Flowering Dogwood, Cornus florida, is native to a large range of the eastern US.  Dogwoods are understory trees so they like afternoon shade, wood mulch, plenty of organic matter and moist well-drained acidic soil. Flowering Dogwoods hate to be too wet or too dry.  We have a great selection of spring flowering trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals at Metzger Landscaping in North Manchester. We invite you to stop by our nursery MondayFriday 8-5 and Saturdays 8-4!

The Great Perennial Divide

Most gardeners have a spring ritual that includes walking their garden in search of emerging plants. We begin to get an idea of which plants have expanded well beyond their borders. The quick use of a sharp spade now is better than attempting the eradication of a full-blown invasion later. Thus, it is time for the great perennial divide!

April is the time to divide perennials for many reasons: plants have outgrown their space; plants aren’t doing well in that site because of sun, shade or moisture requirements; plants got way too big; flowers were not the color you anticipated; or maybe you have decided it would look so much better in another spot. Or maybe you just feel like digging. Remember the adage: “Every good garden has been in a wheelbarrow at least three times.”

Dividing can be an invigorating process for plants in which the center tends to die out. Some such as yarrow, aster, perennial sunflower, obedient plant and black-eyed Susan perform better if they are divided every few years to keep them in bounds.

April is an ideal time to move/divide most perennials. However, peonies should be divided only in September. Bearded irises are divided in July and August. Plants that form underground rhizomes or multiple crowns are easy to divide.

Everyone has their favorite method of dividing perennials and their favorite implement of destruction. I prefer a small sharp spade to divide large clumps. Shove the spade into the soil on the outside of the planting and continue around in the size of sections you want. I often have to jump on the spade to get through thick stems. .

Some gardeners prefer digging around the clump and using two garden forks to pull the clump apart. Divisions can be as large as you want, but four-inch diameter sections work well for most plants. Smaller divisions may not bloom as well for a couple of years.

The whole clump does not have to be lifted. Sections from the outside of the planting can be removed to reduce the size of the planting or to leave the mother plant intact. For many perennial plants the most vigorous shoots are on the outside of the clump. This method works well for space invaders such as beebalm, mint and anything that spreads by runners to form a colony (or in the case of mint, its own country).

Some plants such as daylilies, catmint, and astilbe have more of a central crown. Dig out the whole plant and make divisions using a spade or garden knife or in the case of ornamental grasses an axe works well.

Replant divisions immediately, plant into pots, heel into a pile of moist mulch for planting later or put on your neighbor’s doorstep. Be sure to water plants thoroughly after replanting. Before replanting, amend soil with compost if needed. Most perennials do not flower as well the year they are divided, so don’t be discouraged.

Some plants do not like to be moved or divided. These include baby’s breath, old fashioned bleeding heart, balloon flower, monkshood, blue indigo, gas plant, sea holly, lupine and butterfly weed.

Other April gardening activities include removing last year’s perennial stems, trim butterfly bush, caryopteris and Russian sage back to 6-8 inches and remove any winter mulch from perennials and roses. Ornamental grasses should be cut down before new growth emerges.

Metzger Landscaping 069

Pruning Lilacs

lilac

Spring has sprung and the phone in our office is ringing off the hook! Spring clean-ups are in full swing, beds are getting a fresh layer of mulch and we are looking forward to planting beautiful landscapes.  Several clients have asked this week, “When is the right time to prune lilacs?”

 

The traditional lilac, Syringa vulgaris, is known for its wonderfully fragrant flowers. A lovely bouquet will easily fill a room with fragrance. Unfortunately that’s their only real ornamental attribute. They tend to look gangly and unkempt most of the year. Throw in a little powdery mildew on the leaves and lilac shrubs leave much to be desired. It’s probably best to tuck a few traditional lilacs into a shrub border or grouping in the landscape. They are definitely not good foundation plants.

The recent estimate is that there are 2000 cultivars of common lilac. Most are in the pink, purple, blue or white range of flower colors with a few creamy yellows. There are a few listed as powdery mildew resistant such as ‘Charles Joly’ (magenta), ‘Madame Lemoine’ (pure white), ‘President Lincoln’ (true blue), ‘Primrose’ (creamy yellow) and ‘Sensation’ (purple and white bicolor).

Because lilacs tend to be long lived in the landscape, they may suffer from poor blooming eventually. The usual causes are:

1.      Too shady a site. All lilacs grow and flower best in full sun and well-drained soil.

2.      Pruning too late in the season and therefore removing the next year’s flower buds. Common lilacs should be pruned immediately after flowering to keep them vigorous.

3.      Shrubs are in need of renewal pruning. Lilacs tend to bloom best on younger branches. Prune by removing about one third of the older branches down to the ground each year after flowering.

4.      Poor shrub vigor due to scale or borers. Usually removing the older stems will help to control these insects. Oystershell scale may require a spray of insecticidal soap or summer oil in late May. Be sure to read and follow all label directions.

Although the common or French hybrid lilacs are magnificently fragrant, there are superior lilac species for the landscape. In my opinion these landscape plants do not have quite the heady fragrance of common lilac, they are far better looking shrubs after they flower and tend to be free of powdery mildew. If you don’t have much landscape space, these are better choices.

‘Palibin’ lilac is a neat, tidy shrub at five feet tall. The dark green leaves are smaller than common lilac. It may flower when quite young with pink lavender fragrant flowers. ‘Miss Kim’ lilac is a little larger at six feet. It makes a nice rounded shrub. It flowers a little later than common lilac with blue lavender flowers. The flowers are small but prolific. ‘Miss Kim’ usually develops a nice burgundy fall color, which is non-existent in common lilac.

Littleleaf lilac ‘Superba’ is also about six feet tall and like the other landscape lilacs forms a nice twiggy shrub. It has red buds that open to dark pink. ‘Tinkerbelle’ lilac might be worth growing just for the name. It has pink flowers on a five feet tall shrub. It has nice green heart shaped leaves.

 

To send a question for Ask the Landscaper, contact Metzger Landscaping at 260-982-4282, visit www.metzgerlandscaping.com to send a question, or find us on Facebook.

Creative Landscapes for Country Settings

By Leesa Metzger, Metzger Landscaping & Garden Center

Landscaping a farmhouse is all about an appreciation of the vistas and the pastoral settings of a rural area. Yet even if you don’t live in the country, you can still landscape with an eye towards that relaxed country style.

The most important thing in designing for a country house is recognizing the specifics of your own architecture and setting.  Having grown up on a farm and still loving the country life, as well as creating beautiful landscapes for over 20 years; I’d like to share some professional tips for creating a gorgeous country-style garden.

Dos:

·         Do look for lines in the architecture and land that can be repeated through the landscape. For example, the swoop of a roofline can be mimicked in the lines of a pathway to give the sense that home and landscape fit together seamlessly.

·         Do use a soft color palette in your planting and décor. White, light blue and the natural tones of foliage highlight the country theme best. Also, try to reflect the colors from your interior and architecture within the landscape for a cohesive look.

·         Do make the most of your views. Plan your landscaping to enhance and draw the eye towards any pastoral scenes, beautiful trees, or rolling hills that may be visible from your property, both from inside the house and out.

·         Do choose local materials and stone. A country home reflects its natural surroundings, so adding boulders, rock outcroppings, stacked stone walls or irregular flagstones native to your region will give your rural home the easy elegance that comes from fitting with the environment.

Don’ts:

·         Don’t neglect cultural requirements when choosing plants.  It’s been said before, but still rings true, “choosing the right plant for the right place is key in successful planting design.”  Paying attention to whether you have sun or shade, wet soil or dry, and then picking plants to suit can make all the difference in having a healthy, thriving landscape.

·         Don’t spend your weekends weeding. While topdressing with compost can help keep down weeds, the best weed control is mass plantings of ground cover, or a fresh layer of quality mulch.

·         Don’t select elements contrary to the farmhouse theme. Rustic elements like Adirondack chairs, built-in benches with cushions, and even old-fashioned oak barrels will fit better than sleek, modern décor.

The most important place to start in any design is with solid design principles. Pay attention to how people will move through the space, and concepts like form, line, texture, balance and rhythm all play a part in that sublime sense that the landscape just feels right.  While many people start planning a landscape by thinking about plants, a designer first considers issues of structure such as what is happening in the architecture and on the land. This results in a landscape that both looks beautiful and functions well. If you’re not sure where to start, hire a landscape designer, you’ll save time and money in the end if you start with the right plan.

In the last 20 years as a professional landscape designer, I have created a variety of custom landscapes perfectly suited to their surroundings. While each of the built landscapes by Metzger Landscaping shares similarities in the principles used to create them, each has its own character which comes from observing and acknowledging the specifics of the site. Along with installing unique plants and hardscaping such as patios, paver sidewalks and retaining walls, Metzger Landscaping in North Manchester has a nursery specializing in high-quality perennials, trees and shrubs as well as annual bedding plants and hanging baskets.  The garden center is stocked with everything a gardener needs from plants, tools, fertilizers, flower and vegetable garden seed packets as well as fun things to add color and variety to the garden such as garden iron, trellises, lanterns, garden shed décor, and decorative pots. Pick-up bulk mulch, topsoil, stone, and landscape edging to start your next landscaping project.

Valentine’s Blooms

valentines flowersYou just received a breathtaking delivery of flowers from your Valentine, and now you’re probably thinking about how to make their firm petals and vibrant colors last for as long as possible. Here’s how you can make your cut flowers last much longer. 

First, remove the flowers from the packaging, hold the stems underwater, and cut the stem at a 45-degree angle using a sharp knife. Cutting the flower at this angle allows the stem to have a greater surface area for water consumption. Do not use scissors to cut the stems and do not crush the stems either; this will damage the tips and block the flower’s water intake. 

Next, prepare the vase and the water. Kill any bacteria or algae that formed in the vase by cleaning the inside with bleach. If your florist does not include preservatives with the flower still the vase with lukewarm water and add a floral preservative. You can either buy preservatives from your florist or make on your own. To make your own preservatives, mix lemon with a very small amount of bleach, or a teaspoon of sugar with a few drops of bleach. Take note that using homemade concoctions might not be as effective as professional cut flower food because they don’t contain the complex mixture of preservatives and nutrients flowers need to survive. 

Before putting the flowers in the vase, remove all the leaves that might be submerged in the water. Leaves have the tendency to decay when submerged underwater and when these leaves rot, they poison the water and shorten the vase life of your flowers. Arrange the flowers in any way you desire, but make sure you do not overcrowd the vase. If the bouquet is too large or the arrangement seems too tight, divide them into two and place them in separate vases. 

Once you’re satisfied with your floral arrangement, keep the vase in a cool spot away from direct sunlight to avoid rapid respiration. Respiration is the process wherein living organisms age. It is helpful to note that flowers generally have a higher respiration rate than most agricultural crop. The lower the temperature of the room they are placed in, the longer the flowers will last. However, if the flowers are subjected to temperatures below four degrees, their internal cells can get easily damaged and dry out the flowers. If you want your bouquet to decorate an air-conditioned room, make sure the temperature is not too cold.

Finally, take care of your flowers every day and remove wilted flowers so they do not contaminate the rest. It is recommended that you change the water daily but if you are too busy to do so, replacing the water every two or three days is fine. Make sure you add the preservative each time you change the water. You can also re-cut the stem for improved water absorption. Taking care of cut flowers by following the steps mentioned will extend the life of your bouquet for many days to come.

 

To send a question for Ask the Landscaper, contact Metzger Landscaping at 260-982-4282, visit www.metzgerlandscaping.com to send a question, or find us on Facebook.

 

Helpful Tips for Overwintering Plants

Did you recently drag some of your favorite plants indoors to “save them” from Mother Nature’s cold snap? Not exactly sure what to do with them now? Many plants grown as perennials in warm climates are not hardy enough to withstand the freezing temperatures in Northern areas. Northern gardeners can leave these plants outdoors to die at the end of the season or they can overwinter them until the next growing season. Many gardeners have great success with overwintering annuals such as geraniums, tropical mandevillas, hibiscus and a whole host of other great patio plants. 

Overwintering involves protecting the plant from the cold, either in the garden or in a sheltered place. There are many overwintering techniques, ranging from covering dormant plants with a thick layer of mulch to moving plants to coldframe, sunny windowsill, or cool basement. What works for one type of plant might be fatal to another. 

geraniums

An easy way to overwinter some plants is to grow them in containers year-round and use them as houseplants or on the sun porch during winter. Slow-growing woody plants such as lavender, rosemary, and tarragon make the transition from outdoor plant to houseplant and back very successfully and can thrive for many years.

 You can hold many types of nonhardy plants, often called tender perennials, indoors over winter. Cutting back, digging up, and potting plants growing in the garden is one option for overwintering, but this may cause transplant shock, especially if the plants are large. An easier way to save tender perennials is to take and root cuttings, and then keep the cuttings indoors over winter. Many summer bedding plants, including impatiens, begonias, geraniums, and coleus can be overwintered this way. Rooted cuttings take up less space indoors than entire plants, and there is less chance of inadvertently overwintering diseases and insect pests. Take cuttings from your overwintering plants in late winter to propagate more transplants to move outdoors once the weather warms. To keep them from getting leggy as winter progresses, pinch them or keep them under plant lights.

 

Fleshy roots of cannas, dahlias, and even four o’clocks (Mirabilis jalapa), along with tender bulbs like caladiums (Caladium spp.) and tuberous begonias (Begonia spp.) can be dug and stored over winter.