How to Select and Care for your Plants...
Thorough soil preparation prior to planting is essential for long-term success. This is the only opportunity you will have to work the soil completely. Once plants are established, drainage and aeration cannot be substantially corrected without uprooting the plants.
Test your soil to determine its pH, and adjust if necessary. Most perennials will perform well if the pH falls between 5.5 and 6.5. Acid-loving shrubs including Azaleas, Rhododendrons and evergreens require an acid soil of 5.0-6.0. Roses prefer a slightly acid soil of 6.0-6.5. Annuals, herbs and vegetables mostly prefer a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.
Soil preparation work can be performed any time the soil is not frozen or excessively wet. Dig to a minimum of 12", the deeper the better for root development. A 4-6" layer of organic matter such as well-rotted manure, compost and peat moss should be worked into the soil by digging, spading or rotary tilling. In most cases, thoroughly mix 2 lbs. of an organic blend fertilizer. (Garden Tone, Plant Tone or Bone Meal) or a commercial granular fertilizer (5-10-5, 10-10-10, or superphosphate) at the rate of 2 lbs. per 100 sq. ft. into the top 6" of soil. This will be of benefit in successful plant establishment.
Carefully remove the plant from the pot. If the roots are wrapped around the bottom of the pot, gently tease them apart with your fingers. If they are too dense to accomplish this, a knife can be used to cut through the root mass. Spread the roots and set the plant at the same level it was in the container. Firm the soil around the plant to eliminate any air pockets around the root system. Water the plants thoroughly.
Do not plant too early in the spring when soil moisture levels are high and temperatures are very cold. Planting at this time may ruin soil structure and result in poor root growth. Late-season plantings should be completed a month before killing frosts so roots can get well established prior to the onset of winter. All late-season plantings should be mulched for their first winter to minimize the chance of winter damage.
To keep the plants in bloom as long as possible, flower heads should be cut as soon as they fade, before they have time to set seed. Feeding regularly throughout the summer is essential for the long-term health of your plants. We add a slow release supplement to all of our hanging baskets. However, we strongly recommend that you incorporate using a water soluble fertilizer (Peters or Miracle Gro) into your regular watering regimen. For your own beds and containers, use a slow release fertilizer (Osmocote) in the soil in addition to a water soluble fertilizer.
Many shrubs benefit from seasonal pruning, which encourages new growth. The time and degree of pruning depends on the particular variety of shrub.
We recommend taking some winter precautions to ensure the healthy return of your shrubs year to year. Protect your shrubs from deer by wrapping them in burlap during the winter months. For evergreens including Azaleas, Rhododendrons, and conifers, we recommend that you apply Wilt Pruf to your shrubs in late fall or early winter. Wilt Pruf is an anti-transpirant that coats the leaves in a waxy residue that helps to prevent moisture loss. On a sunny winter day, moisture is lost from the leaves since water cannot be taken up from the frozen soil. Excess moisture loss results in winter kill.
Clean up all leaves and debris from around the plants in fall, since dead foliage can harbor pests and fungal spores that induce disease. For winter protection, it is advisable to build a mound of mulch or soil around the graft. Remove the winter mulch in spring.