Container gardens are great for decks, porches, patios, or anywhere that you need a touch of color. Mark Van Buren, owner of Zehr’s on the Lake. offers four tips for keeping your containers looking beautiful all season long.
Tip #1: The “Hollywood pop and drop”
For quick color, try the technique Van Buren calls the “Hollywood pop and drop.”
Buy a large hanging basket and a large container. Instead of filling the container with soil, just invert a small pot and set it in the large container, as we did in the first photo. Set your hanging plant on top of the inverted pot. Take off the hanger.
Presto! You have an instant container garden like the one in the photo at right.
This container includes scaveola, calibrachoa and verbena.
The hanging basket has already been growing for two months, Van Buren pointed out, so it’s full and lush. When you plant a container garden yourself, you have to be patient and wait for the flowers to fill in.
The pop-and-drop method is also convenient if you need to move the container garden from spot to spot. Without all that extra soil, the container is much easier to lift and carry.
Tip #2: Use the right soil
“People buy $90 worth of plants, then put them into poor soil,” Van Buren said. “They’re setting themselves up for failure.”
You want to use a good potting soil, he said. It should have bark, aggregate and some peat in it.
Don’t use too much peat, though. The peat will draw the water in, but when it’s dry, it almost repels the water. You want a potting soil that both absorbs and releases the water.
Another "Hollywood pop and drop," this time with pink and white petunias.
Van Buren picked up a handful of the mix he uses.
“You can feel the coconut and bark in it,” he said.
If you’re not sure what to buy, ask the staff at the garden center what they use and buy that, he recommended.
Tip #3: Add fertilizer
When people create their own container gardens, they usually forget to add fertilizer to the soil.
Van Buren suggests adding a little Osmocote, which is a general-use fertilizer for northern climates. Every time you water or it rains, the fertilizer will be released. Adding it once should be enough to last for eight to nine months.
You should use a dash or a heavy tablespoon per container.
“Add it like an Italian cook,” he said. “None of this needs to be overthought.”
This version of the "Hollywood pop and drop" features yellow and orange calibrachoa.
Tip #4: Make it easy for the person caring for your containers while you’re on vacation
When you’re preparing to go away, move your container gardens to shadier spot so they won’t require as much water. (This is when you might wish you had lightweight “Hollywood pop and drop” containers.)
Then buy a saucer for your container and water from the bottom up. If the person caring for your plants sees that the container is full, he or she knows not to water that day. If the saucer is empty, all the person has to do is fill the saucer.
Author: Connie Oswald Stofko
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With the increasing number of hosta cultivars being introduced each year it is increasingly difficult for nurserymen and gardeners to choose just the right hostas for their sales areas and gardens. To this end the American Hosta Growers Association established the AHGA Hosta of the Year in 1996. It is selected by a vote of AHGA members. Award winners are hostas that are good garden plants in all a regions of the country, and are widely available.
2012 Hosta of the Year
Color - Variegated
Size - Large (39"ht x 39"w)
Habit - Upright
Bloom - Lavender
Parent - sport of 'Sagae'
The sensation of the 2000 American Hosta Society convention. This sport of the popular 'Sagae' features a wider more dramatic margin. Like 'Sagae' the margin changes from yellow to creamy-white by mid-season. Lavender flowers in mid-summer. PP#12,531
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The Perennial Plant of the Year™
The Perennial Plant of the Year™ (POY™) program began in 1990 to showcase a perennial that is a standout among its competitors. Perennials chosen are suitable for a wide range of growing climates, require low maintenance, have multiple-season interest, and are relatively pest/disease-free. If you are looking for an excellent perennial for your next landscape project or something reliable for your gardens, make sure to check out the Perennial Plant of the Year™ archive list. For information about other perennials, be sure to search the Plant Database.
Since the Perennial Plant of the Year™ was introduced in 1990, the Perennial Plant Association has received frequent inquiries about how the Perennial Plant of the Year™ is selected. The selection process is quite simple – PPA members vote for the Perennial Plant of the Year™ each summer. At that time, in addition to the vote, each member may also nominate up to two plants for future consideration. The Perennial Plant of the Year™ committee reviews the nominated perennials (more than 400 different perennials are often nominated each year) and selects 3 to or 4 perennials to be placed on the ballot.
Nominations generally need to satisfy the following criteria:
Suitability for a wide range of climatic conditions
Relative pest- and disease-resistance
Ready availability in the year of promotion
Multiple seasons of ornamental interest
The garden media receives the Perennial Plant of the Year™ announcement in the fall prior to the introduction so that they may begin the publicity that accompanies the choice. For example, Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost', 2012 Perennial Plant of the Year™, was announced to the garden media in fall 2011.
2012 Perennial Plant of the Year™
Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost'
Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ PP13859 grows 18 inches tall and 18 inches wide in a mounded form. This hardy perennial grows well in hardiness zones 3 to 8.
Brunneras are treasured for their shade tolerance and early baby-blue, forget-me-not like flowers. Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ has enchanting silvery leaves with green venation and a thin green margin. One common name for this perennial is heartleaf brunnera because the emerging leaf enlarges to a heart shape.
Plants thrive in the shade but will tolerate morning sun if the soil conditions remain moist. By midday, shade is essential, particularly in southern gardens.
This perennial performs best in shady areas with good moisture retentive soils.
‘Jack Frost’ brunnera may be used along the front of the shade border, is excellent in a container, or can be combined with other ground cover perennials such as hostas, ferns, and epimediums. The silver foliage lights up a dark garden from spring to fall.
From mid to late spring, blue, forget-me-not like blossoms are held in clusters several inches above the brilliant frosty silver leaves. The rough leaf texture makes this perennial less palatable to browsing deer.
USDA Zones 3 to 8
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Photos by Walters Gardens, Inc.
Benefits of Organic Seeds
As the United States becomes more health and environmentally conscious, you will notice that the term "organic" has become more and more prevalent. The major difference between organic and traditional seeds, is that organic seeds have not been exposed to any kind of chemical or synthetic in the form of fertilizers, pesticides, germicides and insecticides, etc. Organic seeds, as their name suggests, are seeds that are acquired in organic ways. This means, the seeds are obtained by totally natural processes, without using any chemical ingredients anywhere in their production.
Growers of organic seeds also focus more on the traits that make for better tasting and healthier produce. With organic seeds, you get tastier fruits and vegetables. This is because chemicals can sometimes interfere with the natural balance of the foods, and spoil their taste. Therefore, using organic seeds with good organic farming practices, helps to ensure "good tasting" produce.
To organic garden, you need to start with organic seeds. Today, there is a wide assortment of organic seeds available to the home farmer. Your job is simplified. Choose your organic seeds, sow them, grow them, reap them, and finally, thoroughly enjoy your good organic eats!
Zehrs on the Lake now offers organic seeds for the 2012 growing season. Here at Zehrs, we know that organic seeds provide the home farmer with an excellent alternative and an all-natural source of produce. Click here to see Zehrs organic seed offerings.
While you're here, check out our other organic products, and consider incorporating them into your organic garden.
Organic Fertilizer, Organic Soil, and Composting
Be an organic gardener!
Many flowers and vegetables may be started from seeds indoors. Vigorous plants started indoors flower sooner and produce an earlier harvest than those plants started outdoors.
Sowing seeds indoors is the easiest and least expensive method of producing vegetables, annual flowers and some perennial plants. Plants with extremely small seeds or those that need a long growing season, make excellent candidates for starting indoors.
Supplies needed for indoor seed sowing include: fluorescent or grow lights, containers, a seed-starting medium, and a location with proper temperature and ventilation.
Growing plants from seeds can be a rewarding hobby that allows the home gardener to grow many unusual varieties.
Zehrs on the Lake has a complete line of seed germinating and planting resources to help the home gardener. Click here to view our selection of Seeds, Seed Starting Supplies, Fertilizers and Soils.
WOW Whee! While other garden centers may be trimming back their plant selections for 2012, Zehrs on the Lake will be introducing over 150 of the newest and coolest plants available. These plants, annuals, perennials, and flowering shrubs, were selected because of their proven performance and suitability to the Western New York region.
Click here and check out our New 2012 Introductions!
Be the envy of your neighborhood!