Archives > May 2016

Well Water & Your Garden| Edmonton & Strathcona County

Well water in our Edmonton Capital Region area and the Strathcona County is high in iron and dissolved minerals such as calcium and sodium.  This high iron and dissolved mineral salt content is  what makes water hard causing yellow staining, soap scum, and other issues. Well water not only effects machinery, household appliances, and bath tubs, it also affects plants.

When well water as described above is used to water plants, salts accumulate in them also.  As dissolved salts accumulate you will see:

  • Loss of a dark green color, paling of the plant in general
  • Yellow leaves
  • Burned leaf edges
  • Wilting that doesn’t respond to watering
  • Death

Plants most sensitive to salt accumulation tend to have more succulent leaves such as:

  • Sunpatiens
  • Impatiens
  • Begonias of all types

Geraniums will be one of the last kinds of plants to show burning but they as well will succumb to death by excessive dissolved salts.

Understanding that water trucked in is expensive, we recommend that you collect and use rain water to hydrate you plants.

Have gardening questions? Call us today: 780-467-3091.

Sources: water-research.net, douglasenviro.ca, bestwaterworks.ca, outdoorsmenforum.ca

Container Planting: Soil Quality is Huge

High quality soil is the foundation for growing success. Soil requirements for plants in containers are different from those grown in the ground or a raised bed garden. This is the thing worth spending extra money on if you were ever debating over spending money on a pretty pot or soil.  Pick the soil. Below is an exploration of soil – its function and what a high quality soil looks like.

The Function of Soil:

  • Acts as an anchor /support for plants
  • Holds moisture & nutrients
  • Provides air for roots to breathe

Components of good soil

  • usually sterilized for weed prevention
  • Has a light, airy density
  • Is a mix of peat, composted bark, vermiculite, and possibly perlite

Peat moss – Canadian sourced peat moss is considered to be of excellent quality, its function is to  retain moisture & nutrients.

Composed bark –  serves as an anchor for roots,  moisture & fertilizer retention, provides air spaces and organic matter.

Vermiculite is like a sponge – keeps the soil loose, keeps soil from compacting, aids in  holding water & fertilizer.

Perlite– provides air spaces – keeps the soil from compacting, adds no nutrient value, using a large amount can lead to fluoride binding to it if using fluoride treated water – more of an issue for long term houseplant gardening than for container gardening – this is why not all mixes contain perlite.

Cheap Soil

  • Mostly  made purely of peat moss
  • The problem with pure peat moss isthat when it gets dry out, it is extremely difficult to rehydrate & it actually repels water like a brick of concrete – so needs to be soaked –it may be able to return to its water retaining properties but this is challenging

Also, heavy soil doesn’t mean it’s good soil.  It is either:

  • very wet: very wet is likely an indicator that the soil is decomposing in the bag which can cause root rot  (losing air space and then causing roots to rot)

OR

  • has a lot of sand: sand is a cheap filler – sand causes the soil to lose air spaces and that as well will cause root rot

Other notes on soil:

  • There is a need to fertilize because potting soil doesn’t naturally possess a lot of nutrients
  • Complex mixes with manure, garden soil, compost are for landscaping purposes, not container planting
  • Good quality soil is most often bought at greenhouses and garden centers and it is always best to ask if the soil being sold in bags is the same as the one used in for their products

Contact us today for more container gardening tips!

Sources: provenwinners.com, exploratorium.com, healthyurbanhabit.com

The Fragrant Garden | Garden Tips from Wallish Greenhouses

Ahh, there is nothing so beautiful as the scent of lilacs ringing in spring for the nonallergic! We are often asked in the sales greenhouse to recommend fragrant flowers.  Perfume produced by flowers is all about attracting pollinators, since flowers are all about reproduction and continuing the species.

Here are a few interesting facts about flowers and their fragrance:

  • Flowers that are pollinated at night by moths have strong fragrances and a particularly long range.
  • Sweet scents attract bees and flies.
  • Fruity, spicy, and musty scents attract beetles.

The following is a list we have compiled of annuals and perennials that you may enjoy adding to your collection this year:

fragrant garden chart

Source: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-do-flowers-have-scent/, http://www.uvm.edu/pss/ppp/articles/fragrant.htm

Drought Resistant Plants & Natives

With concerns for good water stewardship, many are interested in using varieties of plants that require less water management.  Below is a list of Annuals, Perennials, and Native Alberta plants have reduced water requirements once established.  It can take perennials a good year or two to establish.  Please avoid transplanting, watering them once, and then leaving them to the elements to care for them.  They will fail.

drought resistence chart

Sources: http://www.swallowtailgardenseeds.com/perennials/verbascum.html#gsc.tab=0, http://www.birdsandblooms.com/gardening/drought-tolerant-gardening/top-10-drought-tolerant-plants/, http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,1213353,00.html, http://www.bhg.com/gardening/flowers/perennials/perennials-with-drought-tolerance/#page=18, http://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/gardeningguides/drought-tolerant-annuals-a-toronto-master-gardeners-guide/, http://www.calgary.ca/UEP/Water/Pages/Water-conservation/Lawn-and-garden/Water-wise-gardening-and-plants/Water-wise-annuals-and-perennials.aspx, ‘Xeeriscape Priority Plant List” by Prairie Urban Garden – Oldman Watershed Council, http://www.edmonton.ca/residential_neighbourhoods/gardens_lawns_trees/drought-resistant-trees-shrubs.aspx

Call us for more gardening advice: 780-467-3091.

Sun Tolerant Hostas |Garden Tips

When discussing hostas, one must always bear in mind that shade is really their idea growing location, so any hosta that grows in the sun is tolerant of sun but not a lover of it.  Hostas tend to put up with more sun in northern climes like ours in central Alberta. (We score!) The fragrant varieties of the plantaginea family that hummingbirds love tend to handle sun better than the other hosta groups.

Plant characteristics in hostas to look for that give them a better chance in sunshine include:

Leaves with thicker textures tend to do deal better with moisture loss in sunny & windy conditions.  So, look for:

  • Heavy leaves
  • Corrugated or puckered leaves
  • Blue colored leaves

And Avoid:

  • Thin leaves
  • Green or gold varieties with variegation

There may be some tradeoffs when growing hosta outside of their comfort zone.  You may end up with:

  • Color loss or leaf bleaching, particularly in blue varieties
  • Decreased leaf & overall plant size
  • Less perfect leaves, there may be some burning in middle of leaves & on edges

For hostas to grow in sun, here are a few suggestions for increasing your success:

  • Choose a hosta with a large root mass – they can absorb more water and support the plant during the sun & heat exposure
  • Check that you have a good quality garden soil with plenty of organic matter that holds moisture well — avoid clayish or compacted soil
  • Supplying enough water is major – a lack of moisture causes them to stress & burn
  • Ensure that they drain well and not so soggy as to cause them to rot.
  • Mulch well with 3-4 inches of good quality mulch to increase water retention & keep the roots cool.
  • Supply a shade source for the hottest times of the day.  Things like: a taller tree or perennial plant and hard-scapes like a bird feeder, arbour, trellis, or a fountain can provide shade for those hours.

The following is a list of Hostas ‘that have the potential for 4 hours or more of sunshine’ that we have found to appear on several different horticultural lists and sources. Please note this is a guideline but not a guarantee of performance, you will have to test and see what works best in your location.

  • August Moon
  • Blue Angel
  • Francee
  • Gold Standard
  • Royal Standard
  • Regal Splendor
  • Sagae
  • Sugar & Cream
  • Sum & Substance
  • Sun Power

Enjoy!

Call us for more garden tips: 780-467-3091.

Senettis – Their Habit & Care

Senettis or Pericallis are 30cm tall flowers that have a most vibrant, almost electric, color flush in spring.  Senettis are a newer product on the market, a creation of a crossbreeding program in Japan, with their genetics including Asteracaea and Cineraria.  Day neutral Senettis who thrive in temperatures as low as 3C are a great companion to Pansies.

Senettis, however, can cause consumers angst because of their flowering habit.  They love cool nights & warm, but not hot days.  Flowering slows down and even comes to a halt when night temperatures exceed 22-25C. One way to overcome this is to companion plant them with other annuals that continue to bloom through the hot days of summer.

Here are some care tips to help you tend them for optimal performance:

  • Plant in full to part sun (6 or more hours)
  • Cover and protect from late spring frosts
  • Fertilize weekly, they are heavy feeders
  • Water regularly in well drained soil, keep them from getting soggy
  • When blooming has stopped, cut back 50%, a new resurgence of blossoms should start in about 4-5 weeks, just in time for late summer / early fall cooling to add color to a garden starting to wind down.
  • Good for landscape, borders, and containers

Senettis add a splash and mix of color that can add  zest to your floral landscape, give them a whirl.

Give us a call for more gardening information: 780-467-3091.

Sources: senetti.com, finegardening.com, countrylife.ie, gardensmart.tv, thegardenhelper.com, learn2grow.com

Garage Syndrome – Stressing on the Inside | Gardening Tips

“Garage Syndrome” is a real thing.  It happens when plant material spends too much time inside a garage when the weather is cool.  What happens is that garages, in general, are built for vehicles and they aren’t able to provide an adequate amount of light and air circulation for plants to thrive.  If they spend too much time in a garage – even as little as 2 or 3 days, or too many weeks going in and out of the garage – they begin to languish.

Symptoms of this failure to thrive look like:

  • Green leaves begin to pale and turn yellow
  • Plants begin to stretch, get leggy, and weak
  • Wet and soggy soil (because of a decrease in metabolism) that could start root rot

How does one combat garage syndrome?

  • Wait for the weather to warm up before you buy – the 3rd week of May is usually safe for day time temperatures, but always watch the night time lows and bring them in at night if it is threatening temperatures at +8C or below, bring them in for the night

Let us take care of the plants at the greenhouse until the outside weather can support them – you will be less harassed and much happier with your purchase.

Call us for more gardening tips: 780-467-3091.

Tips on Choosing the Right Hanging Basket or Container

These are the days when we start thinking of what kinds of containers or hanging baskets we would like to have in our growing space. As in real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. Take a look at our handy chart below to see what you should plant this year!

hanging baskets

Factors  about location that should be considered are:

  • Hours of sun exposure
  • Buildings or fences that may shade the area
  • Intensity of sun exposure: direct or indirect
  • Wind exposure

We would be happy to consult with you to try to get the best match possible for your location. Call us now at 780-467-3091.