Archives > March 2018

Why Daylilies are So Awesome

There is a theme that rings loud in our culture.  It’s about creating an uncomplicated life – one where the clutter is reduced and spending energy on things that matter is optimized. Daylilies are one of those plants that support this idea – they are great performers and very easy to care for.  Properly known as Hemerocallis, they are a class of perennial flower that are perfect for our Edmonton climate.  They tolerate our winters and they love living here.  Adding structure and simplicity, daylilies are a wonderful addition to every sunny garden.

Daylily flowers are available in an unparalleled array of colors and textures.  The blossoms can be solid or striped in color or they can have a gradual progression of colors beginning with lime greens or yellows at the throat blending into pinks, yellows, creams, reds or purples at the tips of the flower petals.  If that isn’t enough to whet your appetite, the blossom shapes vary as well – they can be simple with smooth edges, they can be ruffled, or they can be a combo of the two.  Despite the fact that daylily flowers last just a little over 24 hours (hence their name, daylily) shouldn’t deter you – when the clump is large, they appear to bloom continuously.  Not all daylilies bloom all summer long, most have a season of bloom but that season lasts for about a month, depending on how large the clump is.  Some have 2 seasons of bloom where they bloom for 2-3 weeks in early summer, take a rest, and then bloom again for another 2-3 weeks. Remember to read tags carefully so you know their individual habits & patterns.

 

Here are a few more details on daylilies:

  • grow in full & partial sun
  • are incredibly hardy – they tolerate a significant amount of heat & drought once established (after 3 summers)
  • are simple to divide
  • have few predators
  • are very low maintenance
  • remember to dead head daylilies by removing the spent & dead blossoms so they continue to dedicate their energy to blooming and expanding their roots.

It’s difficult to recommend specific varieties because there are so many choices. But for a starting point to great performers year in & year out,  some of our favorites include:

  • Stella D’Oro – continuous golden blooms all summer long
  • Barbara Mitchell – a ruffled, sophisticated creamy-pink blossom with a lime green throat
  • Happy Returns – reblooming yellow all summer, blooms are larger than Stella
  • Mighty Chestnut – ruffled reblooming 2 tone orange flower
  • Passion for Red – deep red with a green & yellow throat
  • Nosferatu – a ruffled deep purple with a green throat

Come and take a walk through our perennial department and see the choices of daylilies available for your garden.  Need help deciding?  We’d be happy to go through the options with you.  Also, feel free to email or call us at 780-904-3514.

Easter Lily Care

Easter lilies, or “Lilium longiflorum”, are native to the southern islands of Japan and are said to have been brought to North America by Louis Houghton, a WW1 veteran.  A vast majority of Easter lilies imported to Canada for Easter are grown along the California – Oregon border.  This horticultural zone makes it a zone 5, so it’s not winter hardy here in the Edmonton area.  Let’s explore the care and feeding of this highly fragrant seasonal beauty.

Caring for Easter Lilies in the pot:

  • Keep it indoors in an area with lots of ambient light
  • Avoid direct sunlight
  • Avoid cool draughty areas
  • Watering:
    • Allow the lily to become dry between waterings and water when the pot feels light
    • Water the pot thoroughly until water drips out the bottom
    • Don’t allow the lily to stay wet, this will cause the bulb to rot
  • Because it is mature and in full bloom, it doesn’t need any fertilizer.
  • Once the lily has finished blooming, it will not rebloom this year; it needs to grow from the bulb again to reflower.

What to do with this lily once it’s done blooming?

  • Because it is a zone 5 plant, it will not over winter in our Edmonton area – our horticultural zone is a 3 – 4.

Here are a couple of options:

  • Keep it inside in its pot until the leaves die back naturally

OR

  • You may plant it outdoors and let the leaves die back naturally in the garden. Once the first frost arrives, dig out the bulb and over winter it.

How to store the lily bulbs after the leaves have died back and over winter:

  • After the first frost, take the bulb out of the soil, whether it was in a pot or in the garden and store it in lightly moistened peat moss in a sealed brown paper bag. Place the bag in a cool dark place to store the bulb over the winter until February.

If you would like to force its bloom for Easter follow these steps:

  • Determine when Easter will be in the coming year, because the date changes annually.
  • Count back 115-125 days on the calendar.

Planting instructions:

  • Planting lily bulbs is simple – find a pot that will accommodate the lily bulb 4” below the soil, so you will need a pot with a minimum depth of 5”.
  • Track down a good quality soil mix, one that is not purely peat moss.
  • At the bottom of the pot, place the amount of soil necessary to keep the bulb at a depth of 4” below the top surface of the soil.
  • Plant the bulb right side up – with the roots on the bottom. This seems like an obvious thing, but bulbs planted upside down happen!
  • Water lightly and maintain soil moisture a little on the dry side, lily bulbs don’t need a lot of moisture and if they stay too wet, they will rot.

Are Easter Lilies Poisonous?

  • All parts of Easter lilies, as with all Asiatic lilies, are extremely toxic to cats, causing kidney failure and death.  So be extremely cautious to keep pets out of harm’s way.

If you have any questions, please feel free to give us a quick email at – we enjoy interacting with you and we check our emails daily.  If you need an answer quickly, call us at 780-467-3091.

 

Happy Easter!

 

Sources:  Marie Iannotti, on line plant guide.com, Dr Leonard Perry, University of Vermont, thegardenhelper.com, ext100.washingtonstateuniversity/chelan-douglas, gardeners.net

Cool Weather Lovers: Pansies & Violas

Like characters in CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, there are days when we wonder if it will always be winter and possibly never Christmas.  As winter and spring continue to tussle over who is on top of the weather dog pile, we’re always on the lookout to kick start spring color.

Look no further, Pansies & Violas LOVE cool weather. Pansies are actually from the Viola family.  In the garden, Pansies tend to refer to the larger faced garden flowers and Violas have tiny flowers.   Pansies are our go-to flower for early spring container color here in Edmonton .  They can handle a little frost – up to -3C or possibly -5C, so they should withstand our cool spring nights.

Pansies & Violas are available in the entire color spectrum from white – through the rainbow’s ROYGBIV – to black.  Their happy faces can be clear, blotched, or whiskered; and their edges can be smooth or ruffled.  They will bloom all spring, summer, and fall. And, added to all of that, they are lightly scented AND edible.  Such a deal!

They are tough and easy to grow:

  • They will grow in garden beds, rock gardens and containers.
  • Favored locations are firstly partial sun, and then full sun – the partial sun will keep them cooler during the heat of summer.
  • They will grow in the ground ranging from fertile to poor soil, but for any garden, always avoid clay – not much of anything likes to grow in clay.
  • Pansies can stretch in hot weather from the heat, so they may need to be pinched back to keep them compact – just take out your scissors and give them a shaping haircut.
  • Pansies and Violas have few problems with insects & diseases.
  • Water them when the ground is dry. When watering, it’s always a good practice to water the soil and to avoid getting the leaves wet.  If plant material is soggy for long periods of the time, it will get leaf diseases and rot.
  • Mulching is always a great way to keep soil moist and roots cool.
  • Violas are known to overwinter in zone 3 and Pansies in zone 4. However, some varieties reseed and they start popping up at the end of April.

About blooming:

  • As mentioned, Pansies & Violas will bloom all season long but remember to keep them deadheaded; otherwise they will stop blooming and direct their energy to producing seed heads.
  • Another thing that keeps them blooming is a weekly application of fertilizer – Nature’s Best, 20-20-20, and Miracle Grow are good options for fertilizer.
  • They thrive in cooler weather, so spring and later summer are their favorite time to bloom – Pansies are often planted in the southern US states in the winter for flowerbed color.
  • Plant them in partial shade to keep them cool during the summer’s heat.
  • Their flowers & leaves are edible & can be used to add a great splash of colour for salads and fruit plates. Garnishing with flowers always generates great conversation at the table.

Come on in our greenhouse and find some Pansies or Violas to grace your front step, balcony, or veranda with early spring color.  They will add sparkle and colorful magic at a time when we are so over the winter drab…..

If you have any questions about Violas and Pansies, please feel free to call us on our phone at 780-467-3091 or send us a quick email – we would be happy to discuss this fun & hardy flower with you.

sources:  Reader’s Digest A_Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants by Brickell, Cole, & Zuk,

In My Space – About Balcony Gardening

Balconies can be places of refuge where we seize a little garden tranquility by stepping out of the busy-ness of life and into a little nature outdoors.  With the popularity of container gardening over the last years, planning for a balcony garden has become versatile and fun as plant breeding programs are focussing more energy into developing compact versions of many flower and vegetable standbys.  Now you can have your choice of growing fresh veggies, like patio peas which thrive in containers, alongside herbs and floral favorites.

One of the most fun parts of doing container gardening is shopping for the containers and the flowers but before you start purchasing anything, know what your end goal is so you make wise buying decisions. Check out this list of things to consider:

  1. Know the exposure of your balcony – This information makes the difference between success and mediocrity. Ask the following questions to determine which plants will do the best in your location:
    1. Which direction does the balcony face? Does it get sun in the early morning, all afternoon, or late in the day?
    2. How many hours of direct sun does it receive? How many hours of shade does it get? Direct sun means that the sun is shining right on your balcony.
    3. It is windy? What direction does the wind come from most days?
    4. How hot does it get?
  2. Know what kinds of plants you’d like to grow:
    1. Would you like to grow kitchen herbs?
    2. Would you like to grow veggies?
    3. Would you like to edible flowers?
    4. Would you like to grow amazing and colorful flowers?
  3. Know what kinds of container options are available:
    1. A mix of container styles & shapes – upright and hanging
    2. Consider where you may implement lattices and trellises – these extend your container heights

We have crafted this chart of small plant ideas with a big splash for balconies:

Balcony Gardening Ideas
Sunny
6-8 hours or more of Direct Sun
Usually a direct east, south, or west exposure
Shady
4 hours or less of Direct Sun
Usually a northeast, north, or northwest exposure
Hanging Baskets:

– Calibrachoa (Million Bells), Mixed Geranium, Ivy Geranium, Sunpatiens

Hanging Baskets: 

– Begonia, Solenia Begonia, Bossa Nova Begonia, Fuchsia, Sunpatiens

Flowers & Containers with:

– Black Eyed Susan, Cobea on trellises
– Cannas
– Calibrachoa (Million Bells)
– Dahlias
– Gazania
– Geraniums
– Grasses
– Helichrysm
– Impoemia (Sweet Potato Vine)
– Lamium
– Marigolds
– Salvia
– Petunias
– Princess Lilies
– Scaevola
– Verbena

Flowers & Containers with:

– Abutilon
– Begonias – Solenia, Dragon Wing, Bossa Nova (trailing), Nonstop upright
– Browallia
– Coleus
– English Ivy
– Euphorbia
– Fuchsia – upright & trailing
– German Ivy
– Impatiens
– Iresine
– Lamium
– Lobelia
– Lysmachia
– Plectranthus
– Scaevola

Edibles:

– herbs of any kind
– patio peas, beets, carrots, peppers, tomatoes
– mixed lettuce bowls

Edibles:

– most vegetables need at least 6 hours of direct sunshine, you could experiment & see what will grow

Hanging Baskets are great for balconies – if you would like more information about which types are good for yours, take a peek at these two blogs:

If you have any questions about Balcony Gardening, feel free to contact us or call us on the phone at 780-467-3091 and we will be happy to dialog with you!