Categories > flowers

Poinsettia History & Care

Poinsettias have been synonymous with the holiday season for years. But how did these vibrant, crimson flowers become Christmas staples?

There is a Mexican legend (Poinsettias originate from Mexico), that goes like this:

A poor Mexican girl who had no gift to present the Christ Child at Christmas Eve Services. Her name was Pepita and as she walked to the chapel with her cousin Pedro, she felt ashamed and saddened. “I am sure, Pepita, that even the humblest gift, if given in love, will be acceptable in His eyes,” her cousin Pedro told her, in an effort to reassure her.
Not knowing what else to do, Pepita knelt by the roadside and gathered a handful of common weeds, fashioning them into a small bouquet. Looking at the scraggly bunch of weeds, she felt more saddened and embarrassed than ever by the modesty of her contribution. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she entered the small village chapel.
As she approached the altar, she remembered Pedro’s kind words: “Even the humblest gift, if given in love, will be acceptable in His eyes.” She felt her spirit lift as she knelt to lay the bouquet at the foot of the nativity scene.

No sooner did she place the flowers at the alter than they burst into blooms of brilliant red! They were the most beautiful cherry-red blossoms Pepita had ever seen. All who saw them were certain that they had witnessed a Christmas miracle right before their very eyes.
From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the Flores de Noche Buena, or Flowers of the Holy Night, for they bloomed each year during the Christmas season and thus, the legend of the poinsettia was born.

To this day, millions of poinsettias are purchased around the holiday season. The most common poinsettia colour is red, accounting for three quarters of all poinsettia sales worldwide. But did you know poinsettias also come in white, pink, orange and cream colours? It’s true!

Interested in learning more about this seasonal wonder? Check out our Poinsettia Care video series on our YouTube channel! Each video is filled with helpful tips on how to keep your poinsettia in perfect condition.

Peony Cut Flowers

Peony Cut Flowers

 

Peonies, one of the hardiest and easy to grow perennials, bloom in the spring. Peonies make wonderful romantic fragrant cut flowers.  Here are some guidelines for success:

  • Always work with clean tools – clean shears, clean vases.  Make it a habit to keep your garden tools and vases washed with warm soapy water.  Clean tools and vases keep bacterial growth at bay and gardens healthier.

 

  • Always cut fresh flowers first thing in the morning – they are well hydrated from the previous night’s rest and they are fresh and cool.

 

  • Avoid picking Peony blossoms in the first and second year of the plant’s growth.  Deadhead the old blossoms on young plants so seed pods don’t form – that way the peony can devote its energy to growing robust, healthy roots.

 

  • Pick buds at the ‘marshmallow phase’ – give the peony buds a gentle squeeze and when they feel like a marshmallow, it’s time to pick them.  Another way of gauging when to pick is when you see the first flower petal beginning to emerge from the bud.  If the bud feels hard like a marble, they may not open because the buds are too tight.  Cut single peony blooms tighter than you would double peony blossoms – the doubles just have more mass.
  • A fully open bloom with fall apart quickly as a cut flower.
  • Cut stems at a 45º angle – this optimizes the surface area for water uptake.  If possible, trim stems underwater to keep the stem bottoms well hydrated.
  • Changing the water in the vase daily and keeping leaves out of the water will help to keep bacterial counts down.
  • Timing peony blossoms for an event – follow the above procedure, and store them in the refrigerator – optimal temperature is around 34F (2-4C)
  • keep them in the fridge for up to 4 weeks but the longer they stay in the fridge, the faster they will open and the shorter they will last
  • they can be stored in water or wrapped in damp paper towels to keep them fresh
  • 2 or 3 days before the event, take them out of the fridge, give their stems a fresh cut and place them in lukewarm water to wake them up

 

 

Sources:  http://passion4peonies.blogspot.ca/2010/08/peonies-as-cut-flowers.html, http://peonyparadise.com/cutflowercare.aspx, http://borealfarms.net/cuttingandstoringpeonyblossoms/

Vlog:  Hanging Basket C-A-R-E


Hanging baskets live & die by the care we give them and some days that sounds like a scary proposition.  The very first thing to successful hanging basket care is to have the right hanging basket paired with the right location.  And beyond that, the reality is that hanging baskets are not that complicated to care for.  We are hoping that in this short video you will discover some of our secrets to caring for hanging baskets using the acronym C-A-R-E.  It is our hope that this video will help make gardening simple, fun, and wildly successful for you!

Fuchsia Hanging Baskets Basket C-A-R-E

‘Sophisticated’ is the perfect adjective to describe Fuchsias. Fuchsias have delicate suspended flowers that look like ballerinas in the most intricate costumes.  They come in a huge selection of gorgeous ruffled blossoms.  Fuchsias like to grow in sheltered shady areas, so a full north, northwest and northeast location is best.  Fuchsias are fragile and will sustain damage by tearing or breaking in a windy area. Some people prefer to keep them in screened porches.

A fun thing about fuchsias is that hummingbirds are attracted to them.  We hope you get a visit!

We will do a quick review of general hanging basket care using the acronym C-A-R-E  and then look at Fuchsia hanging baskets specifically.

 

Check daily

  • This is about keeping a watchful eye on your hanging basket.
  • Each day, do a general top to bottom overall check of your hanging basket – inspect leaf & flower health:  any curling, wilting, spotted or yellowing leaves, and old or deformed flowers. Turn the leaves over to look underneath for bugs, they love hiding there.

Fuchsias

  • Fuchsias are delicate and require a caregiver that likes to pay attention to detail.  Stay vigilant; be in tune for small changes in the leaves indicating they need water.
  • Fuchsias have a tropical heritage, so remember that they hate to get cold.  Bring them indoors in the evenings when the temperature is threatening to go down to +10C or lower.  When they get chilled their leaves will droop, tricking people into thinking they need water when in actuality they’re just cold.
  • If the wind picks up and it gets stormy, it may be best to bring it indoors because the wind will damage or even snap off its branches.
  • Few pests are attracted to them. Because aphids are everywhere, keep an eye out for aphids. If that happens, an application of safer soap can really help keep them at bay.  You may also make homemade aphid spray from recipes found on the internet. As a last resort you may need to use insecticides, such as Dr. Doom specifically for aphids.

 

Adequate Hydration

    • This is all about watering.
    • A good way to check hanging baskets for adequate hydration is to feel how heavy they are, lift them a bit by pushing on the bottom of the pot as they are hanging to check the weight.  As you get more familiar with how heavy a fully watered hanging basket is, you will be able to tell when it’s time to water. If you happened to put your Fuchsia basket in an upright container, you can dip your index finger deeply into the soil.  If the soil is dry at about 1.5 inches, it’s time for a drink of water.  When watering containers and hanging baskets, water thoroughly so that water drains out of the bottom of the pot- that’s how you know you have watered effectively. If you don’t let water flow out, salts from the fertilizer will accumulate causing the leaves and flowers to burn.

Fuchsias

  • Fuchsias are sensitive about their watering.  They like to stay evenly moist at all times.  If they get too dry, they will wilt but if they are too wet, they will look droopy too.  Watch your Fuchsia to understand its rhythm and water it regularly and fairly often, like every 2 or 3 days depending on the weather.  If it is very hot outdoors, they may need to be watered twice a day.  When the weather is cooler, they need water less often.
  • Try to keep an eye out for when they are just beginning to wilt and then water gently and thoroughly so that the water just begins to drip out of the bottom of the pot.

 

 

Replenish Nutrients

  • This step is about fertilizing.  
  • Replenishing nutrients is important for containers and hanging baskets because there is a finite amount of nutrients held within the soil and when water drips out of the pots, some of those nutrients are lost.  We recommend fertilizing weekly.  Pick a regular day of the week, and make that your fertilizing day – make it an alarm on your phone.  Our favorite fertilizer is called ‘Nature’s Best’.  It is a natural fertilizer and we have found it to be easy to use, gentle on plants without burning and we think it makes flowers brighter.  ‘Miracle Grow’ is another good choice and other balanced fertilizers like20-20-20 work well.

Fuchsias

  • Fuchsias need regular weekly fertilizing as described above.  Best choices for fertilizer for fuchsias are ‘Nature’s Best’ and 20-20-20.

 

 

Encourage Growth

  • This is a maintenance step.  
  • Plant growth is encouraged by taking off old flowers, known as deadheading, removing dead leaves, and pinching straggly, leggy plants back.  Taking off old flowers is important because the ultimate purpose of flowers to produce seeds for reproduction. By taking off those dead flowers, the plant continues to flower.  Old wilted and curled leaves actually take energy from the plant in an attempt to repair itself but if they are removed, the plant can continue to focus its efforts on flowering.  Plants can also get long and straggly looking – it’s ok to literally give them a haircut with scissors – it will make them branch, become bushy and thrive.

Fuchsias

  • Fuchsias must be deadheaded to continue flowering.  Be sure to take off the green seed pod at the top end of the flower when you take the drying flower off.  If you don’t, the Fuchsia will continue to develop seeds in that pod and your Fuchsia will look like it is growing an impressive crop of green grapes.
  • Keep a few of the stems at the top of the Fuchsia basket pinched back to maintain a rounded top on the hanging basket.  If not, the top will flatten out – a phenomenon we call balding.
  • Also, don’t be afraid to clip back any branches that look straggly or if the Fuchsia is looking lopsided – it won’t hurt the Fuchsia – pinching them back will stimulate compact fresh growth.

Enjoy these baskets, they have tremendous color power and perform wonderfully when you care for them.  The extra effort will be worth it, especially if a hummingbird stops by!

How to Choose the Right Hanging Basket

Deciding on what kind of hanging basket to purchase can be positively confusing.  In this short video, we have some ideas for you on how to sort out the details about choosing a hanging basket.  It’s important to know the particulars of the location you wish to place it; like how many hours of sun it gets, how windy it is. It is our dream that this video will help make gardening simple, fun, and wildly successful for you!

 

Please check out https://www.wallishgreenhouses.ca/tips-on-choosing-the-right-hanging-basket-or-container/

 

Contact us today for more information

Solenia Begonia Hanging Basket CARE

What?? A Begonia for the sun??

Yes. It is true – we carry a fabulous sun tolerant Begonia series called ‘Solenia’ Begonias that grow well in the sun. These floriferous Begonias are available in a number of colors.  One thing to keep in mind, though, is that these Begonias are sun tolerant – they are not intended for the blistering hot sun. They do best in a northeast, east, southeast and northwest sun exposure location.  If they are placed in a hot south, southwest or direct west location they can get stressed from too much and burn.

 

It is best to grow Solenia Begonias in a sheltered area – their leaves are somewhat fragile and will get damaged or break in a windy area.

 

We will do a quick review of general hanging basket care using the acronym C-A-R-E and then we’ll take a look at Solenia Begonia hanging basket care specifically.

 

Check daily

  • This is about keeping a watchful eye on your hanging basket.
  • Each day, do a general top to bottom overall check of your hanging basket – inspect leaf & flower health: any curling, wilting, spotted or yellowing leaves, and old or deformed flowers. Turn the leaves over to look underneath for bugs, they love hiding there.
Solenia Begonias
  • Solenia Begonias are very hardy plants when they are in their sweet spot. When they are growing in areas that stress them, like in the hot sun, you see problems arise.
  • One thing to be very diligent about is to check for stem rot. If Solenia Begonias are kept too wet, their stems will rot at the soil level.  You can tell this by a yellowish-brown color where the soil and stem touch.  It will also be slimy at this area.

 

Adequate Hydration

  • This is all about watering.
  • A good way to check hanging baskets for adequate hydration is to feel how heavy they are, lift them by pushing up on their bottom as they are hanging and check the weight. As you get more familiar with how heavy a fully watered hanging basket is, you will be able to tell when it’s time to water. If you happened to put your begonia basket in an upright container, you can dip your index finger deeply into the soil.  If the soil is dry at about 1.5 inches, it’s time for a drink of water.  When watering containers and hanging baskets, water thoroughly so that water runs out of the bottom of the pot.  That is how you know you have watered effectively and that all the roots are bathed in a fresh drink of water. If you don’t let water flow out, salts from the fertilizer will accumulate causing the leaves and flowers to burn.
Solenia Begonias
  • Begonias die most often from being overwatered. Because Solenia Begonias live in sunny areas, their need for water is more than a shade Begonia but keep your eye on signs of overwatering. Depending on the weather, they may need to be watered gently every 2 or 3 days if it is hot but be sure to check the soil moisture or basket weight before you water.
  • Water thoroughly so the water drains out the bottom as described above.

Replenish Nutrients

  • This step is about fertilizing.
  • The reason that replenishing nutrients is important for containers and hanging baskets is that there is a finite amount of nutrients held within the container soil and when the water drips out of the pots, some of those nutrients are lost. We recommend fertilizing weekly.  Pick a regular day of the week, and make that your fertilizing day – make it an alarm on your phone.  Our favorite fertilizer is called ‘Nature’s Best’.  It is a natural fertilizer and we have found it to be easy to use, gentle on plants with no burning and we think it makes flowers brighter.  ‘Miracle Grow’ is another good choice and other balanced fertilizers like 20-20-20 work well.
Solenia Begonias
  • Fertilize Solenia Begonias on a weekly basis.

 

Encourage Growth

  • This is a maintenance step.
  • Growth of plants is encouraged by taking off old flowers, known as deadheading, removing dead leaves, and pinching straggly, leggy plants back. Taking off old flowers is important because the ultimate purpose of flowers to produce seeds for reproduction. By taking off those dead flowers, the plant continues to flower.  Old wilted and curled leaves actually take energy from the plant in an attempt to repair itself, but if they are removed, the plant can continue to focus its efforts on flowering.  Plants can also get long and straggly looking – it’s ok to literally give them a haircut with scissors – it will make them branch, become bushy and thrive.
Solenia Begonias
  • Deadhead Solenia Begonias as flowers begin to dry. Remove dead flowers and seed pods by following the stems back to where it intersects with the larger stem and pinch it back at that point.
  • Pinch stems back to encourage compact growth.
  • If the Sun Begonia basket is a mixed basket, some of the trailing flowers may need to be deadheaded as well.  If the vines get long, you can always cut them back with scissors to keep them stocky and strong.

 

Enjoy these baskets, they have tremendous color power and perform wonderfully with a little routine care.

 

Contact us today for more information

Why Raised Beds for Perennials are a Bad Idea

We have blogged in the past about the benefits of raised beds for annual flowers & vegetable gardens. Check out this link to Raised Beds for Vegetable Gardening. Very briefly, raised beds – those 8” and higher – provide:

• easier physical accessibility for planting, weeding, or drip irrigation installation
• greater control of soil content
• warmer roots which lead to quicker maturation
• simpler installation trellises, fencing, and netting supports

BUT

Beware of using raised beds for perennials…and here’s why:

• Perennials need the protection of the surrounding ground to insulate and protect their roots over the winter so they can grow again in spring when the weather warms up. Snow cover also adds a huge insulation benefit.
• Raised beds are considerably colder than level ground in the winter because they are elevated above the ground. The higher the raised bed, the more the exposure.

• For perennials, this increased exposure is like having their roots in an ice-cube tray, it exposes the roots to colder temperatures than they were intended for and perennials will eventually die from the freeze and thaw cycle that occurs.

Generally, perennials can handle life in beds raised to about 6”. For heights above that, some perennials will tolerate winter for a few years, but eventually, the overexposure will wear them down and the stress eventually kills them.

So, for a rule of thumb in our climate (horticulture zones 3 & 4) keep perennials down in the ground where they can stay protected during the blustery winter months.

Contact us today for more information

Perennials That Hate Being Moved

All plants, actually, don’t like to be moved.  There are a few reasons for this:

  • By virtue of their nature of being a stationary object, they were never intended to be moved in the first place.
  • Moving plants damages their microscopic root hairs.
  • The new location requires a period of adjustment for the plant.
  • Physical damage to other parts of the plant, like leaves & stems, affects their growth.
  • Avoid moving perennials when they’re in flower.  For spring & summer perennials, move them after they are done blooming.  For fall bloomers, move them early in the spring or early summer so they can get established and bloom in the fall.

Almost all plants can tolerate a move:

  • It’s best to move them when they are dormant.
  • It’s best to take the largest piece of root possible.
  • Dig down deeply and vertically as opposed to digging at an angle.  That way you can maximize the amount of root you take.
  • Be sure take along the crown of the plant.  The crown is its heart, and if you damage or don’t take the heart, you lose the plant.

Tap roots:

  • Perennials with deep tap roots hate being moved.
  • Carrots are an example of a tap root.
  • Tap roots make plants resilient to harsh climatic conditions.
  • Are mostly singular, and they are very difficult to divide without inflicting a lot of damage to the plant.

The perennials listed below all have deep tap roots and the success moving them is limited.

  • Acontium (Monkshood)
  • Asclepias (Butterfly Weed)
  • Baptisia (False Indigo)
  • Dicentra (Bleeding Heart)
  • Eryngium (Sea Holly)
  • Dictamnus
  • Limonium
  • Lupines
  • Oriental poppies
  • Peony

Sources: http://calgaryherald.com/life/homes/sunday-september-26-2010-its-a-good-time-to-move-if-youre-a-plant, http://www.dummies.com/home-garden/gardening/flower-gardening/how-to-identify-perennials-you-cant-divide/, http://northscaping.com/IZArticles/IS-0140

Getting Gladiolas Going

 

 

Gladioli – the plural of Gladiolus – could almost be considered a heritage plant. They have been around in this area since the time of the early settlers. They are wonderful, easy to grow, beautiful annuals that make amazing cut flowers in a breathtaking array of colours. Glads are started from root corms – sometimes people mistakenly call them bulbs – in the spring. They can be started either from wintered over corms or corms purchased in the spring. This blog will discuss how to get them going & growing in the spring – here is how some of our staff, Bonnie & Lucy do it.

Bonnie & Lucy begin soaking the Gladiola corms at the very beginning of May. First, they peel back the dried material off of the corms like an onion or garlic. Bonnie takes them right back to the colored flesh, but Lucy leaves a little of the brown peel on them – both methods work for them. Then they place the corms in glass pie plates, square glass baking dishes, or metal washing tubs right side up and add about 1½” of water to the bottom of the container. They continue to maintain that water depth over the next few weeks until the corms begin to form roots. The roots actually lift the corms up out of the water. Bonnie plants them at this stage, while Lucy prefers to wait until she sees nodules or a tiny green stalk starting.

 

Getting gladiolas going

 

By this time it’s garden planting time, close to May 20 and it’s also time to plant the gladioli. Plant the corms deeply – anywhere from 4-6 inches deep. No fertilizer is necessary. If your garden gets a lot of wind, stake the Glads so they stay upright.

Cut them when the first blossom is beginning to open at the base of the stalk and place them in clear, fresh water. The rest of the blooms will open in succession over the next week or so.

If you haven’t ever tried Gladiolas, consider giving them a go. You won’t be disappointed.

Sources: Bonnie & Lucy 🙂

 

Contact us today for more information

Seeding At Home – Video

To pull all of our blogs on seeding together, we put decided to make this quick 5 minute video tutorial on seeding for the home gardener who enjoys starting their seeds at home!  We used everyday items that are easily accessible at home or in the marketplace and keep seed starting from getting too complicated – after all, the basics of seeding and germination hasn’t changed much over the years.  The only things that have changed are the different hybrid choices and the use of machinery in a larger greenhouse setting.

We hope you enjoy this video and that it helps make gardening fun, simple and wildly successful for you!

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

 

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