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Caring for Poinsettias – #3 Creature Comfort

Posted by Wallish on Dec 11 2018

Once you’ve mastered Thing 1 and Thing 2 in caring for your poinsettia, Thing 3 is pretty simple.  The key is to once again remember that poinsettias come from the tropics.

Poinsettias like to be kept comfortably warm – not too hot and not too cold – kind of like Goldilocks’ porridge — maintain your poinsettia at room temperature, in the high teens to mid 20s Celsius and keep it from areas that are too hot or too cold.

Poinsettias will dry it out quickly if they are kept in close proximity to forced air vents and fireplaces.   The flowers and leaves dry out – first they curl and then they get crisp like a potato chip.

Also watch for areas that get too cold.  An area that is notorious for handing out regular blasts of our subzero freshness  is by the front door. We get that it’s  awesome to have that poinsettia splash of color at the front door to greet company, but set it back a little further into the house.  Draughty window ledges and cold window panes offer the same problem.  When a poinsettia is chilled it will look wilted – this is kind of a poinsettia’s universal sign for displeasure –  sometimes they recover but other times they do not, depending on how chilled they get.

Enjoy this traditional Christmas decoration and all of us at Wallish Greenhouses wish you a most delightful Christmas!

 Contact us today for more information about caring for your poinsettia!

Caring for Poinsettias – #2 Hold the Water!

Posted by Wallish on Dec 6 2018

Once your poinsettia is home and unpacked, the next big thing is to not over-water it. Over-watering is a very clear and present danger to poinsettias at this time. Being from the tropics where the soil base is very thin, they are actually a plant that is used to being kept on the drier side.

Wait to water until the soil is dry and the pot weight is light, which should happen about every 4-7 days.

When that happens, water it thoroughly with clear water (fertilizer is unnecessary at this time) so that it drains out from the bottom of the pot.  You can do this in either of 2 ways:

  • Water at the top of the pot, do not water the leaves

OR

  • Take the foil cover off of the pot and place the pot in a bowl of about 3” of water to take up moisture from the bottom.

Let it drain thoroughly and check it daily by lifting it up to see how heavy it is.

More poinsettias have died from over-watering than under-watering.

When poinsettias are over watered they look wilted and the temptation is to water them more but then the cycle of over-watering starts. So, whenever your poinsettia looks slightly wilted (we call that flagging), lift the pot to assess its weight and that will give you a clue as to whether it’s over or under in the watering category.

Caring for Poinsettias – #1 Keep It Warm!

Posted by Wallish on Dec 4 2018

Few things ring in Christmas like a beautiful poinsettia!  But how to keep it that way?  This is the first in a 3 part miniseries on keeping your poinsettia looking great.

Actually, the key to keeping poinsettias looking beautiful is to understand their tropical heritage.  Poinsettias originate from the tropics and they thrive in temperatures of the mid to high 20s Celsius.  With that in mind, our winter cold can paralyze, if not kill them.  If a poinsettia gets chilled, it will look wilted like it needs water.  Wilting is actually a poinsettia’s universal way of saying it’s unhappy.  Too hot – wilted.  Too cold – wilted.  To dry – wilted.  Too wet – wilted.  Get the idea?

Well.

How are we going to get this plant home toasty warm and happy?

First of all, make picking up your poinsettia the last thing on your errand list, so your vehicle is warm and it won’t have to wait anywhere in the cold while other errands are being run and then take it out of your vehicle first when you arrive to your destination.

In transport, make sure that your poinsettia is bundled up!  Poinsettias should be wrapped up in layers, just like we dress in layers to stay warm.

The first layer should be a paper sleeve.  This sleeve will give it the initial layer to protect it from damage and the cold.

And second, a plastic gusset bag should be placed over that to give an additional layer of insulation.  No more of that walking through a parking lot with just an open cellophane sleeve!  There’s nothing to insulate or protect your poinsettia when it just has cellophane around it.

When you have your poinsettia inside; to unwrap it, don’t bother with trying to wiggle it out of the top of the paper sleeve, just tear the sleeve off – it will, again, result in less damage.

Once home safe & warm, you’re up to 90% in poinsettia care success.

 Contact us today for more information about caring for your poinsettia!

Let’s Talk Tomatoes | Gardening Tips | Alberta

Posted by Wallish on Jul 17 2018

Tomatoes are probably the strongest draw for the non-gardener to venture into trying to grow something because there really is nothing like a fresh tomato.  Tomatoes are originally native to the tropics, producing smaller berry-like fruit than we know today. Here are a few tips on the environment of their choice and care.

Because of their rtopical ancestry, tomatoes love it hot and humid.  They grow well in pots, raised beds, and gardens. They love to have their feet warm, so containers and raised beds are a favorite. Tomatoes are split into 2 basic categories: determinate and indeterminate.  Determinate tomatoes have a finite height that they reach and are known as bush types and indeterminate tomatoes just keep growing.  Some determinate varieties need to be staked and generally all indeterminate varieties need the support of staking.

Tomatoes are what we call heavy feeders and heavy drinkers.  Tomatoes grow rapidly, produce large crops and consequently need plenty of water and fertilizer to maintain that growth.  If they are growing in a container on hot summer days they will likely need a large drink of water in the morning and possibly at night as well.  When you water our container tomato, be sure to let the water run out of the bottom of the pot so you know that it is completely watered.  Use fertilizer specific for tomatoes weekly, or follow package directions as some fertilizers are slow release and need to be reapplied less frequently.  Another very helpful tip is to put 2-3 inches of mulch around the base of the tomato, be it in a container, a raised bed, or garden.  The mulch will keep roots cool, decrease water evaporation, and protect the roots from repeated waterings.  If you choose to grow tomatoes in pots, be ensure that you select a sufficiently large pot so that the tomato has plenty of soil capacity to hold enough water for its metabolic needs. There is nothing worse than having to water a tomato 50 times a day just to keep it from wilting on a hot day.

There is no rule of thumb any longer regarding whether to pinch back suckers or not.  Suckers are additional stems that grow on stem nodes between the stem and leaves.  At one time, it was recommended that they are all removed but that is no longer the case.  In view of that, our recommendation is to just trim your tomato so it is manageable, because sometimes they can get quite, let’s say, ‘ambitious’.

Tomatoes and Basil are best garden buddies, companions that love each other and grow well together.  You can even pop in a basil plant at the base of your tomato plant if it’s in a container or in a garden, plant it right next to it.

Enjoy your fresh tomatoes!

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

Light it Up with a Gas Plant Vlog

Posted by Wallish on May 24 2018

This is ONE. FUN. PLANT!

Let me tell you the story of this Gas Plant, correctly called Dictamnus.

A few years ago, one warm & lovely June evening, as the sky was getting dusky near 10 o’clock when my pink Gas Plant was alive with blossoms and color, my then teenage son, Joshua, asked if he could see if the Gas Plant would light on fire. Rumor had it, the perennial books said, that Gas Plants could light on fire. They produce a citrusy smelling volatile oil that evaporates around the flowers on hot days. They also said that if you lit a match beside the flower, the gas would light up and sparkle. So, I agreed but didn’t really pay that much attention to his quest.

Out he went with the lighter and as I sat in my living room, I saw this FLASH of light out of the corner of my eye. He didn’t just light up a flower; he lit up the ENTIRE STEM!! Just like a Tiki-torch.

It. Was. Amazing.

So we proceeded to light up every single branch. The marvellous thing was that the flowers, leaves, and stems all came out unscathed – not a hint of scorching anywhere. Only the vapor burned.

From that moment on, this has become a June tradition in our household.

What you need:

  • a fully blooming Gas Plant
  • a nice warm, dry day – think 25C or higher so the oil vaporizes
  • still weather, no breeze
  • a lighter 🙂

Dictamnus plants come in white and in pink flowers. They are a tough & hardy zone 2 perennial with a tap root. The tap root means that they can handle hot & dry conditions once they are established. We carry them in our perennial section each year, although it’s not always easy to find both colors every year. They’re not the fastest grower on the block, but they are definitely worth the wait. This is the ultimate fun plant for children, men, and firefighters! And we would be happy to show you them to you on your next visit to our greenhouse.

Call us or email us at and we can let you know about our stock status of Gas Plants and answer any questions you may have about them.

We hope you enjoy this video!

It Doesn’t Have to be Over! Late Blooming Perennials

Posted by Wallish on Aug 23 2016

late blooming perennials 2 of 2As summer winds down with annuals and perennials slowing their blooming, be encouraged that it doesn’t have to all end right now.  Fall blooming perennials extend the joy of garden deep in fall while the rest of the garden is winding down and as leaves are crunching under your feet.

Fall blooming perennials withstand frost and their bloom is unaffected.  Consider adding some of these to your garden palette!

Tall Fall Blooming Sedums:

  • These are typically 18-24” tall, love a full hot sun exposure, and bloom during the  late summer in colors ranging from yellow to very dark pink.
  • Foliage colors range from pale green to dark purples.
  • These are very good performers and vigorous growers.
  • Bees love them as they tank up for their last feasts of fall.
  • There are many varieties of fall blooming sedums, some favorite cultivars are:  ‘Autumn Joy’, ‘Autumn Delight’, ‘Neon’, ‘Matrona’

Solidago  (Golden Rod)

  • Varieties range in height from 12-24”
  • Feathery golden yellow plumes light up garden spaces
  • Bees love Solidago flowers

Asters

  • Great fall color in hues of pinks, reds, and purples
  •  Varieties range in height 18-30”

Other perennials whose bloom extend into fall:

  • Alcea (Hollyhocks)
  • Chrysanthemum aka Leucanthemum
  • Echinacea (Coneflower)
  • Gaillardia (Blanket Flower)
  • Helenium (Sneezeweed)
  • Hemerocallis (Daylilies)
  • Nepeta (Catmint)
  • Pervoskia (Russian Sage)
  • Rudbeckia
  • Heliopsis (False Sunflower)
Sources:  Perennials for Every Purpose by Larry Hodgson, Green Leaf Plants, http://www.canadiangardening.com/plants/perennials/late-summer-blooms-from-a-to-z/a/1467/3

Natural Pest Control – Aphids

Posted by Wallish on Jul 19 2016

These sap sucking pests are around all summer long in small amounts but their populations increase impressively in late summer. Some of the first signs of an aphid attack are shiny sticky leaves with white or black flecks (egg casings), yellowing or misshapen leaves, and a general overall lack of thriving growth. Here are some strategies to help cope with them.

Who they are:

  • tiny bugs that hang out on undersides of leaves or on stems
  • can be almost any color of the rainbow ranging from green, pink,  yellow, to grey or – black
  • they are the size of the colored head of a sewing pin, so easily seen with the naked eye

What They do:

They suck the nutrients out of plant leaves.

Aphids Love:

  • Dianthus
  • Petunias and Calibrachoa (Million Bells) especially purple and yellow varieties
  • Lupines
  • Nasturtiums
  • Dahlias
  • Manitoba maples

General Strategies to decrease bug infestations:

  • have ‘trap crops’ away from your garden.  Trap crops attract aphids & they will stay there & feed.
  • ‘Trap plants’ include: Manitoba maple trees, lupines, mint, fennel, dill, dandelions, yarrow
  • plant garlic & onions – aphids hate the smell
  • spray with a strong flow of water daily until they are gone

Natural pest Control recipes:

See the links below for ideas:

1. Gardening Know How

Link: http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/pests/insects/homemade-aphid-control.htm

2. Organic Gardening

Link: http://organicgardening.about.com/od/pestcontrol/a/spraysforaphids.htm

3. The Rhubarb Compendium – has 2 insecticide recipes for leaf eating insects including aphids, cabbage caterpillars

Link: http://organicgardening.about.com/od/pestcontrol/a/spraysforaphids.htm

 

School’s Out! Children & Gardening

Posted by Wallish on Jun 24 2016

Gardens are great places for children!  It’s a place for them to come face to face with every sensory sensation – sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste.  It’s a great place to learn and of course, burn off energy.  If all goes well, you could actually develop a helpful garden ali.

Valuable life lessons can be learned from the garden like:

  • plant biology & reproduction
  • where their food comes from and how different veggies grow
  • how yummy freshly grown veggies taste
  • how to work
  • gaining an appreciation for the struggle with weeds and bugs

All that being said, be careful to keep your garden, veggie and flower, a fun place for your children to be.  Sometimes we can get distracted with the dream of keeping a beautiful yard like the retired neighbours across the street when we have children – that day will come all too quickly.  So be encouraged to keep your garden a happy place where your children love to be.

On the playing side, give your space items children can enjoy playing on with your kids’ favorite play things.  On the gardening side, include gardening items like a watering can or a wheel barrow and small hand tools like a trowel or a broom or a rake in their size so they can learn to experiment with them in the garden setting.

A garden is a place where great memories can be made and life lessons are learned naturally.  Enjoy your children! And enjoy your garden!

Deer & Rabbit Resistant Perennials | Gardening

Posted by Wallish on Jun 23 2016

Deer ravage country gardens and rabbits love to mess with country and urban gardens.  We are often asked for ideas for deer and rabbit proof annuals and perennials.  Unfortunately, there is nothing ‘proof’ when it comes to deer and rabbits – when hungry enough, they will eat basically anything that’s not poisonous to them.  Below we have listed some strategies to help combat these pesky visitors and hope that this helps somewhat.

General guidelines:

Use plants:

  • with a bad taste or smell
  • that are highly fragrant
  • that contain a milky sap
  • that are highly textured with fuzzy leaves
  • that have prickly stems
  • like ornamental grasses – deer have difficulty chewing they long stems

The following is a list of perennials that deer tend to avoid sourced from fellow gardeners, customers at our greenhouse, and perennial suppliers.  Please remember that this is a general list but there is no guarantee that deer or rabbits will not eat these.  Let us know what you discover.

  • Achillea (Yarrow)
  • Aconitum (Monkshood)
  • Aquilegia (Columbine)
  • Artemesia (Silver Mound)
  • Cerastium (Snow in Summer)
  • Delphinium
  • Dictamnus (Gas Plant)
  • Dicentra (Bleeding Heart)
  • Digitalis (Foxglove)
  • Euphorbia (Spurge)
  • Lupines
  • Monarda (Beebalm)
  • Nepeta (Catmint)
  • Rhubarb
  • Salvia

A few other strategies:

  • Be aware of time / weather that makes your garden more vulnerable to visits from deer and rabbits i.e. drought
  • Protect vulnerable plants with physical barriers like cages, netting, and noisy materials that flap in the wind
  • Put up fencing
  • Plant less desirable plants

Wishing you success because this is a challenging issue!

 

Well Water & Your Garden| Edmonton & Strathcona County

Posted by Wallish on May 31 2016

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
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