We start the holiday season with over 70 Amaryllis varieties, including Singles, Doubles, Nymphs, Small-Flowered Varieties and Cybisters in a dazzling range of colors. Our Amaryllis bulbs are the top size commercially available (larger than what is generally seen at retail stores) and have been fully prepared at the proper temperature. Given warm temperatures, strong light, and water upon arrival, they will put on a spectacular show that will brighten up even the gloomiest winter day. Scroll below to see the wide range of varieties and colors available.
South African Amaryllis produce the same large, richly colored blooms as their Dutch cousins, but on an earlier timetable. Because bulbs grown in the Southern Hemisphere mature sooner in the year, we begin filling orders in October, and South African varieties will bloom about 6-8 weeks from receipt, often in time for the holidays.
The blooms of Cybister Amaryllis (varieties of the South American species Hippeastrum cybister) look like exotic tropical birds but the bulbs are as floriferous and easy to grow as their bigger cousins. The dramatic Cybister Amaryllis naturally make smaller bulbs and flowers.
Nymphs are a distinctive, carefully-bred class of Amaryllis with exceptionally large and heavily petaled flowers on very strong stems. As the photos confirm, blooms are nearly as wide as the pots they grow in and each stem is guaranteed to produce four flowers, a rarity among doubles.
Amaryllis flowers come in a variety of colors, or even shades of colors. These types are known as bicolor Amaryllis. Bicolor means the Amaryllis flower has two colors on the same bloom.
Double Amaryllis are popular for good reason. Their shapely blooms and rich colors light up a cold day like nothing else we know.
Amaryllis flowers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including single-flowered varieties. This means they have a single layer of petals that form the flower.
To learn more about Amaryllis, watch our short video below, ‘How to Pot and Care for Amarylls.’
Here in northwestern Connecticut, the fall foliage show is nearing its peak, and in some places, the leaves have begun to fall. They rustle at our feet as we go about our rounds. This is Nature’s way of telling us it’s time to clean the garden.
Clearing out beds and borders means different things to different people. Some gardeners clear every last leaf and past-bloom plant from their gardens while others find reasons to leave everything as is until spring. We fall somewhere in the middle. We believe that maintaining a healthy garden and nutritious, well-structured soil requires different cleanup rituals for different garden spaces. At the farm, here’s how we go about it:
Remove Most Annuals
For starters, we remove most annuals. In general, these plants are easy to spot because after the first hard frost, many of them, including impatiens, begonias, and coleus, have withered and turned brown. If the spent foliage and blossoms on these plants are free of mold and disease, we put them in the compost pile. If we see traces of powdery mildew (zinnias are often afflicted), downy mildew or other diseases, the plants are put into trash that’s hauled off the property. Keep in mind that any mold or disease that’s allowed to stay in the garden will overwinter and reinfect new growth in spring.
Some annuals argue to be removed a bit later in the fall. “If the Cosmos or verbena bonariensis are still green and self-sowing, I will leave them until later,” says nursery manager Barb Pierson. “Plants like Rudbeckia ‘Prairie Sun,’ which can overwinter here, will be left until spring. Kale is pretty late in the season, too.”
Clean Out the Vegetable Garden
In the kitchen garden, Pierson removes all vegetable plants, paying special attention to any varieties, such as tomatoes, that may have fungal leaf spots and mildew. Afflicted plants must be completely removed and put into the garbage (or carted to the dump) or the same afflictions will plague next season’s plants. “Most vegetable plants are best removed unless you are growing fall lettuce or other cold crops here in New England,” Pierson says. “If we plan to plant tulips in the raised beds for a nice spring show, this is the time to do it. If we don’t plant bulbs, we will remove any soil that comes up with the vegetables and add fresh soil in spring. Compost can be added in the fall if it is fresh, but we prefer to do it in the spring because we use fully composted material. Each spring, we replace the top 1/3 of soil – at the least – for best results. Mulching can attract digging rodents so we don’t mulch the beds during the winter months.”
Perennials & Shrubs
In the perennial garden, our methods vary. In the shady beds near the store, our gardeners clean and clear away dead and dying foliage. They cut back ferns, hostas, astilbes, and ligularias. Why? One year, when they let the decaying leaves lie, they discovered that the cushy, warm environment attracted critters who dug around and sometimes nested in the leaf mulch. That would have been all right except the critters didn’t stop at the mulch. They burrowed into the roots of the plants, inadvertently killing a few, and those had to be replaced the following spring.
In areas where critters don’t pose much of a problem, Pierson and many others believe that the decaying leaves of most deciduous trees are beneficial to the garden. For starters, they form a natural leaf mulch that provides insulation for perennials and shrubs. Oak leaves, which are waxy and don’t easily break down, are particularly good for insulation. Mounding them around perennials and shrubs protects the plants from seasonal temperature swings. Pine needles are another fine insulator, and they’re especially good for acid-loving plants including rhododendrons and azaleas. Leaves that break down more readily such as maple, ash and birch leaves add organic nutrients to the soil, and help improve soil structure.
As with annuals and vegetable plants, it’s important to note that any perennials or shrubs that exhibit mold or disease should be cut back, and the spent foliage and blossoms should be carted away to the trash (not the compost pile). Plants like Perovskia (Russian Sage) should not be cut to the ground, Pierson says. “The most important thing to remove is the foliage – not the crown or stems – so I would say remove leaf litter and prune stems as you would for that variety, in general 3-4” above soil level.” Some of the perennials and shrubs most commonly affected by powdery mildew include peonies, monarda (bee balm), phlox, and roses. As with vegetable plants and annuals, if you leave afflicted plants in the garden, the mold and disease will overwinter and reassert itself in spring. The mold won’t interfere with blossom production, but it will detract from the beauty of the foliage.
As you cut down bee balms, phlox and peonies, keep in mind that there are other perennials and shrubs you’ll want to keep. While ornamental grasses can be cut back in fall (leaving 6” of growth to protect the crowns), the argument for leaving them until spring is that they look quite lovely dusted in snow. The seed heads of Echinacea and the berries of Ilex verticillata (winterberry) feed the birds as winter sets in. The pods of Asclepias, the flower clusters of Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and Eupatorium, and the seed heads of Echinaceas (Coneflowers) all provide winter interest.
So clean as much or as little as you choose depending on the types of plants you have in your garden. But whatever you decide, it’s time to grab your rake and pruners, and spend a few days in the glorious autumn weather putting your garden to bed.
Elevate your garden design by incorporating climbing vines and plants into beds and borders, or by using them to soften fences, walls and wellheads. Smaller climbers, including some Clematis varieties, can be used to add vertical interest to container pots or to skirt the trunks of deciduous trees. We offer all of these plants for fall-planting because autumn’s mild weather gives them a chance to settle in under stress-free conditions. They develop root systems before going dormant for winter. When spring comes, they’re poised to begin growing above ground, and they have a nice head start on vines and climbers planted in spring.
Clematis Rosemoor™ Gardini™
When you hang the name of a Royal Horticultural Society garden on a new introduction, it had better be good. Clematis Rosemoor™ Gardini™ is better than good. It comes from Raymond Evison’s superb breeding program on the Isle of Guernsey. Its showy 5″ purplish-red blooms appear on old and new wood, which means flowering is almost nonstop from early summer to fall.
Dawn & Dusk Rose & Clematis Collection
Stunning aerial liaisons can be arranged by pairing two different vines or climbers. We especially like deep purple Clematis ‘Etoile Violette’ with the blush pink, double-flowered Climbing Rose ‘New Dawn.’ The Clematis clambers up the Rose’s thorny canes and obligingly places its flowers next to those of its host. When the two are at their peak in early July, the display is pure magic, and both generally offer some repeat bloom through summer. ‘New Dawn’ is sweetly fragrant and disease-resistant, especially to black spot, the bane of many Roses.
Clematis Petit Faucon™ Gardini™
Unusual blossoms made up of 4 slender, twisting petals in vivid purple blue with contrasting yellow anthers appear over a long season on this compact, non-clinging vine. At a mature height of 3-4’, it’s ideal for containers, or for climbing over shrubs. Winner of the RHS Award of Garden Merit.
Hydrangea is a valuable genus of some 100 species of shrubs and vines grown for their large and very showy flower heads. Hydrangea anomala petiolaris, or Climbing Hydrangea as it’s more commonly called, is a vigorous deciduous vine from Japan and Korea whose heart-shaped foliage and large white clusters of June flowers make it an attractive covering for a wall, fence, or large tree.
Rose ‘William Baffin’
Climbing Rose ‘William Baffin’ has yet to receive the attention it deserves. It bears semidouble, deep pink flowers in abundance in late June, with recurrent bloom well into fall. It is also exceptionally vigorous and hardy, the only recurrent climber available to gardeners in Zones 3 and 4. It’s destined to become one of the most enduring Roses of our era.
Wisteria Lavender Falls
Wisteria is a genus of deciduous vines whose lovely, fragrant flowers and almost overwhelming vigor make them useful in a wide variety of settings. Wisteria Lavender Falls, originally grown in Oklahoma, is an outstanding variety that has blue-violet, 9–20″ cascading racemes that have the scent of grape jelly. The really exciting part is that they reappear several times during the summer.
Few plants deliver such enjoyment in the middle of winter with so little effort from you. Their perfect, diminutive blooms create a composition that’s pure magic.
4 Easy Steps
1. Start with good stock. Purchase top-quality bulbs from a reliable source. We offer an array of Crocus varieties and several mixes designed to provide loads of bright blooms.
2. Planting your bulbs. Use any pot you like to hold Crocus bulbs you plan to force, as long as it allows room for root growth—about 3-4” of space below the bulbs. Pots equipped with drainage holes are favored because they reduce the chances of overwatering bulbs. If you choose a pot without a drainage hole in the bottom, you’ll have to water your bulbs more carefully because bulbs that sit in soggy potting mix will rot.
To pot the bulbs, begin by placing soilless potting mix (available at garden centers) in a plastic tub or bucket. Slowly add water and stir until the mix is evenly moist but not soggy. Add the moistened mix to the container until the pot is about ¾ full. Set the bulbs root-side down on top of the mix. Space them much more closely than you would in the garden—they should almost touch. Then add more mix. Cover the bulbs completely with a ½” layer of mix. Water thoroughly after potting.
3. Chilling the bulbs. To force Crocus bulbs into bloom, you must first encourage them to produce new roots by keeping them cool and moist in a location with temperatures above freezing and rarely rising above 40° for a period of 12-15 weeks. This process simulates the natural conditions that cause Crocuses to bloom, shortening the chilling period (“winter”) by a few weeks. When the pots are brought out of cold storage, the bulbs think spring has arrived and quickly sprout and flower. It’s that easy—the bulbs do most of the work.
The easiest way to chill bulbs is to put them outdoors and let nature do the rest. To insulate the bulbs from rapid changes in air temperature and from freezing cold, bury the pots in a pile of dry leaves held in place by a plastic tarp or in a pile of mulch, such as bark or wood chip, and cover the pile to prevent the formation of a frozen crust. You also can chill bulbs in a cold frame if you’re lucky enough to have one; a cold basement; an old refrigerator; or an unheated garage (provided the temperature doesn’t fall below freezing). Please note: If storing in a refrigerator, make sure there is no fresh fruit inside. The ethylene gas released by fruit can interfere with flower development.
Please note that moisture is as important as temperature in the successful chilling of bulbs. Check the potting mix in the pots every few weeks and water thoroughly when the surface is dry to the touch.
Toward the end of the recommended rooting time, begin checking the pots for signs that the bulbs have rooted. If you see fleshy white roots poking through the drainage holes in the bottom of the pots, the bulbs are usually ready to bloom. If you don’t see roots, give the bulbs more time in cold storage. Don’t judge readiness by the appearance of shoots from the tops of the bulbs; without roots, the bulbs won’t flower properly.
4. Bringing the Bulbs into Bloom
At the end of the chilling period, bring the pots out of cold storage and set them in a bright window in a cool room (one where the temperature stays below 65°F). You’re likely to find that the bulbs have produced white shoots during cold storage. Sunlight quickly turns them green. Water your bulbs when the soil is dry to the touch.
Most Crocus bulbs will bloom 2-5 weeks after they come out of the cold, heralding spring with their bright colors. When the blooms fade, we usually recommend that you toss the bulbs on the compost pile. If you keep them in a sunny window and continue to water them, forced bulbs can be planted in the garden after the threat of hard frost has passed, but they won’t bloom well again for at least 2 years.
Have you ever seen a goldfinch balance on the tip of a Liatris flower spike as it sways in the breeze? Or watched chickadees plucking seeds from the cones of your Echinacea blossoms? Birds enliven any garden with their colors, songs, and antics. They are also an essential part of the food chain. Planting an array of shrubs and vines, and perennials will ensure a steady supply of food and keep your feathered friends sheltered over the longest possible season. Highlighted here are some beautiful plants that will help to entice birds to your garden.
Lovely Coneflower ‘Fragrant Angel’ has large white blossoms with honey-colored centers that attract birds and other pollinators. For human admirers, it also offers a sweet perfume.
Regarded as one of the best ornamental shrubs for its late-season display of vividly colored berries, Beauty Berry ‘Early Amethyst’ shares many attributes of the species—a pleasant, rounded form, long, elliptical leaves, small pink flowers, and bright lavender berries. But this variety sets fruit in early September, well before other varieties.
We love this tough Ornamental Grass for its well-mannered, upright habit and thick blue-green blades. Use it as a vertical exclamation point in borders, or mass it to create a screen. You’ll love watching ground birds who seek cover in its leaves, and songbirds who come to feed on its seed.
Extra-large white flowers and compact size are outstanding features of this improved variety. The individual florets on Clethra Vanilla Spice® are about twice the usual size, blooming in 10–12″ bottlebrush-like panicles, which appear in summer. Their sweet fragrance attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. An excellent choice for the woodland garden or a mixed border.
Bring on the hummingbirds! Honeysuckle ‘Major Wheeler’ produces a blanket of tubular, reddish orange flowers (coral shades on the West Coast) from late spring through summer. Later, the red berries attract goldfinches and robins. It’s a selection of our native species, Lonicera sempervirens, and plants are both carefree and noninvasive.
New lines of breeding have given our beloved Weigelas fresh garden glamour, offering repeat flowering without deadheading. Weigela Sonic Bloom® Pink covers itself with blossoms in late spring and follows up with repeated displays until frost. The dozen or so species of the genus Weigela are easy-to-grow, deciduous woodland shrubs from east Asia. Their showy flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies, and many Weigelas are worth growing in shrub borders or lightly shaded gardens for their foliage effects.
Red Chokeberry ‘Brilliantissima’ starts the season as an attractive but understated shrub with glossy leaves and small, fragrant white flowers. In fall, its foliage turns a spectacular scarlet red. It bears bright red berries that begin to take on color in September and persist well into winter, providing much-needed nourishment for birds at a time of year when food is scarce.
We have just come through a summer that was largely defined by irregular and extreme climate conditions. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that, “Scorching temperatures broke heat records around the world last month [July], which ranked as the fourth warmest July on record. Excessive warmth during the first seven months of 2018 made it the fourth warmest year to date for the planet.” Here in New England, we endured record-setting heat, high humidity, and chronic downpours. Those of us who grew up in the Northeast remember hazy, hot and humid stretches that would last a few days and be followed by a thunderstorm that cleared the air. This year, thunderstorms came and went without refreshing the atmosphere, creating sauna-like conditions referred to by some meteorologists as a “heat dome.” Out West, the story was extreme heat, drought, and fire. According to NOAA, “Death Valley had the hottest month on record observed anywhere.” Other parts of the country and the world also baked.
Our suggestion? Approach your garden with a greater sense of purpose. If you’re unsettled by changes in our weather patterns, plant a tree and urge others to do the same. Leafy specimens are the best air-conditioners and air purifiers we know. The National Audubon Society recently noted that “one tree can remove 26 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually, the equivalent of 11,000 miles of car emissions.”
Planting Natives & Lawn Replacements
Another way to combat uncomfortable heat levels and changes in climactic conditions is to help creatures great and small that are also being affected by it. Add native plants to your garden and yard to provide habitat and nourishment for birds, pollinators, and other wildlife. In lieu of maintaining a manicured green lawn that often requires chemicals to keep it looking its best, eliminate or reduce the size of your lawn and create a native garden for pollinators. The beauty of these gardens is enhanced by its visitors, which include butterflies of many varieties, and birds. Come spring, we’ll be offering some exciting collections that will help you successfully convert some of your lawn area into a beautiful habitat garden. So begin thinking about where you’d like to site such a garden, and stay tuned for details.
Record heat around the globe has impacted the lifecycle of the bulbs we offer for fall planting. Higher temps have led to later harvest times in regions including Holland, England, British Columbia, and Japan. That means bulbs produced in these countries will arrive in the U.S. a bit later than usual. Rest assured these top-grade bulbs will be treated with the same consideration that’s required to keep them healthy and strong. They’ll be shipped overseas in temperature-controlled containers then stored here in our warehouse under ideal conditions before being shipped to you for fall planting. We don’t foresee any delays in getting bulbs to you. Order now, and incorporate some of these beautiful flowers in your spring garden.
At the farm this summer, the big news was the successful installation of our solar array, which means the farm’s offices and greenhouses are now powered by the sun. We’re pleased to have taken this important step in reducing our carbon footprint.
A New Rose Garden
The other big development at the farm this summer was the installation of a new Rose Garden on the site formerly occupied by our Shrub Border. The Rose Garden was designed with the assistance of noted landscape architect and designer Julie Moir Messervy and her talented team at JMMDS (Julie Moir Messervy Design Studio). Site prep began in July, and as of this writing, the garden is in its earliest stages. The bones have been laid out, with pathways delineated, plant groupings sketched in and in some cases planted. Even in skeletal stage, the garden is shaping up to be a most inviting and pleasing space. Several entrances and a winding path welcome visitors to stroll. The short walk will offer a chance to view a wide variety of Roses along with some superb companion plants. Planting of the garden will continue into autumn, and come spring, we’re all looking forward to its first season. We hope you’ll visit soon to have a look at the outline, then plan to return again in spring and summer to see how it progresses. There is no better way to see how new gardens are created and to borrow ideas for inspiration.
Moving the Garden Indoors
As the days grow darker at an earlier hour, and the temperatures (finally) begin to cool, those of us who love plants, greenery and flowers are looking for ways to bring the garden indoors for the winter. In our holiday catalog, which soon will be speeding its way to your door, you’ll find some stunning new houseplants along with new cachepots, baskets and plant stands that show them off to best advantage. (If you care for a sneak peak, many of these items are already on our website.) Our hard goods manager has been hard at work, and she’s rounded up some exciting new finds for indoor decorating – from botanically inspired dried wreaths in a wide array of styles and color themes to scented candles and sachets that carry the natural perfumes of Lavender and other garden favorites, to tiny plants that are ideally sized for table setting, and which make beguiling party favors for autumn and holiday feasts.
Planting in Fall for Next Season’s Display
We trust you and yours are looking forward to autumn and its many pleasant rituals. We’ll be spending as much time as we can in the garden, clearing out beds, adding new perennials and shrubs, planting bulbs, and creating the displays we wish to see next year. As you choose what to plant in your garden this fall, keep in mind that next season’s flower and foliage show is one you’ll likely share with family, friends and, depending how visible your house is to your neighbors, members of your community. Beautiful gardens do much to lift the spirits, bring beauty (and value) to your house and the neighborhood, and, as mentioned above, support pollinators and wildlife. Plant some lovely additions in your yard. It’s a terrific way to make the world a better place, one green oasis at a time.
With the first few nights of cool, crisp air arriving at last, it’s clear that autumn is on the way. As we begin preparing our gardens for winter, doing yard work and cleanup, it’s also a great time to refresh patio and front porch planters. The fall season comes alive when using colorful combinations to provide an extended display of vibrant blooms and richly textured foliage that will last right up until frost. Spruce up your outdoor spaces for fall festivities and harvest-time holidays including Halloween and Thanksgiving. Pictured below are our new fall container plantings. You may order any of them through our website, or use them as inspiration to create your own fall container plantings.
Spikes of Ornamental Grass ‘Standing Ovation’ introduce a red tone that’s repeated in the foliage of Heucheras ‘Forever Purple’ and ‘Peach Flambe.’ Adding a sprinkle of gold are the yellow-and-green leaves of Euonymus ‘Aureomarginatus’ and the feathery evergreen foliage of False Cypress ‘Sungold.’
Purple Fountain Grass sends up a burst of burgundy foliage followed by a spray of flower spikes in late summer and autumn. It creates a breezy canopy over the single daisies of an Aster and the bronzy purple foliage of an Ajuga.
Anchored by evergreen Arborvitae ‘American Pillar,’ our handsome autumn collection features rich, beautifully textured shades of burgundy Heuchera, blue Juniper, variegated gold-and-green Boxwood, and rosy red Calluna.
The blue-green flower spikes of an Ornamental Grass stand tall just in time for an autumn show. Supporting the display are the silvery felted leaves of a Stachys, the frosted maroon leaves of a Heuchera, and the white flower spikes of a Calluna.
Set the stage for fall with our easy-care combination of 3 harmonious companions. Sure to draw the eye is False Cypress ‘Boulevard,’ with striking blue foliage that serves as a colorful backdrop for the richly hued leaves of Heuchera ‘Peach Flambe.’ Cascading from the pot is Ornamental Grass EverColor® ‘Eversheen,’ each green blade highlighted by a central yellow stripe.
As visitors stroll the display gardens at the farm, they often ask us about the plants they see in the borders and beds. No plants generate more questions than Alliums. Members of this genus are available in a broad range of colors – from various shades of purple to pink, true blue, yellow, and white, but the hallmark of this family of plants is a form that is both playful and utterly distinctive. Larger cultivars such as Alliums ‘Globemaster,’ form sizeable spheres (in this case 8-10” flower heads) that appear to float like balloons above other plants in the border. Smaller varieties including the delightful Drumstick Allium (Allium sphaerocephalon), produce lollipop-sized orbs on slender stems at a lower height.
Alliums are more commonly known as Flowering Onions, a pedestrian name unworthy of these remarkable plants.
It’s worth mentioning that Alliums, like Daffodils, are deer and rodent resistant, thanks to their faint oniony scent. The odor is not noticeable above the ground unless the leaves are cut or bruised, and many of the flowers have an enchanting, sweet scent. There are hundreds of species within this under-appreciated genus, and we annually struggle to restrain ourselves to a reasonable selection. They are reliable perennials when they get good drainage and plenty of sun.
Using Alliums in the Garden
Alliums offer colorful, distinctive, and long-lasting flower forms that are standouts in the early summer garden (there are some fall bloomers as well). They love sun and prefer a well-drained, even sandy, soil as long as it has sufficient nutrients. Tuck the bulbs around clumps of summer-flowering perennials where the Alliums’ withering foliage will be hidden by the expanding perennials. Some combinations we use at the nursery include Allium ‘Globemaster’ among Echinacea (Purple Coneflower); Allium sphaerocephalon (the Drumstick Allium) with Yarrow, Asiatic Lilies, or Phlox; and Allium cristophii (Star of Persia) with Salvia ‘May Night,’ Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle), or Roses. We offer 5 varieties of the shorter Alliums (10–30″ tall) as A Big Mix of Little Alliums. They look best along the edge of a shrub border or planted in front of late-blooming perennials.
How to Care for Your Allium Bulbs
Light/Watering: Most Alliums grow best in full sun, with at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight a day. Those we offer require well-drained soil and are longest lived in locations where the soil is on the dry side during summer dormancy.
Planting: Plant Alliums more shallowly than comparably sized bulbs, just one to two times the diameter of the bulb deep.
Fertilizer/Soil and pH: Alliums prefer well-drained, fertile soil. Fertilize in fall and spring with any bulb fertilizer.
Continuing Care: The leaf tips of many varieties, especially the tall ones, begin to brown before bloom time. Remove the spent flowers (except from varieties that are sterile, such as ‘Globemaster’) if you wish to prevent them from self-sowing.
Pests/Diseases: Alliums have few problems except when planted too shallowly or in wet soil.
Companions: Place Alliums behind heavy-foliage plants such as Peonies and Iris. Good for bedding, and in mixed borders. Flower heads are good for drying.
Dividing/Transplanting: Alliums rarely need transplanting or dividing, but this can be done when the bulbs are dormant.
Flamboyant blooms on stately, splendid plants grace the garden in June. Bearded Irises are available in a veritable rainbow of colors, from vibrant primaries, to subtle bicolors and gentle pastels. Breeders have introduced a variety of reblooming Irises, which have a tendency to flower again from late summer into fall depending on climate and growing conditions. Please note that Bearded Irises may not bloom the first year after planting.
Light/Watering: Full sun and well-drained soil are important for vigorous growth and flowering. Do not overwater, as too much moisture in the soil can cause the rhizomes (roots) to rot, but do water deeply during summer drought. Consistent watering is especially important for reblooming Irises.
Fertilizer/Soil and pH: Iris will not tolerate soils that are wet in winter. Good drainage is important all year, and a pH near neutral (7.0) is preferred. In climates with very hot summers, plant the rhizome just below the soil surface; in cooler climates, the top of the rhizome should be exposed. Do not mulch around the rhizome as this practice may encourage rot. Fertilize in early spring with an all-purpose fertilizer scratched in around the plants, avoiding direct contact with the rhizome. Reblooming Irises perform best if fertilized again after the first wave of flowering is finished.
Pests/Diseases: The Iris borer, the worst pest of these lovely plants, overwinters as eggs in spent leaves, so don’t give the critters a hiding place. The borers emerge in the spring as tiny caterpillars, which spend a couple of weeks boring through the leaves down into the rhizome, where they grow fat and cause great damage, often leading to soft rot that causes even more damage. Vigilance can help—it’s actually possible to kill the borers in situ if you catch them early enough. You’ll see vertical streaks in the leaves; that’s your guide to help you squash the pests. If you see any signs of rot in the rhizome, dig it up and remove the affected parts. Unless the infestation is severe, plants usually recover, or grow lustily enough that you can salvage healthy chunks to keep growing. The rhizomes may also become infected with soft rot. Well-drained soils are important, so add sand if your soil is heavy and plant so that the top of the rhizome is above the soil line. If soft rot does occur, dig out and discard affected rhizomes and cut away any smaller areas of damage.
Reflowering: Remove spent blooms consistently; Bearded Irises will flower sequentially on buds spaced along the stems. After blooming is finished, cut flower stems down at their base. Although reblooming varieties have a tendency to rebloom, sending up new fans that sport flower spikes as they mature later in the season, they are not guaranteed to bloom a second time. Repeat bloom is dependent on many things, including geographic location and growing conditions.
Dividing/Transplanting: Divide your Irises when the clump becomes crowded and bloom diminishes, usually every 3 to 4 years. The timing of division is very different than that of most perennials, because Bearded Irises go dormant shortly after flowering, and summer is the ideal time to dig up the rhizomes. Even though reblooming Irises don’t go dormant, this is also the correct time to divide those varieties. Break the rhizomes into pieces or cut them with a sharp knife. Select divisions with healthy fans of leaves, most likely from the outermost part of the plant. Discard the crowded interior pieces, and any that show signs of soft rot; dispose of these in the trash, not in the compost. This is the time to trim the leaves back to about 6 inches in length. Some gardeners like to dust the cut surfaces with powdered sulfur, or to dunk rhizomes in a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. We haven’t found this step necessary, but it might be advisable if you have had problems with rot. Replant promptly. You will probably find yourself with extra divisions you can share with friends.
End-of-Season Care: After hard frost in the fall, cut foliage back hard, remove any foliage that appears spotted or yellowed and dispose of all debris in the trash. We recommend winter protection in cold climates, especially for the first winter after planting. We suggest covering the rhizomes with an inch or two of sand topped with a light layer of evergreen boughs, applied after the ground freezes and removed when the Forsythias bloom the following spring.
Calendar of Care
Early Spring: Diligently remove and destroy any old foliage to allow for fresh, new growth and prevent Iris borers from emerging as the weather warms. Remove any winter mulch. Feed plants with an all-purpose fertilizer scratched in around the plants, avoiding direct contact with the rhizome.
Mid-Spring: Watch vigilantly for the telltale signs of Iris borers in the foliage — dark vertical lines that may appear watery show up in the leaves. Squash the bugs where they live; if infestation is severe, remove affected foliage completely and destroy.
Late Spring: Taller forms may need staking. Deadhead as flowers fade, and cut entire flower spikes down at the base when blooming is finished. Fertilize reblooming varieties again after the first wave of flowering is through.
Summer: If plants need dividing, complete this task after flowering finishes and then trim the foliage back to six inches. Water divisions well during dry periods.
Fall: After hard frost in the fall, cut foliage back hard, remove any foliage that appears spotted or yellowed, and dispose of all debris in the trash. Winter protection in cold climates is recommended, especially for the first winter after planting. After the ground freezes, cover the rhizomes with an inch or two of sand topped with a light layer of evergreen boughs; remove when the Forsythias bloom the following spring.
It’s easy to gush about Hydrangeas. Grown for their large and spectacular flower heads, these classic shrubs are vigorous, of easy care, and attractive at virtually every stage of growth. Best of all, they dazzle in summer and fall, a time when many woody plants are resting. Whether you are a novice with growing Hydrangeas or an expert, our video series mentioned below can help you learn more about these beautiful shrubs.
Most Hydrangeas are not fussy as long as they receive their preferred amount of sunlight (generally full sun to part shade) and are planted in moist, well-drained soil. They will even thrive in coastal areas, since they tolerated high winds and salt. Most Hydrangeas do need water if it doesn’t rain, but are otherwise undemanding. Mulching Hydrangeas will conserve moisture and buffer soil temperatures.
There are many different types of Hydrangeas, from mophead (macrophylla) varieties, vining Hydrangeas (anomala petiolaris), native Oakleaf Hydrangeas and many more. Some are shade-loving types such as Hydrangea serrata ‘Blue Billow’, which also offers a sensational display of colorful fall foliage. To learn more about the different offerings of Hydrangea, watch our video “What are the Various Types of Hydrangeas” below.
Flowers come in shades of white, cream, chartreuse, pink, blue, and red. Blooms of many hydrangea Varieties change color over time, so they show is continually intriguing. Some varieties of Hydrangea change flower color depending on the pH of the soil, generally blue on acid soils and pink on alkaline. For help on getting your hydrangeas to bloom, watch our video, “Why Didn’t My Hydrangea Bloom?” below.
The biggest breakthrough in Hydrangea breeding has been the introduction of varieties that bloom on both old and new wood. Endless Summer®, Blushing Bride®, Let’s Dance® Moonlight, and Twist-N-Shout™ are among these exceptional long bloomers. They flower on old wood starting in late spring and then on new wood in midsummer. In warm climates, the bloom period can last up to six months. These newcomers also make good choices for colder climates, since bloom on new wood is reliable ensured, even after a severe winter. Regular deadheading of these varieties helps to encourage rebloom. For tips on pruning all varieties of Hydrangea, watch our video, “Pruning Hydrangeas” below.
Since Hydrangea varieties range from compact to sprawling, check your plant’s size at maturity and give it room to grow. Many Hydrangea varieties look superb when grown as a hedge. When Selecting companion plants, be sure that their light requirements match those of your Hydrangea and the planting site.