A Beginner’s Guide to Growing Sweet Peas

Sweet Peas (properly called Lathyrus odoratus) are one of the great plants for cutting, and they provide irresistible colors and fragrance for spring and early summer bouquets. The delicate flowers are available in a wide range of rich colors, and they scent the air with grapelike perfume. To help those who have never grown Sweet Peas in a garden or a container pot, we asked our nursery manager, Barb Pierson, to offer a bit of advice. Her tips will help any novice or green thumb enjoy a bountiful crop of these beautiful flowers.

Why do people grow Sweet Peas?

Sweet Peas are grown for their beautiful ruffled flowers in shades of pastels, blues, and bi-colors. Many varieties are fragrant making them a desirable cut flower. Sweet Peas have a long history of cultivation and breeding for both the home gardener and the florist trade.

Sweet Pea ‘Zinfandel’

How do I go about growing Sweet Peas?

Sweet Peas can be grown from seed and sown directly in the ground after a seed treatment or, more easily, from a started plant. Here at White Flower Farm, we sow 3 seeds per pot to produce 3 growing Sweet Pea vines.

Where do I plant them and when?

Sweet Peas enjoy full sun in the northern half of the US. In the South, they can benefit from afternoon shade. They like cool roots and cool temperatures so they are planted as early as possible in the spring. A light frost will not harm newly planted seedlings. In very warm areas, they can be planted in the fall and grown through the winter and early spring. For best results, add compost to the soil and check that the area is well drained. Raised beds can be a good way to grow Sweet Peas.

Sweet Pea ‘Cherie Amour’

Do they need any special care while they are growing?

Because Sweet Peas are vining, they need support to grow up and flower. Many types of structures can work such as a trellis, supports with mesh or twine, or fences. They need a structure that is well anchored in the ground to support the weight of the vines. The plants will form tendrils that wrap around the support you provide.

They like a nutrient-rich soil so adding compost at the time of planting is recommended, and mulching Sweet Peas will keep the roots cool and retain moisture while growing.

Once the plants have grown to about 6” in height, it helps to pinch the growing tips by 1”, which will help the plants branch out and produce more flowering stems.

Sweet Pea ‘Cupani’s Original’

What are the most common mistakes that people make with Sweet Peas?

  • Waiting until mid-summer to plant them – they don’t like the heat and won’t produce flowers as readily
  • Not providing support at the time of planting. It is difficult to add your trellis or support after the plants have started growing
  • Poor soil without adding compost or fertilizer will result in weak plants and fewer flowers
  • Planting Sweet Peas too close together without thinning them can create an environment for powdery mildew and crowding, which reduces flower count

Do Sweet Peas produce pods that you can eat like the ones you find in the grocery store?

Although the seed pods look like Snap Pea pods, they are not edible. You can save the pods and seeds to produce plants for the following year. Keep in mind that the seeds may not produce plants that are the same color as the parent plant.

Will the plants come back again next year?

In most climates, the plants are not hardy through the winter. Even in warm climates, they are re-planted with fresh seed and plants to produce the most flowers and have vigorous growth.

When do they bloom? Are there tips for getting extra blossoms?

Sweet Peas will start blooming approximately 4 -6 weeks after visible vining. Timing of bloom will depend on whether the plants have been pinched back. Pinching may slow growth somewhat, but it will produce bushy plants with more flowers. Sweet Peas will grow and flower faster as the days get longer in spring and early summer. Using compost or dried aged manure will help provide nutrients to produce large abundant flowers. A fertilizer with higher phosphorus than nitrogen can boost flower production as well.

Sweet Pea ‘Cherie Amour’

What is the process for cutting the blooms?

Cut the blooms in the morning before the sun has had time to dehydrate them. Choose freshly opened flowers on the longest stems for your vase. Do not cut the main stem of the plant, just the side flowering stems.

Why should I get my Sweet Peas from White Flower Farm?

Our plants are produced in our greenhouses in spring and are shipped to you at the proper time for planting in your area; no seed treatment or waiting for germination required. We ship our Sweet Peas in 4” pots – each containing 3 fully rooted seedlings – and they arrive ready to go into the ground. This saves you the time and trouble it takes to grow Sweet Peas from seed. Buying and planting our Sweet Pea seedlings is the quickest way to enjoy these fragrant flowers outdoors and in vases in your home.

Paeonia suffruticosa 'Seidai' - Tree Peony

Discover the Delights of Tree Peonies, Paeonia suffruticosa

Why grow Tree Peonies?

Tree Peonies are magnificent, long-lived woody shrubs that no garden should be without. Some varieties reach 4–5′ in height, and plants are capable of bearing fragrant flowers up to 10″ in diameter from mid to late spring. Tree Peonies are disease resistant, and deer generally leave them alone. These treasured plants are also great for cold climates. Most of the varieties we offer can be grown in regions that get as cold in winter as Zone 4. Not sure what your zone is? Click here to find out.

Paeonia suffruticosa 'Kamata Fuji' - Tree Peony
Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Kamata Fuji’ – Tree Peony

Where do Tree Peonies come from?

Tree Peonies, also known as Moutan, are native to China. Dating back to the 6th century, they were originally grown for medicinal purposes. They are widely used today because these hardy shrubs produce exquisite floral displays.

Paeonia suffruticosa 'Asuka' - Tree Peony
Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Asuka’ – Tree Peony

Where to plant your Tree Peony?

Plant Tree Peonies in fertile, well-drained soil with a neutral pH of 6.5-7. To prevent the peony root from rotting, avoid planting in a soggy area or an area that has standing water for any length of time.

Although Tree Peonies will thrive in the full sun, the large silky flowers will fade quickly. Light shade from hot afternoon sun is necessary to protect the flowers, and in China and Japan, small parasols are set over the plants to block the sun’s rays. We suggest growing Tree Peonies in filtered sunlight or an eastern exposure that receives morning sun and afternoon shade. Growth will be a bit slower than in the full sun, but the flowers will last longer, especially in the South and warm areas of western Zone 9. Tree Peonies require a year or two to mature, but they are more than worth the wait.

How deep should I plant a Tree Peony?

How do I protect my Tree Peony flowers?

Light shade from hot afternoon sun is necessary to protect the flowers, and in China and Japan small parasols are set over the plants to block the sun. If you don’t have the parasols or the time to create shade for your plants, choose a planting site that will be protected against drying winds in summer and winter and will receive afternoon shade.

Paeonia suffruticosa 'High Noon' - Tree Peony
Paeonia suffruticosa ‘High Noon’ – Tree Peony

How often should I water my Tree Peony?

Tree Peonies are very drought tolerant once established. Do not overwater and do not plant near an automatic irrigation system. Wait until the soil has dried down to 4″ before watering deeply. Watering too much will kill the roots and is a common reason for failure.

Should I prune my Tree Peony? 

Never prune Tree Peonies back to the ground as is done with Herbaceous Peonies. Prune out any damaged or broken stems after plants leaf out. Once your plant has some age and is growing vigorously, you may want to open up the center a bit to encourage flowering on the taller stems and increase air circulation. Tree Peonies are grafted onto Herbaceous Peony roots and occasionally a shoot from the rootstock will arise from the base of the plant. These should be removed immediately.

What can I plant with my Tree Peony?

Hellebores , AlchemillaLeucojum, Epimedium and Siberian Irises are all lovely in combination with Tree Peonies. If your plants tend toward legginess, underplant with spring-flowering bulbs.

Looking for more information on how to grow Tree Peonies? Check out our grow guide.

How to Care for Houseplants – A Few Tips for Beginners

Sharing your home and office with indoor plants has plenty of benefits. For one thing, plants are beautiful to look at, and they generally enhance the look of any interior. Studies (including some conducted by NASA) indicate that indoor plants have demonstrated the potential to help purify the air. Living green plants with their pleasing, biomorphic shapes are also thought to reduce stress and promote tranquility. While most indoor plants don’t require much in the way of care, the little bit of nurturing they do need (mainly in the form of occasional watering) is, for many, a pleasing ritual.

Split-leaf Philodendron
 
If you have never grown a houseplant indoors (or even if you’ve killed a few in trying), there is no need for trepidation. Keep in mind the most common cause of houseplant trouble is overwatering, so most of us who grow indoor plants tend not to neglect our charges but to care too much. Most houseplants will grow and thrive if given their required conditions: adequate space, their preferred sun exposure, regular watering (and not too much), and occasional fertilizer. Most varieties can tolerate a certain degree of neglect so if you’re away for a week on vacation, there’s no need to anticipate plant carnage upon your return. The long and short is you don’t need to be a gardener or a green thumb to enjoy the beauty and benefits of indoor plants, but a few tips will help you ensure your plants thrive. Here is a helpful primer for beginners:
 
Clockwise from top left: Peace Lily ‘Domino,’ ‘Black Coral’ Snake Plant, and Silver Dollar Fern.

Choose the Right Plant for the Right Spot

Before adding any new plant to your home or office, survey the spot where you plant to put it. How much space is available? Is the space big enough for a large plant, or do you need a smaller, tabletop variety? What is the quality of light? Is the plant’s future home in shade, lit by direct sun, or suffused with bright indirect light? Most houseplants, including some of those listed below, require bright, indirect light. That means they are best situated in rooms with a south-facing window. But there are also plants that grow beautifully in the lower light of rooms with less advantageous exposures. Keep in mind that east/west-facing windows generally provide moderate light while north-facing windows have low light. So before purchasing any plant, take a few minutes to orient yourself in a room, determine the size of the plant’s future home and the quality of sunlight it offers. Keep this information in mind when plant shopping so you can choose the right plant for the right spot.

Rattlesnake Plant 
Read the Plant Tag
Any plant being offered for purchase should be accompanied by a tag or webpage that offers information including the plant’s botanical and common names, its light requirements, size at maturity, and, if relevant, period of bloom. Pay particular attention to the type of light the plant requires and its eventual size to ensure it’s a good match for the conditions you can offer. We’ve all made the mistake of buying a plant based solely on its good looks only to find we don’t have the right conditions to keep it looking its best.
Chinese Evergreen

Don’t Drown Your Houseplant

The fastest and easiest way to kill a houseplant is not by neglect but by overwatering. Over the years, our customer service team has fielded countless calls from well-meaning plant owners who are essentially drowning their charges. A plant’s needs for water vary by time of year, the humidity level in the home (which can change significantly due to conditions outdoors), the plant’s life cycle, and the type of container it’s potted in. (Clay pots promote evaporation at a higher rate than most other materials, which means plants potted in clay tend to need more frequent hydration.) Some people we know water their plants on a weekly schedule, i.e., if it’s Thursday, the plants get a drink. We don’t recommend this approach. If you do keep a calendar, use it to check on the plant to see if it needs water. Don’t automatically water every plant just because the calendar says so. Let the plant tell you what it needs. The best way to know if your plant is thirsty is to gently press the soil at the top of the pot with your finger. If the soil is dry to a depth of 1”, your plant needs a drink. Some plants appreciate a thorough watering, which is best done over the sink, if that’s possible. (Simply add water in a slow, steady stream until the soil takes it up and you feel the pot growing heavier in your hand. Let water drip out the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot before turning off the tap. When the last drips escape the drainage holes, return the plant to its saucer or tray. Don’t water the plant again until the soil at the top of the pot is dry to the touch. If a plant is too large to carry to the sink, or if, like Snake Plants and Dracaenas, plants prefer to be watered less thoroughly, pour in just enough to dampen the soil around the base of the plant.

A few overall watering tips:

  • Never leave any plant in standing water. If the saucer beneath a plant fills with water, empty it at once. Keep in mind that if the potting mix stays wet, a plant’s roots can begin to rot.
  • Some plants, including the Snake Plant, Dracaenas, some Philodendrons, and Chinese Evergreens prefer to dry out considerably before being watered again.
  • Plants with a dense leaf spread around their bases (African Violets, Peace Lilys, etc.) generally prefer to be watered from below. Pour a modest amount of water into the plant’s saucer and let the plant take it up by the roots before adding more. Do not saturate.
  • Before watering Snake Plants and Dracaenas, you can wait until the soil is dry enough to begin pulling away from the edges of the pot.
  • Plants require less water during the winter months when they are not actively growing.
 

As you get to know your individual houseplants, their watering needs will become apparent to you. During the time it takes you to familiarize yourself with the plant, err on the side of under-watering. A droopy, thirsty plant will recover better and faster than one that’s been overwatered.

For information about individual indoor plants, including when and what to feed them, refer to the Growing Guides on each plant’s product page on our website. Before you know it, the care of your plants will become second nature to you, and we can all but promise you’ll be delighted in their company.

 
We offer a Houseplant Success Kit with our favorite Joyce Chen scissors for pruning, a watering can, and our custom created fertilizer to help you care for your houseplants with confidence.

Keys to Growing Roses Successfully

Roses have been among the most popular flowers known to man for centuries, perhaps millennia, and they remain one of the loveliest and most versatile of flowering shrubs for any garden situation that offers plenty of sun and well-drained soil. Below are some key tips for growing Roses successfully:

  • Roses require rich soil. When planting, dig a wide hole and replace 1/3 of the soil with compost.
  • Once the soil warms in spring, apply a generous layer of organic mulch.
  • For tips on planting bareroot Roses, see the Growing guide on our website.
  • Water new Roses thoroughly once a week unless Mother Nature is on the job.
  • Remove and dispose of old foliage regularly to help prevent disease.
  • Prune in early spring once growth starts. Remove dead wood first followed by weak or crossing branches.
  • Remove faded flowers all summer, cutting back to the first large bud at a leaf with 5 leaflets.

Design Ideas

Today’s fuss-free Roses come in a remarkable range of sizes and forms – from large Landscape Roses that are ideal as focal points or backdrops in a perennial border to lower-growing varieties that are superb specimens for the middle or edge of a garden to climbers that can smother an archway or wall in beautiful blooms. Roses are great companions for Clematis, Delphiniums, Lilies, and Peonies. Below are two exclusive new preplanned gardens that feature Roses with more of their favorite companions:

Perfumed Pageant Rose & Perennial Garden

Longtime favorite Rose Julia Child™ forms the centerpiece of this colorful, richly fragrant garden. Framing the yellow-flowering, easy-care Rose are layers of bloom from equally low-maintenance companions – the baby blue blossom spikes of mounding Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low,’ the electric blue spires of Salvia ‘Blue Hill,’ and the jewel-tone pink flower clusters of compact Achillea millefolium Song Siren™ ‘Layla.’ 1 plant each of the Rose and Nepeta, 2 each of the Achillea and Salvia. 6 plants total. Covers approximately 30 sq. ft.

Sustained Splendor Rose & Perennial Garden

This lovely garden is designed to perform throughout the full growing season. The cornerstone of this collection is the everblooming saffron-colored Easy Elegance® Coral Cove Rose which is enhanced by long-season performers Stachys byzantina ‘Big Ears’ and Leucanthemum Daisy May®. In early summer, Salvia x sylvestris ‘Blue Hill’ adds an electric blue accent. Two plants of Phlox ‘Fashionably Early Princess’ join in later, adding long-blooming pale purple blossoms to the show. Covers approximately 18 sq ft.

Down on the Farm: Filled With Gratitude as We Embark on Our 70th Year

Dear Friends,

I suppose it wouldn’t be winter in the nursery business without some weather challenges, and as I write this, our team is scrambling to get every package shipped before a stretch of severe cold arrives. Loath as we are to delay any deliveries, we have found over the years that “late but healthy” gifts are much preferred to the “on-time but frozen” sort. (We’ll resume shipping as soon as the mercury rises enough to keep our plants safe as they travel.) Jack Frost and Mother Nature have both figured prominently in the way we do business for many years now, and while both have created no small amount of drama, we respect that they have final say in these matters, and we trust that our beautiful, lovingly tended plants are always worth the wait. If, by chance, you still have some last minute shopping to do, and if you don’t want your recipient to wait for a plant delivery, a White Flower Farm gift certificate is our most popular all-purpose gift and can be delivered instantly via email.

White Flower Farm Gift Certificates

When the mad dash of the holiday season is past and the conveyor belt in the warehouse turns silent just before Christmas Eve, our team will take a well-deserved breather before turning our full attention to Spring 2020 and beyond. With publication of our Spring 2020 Garden Book, we are humbled and gratified to be marking our 70th anniversary.  The first edition of this year’s spring 2020 catalog will be mailed in the next 10 days. It features dozens of interesting new plant introductions alongside hundreds of tried and true varieties (including some that appeared in White Flower Farm’s very first catalogs 70 years ago). These days, our offering extends well beyond the garden plants that got us started all those years ago. If, for you, “gardening” means a low-light houseplant, or a pot or two of colorful annuals on the patio, or even just an occasional bouquet of fresh-cut flowers, you’ll very likely find something to suit in our catalog and at whiteflowerfarm.com.

White Flower Farm Garden Book

On top of the day-to-day business of growing and delivering plants, we have a number of big picture projects in various stages of development. Perhaps most important is an ongoing investigation into various opportunities to “green” our business. The nursery trade is resource-intensive, and aside from the significant water and energy requirements of our greenhouse operations, there are the many environmental impacts of running an e-commerce business for us to consider. Cardboard and shipping materials, plastic plant pots, trucking, etc. – it all adds up, and we are always looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint. In recent years, we’ve made a significant investment in solar energy, and moving ahead, we are actively evaluating alternative packaging solutions, methods to reduce our water needs, and everything in between. Some of these challenges will be very difficult to solve in the near term, but we’ll keep you posted on our progress.

The solar project at the farm.

Looking ahead, I’m also excited about a burgeoning effort to partner with a new cohort of American specialty wholesale growers on certain crops we don’t currently propagate at the nursery. You’ll be reading about these partnerships in forthcoming catalogs. The short version of the story is that we are seeking out growers who share our long-term commitments to quality, sustainability, and customer service. Our customers will reap the benefits of these partnerships for decades to come.

To close, I’d like to offer my sincerest thanks to our customers, suppliers and partners, and to my colleagues for their respective support of, and dedication to, White Flower Farm. We are always aiming to do better, and we wouldn’t have gotten this far without a darned good team and the patronage of our loyal customers. We have so much to be thankful for. On behalf of everyone at White Flower Farm, I send my best wishes for a happy, peaceful holiday season and a green and blossoming New Year.

Sincerely,
Eliot A. Wadsworth

 

Your New Pre-Potted Amaryllis Bulb Has Arrived, Now What?

If you’ve never before grown an Amaryllis, you’re about to see just how easy and fun it can be. Here you’ll find some helpful tips for getting a prepotted bulb started, and caring for it properly before it blooms.

First, keep in mind that signs of growth can generally be seen 2-8 weeks after your bulb arrives. Generally, you’ll see the bright green tip of a blossom stalk or leaf emerging from the top of the bulb. Certain varieties of Amaryllis may take a bit more time to sprout. As long as your bulb remains firm, be patient and take care not to overwater.

Watering: Potted Amaryllis need only a thorough watering with lukewarm water to begin growing. After that initial drink, water your bulb only when the top 1″ inch of the potting mix is dry to the touch. Watering more frequently, particularly just after potting, can cause the bulb to rot. If the pot is covered with Spanish Moss, lift the moss and pour water directly on the potting mix.

Temperature: Place the pot where the temperature remains above 60°F. The warmer the temperature (70-80°F night and day is ideal), the faster the bulb will sprout and grow.  Providing bottom heat (by setting the pot on a propagation mat or on the top of a refrigerator) may help stimulate growth.

Where to Place Your Amaryllis in the House: As soon as the bulb sprouts, provide ample sunshine; a south-facing window or a sunroom is ideal. Rotate the pot frequently to prevent the flower stalks from leaning toward the light.

Use Amaryllis Stakes: The flower stalks may require support to keep from toppling. Click here for our Amaryllis stakes that are ideally suited to this purpose.

You’ll find more tips and tricks for how to care for Amaryllis here.

How to grow houseplants

It’s getting cold outside! Temperatures have begun to dip, and the season of outdoor gardening is winding down as winter approaches. Those of us who love plants will now focus on gardening indoors, enjoying plants and greenery throughout the winter months. Houseplants offer the perfect escape from winter’s ice and snow. Here are some basic care instructions and tips to help you succeed with your indoor plants:

Light: Most houseplants prefer bright light with some direct sun. East- and west-facing windows are ideal, and a south-facing window is satisfactory if the plants are not against the glass.

Temperature: Most houseplants are content at 60–70°F. Please note that sunny windowsills that are not well ventilated can get extremely warm on bright days.

Humidity: All houseplants (except Cacti) resent the excessively dry air produced by radiators, hot-air vents, wood stoves and areas close to south-facing windows. Humidity should be provided by standing the plants on trays of moist pebbles, or by using a humidifier nearby.

Red Holiday Cactus

Watering: This is an art that can be learned. The secret is to poke your index finger into the potting soil. If it is dry 1″ down from the surface, water thoroughly. Don’t water again until the soil is once again dry at the top. If the soil shrinks away from the edge of the pot, it is too dry and root damage is likely to occur. If soil remains constantly wet, the roots will rot. When this occurs some leaves may turn brown or yellow.

Feeding: Houseplants generally need plant food only when actively growing. This is usually in spring and summer. All flowering houseplants prefer a plant food that is low in nitrogen and high in phosphorus. We suggest applying fertilizer at half the rate listed on the container, but at the same frequency.

White Hydrangea

Potting: The potting soil we supply with some plants should be moistened, but not soaked, before using. When it is time to repot, use a good potting soil recommended for houseplants, avoiding bargain brands. Water well before potting. Remove the plant by turning it upside down and tapping the edge of the pot against a solid object. Use a pot that is 1–2″ larger or return it to the same pot by carefully removing about an inch of the soil and roots. At the same time, trim the foliage by one third. Please note: this treatment is not recommended for Clivia. Add compost gradually and firm the soil. Settle the soil by tapping the base of the pot. After potting, water well, but avoid washing out the fresh compost.

Pests: Most plants have few problems when properly cared for, but there will be situations, including insects and other pests, that require some treatment. Wait until the plant is not in flower. The safest method is to drown any insects with tepid water using the sprayer in a kitchen sink. Make sure not to soak the soil too much. If this doesn’t work, plunge the foliage in a bucket of soapy water, using liquid soap, not detergent. If this fails, try mixing 2 ounces of rubbing alcohol, 2 tablespoons Ivory Liquid Soap and enough water to make a quart. Apply with a sprayer that can produce a strong spray to dislodge the critters, taking care to hit the underside of the leaves and the growing tips. Commercial houseplant sprays are available if severe infestations occur.

Summer Treatment: Most houseplants prefer to be outside during the summer. If your houseplants are varieties that can tolerate full sun, it is critical to place them in a shady location for 2–3 weeks before you expose them to full sun. Return them indoors as soon as night temperatures drop below 45°F.

Trimming: Trimming will be necessary for vigorous varieties during growing season.

Foliage Plant Success Kit

Down on the Farm: A Lovely, Busy Autumn

It’s been a beautiful summer and early fall at the nursery and each corner of our little company is charging forward in its own direction – a greenhouse under construction here, a Rose garden being expanded there. Our store in Morris, CT, is open seven days a week through Nov. 17, and is stocked with many of the bulb varieties that are flooding in from the Netherlands. Our education on honey bees continues (complete summary here), and we already have more gorgeously floral honey on our hands than we know what to do with. And of course, our customer service and shipping teams are girding for a furious few months. In short, the nursery business continues, and though sometimes it feels a little chaotic around here, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Along the way, of course, a few plants in particular have caught our eye.

Angelica gigas is a stately Korean native that is late to break dormancy in spring and comes into its own in August and September. In our gardens, it has biennial tendencies and is generally short-lived; perhaps these slightly unusual rhythms are why it’s not seen in more gardens. We find that its dark umbels and green foliage pair nicely with lots of plants and it’s also an insect favorite – bees seem particularly drawn to it.

From this summer’s trial list, a recently introduced Begonia called ‘Fragrant Falls Peach’ has been a particular standout. If you’ve ever visited the nursery in late summer, you know how fond we are of Begonias. ‘Fragrant Falls Peach’ has a trailing habit with lovely double flowers and a strong Rose fragrance. It jumped out at us this summer not only because of the soft color and delicious perfume but also because of its strength – it has flowered all summer and seems to tolerate a good deal of sun. All in all, it’s a remarkable plant that we anticipate growing in containers and in the gardens for many summers to come. Look for it in our spring Garden Book.

A summer visit to Chicago’s spectacular Lurie Garden (a Piet Oudolf masterpiece tucked into Millenium Park) reacquainted us with Limonium latifolium, commonly known as Sea Lavender or Statice. This is a sun-loving, cold-hardy perennial that welcomes dry conditions and delivers clouds of tiny, lavender-blue flowers on wiry stems. In the dense plantings at Lurie, it appears as a delicate pale purple haze in and around its neighbors – quite an effect, particularly in long, late afternoon light. We haven’t offered this terrific plant in some time, but you can expect to see it in catalogs to come.

A last note – our collection of gardening books is ever-expanding, and there were a few notable additions this summer. Margaret Roach has rewritten her modern classic A Way To Garden, which presents practical how-to information alongside musings about what gardening does to us, and for us, in a rapidly changing world. In a more extravagant vein, Martha Stewart’s new Martha’s Flowers: A Practical Guide to Growing, Gathering and Enjoying is a feast for the eyes. Not many of the stunning arrangements pictured in the book are practical for mere mortals, but they’re inspiring nonetheless. We also have been enjoying David Culp’s The Layered Garden: Design Lessons for Year-Round Beauty from Brandywine Cottage, a 2012 release that beautifully captures the approach of Mr. Culp (a widely acclaimed nurseryman and plant breeder) to building and maintaining gardens that perform year-round. If you have someone on your holiday list who enjoys garden books, you’ll want to see the four new titles we’re offering for the gift-giving season.

We hope you are enjoying your own splendid autumn in the garden and that you’re planting plenty of bulbs for next season’s springtime show. (Don’t miss our seasonal specials on a wide variety of perennials, shrubs and bulbs for fall planting.) With the holidays just around the corner (and with only a few short weeks separating Thanksgiving and Christmas on this year’s calendar), we hope you’ll rely on us for some exceptional gifts for your family members, friends, and colleagues. If we can assist with your shopping and gift selections, our friendly, knowledgeable customer service agents are always delighted to help.

From all of us at the farm, a happy and contented autumn in the garden.

Weatherproof Daffodil Mix from White Flower Farm

Tips for Growing Daffodils

The very word Daffodil is magic, for these rugged and cheerful blooms are the first major flowers of spring, and they light up the landscape on even the dreariest day. Many gardeners know the familiar yellow Trumpet forms but have yet to encounter the many and varied shapes, sizes, and colors now available in the genus.

Daffodils (also known as Narcissus) possess three enormously valuable attributes that contribute to their vast popularity.

  • They will thrive in almost any location that offers decent drainage and half a day of sun, and will actually reproduce spontaneously in a site they like. Most strains are reliably hardy from Zones 3–7, with numerous forms, including the fragrant Paperwhites that prosper in Zones 8–10.
  • They are extremely long-lived in any setting, making them ideal for long-term and naturalized plantings, where they often outlive the proprietor.
  • Daffodils are immune to disease and pests, INCLUDING DEER WHICH WILL NOT TOUCH THEM.

Daffodils bloom reliably each year, and many hardy varieties can also be successfully forced indoors—a lost art we hope to encourage.

Keys to Success with Daffodils

  • Fertilize: The best time to fertilize bulbs is in the fall. The next best time is in early spring, just as the foliage begins to emerge.
  • Leave the leaves alone: Allow the foliage to mature after bloom. Do not cut, braid, fold, or mow the leaves. Remove only after they turn brown.

Garden Design Ideas for Daffodils

  • Plant Daffodil bulbs in a woodland garden that is sunny until the trees leaf out.
  • Tuck bulbs between the crowns of Daylilies or other perennials in a mixed border, where the leaves of perennials will hide the fading Daffodil foliage.

Night Life: Lighting & Plant Ideas for Evenings in Your Garden

Most of us think about our gardens and outdoor spaces with a keen eye toward how they look during the day. This year, we’ve been thinking of more ways to make our gardens shine in the evening hours.

The first item to think about is outdoor lighting for your plants, and we’ve got several ideas for you to choose. Then there are the plants themselves to consider, and we have a list of those too. We refer to them as Moon Garden plants, and have chosen them specifically because they are gorgeous during the day, and have an enchanting glow at night.

Outdoor Lighting Ideas

Radiant Solar Globe Lanterns

Radiant Solar Globe Lantern - large, copper
These lights resemble traditional paper lanterns seen in Asian gardens, but are handmade of Tyvek™ with stainless steel hardware, making them durable and weather resistant. Hang them above larger stature plants and enjoy the show.

Tea House Lanterns

Tea House Lantern
Sleek, classic, and modern all at once, these handsome, sturdy lanterns are made of black galvanized steel and Mango wood. Bring them outdoors for garden strolls and evening meals al fresco.

Cretan Candle Lanterns

Cretan Candle Lantern
Each ceramic lantern is thrown by hand by artisans on the Greek island of Crete. It is made in 2 pieces: the bottom half holds a candle, and the top half functions as a dome. Both pieces are carefully detailed with round holes just under ½” in diameter that emit light. Use these to light up shorter plants.

 

Plants to Light Up Your Garden at Night

Hydrangea arborescens Incrediball®

Hydrangea arborescens Incrediball®
This incredibly hardy variety boasts amazing blooms (up to 12″ across) held on thick, sturdy stems that dont flop. Flowers progress from lime green to white and back to green. Gorgeous when lit from above with one of our hanging lanterns.

Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Becky’

Leucanthemum x superbum 'Becky'
From July to September, this old-time favorite for summer gardens becomes a living bouquet of huge (4″) daisies that stand 3–4′ tall. Even at this height, staking isn’t required, and its long, strong stems are excellent for cutting. The bright white flowers shine in the evening hours.

Rose Iceberg

Rose Iceberg
The double white flowers on this Floribunda are 3″ across and lightly fragrant, appearing in profusion in mid-June and then repeating steadily. Perfect for hedges or plant just one under a lamppost where you can enjoy their bright white flowers at night.

Reblooming Iris ‘Immortality’

Reblooming Iris 'Immortality'
If you’ve never grown a Reblooming Iris or have had mixed results with other varieties, we suggest you try ‘Immortality,’ for it rarely disappoints. After mounting a good show in June, this sweetly fragrant beauty produces a second crop of pristine white flowers in late summer almost every year and in almost every climate (it even reblooms in Zone 4). ‘Immortality’ is a feature of our Moon Garden at the nursery.