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Potted Plant Perpetrator

potting mix for container plants

Best Practices For Growing Container Plants

Why is my plant dying!!!!????  Ever had this problem?  You venture out to your local garden center, not a big-box store (sorry, I had to), and you buy yourself a cute, little container plant.  You get a pot, buy fertilizer, and put it all together in the perfect spot in your home. Then it dies.  Yes, it dies.  After all the love, fertilizer, and water you showered this plant with, it just up and craps out on you.  It’s a tale too often told, but I swear, it can be prevented.  If you do your research and learn about your plant’s likes/dislikes and requirements, and you follow the basic guidelines I’m about to teach you; you can be spared of this heartache and frustration.


Euomymus 'Blondy' vs 'Moonshadow'

euonymus blondy

Euonymus fortunei: 'Blondy' vs. 'Moonshadow'

This post is not about a blonde and a rather odd 1970s song by Cat Stevens.  It is, rather, a highlighting of two particular varieties under the Euonymus fortunei umbrella.  Perhaps you already know how confusing the Euonymus umbrella can be.


Green Velvet Boxwood VS. Winter Gem Boxwood (comparison)

Green velvet boxwood

Boxwood Green Velvet VS. Boxwood Winter Gem 

Green Velvet and Winter Gem Boxwoods are two of the most popular smaller sized evergreens sold in our area. They have many similarities such as: they are both boxwoods, stay small, evergreen, deer resistant, bloom in April, grow about any where,  have shallow root systems, hardy in zones 5 – 9, low maintenance, can take heavy pruning, and they both work great planted as hedges or just as single plantings. They have gained in popularity over the last decade because they are just so easy. They can be trimmed or left to grow naturally. They will grow in about any soil but prefer a moist, yet well drained soil. They will grow in sun or shade, but the ideal location would be either a morning sun and afternoon shade or a filtered sun. Both of these varieties are less prone to getting the "bronze" look in winter that many types of boxwood get. If they are in full sun and the temperatures are really cold even these two can get the bronze color. But, if planted in shade they will rarely aquire that coloring.


Karl Foerster Grass Vs. Overdam Grass (comparison)

Karl foerster

Karl Foerster Vs. Overdam

Ornamental grasses are like the shy kid at the back of the bus.  They often time—like the shy guy—get ignored when homeowners are landscaping because they are too distracted by trees, shrubs, and annuals (to continue the analogy…jocks, hipsters, and the pretty girls).  But guess what? That shy kid is awesome and so are ornamental grasses.  And that’s where this terrible analogy ends.


Crapemyrtle vs. Knock Out® Roses (comparison)

crapemyrtle pocomoke

Two Great Flowering Shrubs- Crapemyrtle vs. Knock Out® Roses

Two of my favorite flowering shrubs are Knock Out® roses and crape myrtle [lagerstroemia]. It's hard to beat the all season blooms and variety of colors both shrubs provide.

Which is better Ilex 'Red Sprite' or Ilex Berry Poppins™ (comparison)

ilex verticillata and snow

Ilex ‘Red Sprite vs. Ilex ‘Berry Poppins’

Ilex verticillata, a.k.a. Winterberry is an excellent plant species and in my opinion, way underused.   It is a great choice for the Midwest with a hardiness rating of zones 3-9.  As it is a deciduous Holly, it offers exceptional seasonal interest in the fall and winter after it drops its
leaves, with its persistent bright colored fruit that ripens in late August – September.  The fruit hangs on into mid-winter or even later depending on temperatures and bird populations.  There have been selections made which offer fruit colors ranging from yellow to orange to the typical red.  Winterberry fruit is very beautiful against a backdrop of snow.   The fruit-laden branches are also very desirable for winter cut arrangements. Winterberry lends itself well to mass
planting; is easy to grow; tolerant of full sun or partial shade (better fruit set in full sun); adaptable to a wide variety of soils ranging from light to heavy soils and will thrive in wet areas as well.   The plant can become chlorotic in high pH soils.

One potential downside to the plant is that the straight species as well as many of its cultivars, can be rather large in size, upwards of 8-10’ in height with a similar spread.  This can be spectacular in the right setting, but let’s face it, most residential lots will not accommodate mass plantings of shrubs this large. 

Best Ornamental Grasses For Creating A Screen

Maiden Grass

What Are The Best Ornamental Grasses For Creating A Screen

Ornamental grasses can be used for a variety of reasons, but one reason people may overlook is using them as a living screen. Many people think of using evergreens as living screens, which they do work well for, but several grasses can be a great alternative and take up less room too. Let’s say you live in a neighborhood where the houses are fairly close together. You have a patio off the back of your house that you love to use for entertaining. One of your neighbors seems to always be out on his patio every time you want to be out on yours. You have a flowerbed along the patio between the two of you, but it is only four feet wide. You think to yourself “what can I plant in that narrow of a space to screen out my neighbor?” You run through a list of Holly, Arborvitae, Yews, Junipers, and Boxwoods, but they either get too big, grow too slow, or are too prickly.Then it hits you “ I’ll use grasses!” They won’t be there in the winter, but you probably won’t be out on your patio very much in the winter either.


Fall Landscaping Tips


Fall Landscaping Tips   

Because Spring is a busy time for those of us who work in the nursery industry, I have to wait until Fall to "play" in my yard. Well, Fall is here, and the fun has begun! 


Which Is Better? Mugo Pine Vs. Birdsnest Spruce (comparison)

Mugho Pine

Which Is Better? Mugo Pine vs. Birdsnest Spruce 

Although evergreens don’t seem to be one of the top choices for consumers these days, they do provide a necessary component to every landscape……year round color!  Green in the landscape doesn’t look too shabby in the middle of winter when everything else looks sparse and, frankly, dead. There are many different types of pine and spruce on the market today.  Let’s bring it down to a “foundation” level and talk about a couple smaller varieties; Dwarf  Mugo Pine and Birdsnest Spruce.

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Creating Screens With Limited Space

Arborvitae North Pole

Using Evergreens For Screening A Small Space

Arborvitae North PoleTM—Thuja occidentalis ‘Art Boe’ P.P.A.F.

This columnar Arborvitae is a great tree for narrow hedges, small gardens and accent plantings.  North PoleTM, a selection of the Arborvitae o. ‘Hetz Wintergreen’, has a superior resistance to winter burn and exhibits excellent cold-hardiness.  The year-round deep green foliage keeps its branching down to the ground as it ages.   With a width of 5 to 7 feet, this tree slowly reaches 12 to 14 feet high.  It has a naturally symmetric, conical habit.

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