Japanese Beetles

By: Jennifer LaMontagne-Horticulturist-Bloch’s Farm-Green Lake, WI

It’s the time of year to observe your plants closely for diseases and pests. Have you noticed groups of iridescent green bugs with brownish-gold wings chewing on your plant leaves lately? The culprit could be Japanese Beetles (Popillia japonica). 

These insects have been rapidly increasing in number in Wisconsin ever since their arrival to the United States in 1916. They are about ¼ inch in length, have shiny bronze wings, and a green patch above their head. The adult beetle lifespan lasts about four weeks, from June to August, sometimes lasting into September. Japanese beetles feed on over 275 different species of plants, and can cause varying degrees of damage. They chew on leaves, avoiding the veins, leaving a skeleton-like look on the leaves. They eat the bud and flower parts, as well. Japanese beetles can sometimes transmit diseases into the plant while they are chewing. When they are in the grub stage, they will feed on the roots of the plants, which can be a serious problem in turf grass establishments. 

Luckily, there are a few ways to stop these beetles from attacking your yards. If they are a problem in your turf grass, there are a variety of granular products, such as Milky Spore Powder, that can be spread across the lawn to kill the grubs. It’s best to start implementing treatment against the beetle grub in late June or early July. 

Other options include systemic insecticides for trees and shrubs that kill adult beetles. Deterrents, such as hot pepper wax spray, make the plants taste bad; therefore, repelling them. Japanese Beetle Traps may also be useful. A pheromone attracts the beetles, and then they become trapped inside a bag. The traps should be placed 20 to 50 feet away from the susceptible plants. There are also a number of different sprays that are effective against Japanese beetles; these include Eight and Captain Jack’s Deadbug. Some of these come with a hose end attachment that works great for reaching the tops of large shrubs and trees. We recommend a combination of these products to control the beetles. 

Bloch’s Farm is open 8 am to 5 pm Monday – Saturday, and 10 am to 4 pm Sunday. We have Japanese Beetle traps, spray, and granules available. You can also check out our huge selection of perennials, trees, and shrubs! Stop in today and our knowledgeable staff will be happy to help you! Feel free to call 920-294-6000 or e-mail jlamontagne@blochsfarm.com with any questions. Visit our website online at www.blochsfarm.com and follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Join us for this weekend’s sale: June 23rd – June 25th : 25% Off One Item of Garden Decor!

Hostas

By: Jennifer LaMontagne-Horticulturist-Bloch’s Farm-Green Lake, WI

Hostas are hardy, versatile, easy to grow shade perennial plants that display an array of colors, sizes, textures and shapes. They make perfect accent plants or specimens, but many can also be used as groundcovers in the landscape. 

These shade loving plants have leaves that range from thumbnail size to a foot wide. The leaf colors can range from green, blue, gold, and white, or mixed colors of variegation on the edge or center of the leaves. Flower colors range from lavender to white and many are fragrant. Hostas prefer shade but there are many varieties that can tolerate partial sun in the mornings. Hostas aren’t picky about soil but benefit from moist soil that has organic matter and is well drained. Here are a few of the many hostas that Bloch’s Farm has available. Stop by to grab your hostas today!

Big Daddy Hosta – Growing up to 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide, this late summer blooming hosta is stunning with its thick, cupped blue leaves and purple flowers. Pair with Coral bells, Astilbe, or Bleeding Heart to add beautiful contrast to your garden.

Blue Angel Hosta – This is one of the larger blue varieties of hosta, growing up to 2 ½ feet tall and 6 feet wide. Blue Angel would look amazing in your shade garden with its mounding silvery blue leaves and white flowers atop high stalks that bloom in the summer.

Angel Falls Hosta – This unique hosta has deeply veined leaves that are green around a crinkled edge with a lighter colored center. Angel Falls can grow to almost 2 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Lavender/pink flowers bloom in midsummer.

Mini Hostas – Staying as small as 5 inches tall and 13 inches wide, these miniature hostas are the perfect size to fill those small spaces in your garden. Flowers bloom in summer with leaf colors ranging from blue and green to variegated. Bloch’s Farm has these mini hostas available: Blue Mouse Ears, Mini Skirt, Mighty Mouse, School Muse, Sun Mouse, and Pandora’s Box.

Bloch’s Farm is open 8 am to 5 pm Monday – Saturday, and 10 am to 4 pm Sunday. We have a huge selection of hostas and other perennials, along with many trees and shrubs! Stop in today and our knowledgeable staff will be happy to help you! Feel free to call 920-294-6000 or e-mail jlamontagne@blochsfarm.com with any questions. Don’t forget to visit our website online at www.blochsfarm.com and follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Don’t miss out on this weekend’s sale! June 16th – June 18th: 20% Off All Native Perennials!

Watering Plants

By: Jennifer LaMontagne – Horticulturist – Bloch’s Farm – Green Lake, WI

Water is very important to our plants, just as it is for us. Plants require water in order to grow and to bloom. Knowing when to water is key to healthy plants. Trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals will let you know when they are thirsty. You just need to learn their language and know how much water your plants need because each plant is different.

If your plants are looking sad, droopy, sick, or stressed out, it’s a good bet that watering will help. Signs for a possible water stressed plant are: droopiness, unnatural curling, dull looking, pointier than usual, or even appearing a slightly different shade of green than usual. If you notice your plant is starting to turn brown, that could be a sign that it has been water stressed for quite some time. Also watch for the premature drop of flowers or blossoms and premature fall color. These are signs that the plants are struggling to stay alive. 

Keep in mind that some of these symptoms listed previously could be signs of other problems going on with the plant, as well. For example, droopy and yellow leaves could also be signs of too much watering. A great way to tell if the symptoms are indicating a lack of water for your annuals and perennials is to stick your finger into the soil about 1-3 inches down. For a tree or shrub you will want to dig down 4-6 inches. If the soil is nice and moist underneath, you don’t need to water yet.

Many trees and shrubs such as birches and cottonwoods will purposely drop many of their leaves in an effort to keep the remaining leaves alive until moisture arrives. So if your trees have a lot of yellow looking leaves it means they may be preparing to drop. Watering at this point will save the tree but the yellow leaves will probably still fall off. Not to worry, the plant will soon push out new leaves.

During periods of dry summer heat, most trees and shrubs benefit from receiving 1 to 2 inches of water every week. Water-loving trees such as willows, elms, birches, alders, poplars, and certain fruit trees may need at least 3 inches of water per week when temperatures climb above 90 degrees. Small shrubs and perennials should receive at least 1 inch of water over their entire root area 2-3 times a week. Newly transplanted plants may need to be watered daily.  

It’s best to apply water in one slow application. A useful tip for measuring water is to place a 1-inch deep can, such as a tuna fish or cat food can, near the drip-line of the plants you are watering. As soon as the can is filled, you have one inch of water. For plants that need 2-3 inches of water, simply empty the can and allow it to refill once or twice more.  

Water early in the morning, before the heat of the day, to minimize evaporation. To ensure more efficient root systems, water thoroughly, making sure the water sinks deep into the roots. Try to avoid watering in the late evening. Without the sun to dry off the leaves, the plants become more susceptible to diseases.  

If you’ve lost some trees, shrubs, or perennials, fall is a great time for replanting. But give plants a chance to green up before you dig them out, because you may be pleasantly surprised!

Bloch’s Farm is open 8 am to 5 pm Monday – Saturday, and 10 am to 4 pm Sunday. We have a huge selection of trees, shrubs, and perennials! Stop in today and our knowledgeable staff will be happy to help you! Feel free to call 920-294-6000 or e-mail jlamontagne@blochsfarm.com with any questions. Don’t forget to visit our website online at www.blochsfarm.com and follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Don’t miss out on this weekend’s sale! July 9th – July 11th: Buy 3 or More Shrubs, Receive 20% Off!

Landscape Design

By: Melissa Netzer – Landscape Designer – Bloch’s Farm – Green Lake, WI

I have often thought that designing a landscape is a lot like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. The goal is to create a finished picture that looks good and makes sense, by carefully fitting together all of the pieces provided. This is done ideally on a sturdy table, so small bumps don’t send the carefully crafted picture in all directions!

When doing an actual jigsaw puzzle, one has the advantage of seeing what the picture is supposed to turn out like. It’s on the top of the box. There is one right way for the pieces to be arranged and the person or people doing the puzzle can refer back to the top of the box for clues on how to fit them together. 

In landscape design it’s a bit trickier. First, instead of a picture on the top of a box, the finished product is an elusive and sometimes sketchy vision in the mind of a client. At the initial design appointment with a new client, the designer must ask questions and discuss ideas to come up with clues as to what the customer would like. After the wants, needs, and style of the customer, or their “final picture”, is defined, the designer starts to collect the “pieces” needed to create this vision.

The first pieces that are needed are the physical characteristics of the site. They define your parameters, so to speak. These are the existing facts about the site that have to be worked with. How big is the site? Where do the house, garage, outbuildings, driveway, sidewalk, etc. sit? Are there setbacks or right-of-ways that need to be considered? Where and in what condition are the existing trees, shrubs, walls, walks? Do they want to keep them all? What is the existing grade? If the site is along a river or lake, are there erosion or permitting issues? And so on. Measurements and photographs of the site are taken to define all of these pieces. Getting a site plan and blueprint of the house is also helpful.

After determining those items that are not negotiable, the designer can start getting creative and collect the pieces that will make the landscape beautiful and unique to the client and the site. Pieces like natural stone or paver materials that best suit the needs and style of the customer, pathways, patios, garden bed location, size and shape; plant selections that will suit the soil type and sun exposure in the different areas of the yard. In what areas do they want privacy? Can we screen some areas with plantings, fences, pergolas? Are there views to open up? Can we “borrow” beauty from beyond the site by framing it with perimeter plantings that draw the eye out? Where can we repeat the architecture or lines of the home within the landscape to create cohesion, or “fit” the landscape to the home?

Unlike doing a boxed puzzle, not every one of the pieces has to be used. They all should however be recognized, weighed out, and prioritized to determine how they fit with first the facts of the site, then the style. After careful consideration and much sketching, the final picture begins to take shape. The pieces come together to make a whole that makes sense and looks beautiful. Just don’t bump the table!

Bloch’s Farm is open 7 days a week from 8 am to 6 pm. We have a huge selection of trees, shrubs, and perennials! Stop in today and our knowledgeable staff will be happy to help you! Feel free to call 920-294-6000 or e-mail jlamontagne@blochsfarm.com with any questions. Don’t forget to visit our website online at www.blochsfarm.com and follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Don’t miss out on this weekend’s sale! July 2nd – July 4th: 50% Off Hanging Baskets!

Summer Garden Tasks

By: Jennifer LaMontagne – Horticulturist – Bloch’s Farm – Green Lake, WI

June has arrived, and the warm summer days are a perfect time to get out in the garden. By keeping up with summer gardening maintenance tasks a little at a time, you can reap the rewards with healthy and beautiful plants. Here are some suggestions for work that can be completed from June to August to keep your gardens in tip top shape!

            Removing weeds before they go to seed is important and more easily accomplished by removing them just as they emerge. Your garden plants compete with weeds for water and nutrients, so weed removal allows plants to benefit much more from the available resources. Keep your plants watered and fertilized so they grow to fill spaces instead of the weeds. Mulching around the base of trees, shrubs, and flowers helps them retain water. Proper watering is essential during hot, dry conditions throughout summer. 

Continue to fertilize annuals and perennials throughout the summer season, taking caution to avoid fertilizing if your plant is too stressed from the heat. As vining plants start to grow taller, it’s a good idea to provide support with a stake or trellis. Continue to sow in succession, seeds such as beans and leafy greens to produce a continued harvest. In mid-summer, you can start to sow seeds for your fall vegetable garden. Plant collards, kale, spinach, and root vegetables such as carrots, beets, and turnips. 

It is a good time to dig up and divide daylilies and irises once they have finished blooming. Prune suckers from trees right away because they take energy away from the main tree. Lightly prune spring-flowering shrubs in summer once they have finished blooming. For example, lilac bushes need to be pruned soon after their flowers are spent. Like other bushes that bloom on mature wood, lilacs set the buds for next season almost immediately after the last blossom has faded. Other examples of shrubs that bloom on old wood are bigleaf hydrangea, forsythia, weigela, and azalea. 

As herbs continue to grow, pinching them back will help create a full, lush plant. Remove spent flowers on annuals and perennials to encourage new growth and reduce chances of diseases and pests. Monitor and protect plants from pests and diseases. It’s a good idea to cover or set up scare devices to keep birds off of fruit trees and shrubs. 

Bloch’s Farm is open 7 days a week from 8 am to 6 pm. We have a huge selection of trees, shrubs, and perennials! Stop in today and our knowledgeable staff will be happy to help you! Feel free to call 920-294-6000 or e-mail jlamontagne@blochsfarm.com with any questions. Don’t forget to visit our website online at www.blochsfarm.com and follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Don’t miss out on this weekend’s sale! June 25th – June 27th: Buy 3 Daylilies, Get 1 Free!

Cherry Trees

By: Jennifer LaMontagne – Horticulturist – Bloch’s Farm – Green Lake, WI

               Cherry trees are radiant with pink or white springtime flowers covering the entire tree. Once late summer hits, their beauty can turn into ripe, juicy cherries. There are many different varieties of cherries, and those grown in the United States are usually separated into two categories: sweet cherries and tart, or sour cherries. It can be challenging to grow cherry trees in Wisconsin due to the harsh climate, but if the variety of cherry trees and the hardiness zones are taken into consideration, it is possible, with some tender loving care, in some areas. Door County, for example, is a familiar Wisconsin location for cherry trees. The lake effect can take the edge off some of the late spring frosts that are experienced in other areas of the state. Hardiness Zone 5 and the more southeastern counties of Wisconsin lend themselves well to cherry tree growth. 

        Sweet cherries are the ones that are typically found in the grocery store. They are plump and juicy and can be eaten right out of the bag. If you are able to grow a sweet cherry variety in your hardiness zone, you may require another variety of sweet cherry planted nearby as a cultivar for pollination. Make sure their bloom times overlap so cross-pollination can occur. Sour cherries have smaller fruit than sweet cherries and are mostly used for preserves and other cooking uses. Most sour cherry varieties generally do not require another tree for pollination but would produce better with another cherry tree present. Some cherry trees, like other fruit trees, are grafted with different varieties to assist with cross-pollination.

        Cherry trees are susceptible to root rot, so they grow best in well-drained fertile soil. These fruit trees prefer full sun conditions (6 to 8 hours a day). Pruning should be done in late winter/early spring. Cherry trees will usually start to produce fruit in their third or fourth year. Depending on if it’s a dwarf or standard size tree, trees can produce 10 to 50 quarts of fruit. Bloch’s Farm sells semi-dwarf fruit trees. These reach about 15 feet tall at maturity.

        The presence of pests and diseases should be monitored all year long and can be managed with preventive or curative measures. Raccoons and birds love cherries and can be considered pests if your trees weren’t planted for them. Methods of deterrence include covering the trees with netting or hanging scare devices such as aluminum pie pans from the tree limbs.

        Common diseases and fungi that affect cherry trees include blight, canker, and powdery mildew. One method to help protect against bacterial blight is to avoid pruning during the wettest spring timeframe. There are also a variety of insects that can affect cherry trees. Preventive measures include removing weeds and debris from around the base of trees and adding mulch. If insects or diseases are noted, there are numerous methods for managing them, ranging from trapping insects to spraying organic insecticides or fungicides.          Bloch’s Farm is open 7 days a week from 8 am to 6 pm. We have a huge selection of vegetables, herbs, trees, shrubs, annuals, and perennials! Stop in today and our knowledgeable staff will be happy to help you! Feel free to call 920-294-6000 or e-mail jlamontagne@blochsfarm.com with any questions. Don’t forget to visit our website online at www.blochsfarm.com and follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Don’t miss out on the Father’s Day weekend sale: June 18th – June 20th: 20% Off