Hydrangea Winter Care – Part 1

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

With the air turning chilly and the snow beginning to fall, it’s time to tuck your garden in for a long winter’s nap. As you are checking off some of the winterizing tasks I mentioned in last week’s article, perhaps this question crossed your mind: “How do I prepare my hydrangeas for the winter season?” With the unpredictable snowfall levels, temperatures, and the freeze-thaw cycles that commonly occur in our region, some of the following tips may help you determine the best course of action for helping your hydrangeas weather the winter. 

Even though most hydrangeas are hardy plants, there are a few factors that determine whether or not you need to provide extra winter protection. One of those factors is the hydrangea variety, so be sure to jot this information down in your gardening journal or keep the tag for reference. Other factors include the hydrangea’s location and its size.  

In general, hydrangeas that bloom on ‘old wood’ are the ones that need the most protection to make it through the winter months unscathed. Since the flower buds of the Mountain, Oakleaf, and Climbing hydrangea varieties have been forming since late summer, you’ll want to focus on protecting the buds through the winter. Definitely provide winter protection for the Bigleaf (mophead or lacecap) hydrangeas because they need it most. This is not the time for pruning ‘old wood’ varieties, although you may wish to remove dead canes.  

Smooth and Panicle hydrangeas bloom on ‘new wood’. They are some of the hardiest varieties and often don’t need winter protection. However, if you have these or other hydrangeas placed in an area of your yard that receives more exposure to winter elements, they will appreciate some added protection. In addition to the variety of hydrangea and its location in your yard, the size of the hydrangea needs to be considered. Smaller, less established hydrangeas may need to have more winter protection. Late winter or early spring is the time to prune ‘new wood’ varieties.

Stay tuned for next week’s article for more tips on hydrangea winter protection! Bloch’s Farm is now closed for the season but 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 our Facebook page!

Garden Winterizing

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

As fall temperatures continue to drop, winterizing your outdoor spaces becomes the task at hand. Cleaning up around your garden can go a long way toward preventing disease and pest outbreaks the following year, and there are many other landscaping ideas you can take into consideration with winter just around the corner. 

Remove all weeds now as they can harbor a lot of diseases and insects. After perennials die back from a hard frost they can be trimmed down. Leftover plant debris can be tilled under to decay and enrich the soil, or it can be placed in a compost pile. Composting is normally a great way to deal with garden debris and autumn leaves. Adding composted organic material to flower beds at this time supports healthy soil and plants.  

Cover less hardy plants with leaves, mulch, burlap, or Styrofoam cones to protect them throughout the winter. Add another layer of mulch on perennial beds, trees, and shrubs. Once your perennials are cut down and all plant debris is removed it’s easy to add mulch. Mulch insulates the soil, protecting plant roots from temperature fluctuations.  It also hampers early spring weeds taking hold in the garden. 

Water all newly planted trees, shrubs, and perennials up until the ground freezes. Plants need to be moist going into the winter. Put on tree wraps, fencing, netting or green screen repellant bags now to prevent deer and rabbit damage throughout the winter. Make sure tree wraps go all the way up so no trunk is showing. 

Clean out and disinfect garden pots and tools, so they will be ready for next season. Bleach wipes work well for cleaning tools, and pots may be dipped in a bleach and hot water solution. Bring garden pots indoors to protect them. Drain and store garden hoses in a garage or shed. Unheated birdbaths can be brought indoors or tipped upside down so that water does not collect, freeze, and cause damage. To keep thirsty birds happy all winter, purchase a heated birdbath or insert a heated ring to keep the water from freezing. See to proper storage of seeds, fertilizer, and any other garden chemicals. A cool, dry, dark place in a locked cabinet or high shelf is best. 

Bloch’s Farm carries all the tools you need to get your garden winterizing done. Check out our great selection of trees, shrubs, perennials, mums, and bulbs that are still available before we close for the season! Call 920-294-6000 or e-mail jlamontagne@blochsfarm.com with any questions. Visit our website online at www.blochsfarm.com and our Facebook page. 

Common Fall Leaf Problems

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

            As you are enjoying the autumn colors, perhaps you are also noticing changes that may concern you in the leaves of your trees and shrubs. Have you seen your evergreen needles turning yellow or spied black spots on your maple leaves? 

During September and October, deciduous trees are going through the process of losing their leaves and going dormant. Evergreens go through a similar natural cycle called seasonal needle drop. An evergreen’s oldest, innermost needles, the ones closest to the trunk, may turn yellow or brown and fall off, much like deciduous trees dropping their leaves. The discoloration and sometimes dramatic loss of needles can be alarming, but it is normal and not detrimental to the trees or shrubs.   

Have you noticed black spots on your maple leaves? This is most likely a fungal disease called tar spot. Black, tarry spots can form on the leaves of maples. While the spots may begin to appear in late summer, they are usually noticed more often in September or October when the spots are at their full size. As leaf raking begins, the bright fall colors make the spots more visible. This fungal disease is cosmetic and shouldn’t affect the entire tree. Once the infected leaves fall, a good cleanup and proper leaf disposal will help control the disease.

Bloch’s Farm still has a great selection of trees, shrubs, perennials, and bulbs. Colorful mums are also available to complete your fall look! Fall is a wonderful time to plant, so don’t wait, stop in today! Call 920-294-6000 or e-mail jlamontagne@blochsfarm.com with any questions. Visit our website online at www.blochsfarm.com and our Facebook page.

Fall Is A Great Time To Plant

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

Autumn is upon us but that doesn’t mean that your planting season has to end. In fact, in some ways fall planting can be more beneficial than spring planting. 

Fall planting takes advantage of favorable soil temperatures and moisture conditions that promote the root growth needed to sustain plants through their critical first year in the landscape. During autumn, cool and relatively stable air temperatures prevail, which is less stressful on plants than during the extreme heat of the summer. Soil temperatures and moisture levels are usually in a range that promotes rapid root development. Top growth is suspended, and new root growth is encouraged when the air temperatures are cooler than the soil. This results in a stronger, more developed root system when the plants begin to grow next spring. Make sure to water the new plants well into the fall. Mulching will help to retain the soil moisture, as well. 

If you plant a shrub in spring, it must acclimate itself to its new home and begin growing immediately. At the same time, it has to produce leaves, flowers, and then endure the rapidly arriving summer heat. Plant the same shrub in fall, and it becomes happily dormant above ground soon after planting, but the roots have time to grow and become comfortable and strong in their new home. Then, when spring arrives, the plant is established and ready to put out strong leaves, new top growth, and lots of flowers. So, give your trees and shrubs a head start and plant them right now!

Some trees, shrubs, and perennials are better suited to plant in the fall and others are better in the spring. Those with fewer, larger roots are better to plant in the spring than those with shallow, fibrous root systems which can transition easier in the fall. While you can plant until the ground freezes, some trees and shrubs grow better if planted before certain times. Conifers do a little better if planted in early fall (by late September) because they prefer slightly warmer growing temperatures. Evergreens grow better if planted by mid-October. Most deciduous trees and shrubs can be planted until late fall. 

Bloch’s Farm still has a wonderful selection of trees, shrubs, perennials, and bulbs. Colorful mums are also available to complete your fall look! Fall is a wonderful time to plant, so don’t wait, stop in today! Call 920-294-6000 or e-mail jlamontagne@blochsfarm.com with any questions. Visit our website online at www.blochsfarm.com and our Facebook page.

Planting for Winter Interest

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

Even when the winter months turn your garden into an all-white portrait, you can still add splashes of color. When choosing plants for winter landscape consider shapes, textures, evergreen foliage, exfoliating bark, and long-lasting berries. A combination of evergreen and deciduous plants brings out the best winter aesthetics in your landscape.  Consider a variety of these great selections.

There are many different types of evergreens that can add greenery and structure throughout the snowy months. Pine, spruce, fir, and hemlock are examples of evergreens with needle-type foliage. Juniper and arborvitae are examples of evergreens with scale-type foliage. Bloch’s farm has a large selection of dwarf, weeping, and specialty evergreens. 

Broadleaf evergreens such as holly (Ilex spp.) and euonymus (Euonymus fortunei) keep their color all year long. Holly is a very simple evergreen shrub with striking green foliage and bright red berries all winter long. The branches and berries are often seen in winter decorating and floral arrangements. Euonymus, also known as wintercreeper, is a small evergreen shrub that has large, round green leaves. Certain varieties have a golden-yellow edging that adds a touch more color. The broad leaves of holly and euonymus make them more susceptible to winter injury; therefore, it’s best to avoid planting these in locations with lots of wind and winter sun.

Chokeberries (Aronia spp.) have dark green foliage and bare white flowers in May that turn into red or black berries (depending on the variety), which last into the winter months.  The bitter-tasting berries serve as a food source for birds and are also edible for humans when cooked. Bloch’s Farm has three varieties of chokeberries available: Brilliant Red, Glossy Black, and Viking. 

Trees can be aesthetically pleasing in winter providing their colorful persistent fruit, like crabapples produce. Exfoliating bark adds unique touches in your landscape, as well. ‘Persian Spire’ Persian Ironwood (Parrotia persica), and certain birches and maples have distinctive peeling bark. 

Bloch’s Farm still has a wonderful selection of these and many other trees, shrubs, perennials, and spring bulbs. Colorful mums are also available to complete your fall look! Fall is a wonderful time to plant, so don’t wait, stop in today! Call 920-294-6000 or e-mail jlamontagne@blochsfarm.com with any questions. Visit our website online at www.blochsfarm.com and our Facebook page.

Plant Now For Spring Color

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

If you want your garden to burst out of winter looking fabulous now is the time to add plants for bright pops of spring color! The following popular, low maintenance, and hardy selections provide an easy way to add spring color to any landscape area.

Spring Flowering Trees– Flowering crabapples (Malus spp.), weeping redbuds (Cersis spp.), and magnolias (Magnolia spp.) are the best and brightest spring bloomers with flower colors ranging from white to various shades of pink and purple. 

Spring Flowering Shrubs– One of the showiest spring shrubs is forsythia (Forsythia spp.). With its numerous sunny yellow flowers, it works wonderfully to brighten up a drab early spring garden. Lilacs (Syringa spp.) are a fragrant family of spring flowering shrubs. This old-fashioned beauty is such a low maintenance profuse bloomer that every garden should have at least one. Azaleas and rhododendrons (Rhododendron spp.) are some of the best spring flowering shrubs for shade. This group of 2-5 feet tall shrubs have bright flowers ranging in color from white, deep violet, and orange.

Spring Flowering Perennials– Bleeding hearts (Dicentra spp.) add a delicate lacy look to a moist shady garden. Creeping phlox (Phlox subulata) creates a dense groundcover when grown in hot, dry, sunny sites. Its masses of bright flowers are a welcoming sight after a long winter. Flower colors range from red, purple, blue, pink, and white. 

Bloch’s Farm still has a wonderful selection of these and many other perennials, trees, shrubs, and spring bulbs. Colorful mums are also available to complete your fall look! Fall is a wonderful time to plant, so don’t wait, stop in today! Call 920-294-6000 or e-mail jlamontagne@blochsfarm.com with any questions. Visit our website online at www.blochsfarm.com and our Facebook page. Don’t miss out on this weekend’s sale! October 2nd – October 4th: 30% Off Perennials!

planting Bulbs for Spring Color

By: Sue McConnell – Retail Team – Bloch’s Farm – Green Lake, WI

One of the most welcome sights in spring are masses of beautiful, brightly colored tulips and other spring bulbs. Red, yellow, pink, and shades of purple, along with white, brightens our yards and landscapes after a cold, dreary winter.

            Consider planting tulips, daffodils, crocus, and allium bulbs before the ground freezes in late fall, between mid-October to mid-November. Bulbs planted too early in the season tend to sprout and may begin their growth process if placed in the ground while there are still sunny, mild days and before it has cooled down.

            Bulbs are easy to plant! Dig a small depression in the soil in a rounded or oval shape. Bulbs need to be between 4 to 6 inches deep, so make your ‘bed’ big enough for 5, 7, or 9 bulbs. When your bed is ready, arrange the bulbs inside, tall ones to the back, shorter to the front. You can arrange by color or type. Bulbs come in early, mid, or late season varieties. By planting some of each you can expand their bloom time from early spring until early summer.

            Once your bulbs are in place, sprinkle each with bone meal or a special ‘bulb booster’ that will help them thrive, then cover with soil. When all your bulbs are in place, gently tamp down the soil, then water.

            You can also plant bulbs singly. Follow the same procedure, selectively digging down 6 inches for each bulb. This planting method will allow you to scatter the bulbs across a larger area for a more naturalized look. The round or oval depression method creates more of a bed producing a bigger color bang.

            Either planting method you choose, you will be rewarded next spring with beautiful flowers to cut and bring indoors for bouquets or to enjoy while looking through your windows.

Bloch’s Farm spring bulbs have arrived! Stop in to purchase your own spring garden. We have a nice selection of single root bearded Iris, packages of Hyacinth, two varieties of large cupped Narcissus, Globe Master and Gladiator Giant Allium, and six different selections of mid to late season tulips in gorgeous color combinations. Find bulb booster and digging tools as well… everything you need to create a beautiful spring garden that will last for years to come.

  Many trees, shrubs, perennials, and colorful mums are also available at Bloch’s Farm! Call 920-294-6000 or e-mail jlamontagne@blochsfarm.com with any questions. Visit our website online at www.blochsfarm.com and our Facebook page.  

Don’t miss out on this weekend’s sale! September 25th – September 27th: 50% Off Our Entire Selection Of Muck Boots!

Fall Colors For Your Garden

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

            The weather is beginning to turn cooler, and fall offers the perfect opportunity to display an explosion of colors and textures in your garden.  A vibrant backdrop of trees and shrubs can surely add to your landscape’s aesthetics.  Fall is the perfect time for planting many kinds of perennials, trees, and shrubs because the roots have time to establish themselves before spring.  If you’re searching for a splash of color, you may want to plant one or more of the following:

American Cranberrybush Viburnum (Viburnum trilobum) is a rounded shrub growing up to 5 feet high and 4 feet wide.  Large white flat-topped clusters of flowers bloom in late May and June.  The flowers are then followed by fruit, varying in color from blue to bright red, and serve as a source of food for birds during the winter.  The berries are also edible for humans and are sometimes used for making jams and jellies.  Striking foliage changes red to purple in fall.  Native to our area, this shrub is tolerant of full sun to partial shade and prefers moist, well-drained soil.  American Cranberrybush benefits from regular renewal pruning. 

The Amur Maple (Acer ginnala) is a real eye catcher!  Growing up to 9 feet tall and 8 feet wide, it is a dense, compact, small tree or large shrub (depending how you prune it) that bears bright orange to red leaves in fall.  Small fragrant white flowers are produced in early spring.  Amur maples can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions and will grow best in full sun or partial shade.     

Ornamental pear trees, such as the Chanticleer  Pear and Javelin Pear (Pyrus calleryana) make valuable additions to the landscape.  Because of their upright-pyramidal form that is more narrow than other ornamental pear trees, they are a good choice where lateral space to spread is limited.  The crown is also less prone to branch breakage with heavy winter snow because of their shape.  Growing up to 40 feet tall and 15 feet wide, these trees produce attractive white flowers in early spring.  Their foliage turns a brilliant glossy maroon color in the fall.  These ornamental pear trees are adaptable to many different soils and tolerate drought, heat, and pollution. 

Many trees, shrubs, perennials, and colorful mums are available at Bloch’s Farm to complete your fall look!  Call 920-294-6000 or e-mail jlamontagne@blochsfarm.com with any questions. Visit our website online at www.blochsfarm.com and our Facebook page.  

September 18th – September 20th : 30% Off Fruit Trees and Fruit Shrubs!

Evergreen Shrubs

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

Many evergreen shrubs offer year-round interest.  Their blue, green, or yellow tones make a bold statement in your garden throughout the spring, summer, and fall months.  In winter, their bright colors keep the garden looking alive and beautiful against the snowy backdrop of a winter landscape.   

Most evergreen shrubs are easy to maintain, with little to no pruning necessary.  They can be used in many aspects of the landscape; plant as a single specimen, in a group along a border, or even as a background plant in an ornamental garden.  They also provide a nice backdrop for blooming perennials.  

Here are a few outstanding evergreen shrubs that would be great additions to your garden:

Dwarf Globe Blue Spruce (Picea pungens) is a slow growing, round shaped evergreen growing up to 5 feet tall and wide.  Stunning blue needles provide year-round interest, even in the dull of winter.  This shrub prefers full sun, rich, moist soil and is somewhat drought tolerant once established.  

Bird’s Nest Spruce (Picea abies) grows slowly to 3 feet tall and 6 feet wide.  It is flat-topped, wider than high.  With an indented center, this spruce looks like its common name describes – a bird’s nest.  It needs full sun or minimal shade and adapts to many types of soil.

Golden Mops Threadleaf Falsecypress (Thuja occidentalis) is also a slow growing rounded, evergreen shrub reaching heights of up to 5 feet tall and 7 feet wide, depending on the variety.  There are smaller varieties that stay only 3-4 feet tall and wide.  Golden Mops gets its name from the slightly weeping, scale-like foliage that remains bright yellow all four seasons.  It can grow in full sun to partial shade but will become brighter yellow in full sun.

These evergreen shrubs and others are available at Bloch’s Farm.  Many trees, perennials, fall annuals, and cool-season vegetable seeds are available as well!  Get some colorful mums to complete your fall look!  Call 920-294-6000 or e-mail jlamontagne@blochsfarm.com with any questions. Visit our website online at www.blochsfarm.com and our Facebook page.  

Don’t miss out on this weekend’s sale! September 11th – September 13th: 20% Off Perennial Grasses!

Fall Garden Tips

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

September is a great time to spruce up your landscape.  By completing a few early autumn tasks, you can shape up your garden, add some fall color, and begin to prepare for winter.  Early September is also a great time to plan ahead for spring by planting some spring blooming perennials.  

 Sunny, mild temperatures in September keep the soil warm and plants actively growing, but during this time, they are exposed to less extreme heat and drought.  Perennials, trees, and shrubs can be planted now to allow their roots to grow into place well before the soil freezes.  Large bulbs can be planted 6-8 inches deep, and a depth of 4 inches is adequate for smaller bulbs.  Plant them singly or dig a larger hole for a handful of bulbs.  Spring flowering bulbs such as crocuses, tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths can be planted up to six weeks after the first fall frost and will provide a burst of welcomed color after a snowy winter.  Add compost and other organic material to enrich the soil, so it’s ready for spring. 

Established spring and summer flowering perennials can be divided and transplanted in the fall.  These include herbaceous peonies, daylilies, irises, and hostas.  Summer bulbs, such as callas and caladiums, can be dug up to store in a cool dark area for winter. 

Replace the spent spring and summer annuals with fall plants such as ornamental kale, peppers, and grasses to spruce up your potted containers.  Plant mums (hardiness zones 5-9) to add brilliant fall colors to your garden.  

Sow cool-season vegetable crops such as kale, spinach, lettuce greens, beets, radishes, and turnips.  These vegetables have fast germination time and love the cooler weather.  

Make sure to water plants, especially evergreens, a few times a week into late fall.  This will protect plants and encourage maximum growth.  Also, it is not recommended to fertilize existing landscape plants in the fall.

The cooler weather is a great time to remove all the weeds and plant debris in your garden as they can harbor diseases and insects.  Remove new growth on vegetables, such as tomatoes and peppers, that won’t have enough time to mature before the first frost.

Many trees, shrubs, perennials, and cool-season vegetable seeds are available at Bloch’s Farm!  A plethora of colorful mums are available to complete your fall look, as well!  Call 920-294-6000 or e-mail jlamontagne@blochsfarm.com with any questions. Visit our website online at www.blochsfarm.com and our Facebook page.  Don’t miss out on this weekend’s Labor Day sale! September 4th – September 7th: 25% – 75% Off Remaining Pottery!