Fall in Love with Perennials

Perennials plants are such a versatile group of plants.  Hardier than annuals they return year after year to give color to your landscape and containers.  They are a good investment – buy them once and enjoy them for years.

If you aren’t familiar with perennials here’s some info:

  • Some are large and shrub-like and will bloom throughout the summer and come back next year and do it all over again.
  • Others are evergreen and stay green year-round – never dying back.
  • There are those that are smaller, sturdy plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds with their vibrant flowers.
  • Some varieties are lower growing and make good ground covers.
  • Many perennials are drought hardy and love the sun and heat (even in Texas!)
  • There are shade perennials that brighten up those shady areas too.

By adding perennials to your landscape you can create different looks as the seasons image1.JPGchange.  You can do so with color transitions as the weather turns from the coolness of spring to the heat of summer.  Plant pastel color perennials that finish their bloom cycle as the brighter yellow, oranges and reds of summer begin to bloom.

As your perennials age they can be divided into smaller plants – thus giving you FREE plants to use in your landscape and containers or to share with friends.  Who doesn’t love FREE plants!  Most divisions need to be done in the fall after the plant has completed its growing cycle for the year.

Perennials can be planted in groupings in your landscape or used as lower growing plants in front of your taller shrubbery to create depth in your flower beds.


Use perennials in containers along with annual flowers to create more interesting plant combinations.  These showy plants can also be planted alone in containers – group these containers together and move them around to create different looks for your deck, patio and even in your landscape beds.

Many perennials are deer resistant which in our area is an added bonus!  They also attract butterflies and hummingbirds and are definitely pollinator friendly.

Perennials, with all of their uses, should be high on your “must have” list.  If you have questions about where and how to use them in your landscape we’d be happy to make suggestions.

The Word on Tomatoes: Determinate vs. Indeterminate

Interested in growing tomatoes? With the wide variety of tomatoes available it can be overwhelming to choose. Do you want beefsteak, cherry, Roma or an heirloom tomato? Better yet, do you want determinate or indeterminate tomatoes or both?tomatoes

What does determinate or indeterminate mean?

Determinate tomatoes grow to a specified height and then set their flowers and form fruit all at once. Indeterminate tomatoes continue to grow and produce fruit throughout the growing season.

Characteristics of Determinate tomatoes:

  • Smaller plants, good for containers
  • Fruit ripens early in the season
  • Produces a lot of fruit at once; ideal for mass canning
  • Plants usually die by midsummer
  • Requires little staking or caging due to smaller size of the plant.

Characteristics of Indeterminate tomatoes:

  • Larger plants that continue to grow throughout the season
  • Fruit is continually set so it produces through the season
  • Plants require strong support due to their size
  • In-ground planting is better in vegetable beds

So, which is best for you? If you are planting in limited space you may choose determinate varieties. If you want fruit throughout the season and have the space then plant indeterminate varieties. Ideally, you could choose to plant both so you can enjoy tomatoes all summer.

How do you identify determinate and indeterminate plants? Look on the seed packet or plant tag for the word “determinate” or “DET” or “indeterminate” or “IND”. Not all plant tags will show this information, but a quick internet search of the tomato variety will give you the info you need.

Remember – no matter what tomato varieties you choose to plant – nothing tastes better than a home grown tomato.

Hummingbirds are back! Tips & Tricks to take care of your special visitors!

Every year they arrive in areas all over the Lone Star State. Hummingbirds, on their way from their wintertime stay in Mexico to breeding grounds across the United States, pass hummerthrough Texas every spring and then return south in the fall. Texas offers a chance to spot more than a dozen hummingbird species, you just have to know when and where to look!

Most hummingbirds arrive in Texas between mid-March and early May, and these spring months offer great opportunities to spot hummingbirds across the state! Many hummingbirds stay in Texas to nest during summer, while others continue to areas farther north. The southward migration that takes place in August to September offers some of the best opportunities to see these birds as they return to their winter homes in great numbers. Only a handful of hummingbirds stay in Texas year-round, but an occasional winter sighting is possible.

ruby-throated-hummingbird-male.jpg.653x0_q80_crop-smartRuby-throated hummingbirds are the most commonly-seen in Texas along with the black-chinned hummingbird, both nesting in Texas before returning to Mexico.

Ready to see some of these beautiful, humming beauties in your yard this year?

  1. By far, the BEST way to see these little birds is by adding plants to your containers and beds that will attract and feed them! We have many hummingbird-friendly plants at our Garden Center!
  2. Hang a hummingbird feeder on your porch or on a nearby tree and fill with sugar water or hummingbird syrup – remember to empty out the old solution and replace with new, as leaving old liquid in their feeder can make them sick!
  3. Place a birdbath near the feeder for them to use as well.  
  4. Get them used to getting close to you and your family by wearing sunglasses (hummingbirds aren’t fans of our eyes) so use sunglasses and a handheld feeder to get close!

Got bullies? Add more feeders in a clump! If you have one male hummingbird that is dominating your feeder to the exclusion of all others, there are two ways to afford your other hummingbirds a drink.

  • One is to put up other feeders on opposite sides of your house, or out of sight of Mr. Bully. Of course, this may simply mean that you are setting up other fiefdoms for other male bullies.
  • Perhaps a better solution is to add two or three more feeders in the vicinity of the first feeder. This will attract multiple hummingbirds, which will quickly cure your bully of his territoriality. He will not be physically able to fight off all the other hummingbirds, so he will give up trying.

Still unsure or have questions on how to get started? Don’t worry! We have plenty of feeders and hummingbird-friendly plants at The Home & Garden Center. Follow these tips and get humming!

Landscape Design Basics

One question I hear most often is “how do I choose what to plant in the landscape beds around my house?” Tall ones, short ones, fat ones, skinny ones? Where do I start? Here’s some easy to follow tips that all landscape designers use.

Plant shrubs that stay short in front of windows, porches, decks, and entryways so you don’t block the view.

Plant larger (taller) shrubs in front of areas without windows

These small and larger shrubs become your “foundation” plants that will be in your landscape for many years to come. As these plants mature you will see differences in the height of the plants which gives variety to your landscape.

You then can plant small perennials and annuals in front of the foundation plants. This will add depth to the bed along with colorful flowers.

  • Perennials bloom at different times of the year and most die back in the winter but reappear in spring and bring you blooms for years to come.
  • Annuals also bloom at different times of the year but usually do not last more than 1 growing season.

I suggest using a combination of perennials and annuals in your bed. The perennials since they come back year after year and the annuals for the “wow” factor their blooms bring to the bed.

You can follow these tips whether your flower bed is shady or sunny. Other things to consider are choosing plants that are not all green – mix it up with plants that have purple, yellow or variegated leaves. Use of different shaped plants (fat, thin, wispy) will also add to the beauty and interest of the landscape.

Follow these basic guidelines and your landscape will look like a professional designed it.




Using Pottery in your Landscape

A subject that seems to get left in the dust when it comes to landscaping is the usage of pottery.

image38Pots and planters get overlooked in the design process when they can be of great value to the landscape. I’m not referring to just adding pots on either side of the front door or next to the garage. I’m suggesting the use of pottery within your landscape itself to create thoughtful, colorful and even “wow moments”.



Not enough room to do a full-size shrub but need something colorful in that space?

Don’t have anything pretty on the side of the house and wanting to do something easy?

Pottery can add color throughout your landscape in areas that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. Use your pots and planters to fit that area — it gives you something that will stay permanently the size of the pot, which helps in tight areas.



Pottery allows you to include colors that you don’t typically see in nature in your landscape.

Different patterns, textures and colors of pots will contrast against your plants, allowing you to highlight different areas of the bed as focal points.


You can use pottery that blends or contrasts against the color of your home to draw attention to certain areas. Use bright colors against a neutral colored home to brighten up any area. Use neutrals or similar colored pots to blend in for a subtle addition to your landscape.



Pottery can go anywhere in a landscape, not just the corners of your home or on either side of your front entrance. Use your pottery and planters in different groupings of three to widen the focal point on that area. Different heights and widths are great too — adding depth to your beds.



Moved that pot to the south side of your landscape and hate where it’s at? DON’T WORRY! Pottery can be moved and rearranged for new looks frequently — nothing is permanent.

We have East Texas’ LARGEST pottery selection at The Home & Garden Center. Our inventory includes a wide variety of colors, textures, patterns and sizes. Want to make things even easier? We can design, plant and deliver your planters to you. Contact us at 903-753-2223 or our website thgc.net

Man’s Best Friend: In The Backyard

Tips & Tricks for a Dog-Friendly Yard

Landscaping while keeping your furry-friend in mind, isn’t, and shouldn’t be hard! It’s easy once you decide what your little friend’s needs might be, i.e. room for running, a place for digging, a shady spot to sit in, etc. rs=w_400,cg_true

Some of the BEST features to include for your four-legged friend are soft foliage plants and smooth landscape stones. A place for them to drink, such as a water station, is a fantastic addition too.

  • Pick materials that are paw-pad friendly. Anything spiny, prickly, or sharp you might want to skip out on in your landscape. Use mulch, and designate safe-spaces for your dog to play in. We can help you pick out a mulch that fits your needs!
  • Do you have an ever-digging doggie? Try landscape gravel instead of mulch as your top-dress for your beds — it makes for a great deterrent!
  • Get rid of any potential hazards. Having a completely paved backyard area may make it uncomfortable for your animal’s paws during the summer months. Check fences for holes or weak areas.
  • Create an easy way to access water. A healthy dog drinks about a half to 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight each day — so a 50 lb dog will need 5 cups (or more!) of water daily (depending on how active they are). A water element such as a pond or waterfall can do the trick, or just make sure there’s a water bowl that’s always filled.
  • Designate a shady spot for cooling off. In Texas, the hot summer months can make for an uncomfortable doggy if they’re spending most of their time outside — make sure there’s a nice, shady spot under a tree or bush. Installing a doggy door or just putting up an old-fashioned dog house in the shade are great for your friend Fido, too. A plastic wading pool is also a great thing to have for your friend to cool off in!
  • Make sure they’re warm for the colder months! Rain and cold weather call for a heated space — a small heater is a great solution for easy warmth. Thick, cotton blankets are another great addition to Fido’s doghouse so they can cuddle up when it’s chilly out.

Contact us for more solutions! 903-753-2223 OR email@thgc.net — 7 days a week!

Grab and Go: Containers Straight Out of a Magazine

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The Home and Garden Center in Longview has started a brand-new program that was inspired by YOU and it’s called Grab and Go Containers.

Designing your own pot of high-quality, magazine-worthy plants can be a difficult task if you’re not the super creative type, or if you don’t know what plants work best together for a specific season.

So that’s what the Grab and Go Containers are for.

‘Grab and Go’ containers are pre-planted containers that come in various sizes and price ranges, enabling you to simply browse their selections, grab it and go. Or, if you’re feeling inspired, you can use the containers to place into your favorite container and enjoy a quick and easy finished look.

The plants in each container have been hand selected by experts to grow well together and look amazing all season long.

They give you instant, professionally designed containers just like the ones out of your favorite magazine, but without all the work.

The Home and Garden Center has divided the year into 6 seasons and each season will have a new combination of plants that will be included in their Grab and Go containers.

  • Early Spring: Begins in March
  • Late Spring: Mid-April through May
  • Early Summer: May through June
  • Late Summer: July through August
  • Fall:  September through October
  • Winter: November through  December

You can learn more about the grab and go seasons and their combination of plants here.