6 Tips For The Prettiest Pansies

6 Tips For The Prettiest Pansies

Pansies don’t do well in soil that stays wet – in fact they like it on the dry side.  So, here’s 6 tips on how to prevent this problem so you can enjoy beautiful blooming pansies throughout the winter months ahead.

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1. Don’t over water    

Sounds simple, but we all have a tendency to just water without checking.  Check your pots prior to watering to make sure they are dry and need watering.  If your pansies are planted in the ground, make sure they need watering.  Plants in the ground and in containers don’t require frequent watering in the fall and winter like they do during the summer. 

2. Reset your sprinkler System    

If you haven’t reset your sprinkler system from the summer setting, now is the time to do so.  As the weather cools off lawn and flower beds don’t require as much water as they do in the hotter summer months.  Set your sprinklers to water less frequently during the fall and winter.

3. Get your hands dirty or use a moisture meter     

We can look at the surface of a pot and tell if it looks dry, but how much moisture is down at the root zone.  The only way to tell is to either stick your finger in the dirt and see how wet it is or use a moisture meter that will instantly tell you if it is wet or dry.  Use one of these methods to determine if your pansies are in need of water.

4. Planting in poor draining areas    

If the area does not drain well you can create a raised bed in which to plant, thus ensuring the  plants are planted above the wet area.  This can be achieved very easily by creating a mound or longer berm out of garden soil (not potting soil) and plant into this raised area.  Cover with mulch to match the rest of your bed and your poor draining area is solved.

5. Install drainage solutions into your landscape    

You may have a drainage problem that needs a drainage solution such as a French drain or piping downspouts out of your flower beds.  Feel free to call our store with photos so we can try and give you the best method to resolve drainage issues.

6. Make sure your pots and planters drain well    

Planting pansies in pots and planters around your home gives you winter color in a variety of areas.  Make sure that they have adequate drain holes in the bottom so excess water can drain out of the pot.  If the pot is sitting on a solid surface the drain holes may not be able to drain.  Place the pot on pot toes or small blocks of wood that enables the pot to be slightly raised from the surface it is sitting on so water is able to escape out the drain holes.  Also, use the finger test or moisture meter to test if the pot needs watering.

These are just a few of the ways you can turn a wet, poor draining situation into one that is dry enough for pansies and other plants to bloom beautifully. 
If you have questions about how to solve a specific problem please give us a call at (903) 753-2223.  You can text a pic to (903)-339-0922 and we can help determine a solution to a problem or answer your questions. 
Pruning Trees+Shrubs Series: Hydrangeas

Pruning Trees+Shrubs Series: Hydrangeas

As Fall turns to Winter our trees and shrubs become dormant and we naturally think “it’s time to prune”.  CAUTION!  You are entering a DANGER ZONE!  Pruning improperly can destroy what nature has taken years to create. 
Cutting dead looking stems off shrubs can eliminate all flowers the following year.  Pruning the wrong branches from trees can negatively affect their structure, overall beauty and decrease fruit production.
Ask questions, do a bit of research before grabbing the clippers or pruning saw.
This is the first of several articles offering “easy to follow” suggestions on pruning popular shrubs and trees.  Following these instructions will reward you with healthy, blooming trees and shrubs for years to come.

Let’s talk Hydrangeas

These beautiful shrubs brighten up the shady spots in our yards with multiple blooms on each plant during the spring, summer and into fall.  But if pruned incorrectly they will flower very little or not at all.
First step is to identify what type of Hydrangea you have.  Most hydrangea varieties bloom on last year’s growth – stems or branches that grew this year, will bear flowers next year.  This is common for mophead, lacecap and oakleaf hydrangeas.
Mopheads are known for their round balls of either white, pink or blue blooms.
Lacecaps are a flatter, multi-blooming flower resembling flat caps with frilly edges. 
Oakleaf are recognized by their distinctive leaves shaped like those of an oak tree.
These 3 types should be pruned after blooming (late summer/early fall).  These bloom for several months so you may need to selectively prune shoots that have already bloomed while leaving others to finish blooming through the season. 
If you prune these types of hydrangeas back to the ground in winter, you will not have flowers the following year.
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Reblooming Varieties:  If your hydrangea is one of the newer reblooming varieties (Endless Summer series, Forever & Ever series) they bloom on both current season’s growth as well as previous years branches.  These varieties should not be cut to the ground either – this will delay blooms.

How to Prune

1. Start by removing dead or damaged stems first.
2. If the plant is too large, cut the oldest shoots to the ground, giving the younger, smaller shoots more room to grow.  This will shorten and thin out the plant.
3. Cut back stems to just above a pair of healthy buds.
4. Varieties that bloom on old wood should be pruned immediately after they flower
Tip:  We suggest planting hydrangeas with non-deciduous shrubs in your landscape.  This will allow the focus to shift from the hydrangeas to these other shrubs during the winter months. 
By pruning at the correct time of year and using the correct pruning methods your Hydrangeas should reward you with a bounty of colorful blooms from spring through early fall.
Fall is for PLANTING!

Fall is for PLANTING!

NOW is the best time to plant trees, shrubs and vines.  Winter is the second best – so get to digging!

Summer’s heat is over, the soil is still warm – actually warmer than in the spring – and the soaking rains of winter will soon arrive.  This means deep root growth will occur quickly on shrubs and trees planted in the cooler months of the year.

Why is deep root growth important? 

Roots gather nutrients and water for plants and trees, so the better the root system the more nutrients and water the plant receives – thus appearing lusher and healthier.   Plants planted now get a head start since they are able to concentrate their energy mostly on root growth during the cooler months.

Healthier plants are the result of planting in the fall.

The same plant planted in spring gets a slower start due to spending energy on both root growth, foliage and flower growth. Also, the cool weather planted plants are better established when summer arrives and can better deal with the heat, largely due to the well-established root system.

When Should I Take Down My Hummingbird Feeder?

When Should I Take Down My Hummingbird Feeder?

This is a question that has 2 very different and distinct answers:

  1. Take the feeders down by mid-September
  2. Leave the feeders up until 2 weeks after you have seen the last hummer in the Fall.

Which is right? That is for you to decide for yourself, but here is the thinking behind each one.

Take the feeders down by mid-September so the hummers will leave on their migration and not stay too long because there is still an adequate food source. 

This theory is based around the birds leaving due to a dwindling food source. When the summer flowers begin to wane and there is less nectar for them to eat it triggers them to start their migration. 

If feeders are left out, this continues to give them a food source that they will rely on too long resulting in a late start to migration or worse yet not migrating at all. Birds who stay don’t make it through the winter since there is no natural food source for them.

Leave the feeders up until 2 weeks after you have seen the last hummer in the Fall so migrating birds can stop and refuel on their migration.

Scientists say that the birds leave not because of a lack of food source but because of their internal biological calendar. The shortening length of daylight in autumn triggers the hormones that cause hummingbirds to migrate. The birds become restless and the urge to migrate becomes too strong to ignore.

By leaving out feeders through September it gives them “refueling stops” on the way south.What to do? That depends upon who you talk to and what makes the most sense to you. Weigh in on your perspective, send us your thoughts by replying to the email.

Monarch Migration

Monarch Migration

We touched on the monarch arrival back in our last newsletter, as this annual migration is a unique and amazing phenomenon in North America. The monarch butterfly is the ONLY butterfly known to make a two-way migration like birds do! Some fly as far as 3,000 miles to reach their wintertime home.

1Where are they headed, anyway? Monarchs in Eastern North America have a second home in the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico. These monarchs fly south using several different flyways, and then merge into one HUGE single flyway in Central Texas. It is truly amazing that these monarchs know the way to the overwintering sites even though this migrating generation has never been to Mexico!

As for those worried about the monarch population size – don’t fret! Chip Taylor of www.monarchwatch.org says that they are expecting a reasonably robust population to migrate south this fall. To aid in this effort of protecting and ensuring a successful trip, monarch waystations have been set up along the migration route – 25,131 waystations to be exact – with Texas holding the number one spot with 2,110 monarch waystations! These waystations hold a variety of milkweeds and nectar sources for these travelers to feast on.

Want to track the monarchs?

It’s super easy! Just visit journeynorth.org to see a live map of Adult Monarch Sightings throughout the country. Here’s what the sightings look like as we write this article:

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Amazing, isn’t it?