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Landenberg, Pennsylvania, United States
Based in Landenberg, PA PLG offers Landscape Installation and Maintenance to Southern Chester County and Northern Delaware

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

All About Bulbs

Bulbs are a great addition to any garden.  They provide long lasting color from early spring to late fall.  In addition they easily adapt themselves to many varied habitats.  Bulbs grow well in any average soil and full sun.  Bulbs can flourish in numerous habitats lending themselves to being used informally (planted randomly), planted in clumps to create astonishing displays of color, or planted in cracks and nooks in a rock garden.  The actual bulb of a plant is used as food during its dormant season.  Plants that grow from bulbs are called monocotyledons and include onions and garlic.
            When choosing a site for your bulbs, look for an area with average, well-drained soil.  A well drained soil is going to prevent rot.  Bulbs like to be protected from wind and like to grow in full sun.  Prepare the site by digging down at least 10 inches and mix peat moss into the soil.  Use about 2 gallons per square yard.  Bone meal can be added into the planting area at a rate of 5 pounds per 100 square feet.  Remember that bulbs planted in full sun bloom earlier and last longer.  When digging the planting hole make it two or three times the length and width of the bulb you are planting.  It is also important to dig the hole with a flat bottom. Generally plant the bulbs further apart than deep.  It is very important to not trim a bulb’s foliage while it is still alive and growing, wait until it dies back in the winter.
            When choosing bulbs at your local garden center it is important to look for a few things.  Look for bulbs that are firm to the touch, not shriveled or dry looking, and free of soft spots.  Once you purchase your bulbs do not handle them roughly, leave them in a hot area, and make sure that they get plenty of air circulation.  This should insure that your investment is protected until you can plant them.
            Once bulbs are planted they are generally easy to care for.  It is best to remove weeds by hand and especially avoid the use of weed killers.  When weeding wait until the bulb’s shoots start to show.  When a bulb is left in the ground for several years I would recommend feeding them with a general purpose fertilizer or a specialized bulb food.  Take care to scratch this into the soil around the base of the foliage.  Take care when watering to water around the base of the plant and not over the top.  The dead heading of bulbs is recommended to prevent the seeds from propagating unwanted plants.  When dead heading cut off the flower and about 1”-2” of the stem and do not cut back the foliage.  Many bulbs do not need to be artificially supported if they are planted deep enough.  If it is necessary to support a tall plant use a couple of stakes and some string to hold the plants up from the back.  In the winter mulch your bulbs with hay, straw, leaves, or more commonly in this area, bark mulch.  Make sure to mulch after the ground freezes.  This practice insulates the bulbs from extreme weather. 

Bulbs to Research for Southeastern, Pennsylvania:
·       Late Winter Flowering
o   Snowdrop (Galanthus)
o   Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)
·       Early to Late Spring Flowering
o   March, April, and May have the most spring flowering bulbs
o   Chionodoxa
o   All of the Daffodil Species
o   Hyacinths
o   Muscaris
o   Early Tulips
o   Spring  Snowflakes (Leucojum vernum)
o   Spanish Bluebells (Endymion campanulata)
·       Summer Flowering
o   Dahlias
o   Lilies
·       Autumn Flowering
o   Autumn Crocuses (Colchicum)
o   Fall flowering Crocuses (Crocus)


I posted this blog earlier this year but I have been getting a lot of questions about mulch and what we recommend lately so here is the re-post.........

Check out mulch options on Delaware Hardscape Supply's website.

Mulch is generally sold by the cubic yard.  A cubic yard is about one bucket of a loader.  In order to make sure that you have enough, I recommend adding 20%-35%, more to the total cubic yards you require.
(x)(y/12)=z/27=Cubic Yards
x= the square footage to cover
y= the depth of the mulch in inches
z= cubic feet
            There are many benefits of mulching your beds and garden.  Mulch keeps weeding to minimum by keeping their seeds from sprouting.  Water in soil naturally evaporates; mulch insulates the soil from drying out.  Mulching can also prevent soil borne diseases from spreading to fruits and leaves.  This happens when water splashes the soil onto the leaves.  Soil will also take longer to change temperatures.  Decomposing slowly, mulch adds nutrients to the soil, and makes the soil looser.  Earth worms really enjoy mulch.  The worms break down the mulch and aerate the soil.  Before mulching it is important to remove weeds currently growing and water thoroughly.  Finer mulches should be applied no more than 2” deep.  Coarser mulches can be laid up to 4” thick.  In order to determine how much mulch you need measure the square footage of your beds you can use this formula:
            Everyone knows that mulch makes our flower beds much, much more attractive.  Mulch is defined as a soil cover that is composed of organic material.  The forest creates its own natural mulch each year when deciduous plant and trees drop their leaves.  Because of this we should replicate natural process in our gardens.  We recommend bark mulch for your beds because it lasts a long time and looks really good.  I usually stay away from stone chips and river jack because they retain heat and can cause root damage.  Using stone as mulch also removes the benefits of decomposition and adding amendments back to the soil.  Mulching should be done about twice a year, once in the spring to freshen your beds and once in the winter to insulate your plant’s roots from the cold.  If you have any questions please do not hesitate to visit our web page at www.lawn-scapes.net  
-Matt Bradley

Friday, August 19, 2011

Rose Tips and Tricks

          By far, roses are some the most difficult and rewarding flowering shrubs to grow.  Rose colors can range from white, yellow, orange, pink, and of red.  Some of the most popular rose types are:
-Bush Roses: these roses tend to grow quickly and abundantly.  Many, are more disease resistant than the hybrid teas, floribunda, and grandiflora varieties.
- Creeping Roses:  these tend to grow fairly quickly and lay closer to the ground. 
-Climbing Roses: These roses climb like a vine and include the Georgia State Flower, the Cherokee Rose.
-Hybrid Tea, Floribunda, and Grandiflora: These are the types I am going to cover in this blog.  These tend to be the most finicky and disease prone.  If you put the time and effort in the reward will be big, beautiful, and wonderfully fragrant blooms.
There are several strategies that can be observed to help insure successful rose growth.  One of the easiest things to do to insure proper location and soil composition is to grow your roses in a raised bed or containers.  Choose a wide open area that gets plenty of sun.  I had the best luck growing my rose in a container.  This enabled me to control the soils and location of the rose bush. 
Rose bushes grow best in an area with slightly acidic, well drained soil that gets plenty of sunshine.  The best weather to plant a rose bush is a windless, overcast day in the early Spring.  Planting in the early spring allows plenty of time for the roots to establish themselves during the upcoming growing season.  When planting a rose be absolutely sure to dig a hole that is large enough to allow the roots to spread out in their natural form.  Roses should be planted with the bud union (where the graft is generally) above the soil in a warmer climate and no further than 1”-2” in colder climes.  All roses need to be firmly planted.  To accommodate this need, place the plant into the hole, fill in some soil, and pack firmly with your foot every couple of inches until the hole is filled.  This forces the roots into contact with the soil around them. 
During the growing season I recommend daily maintenance and observation of your rose bushes.  This allows you to be on top of the maintenance and quickly catch any diseases that roses can acquire.   Dead heading rose blooms to encourage new flowers to form.  When dead heading; cut the flower stalk back to the first leaf with five leaflets.  Monitor your roses for disease problems throughout the growing season.  Roses are susceptible to numerous disease problems (too numerous for me to cover in this blog!) but some of the most common are aphids, powdery mildew, and black spot.  Any leaves with black spot can be removed and disposed away from the bushes or you run the risk of contamination of other plants.  I recommend picking up a book with pictures of the disease problems so they can be identified and taken care of.
The first year after planting roses should not be fertilized.  This helps them come to terms with the soil they are planted in.  In subsequent years fertilization should begin as soon as new growth is seen and should not be continued past August.  I have great success with Osmocote scratched into the soil.  Fertilization after each blooming period is recommended because it encourages new blooming.  Mulch the ground around your Rose’s roots to insulate them from changes in temperature and to retain moisture.
Pruning should occur late in the dormant season, after the last hard frost (be very sure of this!) and when the buds start to swell.  Make sure that your pruning shears are extremely sharp and that you have invested in some thick leather gloves.  Pruning cuts should be above a bud that is facing outward from the main stem.  The cut should also slope away from the bud in order to encourage water to drain the opposite direction.  Regular pruning techniques otherwise apply.  You want to eliminate weak branches, dead branches, rubbing branches, and branches that are growing inward.  Also prune to maintain the bush’s shape and form.
That about covers the basics of Rose Gardening, and I do mean the basics.  If you have any questions feel free to ask and I will do my best to give you an answer.