Thursday, December 18, 2014

Building on the Past and Planning for the Future


It is almost here.  Really....2015. We cannot believe it. It seems that 2014 steamrolled through with a mighty force, and there was nothing we could do to slow it down.

In 2014 Loma Vista Nursery's container farm added an additional 4,000 sockets to our newly constructed Pot-in-Pot tree production. Our team of growers are scouring the country to learn as much as they can about this type of production and we are also doing a lot of trials at the nursery to determine how to produce the best container tree possible. We now have a total of 15,600 container trees and our availability for spring and summer 2015 looks strong. There will be a lot of two inch trees coming ready in early summer.

 





2014 was also a banner year for perennial production at Loma Vista.  Jessi, our perennial grower, started producing our perennial plugs from unrooted cuttings.  This opened the door for increased production, better supply and fresher crops throughout the year. 

 

Heuchera house
 


For 2015, we plan to finish even more one gallon perennials from URC's including many new varieties from Darwin Perennials and Ball Horticulture. After seeing these varieties in the trial gardens at Ball over the summer, I could not wait to get them on to our production plan. Check out our 2015 order form for a list of these varieties. 


 

Carnival Watermelon Heuchera

 

Loma Vista Nursery opened its second Landscape Distribution Center in fall of 2013.  The new location made it through its first spring with no major catastrophe.  This was quite an accomplishment and all due to the excellent team of people we have on board at the new site. We are looking forward to a strong 2015 at the new location which will be driven by new housing and construction in the area.


 

Kansas City LDC
 

Lastly, we were able to make a big change in our field tree production in 2014 that will enable us to be much more efficient in producing high quality balled and burlap trees. Formerly, our tree production was located on two farms that are separated by about 20 miles of highway. Logistically, this was not the best scenario. In 2014, we built a large retention pond for irrigation and fenced another large section of property and started preparing the soil.  This fall, we were able to sell the Baldwin City property and will now have all of our field production at our Willow Springs, Kansas farm.  This farm is about 700 acres total and is located just south of Lawrence, Kansas.  The soil is the best we've come across in the metro area (over the past 24 years we've had tree farms in various sections of the KC Metro). We can even grow some nice blue spruce here!


 

Spruce field
 

Our team has been energetically preparing for 2015 and we will kick start the new year on January 4th at the Western Nursery and Landscape Association trade show.  We are pretty excited for the show to be hosted in downtown Kansas City at the Crown Center Exhibit Hall. This is where I remember the show as a child.  Every year I would get to go see my dad and uncle at the show and we would always have lunch at the Crayola CafĂ©. The trade shows at Crown Center make up a few of the many great memories I have from growing up in the nursery business.


From everyone at Loma Vista Nursery, we appreciate your partnership in 2014 and look forward to 2015. We wish you a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year.


Sincerely,



For more details or to register for the Western Trade show visit www.wnla.org.  View the online schedule for details about Loma Vista's learning centers on the trade show floor.  We hope to see you there. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Propagating Tiger Eyes



Tiger Eyes SumacTiger Eyes Sumac - image courtesy of Ledge and Gardens

Rhus typhina Tiger Eyes has been a difficult plant for us to propagate at Loma Vista Nursery using the softwood cutting method that we use for many other plant varieties. After doing some research on the subject, and interviewing the head grower at Bailey Nurseries, we are beginning a propagation trial using root cuttings.

 

Tiger Eyes Root Cuttings
 
Bailey Nurseries has experimented with different methods of propagation and have found that they have the highest percentage of rooting with root cuttings and softwood cuttings taken from the stems of the newly planted root cuttings.  With this particular plant, the pieces of root are very small - 1/16" to ¼" in diameter and 1" to 1 ½" in length.  We are taking root cuttings this fall and again in the spring and potting them in March.  We are also beginning a trial stock planting of Tiger Eyes to use as a source for the root cutting material. 

 

 

Field for Tiger Eyes
 
Preforma Plug Tray
Performa tray - image courtesy of Garden City Plastics


At the same time we will be trialing the type of plug Bailey's uses for this particular cutting - a Jiffy Preforma plug.

 



What we hope to determine:

1.       Can we set up a stock plant field to produce root pieces for propagation?

2.       Will planting root pieces or taking cuttings from shoots emerging from the root pieces produce a higher rooting percentage?

3.       Will taking root cuttings in fall or spring produce higher rooting percentages?

4.       Is the extra cost of purchasing Preforma plug trays justified by the higher rooting percentage?

5.       Can we propagate this plant without the additional expense of heating a propagation house by using a house that is bottom heated for overwintering of boxwood cuttings?

6.       Can we wait until temperatures are warmer and supplemental heat is unnecessary to use root pieces for propagation?

If all goes according to plan, we hope to use the newly planted stock plants to produce all of the 1550 Tiger Eyes on the 2016 sales forecast.  Wish us luck!
 
Patricia Osborn, Propagation Manager, Loma Vista Nursery

Friday, December 12, 2014

Effect of the 2014 Big Chill


The temperatures this fall have truly been harsh when compared to the average.  Fortunately, September and October gifted us with a nice, gradual decline in lows, allowing the plants to be better prepared for the deep freeze.  This gentle slide before the bottom fell out prevented many of our plants from experiencing major winter injury.   
Some of the more borderline plants may have some tip dieback from the cold blast, but we are not anticipated major crop damage anywhere on the nursery.   

Perhaps the most significant issue we are dealing with as a result of the Arctic air (I refuse to say the P. V. term) is the leaf retention.  I speculate this phenomenon is due to the lack of moisture in the "freeze dried" leaves and does not allow proper abscission.
 

Normally we have to manually remove leaves on about 1/3 of the plants we lay down and cover in straw.  This year we are essentially at 100%.  There is not any negative impact on the plants, the leaves just need to be removed so they do not rot, causing stem injury during the winter.

 

All in all the beauty of this colder-than-normal fall is the temperatures staying consistently low over time.  This is allows the plants to remain fully dormant during a period that can have many temperature swings.  


Remember to keep your newly planted material and evergreens well hydrated during the dry winter months to ensure good establishment and strong growth in the spring.  

By Ben Cecil, Operations Manager, Loma Vista Nursery

Monday, December 1, 2014

December Plant Care Tips


With temperatures plummeting into the single digits mid-November, we scratch our heads and try to figure out when to call it quits on fall planting.  But, with a warm front settling in on us, digging will resume and trees are getting dug for fall planting and spring inventory. 
  

   

When the foliage drops in the fall, plants that have been protected are now exposed to the conditions.  These plants, along with new plantings and evergreens, require protection in the winter.  Last year we had big losses on northern exposed plants from extreme dry cold that pounded us early January and into February.  These plants would have had a much better chance had they been cared for with supplemental watering.  Winter kill can also be reduced with the use of anti-transpirant such as Wilt Pruf.
    

Wilt Pruf 

Anti-transpirants help plants retain moisture.  Watering intervals are tough to gauge. When we are warmer and temperatures are above freezing, give two deep waterings a month.  Once we drop to freezing and stay there for an extended period of time, back off to a deep watering once a month.  Plants don't use as much water when temperatures drop but still need the moisture of a deep soaking.  It's important to reapply an anti-transpirant periodically during the winter months. 
  

Ilex verticillata 

Plants with great winter interest are the Ilex verticillatas with the long lasting berry set.  Aronia holds foliage for a long period of time.  Pragense Viburnum is another deciduous plant that holds foliage for a long time and is effective for screening.  Bark also gives winter interest; one of my favorites is Rhamnus.   

Have a great fall planting season!

By Don Mann, Certified Arborist and Certified Chemical Applicator, Loma Vista Nursery