Wednesday, December 23, 2015

January Plant Health

As we roll into 2016 with a new year and a few resolutions, we need to be certain to include winter plant health on the list. There are few plants that need a bit of care in the winter but seem to be forgotten about until it becomes too late and there are problems.
Grasses can be cut back at this time or burned if you can do it without getting a fire truck called out on you. They will dry out and begin to shatter soon.  It is much easier to cut them back at this time.

Hydrangea, crapemyrtle and other late blooming plants should have the flower heads cut off now.  Removing the extra weight will protect them should we have ice loads in January, February or March.

Arborvitae care in the winter can be a little time consuming but these multi stemmed trees may need to be tied up for winter support. Heavy snow loads can bring them to the ground and they will look like a fountain instead of a columnar tree.

Tree wrap is important for crabapple, maple, linden, locust and all young trees. Tree wrap will help protect young crabapples from rodent damage on the trunks should we have extended snow coverage.  With the slow shut down and late freeze this year, thin skinned trees need to have the bark protected from sunscald.  Keeping the sun off the trunk in the winter will help moderate the temperatures and prevent the trees from waking up early.  Fluctuating temperatures in the late winter, early spring can cause the sap to flow on warm days causing damage to the trunks.

Successful planting requires that care be given to the root system. Don't get lethargic in the winter and dig the hole and then slam the plant in the ground.  Care should be given with the roots of container plants to ensure good root to soil contact.  Break up any girdling roots with your bare hands, pruners, or a knife.  Amend the backfill with good compost.  Water in thoroughly, allowing the water to overflow the hole.  Following these steps will prevent creating air pockets around the roots and help alleviate freeze drying the root system.  Caring for the root system of all container plants is recommended as the plants will establish much faster and will perform better once the heat gets turned up on them that first summer.

Looking forward to seeing all your faces at the Western on January 21-22. Chad and I are presenting a learning center session in Loma Vista's booth -  Do it Right, Planning to Planting.  We are including design, plant choices, hauling plants, and planting tips in our presentation.

Have a great new year!

Don Mann, KS Certified Arborist, KS Certified Pesticide Applicator, Loma Vista Nursery

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Creating a Festive Winter Container

Last year’s Winter Wonderland article paved the way to a practice what I preach moment. This fall I transplanted into a newly created berm in the front yard most of what became overcrowded in my 24” container garden from last winter. It was important that I included with my new perennial planting the much anticipated spring bloom of both hyacinths and tulips; beautiful reminders of when spring has arrived.

What remained in the container was a 2 ½ year old Juniperus ‘Wiltonii’ along with new April additions of Abelia Sunshine Daydream and Veronica ‘Waterperry Blue’ and a big empty spot in the middle. To fix the hole I added a Buxus ‘Green Mountain’ #3 with a nice full base. As you can see, with winter on its way, the need for some vibrant color.

One inexpensive way to dress up a winter container is to make a popcorn–cranberry garland. After gathering up the needed essentials of fresh cranberries and air popped popcorn, I grabbed some cookies and milk to keep from eating the intended popcorn trim. Calculating the length of the garland was simple as I wrapped measuring tape from around the base to the top of the Boxwood. I surprisingly had a little over 9 foot of string to cut. Tying string around the first and last cranberry in the strand holds the garland together well. Simply alternate the red and white colors in any sequence. Tip: if the needle gets stuck in the popped kernels, have a pair of pliers ready to pull it through.

It’s quite easy to make your own holiday decorations. In the photo below, red 20 gauge wire was twisted to assemble three bells together and bent to create a hanger. Tape your pliers or risk scratching the coating on the wire when you twist and bend it. A wire cutter is needed to trim off the wire from the roll.

It was key for me to create a full transformation of the existing container into something much more - a look that is bold and vibrant, festive and inviting of the holidays to the neighborhood and my guests. The contrasting color of red was chosen to enhance the containers charm. Therefore, stem picks and stems containing bright red berries are used for interest and to fill in voids. A drooping stem of pine cones with an iced appearance adds to the overall winter container form, balance and theme. Even with the floral picks and stems, bells and lights added; something is missing…

…the draping of the popcorn–cranberry garland is the final touch in the creation of this outdoor winter container - taking it from a mere bland beginning and turning it into something grand and festive. An added benefit of the garland is attracting feathery friends. Subtle illumination brightens the container at night with the soft white LED micro lights chosen for their outdoor use and thin, silver decorative wire that works well with the fine foliage of the boxwood. The battery operated lights include a convenient 6 hour on and 18 hour off timer.

As you can see in the creation of an inviting and festive outdoor winter container, multiple species can be used besides some of the more traditional arborvitae, pines, spruces and holly. This is a great time to start planning for 2016 fall and winter container decorating workshops and classes at your nursery or garden center and what live containers you will need.

Sheila Balaun, Inventory Control, Loma Vista Nursery

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Winter Interest for the Landscape

November has passed, and December is upon us. While this can seem like a dull and gloomy time of year for our landscapes, we can also be excited about the winter interest that plants have to offer us. Loma Vista has several options to give you and your customers that extra pop of color or texture in the cold winter months.

Gold Mop Cypress  
These evergreen Chamaecyparis pisifera plants are a fantastic option to add texture and color all winter long.

‘Indian Magic’ Crabapple   
I was driving through the trees today and turned around to check out this Malus. It really puts on a show with its plentiful red-orange berries.

Maiden Grass  
I remember the first time I saw (and actually took notice of) Miscanthus with snow-covered plumes. It is still one of my favorites in the wintertime.

Heritage® River Birch Clump  
Among all the exfoliating barks out there, Betula nigra is one of the most powerful forces in the landscape. These trees are a beautiful sight always, but even more so after a fresh layer of snow.

Arctic Fire™ Dogwood  
You can’t beat these beautiful fiery red branches, especially when they are showcased by a background of white snow in the wintertime.

Weeping Norway Spruce 
These trees look really great. Every time I’m in our pot-in-pot section, I can’t help but stop and admire them for a moment.

Brooke Stamm, Production Coordinator, Loma Vista Nursery

Lessons Learned From Fall 2014

Unlike last November when we had an early hard freeze, this fall we had a nice November with a slow cool down and a timely rain.  Last year, going into winter, we saw what happens when temperatures plummet and the foliage froze on the branches.  The frozen foliage did not damage the plants, new spring foliage came on just fine.  We did learn that plants we all thought to be cold and drought tolerant, including magnolias and weeping cherry, did not survive the brutal cold drop or experienced severe die back.  

Though we received ample moisture Thanksgiving weekend in the Kansas City area, winter water will still be critical with new landscapes and evergreens. Wilt Pruf will be in stock in December. Landscapes with many delicate evergreens, azaleas, holly and boxwood plantings will benefit from repeat applications through the winter months. 

Our fall harvest is underway though the recent rain will slow it down this week.  Truck loads of fresh dug b&b trees are arriving daily. Our selection of container trees is also strong and helps us keep ones in stock that are fall dig hazards.  

Have a great fall planting, enjoy the holidays, and be certain to join us for our Holiday Open House on December 16.

Don Mann, KS Certified Arborist, KS Certified Pesticide Applicator, Loma Vista Nursery