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Plant Parent Blog – Kalanchoe Hildebrandtii

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You might have seen the Mile Marker boards that parents create for their children – they highlight things like the height, weight, likes, and dislikes of their child at various stages of life. We at Nick’s Garden Center think Plant Parents should have something like this for their Plant Babies as well! Our Plant Parent Chalkboard Photos and blogs will provide you with an overview of what each plant needs in order to “grow up” happy and healthy!

Kalanchoe Hildebrandtii, or Silver Teaspoons, is a member of the Crassulaceae family, just like its more well-known cousin, Mother Of Thousands. Silver Teaspoons is very different in appearance from Mother of Thousands, however. As the name suggests, Kalanchoe Hildebrandtii’s leaves are a very light gray in color, and shaped like spoons. Silver Teaspoons should be grown as a houseplant in our climate, as it will not tolerate our low winter temperatures. However, it can be moved outside into the sun in the summer for an extra boost. It can handle direct or indirect light, but like most succulents it does need plenty of bright light. Too little light will leave the plant “leggy,” which means that the leaves become more spaced out on the stem than is preferred. This does not hurt the plant, but does indicate a deficiency in the plant’s needs. If the plant does become leggy, prune it to encourage a more bushy shape (but never take more than 30% of a plant when pruning).

At its happiest, Silver Teaspoons can be expected to grow to about 36 inches tall, and will grow in a bush-type habit. It will also produce white bell-shaped flowers in Spring if it is very happy. Water Silver Teaspoons as you would most succulents – allow the soil to completely dry out before watering and don’t let the plant sit in water. Use a Cacti and Succulent soil and a pot that has good drainage. If your pot does not have adequate drainage, use a Moisture Meter to check the moisture level at the bottom of the pot before and during watering. If you happen to add too much water, gently turn the pot on its side and let some water drain out, but be careful to avoid dislodging the soil or the plant.

Kalanchoe plants are considered to be air cleaning, but they are not pet safe, so keep them out of reach of pets. Silver Teaspoons will tolerate dry air, so no humidity is necessary to keep it happy. Silver Teaspoons is also tolerant of varying temperatures as long as those temperatures don’t drop below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Because its nature as a succulent makes it tolerant of dry air, dry soil, and varying temperatures, we rate Silver Teaspoons as a plant that is perfect for beginner Plan Parents and Plant Parents who are often on the go and unable to commit to a rigorous watering schedule. If giving Silver Teaspoons as a gift, make sure the new owner is aware that it should be kept away from pets.

Place Silver Teaspoons in the midst of other houseplants that are bright or dark green in color to help add interest to a houseplant display and to make Silver Teaspoons pop!

Don’t forget to save our Plant Parent Chalkboard photo for a quick reference later on!

 

Happy Plant Parenting!

Plant Parent Blog – Sensitive Plant

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You might have seen the Mile Marker boards that parents create for their children – they highlight things like the height, weight, likes, and dislikes of their child at various stages of life. We at Nick’s Garden Center think Plant Parents should have something like this for their Plant Babies as well! Our Plant Parent Chalkboard Photos and blogs will provide you with an overview of what each plant needs in order to “grow up” happy and healthy!

What’s better than a plant that does stuff? We love carnivorous plants because many of them move when touched. While it’s not carnivorous, Sensitive Plant, or Mimosa Pudica, does react to touch! When touched, Sensitive Plant will fold up its leaves along the stem. We don’t know exactly why this takes place, but we suspect it’s a kind of defensive mechanism.

This feathery, fern-like plant is prevalent in some tropical areas (like Hawaii) to the point of being considered a weed, but in our climate Sensitive Plant is a humidity-loving houseplant. As a houseplant, expect Sensitive Plant to grow to be about 18 inches tall in a somewhat shrub shape. When the right growing conditions are met, Sensitive Plant will produce fluffy globe-like flowers in shades of pink and yellow and purple.

Sensitive Plant needs to be kept moist at all times. It also benefits from humidity. Sensitive Plant needs bright light, and can even handle direct sunlight. If you are short on natural light sources (remember, windows block between 10 and 20 percent of UV rays), Sensitive Plant will do well with artificial lights. Use a soil that is loamy or sandy, and plant Sensitive Plant in a well draining pot. As previously mentioned, keep the soil moist, but don’t let the plant sit in water. Try to wait until the soil is dry one inch from the surface to avoid creating a habitat for gnats.

Sensitive Plant likes to be kept in temperatures around 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. It would do well in a bathroom with a bright window. Keep it away from drafts and vents that could cause a fluctuation in temperature or blow dry air around the plant.

Sensitive Plant is not pet safe, and it is not air cleaning. It has sharp spines on its stems, so it’s best to keep out of reach of tiny human hands as well. Because it likes humidity and to be consistently moist, Sensitive Plant would work great under a cloche and could be a very beautiful statement piece! It would also be a great plant for a terrarium as a terrarium would also facilitate the constant temperature, humidity, and soil moisture levels that Sensitive Plant needs. If Sensitive Plant is placed under a cloche or in a terrarium, care for the plant should be fairly simple, but if the plant is placed on its own, we rate it as a plant best kept by intermediate level Plant Parents and those who will be able to keep up with its watering, lighting, and humidity needs.

 

Don’t forget to save our Plant Parent Chalkboard photo for a quick reference later on!

Happy Plant Parenting!

Snowflake Plant – Plant in Fall for Spring Blooms!

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Scientific Name: Leucojum

Common Name: Snowflake

Common Species/Varieties: Generally only the one, but Snowdrop is a common sister plant

Common Colors: White blooms with green dots on all petals

Plant Type: Flower, from bulb

Annual or Perennial: Perennial

Hardiness Zone: 3-9 USDA

Self-Seeding: No, but they can self-propagate if left in the ground

Bloom Season: Spring

Grows Best In: Full Sun or shade

Fun Fact: Unlike most plants that grow from bulbs, Snowflake loves lots of moisture!

ABOUT SNOWFLAKE:

A part of the Amaryllidaceae family, Leucojum (Snowflake) is related to its Christmas Cousin, Amaryllis. Unlike their smaller sister, Snowdrop, Snowflake is one of the latest Spring bloomers. Snowflakes are also much larger, mainly taller, than the Snowdrop. Their foliage can last long after the blooms fade and shows up as a lovely, decorative grass. Snowflake will spread and propagate in the soil more quickly than others and will fill their own space, but they will not take over your garden like mint or other invasive plants. Similar to the meaning of Crocus plant, Snowflake’s meaning seems to take after the time in which it blooms. Like Spring, Snowflake plant represent hope and rebirth. Although Squirrels might try to dig up the bulbs, once the plant blooms, Snowflake is avoided by deer and nearly all pests.

 

SNOWFLAKE PLANTING AND STORAGE:

Snowflakes begin as bulbs, and those bulbs are planted in the Fall. You can plant tulip bulbs directly into your garden (they make lovely path liners), or into a pot stored in a cool (but not cold) dry, dark place through Winter. A good example would be an unheated garage, or shed, or a cold frame. The idea is to keep them cool but safe from rapid changes in temperature. Snowflake bulbs can also be stored in a way that prepares them for being “forced” in glass vessels in Spring. Place them in a container and add soil, then a layer of bulbs stored close together but not touching, add a layer of soil deep enough to allow room for roots to begin to develop, and then plant another row, and so forth until all of your bulbs are planted. Moisten the soil and keep it from drying out, but do not over-water. Storing Snowflake bulbs in this way can help your bulbs survive and begin to develop roots in order to be able to “force” the bulbs in a glass vessel in the Spring.

Snowflake, and all bulbs that bloom in the Spring, need to make their home in soil that is kept moist. Unlike other bulbs, Snowflake likes heavy amounts of water. Never drowning, but always wet. These bulbs can be a favorite of squirrels, and they will often dig the bulbs up over the Winter for a nice big meal. To prevent this from happening, we have had success with staking hardware mesh over the areas that bulbs are planted in, and removing the mesh once the plants start to bloom. All bulbs should be planted in orientations and at depths specific to the plant. For Snowflake, plant the bulb pointy side up in a hole that is about 3 inches deep, and space them 6-10 inches apart. It’s a good idea to loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole, as well. Snowflake prefer a nutrient rich, well draining soil but will grow in full sun or part shade.

 

FORCING BULBS IN THE SPRING:

To “force” bulbs in the Spring, select either a vase created specifically for allowing these bulbs to grow and bloom without soil, or a tall, slender vase and line the base with a generous amount of stones, nearly to the top of the vase, and place your bulb on top of the pebbles. You will fill the water to just under the base of the bulb, and keep the water at that level until roots form. At that point, keep the roots in water at all times until the bulb has bloomed. To prepare the bulbs for blooming, place them near a very bright source of light (a grow light is best) until they begin to develop leaves. Make sure the area they are stored in to soak up the light is no warmer than 65 degrees Fahrenheit at any given time. They are now ready to go in your vessel to bloom!

You may reuse bulbs again and again, but they must be allowed to collect energy from the sun via their foliage. The easiest way to accomplish this is to plant the bulb in some soil and place it in a spot where it will get plenty of sun. Wait until the foliage has browned and withered, then dig up your bulbs and store them as before.

(Snowflake’s cousin, Snowdrop.)

Crocus- Plant in Fall for Spring Blooms!

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Scientific Name: Croceae

Common Name: Crocus

Common Species/Varieties: Dutch Crocus, Early Crocus, Golden Crocus

Common Colors: Purple, White, Yellow

Plant Type: Flower, from bulb

Annual or Perennial: Perennial

Hardiness Zone: 3-8 USDA

Self-Seeding: No, but they can self-propagate if left in the ground

Bloom Season: Spring

Grows Best In: Full Sun or shade

Fun Fact: Saffron spice is collected painstakingly from the stigma of the once-per-year blooming C. sativus, the Saffron Crocus – which blooms in the Fall!

ABOUT CROCUS:

Crocus is among the first of the Spring plants to bloom. Just behind Hellebore and neck-in-neck with Snowdrop, Crocus will add its sunny and cheerful blooms to your landscape even in snow-covered conditions – just make sure to protect any already open flowers from snow. There are over 90 variations of Crocus, but perhaps the most famous is the C. sativus – the Saffron Crocus. Just one ounce of Saffron requires over 4,000 stigma from this flower! Crocus is typically found in woodland or meadow settings and can be found from sea level to tall mountains. Crocus is believed to represent cheerfulness and youthfulness, which could stem from the fact the joy it brings as one of the earliest signs of Spring.

 

CROCUS PLANTING AND STORAGE:

Crocuses begin as bulbs, and those bulbs are planted in the Fall. You can plant tulip bulbs directly into your garden (they make lovely path liners), or into a pot stored in a cool (but not cold) dry, dark place through Winter. A good example would be an unheated garage, or shed, or a cold frame. The idea is to keep them cool but safe from rapid changes in temperature. Crocus bulbs can also be stored in a way that prepares them for being “forced” in glass vessels in Spring. Place them in a container and add soil, then a layer of bulbs stored close together but not touching, add a layer of soil deep enough to allow room for roots to begin to develop, and then plant another row, and so forth until all of your bulbs are planted. Moisten the soil and keep it from drying out, but do not over-water. Storing Crocus bulbs in this way can help your bulbs survive and begin to develop roots in order to be able to “force” the bulbs in a glass vessel in the Spring.

Crocus, and all bulbs that bloom in the Spring, need to make their home in soil that is kept moist but never soggy. These bulbs can be a favorite of squirrels, and they will often dig the bulbs up over the Winter for a nice big meal. To prevent this from happening, we have had success with staking hardware mesh over the areas that bulbs are planted in, and removing the mesh once the plants start to bloom. All bulbs should be planted in orientations and at depths specific to the plant. For Crocus, plant the bulb pointy side up in a hole that is about 3 inches deep, and can be planted in groups up to 9 in number. It’s a good idea to loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole, as well. Crocus prefer a sandy/loamy soil but will grow in full sun or part shade.

 

FORCING BULBS IN THE SPRING:

To “force” bulbs in the Spring, select either a vase created specifically for allowing these bulbs to grow and bloom without soil, or a tall, slender vase and line the base with a generous amount of stones, nearly to the top of the vase, and place your bulb on top of the pebbles. You will fill the water to just under the base of the bulb, and keep the water at that level until roots form. At that point, keep the roots in water at all times until the bulb has bloomed. To prepare the bulbs for blooming, place them near a very bright source of light (a grow light is best) until they begin to develop leaves. Make sure the area they are stored in to soak up the light is no warmer than 65 degrees Fahrenheit at any given time. They are now ready to go in your vessel to bloom!

You may reuse bulbs again and again, but they must be allowed to collect energy from the sun via their foliage. The easiest way to accomplish this is to plant the bulb in some soil and place it in a spot where it will get plenty of sun. Wait until the foliage has browned and withered, then dig up your bulbs and store them as before.

Hyacinth – Plant in Fall for Spring Blooms!

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Scientific Name: Hyacinthus

Common Name: Hyacinth

Common Species/Varieties: Pink Pearl, Blue Jacket, City of Harlem

Common Colors: White, Pink, Purple, Blue, And Yellow

Plant Type: Flower, from bulb

Annual or Perennial: Perennial

Hardiness Zone: 3-9 USDA

Self-Seeding: No, but they can self-propagate if left in the ground

Bloom Season: Spring

Grows Best In: Full Sun

Fun Fact: Hyacinth is a cousin of Asparagus!

ABOUT HYACINTH:

Hyacinth is another flower synonymous with Spring. It grows in easter-egg colors of white, pink, purple, blue, and yellow, and smells just like Lilac flowers. Hyacinth is native to the Mediterranean and has been around for a very long time. It is even mentioned in Homer’s Iliad! Each bulb produces one stalk on which dozens of tiny flowers bloom. Hyacinth, like other Spring bulbs, are wonderful plants for pathways and borders, and also grow very well when planted in pots. Plant with Crocus and Tulips for waves of Spring blooms! In Flower Language, Hyacinth is rather impish as it represents things like playfulness and rashness, though each color has a different meaning, and can also represent sincerity.

 

HYACINTH PLANTING AND STORAGE:

Hyacinths begin as bulbs, and those bulbs are planted in the Fall. You can plant tulip bulbs directly into your garden (they make lovely path liners), or into a pot stored in a cool (but not cold) dry, dark place through Winter. A good example would be an unheated garage, or shed, or a cold frame. The idea is to keep them cool but safe from rapid changes in temperature. Hyacinth bulbs can also be stored in a way that prepares them for being “forced” in glass vessels in Spring. Place them in a container and add soil, then a layer of bulbs stored close together but not touching, add a layer of soil deep enough to allow room for roots to begin to develop, and then plant another row, and so forth until all of your bulbs are planted. Moisten the soil and keep it from drying out, but do not over-water. Storing Hyacinth bulbs in this way can help your bulbs survive and begin to develop roots in order to be able to “force” the bulbs in a glass vessel in the Spring.

Hyacinths, and all bulbs that bloom in the Spring, need to make their home in soil that is kept moist but never soggy. These bulbs can be a favorite of squirrels, and they will often dig the bulbs up over the Winter for a nice big meal. To prevent this from happening, we have had success with staking hardware mesh over the areas that bulbs are planted in, and removing the mesh once the plants start to bloom. All bulbs should be planted in orientations and at depths specific to the plant. For Hyacinth, plant the bulb pointy side up in a hole that is about 6 inches deep. It’s a good idea to loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole, as well. Hyacinths prefer a sandy/loamy soil and full sun.

 

FORCING BULBS IN THE SPRING:

To “force” bulbs in the Spring, select either a vase created specifically for allowing these bulbs to grow and bloom without soil, or a tall, slender vase and line the base with a generous amount of stones, nearly to the top of the vase, and place your bulb on top of the pebbles. You will fill the water to just under the base of the bulb, and keep the water at that level until roots form. At that point, keep the roots in water at all times until the bulb has bloomed. To prepare the bulbs for blooming, place them near a very bright source of light (a grow light is best) until they begin to develop leaves. Make sure the area they are stored in to soak up the light is no warmer than 65 degrees Fahrenheit at any given time. They are now ready to go in your vessel to bloom!

You may reuse bulbs again and again, but they must be allowed to collect energy from the sun via their foliage. The easiest way to accomplish this is to plant the bulb in some soil and place it in a spot where it will get plenty of sun. Wait until the foliage has browned and withered, then dig up your bulbs and store them as before.

Tulips – Plant in Fall for Spring Blooms!

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Scientific Name: Tulipa spp.

Common Name: Tulip

Common Species/Varieties: Black Parrot, Triumph, Fringed, Ice Cream

Common Colors: Green, Multicolor, Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, White, Yellow

Plant Type: Flower, from bulb

Annual or Perennial: Perennial

Hardiness Zone: 2-8 USDA

Self-Seeding: No, but they can self-propagate if left in the ground

Bloom Season: Spring

Grows Best In: Full Sun

Fun Fact: It is said that a merchant of Antwerp was gifted tulip bulbs in an order of cloth from Constantinople, and thinking they were onions, attempted to eat them. Upon finding them inedible, he thought that perhaps planting them in his Dutch earth would improve the flavor. He was shocked and delighted to see them flower the following Spring!

ABOUT TULIPS:

Tulips are a beautiful addition to any Spring garden or patio or kitchen counter. Available in over 3,000 varieties, anyone is sure to find at least one favorite version of this iconic flower, if not many! Wild tulips are native to Central Asia, but are perhaps best known by their location at Keukenhof in Holland – where over seven million tulip bulbs are planted each year. Tulips make lovely border or path plants, and are well-grouped with other spring bulbs such as hyacinth and daffodils. They are also easily planted in soil in any pot that has good drainage and stored in a cool, dry place to be brought out in Spring and placed on counters or patios and in displays. Just be sure to check them every month or to make sure the soil stays moist, but not wet.

In the language of flowers, tulips in general are said to represent great love, with yellow tulips symbolizing cheerful thoughts, and white tulips symbolizing forgiveness. Although they bloom in the Spring, tulips are the flower of those born in the month of July.

TULIP PLANTING AND STORAGE: 

Tulips begin as bulbs, and those bulbs are planted in the Fall. You can plant tulip bulbs directly into your garden (they make lovely path liners), or into a pot stored in a cool (but not cold) dry, dark place through Winter. A good example would be an unheated garage, or shed, or a cold frame. The idea is to keep them cool but safe from rapid changes in temperature. Tulip bulbs can also be stored in a way that prepares them for being “forced” in glass vessels in Spring. Place them in a container and add soil, then a layer of bulbs stored close together but not touching, add a layer of soil deep enough to allow room for roots to begin to develop, and then plant another row, and so forth until all of your bulbs are planted. Moisten the soil and keep it from drying out, but do not over-water. Storing Tulip bulbs in this way can help your bulbs survive and begin to develop roots in order to be able to “force” the bulbs in a glass vessel in the Spring.

Tulips, and all bulbs that bloom in the Spring, need to make their home in soil that is kept moist but never soggy. These bulbs can be a favorite of squirrels, and they will often dig the bulbs up over the Winter for a nice big meal. To prevent this from happening, we have had success with staking hardware mesh over the areas that bulbs are planted in, and removing the mesh once the plants start to bloom. All bulbs should be planted in orientations and at depths specific to the plant. For tulips, plant the bulb pointy side up in a hole that is three times as deep as the bulb is long. It’s a good idea to loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole, as well. Tulips prefer a sandy/loamy soil and full sun.

FORCING BULBS IN THE SPRING: 

To “force” bulbs in the Spring, select either a vase created specifically for allowing these bulbs to grow and bloom without soil, or a tall, slender vase and line the base with a generous amount of stones, nearly to the top of the vase, and place your bulb on top of the pebbles. You will fill the water to just under the base of the bulb, and keep the water at that level until roots form. At that point, keep the roots in water at all times until the bulb has bloomed. To prepare the bulbs for blooming, place them near a very bright source of light (a grow light is best) until they begin to develop leaves. Make sure the area they are stored in to soak up the light is no warmer than 65 degrees Fahrenheit at any given time. They are now ready to go in your vessel to bloom!

You may reuse bulbs again and again, but they must be allowed to collect energy from the sun via their foliage. The easiest way to accomplish this is to plant the bulb in some soil and place it in a spot where it will get plenty of sun. Wait until the foliage has browned and withered, then dig up your bulbs and store them as before.

Coral Bells – Floral Fall Fashion and Pollinator Favorite!

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Scientific Name: Heuchera

Common Name: Coral Bells, Alum Root

Common Species/Varieties: Plum Pudding, Ginger Ale, Palace Purple

Common Colors: Orange, Purple, Bronze, Red, Green

Plant Type: Leafy colorful foliage

Annual or Perennial: Perennial

Hardiness Zone: 4-9 USDA

Self-Seeding: Not usually

Bloom Season: Late Spring to Early Summer

Grows Best In: Partial to Full Shade

Fun Fact: The fuzzier the leaf, the less water the variety tends to need.

Coral Bells are growing in popularity and with good reason. These plants may be called “Evergreen,” but they come in so many different colors that the title is almost a misnomer! These plants can survive cold temperatures and can even retain their color and shape under a light dusting of snow. Coral Bells are defined mostly by their large, fluffy, ruffly leaves, but their tall stalks of bell shaped flowers are also not to be missed. Trim the stalks of these flowers once they have finished blooming to help encourage healthy, strong foliage growth.

Most Coral Bells will grow to be 12 to 36 inches tall, and 12-18 inches wide. Their beautiful colors and the way that they hold onto those colors through the beginning of the colder months are something that sets them apart from many other plants. Not only do they retain their colors, but those colors just happen to be perfect for the Fall season. Coral Bells typically grow in shaded, woodland areas, so they will do best in at least partial shade, and should be kep moderately moist.

Coral Bells are deer resistant, not likely to be prone to disease, and in the summer their delicate flowers can attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Coral Bell blossoms can be lovely as a cut flower in arrangements as well. The colors of the Coral Bell foliage can be quite striking, with some of the deepest purples available in a plant. Often the leaves are somewhat variegated and can look almost marbled in various tones of the color of the leaves. Coral Bells can be planted in the ground if you have a suitable climate for them to grow in, and they can also be planted in containers that can easily be moved depending on the weather.

Mums – Cool Season Thriller and Cut Flower Filler!

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Scientific Name: Chrysanthemum

Common Name: Fall Mum, Hardy Mum, Garden Mum

Common Colors: White, pink, yellow, violet, green, orange

Plant Type: Flowering Shrub

Annual or Perennial: Available as both, usually Annuals

Hardiness Zone: 3-9 USDA

Self-Seeding: No

Bloom Season: Summer through Early Winter

Grows Best In: Full Sun

Fun Fact: Mums are edible and often used to make tea! (But always confirm no pesticides or chemicals have been used on your plant before consuming!)

Mums are probably the flower or plant most associated with the Fall season and cooler weather. In late August and early September, Mums can be found in just about any grocery store, garden center, and even hardware stores. While mums come in both Annual and Perennial varieties, most often the mums found in these locations are grown to be used as annuals. They are grown and cultivated for their bright colors and their neat shape, and as a result their root systems can be weaker than a mum grown to be planted in the ground to return year after year. For this reason, most mums are best suited for seasonal displays in planters, or even in more creative containers such as hollowed out pumpkins.

While they may not come back year after year (though, with proper care and planting it’s certainly possible!) they will remain quite sturdy as the temperatures begin to drop in the Fall, long after other plants have begun to fade and wilt. Paired with other cooler-season plants like snapdragons, Ornamental Kale or Cabbage, and pansies, these happy little cousins of the daisy can create a beautiful display of color and shape that will last well into the first cold snaps of winter. Mums should be kept well-watered, but not soggy. You can let the top few inches of soil dry out between waterings, but try to avoid allowing the mums to begin to wilt or they may never be as full and strong and bright as they were before.

Fall mums will survive in temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If snow falls, cover the mums to protect the blossoms from damage. Mums can also tolerate heat up to 100 degrees, but they will need to be kept well-watered and would do better in some shade during times of extreme heat. To keep blooms coming regularly throughout the blooming season, remove spent blossoms at the base of the head. Mums can also be shaped as they grow to give them a well-rounded form by pinching the stems to achieve the shape desired.

Mums will do well as cut flowers in arrangements, and can be lovely when paired with other Fall flowers like sunflowers, rustic bare sticks and branches, and some copper twinkle lights. In the United States, mums tend to symbolize optimism, joy, and longevity. Mums are November’s flower of the month, and are generally known to be deer-resistant. Mums are fantastic flowers for drying and pressing, as well.

Holly – Deer Resistant Holly Jolly Evergreen!

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Scientific Name: Ilex Opaca and Ilex Aquifolium are most common

Common Name: Holly

Common Species/Varieties: American Holly, English Holly, Common Winterberry

Common Colors: Green with white, yellow, pink, black or red berries

Plant Type: Shrub

Annual or Perennial: Perennial

Hardiness Zone: Usually between USDA zones 4-10, depending on variety

Self-Seeding: No

Bloom Season: Berries are usually mature in late Fall (do not eat!)

Grows Best In: Mostly in Full Sun to Part Shade

Fun Fact: Holly has long been associated with Christmas and Winter, but the Harry Potter series added to its popularity due to Harry Potter’s wand being made of Holly with a Phoenix Feather Core!

There are over 560 species of flowering plants in the family Aquifoliaceae! Depending on the variety, Holly’s coloring can consist of dark green leaves, blue-green leaves, and even green leaves with yellow edges. Their trademark berries can be several different colors and sizes – including white, yellow, pink, black, and red. Just don’t ever consume the berries or any part of the plant as it is considered to be toxic if ingested. Most Holly shrubs are deer resistant, with American Holly being the best option for those with hungry deer in their area.

Holly Shrubs will do well in containers or planted directly in the ground, and its branches can be beautiful when used in cut “flower” displays in Fall and Winter. Grab a tall vase, cut some pine or spruce branches as well as some holly branches, and place them in some water in the vase. For an added holiday charm, dry slices of apple and orange, and string them, along with cinnamon sticks, on some twine and drape them around the branches. You can even add tiny copper twinkle lights to finish off the cheery holiday look!

Plant Holly bushes in Spring or in Fall during cooler temperatures to put as little stress on the plant as possible. As with most new shrub planting, make sure to keep your Holly shrubs watered evenly until the plant is fully established. Holly Shrubs are drought tolerant and need only be watered during drought conditions once established. Like many Blueberry bushes, most Holly bushes need both a male and a female bush in the same general location in order to produce the bright red berries that Holly shrubs are famous for. During harsh weather conditions, it may be necessary to wrap Holly shrubs in burlap to protect them from bright sun (especially if snow is on the ground in winter!) and extremely harsh and blowing snow storms.

Holly is traditionally associated with Christmas, and this tradition goes back a long time. Holly was important to the Celtics, the Nordics, and the Druids! Holly wreaths were considered to be good luck, and were worn as crowns by Celtic Chieftains. The Holly tree is also said to represent wisdom.

Ornamental Kale and Cabbage – Vegetable “Flowers” with a Tolerance for Cool Weather!

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Scientific Name: Brassica oleracea

Common Name: Ornamental Kale and Cabbage

Common Species/Varieties: Peacock, Osaka, Color Up

Common Colors: Pinks, purples, whites, greens

Plant Type: Leafy Green

Annual or Perennial: Biennial grown as Annual

Hardiness Zone: 2-11 USDA

Self-Seeding: Yes, Biannually if it flowers

Bloom Season: NA

Grows Best In: Full sun in cooler months, part shade in warmer months

Fun Fact: Unlike most plants, I thrive in cool temperatures!

While Ornamental Kale and Cabbage are technically edible, they’re not very palatable. Their main purpose is to serve as decoration in the cooler months of Winter and Spring, especially in decorative pots. While one wouldn’t usually think of vegetables as being particularly decorative, these plants come in beautiful shades of pinks, greens, purples, and whites.

Ornamental Kale and Cabbage can grow to be between 12 and 18 inches tall and wide. They can survive in most conditions down to temperatures near 5 degrees F and up to temperatures near 50 degrees F. Cover these plants to keep snow and rain off them during cold months, and keep them in the shade during warmer months. Generally they are happiest in cooler temps than in warmer temps, and perform best above 20 degrees F. Ornamental Kale and Cabbage will actually become more colorful as the temperatures get cooler!

Typically you can find Ornamental Kale and Cabbage already started at our garden center in the Fall, but you can also start your own from seed indoors in mid-Summer, and place them outside in the Fall to finish maturing in time for cooler weather. Water Ornamental Kale and Cabbage when the top inch of the soil is dry, but don’t over-water. Ornamental Kale and Cabbage will do best in full sun to part shade.

Consider planting them with other cool-weather favorites like chrysanthemums, snapdragons, or violas. When you plant Ornamental Kale and Cabbage, plant them pretty close together as they grow slowly and will not crowd out other plants quickly. They look beautiful in decorative pots with other cool season favorites such as the plants listed above, and for an added wow-factor, try adding decorative branches and solar lights or lanterns to your outdoor decorative display! These plants will likely last well into December in Colorado (depending on how early our cold temperatures settle in), so plan some season holiday decor for your cool weather display, as well!