Move Houseplants Outdoors for Summer

house-plantsSummertime R & R is beneficial not just for the humans, houseplants and orchids revel in a little outdoor vacation of their own.

In summer and even into fall conditions are perfect for moving some of your houseplants onto the porch or into an area where they get shade and shelter from the sun and strong drying winds.

Even in the shade, outdoor light gives your houseplants and especially your indoor orchids, an extra shot of light to refresh them and give them extra energy for the winter ahead.

Remember, outdoors the plants will need a bit more regular watering as they will dry out quickly. When it comes time to bring them indoors, check them over carefully so you don’t transfer unwanted pests inside.

Penstemons

Penstemons are easy to care for and beautiful and water-wise. A North American native; these living jewels thrive in the arid west tolerating poor soil… as long as it drains well. Amending our heavy clay soil with Gold Rush is an easy fix. Consider adding this showy perennial to your garden this summer.

Penstemons are perfectly sized for a bed or a border at about 30″ x 30″. The flowers look a bit like foxglove, tubular in shape, running the length of the stem. The colors are rich and vibrant, some with white throats. Color options range from pale pink to red, purple and lavender and from soft pastels to near true-blues. We even have California native varieties.

Care is easy. If you tend to neglect to fertilize and keep your watering on the dry side penstemons will be a welcome garden addition. Removal of spent flower stems ensures continuous bloom early summer through fall. Most Penstemons are evergreen and prefer full sun.

A fun fact from the American Horticulture Society: “Beautiful and clever, penstemon can regulate nectar flow on demand, nectar flow increases when regularly visited by hummingbirds.”

Cooling Water Feature

Our Latest shipment of water plants has arrived, and we also have a beautiful assortment of stone, ceramic and concrete water features. Add the cooling effect of a pond or water feature.

Add water for a psychologically cooling effect.

Recirculating water features fit well into a landscape even if you are conserving water. Recirculating water means a fountain uses surprisingly little water, but the pay off in comfort and beauty can be big. The sight and sound of water calm the spirit and cools the view.

Water Plants have arrived

Come see our water plants, we have a nice assortment including floaters as well as bog/marginal plants and also submerged plants. We even have a California native stream orchid!

Statuary Maintenance

June 13, 2006 087Now is a great time to renew your investment in your statuary and fountain collection. Just like your car, routine maintenance is the most important part of enjoying a fountain year round.

Clean out the filter on your pump and do so at least once a month or every two weeks. Don’t know where your pump is? Now’s the time to find out!

Drain or siphon out the water in your fountain or birdbath every two weeks. This will help with mosquito abatement too. Wash with mild soap and water and refill with fresh, clean water. Don’t use abrasive cleaners, brushes, or bleach or you could damage the finish. Never run your fountain without the submersible pump being completely under water so you may need to top off every day if it’s hot or windy.

Having algae problems? In addition to  cleaning, try a few drops of Physan. It’s safe for birds. Always read directions on the label.

Check for damage on your GFI outlet for your fountain and make sure you’re not using extension cords to plug your fountain in (this will prevent fires due to differences in electrical surges).

Remember, statuary is concrete that is made from natural products including sand and rocks. Your statuary will age and wear. This adds a natural beauty and life to the piece and is not considered detrimental to the value. Hairline cracks often develop and patinas form with natural stains, mineral buildup, and wear.

If you would like to reduce, or postpone this aging, cover and empty your statuary of water in the winter to protect from rain and frost and annually seal with a clear masonry sealer. Otherwise, enjoy the  individualized antiquing of your cherished statuary pieces year round.

Add a new statuary piece to your  collection and photograph it through the seasons documenting the effects of time and nature. Celebrate aging! It really is beautiful.

Protect your Japanese Maples

maple-coral

The fact is the climate of Japan is more closely like that of Portland Oregon than our much sunnier and warmer Valley. As a result, your Japanese Maples may suffer from heat stress until they get acclimated to our Valley conditions. Fortunately, there are quick, simple and inexpensive ways to protect your Japanese Maples while they acclimate.

Most Japanese maples in our climate do best if located in a spot that receives afternoon shade and wind protection. The morning sun side of a house is usually ideal.

Feed Japanese Maples with Dyna-Gro Protect to improve heat tolerance.

Also, place a layer of mulch under your tree to insulate the soil – just be sure to keep the mulch 3” to 4″ away from the trunk to prevent crown rot.

cloudcoverAnd you can simulate Oregon’s more northern summer sky and cloudy conditions with a simple spray product called Cloud Cover®. Cloud Cover is completely transparent and will not cloud or cover up the colorful beauty of your Japanese Maples. It merely reduces evaporation through the leaf tissues.

 

Cloud Cover protects your trees from our hot, dry and sometimes windy summers like an invisible umbrella and each application lasts an entire month. But the time to apply it is now before your beautiful Japanese Maples show the crispy leaf edges and other signs of heat stress. Alden Lane recommends you apply Cloud Cover® during the summer months starting as weather warms in June and monthly thereafter.

 

Planting and Growing Citrus


Citrus are the most versatile of the trees and shrubs that grow in our valley. They can be grown as specimens, in hedges, as espalier or in containers. Citrus plants offer beautiful foliage, decorative fruit, and fragrant flowers. Growing citrus can be easy; the difficulty is in selecting the variety which you will enjoy the most.

Growing Citrus

Choosing the Site
citrus-planting-diagramCitrus prefer a hot south or west facing location with good draining soil. Test how well the soil drains by digging a 1’x1′ hole. Fill it with water. The water must be gone in 24 hours. Citrus should not be planted in a low or soggy spot that has poor drainage or in a lawn. If the water does not drain it may be necessary to raise the overall soil level by creating a mound or building a planting box or look for an alternate planting location. An open-bottom-box measuring 3’x3′ wide and 8″ deep makes a great raised bed. A reflective wall or fence is helpful and planting a citrus under the south or west facing eve of the house will provide some important protection from winter cold temperatures.

Preparing the Planting Hole
Dig a hole three times as wide as the root ball and just as deep as the root ball. The edges of the planting hole should then be dug out deeper than the center to accommodate additional soil amendments. (See Illustration)

Improve the existing soil from the planting hole with Master Nursery Acid Planting Mix at a ratio of 75% Planting mix to 25% existing soil. To this improved soil, add the appropriate amount of Master Nursery Master Start and Osmocote Slow Release Fertilizer, mix thoroughly.

Planting
Plant by carefully removing it from its container. Gently rough the outer edges of the root ball if the soil is tight, and place it in the hole so that the top of the root ball rests slightly higher than the existing ground level (never place any soil above the root ball, covering the stem). Back-fill around the root ball with the improved soil mixture. Tamp to compress the soil as you go. Use some of the extra soil to build a circular dam around the new plant to hold a generous quantity of irrigation water.

Watering
Water the plant thoroughly after you have finished planting it. Let the water soak in, and then water again. Citrus plants need less frequent watering than most garden plants. Give it a deep soak once or, at most twice a week, depending on the weather, (frequent watering is the most common cause of failure with citrus). However, to preserve the crop, never let the plant dry out during the bloom & pea-sized fruit stages.

 

Alstroemerias

Alstroemerias or Peruvian Lilies are blooming around the nursery in a bright array of colors and their attention-getting flowers deserve a place in your garden.

Alstroemerias caught the fancy of gardeners in the 1980’s and have not stepped out of the spotlight yet. It is one of the best cut flowers on the market, often lasting 1 to 2 weeks in your home.

Alstroemeria can fill a good sized spot in your sun garden if you let them. These long-lived perennials are a reliable bloomer from spring through summer. They are available in a wide range of colors, therefore, complementing many of your other plantings.

We carry a couple of different types, Princess series include Compact growers from 10 to 18 inches, multiple color choices.

Inca Series includes taller plants from 12 to 28 inch tall. They have strong stems for great cut flowers, love wet or dry conditions and they come in yellow, purple and many more colors.

 

Happy Mother’s Day

We have sourced all kinds of new gift items Mom will love!

Beautiful tea and coffee mugs are here in herbal lavender prints and bird images in many colors.

Happy Wax Melts are brand new and come in heart and darling teddy bear shapes. Use in a wax warmer to scent your entire room. The fragrances are delightful and come in many different scents including Sweet Pea, Lilac, and Hydrangea.

Also, brand new are Spongelle fragrance infused sponges. They are designed to moisturize and rejuvenate the skin, from neck to toe and can be used for many washes. Bulgarian Rose, Coconut Verbena, and French Lavender can be found in our gift shop!

You’ll find wonderful Wall Art pieces from suns to geckos to sea turtles! Made out of metal and painted with UV resistant paints, you can add a colorful accent to a garden fence or wall.

We have new scarves and garden hats that make great gifts too! Ruthie’s Room is fully stocked with gift items and houseplants. Come in to see what’s new and we will wrap your gift compliments of Alden Lane!

Checklist for May Gardening

checkbox[1] Protect your cherry crop! Prevent wormy fruit. Start spraying weekly when the fruit has formed but is still green. Spinosad and Malathion are sprays to consider.

checkbox[1]Feed roses now and every two weeks for maximum rose production. Use MaxSea plus Kelp Sea Life for the trace elements and minerals.

checkbox[1] Thin apple and peach crops if too much fruit has set, you’ll get fewer but larger, juicier fruit.

checkbox[1] Timing is important for grub control. If you had trouble with grubs last summer and fall, now is the time to ready a treatment plan for prevention. Treating your lawn in May with Bonide Grub Beater or Nematodes while the grubs are young and vulnerable is best. Use Nematodes in your vegetable garden.

checkbox[1] Ladybugs and praying mantis to the rescue! Control aphids, beetles, scale, and leafhoppers naturally.

checkbox[1] Deep-root water trees and shrubs. Never depend on lawn watering to take care of trees and shrubs. Begin deep watering with a Ross Root Feeder now and continue monthly through the hot summer season. The use of soaker hoses helps deliver deep water as well.

checkbox[1] Plant 4-inch vegetable plants and save several weeks of growing time. Remember to protect them from hungry snails and slugs with pet safe Sluggo or Sluggo Plus. Both are labeled for organic gardening, both control slugs, Sluggo Plus controls insects too.

checkbox[1] Scale insects affect citrus as well as a slew of ornamentals. Adults are little stationary bumps on stems and leaves. Offspring hide beneath mother’s protective shell, venturing out as the weather warms searching for a new place to colonize. Control by spraying with Bonide All Season Spray Oil; or for tough cases on ornamental plants apply Malathion, or Captain Jack’s All Organic Spray.

checkbox[1] Do you have bugs on your vegetables? Use vegetable safe Bonide All Season Spray Oil.

checkbox[1] Prevent olive fruit set with Florel Fruit Eliminator. Spray the olive when the tree has just reached full bloom. Olive flowers are very small, so watch closely. Full bloom usually occurs in early May. Spray the whole tree thoroughly. We have the names of commercial spray companies that can help too.

checkbox[1] Mulching does wonders for your garden. As well as looking good, mulching conserves water and suppresses weeds and keeps roots cool. We suggest a mulch layer 4 inches thick. We are especially fond of Micro-bark because it looks good and breaks down relatively soon. Don’t mulch right up to the plant trunk or stem. Leave 4 to 6 inches of breathing room.

checkbox[1] Whitewash the trunks of fruit trees with Tree Trunk White. Applying a whitewash coating to the trunk will reflect heat away from the tender tissue and protect the trees.

checkbox[1] Regular feeding for Citrus. Citrus trees perform well with monthly light feedings of fertilizer specifically formulated for Citrus. This will ensure that your tree gets a nice even supply of food year round instead of occasional periods of highs or lows. We recommend Master Nursery Citrus Food, or for a completely organic approach, use E.B. Stone Citrus and Fruit Tree Fertilizer. Make quarterly applications of Iron Sulfate for optimum feeding and greening.

checkbox[1] Turflon Esther for Bermuda grass control controls that wiry-stemmed, nuisance weed Bermuda grass. It also works wonders on Oxalis, a yellow clover look-alike.

checkbox[1] Prep your roses for the second wave of bloom! Cut back and feed roses as the first set of blooms fade. Feed with Master Nursery Rose and Flower Food. Water, and stand back. Roses typically re-bloom 6 weeks after pruning and feeding. For a special treatment, feed roses with water soluble Maxsea. It can be sprayed on the leaves and gives the plant a dark glossy appearance.

Planting Cucumbers, Melons & Pumpkins

Join us on May 13th at 10:00 a.m. as we discuss planting your melons, cucumbers, and pumpkins. We will also cover the subject of fungus control.

  • Top Cucumbers: Diva • Japanese • Persian • Lemon; Spaced two feet apart.
  • Top Pumpkins: Atlantic Giant • Howden’s Best • New England Pie • Jack B’ Little; Spaced five feet apart (plant pumpkins from seed through mid-June).
  • Top Melons: Ambrosia • Hale’s Best • Cantaloupe; Spaced five feet apart.

Conditions: All like sunny conditions, however, cucumbers can use support along a fence or trellis. Pumpkins and Melons prefer lots of room to grow. They will spread out from the center with large leaves filling any available space about a foot from the ground.

Planting Times: Try to plant seeds 1-2 weeks after the average last frost, but only if the weather will be consistently warm for a week (2-4 weeks for pumpkins). They prefer to start when the soil temperature is warm; during April-May. Any sprouted seedlings in a cell pack can be put in the ground right away. This allows them the time to acclimate to their new home.

Soil: 50% native soil, 50% Bumpercrop®

Water and Feeding: Regular water (3x per week). Keep cucumbers evenly moist to prevent bitter fruitGive new plants a gentle boost with E.B. Stone’s Organic Starter Fertilizer®, then feed monthly with Master Nursery Tomato and Vegetable Food® or E.B. Stone’s Organic Tomato and Vegetable Fertlizer®. Apply the fertilizer sparsely around the base of the plant. It can be mixed into the soil or left underneath a thick layer of mulch.

Prevention: To prevent weeds, use Concern Organic Weed Preventer. Apply to soil surface right after planting and water in. Add mulch to further reduce weed growth. A thick layer of mulch will make it easier to remove weeds and provides insulation for your soil. For weed elimination, spray weeds with undiluted distilled vinegar. Take care to not get vinegar on veggie leaves.

Solution to Common Problems: Cucumbers: Careful pruning and training on a trellis will lead to a stronger network of stems to support your large cucumbers. Allow spiders a home in between stems, or let loose some ladybugs or praying mantis on your plants to eat potential pests. Pumpkins & Melons: Mulch will prevent mud from splashing onto your pumpkins & melons. (Use organic veggie fertilizer to feed your pumpkins monthly and make them grow even bigger!)

Pest Control: Sprinkle soil/mulch surface with pet-safe Sluggo®. Place a SLUGX® container under the leaves using beer as an attractant and pest-killer. Bird netting can deter both birds and small animals from nibbling on your cucumbers.

Support: Cucumbers: Use big stakes connected with bird netting to create a fine trellis that doubles as an animal repellent. They are naturally curly on the ground when grown without a trellis. Pumpkins & Melons: Keep them on a flat even surface to minimize gravity’s effect on their shape.

Harvesting: Cucumbers: Begin growing in the summer around July and should be harvested before they get too mature. Use pruning shears to cut the stem an inch from the fruiting body. Pumpkins & Melons: (depending on their planting time and desired size) Use a Razor Tooth Pruning Saw to harvest your pumpkins from late summer to early winter, and your melons from late summer to fall.

Reference for planting times: http://www.almanac.com/gardening/planting-dates/CA/Livermore.