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Aphids

One of the most common insects, and one of the most potentially plant-threatening, is the aphid. There are actually many types of aphids – more than 4,000 in all. Some feed on specific plants and others are not so choosy. They all attack the newer plant growth and suck sap from a plant’s internal circulation system, the phloem, in stems and leaves. This can decrease the plant’s growth rate, discolor or disfigure leaves, cause galls to form and transmit plant diseases. Strong aphid infestations can lower produce yields and eventually kill plants altogether.

Recognizing Aphids

Aphids – also called plant lice, blackflies and greenflies – are easy to recognize. They’re about one-eighth to one-third of an inch long, usually pale green but can be almost colorless, pink, black or brown. Their pear-shaped bodies have six legs, small tail-like structures and long, jointed antennae. Aphids are soft-bodied and are mainly found in dense groups on the underside of new plant growth, where they leave behind a sticky residue called honeydew. Ants are attracted to aphid honeydew, so a nearby ant infestation or very active ant colonies may also indicate that aphids are present. Aphids are most common in spring, and die off rapidly in the hot temperatures of summer.

Controlling Aphids

Fortunately, controlling aphids is fairly easy. Most full-spectrum chemical insecticides kill aphids. Other, less strenuous products include plant extracts, neem oil, plant oils and insecticidal soap water sprays. A regular spraying with strong blasts of water or hand picking will control many infestations, especially when just a few aphids have been noticed. Many gardeners release ladybugs (lady beetles) to eat the aphids or parasitic wasps to lay their eggs in the aphid, but because these natural predators will quickly spread out, large applications of hundreds of predators may be needed to effectively control an aphid infestation. Another option is to encourage insect-eating birds to visit the yard – chickadees, titmice and warblers all especially love aphids and can provide superior natural pest control. Even hummingbirds will happily munch on aphids.

It’s best to control aphids early. As their numbers increase, the drying leaves begin to roll over them, thus protecting the aphids from controls such as soaps, oil and water sprays, and making it harder to effectively eliminate these pests. If you think you have aphids or you’re not sure what you have, bring in a sample. We’ll take a look and suggest the best way to eliminate the problem and help you protect your plants.

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Soil 101

How well do you understand your soil? It’s more than just dirt, and the more you learn about soil, the better you’ll be able to care for it to ensure a stunning landscape, healthy lawn and productive garden.

All About Soil

The four elements of soil are minerals, water, air and organic matter. Different combinations of the four elements create the four main categories of soil: sand, silt, clay and loam. Of course, we all want loam – that rich, vibrant soil thriving with beneficial bacteria and with a smooth but crumbly texture ideal for root growth. Unfortunately, true loam soils are rare, especially around homes where topsoil was removed and heavy machines compacted the remaining soil during construction or renovation. Most of us have clay soil, which has finer particles that compact easily into a dense mass. Clay soils also retain more water and can easily become too soggy or waterlogged for healthy plants. But just because your soil may be clay, it doesn’t have to stay that way!

Improving Soil

Improving soil is actually quite easy. All soils are improved by adding minerals and organic material that help balance out the overall components of the soil’s structure.

Before adding minerals, test the soil to determine its pH (acidity or alkalinity) and determine any mineral deficiencies. Lime decreases soil acidity, gypsum adds calcium and helps break up heavy clay and sulfur increases acidity. Other soil amendments to add to a clay soil include sand, cottonseed meal and peat moss, all of which will help improve the drainage and structure.

Organic matter refers to plant or animal materials decomposed into compost or “humus.” This residue comes from leaves and other plant materials, as well as certain animal wastes. Grass clippings, paper and certain types of decomposing food can also be ideal compost. The quality depends on the origin of the original biodegradable matter. Many people make their own compost using bins in which materials are mixed until they decompose. Others purchase finished compost. When compost is added to soil, it releases nutrients that are vital for healthy plants, and healthy bacteria and microbes will thrive in organically-rich soil.

The Magic of Mulch

Mulching is a simple way to add biodegradable materials to the soil. Evergreen needles, tree leaves, lawn clippings, chicken manure, etc., can be worked into the soil to decompose. This process improves the air spaces between the soil particles and rearranges the sand, silt and clay to produce optimum soil structure, improving the water retention and drainage balance and making nutrients available to plants.

When soil has proper structure and sufficient nutrients for healthy plants, optimum health has been achieved, and great soil will lead to great landscaping, turf and gardens. Congratulations and keep on growing!

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Cool Wave Pansy

Make way for Cool Wave Pansy! New and improved, bigger and brighter, the familiar little monkey-faced pansy is the new garden darling. These flowers are even more versatile and easier than ever, and ideal for so many beautiful landscaping options.

New Pansies

Cool Wave Pansy is a relatively new cultivar that has so much to offer. These flowers are ideal in beds among other plants and shrubs as a colorful vigorous filler, planted en masse as a blooming groundcover or planted to create amazing baskets and container arrangements with 30” of cascading floral beauty. Standing 6-8 inches tall and covered with three times as many blossoms as regular pansies, Cool Wave Pansies have flowers that glow in four new colors.

  • Frost: White with light blue “frost” edging along the petal margins
  • Violet Wing: Front lower petals are white edged with lavender or darker purples, backed with dark burgundy or purple on upper rear petals
  • Yellow: Bright lemony or sunny yellow blooms
  • White: Bright white petals with slight color variations for elegant interest

Growing Tips

Easy to grow, Cool Wave Pansy is much more vigorous than ever. Choose plants with an overall deep green color with plenty of buds for the best results and fastest blooming. Plant in fertile soil where the plant will receive 6 hours of daily sunlight. Use a liquid fertilizer when planting and fertilize every two weeks to maintain vigor and color. Replace with wave petunias in the summer when it becomes too warm for pansies.

Cool Wave Pansy grows well in rain or cold. In fact, it easily overwinters in many areas. This three-season performer may be planted for fall color, overwinter, and then perk up again in early spring providing an early punch of pizzazz. If it becomes too leggy, just cut back the foliage back to 3 inches tall and fertilize. In a couple of weeks, it will be smiling up at you.

When planting in containers, consider the flower and container colors to maximize the visual effect. Interplant with other textures and colors for an eclectic rainbow of vibrance. When planting in fall, add spring blooming bulbs, as they’ll easily grow through the pansies to create a riot of spring color. Spiky grasses provide a tall and contrasting effect to the pansy’s trailing tendrils, especially in larger containers.

With so many stunning options and new colors to embrace, there’s sure to be a Cool Wave Pansy perfect for all your flower planting desires!

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Plants for Wet Soil

More water is always good for plants, right? Wrong! When water stands in the soil, air is displaced, which in turn smothers the plant roots. Once the roots are damaged many symptoms appear on leaves and shoots including wilting, marginal and inter-veinal browning of leaves (scorch), poor color and stunted growth. But the excess water isn’t always coming from overwatering, it may be the result of poor draining soil.

Poor drainage is often produced in disturbed sites when heavy clay soil is compacted by construction machinery or other excessive use, such as yards where several children are often playing. Areas cultivated for plantings, such as flowerbed or borders, then collect water running off the compacted ground – this is called the teacup effect. Wet areas may also be the result of swales, drain spout runoff and low areas even when soil percolation is adequate in most of the site but when general moisture levels are routinely high.

To check for a potential drainage problem, dig a hole at least 2 feet deep, fill it with water and note how long the water remains. If it doesn’t drain completely away within 24 hours a severe drainage problem exists.

Fortunately, you can correct drainage problems in different ways. Easy options include…

  • Divert water past plantings using drainage pipes, splash blocks or rain chains.
  • Plant in mounds or raised beds so water will run off and away from the plants.
  • Install drain tiles in saturated areas or use French drains to contain excess water.
  • Amend the soil with organic matter such as compost to improve its structure.

An even easier solution is to simply select plants that tolerate wet sites. The following trees and shrubs tolerate wet sites and flooding better than most. Few tolerate standing water for long periods (those that grow in truly swampy conditions are marked *), but all will do better in wet areas.

Shade Trees

  • *Acer rubrum/Red Maple
  • *Betula nigra/River Birch
  • Liquidambar styraciflua/Sweet Gum
  • Alyssa sylvatica/Sour Gum
  • Platanus occidentalis/Sycamore
  • Quercus phellos/Willow Oak
  • *Salix spp./Willow
  • *Taxodium distichum/Bald Cypress

Flowering Trees

  • Amelanchier Canadensis/Serviceberry
  • Magnolia virginiana/Sweetbay Magnolia

Evergreen Trees

  • Calocedrus decurrens/Incense Cedar
  • Ilex opaca/American Holly
  • Thuja occidentalis/Pyramidal Arborvitae

Deciduous Shrubs

  • *Aronia arbutifolia/Chokeberry
  • Clethra alnifolia/Summersweet
  • *Cornus spp./Twig Dogwoods
  • Enkianthus campanulatus/Enkianthus
  • Ilex verticillata/Winterberry
  • *ltea virginica/Virginia Sweetspire
  • Lindera benzoin/Spicebush
  • Myrica pennsylvanica/Bayberry
  • *Rhododendron viscosum/Swamp Azalea
  • *Salix spp./Pussy Willow
  • Viburnum spp./Viburnums

Evergreen Shrubs

  • *Andromeda polifolia/Bog Rosemary
  • *Chamaecyparis thyoides/White Atlantic Cedar
  • *llex glabra/Inkberry
  • Kalmia atifolia/Mountain Laurel
  • Leucothoe spp./Leucothoe

Perennials

  • *Arundo donax/Giant Reed Grass
  • Aster nova-angliae/Asters
  • Astilbe spp./Astilbe
  • Chelone/Turtlehead
  • Cimicifuga racemose/Snakeroot
  • Helenium autumnale/Helen’s Flower
  • Hibiscus moscheutos/Hardy Hisbiscus
  • *Iris kaempferi/Japanese Iris
  • Iris siberica/Siberian Iris
  • *Lobelia cardinalis/Cardinal Flower
  • Lobelia syphilitca/Blue Lobelia
  • Monarda didyma/Bee Balm
  • Myosotis scorpiodes/Forget-me-nots
  • Tiarella cordifolia/Foam Flower
  • Trollius europaeus/Globe Flowers
  • Viola spp./Violets

Ground Covers

  • Gallium odoratum/Sweet Woodruff
  • Gaultheria procumbers/Wintergreen
  • Hosta spp./Hosta
  • Mentha spp./Mint
  • Parthenocissus quinquifolia/Virginia Creeper

Annuals

  • Cleome hosslerana/Spider Flower
  • Myosotis sylvatica/Forget-me-nots
  • Torenia fournien/Wishbone Flower
  • Viola wittrockiana/Pansies

Not sure which water-loving plants to choose? We’d be happy to help you evaluate your landscape moisture and other conditions to help you choose the very best plants for your yard!

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Pre-Emergent Control of Crabgrass

Did you have a crabgrass problem last year? Well, chances are, it’s gonna be even worse this year! Crabgrass is an annual lawn weed that dies once a hard frost hits. The main problem with this pest is the tenacious seed that it leaves behind after it blooms.

Early spring is the season to control crabgrass with a pre-emergent herbicide. This chemical works by killing the crabgrass seedlings as they germinate. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Apply the pre-emergent as the forsythia is going out of bloom.
  • For newly seeded lawns, wait until you have mowed your lawn three times before applying the herbicide. This will help to avoid killing the new grass.
  • Use a spreader to apply the herbicide uniformly across your lawn.
  • Apply your pre-emergent before a light rain. This will knock the chemical off the grass blades and down to the soil surface where the crabgrass seed is germinating.
  • Do not de-thatch or aerate the lawn after applying the herbicide, as this disruption will break the chemical barrier.
  • Wait two to four months to re-seed the lawn after applying.
  • Repeat this same procedure year after year.
  • Keep you and your lawn safe. Always follow the manufacturers’ instructions.
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A Feast for the Eyes

Traditionally, when planning a vegetable garden, the focus has been primarily on function with aesthetics as an afterthought – a productive harvest has usually been more important than any visual appeal. This year, why not try a new approach? Thoughtfully combine beauty and performance to create an edible garden that will explode with a variety of color and an abundance of produce. It can truly be a feast for the eyes as well as the table!

Planning a Beautiful Vegetable Garden

Color, texture and form are characteristics we keep in mind when combining plants in the flower garden. We plan flowerbeds so that plants enhance each other, repeating colors and shapes for continuity and flow. We add a variety of texture and form for diversity and interest. Vegetables, herbs and fruits can be just as vibrant, exciting, diverse and easy to combine as annual and perennial flowering plants are.

To begin, provide structure. Placing a picket fence around your garden offers instant structure and visually sets it apart from the rest of the landscape. If you plan on planting along the outside of the perimeter, you will create the allure of a garden within a garden, with a hint of secret places. Place a straight pathway through the center, starting at the entrance. Divide the larger garden into smaller square planting beds using pathways to separate the beds. This will enhance the structure of, and provide easy access to, the garden beds as well as lead your eye through the garden. If desired, you can also used raised beds for this formal structure.

Next, focus on plant selection. Begin with a plant plan or layout. Initially, base your selections on what is pleasing to your individual tastes. Consider unusual varieties of vegetables and herbs that come in unique colors. Repeat colors, both horizontally and vertically, to add depth and dimension to the garden. Don’t forget to add brightly flowering annuals such as zinnias and marigolds to mingle amongst the edibles. Another consideration is edible flowers like nasturtium and calendula. Contrast colors for a striking, eye-catching effect. Keep in mind, also, texture and form. Bold textures add drama and are often combined with fine-foliaged plants for a softening contrast. Short, stout plants anchor the garden bed while tall, willowy plants raise the eye and lead you farther down the garden path. Take all these characteristics into account when planning and place plants in geometric patterns to create a quilt-like garden tapestry.

Finally, your spring edible garden will emerge invoking a feeling of calm, displaying a variety of cool greens, purples and blues found in peas, lettuce, cabbage and broccoli. Shortly after, the summer edible garden will be completely transformed at harvest time with an explosion of vibrant shades of red, purple, orange and yellow. With so many stunning options to combine, you can truly create a feast for the eyes that will be beautiful in every season!

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Trees For Small Spaces

There’s something about putting a tree in the ground that just feels right. In many cases, you start with just a bare trunk with a few branches and then, rather quickly, it begins sprouting new growth. You nurture your new acquisition and each year it increases in height and girth. Finally, one day, you look out the window and a magnificent mature tree is there to greet you!

Choosing Your Best Tree

Trees are a permanent addition to the landscape and therefore require a great deal of thought and planning in their selection so you are not regretting your choice as the tree matures. When choosing, not only do you need to keep climate and soil type in mind, but you will also need to consider how much space you have, both above and below the ground, and how large your tree will be at maturity. Large trees should be given the room that they need to grow and thrive. Planted in the wrong location, some large trees have far reaching roots that can damage plumbing, break underground utilities and buckle pavement, not to mention branches that can tower dangerously over your roof. Fortunately, there are many small to medium trees available that look great and cause no damage when planted close to your house, sidewalk or driveway.

Top Trees for Small Spaces

  • Acer ginnala (Amur Maple) – Multi-stemmed, rounded habit, bright red fall color, 15-20’ h x 15-20’ w
  • Acer griseum (Paperbark Maple) – Upright, irregular habit, exfoliating bark, excellent red fall color, 20-30’ h x 15-25’ w
  • Acer palmatum (Japanese Maple) – Numerous varieties, textures, colors and forms and sizes for every taste and situation
  • Aesculus pavia (Red Buckeye) – Native to the southeastern United States, red upright flowers in May to early June, flowers attract hummingbirds, 10-20’ h x 10-20’ w
  • Amelanchier canadensis (Shadblow Serviceberry) – North American native, shrubby, multi-stemmed trunk tree, white flowers in early spring, edible purplish-black fruit, reddish-orange fall color, 6-15’ h x 15-20’ w
  • Betula pendula ‘Youngii’ (Young’s Weeping Birch) – Strong weeping tendency, attractive white bark, yellow fall color, 8-12’ h x 10’ w
  • Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam) – Eastern North American native, multi-stemmed, smooth muscular gray bark, yellow/red/orange fall color, 20-30’ h x 20-30’ w
  • Cercis Canadensis (Eastern Redbud) – Eastern North American native, often multi-stemmed, purple-pink flowers in early spring, 20-30’ h x 20-30’ w
  • Chionanthus viriginicus (Fringe Tree) – North American native, multi-stemmed, rounded habit, fringe-like white flowers in May to early June, golden-yellow fall color, 12-20’ h x 12-20’ w
  • Cornus alternifolia (Pagoda Dogwood) – Eastern North American native, tiered horizontal branching, white flowers late May to early June, blue-black fruit, persistent coral colored fruit stalks, yellow/reddish/purple fall color, 25’ h x 25’ w
  • Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood) – Eastern North American and northern Mexican native, rounded habit, white or pink flowers in mid-May, reddish-purple fall color, 30’ h x 30’ w
  • Cornus kousa (Korean Dogwood) – Rounded habit, vase-shaped branching habit, flowers white aging to pink in early summer, red to purple fall color, 30’ h x 30’ w
  • Cornus mas (Cornelian Cherry Dogwood) – Multi-stemmed, rounded habit, small yellow flowers in early spring, bright red berries in the summer eaten quickly by birds, 20’ h x 20’ w
  • Crataegus viridis ‘Winter King’ (Winter King Hawthorn) – United States native, broad horizontal crown, white flowers in spring, yellow fall color, abundance of small red berries in winter, 15’ h x 20’ w
  • Halesia tetraptera (Carolina Silverbell) – native, irregular to rounded and broad shaped, pendulous white bell-shaped flowers in May, Smooth muscle-like bark, 30 – 40’h x 25 – 35’w
  • Magnolia stellata (Star Magnolia) – Multi-stemmed tree with oval habit, lightly fragrant showy white blooms in early spring, ornamental smooth silver-gray bark, 15-20’ h x 10-15’ w
  • Malus sargentii (Sargent crabapple) – Mounded habit, blooms April through early May, fragrant flowers, pink-red in bud opening to white, very showy deep red fruit held in clusters, 6-8’ h x 9-12’ w
  • Prunus cerasifera ‘Thundercloud’ (Thundercloud Plum) – Rounded habit, deep purple foliage all year around, slightly fragrant pink flowers in the spring, 20’ h x 20’ w
  • Stewartia koreana (Korean Stewartia) – Pyramidal or oval in shape, white flowers in June and July, long bloom time, excellent fall color orange/yellow/red/purple, 25’ h x 12’ w
  • Stewartia ovate (Mountain Stewartia) – Slow grower, dense with spreading branches, white flowers in July, orange to red fall color, 10-15’ h x 10-15’ w
  • Stewartia pseudocamellia (Japanese Stewartia) – Slow grower, pyramidal, solitary white camellia-like flowers June to August, excellent fall color yellow/red/purple, beautiful exfoliating camouflage bark exposed in the winter, 40’ h x 20’ w
  • Styrax japonica (Japanese Snowbell) – Horizontal branching, broad flat top at maturity, hanging white flowers from late May into June, good fall color of yellow with a reddish cast, 20-30’ h x 20-30’ w
  • Syringa reticulate (Japanese Tree Lilac) – Stiff spreading branches, fragrant showy white flowers borne in early summer on panicles up to 12″ long and up to 10” wide, 20’ h x 15’ w

Overwhelmed with small tree varieties and not sure which one is best for your yard? Let our experts help you choose the perfect tree to fit your space!

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Trackable Tools

It’s the beginning of a new gardening season. Hopefully you took out last year’s journal in January or February and reviewed your notes on what you wanted to change, improve, experiment with or eliminate from your garden and landscape. Now is the time to begin implementing some of those great ideas, and it starts with having the right tools.

Where Do Your Tools Go?

One common problem in the garden is misplaced tools. We’ve all found hand tools in the spring that were inadvertently thrown in the compost pile or left under a shrub during fall cleanup. Many of us have spent time we didn’t have to spare walking in circles, looking for the shovel that we just had in our hand. It was laid down for a moment and seemed to disappear. Tools can easily disappear on a crowded workbench or in a cluttered shed, or they may even end up in a brush pile or other unlikely location.

When tools are lost, not only are our gardening chores impacted, but the tools can be damaged by exposure or accidental damage if they’re dropped, run over with a mower or otherwise subjected to inadvertent abuse. This can mean we no longer have the tool we need when we need it most, and we have to make a trip to the garden center to replace a tool – using time and money our gardening budget may not have.

Finding Your Tools

Let’s do things differently this year. Let’s save time, money and our precious tools. Resolve to only buy new hand tools with bright colored handles that are easily seen from afar and stand out to be picked up after a long day in the garden. If you already have a good selection of tools that you love and wish to keep track of, simply cover the handle with a bright colored spray paint on a sunny spring day, or wrap the handles with brightly colored tape or other coverings to make them more visible.

Similarly, take the time to clean out and declutter your garden shed, tool boxes and workbenches, making sure there is a safe, appropriate place to store every tool. If each tool has a place, you’ll be able to see at a glance when a tool may be missing and you can find it quickly before you’ve forgotten where you saw or used it last.

You and your garden will be glad you did!

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Heath or Heather

Often mistaken for one another, heath (Erica) and heather (Calluna) look amazingly similar. To confuse things further, heath is frequently referred to as “spring heather” and some landscapers, garden centers and nurseries may use the names interchangeably. Both types of plants belong to the Ericaceae family, and they share many similarities.

Which is Which?

The key difference between these two popular landscaping plants is that heath blooms from winter to early spring while heather blooms from mid-summer to early fall. Heath features slim, needle-like foliage, while heather’s foliage is flatter and more scale-like. Heath generally only grows to 12 inches tall, while different heather cultivars can range from 8-20 inches tall. With their many similarities for location, soil type and sunlight, however, it is easy to grow these two shrubs together for a much longer and more brilliant flowering season.

Heath and Heather in the Landscape

Both heath and heather are low maintenance, low growing, perennial shrubs that love well-drained, acidic soil, but do not plant them too deeply or their shallow root systems may rot or smother. Heath, or spring heather, has tiny, urn shaped flowers in white, rose or fuchsia and is readily available in early spring. Heather will be more popular later in the season and into early summer, and its bell-like mauve, rose or lavender flowers provide lovely color to the landscape later in the season. Depending on the cultivar, heather’s foliage can range from bright green to golden yellow, reddish or even silvery-gray.

Both plants should be watered well, and mulching around the shrubs will help inhibit weeds and conserve moisture without overwatering. Pruning should be done just after blooming is finished to maintain and shape the plant mounds and discourage overgrowth and legginess.

Heath and heather look terrific planted en masse on a sunny hillside or in the shrub border with other acid-loving plants like azaleas and rhododendrons. They are a welcome addition to the rock garden and can brighten up a dwarf conifer grouping or container garden. Their mounding habit makes the plants easily spill over edges for a naturalized, graceful organic look ideal for cottage gardens and flowing landscape design.

It is important to note, however, that deer can be very attracted to both heath and heather. If these backyard visitors are a problem in your garden or pester your landscape, you may want to take a variety of steps to keep them away from your beautiful shrubs.

Planted together, heath and heather will provide you with a succession of dainty blooms to take you through the entire growing season.

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Sweet Peas, the “Queen of Annuals”

For many gardeners, it’s not the tulip or daffodil to forward to at the end of winter, it’s the sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus) that declares, “spring is here!” The colors and sweet fragrance of these climbers announce the coming of warmer days like no other.

Choosing Sweet Peas

The hardest part of growing sweet peas is choosing from the riot of colors. From the palest of pastels to the most vivid of hues (including stripes), reds, pinks, white, blues, purples, yellows… the list seems endless. Many gardeners buy mixed packages of seeds to avoid the decision and to add a riot of spring color to the garden and landscape.

Beyond color, it is important to carefully consider different types of sweet peas. If the seed package says “tendril” this means the plants have small green growths to attach to a surface or netting to help the vine grow upright. This is how the taller sweet pea vines support themselves as they grow to 6′ (or even taller!), and they will need an appropriate trellis, arbor, arch or other structure to reach their full beauty. The varieties with no tendrils remain more compact, making them great in containers. Some of these will trail downward, creating a beautiful draping effect. Other dwarf non-vining varieties act as annual fillers in the mixed garden bed or as borders.

Growing Sweet Peas

These beauties are super easy to grow. To improve the germination rate, especially of the darker colors, use nail clippers to gently nick the seed coat and soak overnight before planting. This will allow thin shoots to pierce through the thick seed covering more easily so they can grow effectively. Sow the seeds 2″ deep in rich, well-draining soil in a full to partial sun location. If the soil is heavy, add compost to improve the texture and nutrition. Keep the soil moist, but avoid saturated soil that can drown small seeds or delicate roots. Germination should occur within 10-28 days. Continue even and consistent watering. When seedlings are 4-5″ tall, thin them to create 5-6″ spacing between plants. To encourage bushy and compact plants, pinch the tips when three sets of leaves form. Generally, do not provide additional fertilizer, otherwise the plants may be lush but the flowers will be sparse.

Impatient gardeners or those who may have a shorter growing season may also be able to purchase seedlings from a garden center. This way there will be fragrant sweet pea bouquets a month earlier, and there’s no need to miss out on the sweetness if the ideal seed planting date has passed. Removing flowers when transplanting will encourage stronger root growth to produce larger flowers later if desired.

Seeds for perennial sweet peas are also available. Unlike annual sweet peas, the perennial plant will continue to bloom throughout warm, humid summers. Be aware, however, that annual sweet peas tend to have a gloriously heady scent, but this is a feature sorely lacking in the perennial form.

Enjoy the Beauty

Those long-lasting, colorful and fragrant flowers are so sweet in large loose arrangements. They’ll easily last a week if the water is changed daily and a bit of the stem is snipped off each time to improve water uptake. Remember, the best way to extend the sweet pea blooming season is by daily picking early in the day. Or, simply enjoy these beautiful blooms by walking through the garden each day and relaxing in their delicious scent and colorful blooms.

Fall Flowers – Really!

Gardeners who just can’t get enough of annual sweet peas don’t have to mourn their loss in spring. Instead, grow them again in the autumn! These fast-growing flowers will thrive just as well in the cool autumn as they did in the early days of spring. Just remember to provide enough time for flowering before the first frost hits, and you’ll love using sweet peas to say goodbye to the gardening season in fall just as you said hello to them in spring.

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