Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Poinsettias: Keep them Warm!

Poinsettias cannot be cold! You should even shield them from the cold on your way home from the store. When you get them home, they will last longest in bright light. If you keep them in low light, they will drop their leaves.

Poinsettias are a holiday favorite, but many people ask how to make their poinsettia rebloom. BUT the regimen you need to follow to rebloom poinsettias is so strict we don’t recommend it. Just toss your spent poinsettia on the compost pile and call it a day. If you really, really want to try to rebloom your poinsettia you will need three things: a warm house, a dark closet, and dedication!

Read on for the full directions and timetable:

April 1st: Cut your poinsettia back to about 8" in height. Water regularly and fertilize with Neptune’s Harvest Fish and Seaweed Fertilizer, or another organic, balanced fertilizer.

May 15th (Or after all chance of frost has passed and night temperatures average 55° F or above): Place your poinsettia outside in indirect light, on a porch, or in dappled sunlight, and continue regular watering. Fertilize with the fish and seaweed emulsion every 2 to 3 weeks.

June 1st: You may transplant your poinsettia into a larger pot. Select a pot no more than 4 inches larger than the original pot. Keep up the fertilizing!

July 1st: Pruning may be required during the summer to keep plants bushy and compact. (You could do it later in the summer, but do not prune later than September 1.) Keep the plants in indirect sun and water regularly.

Here’s the tricky part:

October 1st: Your poinsettia must be kept in complete darkness for 14 continuous hours each night! Stray light of any kind, such as from a streetlight or household lamps, could delay or entirely halt the re-flowering process. Avoid stray light by moving the plant to a totally dark closet at six o’clock each evening and take it out at seven o’clock each morning.

During October, November and early December, poinsettias require 6 - 8 hours of bright sunlight daily, with night temperatures between 60 - 70° F. Temperatures outside of this range could delay flowering.

Continue the normal watering and fertilizer program. Carefully following this regime for 8 to 10 weeks should result in a colorful display of bracts and blooms for the holiday season!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas Cactus

Christmas cacti are among the easiest, showiest, holiday houseplants you can grow and rebloom easily. Keep the cactus in a cool room away from the fireplace!

Care must be taken not to underwater it, as a Christmas cactus is in origin a
tropical plant, not a true cactus. Unlike many cacti, this variety cannot tolerate completely dry soil. If the soil gets too dry, the flowers buds will drop, and the plant will wilt. Feel the soil with your fingers; if it feels dry, it's time to water.

Don’t keep the soil sopping-wet all the time, however! Too much watering will cause spots from white rot to appear on the leaves, and the leaves will likely fall off. The soil should be evenly moist for best growth. Mist leaves as well as
watering the soil, and fertilize with a low nitrogen fertilizer, like Earth Juice Bloom.

They do well in bright indirect sunlight, but they also do just as well in florescent light in a windowless office. Direct sunlight can stunt growth and burn the leaves. When you move the plant outdoors in summer place it in a shady location.

And yes, despite its succulent appearance and lack of spines, it is a cactus, and it does bear their sparkly, iridescent flowers during Christmas.

What’s more, they’ll live for years. Certain specimens are said to be 75 to 100 years old. So start a new family tradition. Instead of exchanging a much-maligned heirloom fruitcake, give a Christmas cactus that will last from one generation to the next.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Reminder: Start Paper Whites Now For Christmas

Start paper whites inside now to have blooms for Christmas. (This is a repeat of the growing instructions in case you need a "how-to" reminder!)

"A surefire way to chase away the winter blues is to fill your home with fragrant flowers. And nothing is easier to grow than the sweet smelling paperwhite (Narcissus papyraceus), a bulb plant that can be coaxed into bloom with very little effort.

The correct term is actually "forcing" as you are forcing the spring-flowering bulbs to fast-forward their natural growth cycles and bloom in winter instead. Many bulbs can be forced--grape hyacinths, tulips, daffodils, and crocuses, for example--but paperwhites are probably the easiest as they don't require a long cold storage period to root.

Paperwhites produce small, star-shaped flowers that will last for several weeks. Some varieties have pure white flowers, others have white perianths (outer petals) with pale yellow "cups" in the center. Paperwhites, which come from the Mediterranean, are tender bulbs and not suitable for outdoor growing in Vermont. However, most garden centers and seed catalogs sell bulbs for indoor forcing.

If purchasing locally, choose healthy bulbs with no soft spots or signs of discoloration. Store in a cool, dry place until time to plant.

Paperwhites will bloom about four to six weeks after planting, so plan accordingly if you want flowers for the holidays or other special occasions. For continuous bloom throughout the winter, plant bulbs every two weeks from late fall through February.

Use shallow containers, about three to four inches deep, without drainage holes. You can find these specially designed containers for forcing at many garden centers. Add about two inches of washed pebbles in the bottom of the container. Gently place the bulbs, pointed side up on the gravel. They should be close, but not touching. (Five bulbs will fit nicely in a six-inch pot.) Then add enough pebbles around the bulbs to hold them in place. You can also use decorative marbles or stones if you prefer.

The tricky part is watering the bulbs. You want to add just enough water so it reaches the base of the bulbs. You don't want the bulbs to sit in water as this will cause rot. Maintain this level of water throughout the growing period. You'll probably need to replenish the water every two or three days. Don't fertilize.

Place the container in a cool, dark place (about 50 degrees F) for a few weeks until green shoots appear. Then move to full, bright light (generally, a window with southern exposure). Too little light, and the plants will grow leggy as they stretch to reach the light. Initially, room temperature should be 60 to 65 degrees F.

To prolong bloom, after the plants begin to flower, remove them from direct sunlight and place in a cooler, less sunny part of your home. Since paperwhites require zone 8 to 11 conditions, they can't be planted successfully outdoors. Discard the bulbs after flowering.

Prepotted paperwhites can be purchased at many garden stores. All you do is add water! These potted bulbs also make a nice gift, or a fun activity for your kids."

-By Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont

Victoria Gardens has paper white bulbs, Christmas trees, ornaments, holiday gifts, and indoor plants. Organic, all-natural wilt-stop solution will extend the life of your tree and other fresh greens.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Holiday Open House November 26th, 27th and 28th

Join us for refreshments and early Christmas shopping this weekend. Friday, Saturday and Sunday - our holiday hours are now Monday through Saturday 10 am to 7pm Sundays 10 am to 4pm.

These very popular woodland ornaments are adorable! We have a wide selection of Christmas gifts and ornaments, Christmas trees and indoor plants.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Brighten Your Holiday Table With Cyclamen or Orchids

Brighten your holiday table with cyclamen or orchids. Bring your Thanksgiving host or hostess an orchid and they will feel so appreciated! We also have winter ferns, goldcrest cypress, rosemary topiaries, and more easy care houseplants. They come in decorative pots and they all make great gifts.

(And don't forget join us Nov. 26th, 27th and 28th for our Christmas Open House - We are serving up refreshments and stress-free holiday shopping!)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Victoria Gardens' Gift Guide: Future Flora Lighting

Designed by Studio Tord Boontje. Available at Victoria Gardens.

As well as paper star lanterns, Victoria Gardens is also carrying these amazing sculptural Future Fauna Lanterns as well. Future Fauna are precision-etched metal sheets that transform into three exotic bloom-shaped forms. Future Flora inhabits the intersection of nature and technology. The contoured openings, fine details, and silver matte surface all conspire to illuminate space by casting poignant radiance.

Packaged flat, Future Flora are easily assembled by connecting intricate metal sheets that comprise each design.

“ Although I started by looking very closely at flowers, it became a project from memory, to imagine shapes which are like flowers but not exactly, a new kind of species – a flower and light hybrid.” — Tord Boontje

Friday, November 12, 2010

Victoria Gardens' Gift Guide: Star Lanterns

These beautiful stained glass-like paper lanterns are one of our favorite gift picks. They come with a power cord for the light bulb and they pack up flat, so it is a great gift to ship to your loved ones far, far, away. They will illuminate the festive spirit in your dinning room or your daughter's dorm room. A great gift for all those November birthdays leading up to the holidays.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Victoria Gardens' Gift Guide: Hudson Valley Seed Library Art Packs part 2

We came up with some fun gift pairings with Hudson Valley Seed Library Art Packs. The carnivorous plant theme is a great gift for kids of all ages. The Venus Fly Trap lures insects into its clutches with a sweet smell, and when the unfortunate victim lands, the open jaws snap shut! (What entertainment!) A good match for these Muncher Cucumbers with teeth!

For more gift pairings, check out our guest blog at the Hudson Valley Seed Library site:


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Victoria Gardens' Gift Guide: Hudson Valley Seed Library Art Packs

We have all the new Hudson Valley Seed Library Art Packs in stock!

These great gift combos are perfect for teachers' gifts, secret Santa gifts, and office exchanges because the combination of seed packs and ornaments comes in under the $15 mark.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Roses in November?

Roses in November? Knockout roses are still blooming – for easy care Knockout roses visit our rocktop nursery on the corner of Cottekill Rd. and Rt. 213 between Rosendale and High Falls. We all but ignore our Knockout Roses and they produce profuse blooms - even in November. Here's what "The Garden Lady" had to say about her Knock out roses.

"KNOCK-OUT Roses were bred to be almost maintenance free. So, if you live in zone 5 or a warmer climate, winter maintenance is minimal.

The KNOCK-OUT rose site says that “Knock-Out Roses were bred with greater cold weather tolerance to relieve the northern gardener of the need to apply and remove winter protection materials and the necessity to replace winter killed plants when protection failed.”

That being said, mulch the roses with leaves or hard wood AFTER the first hard frost – you want the ground to be frozen solid.* If you want, you can burlap the rose plant. Burlaping will also prevent the deer from eating the rose bushes. If the roses are in pots, the pots should either be buried in the ground or brought into the garage. The pot does not give adequate protection to the roots during the cold, freezing winter.

TheGardenLady has mulched her KNOCK-OUT roses but never burlaped them and they were glorious with their profusion of flowers all summer long.

A great book to read on care of roses is: A Year of Roses by Stephen Scanniello. This book tells you everything you want to know about raising roses and tells you what to do to care for roses each month of the year.

*(If you mulch too early, the ground will warm up and the plant will be fooled into thinking it is spring. With warm ground the rose bush might start growing. You want the rose to sleep during the winter. Also, DO NOT fertilize plants in the winter for the same

Here is a summer photo of the Knockout Roses:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Reminder: Garden Clean-up

If you are too busy to rake out and cut back your garden, call Victoria Gardens for a fall-clean-up 845-658-9007. Ask for mulch too – to protect your plants through the winter and condition your soil for the spring. Now is the time to give your gardens one last drink, put your hoses away and turn off your outside water.

Monday, November 1, 2010

What Makes The Leaves Turn Color?

"The two main groups of pigments that give autumn leaves their colors are: Carotenoids, which produce yellow, orange, and brown colors; and Anthocyanins, water-soluble substances which are produced when there are high levels of sugars in leaves or fruits under bright light conditions. Bright days and longer cooler nights, with adequate, but not excessive rainfall, are generally considered to be the catalysts for great fall leaf color.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a good, readable explanation of “Why Leaves Change Color” online, for all of us who have never tired of asking “why?” Whatever the color, do heed the good advice on this site and others to rake and compost fallen leaves. They also make an excellent mulch when left in place where they fall. Tiny micro-organisms will put them to good use replenishing the all-important organic content of the soil."

-Ann McCulloh