The Best Time To Plant … Fall In The High Desert!

Why Fall Planting Is Best

Fall is the best time to plant. Moana Nursery tells you this every year, but maybe you need convincing. So let us explain why fall planting is so good for plants!

It’s pretty simple, actually. In the fall, the warm soil encourages root growth. Roots continue to grow through the winter until the ground actually freezes. In early spring, roots begin new growth or continue to develop at a faster rate, and top growth begins. While the same plant planted in spring gets a slow start due to cool soils and transplant shock, the fall-planted plants are becoming well established. When summer finally arrives, the fall-planted plant is far better equipped to deal with heat and drought, largely due to its better established root system.  So, fall is when a plant focuses on root growth and strength because there is no competing top growth activity.

Of course, there are plenty of other good reasons to plant in the fall. More precipitation, cooler weather, easier weed control and fewer pest and disease problems. Another big fall planting advantage: more time (and probably some good sales)!

Every fall-planting advocate mentions it. In the fall, the gardener has far more time to get the work done. And this works for you in two ways. First of all, there is a longer period with far more “good days” for planting in the fall than during our tricky weather in spring. And second, the gardener always has more time during the fall than during the spring rush to get everything done after winter.

So, come in to Moana Nursery and take advantage of fall planting and our Timely Landscape Specials. You and your landscape will be very happy you did!



Fall & Thanksgiving Decorating Ideas

With the holidays upon us we thought we would share some fun ideas on how to make your home festive and warm this season!

Add a few festive, fall colored throw pillows or blankets on the sofa.

Buy a pumpkin scented candle to make your home really “smell” like Thanksgiving!

Update your landscape with some simple container replanting. Use grasses, pansies, ornamental kale and Redtwig Dogwood.

  • Arrange some pumpkins and a simple fall garland on your mantle. Pick leaves from your yard (or in your neighborhood) and arrange them in the garland.
  • Purchase a fall floral arrangement from The Florist at Moana Nursery (let us do the work for you!).
  • Design a harvest wreath. This is easier than it looks, but the folks here at Moana can help you realize your vision at a very affordable price. We promise not to take credit for it either – it will be our little secret.
  • Get your kids in on the decorating fun by having them design/paint/draw some fall artwork for you. Get some inexpensive frames at the dollar store and display these precious works of art around your home.
  • Arrange leaves in clear bowls on the coffee table, dining table or anywhere you want!
  • Tie a ribbon with your favorite fall color(s) (orange, green, red, yellow, etc.) around some pine cones. Hang them on curtain rods.
  • Use clean, autumn leaves as place cards at the dinner table (rinse and pat them dry). Write each guest’s name on a leaf with a black or gold felt-tip pen and place them at each table setting.

Remember to enjoy your time together this holiday season. Give thanks for one another and have a special holiday season. From our family, to yours!

– The Moana Nursery Team



How Deep Should You Plant?

Question always asked … How deep should I plant this new tree, shrub, etc.?

Most plants will benefit from being planted with the top of the root ball at the existing soil level – – not the top of the container it came from and not with only the trunk showing once planted.

If a plant is installed too high, it will dry out faster, scalding the top of the root ball. You’ll lose some portion of the root system and stress the plant unnecessarily.

On the other hand, installing a plant too deep will also result in the loss of a portion or even the entirety of the root system over time. This is a much more serious mistake than planting too shallow and one that we see most often. Plants can struggle for even a period of years if planted too deep, only to finally succumb to the rot associated with burying plant parts that should be exposed to air (not buried); the crown on a tree trunk near the root ball is a good example of a plant part that needs air. This is also why mulch, etc. needs to be a kept way from the trunk, and rock around the trunk, touching in any way is another problem we see all the time. Please note: there are some exceptions to being planted too deeply, such as tomatoes that actually prefer that installation.For a more in-depth instructions, see below planting guide link.

See Here: Official High Desert Planting Guide from Moana Nursery.



Ladybugs … Do They Really Help Eliminate Bad Bugs In The Garden And Landscape?

Absolutely! Ladybugs in the garden are very effective in controlling a number of bad bugs, including aphids, spider mites and scale. An adult ladybug can eat 50 aphids a day and produce up to 1,500 progeny. Take that aphids!

In order to maximize the benefits of releasing ladybugs in your yard, provide them with conditions that make them inclined to stay. Generally, releasing them in the evening, after hosing down foliage where aphid activity has been spotted, will help ensure that they stick around.  Releasing them in multiple small batches in the yard will help avoid competition for resources.

Being a natural control, your best success will come with using the ladybugs as part of an overall approach to your garden health.  Give them time to work. Don’t expect the immediate results that come from a contact insecticide.  Use other insecticides only as necessary and as labeled to minimize injuring or killing your ladybugs. Be on the lookout for their rather fierce some-looking young, who resemble black and orange ¼” alligators, and enjoy watching them devour aphids on your foliage.

Provide them with nectar and pollen as sources of food for the adults, and for when insect meals are scarce. Provide a water source as well. Your birdbaths and sprinkler system should do the trick. Use a variety of flowers and plants to feed your ‘ladies’ throughout the season.  Some excellent plants for beneficial insects include many that may already be in your yard: coreopsis (tickseed), cosmos, dill, evening primrose, fennel, parsley, sweet alyssum and yarrow are great resources for your ladybugs.

If, despite your good care, you find that the ladybugs have moved on from your yard, don’t despair – they’re probably hard at work nearby, in a yard that needed their help. A healthy yard and community improvement!



Time To Re-Pot That Container???

Unfortunately, plants are not like the fish in your tank that only grow to the size of their home. Plants grow root-bound when the amount of plant root volume exceeds the amount of soil volume in their container.

To check, gently lift out your plant from its container. If you can see mostly roots and very little soil, then it is time to transplant your plant into a larger container.

Select a container that is about 20% larger in volume than your existing pot. A good rule of thumb is not to use a container that is more than 4 inches wider and deeper than your existing root ball. Use a good potting soil and make sure that the top of the existing root ball is even with the top of the soil in the new container.

When you are done, you should have no more than 2″ of new soil surrounding all sides of the root ball. Add a little plant food, water in and you’re good to go!



Mint … Can’t Get (Grow) Enough!

Pluck a sprig of mint and crush it between your fingers and you’ll release a cool distinctive fragrance not matched by any other plant. But mint doesn’t just smell good–it packs a mighty punch of flavor, too.

Mint can be very invasive, so it does need caution. Given good conditions, it will happily take over your garden. But who said you have to plant it in the ground? If you want something to take over your yard (perhaps a grass alternative), one of the creeping mints can be a good choice for a groundcover. But if you want to keep mint contained, the best way is to grow it in a container. It spreads rapidly by shallow rhizomes, so if the roots can get out of an area, it will pop up elsewhere. We recommend planting mint in containers and putting them on tables where the wonderful fragrance can be closer to your nose and you can easily pluck a sprig or three, without bending. They go nicely on a sunny kitchen windowsill during winter, too.

Since mint is a shallow-rooted plant, you can plant it in low, 12-18 inch wide bowls. When the plant gets too crowded, simply cut it in half and re-pot with fresh potting soil. Keep your plants moist and feed occasionally–that’s it.

Mint leaves can be harvested regularly and enjoyed. Just pinch as needed. It is best when picked early in the morning. To dry mint, cut the stalks just above the first set of leaves, as soon as the flower buds appear. Hang upside down in a dark, well ventilated room for two weeks or more.

Don’t limit yourself to one kind of mint. There are dozens of varieties available and each one has its own unique flavor. Mint can be used to flavor drinks and salads, it can be made into a jelly and vinegars to flavor meats, and some, like chocolate mint, will make you think you’ve just eaten dessert.

And, we’ve just scratched the surface of the uses and benefits of the Mighty Mint.

So go ahead and give your energy a boost, refresh your spirit and revitalize your senses. Plant some mint today!



How To Grow Those Healthy Blueberries In The High Desert

Blueberries are one of the healthiest fruits around; they are low calorie, almost fat free, packed with vitamin C, antioxidants and dietary fiber–and they taste wonderful. As if that weren’t enough, they can add striking beauty to your garden. Whatever your reason for growing them, blueberries will work very well in your landscape plans. In addition to the fruit they produce, they have beautiful bell-shaped blooms in spring, handsome glossy foliage in the growing season, striking fall color and bright red stems in winter.

Blueberries require little care and are seldom bothered by pests. They can vary in size from low ground-covering varieties to large bushes ranging 4-6 ft. high. Their versatility allows them to be used as background shrubs or as border plants. If you are limited in space or just have a patio, consider planting them in containers.

Different varieties of blueberries produce different sizes of fruit, with flavor ranging from tart to very sweet. Larger fruiting varieties produce fruit perfect for fresh eating and large desserts, while smaller fruiting varieties are better for adding to cereals, muffins and pancakes. Be sure to select different varieties to lengthen your harvest season from June until the end of August. For blueberry lovers, we suggest at least two plants per family member.

Blueberries prefer partial shade in the afternoon. They prefer a light, airy acid soil, so using an acid based amendment like one from G&B Organics is recommended. Blueberries like to stay moist but not wet. If your soil does not drain well, consider building a raised bed to plant them in. Feed with an acid plant food in spring and midsummer for best results.

Blueberries can be planted as close as 2-1/2′ apart if a solid hedge is desired or up to 6′ apart if you want to grow them as individual specimens. Just make sure you have access to them so you can get at those tasty, juicy berries!

We love blueberries and invite you to add them to your garden. This post is for winter planning and to get you thinking about all that is possible. We will have a nice selection of varieties that grow well in our local area. Stop by soon and one of our garden experts will help you select the perfect variety for your family!



Telling Garden Vegetables Apart … How?

Please answer this question … What’s the difference between leafy veggies, flower veggies, root veggies, and fruit veggies?

Leafy vegetables include “leaf-type” vegetables such as cabbage, chard, kale, lettuce and spinach, whose leaves are edible.

“Flower-type” vegetables are ones such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, whose “flower” is eaten instead of leaves.

“Root-type” vegetables are those such as beets, carrots, radishes and turnips, whose roots are the edible part of the plant.

“Fruit vegetables” are botanically fruits but treated as vegetables in a culinary sense. These include tomatoes, peppers, and squashes.

Now you are fully equipped to “enlighten” friends with this incredible information when you find yourself at a loss for subject matter at the next dinner party you attend.



Healthy Houseplants In Winter … How?

greenhouse

Keeping your houseplants healthy during winter months may seem difficult. Light from windows is reduced, days are shorter and humidity may be lower due to heating. But by making a few changes, you can help keep your houseplants healthy.

Keeping things light

In winter, your plants receive sunlight for less time and in less intensity. Houseplants native to rainforests that are used to lower light will be fine with that, but most plants need more light. Try to move your plants near a brighter window (S/SW exposure) to get them more sunlight.

If you have no brighter windows (due to shade trees or apartment living), you might want to consider the purchase of plant lamps that are designed to provide the full spectrum light your plants need. They can be mounted under shelves, over plants or on specially-designed plant stands. Leave them on about eight hours a day, and they’ll give your plants the light they need.

You can also use cool fluorescent bulbs as close as 6 inches from the top of plants.

Temperature

Most plants do not do well when subjected to rapid fluctuations in temperature. Keep them away from hot air sources and cold drafts alike. Run ceiling fans on low if the house is closed up. Fans break up stagnant air; that’s healthier for both you and your plants.

Humidity

Some symptoms of low humidity are brown leaf tips and wilting. Low humidity makes your plants work harder to get moisture from the air and soil, as well as keep what they have inside.

One way to give your plants some extra humidity is to mist them two or three times a day. The water will evaporate off the leaves and provide a cloud of higher humidity around the plant. For a less labor-intensive method, put a layer of pebbles in the bottom of a tray and fill the tray with just enough water to cover the bottom of the tray (below the top of the pebbles). Place potted plants in the tray.

Other Tips

Fertilizing should be done less often for most plants in winter.

Give your plants a good washing. Dirt, dust, grease, and other particles can settle on leaves. Dirty leaves can’t absorb as much sunlight as clean ones. Gently wipe clean the leaves with a soft sponge or cloth dipped in plain water. Sturdier plants can even be given a quick shower in the bathroom with tepid water.



Pollinating Fruit Trees … Do We Really Need Two Trees To Produce Fruit?

apple-treeFruit trees in the high desert add so much to an edible landscape plan and local fresh availability.  But, can we get by with a single tree?  What about the pollination needed?

Our answer is, unfortunately, IT DEPENDS?  No one likes a Yes & No answer but this requires some explanation.

Citrus trees like lemons, oranges and limes are self-fertile (and need to be brought indoors for the winter), requiring no pollinator (which makes them popular for growing exclusively indoors; dwarf varieties are available). Most apricots, figs, nectarines, peaches and persimmons are also self-fertile; only a few varieties need a second tree to help them produce fruit.

There are also a few varieties of apples, cherries, pears and plums that don’t require a pollinator. But, most other deciduous fruit trees do need a second pollinator tree, and most of these require specific varieties to establish successful pollination. The trees don’t need to be right next to each other, practically touching but keeping them fairly close to each other can promote the best pollinating results.

Our staff of garden experts knows which fruit trees make the best pairs, or not, and will be happy to help you enhance your landscape and your pantry. Ask us!



For Next Spring … Get Flowers to Bloom More.

spring bulbsIncreasing the amount that flowers bloom is a common “how to” question.

 

OK … how?

 

Most flowers and flowering plants need three essential ingredients to bloom: sunlight, nutrients, and warm soil. Even shade plants like azaleas and camellias need some sunlight in order to bloom. If your flowers are sun lovers, make sure they get at least five hours of sunlight per day.

Key nutrients for blooming plants are phosphorus and potash. While most plants need some nitrogen to help them grow and stay green, too much can focus the plant on growing instead of blooming. Nitrogen is the most mobile major nutrient and is more easily taken up by the plant.

Feed flowering plants with a high phosphorus and potash but low nitrogen flower food. If that still doesn’t work, starve them of nitrogen by feeding them with a no-nitrogen fertilizer.

Landscape Roses - - 'Coral Drift'

Landscape Roses – – ‘Coral Drift’

Finally, make sure you don’t water your plants too often. Allow the soil to dry out some between waterings, thus allowing the soil to warm up. If you water too much, the plants will often produce excessive fleshy growth and no blooms.