Honeybee on lavender
What is going on with our bees?
Honeybees are in trouble. In the last 50 years, experts say the domesticated honey bee population declined nearly 50 percent in the USA. This year was one of the worst on record, with some U.S. beekeepers losing 60 percent of their hives.
Colony Collapse Disorder – the phenomenon in which worker bees disappear leaving behind a queen, food and a few nurse bees – started making news in 2006 but answers of “why?” are sparse. An identified source of trouble is that Pollinators are exposed to many pesticides. One class of chemistry – neonicotinoids – has been in the media and regulatory spotlight as of late. Pollinators are exposed to these widely used insecticides through direct contact with sprays and residue on plants. They also are exposed by ingesting the pollen and nectar of neonicotinoid-treated plants, though at lower levels.
The one thing experts seem to agree on is that many factors affect bee health: mites, viruses, bacteria, disease; poor nutrition and beekeeping practices; the transportation of hives cross country; habitat loss; genetically modified plants; lack of genetic diversity; weather and pesticides.
Your landscaping, lawn care & gardening practices play a big role in both protecting pollinators and encouraging their continued success, through smart applications of chemicals and promoting the best kinds of plantings. To keep up-to-date, informed and helpful:
• Follow news reports for helpful tips
• Read the labels and follow directions carefully
• Don’t apply products when bees are visiting
• Be diligent in stopping applied product drift
• PLANT for Pollinators
• Buy Local Honey
• Use safe, organic products
Planting for pollinators
One of the best ways to help bees and other beneficial bugs thrive is to give them a place to eat. The below plants are considered the backbone for any high desert garden or landscape. They are all easy care plants and some are even drought tolerant and deer resistant. Consider these plantings in the high desert to help our bee population and if at all possible, avoid using pesticides:
Herbs & Perennials
Thyme (creeping and culinary)
As you can see, the bee-friendly list of high desert plants is a long one with many of our local favorites. Commit to do your part in saving bees!
Most home gardeners lament the coming of winter since it usually spells the end of the outdoor growing season. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Many herbs can be grown indoors quite successfully in the winter months and then be transplanted into the garden the following spring. There’s something about the taste of fresh, home-grown herbs in cooking that is hard to beat. The flavors are so much more flavorful and aromatic than using something dry out of a shaker bottle.
With the right location and care, many herbs can be fooled into thinking that summer is still here. If you’re a little nervous or skeptical about growing herbs indoors, use some tried and tested varieties such as chives, coriander, dill, mint, oregano, rosemary, parsley, and thyme. Most of these can be started by seed, while mint and rosemary can be started by seed or cutting.
Most herbs are sun lovers and will require a southern facing window that gets at least six hours of sunlight per day. For less sunny locations, mint, parsley and rosemary will get by with less sunlight. You might also consider hanging a grow light 6-9 inches above your plants to provide light on cloudy days. Make sure to also rotate your containers at least once per week in order to help your plants grow evenly.
Start your plants in seed trays and then transplant them to window boxes or larger containers once the plants become rooted. Use a good quality potting soil and make sure the containers you use have drainage holes. If you use water trays under your pots, make sure that you check them after watering and drain any standing water in them.
The herbs mentioned above will do fine provided temperatures are maintained between 55 and 70 degrees. Feed with a water soluble plant food every 2-4 weeks just as you would any other indoor plant, and don’t water until the soil surface becomes dry. The use of a small fan will also help herbs survive the stuffy air conditions that can occur indoors in winter.
Plant pests are usually less prevalent during the winter months. Nevertheless, visually check your plants at least once per week, and treat your plants with an insecticidal soap before pests actually become a problem.
So don’t let the winter doldrums get you down. Spice up your life and your winter meals with the addition of fresh, homegrown indoor herbs!
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!
The research on the benefits of plants has exploded in the last 10 years owing in good part to global warming and real estate values. In many ways this interest is obvious given photosynthesis produces Oxygen and digests Carbon Dioxide and landscaping your home enhances first impressions (and thus value). Our ad and the link to our Plants Save Lives (.com) is our attempt to dimensionalize plants as maybe the greatest multitaskers of all time. Here we provide links to just some of the relevant data that have established facts such as $1 of landscaping adds $1.09 of home value and increases from there, unlike any other home improvement expenditure.
We also recognize the current hot trends inherent with plants like local food production, organic gardening, container planting and edible landscaping. And, the calming impact of nature’s plants on the human condition. We hope you will help us add relevant links to research articles of interest and importance.
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!
Berries you can eat fresh, bake into pies, freeze, dry or can that grow on an attractive spring flowering plant that features rich fall color? We must be talking about blueberries.
As the healthy trend of growing food at home gains momentum blueberries have become one of the best sellers in our nurseries. And, why not? With a little effort you can grow pounds of healthy, wholesome fruit on plants that may live up to fifty years. And, as you know, blueberries provide “health” benefits galore … good and good for you!
Where should you plant them? Blueberries need plenty of sun and they like to be sited away from other plants that might compete for food and water. Allowing room for good air circulation is also important as this helps keep leaves free of disease. It’s a good idea to plant more than one variety and to plant them fairly close together. This will help encourage the plants to produce more and larger berries. Growing them in the same area also makes it easier to harvest berries and protect them from birds that will sometimes harvest one hundred percent of your crop if protective measures are not taken. (Your best bet for bird protection? Lightweight netting that can be placed directly over plants or used to cover frames constructed to fit over plants. We can show you how to do it.) We like to plant blueberries as a hedge and we love them as container plants. A half wine barrel is the perfect home for an easy to reach “berry machine” and a small group of containers allows you to get lots of fruit from a small space.
What kind of soil do they like? Blueberries are acid lovers, meaning they like a soil with a low pH. So, extra care should be taken at planting time to amend the soil with Dr. Earth Acid Lovers planting mix (in the yellow bag). Planting them in a group allows you to properly amend the entire planting area. The absolute easiest way to provide blueberries with perfect soil is to plant them in a raised bed or container filled with pure Dr. Earth Acid Lovers planting mix. Soil should hold moisture but also drain well. Quality organic mulch, like our Soil Building Compost, should be used at a depth of 2-3 inches on top of the soil to protect the shallow, fibrous roots from drought injury.
What else do new plants need? At planting time, after thoroughly watering your plants, we recommend that you prune all branches back by about thirty to forty percent through the removal of older wood while keeping the nice new whips (longer growth coming from the base of the plant); this will encourage vigorous new growth. You should also remove any flower buds at planting time. You’ll need to be patient. Producing flowers and fruit will hinder growth of new plants. Limiting fruit production for the first couple of years will pay off with big harvests as your plants mature. Feed your new plants with Dr. Earth Organic 4 fertilizer; perfectly formulated for blueberries. Use it every two months during the growing season to maintain healthy soil and encourage strong roots. You’ll want to maintain a regular watering schedule irrigating frequently enough to keep the soil uniformly moist. Try to avoid overhead watering which can promote disease and keep the area around your new blueberry plants free of weeds and other plants that will compete for moisture and nutrients.
Providing for the few specific needs of blueberries is worth some extra effort. After all, a well-grown, mature blueberry plant can produce more than ten pounds of fruit in a single season! Getting your plants off to a good start will provide you with a berry bonanza for many years to come. We will have High Desert-hardy varieties in stock all spring and summer and we have plenty of passionate teammates equipped with expert knowledge ready to answer your questions. We’re ready to help you get started growing a bumper crop. Come into any of our three stores and let us walk you through it!
As “we” gardeners continue to appreciate the joy of harvesting our own food, berries have become more popular than ever. Berries grown at home have unbeatable flavor and they require very little work.
Raspberries are among the best small fruits for home gardens. There are many varieties that are proven performers in our area. Here are some of our favorites:
‘Autumn Britten’ – This is a fall bearing raspberry that produces a bounty of flavorful and large bright red fruit that is consistently ranked among the best tasting berries available.
‘Fall Gold’ – Very sweet yellow berries are large juicy and firm. This one is sometimes called ‘ever-bearing’ because it produces a crop in late spring and another in fall.
‘Heritage’ – This is another ‘ever-bearing’ or ‘two crop’ variety with very firm red, medium-sized and tasty fruit with good texture.
We like blackberries too. Although they are slightly less cold-hardy we have had great success with a few, including:
‘Black Satin’ – Thornless variety yielding honey sweet medium to large berries in mid to late summer. This variety is very vigorous and disease-resistant.
‘Chester’ – Sweet, high-quality fruit is produced on thornless canes over a long season. This one is very cold-hardy.
‘Darrow’ – This is a reliable producer of attractive, firm, juicy and sweet berries that are great eaten fresh or made into jams and jellies.
So how do you grow raspberries and blackberries? Both raspberries and blackberries like sun, fertile and evenly moist soil along with proper fertilization. We always amend the soil at planting time with Dr. Earth Fruit planting mix (in the blue bag). When it is time to feed, right around bloom time and again in early fall after plants have finished fruiting, we recommend Dr. Earth Organic 9 Fruit fertilizer.
Some pruning will be required but don’t worry it’s not complicated. Varieties that only bear one crop per season will fruit on canes that are two years old. That means that canes that emerge in the current season should be left alone so they will yield fruit the next season. Any canes that bear fruit will slowly begin to die back and should be removed as close to the ground as possible without damaging emerging new canes.
Pruning ever-bearing (two-crop) varieties is a little different. These plants will bear a late summer crop on new wood and, if you leave these canes alone, will bear fruit the following spring on the portions of those canes that did not fruit the previous season. Two year old canes will begin to die back after fruiting and should be removed to ground level as with single crop varieties.
Some growers in really cold areas prefer to treat ever-bearing varieties as fall-bearing by cutting all canes low to the ground each winter. This prevents the plants from fruiting the following spring and instead allows for a fall crop only.
Berries are very forgiving of mistakes so don’t worry about doing everything perfect. They want to grow and will reward a little effort with bountiful crops of the best berries you’ve ever tasted.
We will help you get started and will happily answer questions about the best varieties, planting, pruning…everything you want to know about berries. Plants begin arriving in spring and we will have them in stock at all three stores. Come see us!
Evidence keeps mounting that Trees Matter … beyond the obvious. Study after study show the benefits. Our recent Tree Canopy Survey for the Truckee Meadows put us at the bottom of most lists … even behind Las Vegas.
It is of course self-serving that a garden center nursery and landscaping services company pushes the benefits of tree planting, but here are two articles that show the significant extent and myriad public benefits of trees. Wow!
22 Benefits of Urban Street Trees – - link here – - some of these findings will surprise you.
What trees mean to communities: more than you think – - link here – - the depth of the research and data gathering will surprise you.
One of the most popular trees of all time, Japanese maples are tougher than they look, easy to grow in the right spot (be careful about afternoon sun) and require only basic pruning to look their best and grow into their naturally beautiful form. Here are some pruning basics for Japanese maples:
Japanese maples can be selectively pruned almost any time of year but the best times for major pruning are winter before leaf buds begin to swell and early summer before temperatures exceed 80 degrees F. With no leaves in winter it’s easy to see the branch structure and make the right cuts. In summer you can judge the right amount of thinning needed to see the structure of your tree.
The goal of pruning is to encourage the tree’s natural growth habit. Attempting to restrict or reduce the size of a Japanese maple that is genetically programmed to reach a certain size does not work in the long run. The tree will simply grow faster and become more unruly. If you don’t know your particular tree’s habit do a Google image search to see what it is supposed to look like. Trees usually fall into two categories: upright forms like “Bloodgood” and smaller, weeping forms like “Crimson Queen”.
The starting point for pruning both types of trees is to look for broken, dead or deformed branches. You will usually spot deadwood near the tips of branches or in the interior of the tree. Avoid removing only the tips of branches as this will result in rapid and unruly growth. Instead, remove either a part of the branch back to a ¼” or so above a healthy bud, the half-moon shaped swellings spaced along the branch which is facing the way you want new growth to go, or, remove the entire branch back to the branch collar, the swelling where the branch attaches to the main trunk or parent stem. Always avoid cutting into a branch collar (a flush cut) on trunks or main stems as these are often entry points for disease and pests.
Next, you will want to remove crossing branches that are rubbing against each other or will interfere with each other as the tree grows. Wounds created by rubbing allow insects and diseases to enter a tree.
Branches growing inward or in the wrong direction are the next to go. These will include branches growing through the middle of the tree, downward on an upright form or branches growing upward on a weeping tree.
One of the keys to making Japanese maples look great is to separate branches into overlapping layers that don’t touch each other. With that in mind, look for branches growing parallel. Thinning these branches creates helps define the structure of the tree and adds interest.
Work from the bottom up and inside out. Take your time and periodically step back and inspect your work from different angles. Look at your tree from the base up following each branch upward to decide what and where to prune. If you are unsure, don’t cut.
Make sure your pruning tools are sharp. Bypass pruners are best for cutting branches as thick as your middle finger. Pruning saws are best for anything larger.
Remember, if you have don’t have much experience pruning, if you just don’t know where to start or if you have any questions about how to prune and care for your Japanese maple please visit on of our stores and let one of our experts guide you. We grow Japanese maples, have them in stock year round and we like talking to our customers about them!
Reading a bag of plant fertilizer can be an intimidating experience. Most people, especially those new to gardening, are not sure what to make of “NPK” or the three numbers that appear on every bag – but seem to be different on every bag. We’ve all been there. At Moana Nursery we want to make it easy for you to grow beautiful, healthy plants and we believe that the proper use of fertilizers to build better soil is vital. Here’s a quick guide to what is in a bag of fertilizer and some of the benefits of regularly feeding our High Desert soil with a premium fertilizer.
When you look at a bag of fertilizer, whether for indoor or outdoor plants, you will always see three numbers such as the 5-5-5 formulation of Dr Earth Life fertilizer. These numbers represent the three main substances, or macronutrients, that all plants need for healthy growth. These macronutrients will be provided in different amounts depending on the purpose of the fertilizer you are looking at.
The first number is nitrogen (N). Nitrogen is necessary for leaf growth and health and a nutrient most often lacking in garden soils. Lawns are made up of millions of leaves so they respond well to fertilizers with higher nitrogen.
The second number is phosphorus (P). Phosphorus aids in flower and root development and it helps promote fruiting. Roses and fruit trees are examples of plants that will thrive when fed with phosphorous.
The third number is potassium (K). Plants use potassium for stem and root development and this nutrient also helps make plants more resistant to disease and bolsters heat and cold tolerance. All plants will produce stronger stems and roots when potassium is provided.
Many fertilizers also list secondary ingredients. Calcium helps in the formation and growth of cells. Magnesium helps build chlorophyll molecules which help plants convert the energy from sunlight into food. Sulfur is also sometimes listed on fertilizer labels. It works with nitrogen to maintain healthy plant cells.
Other nutrients often included in fertilizers are sometimes called trace elements or micronutrients. Zinc and manganese help make other nutrients available to plants while iron helps build chlorophyll resulting in healthy, colorful leaves and stems.
Another category of ingredients becoming more common in high quality fertilizers includes beneficial soil microbes and mycorrhizae. These microscopic living organisms contribute greatly to soil health, disease resistance and overall plant vigor.
Moana Nursery recommends Dr. Earth brand fertilizers because they are an organic, scientifically blended source of all the important elements, including mighty microbes, that promote plant health by feeding, building and permanently improving our lean High Desert soils. Dr. Earth takes the guesswork out of choosing fertilizers by providing plant-specific formulas. Whether you are growing vegetables, fruit trees, roses, flowering plants, shrubs or trees Dr. Earth has a purpose blended, easy-to-use and long lasting fertilizer that will help you grow beautiful plants.
Moana Nursery believes in making gardening success easy to achieve. That is why we promote creating healthy soil through proper fertilization with every plant we sell. We love gardening in Northern Nevada and want to share our passion for growing beautiful plants with you. Come visit any of our stores to learn how easy it can be!