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!

Yuck … Mushrooms in my lawn!

mushroom_lawnNot so fast with the Yuck! Let’s answer the question, “Is it bad to have mushrooms growing in my lawn?”

Not really, but elves sure like them! Mushrooms are the spore-producing structures of certain kinds of fungi. Most of these fungi are beneficial because they break down organic matter and release nutrients that are necessary for plant growth. In fall, as the weather begins to cool, mushrooms often pop up in lawns, causing people to wonder where they’re coming from and how to control them.

Mushrooms produce tiny spores that are easily blown about in the wind. When these spores reach a favorable place, they germinate and grow. They are very common in areas with decomposing roots or underground stumps from cut down trees, fallen leaves or lawn thatch and other organic matter.

Most people want to control lawn mushrooms. Sorry to say, we have yet to find any chemicals that are effective in controlling them. Most mushrooms are harmless to your lawn, even though you might not like the way they look. The best you can do is to remove them with a rake and de-thatch your lawn in the fall. De-thatching removes the fungi’s food source. Simply removing the mushrooms may make your lawn look better, but it will not kill the mycellium from which the mushrooms grow.

You should be extremely cautious about eating wild mushrooms, because many cause illness and some are deadly. Never eat a mushroom unless you are absolutely sure it is safe. A reference book is not enough–there are poisonous mushrooms that look very similar to non-poisonous ones. If you wish to pick wild mushrooms, please get training first!

(Thank you Garden Primers for this post.)

“Systemic” … What Does That Mean?

Bonide Systemic Insect ControlThe chemical and organic solutions our garden center is famous for recommending to fix high desert plant problems has a language all it own.  Beyond the unpronounceable botanic names, the fertilizer numbering system and the advice given in “gardenese,” there are the chemical and organic labels requiring some deciphering.

A useful term we use for describing some solution applications is “systemic” and that is the subject of today’s Moana Nursery blog.

Weigle My Monei #3“Systemic” is a term that refers to a chemical that can be absorbed by a plant through the foliage or root system and travels within the plant.

  • Systemic insecticides not only kill insects and disease on contact but also remain in the plant and kill insects when they feed on the foliage.
  • Systemic fungicides remain in and on the plant longer to not only kill disease on contact put provide a layer of protection to prevent future attacks for some time.
  • With weed control sprays, the chemical is absorbed by the plant all the way down to the roots, completely killing the weed.

Bonide Infuse SystemicMany tough problems and anticipated future problems for your plants can be corrected/prevented/headed off using a systemic application. Most systemic products should not be used on any edible plants or crops.


Helping Roses Re-Bloom In Your Yard

Adobe SunriseMany gardeners neglect or give up on their roses in the summer, seeing the quality of the bloom decline as temperatures increase. Maybe they think roses only bloom in the spring.  Rose blossoms do tend to be smaller in the summer and the colors are not quite as vivid because the summer heat forces the blooms to open before blossom size and color pigment have completely developed.  But, given the proper care, combined with a few simple pruning techniques, roses will re-bloom every six weeks until the first frost.

There are two ways to prune roses during the growing season and both will encourage new blooms to set.  Most roses have leaflets (with three to seven leaves) every couple of inches along the stems.  In order to produce blooms you need to prune at least to the second five leafed leaflet. (Pruning just above will eliminate nasty dead stems called coat hangers.)

If you also want to prune for size control, you can go as far down as two leaflets above the previous cut.  Pruning beyond the previous cut tells the rose you don’t want it to bloom. Remember that hybrid tea and grandiflora rose stems tend to grow at least 18 inches after each pruning before blooming; so, if you prune only the minimum amount you will have a very tall (and possibly leggy) rose by the end of the summer.

Peppermint PopBecause roses are constantly growing, they are in constant need of food.  It’s important to feed roses every 6 to 8 weeks with a quality rose food.  Continue feeding to September and you will have quality rose blooms into the late fall.  So, don’t give up on your roses.  With a little help, they will provide loads of blooms for you all season long.

Tree & Shrub Containers: Patio & Yard Focal Points

A tree or a shrub can create a delightful focal point in your patio garden design.IMG_2255 IMG_2272


Many of our gardens have at least one specimen plant, usually a tree but sometimes a shrub. A specimen plant is one that is eye-catching, beautiful, often architectural in form, and can stand alone in a yard or garden. Such specimen plants do not have to reside only in the ground. You can bring one or more onto your patios, decks or balconies and create the same visual effect.

Many smaller scale patio trees are absolutely wonderful specimens, and they can remain perfectly happy living in a container. Even if you don’t have a backyard, you can still have a tree on your patio.

potted treeAlso, many people forget to consider shrubs for their containers. Many of our shrubs are just as happy and healthy in a container as in the ground. How simple it is to bring foliage and flower color into your patio gardens! Just pick your favorite shrub and design your patio garden around its color and form.

And you know what else is great? You can prune many shrubs into an open tree form, creating a beautiful specimen piece. They are beautiful in an open graceful form, like an oriental painting.


Now, you may be tempted to plant flowers at the base of your tree. They will add color but careful pairing of flowers with your tree or shrub will avoid problems of a watering mismatch. Instead, try mulching using colored landscape glass, stones in your favorite colors and textures, or bark. Grasses are another popular combination.

Of course, container selection is very important–your container must be large enough for the plant’s future root system growth. Potting soil and fertilizers are also very important. Select a high quality potting mix, and do not forget to mix in a controlled release fertilizer. Also, remember that moisture retention may be a problem; if so, you can mix in a soil polymer that will hold on to the moisture between waterings.

We’ll match you up with the correct products once you’ve selected your tree and/or shrub.

Well, what are you waiting for? Summer is here and it is time to redecorate your outdoor living space. So come on in! We’ll be looking for you in our tree and shrub section.

Grass Clippings … Thatch Producer or Great Compost?

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Does mulching grass clippings into the lawn increase the build-up of thatch?

Most homeowners bag lawn clippings because they think that the clippings add to the buildup of thatch. This is not true. Clippings that remain on the lawn quickly decompose and release valuable nutrients and beneficial bacteria that actually feed on the thatch layer. If clippings are left on the lawn, you may be able to reduce your use of fertilizer by 20 to 30%. The shorter the clippings, the deeper they fall into the turf and the faster they are recycled into the nutrients for your lawn. Mowing your lawn high will also enhance the turnover of the clippings.

The use of a mulching mower and/or frequent mowing will produce the smallest clippings. If you don’t have a mulching mower, consider mowing your lawn twice at one time. This will further reduce the size of the clippings and distribute them deeper into the lawn. Mowing when the grass is dry and fertilizing properly will also help to prevent an excess buildup of thatch.

On the other hand, bagging your clippings and adding them to your compost pile for mulching and amending your mineral based soil is an excellent gardening tool too. Because they break down relatively fast, grass clippings are highly regarded by those who compost for improved soil. Thus, a kind of dilemma is created but the good news is that either usage (mulched for your lawn or added to your compost) demonstrates the value of grass clippings.


Self-Serving But True Research … More Trees, Less Stress (and Value Too!)



Check out this research.  Results from the tests showed a positive linear association between the density of trees and the self-reported recovery from stress. That is, the more trees the subjects saw, the faster their stress levels dropped. – See more at:  The Truckee Meadows lags way behind in relevant tree canopy … much less than most western cities INCLUDING LAS VEGAS!

And Value Too … How Much are Those Trees Worth? $1 Billion

Many cities are starting to get a better idea of how much their street trees are really worth—not the cost of purchasing them but the actual value of their ecosystem services.

A recent publication in Urban Forestry & Urban Greening compiled tree inventory data for 50 cities in California. They found that the 9.1 million trees they assessed provide annual services valued at $1 billion (that’s $110.63 per tree). Their asset value was $2.49 billion. When you figure that the annual cost of management for each tree is $19, it turns out those cities get $5.82 in benefits for every dollar spent.

The study also found that there were 16 million vacant planting sites. More trees? Please.


Garden to Lose Weight

Garden to Lose Weight

Trying to lose weight before swimsuit season is officially here?

Researchers from Konkuk University and Hongik University in Seoul, South Korea, suggest gardening. Why? Because it’s just like going to the gym.

Turning compost is like lifting weights, raking is like using the rowing machine and pushing a mower is like walking on a treadmill, they say.

In fact, in measuring 10 gardening tasks against gym favorites, their research showed similar calorie burns.

The researchers classified planting transplants, mixing growing medium, watering, harvesting, sowing, hoeing, mulching, raking and weeding as moderate-intensity activities and digging as a high-intensity activity.

Identifying Insect Damage & Figuring Out What Insect It Is

Good bug (ladybug) eating bad bug (aphids)

OK … you see some damage to your plants leaves but how do you identify what bad bug it is?  Once you have identified it, treatment is a “read the label” away or “ask us” at our garden centers.  The key is identifying the damage and offending bad insect. And, for that, you need to understand the three main types of bad bugs – – chewing, rasping and sucking insects?

The mouthparts of insects have adapted over time to suit the feeding style of each type of insect. Mouth parts differ from insect to insect, so the damage that they cause is useful in the classification and identification of the pest. Differentiating the type of insect damage will help you determine how to control the pest.

A chewing insect is any insect that has teeth. Most winged chewing insects (such as beetles, caterpillars and grasshoppers) feed only on leaf tissue, working from the leaf edge towards the center and eventually to the leaf stem. Crawling chewing insects, such as cutworms, will also eat roots and even stems of small plants.

Rasping insects (such as mites, snails, slugs and thrips) actually scrape off the surface of the leaves as sandpaper would. They suck up the fluids from the top layer of cells until all the green tissue has been consumed, leaving only the skeleton behind.

Sucking insects (such as aphids and whiteflies) have slender mouth parts with which they pierce leaves and stems to suck out plant fluids. Large populations can cause curling, yellowing and distortion of leaves, as well as stunting of shoots. Most sucking insects also produce large quantities of a sticky substance known as honeydew, which often turns black with the growth of a sooty mold fungus.

If you’re not sure what type of insect is attacking your plant, just bring in a sample and one of our nursery experts will recommend a remedy to help your plant. But, now, you can identify the offender yourself because you know the difference between the chewers, raspers and suckers!

Variegations In The Garden Landscape???

High Desert Variegations

William Cowper once wrote the now famous words, “Variety is the spice of life.” This couldn’t be truer in the garden. Nothing spices up a garden like plants with variegated foliage. Use too many and they’ll make you dizzy. But placed in the background or strategically planted in the midst of the garden, variegated foliage can bring out the best in all of your plants.

Variegated plants come in a myriad of shapes and shades. From bold to subtle, there’s something for every gardener’s personal tastes. If it’s a tree you’re looking for, nothing steals the show like the ‘Flamingo’ box elder. It can be the centerpiece to build your entire garden around.

Many variegated plants make excellent hedges. Instead of hiding in the background, they provide a great starting point to planning a garden. Consider variegated English boxwood, ‘Red Twig’ dogwood, ‘Gilt Edge’ silverberry, euonymus, variegated English holly, variegated kohuhu, variegated mock orange, dappled willow or weigela. Many of these plants also look wonderful when planted individually to bring out a corner or become a focal point on a mound or garden island.

If a hedge is not your cup of tea but you still want to hide some of your fence line, a variegated bower vine or variegated potato vine will do an excellent job. For bursts of color and interest throughout your garden, consider variegated varieties of abelias, daylilies, licorice plants, phlox, mock orange, sage, stonecrop, weigela, New Zealand flax and ornamental grasses.

If your garden has shaded areas, don’t worry. There are many great selections for areas with less sunlight. Many popular variegated plants prefer shade or partial shade.

No matter what your garden setting is, variegated plants not only look great but also add interest. We have a large selection of plants with unique foliage and variegated colors. Stop by soon and see the beauty of these plants in person. You won’t be able to resist them!