Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the difference between Annuals, Biennials, and Perennials?
- What are the differences between organic, heirloom, and hybrid seed?
- Is it too early in the season to plant my plants?
- What's the best way to protect my new plant purchase from the spring frosts?
- How do you properly water a hanging basket or other container?
- How do you properly water a tube or hanging pouch?
- What is the difference between a Seed Geranium and a Zonal Geranium?
- What is the difference between a Proven Winners® Supertunia® and a Wave® Petunia?
- What is the difference between an indeterminate and a determinate tomato plant?
- What's the difference between a June-bearing and an Everbearing strawberry plant?
- Are the sweet potatoes from the ornamental sweet potato vines edible?
- How do you overwinter plants indoors?
- What is the difference between Annuals, Biennials, and Perennials?Annuals are plants that germinate, flower, set seed, and die within one year or growing season. Their popularity is due to the fact they are colorful for nearly the entire season.Back to top
Biennials normally produce only foliage in their first year, bearing flowers and completing their life cycle in the following season.
Perennials are plants that live for 2 years or longer and, once mature, flower annually. In gardens, however, the term perennial is commonly applied to herbaceous plants that form flowering stems each year before seeding, then die back in autumn to ground level, sending up new growth in spring. The term is also used to describe some non-woody, evergreen plants, such as Bergenia and Yucca as well as subshrubs like Artemisia and Penstemon. Some perennials, such as Black-Eyed Susan and Delphinium bloom in their first season.
- What are the differences between organic, heirloom, and hybrid seed?Basically, organic seeds are seeds that are produced without the use and exposure to artificial/chemical fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, and other chemicals. They have to be grown, harvested, stored, and handled under very strict organic rules and procedures. Certification has to be renewed annually for the producer.Back to top
Heirloom seeds are open-pollinated -- they are not hybrids. You can gather and save heirloom seed from year to year and they will grow true to type every year, so they can be passed down through generations. To be considered an heirloom, a variety would have to be at least from the 1940's and 3 generations old (many varieties are much older -- some 100 years or more!).
Hybrid seeds are the product of cross-pollination between 2 different parent plants, resulting in a new plant/seed that is different from the parents. Unlike Heirloom seed, hybrid seed need to be re-purchased new every year (and not saved). They usually will not grow true to type if you save them, but will revert to one of the parents they were crossed with and most likely look/taste different in some way.
- Is it too early in the season to plant my plants?For annuals, you must ensure they are protected from even a light frost or the plants will die. The "frost free" date for our area is May 15. Therefore, if you are unable to attend to your plants once they are planted, it is best to wait until this date. If you watch the weather forecast and are able to cover plants with a sheet to protect them from the frost when the temps dips low, you can plant them at the end of April. Hanging baskets and all annuals must be moved into the garage or under shelter like a porch to protect them from dew settling on them that then freezes. Small-potted perennials (4" pots) need to be treated like annuals since they are baby plants that were planted from seeds and haven't "hardened" off. Larger-potted perennials can withstand light frosts because they have already "vernalized" or "hardened" off the previous winter. Trees and shrubs can also withstand light frosts, but beware they may lose their blossoms or budding leaves. The light frost will not kill them, though. Therefore, you are fine planting large-potted perennials, trees, and shrubs by mid-April.Back to top
- What's the best way to protect my new plant purchase from the spring frosts?If you are planning on buying expensive ticket items like hanging baskets, we encourage you to hold off purchasing them until the threat of frost is diminished. They will continue growing beautifully in our warm greenhouses and we grow enough that your choice basket will be waiting for you. However, if you can't wait, you must make sure all annuals are still getting light during the day, but protected from frost at all times. Therefore, if the day temps are above 40, move the plants outdoors. When the temps fall under 40, get them under shelter - either your garage or a porch. Never move plants into your basement, bathroom, bedroom or any room that doesn't have adequate light - especially for periods of longer than a day. Cover planted plants with sheets or towels - never use plastic! The plastic causes condensation to form inside, and any foliage touching the plastic will surely freeze and die off. Sheets breathe, and they provide enough protection from the frost that the plants will be fine. Annuals cannot withstand hard freezes under any conditions, though, and must be moved to warm shelter.Back to top
- How do you properly water a hanging basket or other container?The most important point to note is that containers need to be checked, and most likely watered, on a daily basis. Hanging baskets in the hot August sun may likely need to be watered twice a day. The safest way to tell if your container needs watering is to lift it. If it feels light, it is a definite indication it needs watering. If it is placed such that you cannot lift it, scratch the surface or poke your finger in the soil to determine if it is moist.Back to top
It is very important to know that if the water runs through your pot immediately upon watering, it is because the mix has dried down to a point that it has separated from the sides of the pot. In that case, water the container and then revisit it in five minutes once the original watering has soaked in and somewhat expanded the mix. You may need to do this two or three times until the soil is once again hydrated. Do check the mix, though, for moisture, because you want to make sure you are not overwatering an already soaked container.
- How do you properly water a tube or hanging pouch?To water a tube or hanging pouch, simply put your garden hose or watering can spout into the cup at the top of the tube or pouch and fill it up to overflowing. Don't worry about the plant planted in the cup or top. It will be just fine and won't drown as the water percolates down through the tube. If the tube or pouch has dried down and the lower plants are smaller or wilty, you will have to repeat this process two or three time (waiting 5 minutes or so between) to allow the soil to rehydrate and expand. Remeber to check soil moisture daily on all your containers and water accordingly.Back to top
- What is the difference between a Seed Geranium and a Zonal Geranium?Zonal Geraniums are propagated from cuttings from a mother plant, while seed geraniums are started from seed. Zonal geraniums produce larger plants and flowers and are more consistent in color, size, and performance. There can be very unique and beautiful colorations in the flowers of some varieties of zonal geraniums we sell. We recommend and use only Zonal geraniums in any container plantings. Since seed types are less expensive to produce, we recommend them for landscaping and bedding situations in which a geranium mass is being planted. Because seed geraniums are smaller than zonals, their performance is poor in containers and just won't produce the "wow" effect that zonal geraniums do.Back to top
- What is the difference between a Proven Winners® Supertunia® and a Wave® Petunia?Supertunia® plants are propagated from cuttings that come from guaranteed disease-free and virus-indexed tissue culture, which enhances plant performance tremendously. We use Supertunias® exclusively for all containers and hanging baskets because of their superior performance throughout the entire season. The plants are maintenance-free, and the array of color options cannot be matched.Back to top
We recommend Wave® Petunias for use in the landscape. Because these plants are propagated from seed, they are more economical for use in larger quantities. They are also maintenance-free: no deadheading or pinching required.
- What is the difference between an indeterminate and a determinate tomato plant?This answer to this question is actually more complex than we will go into here. Very generally, though, an indeterminate tomato plant continues to grow taller - and setting new fruit - the entire growing season, sometimes reaching heights of 8' or more! These plants need to be steaked, and the sucker shoots should be removed on a weekly basis throughout the growing season to continue producing more and healthier tomatoes. A determinate tomato plant stops growing tall at a certain height and generally produces it's crop more or less simultaneously in a more condensed growing season.Back to top
- What's the difference between a June-bearing and an Everbearing strawberry plant?Regular, or June-bearing strawberries can be planted from early spring until fall, and when properly tended do not produce fruit until the following summer. They develop flower buds during short days and cool temperatures in the fall, and then bloom and produce strawberries the following spring. June-bearing varieties are most productive if runners and runner plants form early. Therefore the first season you should remove blossoms to force the nutrients to the growth of the plant. The second season you will reap a bountiful harvest of berries in the late spring.Back to top
Everbearing, or more properly fall-bearing strawberries, produce fruit in the fall the same year they are planted, and will also give you a summer and fall crop the following season. They produce flower buds during long days and warm temperatures, then bloom and bear strawberries in late summer and fall the same year. It is important to note that Everbearing plants have little fruit on runner or daughter plants. Cutting off runners encourages multiple crown formation which is very desirable because each crown will develop one cluster of blossoms, thus the more crowns the more fruit. Encourage newly set plants to grow but cut off all blossom clusters that form until July 1. After July 1 allow all blossoms to develop and set fruit. If early blossoms are allowed to develop on newly set plants growth is reduced, new leaf growth is slowed and multiple crown development is retarded. The second year let blossoms develop early in the spring and continue through the season. Cut off all runners as they develop.
- Are the sweet potatoes from the ornamental sweet potato vines edible?While Sweet Potatoes all come from the same parent material out of Southeast Asia, there is a big difference between the Sweet Potato you buy in the store and the tubers produced by the Sweet Caroline and the Illusion plants. Commercial sweet potatoes have been bred for over 100 years selecting for those with the best sugar to starch content (hence the name SWEET Potato), the ornamental have been bred to produce good leaves and no tubers, though they do form, they are composed of almost pure starch and no sugar; making them a poor choice for eating. So yes you can eat the tubers, but don't expect anyone to come back for seconds! Also always be careful when eating any ornamental plant unless you know how it was grown, and if pesticides or fungicides were used on it before you got it; a tuber is a storage root, and yes they store chemical as well as starch.Back to top
- How do you overwinter plants indoors?Rules of thumb for overwintering plants indoors:Back to top
1. Choose only healthy plants.
2. Bring plants indoors before any frost, which damages foliage.
3. Treat for disease and insects before bringing plants indoors.
4. Place in bright areas and add humidity using pebble trays or spray bottles.
5. Be careful not to over water.
6. When active growth starts in spring fertilize and prune as needed
7. Introduce your plants slowly to outdoor conditions in spring after thread of frost is over.