Gardening Tips

Gardening for your Health - By Judith Dancoff WebMD Feature

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The following is only general information, and if you have more questions, please stop in, and ask our knowledgeable staff.

General Information

Perennials bloom generally 2 months and are fairly low maintenance. They do sometimes require dividing every 3 years or so. Try to remember to choose different blossoming times such as spring, summer and fall when selecting which perennials you would like. Also remember to have different height starting with the shorter ones in front ,you can choose a traditional type garden with lots of different color, or colors to attract butterflies and hummingbirds.You should space your perennials any where from 1ft-2ft apart according to how much is needed,this information should be on the tag. There are choices for full sun areas part sun, or shady areas. We recommend planting annuals with your perennials to supply you with the color you are looking for all summer long. Bulbs will give you early flowers. Such as Tulips, Daffodils, and Hyacinths all available at Sunset.

Bed Preparation

Its important you eliminate weeds before turning the soil.When working with heavy weed growth, or new bed, apply a systemic herbicide such as RoundUp, when temps are consistently above 50 degree. It takes 7-14 days before you will see weeds killed. After vegetation is brown you can till the area.If weeds are particularly aggressive it is recommended to not plant for a few weeks to see if any remaining weeds regrow.A second application of RoundUp will control remaining weeds.

Well drained soil is essential in order to grow successfully, but it is most critical when it comes to how well your perennial will winter. To ensure well drained soil add 3-4 inches of organic matter such as compost, peat moss is a good choice.Work in 10-12 inches of soil. In a particularly wet area you can raise the bed with timber. Drainage can be checked by digging a hole 8-12 inches deep and wide fill with water let drain,fill again,if this water drains in less then 1hr. draining is good.

Don't forget to fertilize New Bed.2lb 5-10-5 per 100sq. ft.to be tilled in.

After Planting Care


Watering is a vital part in getting newly planted plants established. Soak plants right away after planting. Check, regularly for drying out. You can buy a soaker hose and leave it there all summer, it can be buried with mulch, and when watering is needed, turn it on.

Fall Winter Care

Many perennials are better left standing over the winter then cutting them down. Leaving the stem up for the winter aides in wintering, and the foliage helps to insulate the crown. Cutting back perennials may be something you would want to do if you had excess foliage that could keep the area too moist thus causing rotting of the crown in the spring .Another reason for cutting the foliage in the fall would be foliage disease especially with Iris'. It is best with them if you notice a problem or if its time to divide them dig them up, to search for borer larvae. Remove as much soil as possible, soak or spray (if soaking do so for 20 min.) mix 9-1 water and bleach allow to dry in the sun for 2-3 days. Then replant, and cut back. Spray in the fall is highly recommended for Iris. What ever you cutting back, planning to cut 3 inches is recommended.

Helpful Hints

Mulching 1 cubic yard will cover 200-300 sq. Ft. When mulching perennials leave a saucer shape of unmulched ground directly around stem, this will help keep excess moisture away from crown which could lead to various root and fungal diseases.

Tips and Information for Clematis

Before you prune you have to know which group your clematis is in. You determine this by noticing where it blooms, watch it for a year. First pay attention to when it blooms. Second notice whether it blooms on the woody stem that grew last year, then survived the winter (old wood) or green flexible stem that came from main stem this year (new wood). Once you know this info. you can put your clematis into group A,B or C.

Jackmanii are in group C.
Any group C can be a ground cover.

-GROUP C

If unsure leave it unprune for a year. If it dies to the ground over winter or if the flowers are only at the top with a lot of last years dead and bare stems showing at the base it's probably in GROUP C.

-GROUP B

Group B blooms on the OLD WOOD remove broken damage branches.Thin out congested areas.Trim back the tips.

GROUP A

If you have a clematis that doesn't die back in the winter but blooms early it's probably in GROUP A.

In zones 4-5, winter sometimes kills back the tips of GROUP A. If that happens you'll need to do a bit of pruning earlier then normal. Wait for new leaf buds to sprout on the stems you suspect are dead before you prune. Start at the top cut the stem back in stages, stop when you reach green under the brown outer layer of bark. Keep an eye on the plant for a few weeks. Sometimes even though the stems are green the buds are weak and may not have enough energy to grow. You may have to cut some stem back further.

Any GROUP A that is not flowering well is probable due for a renovation pruning, after the vine flowers, cut off almost all of the side branches, beyond trellis.

If you notice clematis wilt in the summer (even when watered properly) you will know clematis wilt when a portion of your vine wilts quickly after plant start to bloom. A systemic fungicide can prevent wilt spreading to healthy stems. First cut away disease stem to the ground.

Clematis like to be fed but not overfed. Feed once a year after pruning with a granulated fertilizer 10-10-10.

Tips submitted by Sandy at Sunset Greenhouses, please feel free to ask her, or anyone the questions you may have!