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Spade! ...Thou art a tool of honor in my hands; I press thee, through a yielding soil, with pride.

~ William Wordsworth ~

From the GTG Garden and Greenhouse

'Emerald' is THE color for 2013, so the media tells us. Finally a color I can relate to: Green.
If you have been following us on fb, you will know that I am most impresssed with the new Campanula 'Mulberry Rose'. Beautiful dusky purple flowers offset by lush emerald green foliage. Gems for sure.
I am also more and more convinced (and some of the newest research seems to support my opinion) that we need to change the way we plant perennials. We have been trained to think '20 dollar hole for 2 dollar plant' and that may be quite the best way when it comes to planting annuals. Hardy perennials, however, seem to benefit more from a different approach. Read our newsletter to get fresh ideas and give your plants a strong start for a longer life!

Happy spring planting, Belle
Green Thumbs Galore LLC

Head Start for Perennials

by Dava Stewart

Let’s get some very basic stuff out of the way (if you are an experienced gardener, you may want to skip to the next paragraph). Annuals are plants like begonias and impatiens and pansies that are generally planted in the spring. Not many people grow annuals from seed. Perennials are plants like coneflowers, campanula, and helleborus. Perennials can be easily grown from seed, and will come back year after year.

As the days get a longer and the maple branches start to get fat and red, most gardeners begin to think about preparing beds and improving the soil. If you are planning a bed that will contain annuals, or you are thinking about your vegetable garden, you should wait for the soil to warm up, and you should dig in compost and do everything possible to make sure that your plants have everything they need for one great season.

If you are planting perennials, though, your plants will be healthier and prosper for longer if you take a different route. Since perennials come back year after year, they have a different set of needs, whether you choose to grow them from seed or purchase a pot-grown plant.

Traditionally, most gardeners have purchased flats of annuals, and planted perennials from seed. There are good reasons to grow perennials from seed. It’s less expensive, and they tend to be stronger, because they are adapted to their surroundings and conditions. But, you have to be a patient gardener! Most perennials will not flower the first year because they are busy growing healthy root systems to see them through the winter.

To encourage prosperous perennials, you should not wait for the soil to warm up, nor should you do too much amending. The healthiest plants have strong roots, and perennials develop strong roots by adapting to colder, more densely-packed soil.

Here are a few tips for growing perennials from seed:
Amend the soil in the fall, rather than in the spring

  • Plant your seeds while the soil is still cold - March and April are good months to plant perennial seeds
  • Some perennials do best if the seed is nicked to aid in germination
Many gardeners prefer to buy pot grown perennials instead of starting with seeds. Seeds can sometimes be tough to germinate, and you are likely to see blooms sooner with a pot grown plant.

If you choose to buy plants instead of seeds, you may be tempted to dig a nice, deep hole, and to work in some compost, and really take care of your plant. But, you may be doing it a disservice. Just as many perennial seeds are better off planted in cold, mostly-unprepared soil, so too are pot grown perennial plants.

Try the slit method, instead. Stick your shovel in the ground, then rock it back and forth, creating a slit in the ground. Put your perennial in the slit, water well, and walk away. Add some mulch if you want to help maintain moisture and deter weeds. Using this slit planting method will encourage the growth of a strong and vigorous root system and help plants adapt for life.

It’s not quite time to plant here in Tennessee, but it’s getting close! Knowing that I can safely plant some perennial seeds and plants in the next few weeks is exciting. We would love to know what you are planning this season. Look us up on Facebook, or send us an email.

Mark your calendars: Our Spring Driveway Sale is scheduled for the weekend of May 4th, 2013. Call or check our web site for directions.

March in the Garden:

Color of the Year 2013
Hosta Winter Warrior
Cmpanula 'Mulberry Rose'
Helleborus x hybridus'
Colorburst Orange
Echinacea 'Colorburst Orange'
Peony Bartzella
Peony 'Bartzella'