How to Plant and Care for a Winter Hardy Tropical

Winter hardy tropicals need a few care steps to ensure they make it through our rough, canadian winters. Follow these simple steps and you can keep your plants for years and years.

1) Choosing the right spot to plant:

a) Soils: These plants enjoy nourishing soil, but because our springs can drag on for what seems like forever, this can be hard on the roots of your tropical. Choose a spot with fast drainage, like on a hill or planted in sand. If you do not have the ideal soils, feel free to add a bag of horticultural sand to the planting hole.

b) Location: All of the winter hardy tropicals we have enjoy the full sun, but because they are tropical they also enjoy a spot that is sheltered from North and West winds in the winter time. If you have to make a choice, allow the plant to loose an hour or two of sunlight if it means that it will be more sheltered in the winter months.

2) Choosing the right fertilizer:

Most winter hardy tropical plants are something that plant nerds refer to as “monocots”. This means that they have different nutrient requirements than most garden plants, and require special fertilizers. Don’t worry this is not a huge expense, you can buy a package for $3.99. Ask garden your garden centre representative.

3)Mulching around your tropical every fall. You will want to create a doughnut of mulch around the base of your tropical. None of the mulch should touch the stem of the plant, but rather be an inch or two from the stem (rotting wood on wood makes more rotting wood). Make sure the mulch is at least 3″ thick. This will insulate the ground and ensure that it freezes thoroughly, but does not freeze and thaw every time mother nature changes her mind.

4) Covering with a shrub cover between January and March. Again, not to worry a shrub cover runs about $5.99. When you cover your tropical you want to keep in mind that you are not trying to keep the shrub warm, rather you are trying to insulate it so that it remains frozen. It is very hard on plants to thaw and freeze numerous times in the winter, so a shrub cover mediates the weather and keeps it just right all winter long.

 

Happy Gardening!

Spring has Sprung and its time to get that Garden Ready!

Park, early spring

 

Its the most wonderful time of the year! Its spring time! So, to make sure your garden and patio are in tip top shape for summer 2015 browse through these activities:

1. Clear away and compost the dead stalks of perennials that may harbour unwanted diseases and bugs.

2. Prune shrubs and small trees to maintain good form and vigour (except the few mentioned in our fall post about species that should be pruned in the fall. Click here if you would like to see this post)

3. Rake lawns to remove winter debris; this also helps aerate the soil.

4. Wash summer hummingbird and butterfly feeders thoroughly to avoid the buildup of harmful moulds and bacteria.

5. Clean out bird boxes to avoid diseases and pests (such as mites) that can harm feathered visitors to your garden.

7. Top up your mulch. Over the course of the summer mulch is worked into the soil by microbes and invertebrates, this is a great time to top up your mulch and maintain its weed suppressing, water retaining benefits.

8.  If you are interested in taking gardening to the next level, this is a great time to do any pH or nutrient testing. You can send soil into a lab, or buy home test kits. Once you have your results, apply the necessary amendments before the regular growing season begins.

9. Divide crowded perennials. While the weather is still cool and your plants are still dormant it is a great time to divide your perennials.

10. Remove any unnecessary stakes and relax the ties on trees that were staked last year. As your tree grows the diameter of the stem will increase, although you may have left some slack in the ties last year, if the plant has grown at all it may be too tight and eventually girdle the tree.

Happy Gardening!!