Stew Leonard’s Garden Centers are officially open for the 2019 season. All six Stew Leonard’s Garden Centers offer locally grown flowers, vegetable bedding plants, hanging baskets, annuals, trees, and shrubs as well as a team of gardening experts to help customers get the most out of their lawns and gardens this season.
Whether you have an established green thumb or if you’re a gardening beginner, cleaning up your lawn and garden after a long, cold winter can be daunting. Here are the top five questions that Stew Leonard’s Garden Center experts receive every spring:
1. What is the difference between an annual and perennial?
Annuals are plants that live their whole life span in one season. They grow, flower, set seed, and die all in one year. Stew Leonard’s Garden Centers’ most popular annuals are geraniums, impatiens, petunias, marigolds, and begonias.
Perennials are plants that take a few years to mature, some lasting 50 years or more. Most flower for shorter periods of time than annuals and can be divided after becoming established. For continuous color all season long, use perennials that bloom at different times. Stew Leonard’s Garden Shoppes most popular perennials include hostas, lavender, bleeding hearts, astilbe, coneflowers, and dianthus.
2. How do I plant and take care of newly planted trees and shrubs?
Start by digging a hole approximately 2.5 times the diameter of the pot. The depth of the hole is measured by the root ball in the container and not the container depth, as not all pots will be full. Remove the plant from the container by tapping the sides of the container to loosen the soil. Examine the root system. Are the roots visible? Is there any sign of insects? Take a knife and score the roots to loosen the soil. This will make it easier for the plant to establish itself in its new environment.
Put the plant in the hole and fill it halfway with a mixture of 1/3 dehydrated cow manure, 1/3 peat moss (or 1/3 coconut coir, which is an organic substitute), and 1/3 topsoil. Water, let the soil settle, and fill again with soil until the soil is level with the ground. After planting, mulch your shrub or tree to prevent water from evaporating and weeds from growing. It is also important to water every day for the first two weeks, then two to three times a week for the first year.
The most popular trees at Stew Leonard’s Garden Centers are dogwoods, cherry, magnolia and different varieties of Japanese maple. The most popular shrubs include forsythia, boxwoods, rhododendrons, andromeda, holly, and junipers.
3. How much mulch do I need?
Stew Leonard’s Garden Centers sells mulch in 3 cubic foot bags, which covers 18 square feet. To start, measure the area you’ll want to cover and then multiply the length by the width to get the square feet. Divide your total square feet by 18 to calculate the number of bags you’ll need for approximately a depth of 2 inches of coverage. So, for example, a 10’ by 15’ bed is 150 square feet. A 3 cubic foot bag covers 18 square feet, so you’ll need about 8 bags to cover the bed.
4. Which plants are deer resistant?
Remember that deer resistant is not deer proof! Deer walk in a set pattern and they have started eating things they formerly would not. Deer resistant trees to plant include Norway spruce, white pine, and crepe myrtle, while deer resistant shrubs include boxwoods, andromeda, and mountain laurel. Customers can also look for deer resistant annuals like ageratum, alyssum and cleome and deer resistant perennials like astilbe, coreopsis, and yarrow.
In addition to planting deer-resistant trees, shrubs, and plants, customers can alternate sprays like locally made Bobbex Deer Solution with Deer Scram granules.
5. What can I plant to help repel insects and bugs, especially along my patio?
While no garden is ever pest free, there are plants that can ward off some unwelcome visitors! Plants may repel insects and bugs from the scent they give off naturally or the scents released when they are crushed or bruised, the taste can be disliked or poisonous to the “critter.” Here is a list of just a few plants to consider that will look beautiful and even enhance your backyard.
• Dill repels aphids and spider mites. This herb has aromatic foliage and seeds that have many uses in cooking as well!
• Lavender is not only a beautiful perennial but it also repels unwanted pests away such as mosquitoes, fleas, gnats, moths and flies. Plant this near an outdoor sitting area that receives at least 8 hours of sun a day.
• Lemon balm is a repellant for mosquitoes. It can be used in teas and has a pleasant scent of lemon and mint. Crush the leaves and rub onto the skin to repel insects.
• Lemongrass repels mosquitoes and contains an ingredient that is in citronella oil. Plant it near a sitting area.
• Marigolds have a pungent odor which keeps many pests away, such as aphids, mosquitoes, Japanese beetle, nematodes and rabbits.
• Mint’s aromatic leaves, stems and flowers (especially peppermint and spearmint) repel mosquitoes, ants, whitefly, moths, aphids and beetles.
• Oregano is not only a tasty way to spice up any meal, but it also repels many pests in general, especially mosquitoes.
• Rosemary will repel mosquitoes, slugs, snails and others, whether the leaves are crushed or intact.
• Sage attracts honeybees but repels mosquitoes, cabbage moth and carrot fly and ticks. Try burning some sprigs in the barbecue or fire pit to ward off mosquitoes.