Plants that can Survive Outdoors in West Chester, Pennsylvania March Weather

tete-a-tete miniature daffodil by ndrwfgg

TheGardenLady received this question from someone calling him or herself “Garden Challenged”.

I’m having guests next weekend and would like to put something pretty in the outdoor planters. Any suggestions for something that can survive mid-March in West Chester, PA (outside of Philadelphia)?

Visit your neighborhood plant nurseries. I recommend checking the better nurseries in your area where they will have the more interesting plants. Look only at the plants that the nurseries have sitting in their yard. (Don’t look at any plants that they have growing in their green house or indoors. Plants they keep indoors will not be hardy if you put them outdoors in a planter.)

Any plant the nursery has sitting on their grounds is hardy for your outdoor planter at this time of year. They should have many plants sitting outdoors including some that are flowering like pansies and some spring bulbs like daffodils. If you are worried, you can also ask the nursery workers if the plants have to be taken indoors at night. Nursery people love to talk about plants and help people. They will tell you how to plant the container. If they tell you the plant cannot stay outdoors at night, they usually know what they are talking about- they wouldn’t leave plants outdoors to freeze. They would lose money and they would lose you as a customer. You don’t want any plant that has to be taken indoors at night if you are planting something for an event.

Continue reading “Plants that can Survive Outdoors in West Chester, Pennsylvania March Weather”

Fall Planting

Bulbs. by don.wing45

Everyone knows that fall is the time to plant many of the bulbs that will bloom in the spring. All the stores are now carrying daffodils, tulips and other bulbs and catalogs are sending out the bulbs you ordered this spring. But fall is also the time to plant other plants for next year’s garden.

TheGardenLady just received a mailing from one of her favorite online rose companies The Antique Rose Emporium   reminding me that fall is probably the best time to plant roses if you live in zone 6 or warmer. Roses planted in the fall acclimate quicker and perform better the following spring. Also, this is a great time to get plant bargains especially in your local nurseries.  Friends of mine have found wonderful roses at discount prices at some of the big box stores that sell plants. Continue reading “Fall Planting”

Now is the time to plant your tulips and daffodils

At the Foot of the Magic Tree by JLMphoto

If you are planning to have tulips or daffodils or any bulbs blooming next spring, this is the perfect time to plant them. Bulbs can be planted in the ground now until the soil freezes so hard that you can not dig it. But even though we are having frosts, so long as the soil is able to be dug, you can continue planting the bulbs.  If you fail to put your bulbs in the soil, pot them and keep them in a cold garage or in a cold refrigerator so that they will also bloom next spring.  Bulbs need that coldness to bloom.

If you plan to buy bulbs in the stores, many of them are now on sale- half price or better, be sure to squeeze the bulbs to make sure that the ones you are buying are hard. Don’t buy any bulbs that are mushy or empty. I would ask to open the package in the store to check before you pay for the bulb. You do not want to buy flowering bulbs that are no longer good. A good bulb feels hard.

Continue reading “Now is the time to plant your tulips and daffodils”

Plants for a Grave

Grave Daffodils by evinrisca

TheGardenLady received this question from Lynn.

An older lady at my church needs appropriate plants to use at her husband’s grave. Can she call you? She does not use computers.

Cemeteries have different requirements on what is allowed to be planted on graves. More and more cemeteries do not allow permanent plantings because they do not have the manpower to care for plants. So first, your friend should discuss with the people at her cemetery to see what is allowed. If they allow plantings, perhaps they would give your friend some suggestions of what they want planted.  See here.

If, after discussing with the people at the cemetery, they give you permission to plant something but don’t recommend anything, TheGardenLady would recommend plants that are easy to raise and easy to maintain. After all, if your friend is elderly, she might not have the energy to care for plants after they are planted.

She might consider planting some bulbs like daffodils that will naturalize. TheGardenLady would not recommend tulips because tulips do not always return year after year so that many gardeners treat tulips like annuals. Daffodils will return for a long time.

Hostas by Dr. Farnsworth

TheGardenLady would recommend planting Hostas. They come in such variety and colors of green and leaf patterns and they would make the graveside look like a lovely meditation area. And though Hostas are usually not raised because of their flowers, they do have flowers. Hosta Plantaginea has some of the largest flowers with fragrance.  See here. TheGardenLady would recommend dwarf or shorter Hostas so that the plants don’t become overgrown.

Your friend might overplant the daffodil bulbs with the Hosta plants so that there is a long period with flowers and then the Hostas hide the dead leaves of the daffodils. Plant the daffodil bulbs much deeper than you plant the Hostas.

Another easy to raise plant that might look pretty in a cemetery would be the Hemerocallis or daylilly. These bloom all summer long and one has such a wide range of choices. Choose dwarf or short daylilies.  See here.  Again,daylillies can be planted over the area where the bulbs are.

One doesn’t want to hide the gravestone so TheGardenLady would not plant too many plants on the grave or plants that grow too tall. Therefore, the short or dwarf varieties are best.

Please let your elderly friend know what TheGardenLady recommends. Sorry, but I do not take telephone calls.

Daffodil Advice

Eyes on the Sun by Handcanons

TheGardenLady received this question from Fran.

I was given some daffodils at my garden club meeting this week.  They had bloomed already and there were just bulbs with green leaves on them. I live in zone 8 in Florida and was told that I could grow daffodils in Florida. I was not aware of this. Is this true and how did this lady grow them here in Florida?

Daffodils are grown throughout most of the US.  And Florida is no exception. There is an American daffodil society and there are regional daffodil societies including a Florida daffodil society.  See here.

Since you received the plant from someone who grew them in your area, that bulb should grow for you and re-flower. In one of the popular catalogs that sells bulbs from Holland it seems that all their daffodil bulbs are guaranteed to bloom in zones 3 through 8.  And if you go online or go to your garden stores, there are even daffodils that will bloom for those who live in warmer zones.

Continue reading “Daffodil Advice”

Saving Potted Daffodils

Daffodils by Poppins Garden (on flickr)
Daffodils by Poppins' Garden (on flickr)

TheGardenLady received this question from Cecilia.

I have some daffodils in pots and the flowers have already dried out. What do I need to do  to keep them healthy for next year? Or will theybe fine without my help?

When the flowers on your daffodils dry out, cut them off. This goes for daffodils growing outdoors, too. But NEVER cut off the leaves. After flowering the leaves continue to provide nutrients to the bulb. By cutting the flowers off you prevent the daffodil from setting seed. Unless you are a professional daffodil breeder or an avid amateur, daffodil seeds are more difficult to work with so you don’t want the plant to set seed. You want all the energy and growth to go into the bulb for next year’s bloom.

Now with potted daffodils, because the plant was forced- the bulb may no longer be any good. But you can try to save it and hope it is still ok. The daffodil you bought came in a small pot with limited soil which was depleted of nutrients when it was forced and bloomed. So even though the fall is the best time to plant daffodil bulbs, TheGardenLady would immediately plant the flowerless bulbs into the ground with the leaves still on. This way the bulbs may have a chance of living by getting some nutrients from the leaves as  well as from the outdoor soil. Mark where you planted the bulbs after the leaves die, so that you know where to look next spring to see if you saved those daffodils. Remember, plants want to live so that if you give them a good chance, they might comply. But, if they die, you know you tried.

Good luck.

Caring for Indoor Daffodils

Indoor Daffodils by Lisa 65 (on flickr)
Indoor Daffodils by Lisa 65 (on flickr)

TheGardenLady received this question about daffodils:

I have also recently received a small pot of daffodils for indoors [probably from the local grocery store. It has the colored foil around it]. They doubled in length in one day, look healthy, and have smaller buds about to come out. I keep them in my room which is fairly cool and can get sunny. I’m wondering if I need to move the bulbs to a bigger pot at any point as well as if I can share the bulbs with friends once they stop flowering.

Daffodils like coolish indoor temperatures, 50-75°F, 10-24°C, the cooler the temperature, the longer the blooms last: medium humidity- too wet and you might get bulb rot: and bright indirect sunlight coming from the South/East/West

Do not waste your time repotting the daffodil bulbs for this season’s indoor flowering. Repotting causes stress on the plant which may cause the flowers to die.

The daffodils in the pot may have been forced (see here) to bloom at a specific time. Forcing is done by using special lighting techniques, fertilizing techniques and temperature control (see here). Enjoy the flowers by putting the little pot in a cache pot (see here) and bringing the entire thing to the room where you are entertaining for all to enjoy.

Continue reading “Caring for Indoor Daffodils”

Underwater Flower Arrangements

Underwater Flowers by withflourish (Flickr)
Underwater Flowers by withflourish (Flickr)

TheGardenLady received this question from Sally.

How would you condition daffodils that will be used in an underwater arrangement for 24 hrs? Once underwater, is there anything that can be added to stabilize the flowers?

TheGardenLady has never tried to make underwater arrangements and
wonder if the writer of this question is planning an underwater wedding with daffodils :-).  Sounds interesting.

I do hope the person asking this question is willing to do some experimentation before she attempts the underwater bouquet. The one thought TheGardenLady has, but has never tried, is to put the daffodils in a vase with a little glycerin with water in the vase, let it sit for a while and then put the daffodils underwater. A second experiment is to put some glycerin in the water you will be putting the daffodils under. Other stabilizing substances to try can be found on this website to see what works best for daffodils.

Please let TheGardenLady and her readers know your results. A photo
would be appreciated.

Some other websites that give directions for making underwater floral
arrangements are here, here and here.