Now in: Strawberry Plants

It’s the best time of year to plant your strawberry plants! Our selection is unbeatable this year with many of Uncle Mike’s favorites. Grown locally in our Woburn greenhouses, our strawberry varieties have been selected for their great performance in our New England garden. Strawberries grow best in full sun and are grouped into two categories: June-bearing and Ever-bearing. June-Bearing Strawberries produce a single, large crop per year during a 2-3 week period in late Spring. These traditionally grown strawberry plants produce a single flush of flowers before berries and many runners. They are classified in early, mid and late varieties. Our favorite is the All-Star variety for their taste and resistance to disease. Because they produce runners, they need more room in the garden and can make a great ground-cover.

Ever-bearing Strawberry plants produce fruit throughout the entire growing season. Beginning in Spring, with intermittent crops throughout summer and fall. They don’t send out many runners, which makes them great for containers or hanging baskets. Day-Neutral Strawberries – similar to ever-bearing, also send out few runners and have a continuous crop all season long vs. intermittent.

‘Ozark Beauty’

This day-neutral strawberry is famous for its large yields of bright red, usually large berries. Produces from June – September. They deliver fruit all summer with a large initial harvest and a steady crop the rest of the season.

‘Quinault’

Quinault is a terrific variety for containers. It is everbearing, and produces amazingly large and sweet strawberries. Very disease resistant!

 

‘Montana’

Strawberry Montana is a later addition to the strawberry varieties. Produces an abundance of conically-shaped medium-large fruits for the whole summer. Flavor is sweet. Everbearing.

‘Gasana’

Ideal for small containers and window boxes, Gasana has a compact growth habit with beautiful pink flowers. The flowers produce small to medium, conical berries with excellent flavor. Everbearing.

‘Delizz’

An all-American Selection in 2016! Easy to grow and vigorous, Delizz is a prolific producer of smaller, tasty strawberries all season long. Delizz is “day-neutral” vs everbearing. Modern day-neutral strawberries were developed to produce continuously all summer and into the fall. In contrast, traditional everbearing produces two to three separate crops each growing season.

“All-Star”

All Star produces a very high yield of extra sweet, juicy berries in mid-late season. Usually late Spring and Early Summer here in New England – hence Junebearing. They are vigorous plants and very resistant to disease! Plant with everbearing varieties for a even more enjoyment.

 

Alpine Strawberry

Alpine Strawberries are small fruits with wonderfully sweet taste. Extremely prolific, alpine strawberries don’t look like your typical grocery store strawberry fruit. Looking like a wild cultivar, alpines bear fruit throughout the season with production peaking in mid summer. Because of their wildflower tendancies, apline strawberries are often used as ground cover because of their vigorous spreading habits.

NOW BLOOMING IN THE NURSERY: ANDROMEDA

Pieris (Andromeda) 

One of the earliest shrubs to bloom in the spring, Pieris offers an elegant flower form that merits close inspection. Individual flowers may remind you of lily of the valley, but rather than one individual flower, they are grouped in large clusters that hang down from the tiered branches, each cluster up to 6” long. Often fragrant, they shimmer in the early spring landscape. Flowers may be white, pink or deep rose, depending on the variety. 

Native to the mountain regions of the Far East, Pieris japonica is wonderfully hardy in our area. It is a shrub with four seasons of interest. Glossy dark green leaves remain evergreen all year and for that reason alone, it merits inclusion in our gardens. But there is an added foliar element – new leaves emerge as the flowering cycle is coming to an end and are bronze to red in color. The contrast is eye-catching.  As the colorful new leaves turn dark green, buds for next year’s flowers are forming. The buds are bead-like and showy, rather like having jewelry on your shrub! The buds’ summer show continues throughout the winter, adding interest and contrast to the evergreen foliage.  

Pieris are excellent companions for Rhododendrons and Azaleas as they grow in similar conditions. They are ideal for use in foundation plantings, woodland edges and mixed borders. We are perhaps most familiar with the 3’-5’ tall, mid-sized varieties but there are excellent low growing varieties for the front of the border, and even dwarf varieties under 2’ tall which can be grown in containers. Versatile, they will grow in light conditions ranging from sun to partial shade to full shade. If grown in full sun, they will be happiest with some afternoon shade. And no matter the light conditions, they do appreciate protection from the drying effects of winter winds and sun. They like the acidic nature of our New England soils, and to look their best, they prefer that soil to be rich in organic matter.  

Deer resistant, they are also a favorite and important food source for our native pollinator, the mason bee. Here are varieties to consider for your landscape. 

 

Pieris japonica ‘Compacta’ 

As the name suggests, this variety is somewhat smaller than traditional varieties of Andromeda. It grows to a height of 4’. As well, the leaves are slightly smaller than traditional varieties. It flowers heavily with trusses of white, bell-like flowers that are lightly fragrant. After the flowers fade, new foliage emerges and is flushed with red-bronze tones. As this new foliage matures it becomes a lovely shiny, deep green.  

 

Pieris japonica ‘Dorothy Wycoff’ 

‘Dorothy Wycoff’ is a beautiful variety, admired for its year round interest. It features dark red winter flower buds which open to reveal white flowers with a soft pink tone. The foliage is glossy and dark green in summer, turning mahogany-red in winter. This shrub will reach a height of 5’ in 10 years.  

 

Pieris japonica ‘Karenoma 

‘Karenoma’ has all the virtues associated with Andromedas – showy flower buds that open to elegant, upright trusses of fragrant, white flowers, new foliage which has bronze-red tones, and glossy leaves that remain through the winter. But this variety has an added virtue –it is a particularly hardy variety.  Growing to a height of 4’-5’ and a similar width, ‘Karenoma’  is perfect for the home landscape.  

 

Pieris japonica ‘Katsura’ 

‘Katsura’ is a lovely plant with arching trusses of rich rose- pink, bell-shaped flowers that appear in early spring. A distinguishing feature of this variety is that new foliage emerges not just in spring, but into summer, offering a particularly long season to enjoy the dramatic, glossy, wine-red color of new growth. In 10 years, ‘Katsura’ will reach a height of 5’ and a similar width.  

 

Pieris japonica ‘Little Heath’ 

‘Little Heath’, as the name suggests, is smaller than many Andromedas, growing 2’-3’ high and wide at maturity. Pendulous white bell-shaped flowers appear in early spring. Unusual for Andromeda, ‘Little Heath’ has variegated foliage – each leaf is outlined in cream. New foliage emerges with bronze- red colored tones. It performs well in the ground and is also suitable for container planting. 

 

Pieris japonica ‘Mountain Fire’ 

‘Mountain Fire’ is a showy and dramatic Andromeda, noted for its spectacular brilliant red new growth which remains on display for several weeks. No muted bronze tones for this variety. ‘Mountain Fire’ has lovely clusters of fragrant white flowers. It will grow slowly to a height of 6’ and a similar width.  

 

Pieris japonica ‘Red Mill’ 

‘Red Mill’ is noted for the fiery red color of its newly emerging foliage. Leaves mature to a rich dark green. Large clusters of white flowers appear in early spring and are particularly long lasting on this variety. ‘Red Mill’ grows to a height of 4’-6’. 

 

Pieris japonica ‘Scarlet O’Hara’ 

Another Andromeda with lovely bronze-red new growth, ‘Scarlet O’Hara’ is notable for its relatively early and profuse bloom. Clusters of pink buds open to fragrant white flowers. Leaves mature to glossy dark green on lovely red stems. More narrow than many Andromeda, ‘Scarlett O’Hara’ will grow to a height of 6’-8’ and a width of 4’-6’ in 10 years.  

 

Pieris japonica ‘Valley Valentine’ 

‘Valley Valentine’ has much to commend it. It has beautiful, deep red flower buds that open to deep pink blooms. The newly emergent foliage has an attractive, bronzy tint before maturing to glossy green in the summer. Winter brings bronze-red tones to the foliage. It grows slowly, reaching a height of 5’-6’ in 10 years.  

 

Pieris japonica var. yakushimanum ‘Cavatine 

This hardy, slow growing Andromeda is increasingly popular. It has small leaves and grows as a dense, compact mound only 2’ tall and a bit wider in 10 years. Trusses of white flowers open slightly later in spring than other varieties and are particularly fragrant and long lasting. This variety is well suited to the smaller garden. It can be used in a foundation planting or mixed border, and is particularly attractive when used to line a walkway. 

 

Pieris japonica var. yakushimanum ‘Prelude’  

‘Prelude’ is similar to ‘Cavatine’ with the same low, mounding shape. Flower buds are pink, opening to long lasting, delicate white blooms. Emerging foliage has a pinkish tint before maturing to rich dark green.  

 

Pieris x ‘Brouwers Beauty’ 

Developed in Connecticut, ‘Brouwer’s Beauty’ is a cross between Pieris japonica and our native Pieris floribunda. The result is a beautiful shrub with purple-red winter buds which open to an abundant display of slightly fragrant white, bell-shaped flowers that are upright and slightly arching. New spring foliage is yellow-green, maturing to shiny dark green in summer and bronze in winter. The rich winter foliage complements the deep red flower buds, creating winter interest in the garden. Very hardy, it is slow growing, forming a dense shrub 5’-6’ tall and 3’-4’ wide in 10 years. This variety was a Cary Award winter in 2000, signifying its outstanding garden performance in our region.  

 

Dwarf Pieris 

While we tend to think of Andromeda as a medium sized shrub, there are several dwarf varieties which feature a compact, mounded form no more than 2’ tall and wide in 10 years. The leaves and flowers are proportionally reduced in size and appropriately scaled to the plant.  Dwarf Pieris varieties are a great option for the smaller landscape or rock gardens.  

 

 Pieris japonica ‘Bisbee Dwarf’ 

‘Bisbee Dwarf’ is a slow growing variety with small white flowers panicles that are plentiful and fragrant. Newly emergent leaves are reddish in color before maturing to a glossy dark green. This variety has a Massachusetts connection as it was introduced by Horatio Bisbee of Ware. 

 

Pieris japonica ‘Bonsai’ 

‘Bonsai’ has tiny, one inch, round, dark green leaves and a dense, upright growth habit. Panicles of white bell flowers are in perfect scale. And yes, it is perfect for bonsai! 

 

Pieris japonica ‘Pygmaea 

‘Pygmaea’ is a very unusual Andromeda. It has delicate 1” long, narrow leaves that give a feathery texture to the garden. Its growth habit is fairly upright. Extremely slow growing, it is suitable for containers, rock gardens or a small landscape. White flowers appear in spring.   

Now Blooming in the Nursery: Forsythia

Forsythia x intermedia ‘Lynwood Gold’

The bright yellow flowers of Forsythia are a sure sign that winter is behind us. Long a staple in gardens throughout New England, we sometimes take these familiar stalwarts for granted. But here is a variety that will inspire you to renew your acquaintance with this useful shrub.

Forsythia ‘Lynwood Gold’ offers the largest flowers of any Forsythia, creating a spectacular display. It has deep golden yellow flowers which literally cover the branches with bloom. The effect is stunning. The foliage emerges after the flowers fade and in autumn, the leaves turn a lovely butter yellow.

Upright in its growth habit, ‘Lynwood Gold’ will grow 6’-8’ in height and a similar width. It is easily pruned to maintain a desired size; however, pruning should be done immediately after flowering as flower buds for next spring will form during this summer. A mid-summer or fall pruning will remove next year’s flower show.

Forsythia performs best in full sun. It can be grown as a specimen plant or planted in a row to create an attractive deciduous hedge. And who can resist cutting a few branches of Forsythia as the blooms begin to open and bringing them indoors for a beautiful spring bouquet!

It’s cold! What can I do in the garden now?

With chilly temperatures still in the forecast, many are asking what can they do in the garden now? Here are a few tips.

  1. Now’s the perfect time to fertilize your trees and shrubs using an organic fertilizer.  We like Espoma’s Holly-Tone or Plant-Tone. After our harsh winter, many are seeing browning on evergreens and broadleaf evergreens like rhododendrons and azaleas. In most cases, feeding will give them a boost they need to rejuvenate. Give them some time as warm weather approaches, they will likely bounce back with a little patience.
  2. It’s a good time to throw down your grass seed. Even though it is still chilly, it will germinate when the ground temperatures rise.
  3. Put down your lime, MAG-I-CAL or gypsum. You may apply these at any time, but its a great time now to adjust the soils pH so your soil can get ready for the growing season. Well adjusted pH in your lawn or garden beds means your soil can absorb your fertilizer’s nutrients properly.
  4. Sow your cold-crop veggies and greens. Beets, kale, carrots prefer a cooler season and are usually grown earlier before your tomatoes, peppers and herbs.
  5. Apply a moss killer like Bonide’s Moss-Max if you have any issues with moss or mold on the lawn or around the garden. Safely and quickly kills moss and algae on decks, roofs, sidewalks too. Contains iron so it will turn your lawn a deep green.
  6. Apply mole and vole products now! If you are seeing tunneling or other damage to the lawn and garden, it’s likely voles which can wreak havoc on your garden. Bonide’s Mole-Maxx will do the trick, but apply early before the damage is done! Remember, moles are carnivores and voles are herbivores, so usually voles go after plants and moles go after insects.
  7. Plant up your planters and windowboxes with early season annuals like pansies. While we are definitely not out of the woods yet with freezing temperatures, pansies can tolerate cool temperatures. If the threat of a frost is a possibility, simply bring your planters inside or cover with an old sheet.
  8. Assess the yard for tree damage. After our winter storms, many will find more damage to trees in the yard than normal. While large tree limbs may likely need to be removed by a professional, most homeowners can remove the jagged remains of smaller broken limbs. You will need sharp tools such as hand saws and pruners to make clean cuts. Research in recent decades has changed our thinking about best practices when it comes to pruning trees. No longer should you cut a broken branch flush against the trunk. This method leaves the tree vulnerable to the invasion of disease organisms. Instead look for the raised area where a branch meets the trunk. This called the branch collar. Leave the branch collar intact, making your cut ½ inch outside the collar. To avoid having the weight of a branch tear the bark, increasing the amount of damage, remove the limb in stages. Remember this rule: first under, then over, then final. It translates to
  • Cut part way through the branch from beneath, one or two feet from the trunk
  • Make a second cut on top of the branch, several inches out from the first cut
  • Complete the job by making a final cut next to the trunk, just outside the branch collar, with the lower edge angled slightly farther away from the trunk than the top edge.

Scientific data now clearly demonstrates that wound dressings such as tar, shellac or paint do not prevent decay or insect damage. In fact, they may make decay problems even worse. Wounds should be left untreated, allowing the tree’s natural defense mechanisms to work their magic.

Trees that have been largely uprooted or with serious trunk splits will likely have to be removed. A qualified arborist can assess whether a tree can be repaired and strengthened with cabling and bracing. Some trees can be staked to help them return to their upright form. Be sure to use materials such as webbing or rubber covered wire that will not cut into the bark when tying the tree to one or more stakes. Soil needs to be firmed around the root system and the tree should be watered well.

Evergreens became heavily laden with snow and ice during the recent storms but they may regain their shape on their own. For an unobtrusive but effective fix, green colored twine can be loosely wrapped in a spiral motion around evergreens, such as columnar forms of Arborvitae, to help them return to their normal shape.

While a slow release organic fertilizer will not hurt storm damaged trees, avoid the temptation to over fertilize. This will only encourage new foliar growth, adding additional weight for the root system to support. Trees will need time to reestablish their roots.

While it is heartbreaking to lose a tree, it does present an opportunity to reassess the landscape and perhaps replant with something even more special. There are many beautiful small trees that don’t interfere with power lines and many whose architecture helps them deal with wind and snow load. Remember the saying, “The best time to plan a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today.”

What’s In Store: March 30, 2018

Celebrate Easter and Passover this weekend by bringing Spring blooms into your home! Our greenhouses are full of beautiful color to spruce up the house for your party guests. Stop into the Florist at Mahoney’s Winchester or Tewksbury for festive potted baskets, vase arrangements and the freshest cut flowers too!

Spotlight: Phalaenopsis Orchids

Also known as Moth Orchids, Phalaenopsis orchids are part of the gigantic orchid family and one of the easiest to grow. Known for their showy flowers, phalaenopsis bloom for weeks on end, making them one of the best indoor plants for those seeking colorful, long-lasting blooms. Our selection of phalaenopsis orchids is always full, with many double stem and even triple stem plants to allow for the most stunning blooms. We carry many unique and extraordinary blooms in an array of colors. You won’t be able to choose just one!

Water

How often you water will depend on the potting medium. Bark retains less water than soil. If your phal is potted in bark watering once a week is generally sufficient. If your plant is potted in a denser medium like soil, water when the top feels dry. The amount of light and heat your plant receives will also affect how soon your phal needs watering. Summer months will need more frequent watering, winter will need less. After a few waterings, you will be able to tell by the weight of the pot whether or not it is time to water again. If in doubt, wait a day.

It is best to water in the morning. Place the plant in the sink and use tepid water. Do not use salt-softened or distilled water. Let the water run through the plant for a minute or so. Be sure to let the plant drain completely.

If any water remains in the crown (where the leaves join in the center) use a paper towel to blot the water to avoid crown rot.

Light

Phalaenopsis are ‘low’ light orchids. They grow beautifully in an east window and can be grown in a south or west window if protected by a sheer curtain. A phal’s leaves should be olive green. If they are darker it means the plant is not getting enough light; red tinged leaves mean the plant is getting too much light. Once the plant is in bloom you can place it anywhere in your home out of direct sunlight. If your plant does not re-bloom, increase the amount of light that it receives.

Continue watering and fertilizing while waiting for the blooming cycle to begin!

Temperature

Phals are easy to grow because they enjoy the same temperatures we do – above 60º F at night and a range of 70º F to 80º F or higher during the day. 95º F is the maximum temperature recommendation. Keep in mind that temperatures close to the window on a windowsill will be colder or hotter than your general house temperature. Fluctuating temperatures can cause bud drop on plants with buds ready to open.

Fertilizer

Any balanced orchid fertilizer (look at the numbers on the container, 20-20-20, etc.) can be used to fertilize your orchid. Feeding weakly (half strength) weekly works well. Once a month, use clear water to flush any accumulated salts from the potting mix.

Cutting the spike

When the blooms are finished, you can cut the spike down to the level of the leaves and the plant will bloom with larger flowers and a strong stem within a year. You can also cut off the stem leaving two nodes (those little brown lines on the stem below where the flowers were) on the stem. One of these nodes will then initiate and generally produce flowers within eight to 12 weeks.

Potting

Many growers use orchid pots with holes in the sides that allow air to circulate through the loose medium and around the leaves and roots. We have many decorative pots designed just for orchids! Continue watering and fertilizing while you are waiting for the blooming cycle to begin again! Repotting is usually done every one to three years.

 

Easy-Care Air Plants

 

Air plants (tillandsias) are amazingly versatile and are a great conversation piece! In their natural habitat of Central and South America, air plants grow on the trunks of trees, and get all the moisture they need through their foliage from the humidity in the air. They belong to a special family of plants called epiphytes, which are plants that grow on other plants in a non-parasitic way, only using the host plant for support. Most orchids, bromeliads and even some types of ferns are epiphytes too. You don’t have to travel to some tropical destination to enjoy air plants!

Air plants are enjoyed by avid gardeners and beginners alike and offer a decorative, design element indoors. Not requiring soil, air plants look beautiful placed in a glass vessel, on drift wood, in a terrarium or even in a simple tray with found objects like rocks and sand. The possibilities are endless!

Air plants prefer bright, filtered light and to be misted several times a week. We like to completely submerge air plants in water once a week to give them a nice, good soaking.

If you don’t have one already, stop in and pick out some air plants for yourself and a friend. We have many varieties to choose from and they are super easy to grow.. and be warned, they are addictive!

 

 

 

 

Now in: Citrus Plants

Grow your own lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits and more with your own indoor citrus plant. We’ve received a fresh shipment of sun-loving dwarf citrus plants, many in bloom! Find varieties like Meyer Lemon, Key Lime Limequats, Navel Oranges and more!

HOW TO START SEEDS INDOORS

Few gardening pursuits are as rewarding as growing your flowers and vegetables from seed. For centuries, New England gardeners and farmers alike have embarked on their labor of love early on the season. The goal: to sow their seeds indoors while patiently awaiting the arrival of warm weather.

Our friends at Botanical Interests Seeds have helped us provide some indoor seed starting basics. We love the Botanical Interests seed collection. You’ll find hundreds of Non-GMO and USDA certified organic varieties.

 

Carefully tending to your plants from the beginning invokes a sense of wonder in gardeners of all ages. This is especially true in New England, as our growing season is short. Other than cool-season crops, you’ll want to wait until after the “Average Last Frost Date” to sow outside. The Farmer’s Almanac lists that as May 4th in Boston, but this is just an average, and it varies by town. Starting from seed allows you to get a jump-start on varieties that you may otherwise have to wait until May to find in the garden center. Different seed varieties require different numbers of days to sprout and grow. All Botanical Interests seed packets are labeled with their germination time. Use this information to help you find the perfect time to sow, relative to the last frost.

The other advantage of starting from seed is finding a selection that you may not otherwise find in started plants. Depending on which Mahoney’s you visit, you’ll find up to 500 seed varieties to choose from – this is especially exciting if you are looking for heirloom and hard-to-find vegetable varieties!

Perhaps the most compelling reason is that seed starting provides a wonderful sense of accomplishment – especially for kids. It connects you to nature, and makes you appreciate, and control where your food really comes from. We say it’s hard to explain – you just have to experience it!

GETTING STARTED

We should mention that many plants should be started from seed outdoors. Radishes, spinaches and carrots, for example, grow so fast that it is much easier to sow directly outdoors. There are other veggies such as salad greens that are fussy about being transplanted so planting directly into the garden produces better results. That said, let’s dig into seed starting indoors.

INDOOR SOWING GUIDE

 

CHOOSE YOUR CONTAINER

Most people buy our seed-starting flats because they maximize plants per square inch, but no one says you have to go that route; you can use anything from cut-down milk cartons to elegant glazed pottery. As long as the container is not too shallow, and you have proper drainage, the plants don’t really care. Go with what you like to look at. We carry many biodegradable fiber pots and seed trays, perfect for growing! Note: If you do reuse a container, make sure to clean and sanitize first.

LIGHTEN UP

Seeds need light – lots of it! When starting your seeds indoors, place in a south-facing sunny window. If you don’t think you’ll have enough sun, stop in and talk to us for tips on artificial lighting! There are ways to use your own lighting at home to help your seedlings along!

PLANTING MIXES

If you search online you’ll find a lot of conflicting information about what’s the “best” planting soil to use. We sell several – from our organic professional potting mix to an organic seed starting media by Espoma. They’ll all work great – just remember that regular outdoor garden soil is definitely not OK. Seeds need the right amount of moisture, warmth and air to germinate. Regular garden soil is too dense and will drown the seeds and eliminate much-needed oxygen and create an environment ripe for pests and disease.

name your plants

When they’re very young a lot of seedlings look pretty much the same, so do yourself a favor and label the plants as soon as you get started. While you are at it, mark down when you first planted the seeds. Trust us, you’ll find this really helpful.

keep it cozy

Seeds need warmth – most will germinate at temperatures around 75ºF, but eggplants, peppers, and other warm-season plants like it even warmer. Again it’s good to read package instructions carefully. Once the seeds germinate, room temperatures of 70º–75º will keep most seedlings happy.

a word about water

Water the containers as needed to keep them evenly moist but not sopping wet. Misting using a spray bottle, or bottom watering (adding water to the drainage tray) are great ways to keep planting mix moist without disturbing seeds and young seedlings. Covering your containers with a clear lid or clear plastic wrap also helps increase humidity during germination. After your seedlings emerge, remove the cover.

count down

Once your seedlings have grown enough to transplant to their ultimate spot (either in the ground or in a container) it’s time to prepare your babies to withstand outdoor conditions. It called “Hardening off.” Start by placing your seedlings outdoors in a protected, shady area. Over the next 7 to 10 days, move them more and more into direct sun (for sun-loving varieties). But remember your seedling are still very “tender” – be sure to bring them in at night if temperatures drop below 45°F. Then congratulations – you’re ready to plant.

Pollinators

Bees, hummingbirds and butterflies pollinate a third or more of the food we eat. You can help simply by choosing seeds that create habitats that protect and feed pollinators. And while you’re thinking of this, plant a diversity of colors, bloom times, and heights – it will provide a better environment, and it will be prettier for you, too.

a final thought

Before you start, take a minute to appreciate the seed. They come in all sizes – some as fine as powder – but each is a remarkable living thing with a protective outer coat, an embryo, stored nutrients, and a genetic blueprint for its development. When you stop to think, it’s really quite miraculous that a tiny seed will grow into a big, beautiful plant, in just one season!