Winter Moth: What You Need to Know

Originally introduced to North America from Europe, winter moths, and the devastation they bring can be found  throughout New England – especially in areas around Boston and Cape Cod. They seem to prefer apple, blueberry, cherry and crab-apple fruit trees, but they also feed on oaks, maples and ash. There is no gentle way to say this; it’s a very serious problem.

​​Adult moths emerge from soil around late November, and females lay eggs on tree trunks, house siding, and other outdoor surfaces through January. The eggs hatch before spring buds break. The young larvae (tiny inchworms caterpillars) tunnel into buds where they feed – often before the buds even open. After they eat up one bud, the larvae move to the next bud using wind and silk strands, called “ballooning”. The result is partial to significant defoliation. If a tree is defoliated 3 years in a row it’s at a high risk of death!

what you can do

To date, there is no easy solution, nonetheless it’s critical that you do as much as possible or your trees will be at risk.  Here are ways you can combat the problem: In early spring (late March or up until the leaves start to open) spray All Seasons Horticultural Oil from Bonide. It’s an all-natural oil that helps prevent winter moth eggs from hatching. Warning: if you saw adult moths last December, DON’T WAIT to look for them this spring – the larvae do an awful amount of damage as they become visible.
Once the leaves start to open, it’s too late for the Hort Oil – now it’s time to spray either Bonide’s all-natural Thuricide or all-natural Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew. Both will kill winter moth caterpillars, but Capt. Jacks will kill even when they get big. Important notes: To help a defoliated tree or shrub survive the summer, make sure to water deeply once a week. Also, even though all three Bonide products are all-natural, you’ll still want to avoid wet contact with bees. If any tree or shrub attracts bees, do not spray when it is in flower. Any other time of year, even if not in flower, minimize contact with bees by spraying either very early in the morning or after sunset – you want time for sprays to dry while bees are not active.

How To Identify Your Hydrangeas

Laura from Garden Answer shows us the different types of hydrangeas and what makes each so special! Learn bloom time, pruning habits and some great varieties!

What’s In Store: May 11, 2018

It’s Mother’s Day weekend and that means our stores are full of beautiful blooms like dahlias, geraniums, hydrangeas, lilacs, roses and more! Our premium hanging baskets make a fantastic gift for Mom too! Visit our full-service florists in Winchester and Tewksbury for fresh cut flower bouquets, vase arrangements, colorful potted baskets and more! Don’t miss our patio furniture showrooms in Winchester and Falmouth too! For great gift ideas for Mom visit: http://mahoneysgarden.com/great-gifts-for-mom/

What’s In Store: May 4, 2018

We’re filled to the brim for the weekend! Find lilacs in bud and bloom, early-blooming perennials, colorful annual hanging baskets, locally-grown edibles, beautiful pottery and more!

It’s time to put out your hummingbird feeders!

 

info from  Hummingbird Central

Hummingbirds spend the winter in Central America or Mexico, and migrate north to their breeding grounds in the southern U.S. and western states as early as February, and to areas further north later in the spring. This is usually around the end of April for New England. The first arrivals in spring are usually males. Some, however, do not migrate, in areas like California and the upper Pacific coast.

The Migration

Although there are differing views in the birding community as to what triggers the start of migration, it is generally thought that hummingbirds sense changes in daylight duration, and changes in the abundance of flowers, nectar and insects. Instinct also plays a role in making the decision to migrate.

During migration, a hummingbird’s heart beats up to 1,260 times a minute, and its wings flap 15 to 80 times a second. To support this high energy level, a hummingbird will typically gain 25-40% of their body weight before they start migration in order to make the long trek over land, and water.

They fly alone, often on the same path they have flown earlier in their life, and fly low, just above tree tops or water. Young hummingbirds must navigate without parental guidance.

Hummingbirds fly by day when nectar sources such as flowers are more abundant. Flying low allows the birds to see, and stop at, food supplies along the way. They are also experts at using tail winds to help reach their destination faster and by consuming less energy and body fat. Research indicates a hummingbird can travel as much as 23 miles in one day.

The importance of feeding

With sightings in New England already, it’s an important time to make sure your yard is ready to feed the migrating hummingbirds. Stops along the way may be for a few minutes, or a few days at more favorable locations with abundant food supplies. Feeding hummingbirds is an easy, rewarding and inexpensive experience. All you need is a feeder, table sugar and water. We have a variety of feeders specifically designed for hummingbirds that allows easy access, easy filling and easy cleaning. Feeders are usually bright in color to make spotting them from afar easy! Place the feeder in a shady spot so the nectar will last longer, out of reach of pets or other critters. Remember, hummingbirds will not feed if ants, bees or other insects are feeding from. This is why it is imperative to use a feeder specifically designed for hummingbirds. We sell hummingbird feeders that make it difficult for pests like ants to find the nectar. The best placement is in front of a window so you can catch a glimpse of the hummingbirds from inside!

Unlike other birds, hummingbirds feed on nectar, not seed. In nature, they eat flower nectar of energy and insects for protein. They are naturally attracted by a number of flowering plants that allow easy access to the nectar. In early Spring where flowering plants are less available, feeders provide the nutrition hummingbirds require along their migration paths. We sell prepared nectar, or you can do it yourself at home!

 

 

 

Spring Flowering Trees

One of the prettiest sights of the gardening year is the show provided by spring flowering trees. Who can resist the frothy pink flowers of the Kwanzan Cherry or the long-lasting and elegant flowers of the Dogwood? Many spring flowering trees are suitable for the residential landscape and are fully hardy in our area. Not only do they provide an early and welcome burst of color after a long winter, their leaves offer interesting shapes and textures throughout the summer and lovely color in the fall. Their bare branches in winter add structure and a sense of sculpture to the garden, making them four season contributors to the landscape. But at this time of year it is the joy of seeing them in bloom that most endears them to us. Here are some of our favorite options to consider.

 

Eastern Redbud

Cercis canadensis

One of our native trees, the Eastern Redbud is a true harbinger of spring. In late April and early May before the leaves emerge, clusters of magenta buds open to rose pink flowers, offering a breathtaking sweep of color. A small low branching tree, it has a spreading habit and rounded crown, altogether an elegant form. Redbuds are also available in a weeping form. Leaves are distinctly heart shaped, opening in tones of bronze or reddish purple. They become bluish green as the season progresses, turning yellow in the fall. With age, the bark develops exfoliating rust colored patches. Varieties to consider include ‘Appalachian Red’, ‘Ruby Falls’, ‘Pink Heartbreaker’ and ‘Forest Pansy’.

 

FLORIDA DOGWOOD

Florida Dogwood ‘Cherokee Brave’

 

Cornus florida

Cornus florida is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful small ornamental trees. Native to the East Coast of the US, it offers so much to the gardener. It blooms in early spring, usually mid to late April and into May, before the leaves appear. The true dogwood flowers are actually tiny, yellowish green button-like clusters. However, each flower cluster is surrounded by four showy petal-like bracts which open flat, giving the appearance of a single, large, 4-petaled flower. Oval, dark green leaves, turn attractive shades of red in fall and hold that color for a long period of time. An added bonus in late summer and into the fall are the bright red fruits, bitter tasting to us but much loved by the birds. Cornus florida typically grows 15’-20’ tall with a low-branching, broadly-pyramidal habit. Varieties to consider include ‘Cherokee Brave’, ‘Cherokee Princess’ and ‘Rubrum’.

 

KOUSA DOGWOOD

Kousa Dogwood, one of the few flowering trees to bloom in June.

Cornus KOUSA

The leaves of Cornus kousa emerge in spring, followed in early summer by star-shaped white blossoms. One of the few trees to bloom in June! Red fruits form in late summer and have an interesting knobby texture. They attract birds and persist through the autumn. The leaves turn rich colors of red, orange and scarlet in the fall. They eventually drop to reveal the tree’s distinctive horizontal branching pattern and mottled tan/grey bark. Among the many varieties of Cornus kousa are ‘Galilean’, ‘Heart Throb’, ‘Milky Way’, and ‘National’.

 

Cornus x Rutgan ‘Stellar Pink’

Cornus x Rutgan ‘Stellar Pink’

 

The breeding program at Rutgers University has produced Dogwoods which are a cross between Cornus florida and Cornus kousa. They bloom after the Cornus florida varieties, but before the Kousa varieties. The variety ‘Stellar Pink’ has profuse, large, overlapping, blush pink floral bracts. Its dense branching habit provides layers of lush green foliage from bottom to top. This is a vigorous cultivar with an erect habit. The Rutgers hybrids are sterile and thus, do not set fruit.

 

MAGNOLIA

Magnolia ‘Ricki’

Nothing says spring in Boston like the Magnolias that line Commonwealth Avenue. Whether you choose a Saucer-type Magnolia like those on Comm Ave or a Star Magnolia with its multi petaled flowers, you will enjoy a spring show like no other. Some varieties grow in tree form, others as multi-trunked shrubs. All display fat, fuzzy buds through the winter, offering promise of the spring to come. They are best sited in a protected location to avoid a late frost which might damage emerging flowers. No matter what type of Magnolia you choose, it will add a natural grace in the garden.

Magnolia stellata (the Star Magnolia) is distinguished by its showy, fragrant white flowers that have a pink tinge. Each flower has 12 to 18 petals. Seeing them dance in the wind is a delight. The variety that most closely resembles the classic Saucer Magnolia is Magnolia ‘Jane’ with its 8 inch cup shaped flowers. It blooms slightly later than the classic Saucer Magnolia, thereby reducing the possibility of late season frost damage. Flowers bloom sporadically during the summer, extending its season of beauty. Other varieties to consider include ‘Leonard Messel’, ‘Ann’, ‘Butterflies’ ‘, Elizabeth’ and ‘Ricki’.

 

FLOWERING CRABAPPLE

Left: ‘Donald Wyman’, Right: ‘Prairiefire’

MALUS

Flowering Crabapples are beautiful contributors to the landscape in all four seasons of the year. In spring, they offer delicate colors in their emerging leaves and flower buds. While unopened flower buds may hint of one color, other hues are revealed as the flowers open. As flowers fade, the rich foliage offers another subtle contribution to the landscape. Then, as leaves drop in the late autumn, the colorful fruit takes center stage. And with a dusting of snow to accent the fruit and the sculptural qualities of the tree branches, it presents an unrivaled winter picture. Today’s varieties are disease-resistant and easy to grow. Varieties to consider include ‘Camelot’, ‘Donald Wyman’, ‘Prairiefire’ and ‘Royal Raindrops’.

 

FLOWERING CHERRY

Kwanzan Cherry

PRUNUS

Available in upright tree form and weeping varieties, flowering Cherries are some of the loveliest spring flowering trees. Iconic images of the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC come to mind when we think of flowering Cherries. Prunus x yedoensis, commonly called Yoshino Cherry, has fragrant flower clusters that emerge pale pink and fade to white, creating a profuse and spectacular early spring show. This hybrid Cherry comes from Japan and is the predominant Cherry tree planted in Washington D.C, enjoyed during the Cherry Blossom Festival each year.

Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’ has particularly pretty, double-pink blossoms which are especially long lasting. It blooms a couple of weeks later than the Yoshino Cherry. Its upright, vase-shaped branching habit makes it a lovely specimen. In addition to these upright growing varieties, flowering Cherries are available in a beautiful weeping form. Look for the weeping Higan Cherry and the weeping Snow Fountain Cherry to add a sense of elegance to the garden.

 

FLOWERING PLUM

Plum ‘Thundercloud’

Prunus cerasifera

Modern cultivars of this tree offer a color palette that set them apart from other trees in the ornamental landscape. The varieties ‘Thundercloud’ (pictured above) and ‘Krauter Vesuvius’ both have a profusion of flowers that blanket the stems in spring and have showy purple toned foliage that retains its color throughout the growing season.

 

FLOWERING PEAR

Pear ‘Chanticleer’

Pyrus calleryana

Flowering pear trees have an attractive narrow and symmetrical pyramidal shape which makes them well suited for smaller sites. Pears offer profuse creamy white blooms in early spring, glossy dark green leaves that dance in the wind, and fall color that ranges from reddish-purple to bronze-red. Consider flowering pear varieties like ‘Chanticleer’ (pictured above), ‘New Bradford’, ‘Cleveland Select’, and ‘Redspire’.

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.