Friday, June 27, 2008

Hostas need water

During the hot summer months it is very important to water your hostas. I have a lot of people ask me why at the end of the season my hostas still look good while their hostas look all ratty and brown. One of the big reasons is that I keep my hostas watered well during the summer. Hostas don't always act that other perennials which will droop and tell you when they want to be watered. However you will see the effects of the dry spell eventually, usually late summer. Hostas alway develop a second flush of leaves in July, so by keeping them watered you will have a much better looking plant.

There are two other reasons why my hostas (not all) don't look all ratty at the end of the year.
1. Slug are attracted to hostas and will eat the leaves. You usually will not see them, because slugs come out at night to do their damage. I lay down slug bait, such as Sluggo, to keep slugs off my hostas.
2. I am also picky about where I buy my hostas from. Don't buy from the big hardware stores! A lot of their hostas have hosta virus X. I have even been to some local garden stores and seen the virus. Last year I even asked for the manager and pointed out the virus to them. I stopped by a week later and the plants were still for sale. Buy from people who have a true passion for hostas and are concerned about the spread of the virus and another hosta enemy, nematodes. Nematodes will cause your hostas to develop wholes and brown streaks in the leaves late in the summer and spread by water.

Here is more information:
Hosta Virus X:
Pictures of nematode damage:

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tips for a Successful Plant Sale

I started my yearly plant sale yesterday, and it's grown so popular that almost all of my plants sold out the first day. There are going to be some disappointed people the next two days, but I do still have some plants that I will dig fresh for people.

Here are some tips for success:
1. Figure out what plants you need to divide already in early spring, and dig and pot them as they are first emerging. I usually start in late May and my plant sale is mid-June, so my plants look very full and healthy in their pots. Some people dig in fall for the next year's sale, but it's too cold here to leave things in pots over winter.
2. When I transplant into pots I always use rooting hormone to help the plants establish strong roots. You can buy this anywhere, even Walmart. A little goes a long way.
3. When I sell in mid-June a lot of my plants are blooming, so I allow people to walk around the yard and see what my plants look like.
4. I also keep a photo album with picture of plants in bloom that are currently not blooming. So people know what the flower will look like.
5. I make up card ahead of time with plant information and give them to people as they buy plants. I keep these saved on my computer, since a lot of my plants I divide every year.
6. Advertise and spread the word.

All of these things make for a successful plant sale.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I'm Back from Denver

Just came back from a quick vacation to Denver. While there I took in the Denver Botanical Garden and the Butterfly Pavillion in Westminster. Both were great, and I LOVED the Butterfly Pavillion. I highly recommend it to anyone! 1200+ butterflies flying around in a beautiful atrium. I would love to bring something like that to our area. We have a local nature perserve that has a butterfly house, but it's a small plastic greenhouse. Plus they only have local butterflies and moths.

I didn't realize that Denver was pretty close in garden zones as we are here. We are a 4/5 and they are a 5/6. So almost everything that was blooming here when I left was blooming there.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Peonies are Blooming, The Peonies are Blooming!

Ok, ok this time last year the peonies were done for weeks already. But today one of my peony bushes started to bloom. Huge pink blooms. My neighbor boy came over and said they were as big as his head. My plants are actually started to get too big for the area I have them planted, so I am planning on moving them this fall. I figure it's best to wait until they have stopped blooming and have started to go into "hibernation" for fall. If thinking about buying peonies for your garden here are some things I have learned:
  • Buy in fall when they are dirt cheap. I think I paid $1 each for mine, because in fall they look like a dead stick but are very much alive.
  • Look for varieties that do not need staking, unless you want to put a cage around them.
  • Tree peonies do not need staking, but are expensive and I have found them hard to keep alive. I lost one, my friend lost three, and my mom lost one. My mom is the only one who has one left. It bloomed this year for the first time and was beautiful and yellow.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lots o' Rain

Over the weekend Wisconsin was hit pretty hard with rain and storms. Where I live it rained quite a bit Saturday night through Sunday night, but nothing as bad as other areas. My husbands parents live between Wisconsin Dells and Wisconsin Rapids. We visited them on Sunday, and on the way home we saw farmer's field that were completely flooded. Also driving through Oshkosh was not easy, since some areas of the streets had at least a foot of water covering them. My husband's sister lives very close to Lake Delton where you may have seen the houses be washed away in the river on Monday morning.

We had a VERY late spring here. Last year my peonies were in full bloom by the end of May. This year they are not even in bloom yet, although any day I expect them to open. It's amazing how a good two days of downpours can speed up growth of the plants. My hostas just really seemed to pop over the last couple of days. We had to take down a tree this spring because it was too close to the house. We planted grass there last week, and BOOM the rain made super grass!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Welcome to Cheesehead Gardening

Welcome to Cheesehead Gardening! This is a guide to flower gardening in the midwest, especially Wisconsin. My yard is mainly shady, so I have a huge collection of hostas. Despite my 250+ hostas and average size yard, I still manage to have lots of other perennials. My flower beds expand every year. I have now taken over my neighbor's yard too. That's how much I love to garden. I have tried a lot of different things. I have made mistakes and had successes. I want to share this information so we can compare notes, or maybe help someone else become a successful gardening.