Outdoor plant care is essential in the prevention of problems in your garden. It is important to eliminate insects and diseases to stop them from continuing from one season into the next, and even spreading to other areas of your lawn or garden. It is a good idea to have both a Spring and Fall clean-up checklist, as a preventive measure.

Different plants require different care, whether they are annuals, perennials, bulbs or vegetables. Follow the suggestions below and feel free to call us at 247-6236 if you need further assistance.


General Gardening Tips

• Wear proper attire - gloves to protect your hands, a hat to shade from sun, sunscreen to protect your skin, and gardening boots in case you step on or drop something.
• Be sure to stay hydrated throughout the day if you are working outside while it is hot and sunny.
• Do not spray or use chemicals on a windy day.
• Always use fresh or new soil when re-potting plants.
• Use care when lifting and moving heavy items - remember to use your knees and not your back when lifting.
• Check lawn mower, ladder, tools, etc. before use to ensure they are working properly.
• Clean garden tools after each use to prevent the spread of any disease from plant to plant.
• Clean lawn mower and other tools after each use to keep them working properly.
• Use knee pads or a garden kneeler to protect your knees while digging and planting.
• Keep all chemicals, fertilizers and tools out of reach from children and pets.
• Wash your hands with a medicated or anti-bacterial soap when you are done gardening.


Planting Bulbs

     You can plant bulbs in the Spring and they will bloom in the Summer, or you can plant them in the Fall and they will bloom in the Spring. Spring flowering bulbs include tulips, hyacinths, crocus and daffodils. It is wonderful to welcome Spring with bursts of color coming from tulips and daffodils just after a long Winter.

• Plant bulbs in full to part sun, with well-drained soil.
• Do not plant in full shade or in overly wet areas.
• Bigger bulbs will produce bigger flowers.
• Dig holes approximately 6-12" deep, depending on the size of the bulb. For smaller bulbs, dig holes approximately 4-6" deep.
• Try something different - plant several bulbs in one large hole. Try groups of 6-24 per hole as opposed to one each. This will give you a large show of color in each area.
• Remember - points up on the bulbs when planting!
• After planting, water and fertilize with a bulb fertilizer. Cover with mulch, at least 2" deep.


Caring for Perennials

     In the Spring, perennials look like dead, woody sticks. They aren't dead! Cut back the woody parts to encourage new growth. They will regenerate when the weather warms up - in Rochester, this tends to be sometime in June. Be patient - it is hard to kill a perennial! If they don't come back, it is possible they froze out during the Winter.

• Perennials have a short bloom time, but will come back year after year.
• Make sure to plant your perennials in the proper location - some require sun/part sun/part shade/shade, and most require well-drained soil.
• Pruning will help control flowers and the growth size of the plant. Control pests and diseases by limiting growth.
• To make a plant fuller, pinch back the foliage prior to the growth of buds.
• To thin a plant, remove some of the stems at the base.
• If you prefer a few large flowers as opposed to many smaller flowers, de-bud part of the perennial. This will encourage the remaining buds to grow into larger flowers.
• Deadheading (removing dead blooms) is done after each flower is spent, and will encourage new flowers to form.
• Cutting back perennials should be done after they are done blooming. This will encourage the entire plant to form new growth the following Spring.
• Fertilizing perennials can be done in the Spring with any outdoor plant fertilizer. We recommend Scott's Miracle Gro, Osmocote, Dr. Earth, or something similar. If you are unsure of which fertilizer to choose, please consult a Customer Service associate, who will be happy to assist you. Please read and follow the manufacturer's instructions on the label to ensure the best results and safe application of any fertilizer or chemical.


Caring for Annuals

     There are hundreds of varieties of Summer-blooming annuals to choose from, with varying colors, sizes, fragrances and other characteristics. You can also choose annuals based on disease resistance, animal attraction or bloom time. By planting those that bloom at different times, you can have a constant show of color all season long. An annual will bloom one season (or one year) and then die in the fall. They can be started indoors, or purchased already started. They are generally easy to grow, and if provided the right location and soil, they can be enjoyed all season long.

• Plant annuals when all signs of frost have passed. They like warm soil and warm temperatures.
• Annuals are great for adding instant color or filling in areas that are bare. They make excellent container gardens, and also look great in hanging baskets.
• When spring bulbs have died back, annuals can be planted in their place.
• Always use good fresh soil - poor soil will stunt or even kill annuals. Use organic matter, compost manure, and screened topsoil to enrich your garden beds if you have poor soil. This is also helpful for clay or sandy soil types.
• After planting annuals, use mulch to retain moisture and combat weeds.
• Watering is extremely important - the soil will dry out during hot, windy, and dry weather. Soak the ground when you water to reach the roots - watering just the surface is a waste.
• If possible, water in the morning. This will keep the flowers and foliage dry, preventing disease.
• Check hanging baskets and container gardens once or twice a day during hot weather to make sure they have enough water.
• You can pinch or deadhead annuals - this will allow them to flower longer and more profusely.
• Taller annuals may require staking to support the stems. You can choose to use bamboo or wooden stakes, or attach them to a fence/tellis using twine or garden twist ties.
• Fertilize with a slow release, granular or liquid fertilizer made for annuals. Please read and follow the manufacturer's instructions on the label to ensure the best results and safe application of any fertilizer or chemical.
• Insects and diseases may very depending on the annual - aphids, whiteflies, spider mites, slugs or snails may 'bug' your plant. If you have an infestation, please bring in a sample leaf in a plastic bag so one of our Customer Service associates can identify it. We will diagnose the problem and advise what action you should take to remedy it.


Caring for Vegetable Plants

     Growing your own vegetables is the fresh, healthy, and economical way to go. Enjoying vegetables that you grew in your own yard is not only rewarding, the freshness and flavor can't be beat! To begin, you should figure out what you want to grow, where you want to put it, and how much you want to grow. We suggest starting out small - the more you plant, the larger the garden and the more work it involves. You should consider fencing your vegetable garden to keep out dogs, rabbits and other animals. A fence will also serve as a trellis for vine-like crops. Follow the suggestions below, and feel free to contact us with any further questions.

• Vegetables can be started indoors from seeds, or bought already started around the end of April or early May.
• Good soil, organic matter, compost and a good garden fertilizer are necessary for a successful vegetable garden. Also, be sure to screen out any large stones or sticks in the soil.
• During hot, dry, and windy weather, be sure to water your vegetable garden at least once a week with a good, thorough soaking.
• Mulching in between the rows of plants can help control weeds and keep moisture in the soil. • Check your plants frequently for insects, so you can eliminate pest problems before the plants begin to fruit. Please read and follow the manufacturer's instructions on the label to ensure the best results and safe application of any fertilizer or chemical.
• Weeds can overtake a garden fast, so keep on top of them. Be sure to pull them out regularly, roots and all. If you leave them, they will drop seeds and multiply quickly.
• After you have harvested your last crop for the season, put the spent plants in your compost pile with other vegetable matter. This can then be recycled into your garden the following Spring. Do not put anything in a compost pile that has been diseased or has had an insect or fungus problem.