Sunday, November 29, 2009

Care for Holiday Paperwhites

Paperwhites require little more than to be potted and watered to produce clusters of fragrant blooms. You can either pot the bulbs right away or store them at room temperature in a dark place for up to 4-6 weeks. Consider potting 6-12 bulbs at 2- to 4-week intervals for a staggered display. Bulbs generally bloom 4-6 weeks after potting. To pot the bulbs, begin by placing the potting mix in a plastic tub. Slowly add water and stir until the mix is moist but not soggy. Add moistened mix to the accompanying container until it is about 3/4 full. Set the bulbs, pointed end up, on top of the mix. Space the bulbs very closely; they should almost touch. Then add more mix, covering the bulbs up to their necks and leaving the tips exposed. Water throughly.
Set your container or vase in a cool (50-60°F is ideal) place away from direct sunlight. Check the bulbs frequently and water thoroughly when the potting mix is dry 1 inch below the surface (but not more than once a week until the bulbs begin active growth). If your bulbs are in a bowl (a pot without a drainage hole), water with extra care: Bulbs sitting in soggy potting mix soon rot. Once a week, tug gently on the bulbs to see if they have begun to produce roots. When your tug meets with firm resistance (usually about 3 weeks after potting), move the container to a sunny window. Keep a close eye on watering. Bulbs in active growth can dry out in just a day or two.

After Paperwhites finish blooming, we recommend that you throw the bulbs out or toss them on the compost pile. They won't bloom again indoors. If you don't want to start your Paperwhites right away or you want to hold some in reserve for a staggered display, store them in a cool (60-70°F), dark place. Open the bags or boxes to allow air to circulate around the bulbs.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Guide to Santa's Own Christmas Trees

There are many factors to consider when purchasing an artificial Christmas tree. This guide will give you a brief overview of the components, design methods and other considerations to help you make an informed decision in selecting a tree that fits your budget but most importantly will provide years of enjoyment.

How to start your search:

Consider the location. How tall are your ceilings? Most homes have 8’ ceilings which are actually 7’8”. This is the reason 7 1/2 foot trees are the number one selling size. However, many newer homes have 9’, 10’ and even higher vaulted or cathedral ceilings.

Pre-Lighted trees have become the most popular type of tree sold. With a commercial grade lightset, they offer convenience, balanced illumination with minimal wiring showing. Consider how many lights are on the tree. More lights does not always mean better lighting. The key is to match the light count to the construction style of the tree. Traditional, triangular shaped trees generally require less lights than irregular, indexed trees.

What kind of lights are on the tree? Regular incandescent miniature bulbs are still the most popular but LED lights and variety of styles that “promise” to never go out are becoming more popular. The advantages of LED lights are longer life and lower energy consumption. The disadvantages are most LED bulbs are not replaceable so when a bulb burns out its out forever, the colors are cold not warm like incandescent lighting and the sets are very expensive.

Most trees come with some kind of warranty, usually 10-15 years structural and 1-3 years on light sets. A lifelike Christmas tree should be treated as a long term investment. A premium, high quality tree will last for many years and more importantly, maintain its good looks over time. Considering a 10 year life span, just a few dollars per year could make all the difference in the level of enjoyment your tree provides.

Reprinted with permission from Santa's Own, Inc.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Which One is Your Favorite?

Growers at Strange’s Garden Center began planting new and unusual poinsettias in July that are now blooming rich and full. Beginning in December, customers are encouraged to visit Strange’s in the Shortpump area to vote for their favorite variety. Available in white, red, pink, and variegated, the majority of Strange’s trial poinsettias are available in six inch containers with a limited selection in four inch pots. In addition to forty traditional poinsettias, we planted fifteen new cultivars for the holiday season. The Winter Blush variety offers a delicate white petal show with slightly ruffled edging and a light dusting of pink in the center. Hollypoint is a new red with silver and green foliage while the Da Vinci dazzles the eyes with its orange-pink glow. Stop by to vote for your favorite and help us decide Richmond's Poinsettia of the year!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Protect Native Plants From Invasive Species

Invasive and aggressive plants are usually non-native plants that have been introduced into an area outside of their usual environment. Most of the plants on this list can be found in various places around Richmond. Some have actually been outlawed from sale. Invasive plants can kill and choke out more beneficial native plants and other cultivars. Make it a habit to not plant these, and to remove them if you do see them.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How to Grow Amaryllis for the Holidays

These large bulbs will grow happily and bloom abundantly in nothing more than stones and water. To "plant" your bulb, begin by carefully placing river stones or pebbles to a depth of about 4 inches in a Vase or Bulb Vase or your own clear glass planter. With scissors, trim off any roots on the bulb that are brown and dried, but let the roots that are whitish and fleshy remain. Place the Amaryllis bulb, roots down, on top of the stones, then put the remaining stones around the bulb, leaving the top third of the bulb exposed. Finally, add water until the level reaches about 1 inch below the base of the bulb but no higher. If the base of the bulb sits in water, it will rot. After planting, set the container on a sunny windowsill in a room where the temperature remains above 60°F. The warmer the temperature (70-80°F night and day is ideal), the faster the bulb will sprout and grow. Check the water level daily. Add water as needed to keep the level below the base of the bulb. A shoot will emerge from the top of the bulb in 2-8 weeks; you may (or may not) see thick white roots pushing between the stones before then. Rotate the container frequently to prevent the flower stalks from leaning toward the light. After the last blooms fade, we recommend that you dispose of the bulb; Amaryllis grown in water may not perform well in subsequent years.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sale on Giftware!

Entire stock of Garden Shop Giftware is now on sale for 20% off.

We do not have the entire department on sale often.

Items include: Garden Flags, Concrete Statuary, Foam & Concrete Planters, Silk Plants, Bird Baths, Furniture, Benches, and Little Gifts in between.

Now is the time to buy the things you have been waiting for us to have on sale.
These are Perfect gifts for Gardeners and for you.

Sale prices good through Wednesday, Nov. 18th

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Burned out Christmas Lights? Light Keeper Pro To The Rescue!

Most holiday light set failures occur when an individual bulb "Shunt" fails to energize as a filament burns out. This incomplete circuit causes an entire section of lights to go out. The "Shunt" is designed into a bulb to kick in and act as a by-pass when a filament fails, thus completing the circuit and the rest of the bulbs stay lit. If the "Shunt" fails to activate, it is much like a clog in a pipe, blocking the electricity from flowing to and lighting all the bulbs in the section. Equipped with a quick fix trigger, the Light Keeper Pro sends a harmless pulse of electricity through the circuit and it finds and fixes the "Shunt" clearing the clog and lighting the unlit section.

Any interruption in the light set's electrical circuit can cause all or a section of a light set to go out. A partially lit light set is most common in a 100 light set which is two to fifty light sets wired together. The Light Keeper's new voltage detector allows you to easily scan and find the circuit interruption at a bulb, broken wire or poor contact where the voltage is blocked. Repairing the blockage will let the power flow, so all the bulbs in the section can light. The detector will beep before the location of the block and will not beep after, to pinpoint the problem. Stop by our West Broad location to pick up your easy solution to miniature light sets, icicle and net light sets, yard decorations, and pre-lit trees or wreaths.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Turn your backyard into Birdland.

We've made some big changes in our garden center at Strange's! Stop by to visit Birdland and the wide variety of feeders, food, and baths that our feathered friends need to survive this frigid season. Bluebirds, wrens, finches, and woodpeckers in particular require adequate shelter and water that become scarce in the winter. Lend a helping hand to your local wildlife and follow these tips to welcome native species to your yard.

Trees: This will be the penthouse of your backyard sanctuary. Try to plant a variety of canopy tree species in your backyard. While space will probably be a concern for most homeowners, proper planning should also take into consideration tree size at maturity and other concerns such as the provision of shade, litter accumulation and root interference.

Mid-Story/Understory Trees: A few stories down from the penthouse lies the understory. This layer is where many species like wood thrushes (Hylocichla mustelina), Swainson's thrushes (Catharus ustulatus) and rose-breasted grosbeaks (Pheucticus ludovicianus) will go to refuel during fall migration as they head to warmer climes south of the border.
Shrubs/Vines: These are the efficiency apartments in your backyard sanctuary. Shrubs will provide many species with nesting and escape cover, and food. Not only will species like northern cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis), gray catbirds (Dumatella carolinensis) and brown thrashers (Toxostoma rufum) nest there, these and many other shrub varieties will provide fruits as added benefits.
Open Ground/Lawns: This is the basement of your yard. Open ground and grass lawns are common components of suburbia. Unfortunately, they provide relatively little for songbirds. It is true that American robins (Turdus migratorius) and a few other species such as eastern bluebirds (Sialia sialis) require open habitats in suburban landscapes. But unless you are planning to farm the back forty for hay, why not give yourself a break time- and money-wise by reducing the size of your lawn? You will have more time to invest in watching birds instead of mowing, feeding and watering the lawn.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Container Gardening for Winter

The tips below are for creating containers with trees & shrubs, but can be modified for anything else you’d like to pot up! Our winter pansies and dwarf alberta spruce have been selling out! Stop by to pick up the perfect cool weather mix for your evergreen container.

  • Pick your container and your plants. Don’t feel like you have to stick to the same old thing. Don’t be afraid to mix it up or try something different. You can plant either just one tree, or a tree with perennials underneath, or even a shrub like a boxwood or a daphne or whatever you’d like!

  • Whatever kind of plant you pick, make sure the container you choose is large enough to handle the plant for at least 2 years. An average rule of thumb would make the container at least twice as large and deep as the pot that the plant is currently in. If you aren’t sure, ask us for our recommendation. There are some varieties of smaller, slower growing nursery stock that won’t require a pot quite so large.

  • Most evergreens and perennials should be planted in a combination of Black Velvet planting mix and a little peat moss. If the pot is extremely heavy to handle, consider putting a few inches of either large chunk mulch or Styrofoam packing peanuts in the bottom of it before planting, to both take up space and to make the pot lighter to move than just filling it with soil.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Winter Pansy's Worst Nightmare!

Winter pansies love this time of year. The cool temperatures and dry air cater to their every need. However, it is also prime season for the dreaded and dangerous pansy worm! If your pansies show signs of browsing damage, be sure to zoom in for a closer look. These caterpillar bugs are red and black; they chew on the tender leaves and blooms, making your pansies look more like swiss cheese than flowers. Fertilome's Dipel Dust is a biological worm killer that we carry here at Strange's.

One bite of treated foliage and within minutes worms stop feeding and eventually die. This granular applicant is easy to use for killing Tomato Hornworms, Bagworms, Armyworms, Webworms, Gypsy Moth Larvae, Cankerworms, Loopers, Tent Caterpillars, Tomato Fruitworms, Sod Webworms, Variegated Cutworms, Imported Cabbage Worms, Rindworms, Melonworms, and more! Simply dust this product on plants at the rates listed on the package. Dust to thoroughly cover all plant surfaces. Apply when pests appears and repeat as necessary. Available in a four pound bag, Fertilome's Dipel Dust will kill a wide variety of Leaf-eating caterpillars that can severely damage and kill vegetables, shrubs, lawns, and flowers, including your precious winter pansies!

Written by Ginny Gregory.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

For That Special Redneck In Your Life


Once again, by popular demand --> Strange's own Redneck Christmas Tree!

We've got everything to warm the heart of that special Redneck in your life!

Jingle Bells, Shotgun Shells and Duane Raver's String of Fish will light up the night of every chilly Christmas evening.

Stop in early to get your own Beer Belly Brew, Redneck Wedding Cake, Redneck Airlines and Redneck Windchime ornaments!

Believe it or not, these are some of our most popular Christmas items and they sell fast, so come in early to pick up yours today!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Protection for Potted Plants

These chill temperatures are encouragement enough to bring your potted plants in from the patio and screened porch. Your banana plant and hibiscus are probably peeping through the kitchen window hoping to be dug up and brought inside to more comfortable climates! This time of year it's also a good idea to use a liquid or granular insecticide and fungicide to rid these warm weather lovers of any outside critters that could potentially wreak havoc on your other indoor plants. Without taking the proper precautions to rid any tropicals of insects before bringing them inside, you're offering up a varietable buffet for hungry bugs hitching a ride into your home. With Fertilome's Triple Action Plus it's important to set up a weekly schedule to spray any house plants you may suspect have been infected by mites, insects or fungus. These problems can quickly be spread to other plants as you water when droplets splash from pot to pot. Be sure to keep any sickly specimens in an area separate from healthy plants until insecticidal chemicals have had time to take effect. Hi-Yield Systemic Insect Granules is also a highly effective treatment that should be applied to any plants that show signs of browsing damage. By working a tablespoon size amount into the top layer of soil and watering, the chemical is absorbed into the root system and becomes part of the plant: stems, leaves and blooms. This treatment tends to take a bit longer to take effect than the liquid application; however, it is effective as the insects chew on the plant and ingest the lethal chemicals. Instant fertilizer! Stop by Strange's to pick up Triple Action Plus and Hi-Yield Systemic Insect Granules and give your indoor plants what they need to combat creepy crawlies!

Written by Ginny Gregory.