Thursday, June 23, 2011

Featuring the Bloom-A-Thon Azalea!

Why settle for a few weeks of flowers when you can have months of blooms?

Spotlight On: Bloom-A-Thon Azalea
New for Fall 2011!
This azalea blooms from early Spring, starting in April, all the way through Fall until a hard frost. The Bloom-A-Thon comes in four different colors: Double Pink, Lavender, Double Red and White. According to plant brand Proven Winners, the Azaleas bloom 4-6 weeks in the spring and another 12-16 weeks in the summer and fall.

The Bloom-A-Thon is hardy in zones 6-9. It prefers partial shade, adequate amounts of water and well drained soil. It is a self pruner being that it flowers so much. It also has a self branching habit which reduces the maximum size of the plant in the landscape which is about 4 feet wide and 5 feet tall. They are also self-cleaning which reduces incidence of disease and increases their beauty in the landscape. Bloom-A-Thons are great for borders, containers, in planters with other containers, grouped together or by themselves.
At our Strange’s Short Pump location, we have four Bloom-A-Thon Azaleas planted in our trial bed. To see how they are blooming come and stop by! We will have the Bloom-A-Thon Azaleas on sale in either our Fall 2011 collection or early Spring 2012.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Quest for Sweetness

Looking for something sweeter than sweet?
Look no further! Extract from the Stevia plant, also known as Sweetleaf and Paraguayan sweet herb, is said to be as much as 300 times sweeter than sugar. Stevia rebaudiana, named after the Paraguayan chemist Rebaudi who first extracted the component stevioside, is one of 300 species from the Asteraceae family which includes sunflowers and chrysanthemums. From that family, Stevia is the only plant with such sweetness. Fresh Stevia leaves have a slight licorice flavor, sweeter than sugar. All natural and calorie free, Stevia does not appear to raise blood glucose levels, making it a plus for dieters and diabetics. Though it can not be used as a replacement for sugar in baked goods, it can be used to sweeten dairy products, puddings, sauces, salads and custards.
While it does not like cooler temperatures, in zone 7 you can grow it as an annual or in a pot which you could move indoors during colder weather. In the garden it grows 18 to 30 inches tall with gray-green oval leaves and sometimes white flowers. It prefers plenty of sunshine and a sandy or loamy soil (much like the Strange’s soil), kept moist but not wet. To avoid over watering, add a layer of compost or mulch to protect the shallow root zone from being exposed to too much water. If you are going to plant Stevia in a container make sure it is at least 10-12 inches in diameter. Fill the container with a lightweight growing mix and add a little mulch on the top. Stevia prefers fertilizers with lower nitrogen content. Most organic fertilizers would be ideal since they release nitrogen slowly.

To make sure you have the sweetest of sweet plants, harvesting should be done as late as possible. Shorter days and cool temperatures intensify the sweetness of the plant. The easiest way to harvest is to cut the branches off with pruning shears before stripping the leaves. Once all of your leaves are harvested you will need to dry them. Crushing dried leaves is the final stop in your quest to sweetness!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Japanese Beetles

It’s that time of year again…Japanese Beetles have returned! The long metallic green beetles with copper-brown wing covers are here to attack and eat all sorts of plants. The adult Japanese Beetle emerges from under your lawn in June to begin feeding. They usually stay active for 4-6 weeks beginning in late June. An individual beetle will live from 30-45 days. They feed on about 300 species of plants. They devour leaves, flowers and overripe or wounded fruit. They tend to feed in groups starting at the top of the plant and working their way down. The damage done to your plants is not from just one beetle. It is from a whole group that destroys everything.
At Strange’s our certified horticulturist recommends a few different products.
  1. BEETLE TRAPS- These traps have both male and female lure attached to them, so you draw both sexes at the same time. Once the beetles are trapped in the bag, they’re not getting out, so you never have to worry about them again!
  2. SEVIN- Sold in either powder or crystal and contains carbaryl. As the beetle eats whatever has been covered with Sevin, they ingest the chemical and they die. If you want a safer product use Eight from Bonide.
  3. HARI KARI- Used as a contact killer. You see ‘em you spray ‘em, you kill ‘em.
  4. MILKY SPORE- An organic long term treatment. Apply from April to October any time the ground isn’t frozen to prevent spread of grubs. As the spore works down into the soil, the grubs come along, ingest the soil, and the spore multiplies within the grubs so they die. When the grub dies, the spores are redistributed back into the soil so that more grubs can pick them up and follow through on the cycle.
  5. K-NEEM - Neem is an organic product produced from the oil of the neem tree. It is extremely effective at controlling Japanese beetles, along with other insects. It will even treat powdery mildew.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hardy Lantana

Most lantanas are considered annuals, but did you know there are a few that are considered perennials? These varieties are considered hardy in Zone 7 and can survive temperatures as low as 20 degrees.

Lantanas are the perfect summer plant because they love full sun, are drought tolerant (once established), and are a magnet to butterflies! They generally grow to be 3 - 5 feet tall by 3 - 5 feet wide and bloom all summer long.

Miss Huff Lantana was planted in our perennial trail bed last year and has come back strong this year.

Two other lantana varieties we carry that are winter hardy are:

Mary Ann


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Callicarpa Americana

One of the worst things about Summer is the increase in bug activity around your garden. Strange's has plenty of natural solutions to repelling them, and we'll be putting together a video very soon of mosquito repellents we carry. Until then, see below for more information on the beautyberry plant, an ARS confirmed bug repellent.
Tired of swatting away mosquitoes and horse flies? Worry no more. ARS (Agricultural Research Service) chemist Charles Cantrell and ARS entomologist Jerry Klun confirmed that the beautyberry plant, also known as Callicarpa Americana, contains three repellent chemicals: callicarpenal, intermedeol and spathulenol. All three chemicals repulse mosquitoes, deerflies, horseflies, and ticks as well as ants. ARS botanist Charles Bryson stated “My grandfather would cut branches with the leaves still on them and crush the leaves, and then he and his brothers would stick the branches between the harness and the horse to keep deer flies, horseflies and mosquitoes away.” He also said for almost 40 years he has grabbed handfuls of leaves from the beautyberry plant, crushed them and rubbed them on his skin for the same reasons.
American beautyberry is a fast growing perennial shrub: growing five to eight feet tall and almost as wide with drooping branches. In August or September, clusters of small purple to blue berries surround the woody stem. It prefers sun but can handle partial shade. It attracts many song birds as well as provides beautiful color for early winter months.

Everything is Blooming at Strange's!

Come to Strange's this week for fantastic savings & beautiful blooms!

Right now our greenhouse and nursery are swimming in color. We receive new shipments of flowering annuals every day to ensure the freshest flowers for your home and garden. Check out some of what's available as well as beautiful blooms you can find throughout our store!

If you have visited Strange's recently, you know that we are currently hosting our temperature sale! As it gets hotter, the discounts become greater - when it hits 95 degrees, you get 20% Off Everything in the Store! That is on top of already discounted items. But hurry -
this sale ends this Thursday, June 16th!


Friday, June 3, 2011

The Latest in New & Exciting Plants!

One exciting and rare cultivar that is featured in Strange's Summer Plant Trials is the Tomaccio tomato.

Spotlight On: Tomaccio
New for Spring 2012!
Though this looks like any old tomato, this special new variety is uniquely sweet. Ideal for drying, Tomaccio tomatoes have an intense, sugary flavor when dried in a food dehydrator or conventional oven. Pegged as the "sweet raisin tomato," these dried tomatoes are great for a wide range of preparations. This vigorous-growing variety may reach the height of 9 ft. Support the main stem with a 6 ft cane. For faster ripening, remove all the leaves below the ripened tomatoes. The tomatoes are already matured with their full flavor when they begin to turn red. To learn more: