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Cut Christmas Tree Selection and Care

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A fresh cut tree can be a wonderful addition to your holiday décor as well as a treasured Christmas tradition. Unfortunately, with poor care a cut tree can be looking wilted and worn long before December 25, but if you know a few tricks, you can keep your tree looking vibrant and lush throughout the season. Extend the life of your cut tree this Christmas and enjoy the beauty of the season much longer!

  • In selecting a tree, make sure the “handle” at the bottom is long enough to allow the trunk to fit into your tree stand. Otherwise, it will be necessary to remove large branches near the base, which could ruin its appearance, shape and visual balance.
  • Check the tree’s freshness before your purchase by bending, pinching or flexing needles. They should be somewhat pliable and not fall off easily. Avoid purchasing a tree that is already showing signs of dryness.
  • Make a fresh cut to remove 1/4″ to 1″ of wood from the base of the trunk before putting the tree in the stand. If you use a “center pin” stand, make sure the hole is drilled in the stem after the tree is trimmed.
  • Once home, place the tree in water as soon as possible within 6-8 hours after cutting the trunk. This will help the tree better absorb moisture to keep the needles plump and secure.
  • If needed, trees can be temporarily stored for several days in a cool location, such as a garage, before being taken indoors and decorated. Place the freshly cut trunk in a bucket full of water. The tree may need to be supported to keep it from tipping over.
  • To display the trees indoors, use a stand with an adequate water holding capacity for the tree. As a general rule, stands should provide 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter.
  • Use a stand that fits your tree. Some stands have circular rings at the top, so the ring must be large enough for the trunk to fit through the hole. Other stands are open, which may allow a greater range in trunk size. Avoid whittling the sides of the trunk down to fit a stand. The outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed.
  • Keep your tree away from sources of heat such as fireplaces, heaters, heating vents and direct sunlight, all of which can make it dry out more quickly. Lowering the room temperature will slow the drying process, resulting in less water consumption each day.
  • Check the stand daily to make sure that the level of water does not go below the base of the tree. With many stands, there can still be water in the stand even though the base of the tree is no longer submerged an unable to absorb water.
  • Apply Wilt-Pruf, an anti-transpirant, to branches to help prevent moisture loss and needle drop. This should be done as quickly as possible before decorating the tree.
  • Do not use additives in the water, including floral preservatives, commercial tree preservatives, molasses, sugar, bleach, soft drinks, aspirin, honey, etc. Clean water is all that is needed to maintain the tree’s freshness.
  • Miniature lights, particularly LEDs and other energy-efficient bulbs, will produce much less heat and reduce drying of the tree. Do not overload the tree with too many lights.
  • Always inspect light sets prior to placing them on the tree. If worn, replace with a new set. And, do not overload electrical circuits, fuses or circuit breakers.
  • Always turn off the lights when leaving the house or when going to bed. Minimize how long the lights are on, such as not leaving the lights on during the day when they are less visible.
  • Monitor the tree for freshness by bending or pinching needles to test their flexibility. After Christmas or if the tree is dry and brittle, remove it from the house.

With just a few common sense steps, you can find a lovely fresh cut tree and keep it beautiful throughout the holiday season.

Autumn: Why Plant Now?

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AutumnWhyPlant_2Although many gardeners plant trees and shrubs in the spring, knowledgeable gardeners plant in the fall to take advantage of all this fabulous season has to offer. But why is fall planting better than spring planting?

  • Stress Reduction
    Transplanting causes stress as plants are removed from containers, balls or established locations and changed to new locations. Planting in the fall, when a plant is entering dormancy and is generally hardier and sturdier, reduces this stress so the plant can thrive.
  • Establishing Strong Roots
    Fall planting “establishes” trees and shrubs by encouraging root growth. Because the soil is still warm, the roots continue to develop until freezing, though the upper parts of the plant are already dormant. When transplanting in the spring, the developed roots are active and delicate tips or rootlets, as well as buds and new leaves, are more easily damaged.
  • Weather Resiliency
    Trees and shrubs planted in the fall are better able to withstand the rigors of the next summer’s heat and dry conditions because they have much longer to develop healthy roots systems and become thoroughly established. This is especially critical in dry climates or areas prone to drought or irregular rainfall.
  • Faster Maturity
    The “head-start” of fall planting results in a larger plant in less time, helping create a mature landscape without waiting for smaller plants to catch up. This can be especially critical when replacing dead or damaged plants in a mature landscape to avoid a gap or uneven look.
  • Water Conservation
    Planting in the fall saves watering time and promotes conservation by eliminating daily watering. Cooler temperatures with the addition of both morning and evening dew contribute greatly to soil moisture availability in fall without as much supplemental watering.
  • Color Confirmation
    Fall is the best time to see a plant’s autumnal color. Planting in the fall eliminates the surprise of the wrong color or unexpected shades that may not coordinate with nearby plants. By planting in autumn, you’ll know exactly what you’re purchasing and planting, and you will be able to match better with your existing landscape.
  • Saving Money
    Last but definitely not least, buying your beautiful trees and shrubs in autumn can save big money. We discount prices on trees and shrubs to create room for holiday season materials and pass the savings on to you. Selection may be more limited later in fall, however, so don’t wait too long to take advantage of great savings.

Autumn can be the ideal time to plant trees and shrubs, whether you are adding to your landscape, replacing plants or starting a whole new look. If you plant in autumn, you’ll be amazed at how lovely your landscape will look next spring.

Freshen Up for Fall

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freshen-1Transform summer garden pots, planters and window boxes into magical displays this fall. The addition of mums, winter pansies and ornamental cabbage and kale are always excellent choices but you can really spice things up with the inclusion of a few of these colorful, cold-hardy selections. Which ones will look best for your autumn landscape?

  • Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’
    This graceful, fan-shaped acorus variety is ideal for adding height to plantings. It keeps its color and shape into the winter for visual interest as other plants lose their vibrancy.
  • Acorus gramineus ‘Variegatus’
    This is the white-variegated version of ‘Ogon’. Its white-green striping is the perfect complement to mixed planting in silver, pink, purple or blue, and its lightness adds freshness to the arrangement.
  • Ajuga reptans ‘Burgundy Glow’
    This ajuga has a trailing habit and pretty, variegated leaves. Its blue flowers are scattered in fall and summer but this plant blooms profusely in springtime.
  • Ajuga reptans ‘Mahogany’
    The rich mahogany color of the shiny, short-stemmed leaves turns darker and more lustrous in the winter, ideal in a frosted or snowy landscape. Pretty bright blue flowers punctuate this creeper, mostly in the spring.
  • Ceratostigma plumbaginoides ‘Leadwort’
    The prolific flowers of this plumbago are an intense gentian-blue and the foliage turns bright red in low temperatures, adding visual heat to the landscape even on cold days.
  • Euphorbia amydaloides ‘Purpurea’
    This pretty perennial is exceptionally frost resistant. ‘Purpurea’ features upright branches with leaves that form a rosette pattern and turn from reddish to purple in the cold.
  • Helichrysum thianschanicum ‘Icicles’
    Here’s an easy, fast-growing helichrysum variety with striking, velvety-silver leaves and a compact growth habit.
  • Lamiastru galeobdolon ‘Herman’s Pride’
    ‘Herman’s Pride’ has serrated, shiny silver leaves with green venation and yellow flowers in the spring. The plant trails as it grows, making it perfect as an accent in hanging baskets, taller containers and window boxes.
  • Lavendula lantata ‘Silver Leaf Lavender’
    This lavender variety has silvery-white leaves that are velvet-like to the touch and hold their color throughout the winter. Dark purple-blue flowers appear by the second year and contrast beautifully with the foliage.
  • Lysimachia nummularia ‘Goldilocks’
    Proven to do equally well in both sun and shade, ‘Goldilocks’ exhibits wonderful versatility. The golden foliage creeps and hangs in lush profusion of round, shiny leaves.
  • Salvia officinalis ‘Icterina’
    This sage has a glowing, golden-yellow variegated leaf. ‘Icterina’ maintains its shape and holds its color long into the winter.
  • Salvia officinalis ‘Purpurascens’
    The eggplant-colored leaves of this sage warm up any planting. Try it as a culinary herb as well and enjoy the subtle taste.
  • Salvia officinalis ‘Tricolor’
    ‘Tricolor’ offers a unique combination of purple leaves with white borders that turn pink when temperatures drop.

No matter which of these plants you opt for, you’ll enjoy the rich colors and variation they bring to your autumn plantings.

Lyme Disease

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mowFor those of us who work and play outdoors in deer tick-infested areas, Lyme disease is a reality. If caught early, the disease is usually cured with antibiotics. If not detected and treated early, Lyme disease can be a debilitating condition that may linger for months or years.

Lyme disease is transmitted through the bite of a deer tick. The tick becomes infected with the disease by biting an animal that is carrying the bacteria. The main culprits in our area are the white-tailed deer and white-footed mouse. Not every deer tick is a carrier of Lyme disease but it is wise to always take precautions to prevent potential infections.

Protect yourself and your family by:

  • Wearing light-colored clothes to help spot and identify deer ticks before they attach to spread the infection.
  • Wearing long sleeves and pants to minimize exposed skin that can attract deer ticks. Tuck your pants into your boots or socks. Include a hat for added protection.
  • Spraying exposed skin with a product that contains at least 20 percent DEET and spraying clothing, and all other cloth gear, with a product containing Permethrin. Always follow the product label when applying repellents.
  • Removing clothing and immediately laundering it when coming back indoors. Dry clothing at a high temperature for at least 30 minutes, since ticks are sensitive to dryness and will die quickly without appropriate moisture.
  • Showering immediately and thoroughly after being in a tick-prone area. Inspect all skin surfaces, especially hard-to-see areas like behind the knees, the back of the neck and in arm pits. Ticks that carry Lyme disease are very small and therefore hard to see. Ticks must be attached for at least 18 hours in order to transmit Lyme disease.
  • Protecting pets from ticks with appropriate collars, drops, powders or dips, and inspecting pets’ fur regularly for ticks or other pests.

Protect your yard by:

  • Mowing the grass regularly. Ticks thrive in longer grasses with moist soils, but are not as abundant in groomed areas.
  • Keeping leaves raked and keeping the yard free of refuse that can create moist patches in the soil where ticks will thrive.
  • Creating a protective barrier, at least 3-4 feet wide of mulch or stone, between yard and wooded area. Ticks are not easily able to cross these open areas.
  • Stacking wood neatly in a dry area where it is less likely to harbor a tick infestation.
  • Spraying your yard with a tick control product like bifenthin. Always follow the product label when applying pesticides.
  • Taking steps to discourage deer and mice in your yard, such as choosing deer-resistant plants and using traps responsibly to eliminate rodents.

By taking appropriate precautions to protect you, your family and your yard, you can minimize any risk of contracting Lyme disease.

Wise Watering

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Periods of drought, heat waves and rising water bills can make any gardener more interested in saving water. Fortunately, there are many ways you can be water-wise without skimping on the moisture your plants need to thrive.

  • Make the Most of Mulch
    Mulches not only make plantings look more attractive, but their most important function is to help retain soil moisture. They keep the ground cool to reduce moisture loss and prevent growth of grasses and weeds that would otherwise compete with plant roots for soil moisture. The recommended depth is 2-4 inches, and there are many mulch types you can choose from to complement your landscaping and garden design.
  • Improve the Soil
    Prevent soil compaction and aerate regularly to improve the efficiency of how the soil absorbs and retains water. Test the pH and make sure the levels are correct for the plants you are growing. Till in several inches of compost each year and amend with Profile soil conditioner.
  • Plant Wisely
    When deciding what to plant, consider native species as they are adapted to the area and can withstand the local moisture conditions, including periods of low rainfall or drought. Also consider plants that have been specifically bred as drought-tolerant, particularly for more at-risk areas of your yard. Ask one of our staff for recommendations of native plants.
  • Design Thoughtfully to Save Water
    A good landscape design can help minimize water use. Start with graph paper and sketch your home, property lines, water faucets, existing trees and other permanent features. Plant large deciduous trees to maximize summer shade on the hot sides of your house. Combine groundcover in your plantings. This can reduce surface temperature up to 20 degrees. Plant a dense windbreak to cut down on drying winds. Group plants together by water needs and concentrate high water demand plants into one area. Plant rock gardens, native shrubs or drought-tolerant wildflowers on southern exposures.
  • Use Water-Saving Watering Techniques
    Install a drip irrigation system and use other water-saving devices like soaker hoses to minimize water loss. The system of “drip watering” that was originally designed for commercial use is now available to the home gardener. It has become very easy to use and quite effective. Drip watering applies water slowly and steadily directly to root zones in proper amounts. This saves time (less time watering and weeding) and money (less water). It also puts water where it’s needed without runoff or evaporation.
  • Choose the Proper Watering Tools
    You will want to look at our various styles of oscillating and pulsating sprinklers and choose the sizes and styles that meet your unique landscaping needs. Other assorted nozzles and wands can also make watering easier and more efficient. The Four Channel Water Distributor allows several watering accessories to be used at the same time.

It doesn’t take much to get started watering wisely, and not only will your plants thank you for providing adequate moisture, but you’ll love how much your water bill dries up!

PINK DAY

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Daniel’s Lawn and Garden Center, 1457 Sumneytown Pike, Harleysville will be hosting a Pink Day to benefit Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in their fight against breast cancer, on Saturday, June 8 from 10am to 4pm. This is our seventh year, and this year’s event is bigger and better than last year’s. Last year we raised over $2000 for breast cancer research.

Beginning at 10am, the public is invited to dress in pink, and enjoy free children’s activities and participate in raffles to win pink prizes. Pony rides will be available from 12 to 2pm.

Daniel’s Garden Center will be decorated in pink and will be having special pink items available that day with proceeds benefitting breast cancer research. Additionally there will be special Pink Day Only sales on selected items throughout the store, including propane tanks for $11.99 and 50% off pottery and 50% trees and shrubs.

Come out on Saturday, June 8 and support Daniel’s Garden Center’s efforts to help find a cure for breast cancer, a cancer that affects way too many Moms, sisters, wives, and friends. Any questions about this event, please call us at 610.287.9144. Think Pink!!

Attracting & Keeping Hummingbirds

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It is an awesome sight to capture a glimpse of a ruby-throated hummingbird hovering over the flower garden on a sunny summer morning. One or two a year may be seen seeking food in the landscape, sampling everything in their path. Unfortunately, they leave as rapidly as they arrive. This season, attract more of these miniature avian anomalies and keep them returning year after year.

You can charm hummingbirds to your yard with a selection of their favorite nectar producing flowers. Hummingbirds are not attracted by scent but by color. Red happens to be their favorite, however, pink, purple, blue, orange and yellow will also catch their eye. Tubular flowers accommodate this bird’s long, narrow beak. Select a wide variety of plants that bloom at different times to keep hummers well fed all season long. Refrain from using insecticides when attracting hummingbirds, they rely on insects for protein in their diets.

Hanging a feeder is another way to encourage these visitors. Choose one with red parts to resemble the flowers that they prefer. Fill the feeder with a mixture of one part sugar to four parts hot water to help the sugar dissolve. Fill the feeders after the mixture has cooled. Easier yet, fill with instant nectar purchased at our store. Clean feeders every 2 – 3 days and daily in hot weather.

Rose Care Basics

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Beginners often become confused with the many recommendations and suggestions for growing roses. However, it is important to start with the basic guidelines for successful rose growing. Roses can thrive under many conditions, but they are sure to grow better, with more luxurious blooms and fewer problems, when you follow the basics.

Prepare the Soil

The proper soil is essential to nourish roses so they can grow to their full potential. To make the soil ideal for roses…

  1. Take a soil sample to test the pH, either with a home testing kit or through your local extension service. Roses like a pH of 6.0 to 6.8. You may need to add lime to raise the pH or sulfur to lower it to the optimum rose range.
  2. Incorporate composted cow manure or other healthy compost into the soil. This will provide superior drainage and excellent organic material for roses to absorb.

Planting Roses

If they aren’t planted properly, roses won’t thrive as well as they could. Improper planting could even damage roots and destroy a rose bush.

  1. Select a sunny spot with good soil drainage – roses require at least 6 hours of full sun daily. Early morning sun is preferred because it dries the leaves, which helps prevent disease.
  2. Dig a wide, shallow hole that is 2-3 times as wide but not quite as deep as the root ball (about 1 inch shallower). The plant should sit on solid ground so it doesn’t sink when the soil settles.
  3. Remove the plant from the pot and loosen any circling roots. If you can’t pull the roots apart, use a knife to make 4-5 vertical cuts in the root ball. This will allow new roots to grow out into the surrounding soil as the plant becomes established.
  4. Place the plant in the hole slightly elevated above ground level. Backfill with soil until the hole is half full.
  5. Soak the root ball with a mixture of a Root Stimulator & Transplanting Solution.
  6. Fill the rest of the hole with soil and water thoroughly. Apply mulch to a depth of 2 inches, being careful not to mound mulch against the trunk of the plant, which could encourage rotting or insect damage.

Pruning Roses

To look their best, roses must be properly pruned. This can be intimidating for rose-growing novices, but once the basics are mastered, the techniques for pruning roses are not difficult.

  1. In spring, remove winter mulch when new grow appears. Prune out all dead wood and twiggy growth and cut back to sound wood with a clean slanting cut, just above a good bud eye.
  2. During the growing season, remove fading roses promptly, cutting just above a five-leaflet leaf. This will help encourage reblooming on many cultivars, and will help prevent rot or disease infestation.
  3. To winterize, remove all fallen leaves and debris from the base of the plant, cut back to 10-12 inches after the ground freezes, then apply a mound of mulch over the canes to protect them from temperature shock.

Food and Water

Roses need the proper nutrition – water and fertilizer – to bloom well and develop stunning colors and fragrances.

  1. Roses thrive best when given 1 inch of water weekly. A thorough soaking from rain or hose will keep roses blooming all season. Try not to overhead water unless it is early in the day, as the damp leaves can promote disease.
  2. Fertilize monthly with Espoma Rose-tone or similar products specially formulated for the nutritional needs of roses.

Treat for Disease and Pests

There are times when roses will succumb to diseases and pests. Quickly recognizing these problems and treating them properly will help minimize outbreaks that can damage several rose plants at once.

  1. Fungus diseases cannot be cured, so a regular spraying schedule is very important. Keep an eye on plants that were infected last year and spray with a fungicide to prevent outbreaks this year.
  2. You may also need to use an insecticide for severe insect problems. Minor problems can be handled with less harsh methods, but diligence will be necessary to keep pests from taking over the rose bushes.
  3. Many rose lovers find it convenient to use an all-purpose insect and disease spray once a week or a systemic control every 6 weeks.

It may seem like a lot of work to cultivate roses, but when you wander through your rose garden or see your favorite rose bush in full bloom, that effort will be well rewarded.

Small Space Container Gardening

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year-round-container-gardening-2Container Gardening provides many advantages for today’s busy and space challenged gardeners. You can grow just about anything in containers that you can grow in the ground: annuals, perennials, bulbs, ornamental grasses, veggies & herbs, shrubs and even trees. Pots may be may rearranged, as you would furniture indoors, to suit your mood, entertaining needs or the season. Plant light requirement is less of a concern as lightweight planters, or containers on coasters, may be moved to follow the sun pattern. Container gardening brings the garden closer, right outside your door and up off the ground, requiring less bending and kneeling when tending. What could be easier?

Cold-Tolerant Flowering Plants

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cold_tolerant-2Cold doesn’t have to kill your dreams for beautiful flowerbeds overflowing with vibrant color and stupendous blooms. While the deepest freezes of winter will put a stop to any flowering plant, there are beautiful plants that can chill out without damage or difficulty. The trick is recognizing which of these cold-tolerant flowering plants will work best in your climate and garden, and we’re here to help with that.

Freeze Tolerant Annuals

These are annuals that can withstand freezing temperatures and hard frosts for short periods with little or no injury. The best options include…

  • Marguerite Daisy (Argyranthemum frutescens)
  • Swan River Daisy (Brachycomb iberidifolia)
  • Million Bells (Calibrachoa x hybrida)
  • Dracaena Spike (Cordyline australis)
  • Dusty Miller (Scenecio cineraria)
  • Gazania (Gazania rigens)
  • Nemesia (Nemesia fruticans)
  • Cape Daisy (Osteospermum spp.)
  • Petunia (Petunia x hybrida)
  • Sweet Pea (Lathyrus odoratus)
  • Verbena (Verbena x hybrida)

Semi-Hardy Annuals

These are annuals that are perennials in warmer zones and can actually overwinter in cooler areas during mild winters of if they are located in a warm, sunny, protected spot. These are very frost and freeze tolerant annuals…

  • Annual Carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus)
  • Annual Pinks (Dianthus chinensis)
  • Pansy (Viola x wittrockiana)
  • Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’)
  • Mealycup Sage (Salvia farinacea)
  • Variegated Vinca Vine (Vinca major ‘Variegata’)

Perennials

Perennials are plants with roots that survive through the winter months, sending out new growth each spring. Appearing in your garden year after year, they become old and treasured friends. Perennials come in many sizes, shapes and colors with various bloom times and periods. It is best to plan your garden by the bloom time of the plant along with its cultural needs (sun/shade and drought-tolerant/water-lovers, etc.) to be sure you have a good, healthy balance of plants that will keep your garden and landscaping lush for months. Because these plants have evolved to survive the winter’s cold, they are all cold-tolerant to at least some measure. Popular favorites include…

  • Dicentra ‘Luxuriant’ – No garden is complete without a patch of Bleeding Hearts. This fringed variety is longer blooming than the old-fashioned selections. Rose-pink flowers are borne gracefully above soft green foliage with a slight blue cast that looks fresh all summer. 18-24” tall. Plant in part shade.
  • Bergenia – Spikes of delicate pink blooms soften the bold evergreen foliage of this early blooming perennial in March or April.
  • Armeria (Sea Pink) – Another evergreen perennial, this bloomer sends out masses of papery pink or white flowers above grass-like clumps of foliage.
  • Basket of Gold (Aurinia) – Charming yellow flowers float above dense mats of attractive gray foliage on this old-fashioned favorite. Plant in full sun. Excellent for a rock garden.
  • Candytuft (Iberis) – Flat-topped clusters of white flowers cover this evergreen perennial in early spring. Excellent as an edging in a border or to use in a rock garden.
  • Columbine (Aquilegia) – Beloved by hummingbirds and butterflies, columbine is also a great cut flower. Available in many color shades and bi-color combinations, columbine is perfect in any border or landscape situation.
  • Coralbell (Heuchera) – Tiny bell flowers on 1-2’ slender stems bloom from spring into summer. Shades of foliage vary from green to pink to deep burgundy. Plant in sun or shade.

Not sure which plants are best for the cold in your yard? Stop in and see our landscaping experts today for help choosing just which blooms will heat up even on cold days!

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