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Blue Hills Nursery News November 29, 2018

FEATURED QUOTE:

"A garden is always a series of losses set against a few triumphs, like life itself."
~May Sarton


Poinsettias

The Poinsettias are here!! Brighten up the house for the Holiday Season!



December
  • Choose and plant sasanqua camellias and early long-blooming azaleas. We recommend amending with GBO Acid Planting Mix before planting.
  • Purchase poinsettias early in the month.
  • Continue to plant winter vegetables.
  • Cut off flower spikes that have bloomed from dwarf foxgloves and delphiniums.
  • Don't prune tropicals.
  • Prune grapes, low-chill raspberries, and native plants.
  • Prune wisteria by cutting off unwanted long twiners. Prune roots of vines that fail to bloom.
  • Mow cool-season lawns, including Bermuda that's overseeded with winter ryegrass.
  • Do not mow warm-season lawns, except St. Augustine (if it continues to grow).
  • Continue fertilizing cymbidiums until flowers open.
  • Feed cool-season flowers with a complete fertilizer like Gro-Power Flower 'n' Bloom for growth and bloom.
  • Feed shade plants for bloom; give adequate light.
  • Feed cool-season lawns, but don't feed warm-season lawns (except for Bermuda that's overseeded with winter ryegrass).
  • Don't water succulents growing in the ground.
  • Keep cymbidiums damp but not soggy.
  • Remember to keep all bulbs, especially potted ones, well watered.
  • Water dichondra if rains aren't adequate.
  • Turn off the irrigation systems of all other types of warm-season lawns once they have gone brown.
  • Spray peach and apricot trees for peach leaf curl if you didn't do so in November.
  • Protect cymbidiums' bloom spikes from snails.
  • Control rust on cool-season lawns by fertilizing and mowing them.
  • Control aphids with insecticidal soap and beneficial insects.
  • Prepare beds for planting bare-root roses next month.
  • Harvest winter vegetables as soon as they mature.

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The Beauty of Christmas Cactus

While the poinsettia remains the most popular of the holiday plants, a healthy Christmas cactus in full bloom is a great gift idea for that special gardener. It is easy to care for and can be grown indoors throughout the year. The flowers range in color from yellow, orange, red, salmon, pink, fuchsia and white or combinations of those colors. Its pendulous stems make it a great choice for hanging baskets.

The "Christmas cactus" that is grown commercially is actually several closely related species of forest cacti that grow as epiphytes between 3,000 and 5,000 feet above sea level in the Organ Mountains north of Rio de Janeiro in southeast Brazil, South America.

We typically think of cacti as being heat tolerant, but Christmas cactuses will keep their blossoms longer in cooler temperatures. It is important to keep plants in a well-lit location away from drafts of heater vents, fireplaces or other sources of hot air. Drafts and temperature extremes can cause the flower buds to drop from the plant before they have a chance to open.

The Christmas cactus is a tropical type plant, not quite as drought tolerant as its desert relatives and, in fact, may drop flower buds if the soil gets too dry. Water thoroughly when the top inch or so of soil feels dry to the touch. The soil should be kept evenly moist for best growth.

Christmas cactuses will do best in bright indirect light. They don't need to be fertilized while in bloom, but most gardeners enjoy the challenge of keeping the plant after the holidays for re-bloom the following year. While plants are actively growing, use a blooming fertilizer, such as Gro-Power Flower 'n' Bloom, and apply monthly until blooms set the following season. If taken care of properly, a single plant can last for many years, providing many seasons of enjoyment.

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National Poinsettia Day - Dec 12th

Did you know the US has a National Poinsettia Day? December 12 was designated by Congress as the day to honor the flower and Joel Robert Poinsett, botanist and the first United States Ambassador to Mexico. Native to Mexico, the poinsettia, with over 50 million sold annually, is the number one flowering potted plant sold in the United States.

History of Poinsettias
The Aztecs called poinsettias "Cuetlaxochitl." During the 14th-16th century the sap was used to control fevers and the bracts ( modified leaves) were used to make a reddish dye.

Montezuma, the last of the Aztec kings, would have poinsettias brought into what now is Mexico City by caravan because they could not be grown in the high altitude.

Centuries later, Joel Roberts Poinsett became the first United States Ambassador to Mexico, being appointed by President Andrew Jackson in the 1820's; because of his interest in botany he introduced the American elm into Mexico.

During his stay in Mexico, he wandered the countryside looking for new plant species. In 1828 he found a beautiful shrub with large red flowers growing next to a road. He took cuttings from the plant and brought them back to his greenhouse in South Carolina.

Even though Poinsett had a distinguished career as a US Congressman and Ambassador, he will always be best remembered for introducing the poinsettia into the United States.

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The Attack of the Invasive Plants

Invasive plants--just the term brings to mind visions of horror movies such as the classic Little Shop of Horrors or, more recently, The Ruins. But here in the "real" world, what, exactly, is an invasive plant? Should it be a valid concern and, if it is, what can we do about it?

Invasive plants are no different than their counterparts in the animal and disease arenas. An invasive plant is generally defined as one that has the ability to grow aggressively outside its natural range. Oftentimes, its ability to do this stems from the fact that it is growing outside its native range, because the diseases, insects and foraging animals that naturally would control its growth and spread are not present in its new habitat.

There are many factors in determining whether a plant is invasive or not. What do we mean? For starters, some plants are more invasive than others; some considered as moderately invasive can be controlled easily with a little well-timed maintenance. Climate and location play an important role. Many plants are considered invasive in some parts of the country and not in others. Five generally recognized attributes of invasive plants are:

  1. They produce large numbers of new plants each year.
  2. They tolerate a wide range of soil types and weather conditions.
  3. They spread quickly by means of wind, water, animals or even runners.
  4. They grow quickly, thereby displacing slower-growing plants.
  5. They spread more rapidly than they do when grown in their native habitats, because of the absence of natural checks and balances.

Why should you be concerned? Invasive plants can disrupt many natural habitats, ultimately affecting wildlife populations and choking out native plant species. Most people would agree with the statement, "Variety is the spice of life." Where allowed to run rampant, invasive plant species can severely restrict this biodiversity, both in terms of plant life and the wildlife that depend on it to survive. They are especially problematic in areas such as wetlands, sand dunes and fire-prone areas--in fact, over $100 million per year is spent in the U.S. combating invasive plants in wetlands alone.

Where do these invasive plants come from? Sometimes, their arrival at their "new homes" is completely accidental, as seed in agricultural products or in shipments from overseas. Other times, they are sold at garden centers. Because of gardening enthusiasts’ ongoing quest for hardy, drought-tolerant, fast-growing specimens, these plants are often propagated and offered to the public to fulfill these desires. Only later is it discovered that these plants may offer a little too much of a good thing. Kudzu (known as "the vine that ate the South") is one of the more infamous examples of this. It was originally introduced as a ornamental shade vine for porches, arbors and such. Now it's shading (and killing) trees all over the Southeast.

What can you do? This is where we come in. Next time you shop for plants, let us know that you would like to avoid potentially invasive plants in your garden. Or ask us how to keep those "hardy, drought-tolerant, fast-growing" plants from becoming invasive. For instance, much of the mint family can be invasive--but they are reasonably safe to grow in pots, or in an area of the garden where you can easily remove "volunteers." And, of course, they are quite safe to grow indoors! Make use of our expertise to help guide you in selecting plants and growing methods that will not present a problem in the future--and help preserve the plants and wildlife indigenous to our area!

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Garden Primer

Question:
Do birdhouses have to have bird seed in them? How do you make it comfortable enough for birds to nest in them?

Answer:
Bird feeders have seed in them, bird houses have birds in them! Hellooooooo!

As long as the entrance/hole is a proper size and the birdhouse has ventilation openings without letting in rain, the birds will be happy.

Unfortunately many bird houses not approved by the National Audubon Society (usually the small, painted "cute" looking ones) have no ventilation. The birds nest, lay eggs, the eggs hatch, and then the babies die because they overheat.

You don't want to make the birds "comfortable" by adding stuff for the birds to nest in, because the house will then smell like a human and the birds won't want to nest. They're quite content to find everything they need to build a comfy nest inside all on their own.

Happy Birding!

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Brussels Sprouts

Many people stay away from Brussels sprouts, because they feel they are bitter and not a dish you could serve to guests. WRONG! Brussels sprouts are a delicious accompaniment to any dish, if prepared properly - and they are so easy to do!

I prefer to use a cast iron skillet for this dish - but any skillet will work:

What you will need:

  • 1 package frozen Brussels sprouts
  • 1 tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup grated mozeralla cheese

Step by Step:

  • Boil a package of Brussels sprouts in one cup of water with 1 tablespoon of vinegar and one teaspoon of salt. Allow to boil until the sprouts are tender. Once tender, the vinegar and the salt will remove any bitter taste.
  • Place sprouts in a skillet with one stick of butter, and allow the butter to melt and to infuse the sprouts.
  • After 15 minutes on medium heat, cover the sprouts with grated mozzarella cheese.
  • Cover and cook on low heat until the cheese melts.
  • Serve and watch the sprouts disappear!

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Protect Your Potted Plants: Potted plants do not have as deep a root system as plants in the garden. This means they are more susceptible to serious frost damage. Consider moving potted plants indoors or under patio covers on cloudless, cold evenings.



Contact Information:

Telephone:
(562) 947-2013

Address:
16440 E. Whittier Blvd.
Whittier, CA 90603

Hours:
Open 7 days a week, 8:30 am-5:00 pm

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