Author Archives: Ben Martin

Keep Holiday Plants Looking Their Best

Poinsettias, Christmas Cactus, Amaryllis, Paper Whites and Cyclamen add a special touch to your home during the holidays, however, keeping them looking Merry and Bright can be challenging. Here are a few tips:

#1 The most common problem occurs with overwatering. Avoid drenching the soil when you water and let the soil dry out between waterings.

#2 Poor drainage will cause the roots to rot. Make sure the pot has drainage holes and if the plant sits in a foil sleeve, remove it when you water and allow it to drain adequately.

#3 Keep plants near a window that receives morning sun, making sure the leaves/petals don’t touch the windowpane. The cooler temperature from outside can penetrate and shock the plant causing leaves to drop.

#4 Maintaining a constant temperature between 65 and 75 degrees is ideal. Avoid placing plants in drafty areas near doorways, or near fireplaces or heat vents.

#5 Applying a fertilizer on a regular schedule will encourage root health, growth and blooming.

Most holiday plants are exactly that… holiday plants, and when the fraser fir comes down, they typically go out the door along with it. Christmas Cactus, however, can thrive inside year round, and with proper care, can last for years. Poinsettias, on the other hand, are more difficult in the long term. If you’re interested in more information on keeping Poinsettias after the holidays, go to Poinsettia | Home & Garden Information Center (clemson.edu).

There’s Always Something Blooming at Wingard’s!

How to Choose a Japanese Maple Tree

Are you awed by Japanese Maple trees? Have you come into the garden center to pick one? Did the varieties overwhelm you? Let us make it easier for you by explaining Japanese maple differences. Then, when you come in, you’ll know exactly what you want.

The native species of Japanese maple (native to Japan and other South Pacific Islands), Acer palmatum, grows moderately to a 20′ by 20′ multi-trunked tree. The leaves have 5-9 finely cut lobes giving them a more delicate look than other maples. Red spring leaves turn to green in the summer and blaze with yellow, orange and red in the fall. All do best with protection from drying winds and hot overhead afternoon sun. During their centuries of use in gardens around the world, gardeners have discovered and propagated those selections with unusual growth habits and bark patterns, as well as leaf color and shape. With hundreds of Japanese maple varieties available at garden centers, we feel a little simplification is in order.

  • Leaf Shape
    The variation Dissectum or Laceleaf Japanese Maple has leaves are deeply cut and finely lobed giving a lace cutout look. These varieties generally grow best in shady locations as the leaves easily burn or scorch. The leaves of non-Dissectum varieties are much less lacy. They resemble the leaves of native maples but are smaller and more deeply cut.  These are the two ends of the leaf-shape spectrum.  Many varieties lie somewhere in between.
  • Leaf Color
    The leaf color of different Japanese maples also varies. Many have red spring growth changing to green in the summer. However, some retain the red through the growing season. Some varieties have variegated leaves with white, cream, gold or pink. Variegated leaves burn easily in the sun but can revert to all green in too much shade. Green leaves tolerate more sun than red. Autumn is when Japanese maples really put on a show with a riot of blazing colors.
  • Tree Form
    Non-Dissectum varieties grow more quickly into upright forms. Some varieties remain less than 10′ tall but others can grow to 25′ tall by 20′ wide. Laceleaf (Dissectum) maples slowly develop a weeping form approximately 8-10′ tall and 8-12′ wide. However, ‘Seiryu’ is an exception, growing into an upright form.
 

Laceleaf (Dissectum)

Non-Dissectum

Location Requires more shade Tolerates less shade
Size Smaller 10-25′ tall depending upon variety
Tree Form Weeping Upright
Leaf Shape Lacy, fine cut Lobed
Leaf Color Red, green Red, green, variegated

Now that you have identified a suitable planting location and the type of Japanese maple you prefer, come see us and let our friendly staff show you the varieties that meet your requirements.  Japanese Maple Varieties that we typically keep in stock:

Variety Exposure 10 Yr Height Growth Habit Spring color Summer color Fall color Leaf type
Baldsmith Sun to part sun 5 ft Weeping Orange/Red Bronze/Green Orange Dissectum (Laceleaf)
Bihou Sun to part sun 7 ft Upright Yellow/Green Green Orange/Yellow Non-Dissectum
Bloodgood Sun to part sun 12 ft Upright Red Red Bright Red Non-Dissectum
Crimson Queen Sun to part sun 5 ft Weeping Red Red Bright Red Dissectum (Laceleaf)
Emperor I Sun to part sun 8 ft Upright Red Red Bright Red Non-Dissectum
Kurenai jishi Sun to part sun 3 ft Dwarf Brown/Red Brown/Red Yellow/Red Non-Dissectum
Moonfire Sun to part sun 8 ft Upright Red Red Bright Red Non-Dissectum
Oshio Beni Sun to part sun 15 ft Upright Orange-red Bronze-green Scarlet Non-dissectum
Peaches & Cream Part sun 8 ft Upright Cream/Rose Green/Rose Yellow Non-Dissectum
Pixie (Dwf Bloodgood) Sun to part sun 6-10 ft Upright Red Red Bright Red Non-dissectum
Purple Ghost Sun to part sun 8 ft Upright Red Red Orange/Red Non-Dissectum
Radiant Sun to part sun 8-12 ft Weeping Green/Rose/Salmon Green/Rose/Salmon/White Orange/Red Non-dissectum
Red Dragon Sun to part sun 4 ft Weeping Red Red Bright Red Dissectum (Laceleaf)
Rhode Island Red Sun to part sun 6 ft Upright Red Red Bright Red Non-Dissectum
Sango Kaku Sun to part sun 10 ft Upright Green Green Yellow/Orange Non-Dissectum
Seiryu Sun to part sun 10 ft Upright Green Green Orange Dissectum (Laceleaf)
Shishigashira Sun to part sun 6 ft Dwarf Green Green Orange Non-Dissectum
Skeeters Broom (Dwf Bloodgood) Sun to part sun 4-6 ft Upright Red Red Bright Red Dissectum (Laceleaf)
Tamuke yama Sun to part sun 5 ft Weeping Red Red Bright Red Dissectum (Laceleaf)
Source: Maplestone Ornamentals

Backyard Birdscaping

As wildlife habitats are threatened by incessant development, the creation of a bird-friendly environment, or “birdscaping”, is crucial to the existence of our wild bird population. A well planned birdscape will provide our fine feathered friends with a dependable source of food, water, and shelter while affording an enjoyable and educational activity for the entire family.

Benefits of Wild Birds 

Birds, the perfect backyard guests, provide more benefits than many homeowners realize. Wild birds can..

  • Control insects by feasting on both flying and crawling insects as well as slugs, snails and other creepy-crawlies.
  • Pollinate plants by flitting from flower to flower as they seek out insects and seeds to eat, all the while spreading pollen amongst the blooms.
  • Manage weeds as they consume copious amounts of weed seeds before the seeds ever have a chance to sprout.
  • Control rodents when raptors visit the yard in search of mice, rats, gophers, voles or other unwanted pests.

Attracting Backyard Birds

Fortunately, it is easy to attract a wide variety of backyard birds when you offer them what they need most – food, water and shelter.

Food

Wild birds rely on both natural and supplemental food sources, so it is important to consider both when birdscaping. Feeding the birds is most important in the winter when natural food may be scarce, but they will visit feeders at any time of year. Migratory birds require additional food in the spring and fall as they pass through the region. Nesting birds rely on full feeders in the summer.

Wingard’s Market is proud to carry Cole’s Wild Bird Company products! A family busines (just like us) built on specialty blends that Richard and Nancy Cole originally produced in their home. The results were stunning as wild birds flocked to their feeder in record numbers. The neighbors took notice, and the rest is history.

All birdseed is not equal. Cole’s seed mixes are based on solid research of the dietary needs of birds and formulated to attract the most birds to the feeder with less waste. Give Cole’s seed blends a try today and see the difference for yourself.  Learn More!

Would you like to purchase on-line or in-store? Click here. Wingard’s makes it easy!

Some food tips:

  • Provide a variety of natural foods for birds by planting berry bushes, seed-bearing flowers, and nectar-rich flowers.
  • Leave imperfect and fallen fruit on the tree and ground for birds to nibble.
  • Minimize pesticide use so birds can count on insects as a secure food source.
  • Add supplemental feeders to your yard, such as seed, platform, suet, and nectar feeders. Clean all types of feeders weekly to avoid mold that can be dangerous to birds, and be sure feeders are full when birds need them most.

Water

Improve your backyard bird habitat by adding water. Birds require a constant supply of clean water for drinking and bathing. This is especially important in late summer, when water is generally scarce, and in the winter, when it is frequently frozen.

Some water tips:

  • Place bird baths in a protected location safe from predators, and keep the baths filled at all times so a fresh supply of water is constantly available.
  • Thoroughly scrub algae off of bird baths as soon as it appears. Clean your bird bath weekly to minimize bird waste contamination.
  • Provide motion for greater attraction by using a bubbler, wiggler, dripper or fountain. Birds will see the sparkles and hear the splashes of the moving water encouraging them to visit.
  • Use Mosquito Dunks to safely prevent mosquito larvae in warm weather. A clean bird bath with moving water will also harbor fewer insects.
  • Add an outdoor-safe submersible heater to the bath in winter to keep the water from freezing or consider using a fully heated bird bath during the coldest months.

Shelter

It is important to offer safe and comfortable shelter for your wild birds to nurture their young, protect them from predators, and shield them from the elements. Planting trees and shrubs and providing bird houses, along with roosting boxes and pockets, are all beneficial additions to your birdscape.

Some shelter tips:

  • Landscape with both deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs to offer birds different types of shelter in all seasons.
  • Minimize pruning to give birds denser, more secure shelter to take advantage of when they feel threatened.
  • Plant in layers and create thicket-like pockets or corridors in your landscape so birds can move around freely without feeling exposed.
  • Supplement the shelter in your yard with good quality bird houses, winter roost boxes or nesting pockets to give birds even more options to stay safe and secure.

When you meet birds’ needs for food, water and shelter, your birdscape will soon be home to a fun & friendly flock of Backyard Birds.

QUESTIONS?

Our friendly and knowledgeable staff can help you determine which plants and products are best suited for your backyard birdscaping.

Strike a Pose… Focal Point Shrubs & Trees for your Landscape

In home decorating, we use a focal point to provide something striking that immediately stands out, something that sets the tone or theme for a room, or serves as the foundation for color, texture or form.  Whatever it is… a painting or print, flower arrangement, sculpture, pottery, or a collection of some sort, our eyes move immediately to it.    The same idea applies to landscape design, and by adding strategic “eye catchers,” will enhance the outside beauty of a home.

A focal point can be part of the “big picture” when we consider the curb appeal of a home, for example… a large shade tree with foliage that changes to a bright orange or red in fall, or a flowering specimen tree offering colorful blooms in spring or summer.  Large shrubs, like Camellia, Hydrangea, and Fragrant Tea Olive, flanked on opposite corners of a home provide an anchor and establish a pattern or continuity in the design.  Many Japanese maple tree varieties have dramatic burgundy or chartreuse foliage, and make a delightful focal point in an entryway.   This large plant material accentuates the architecture of the home.

Often, an outdoor living space serves as a focal point in the landscape, and can be as simple as a garden bench, or as elaborate as a stone patio with a garden furniture ensemble and fireplace.  To enhance the area, add evergreen plant material to soften edges, container gardens and hanging baskets for color, but be careful, not to overdo it.  Hardscapes speak for themselves and what you don’t want to do is overpower them and lose the simple beauty they bring. 

In a supporting role of landscape design, other smaller types of focal points are effective as accents in individual “garden rooms” created here and there throughout the property.   Choose a stand-alone plant, or create a grouping (odd numbers are best) according to size, color, texture, form, etc., that will contrast with the neighboring plants.  Container gardens, bird houses and bird baths, as well as yard art, can add interest and provide an eye-catching centerpiece. 

Fall is the ABSOLUTE BEST time to plant in the Midlands of South Carolina.  The weather is starting to cool off and although growth is beginning to slow down above ground, the roots below will have time in fall, winter and spring, to establish prior to the next season of hot weather.  Watering is required less frequently due to the mild temperatures and insects/disease issues are almost nonexistent.  If you’re ready to get busy and start planting, here are a few recommendations for focal point plants:

Camellia, Japonica & Sasanqua:   Evergreen, shiny foliage, great for areas that receive morning sun, afternoon shade, (Sasanqua varieties can take more sun).  Many grow 8-10 ft. tall, however, smaller varieties are available.  Sasanquas bloom in fall; Japonicas bloom December to March.  

Here’s just a sampling – new shipment (approximately 30 different varieties) just arrived at Wingard’s.

Kanjiro

Dawn

Yuletide

Lime Light Hydrangea:  This is simply a gorgeous hydrangea that can take the sun!  Large, cone-shaped blooms beginning green, changing to white, then to rose color in the fall.  Drops its leaves in late fall/winter, 6-8 ft. tall, and fast-growing. 

Fragrant Tea Olive:  Every home should have at least one of these evergreen shrubs.  Small, fragrant, white blooms appear in spring and fall, and sometimes in-between.  Plant it near an outside living space, or somewhere you are going to walk by, so that you can enjoy the fragrance.  Growth can be 10-12 ft. and it can handle full or part sun.  In natural form, Fragrant Tea Olive is a dense, large shrub, however, feel free to prune out the bottom branches to create a small evergreen tree. 

Autumn Fern:  For contrast in form in a shady area, try Autumn Fern.  This evergreen fern provides interest year-round, but especially in spring when the brown fern stalks reach out and open.  Very drought tolerant, growing 3-4 ft. tall and wide.  Plant individually or in a group.

Maiden Grass:  These perennial grasses with long, graceful blades blowing in the breeze, offer another interesting plant form in the landscape.   White plumes appear in summer adding to the effect.  Plant individually or in a group.   Take a look at these two varieties…. Adagio, reaching 3-4 ft., and Gracillimus, 5-6 ft. Other than size, their characteristics are the same.

Adagio

Gracillimus

Japanese Maple:  Whether grouped in an oriental garden, standing alone near the entrance of a home, or in a wooded natural tree area, the unique foliage and growth habit of a Japanese maple stands out and makes a beautiful statement.  Appropriate for shade or sun, these specimen trees offer many options with deep burgundy, green or bright chartreuse leaves, weeping canopies, and even stems that turn red in winter.  Shop for the mature size that fits in your space, but keep in mind that even the largest varieties are still considered relatively small trees. 

Crimson Queen

Sango Kaku AKA Coral Bark

October Glory Red Maple:  One of the most striking of the Red Maples, October Glory lights up the landscape in fall with bright orange/red foliage.  Fairly fast growing, drops leave in winter, reaches 30-40 ft. in height.  Thrives in full sun.

Natchez Crape Myrtle:  This lovely southern tree accents the landscape with a weeping growth habit, full of elongated white blooms in summer.  Deciduous (drops leaves in winter), sun-loving and fast-growing, it will reach 20 ft. in height.  Don’t prune, unless you need to shape it a bit; let it grow naturally to its mature size. 

Mediterranean Fan Palm:  Any palm makes a great focal point, especially near a pool or the lake.  One of the most interesting is Mediterranean or European Fan Palm, due to its multiple trunks.  Palms love sun and humidity, but many are susceptible to freezing temperatures.  This variety is one of the MOST cold-hardy and can hold its own around here in the winter.  Slow-growing, it can eventually reach 10-15 ft.  

Mahonia: For a striking show in the middle of winter, check out Mahonia.  Great for a shady spot, however, a few hours of morning sun encourages the bright yellow blooms.  Soft Caress is a low-growing variety (2-3 ft.) that creates a show when grouped together.

If you want some professional help, Wingard’s Market offers a landscape design service.

Click here for more information.

There’s always something blooming at Wingard’s!

Landscape Design Made Simple

The word “design” can be a bit daunting to most of us.  We immediately think of complex rules and requirements, scientific and/or architectural aspects, and then there’s the artistic element, which can be most intimidating.  There is certainly much to learn in the area of landscape design, and if you are in the mood to do some research, we will provide a few resources at the end of this blog just for that purpose.  But, before you jump in the deep end, let’s start with a few simple, basic principles.

What do you want to accomplish?  Home foundation planting for improved curb appeal?  Creating a quiet space or a gathering place for friends and family? Establishing a vegetable garden?  Whatever the goal, start with a rough sketch (use a pencil, because you will make changes!)  Look for pictures and shop for plants to get ideas on what you like and don’t like.  Take your time and don’t rush.  In your planning, think about symmetry and balance, texture and color, straight lines and curves, and focal points.

  • Symmetry and Balance:  We are most comfortable in landscapes that have a sense of balance.  Simply put, it’s just easy on the eye.  There are two major types of balance – symmetrical and asymmetrical.  Symmetrical balance is used in formal landscapes when one side of the landscape is a mirror image of the opposite side. These landscapes often use geometric patterns in the walkways, planting beds and even how the plants are pruned into shapes.  Think of a Charleston garden.   Asymmetrical balance, also known as informal balance, differs from one side to the other and appears to be relaxing and free flowing.  Think of an English garden.  Using a combination of shapes and sizes along with a strategy of placement will create the symmetry you choose.
  • Texture and Color:  Just as you decorate a room in your home, your landscape should contain a combination of textures and colors.  You certainly don’t want every plant in a garden bed to be small, round, and green.  Find plants that complement one another with different foliage colors and shapes, growth habits, and mature sizes.  For example, in a shade garden, plant ferns, next to compact evergreen shrubs, like azaleas.  In a more sunny location, plant perennials that bloom at different times to provide pops of color and interest, and, plant a mass of low growing annuals on the edge of a curved bed for a striking border! 
  • Straight Lines and Curves:  Lines are created in the landscape by walkways, patios and other hardscapes, fences and garden beds, just to name a few.  These provide the “backbone” for a landscape design.   By incorporating the lawn, trees, and plants, these lines are enhanced and united to create and complete the landscape.  It is important that it all looks like it belongs together, or flows from one area to the next, naturally.  A mixture of straight lines and curves works best in your landscape’s big picture.
  • Focal Points:  Hardscapes, such as a fire pit or fireplace, create the perfect focal point for a backyard gathering area.  Trees offer a stand-alone focal point in the yard and many provide color in the fall or blooms in the spring.   Other plant material, for example, Limelight Hydrangea, Adagio Perennial Grass, or Knock Out Rose are good for a garden bed.  Statuary, container gardens, trellises, and yard art add personality and whimsy to the landscape.  A bird bath and feeder or two creates a beautiful wildlife focus.  Remember that a focal point can be either a single object or a grouping.

Select and analyze the area in your yard where the project will take place.  Most important… soil, sun and water.  Have the soil analyzed (Wingard’s and Clemson can help you with this), so you can determine if you will need to amend the soil.  Map the sunlight for a day or two to identify how much sun the area receives.  Because the afternoon sun is SO HOT here in the summer, you must select plants that can take the heat if you plant in areas that receive sun all day or in the afternoon.   Select areas that get more shade for your outdoor gathering spots.  Likewise, choose plants that will flourish in shade for these areas.  Lastly, investigate and correct any drainage issues and determine how you will water. 

Plants and Planting.  The very best time to plant is Fall in the Midlands of South Carolina.  That being said, Spring planting is second best and the time when inventory at your local garden center is abundant.  The key to success is to be diligent in watering throughout the summer.  Choose plants that you like and are appropriate for the amount of sun or shade in the area(s) of the project.  If the plant tag indicates “full sun” it means all day or all afternoon.  Don’t be too concerned with the size of the plant when you purchase it, however, make sure you know how big it will get, and plan your spacing accordingly.  Knowing and planning for the mature size of the plants is an approach that will result in little or no pruning!  Appropriate spacing of plants will also contribute to better health and appearance.  Disease becomes a problem when foliage doesn’t have breathing room. 

It’s OK to change your mind!  Gardening is an on-going process and inevitably brings about change in the landscape, either because we “just don’t like it there,” we find something better, or, unfortunately, “it died”.  Be open to trying something else if you’re not satisfied with the results, or you didn’t have success.  Don’t be afraid to move a plant if it’s not happy where you planted it (just don’t transplant in the heat of summer).  When you plan a landscape project, leave room for additions as you get a new idea or see a “must have” plant.  Let it be a work in progress, and it will provide continuing satisfaction and enjoyment.

Stay tuned for our October blog where we will provide recommendations on great ideas for focal points in the landscape.

For additional information, check out these links:

https://www.clemson.edu  (Master Gardener Training Powerpoint Presentation
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu  (University of Florida Basic Principles)
https://www.bhg.com  (Better Homes & Gardens Magazine Tips)

If you want some professional help, Wingard’s Market offers a landscape design service.  Click here for more information.

So, What’s A Succulent?

The word succulent comes from the Latin word sucus, meaning juice or sap. By definition, succulents are plants with leaves, stems or roots that are thickened, fleshy, and engorged, usually to retain water in dry soil conditions. Water-storing… what a fantastic characteristic for plants in summer in the south! Minimal watering… Oh yeah! There are over 10,000 plants that fall into the succulent category, from many different plant species, and they provide some of the most diverse forms, colors, and blooms for inside and outside use. These unique plants provide an interesting, low-maintenance pop of plant life inside in a small space, like your desk or kitchen table, as well as outside areas like a patio or rock garden. Combine several in a decorative planter or be extra creative and plant in a terrarium or maybe even an old pair of shoes! Anything goes with these garden gems, just poke holes for drainage.

Light and temperature requirements are not “one size fits all” for succulents. While most are not cold weather hardy, there are some varieties of Agave, Sedum, Sempervivum, Cactus, and Yucca that can survive the winter in South Carolina. Others may be considered annuals or will need to be moved indoors when cold weather arrives. Indirect light is necessary for succulents inside your home or office, either naturally or from a grow light. Outside, morning sun with afternoon shade is best. Many succulents do well in full sun, however, more water may be required. Do your research on the succulents you choose and provide the environment necessary for them to thrive.

A few examples of succulents that might surprise you are Ponytail Palm, Crown of Thorns, or Wax Ivy, each one, a great, “stand alone” plant for your home or garden. Different plant structures and appearances put these in a different group, but still they qualify as succulents. More common varieties like Echeveria, Stonecrop, and Sempervivum, have more typical characteristics and make a delightful container garden when combined.

An extra advantage that succulents bring to the table is very scientific. During the process of photosynthesis, succulents release oxygen while absorbing our respiratory waste (carbon dioxide), keeping our air fresh, pure, and clean. Some succulents even produce oxygen at night, such as the snake plant a.k.a. Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, Aloe vera, and Christmas cactus. These succulents are ideal for the bedroom as they provide an extra boost of refreshed air during the night that ultimately leads to better sleep. Many succulents, such as Agave, Aloe, Stonecrop, Cacti and Yucca have healing properties and have been used throughout history to treat medical problems like cuts, burns, stomachaches and more.

Many succulents are easy to propagate… the bigger the leaves, the better your chances of success. The first step is to water the plant well a day or two before you take cuttings, to make sure it is full of water and will not dry out. Twist gently to remove the whole leaf making a clean cut at the joint between the leaf and the stem. Allow the leaf wound to callus over (takes about a week, don’t water or expose to direct sunlight). Place the succulent leaf flat on top of the soil in a shallow tray, small pot, or container with drainage holes. Do not bury the leaf, especially the part that was previously connected to the stem. Place the tray in a spot where it will receive indirect light and mist it daily. New baby plants will emerge from the original leaf very slowly; transplant when new babies are significant in size.

The possibilities are numerous, almost limitless when considering succulents. They are great for folks who love plants but have little time for maintaining them. Their forms and colors provide an artistic medium for the creative gardener who desires something striking and different. Lastly, for the naturalist and/or environmentalist, succulents deliver!


Foxtail Agave

Aloe Vera

Sedum Donkey’s Tail

Echeveria

Sempervivum – Hens & Chicks

Ponytail Palm

Cactus – Prickley Pear

Stonecrop – Angelina

Sanseveria – Snake Plant

Christmas Cactus

Read more…
https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/cacti-succulents/scgen/succulent-plant-info.htm

There’s Always Something Blooming at Wingard’s! 

Doctor, Doctor….my plant is sick!

Common summertime plant problems in the Midlands of South Carolina

Ok, so you’ve planted beautiful shrubs, trees, vegetables, annuals, and perennials…. and most are looking great!  Of course, there are always going to be a few exceptions, those plants that just might not be thriving.  You’ve planted correctly, fertilized, watered and done everything you should, so what gives???  Here are a few problems that we sometimes encounter, and solutions that will improve the “sick” situation:

YELLOW LEAVES – A very common problem when the weather gets hot and humid.  Yellow leaves can result from watering too much, or not enough.  In the Midlands, we are famous for sand and clay soils, neither of them being ideal for plants.  Hopefully, you added soil amendment when you planted, and that should help hold moisture (sand) or improve drainage (clay), BUT… overwatering in clay-based soil and not watering enough in sand-based soil can be disastrous.  The best way to stay on top of this, if you see yellowing foliage, is to check the soil moisture a day after you have watered, by digging down about 6-8 inches at the dripline around shrubs or trees, and 2-3 inches around vegetables, annuals or perennials.   Back off on watering if the soil is too wet, and increase if it’s bone dry.   When using an irrigation system, try measuring with a rain gauge or other measuring device to make sure the area is receiving an inch of water. 

Iron deficiency, soil pH, and fungus can also cause yellow leaves. It’s a good idea to have the soil tested by Clemson Extension Service to identify any deficiencies in your soil.  Sample bags and application forms are available at the Wingard’s checkout stations, and our staff will walk you through the process.  If you’re watering appropriately and confident that any soil issues have been resolved, come in and talk to a Wingard’s staff member to diagnose and treat the problem.

JAPANESE BEETLES – Thankfully, this little pest is creating havoc in the garden for only a few weeks, usually beginning mid-June, however, they can do quite a lot of damage in a short time, so it’s best to be on the lookout for them.  They especially love roses, crape myrtles, hydrangeas, and hostas.   The most effective approach to eliminate the Japanese Beetles is to use systemic pesticides and as the beetles feed, they ingest the poison in the leaves.  There will be some leaf damage, but not nearly as much as with no treatment.  Apply Ferti-Lome Tree & Shrub Drench in spring, or Bioadvanced 3-in-1 Insect, Disease & Mite Control in May before the beetles appear, and again in 30 days, if they are still hanging around.  If you prefer the organic approach, use Spinosad Soap at the first sign of Japanese Beetles.  DON’T use the traps/bags – they will attract beetles from your yard, as well as your neighbors’ yards, actually increasing the population. 

Japanese Beetles lay their eggs in the lawn, and grubs develop as the immature growth stage and remain in the soil for 3 years.  A good way to reduce the number of beetles in your landscape is to eliminate the grubs by applying Ferti-lome/Hi Yield Grub Free Zone to the lawn.

DISEASE/FUNGUS

BLACK SPOT – If you have Hybrid Tea roses, you are familiar with this fungus.  Because of the humidity in this neck of the woods, as well as overhead watering by sprinklers, Black Spot really gets going in the summer months.  Other plants such as fruit trees, annuals, and perennials are susceptible, too, however, roses are typically hit hard. 

POWDERY MILDEW – Not all, but certain varieties of Crape Myrtles are prone to this fungus.  Dogwoods and roses may also be vulnerable.  The white powdery spores are apparent as the new foliage matures in spring.  Powdery Mildew can affect the bloom cycle, and if allowed to survive from year to year, it may have an adverse effect on the overall health of the plant. 

Treatment for Black Spot and Powdery Mildew is the same. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Remove the diseased leaves or branches to minimize spread, including any that have fallen to the ground.  
  2. Treat with a contact fungicide (kills on contact) AND a systemic fungicide (works through the roots and foliage). We recommend: Ferti-lome Broad Spectrum Landscape & Garden Fungicide and Ferti-lome 2-N-1 Systemic Insect & Disease Protection.
  3. As a preventive measure for Roses, Crape Myrtles, and Dogwoods, apply Ferti-lome Copper Soap Fungicide (organic) in spring as soon as new growth appears.
  4. Prune interior branches to eliminate crowding. A little breathing room is needed to let in the air and sun; darkness and moisture provide a great breeding ground for fungus. 
  5. Use drip irrigation if possible, and water in the early morning, NOT AT NIGHT.

If watering by hand, aim for the ground, rather than the foliage.

If you’re dealing with either of these diseases on a tree that is too tall to reach with a ladder, call a pro…. Jim Dicker, Tree Care Services of Lexington (803) 206-2540.

BLOSSOM END ROT – The cause of this disorder is a calcium deficiency in the developing fruit. Extreme fluctuations in moisture, rainy or cloudy weather with high humidity, cool temperatures, insufficient soil calcium, root pruning from nearby cultivation, and excessive ammoniacal nitrogen, potassium, or magnesium fertilization can also increase the chances of blossom end rot, especially early in the season.  A soil test in January is advised for in-ground gardening to address the deficiencies; follow the recommendations for soil additives if needed and the soil will be ready for planting in spring.  For most container gardens, adding Calcium Nitrate at time of planting and 2 weeks after will prevent Blossom End Rot.  If no pre-treatment is done, and Blossom End Rot shows up on your first harvest of tomatoes, spray foliage with Ferti-lome Yield Booster, a liquid calcium treatment and the next round of tomatoes should be OK.  For more information on this and other tomato diseases, click here Tomato Diseases & Disorders | Home & Garden Information Center (clemson.edu)

There’s Always Something Blooming at Wingard’s!

HELLO HUMMINGBIRDS!

If you haven’t seen them already, it’s definitely time for hummingbirds to appear in South Carolina.  Thousands migrate north from Florida, Mexico, Texas, and South America, some tracking as far as Ontario.  According to Clemson University, mid-March was the arrival time for the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, the most prominent species that we see in the Midlands.  Watching these beautiful, tiny creatures fly to and from feeders and plants is simply mesmerizing and most certainly a sign that spring has arrived!  

To witness and enjoy the flight and feeding of hummingbirds, you need only add a feeder or two, and include a few of their favorite flowering plants to provide the nectar that will entice them to visit.  Many shapes and sizes of hummingbird feeders are available that provide a functional use and serve as an attractive addition to the garden.  Next time you visit Wingard’s, check out  our Birding Department located in the Fresh Produce Market.

It’s easy to make your own nectar…simply mix 1 part sugar in 3 parts water.  The sugar will dissolve best if the water is hot (be sure to let it cool before you put it in the feeder).  Store extra in the refrigerator for up to 7-10 days. No need to add red dye, IN FACT, it may actually harm the little hummers. The nectar will last a bit longer in a part shady/sunny spot.  Clean the feeder frequently, at least twice a week, to avoid build-up of mold, especially as the weather gets warmer. Use a vinegar and water solution rather than soap. 

It’s a good idea to hang the feeder near a hanging basket or flower pot that contains one of the many plant specimens that attract hummingbirds.  Plants that attract hummingbirds typically have brightly-colored, tubular-shaped flowers that make it easy for the tiny birds to feed on nectar. They love red blooms, because the bees don’t, but there are many other bloom colors they will also visit. Once hummingbirds find a reliable food source, they’ll keep coming back for more. Try planting a variety of specimens so that you will have something blooming at different times from spring to fall.

WINGARD’s TOP PICKS TO ATTRACT HUMMINGBIRDS


AGASTACHE/Giant Hyssop/Hummingbird Mint – perennial in the mint family; showy, fragrant, long-blooming with spikes of flowers that bloom most of the summer.


CARDINAL FLOWER/Lobelia – perennial that blooms in late summer to fall; produces cardinal red blooms; great for wet areas.  Grows 3-5 feet tall.


COLUMBINEperennial; unique bell-shaped bloom with spurs in early spring; available in many colors; grows 3-12 inches tall.


CROSSVINE/Bignonia – Vigorous perennial vine that climbs by using tendrils to wrap around stems or bark for support as it grows up tall objects like fences, walls or pine trees. Blooms in late winter to early spring on new wood in clusters of 2-5 flowers. Flower color can range from orange and yellow to reddish-orange.


INDIAN PINK/Pinkroot – SC native perennial with showy, tubular flowers that mature to scarlet red in early summer. Each flower opens with 5-pointed petals that create an intense yellow star. Prefers moist soil; grows in an upright form, 1.5 – 2.5 feet tall.


MANDEVILLA/Rocktrumpet – Annual vine; produces bright colored, trumpet-like blooms and glossy green foliage from spring to fall.


PENSTEMON /Beardtongue – Perennial; many cultivars, with various bloom colors, as well as foliage colors; tall spikes form in spring with colorful tubular flowers.  Prefers dry, well-drained soil – will not thrive in moist soil.


PICKERAL WEED Perennial; great around ponds and lakes; grows in shallow water no more than a foot deep. Shiny green lance-shaped leaves emerge in the spring from below the water and eventually grow to 3-5 feet above the surface. Purple-blue 3 to 4 inch long flower spikes appear several weeks after the foliage, spring to fall.

SALVIA/SAGE Annual and perennial varieties available; many colors and growth sizes; annuals bloom spring to frost.  Here are just a few of the perennial cultivars: Cleveland sage (blue), Pineapple sage (red), Autumn sage (many colors), Mexican Bush sage (deep purple), Purple sage, Salvia microphylla (many pink and red cultivars), and Royal sage (red).

ZINNIAAnnual in the daisy family; assorted colors and bloom sizes available; deadhead spent blooms. Fairly drought tolerant.

Herb Gardening

Plants used for the medicinal, savory, or aromatic quality of their roots, leaves, green stems and flowers are considered to be herbs. Practically every culture around the world has a history of some type of herb use. Chinese herb books date from about 2700 B.C. and include extensive lists of medicinal plants. Italy, India, and Thailand are well known for using herbs in cooking. The Greeks and Romans crowned their heroes with dill and laurel. Regardless of the desired usage, growing and harvesting herbs is easy and rewarding. They can be grown in small spaces or containers, intermingled among vegetables and/or flowers in the garden, or even indoors. Herbs are low maintenance plants, being naturally resistant to diseases and pests.

Tips for Planting Herbs:

  • Plant herbs in average garden soil with organic matter added to improve texture and drainage.
  • Choose a site that receives at least 6 hours of direct sun each day.
  • Avoid ground where water stands or runs during heavy rains.
  • Compensate for poor drainage with raised beds amended with compost.
  • Apply balanced fertilizers sparingly to leafy, fast-growing herbs. Heavy applications of fertilizer, especially those containing large amounts of nitrogen, will decrease the concentration of essential oils in the lush green growth.
  • Plan your herb garden by grouping herbs according to light, irrigation, and soil requirements. Most herbs enjoy full sun, but a few tolerate shade.
  • Most herbs are grown in SC as annuals. Exceptions:  Rosemary, Thyme, Lavender.
  • Be aware of the growth habits of the plants to ensure that adequate space is available.

Growing Requirements & Uses of Common Herbs:

Harvesting, Drying & Storing Herbs:

Harvest herbs before they flower for the fullest flavor. Try to harvest early in the day after plants dry off and before it gets hot.   Only remove about 1/3 to 1/2 of a stem at one time.   Deadheading or removal of flowers as they appear will result in continued production of new leaves suitable for harvest. Use a sharp knife or pruners to make clean cuts.

After harvesting, gently wash the herbs and dry them thoroughly on paper towels. Remove any dead or damaged material.  Tie the herbs in loose bunches that allow for good air circulation. Place the bunches into small paper bags with the stem ends sticking out of the top of the bag.  Punch holes in the bag to allow for ventilation. The bags help protect the herbs from dust and other contamination while drying. Tie the tops of the bags and hang in a warm, dry, well-ventilated area out of the sun.  It may take up to a month for herbs to dry completely.

After herbs are dry, remove the leaves from the stems and package in sealed containers in a cool location.  To preserve the full flavor of herbs try to avoid crushing the leaves when packaging.  Crush them just prior to using them. When properly stored, most herbs retain their flavor for about a year. 

Air drying works best with herbs that do not have a high moisture content, like bay, dill, marjoram, oregano, rosemary and thyme.  To retain the best flavor of these herbs, you’ll either need to allow them to dry naturally or use a food dehydrator.  Microwave and/or oven drying actually cook the herbs to a degree, diminishing the oil content and flavor.

If you want to preserve herbs with succulent leaves or a high moisture content, such as basil, chives, mint, and tarragon, consider freezing them. It’s easy to do and even quicker than drying. Simply cut off individual leaves, lay them flat on a cookie sheet, cover with wax paper and freeze for about 2 hours.  After they have frozen, place them in zip-lock bags and return to the freezer. 

EarthBox Gardening Kit:

Consider using the EarthBox for your herb garden, available at Wingard’s!  Here’s the pitch… You name it, you can grow it in the EarthBox! Poor soil conditions and small backyards are no match for this patented container gardening system. Developed by commercial farmers and proven in the lab and on the farm, this maintenance-free growing system controls soil conditions and more than doubles the yield of a conventional garden—with less fertilizer, less water, and virtually no effort. Just add plants, water, and sunlight for an easy garden that requires no digging, no weeding, and no guesswork! Unlike other raised bed gardens and planters, the EarthBox gardening system is self-watering, sustainable, and easily moveable. Now that’s one smart garden!

Vegetable Gardening

Vegetable Gardening

We are all about “locally grown” these days in order to get the freshest, best tasting, “good for us” vegetables. And… you CAN’T get much more local than your own back yard! The satisfaction and pleasure gained from eating your own plump, juicy tomatoes, crisp, refreshing cucumbers, (the list goes on…) AND the confidence you have in the quality and safety of the foods you are consuming, are a few of the reasons folks are inclined to get down and dirty planting their own vegetable garden. Let’s talk about how you can do it, too!

Having a growing season that stretches from March to November is a perk, living in South Carolina,
providing an environment for warm and cool season vegetable gardening, each season supporting various produce. Warm weather is the prime time for tomatoes, beans, squash, cucumbers, peppers, and more, and in the cooler weather, an abundance of broccoli, cauliflower, lettuces and other greens can be harvested. It is actually possible to have two crops of cool weather vegetables in the same year, by planting in spring and fall. Check out Clemson’s Planting Guide HERE.

PLANNING is STEP #1 for your garden and here are a few considerations:

  • Do you have an area that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight?
  • What’s the quality of the soil in your yard? Have you ever had it tested?
  • How big do you want your garden to be?
  • Would you prefer a raised bed or small space garden?
  • Do you have a nearby watering source?
  • What do you want to grow?

Now that you have an idea of what is needed, let’s move to STEP #2 – PREPARING. Let’s talk size and soil.

  • SIZE – Start Small! Better to have a small garden with fewer weeds to control, than a larger one. A 10’ x 10’ is a good size for a beginner in-ground garden. Researching space requirements for each of the vegetables you intend to grow will help you determine how many plants you will need. This info is available on the seed packet or plant tag. If you prefer a small-space garden, there are many options such as Earthboxes, Raised Bed Kits, and Pottery/Container Gardens. You will be surprised by the quantity of plants that can be accommodated per square foot.
  • SOIL – Other than water, soil is the most critical element in how well your garden grows! Nutrients and drainage are key. To identify deficiencies, have your soil tested through the local Clemson Extension office. Stop by our Check-Out and we will assist you in processing an application and provide sample bags. Drainage issues are likely in areas of clay soil; a raised bed garden will provide a better growing medium in clay. Raised bed, Earthbox, and container gardens can achieve perfection as far as soil is concerned. The best soil and compost is available to purchase and gives you an edge on success. An in-ground garden is going to need a little more help, so add soil amendment and compost to provide valuable nutrients and improve drainage. Click HERE to view Wingard’s soils and composts. TIP: For the absolute best ever tomatoes, try Stout Ollie Compost to enrich the soil…it’s amazing!

Now, for the FUN part….PLANTING – STEP #3. It’s advisable to begin seed planting indoors in Jan/Feb, and move outside when frost is no longer likely. Buy good seeds… Botanical Interests seeds, known for quality and great packaging (extensive information inside and outside of the pack), are available in the Produce Market. Cool weather plants are available in the fall and again in mid-February, however, if we have a hard freeze, they will need protection. About Mid-March, you will find a full selection of Bonnie’s cool and warm weather plants at Wingard’s. The Rule of Thumb is to plant vegetable plants by Good Friday. Follow spacing guidelines for individual plants and maximize vertical space in the garden by trellising vining plants. Be sure to place tall and trellising plants on the north side, so they will not block sun from the smaller ones. Group plants by growing period and fertilizing needs, and rotate from year to year. The Flower and Garden Almanac & Calendar for the Midlands, compiled by Lexington’s Master Gardeners, is a great resource for vegetable gardening, as well as general gardening in the Midlands, and is available in the Gift Shoppe.

As you anticipate the feast of your harvest, don’t get side-tracked and forget that STEP #4 – MAINTAINING your vegetable garden is of great importance. ADEQUATE WATERING IS ESSENTIAL! Adding an irrigation system sets you way ahead of the game, otherwise, keep the hose close. Starting with seeds, keep them damp to encourage germination. For individual plants, water daily unless soil is wet. Sometimes, it’s tricky, but don’t overwater – the roots will rot. As the plants grow and the temperature rises, increase watering to twice a day. Feed routinely with organic fertilizers and keep an eye out for disease and pests. Check for signs of aphids, caterpillars, Japanese beetles and spots on leaves or stalks. Visit Wingard’s Plant Pharmacy and talk to one of our knowledgeable staff for guidance on fertilizing or problems that may arise. Many organic and chemical products appropriate for edibles are available. TIP: Avoid Blossom End Rot on tomatoes by treating with Calcium Nitrate, applying directly into the hole when planting and intermittently as directed.

The “farm to table “ trend we have seen over the last decade has lead us back to “home grown” food with a new recognition and appreciation, however, it is really nothing new. This simple, basic idea gets right to the heart of gardening. Support your local growers, and try your hand at growing your own!

There’s Always Something Blooming at Wingard’s!

It’s All About The Soil

It's All About The Soil

How Does Your Garden Grow? It’s All About The Soil!

Soil is often referred to as the “foundation of life.” The foundation must be strong and healthy before great things can be developed. Here in the Midlands, most existing soils are comprised of clay or sand and it’s a safe bet that amendments are needed for a healthy, flourishing lawn, landscape, or garden. Soil is improved by adding minerals and organic material that help balance out the overall components of the soil’s structure. Good soil should be light and allow for air and water movement, having a crumb like texture.

The first step in improving the soil is a soil sample test. For spring plantings and maintenance applications, take the samples in early winter in order to give you ample time to plan and apply any nutrients that may be needed. Soil samples are analyzed by the local Clemson Extension Office to identify the levels of nutrients in your soil. A report is provided that shows the pH value and recommendations for fertilizer and/or lime additions to the soil for optimum plant growth.

Come to the Check-Out, where we can provide the appropriate form, sample bag(s), and can assist you with the soil testing process through Clemson, as well as interpreting the report.

Daddy Pete’s To The Rescue!

Our top of line soil “fixer” is Daddy Pete’s Plant Pleaser. Because of the variations of soil types, as mentioned above, we provide different Daddy Pete’s options. Daddy Pete’s Planting Mix is the perfect organic amendment for sandy soil, suitable for flower and vegetable gardens, backfilling shrub and tree plantings, and for general landscape needs. Daddy Pete’s Planting Mix is a mixture of Daddy Pete’s composted cow manure and premium aged pine bark fines. When planting shrubs and trees in clay soils, we recommend mixing Daddy Pete’s Soil Enhancer in the backfill to add organic matter and loosen the clay particles. Learn about additional Daddy Pete’s products as you continue reading!

Mycorrhizal Fungi

Typically, we think of fungi as bad guys in the soil that cause disease and break down the health of our plants. These fellas, however, are good guys, and are actually one of Mother Nature’s best examples of mutually beneficial relation-ships. These fungi attach to the roots of plants as tiny microscopic extensions. In simple terms, the plant and the fungi depend on each other to live and thrive; the plant’s root system is enhanced and it’s nutrient supply is increased, resulting in more growth at a faster rate. On your next visit, ask about Natural Guard Plant Starter with Mycorrhizae to give your plants the BEST start.

Organic Compost

Just like adding spices to your special sauce makes it richer, adding organic matter (decomposed plant or animal materials, AKA compost) improves the health of soil. Organic matter aids in moisture holding capacity, aeration of the soil, provides beneficial microbes and bacteria, all of which improve nutrient uptake for the plant. Daddy Pete’s Cow Manure and Daddy Pete’s Mushroom Compost are excellent amendments for your soil. These materials can be incorporated into the soil through mechanical or manual tilling to a depth of 4–6 in.

TIP: Add a few shovels full of Mushroom Compost to potting mix when planting containers to give that extra boost to your houseplants or seasonal annuals, AND top dress perennials in early spring.

More From Daddy Pete’s

PLANTING SOD OR SEEDING LAWNS, IN-GROUND VEGETABLE OR FLOWER GARDENS
Daddy Pete’s Lawn & Garden Soil – Composted cow manure, premium aged pine bark fines, sand, and gypsum

RAISED BED GARDENS (VEGETABLES, HERBS, FLOWERS)
Daddy Pete’s Raised Bed Mix – Composted cow manure, premium aged pine bark fines, sand, perlite and gypsum

POTTING MIX (GREAT FOR CITRUS) 
Daddy Pete’s Sea & Farm – Composted cow manure, sphagnum peat moss, premium aged pine bark fines, perlite, sandy loam, oyster shell, oceanic fish meal, crab meal, shrimp meal, earthworm castings, fossilized bat guano, kelp meal

Potting Mix for Container Gardening

No doubt, the EASIEST planting of all is container planting. You pick your favorite house plant or seasonal annuals, transfer bagged potting mix into the container, a little light digging, and VOILA…. a beautiful container garden!

Daddy Pete’s Sea & Farm (above) is an excellent potting mix, and we also offer Fafard Ultra Container Mix and Fafard Professional Growing Mix. Both Fafard mixes contain water holding crystals, dolomitic limestone, perlite, compost bark and other forest products. The difference is Ultra contains fertilizer and is available in a smaller bag.

It’s also, always a good idea to add a little extra organic compost!

Pruning Crape Myrtles

Call the Police! A MURDER has been committed…CRAPE MURDER, that is! You’ve seen them around town, with the huge knots and multiple shoots becoming a mass on each branch. Don’t let your beautiful Crape Myrtle be a victim of this pruning crime. The natural shape of these southern landscape specimens, when pruned improperly, is lost!

When you are pruning most trees and bushes, a system of branching like the diagram to the right should be created. From each cut, 2 new branches will sprout. Your goal is to shape your Crape Myrtle, to help it grow naturally, and guess what? When it has reached its mature size…YOU DON’T HAVE TO PRUNE IT ANY MORE.

A critical mistake that is very often made is purchasing a Crape Myrtle that will grow bigger than the space provided. Then, it becomes necessary to prune it every year to keep it within it’s space limitations. This is a problem and ultimately leads to CRAPE MURDER!

The most important fact you need to know when selecting a Crape Myrtle is the mature size. There are many varieties… Dwarf (2-3 ft.), Small (8-10 ft.), Medium (15-20 ft.), and Large (25-30 ft.). Rule #1- Plant one that will fit in your space and be allowed to grow to it’s mature size.

Important Tips to Follow:

  • Prune in late January or February when plants are dormant (asleep, not producing new growth).
  • Never make a cut in the same spot you cut the previous year. You will end up with knuckles and this is the beginning of the destruction of a natural looking Crape Myrtle.
  • Take out any dead branches, or branches that are crossing over too close to others.
  • Remove suckers growing from the base of the tree. Try Bonide Sucker Punch to make this task easier… available in Wingard’s Plant Pharmacy.
  • Remove suckers from existing branches as needed to prevent too much density. Sun and air flow are important to promote healthy foliage and prevent disease.
  • Use GOOD, CLEAN, SHARP clippers. Check out the pruning tools in Wingard’s Gift Shoppe and find exactly what you need!

Click here for a video featuring our Trees & Shrubs Manager, David McNinch, teaching you how to properly trim Crape Myrtle Trees in your yard. There’s a popular slogan that refers to the improper trimming of Crape Myrtles known as “Crape Murder.” Don’t be Crape Murderers.

There’s always something blooming at Wingard’s!