Category Archives: Gardening

Health Benefits of Gardening

health benefits of gardening

By Kathy Torres

We live in a world in which good physical and mental health is emphasized and encouraged constantly, through what we watch, read, and hear.  It seems a basic intention for us to try to be healthy and happy, even though the goal is at times difficult to reach.  Eating the right foods, getting adequate sleep, and exercising are at the top of the list to help us get there, however, as humans, we have needs outside of the physical that directly affect our happiness, for example, the desire for accomplishment, friendship, love, excitement, challenge, affirmation, and quiet.  It’s a complicated formula, different for each of us, however, there are some common threads. I’m guessing that if you’re reading this blog, you have an interest in gardening, but, did you know that gardening is beneficial to your health?  Here are some positive effects, for both physical and mental well-being.

Good Exercise:

Gardening is great for 3 types of exercise – aerobic, strength building, and flexibility.  Digging, squatting, reaching, pushing, and lifting burns calories providing a workout that is good for the heart.  Decrease your anxiety after a bad day, by getting out in the yard and pulling a few weeds to release your frustration and anger.  That will give your blood pressure a break!  For older folks, gardening keeps you moving, so important for maintaining mobility.  Also, working hard will often help to get a good night’s sleep.

All of the activities mentioned above also work the other muscles and joints, contributing to overall strength and flexibility.  For some very scientific data on the effects of gardening on your physical health, check out this study published by the American Society for Horticultural Science (Click HERE). The study concludes gardening tasks performed by adults are moderate to high-intensity physical activities.

Vitamin D – Too much sun is not good for the skin, we know that, but we need sunlight to give our bodies enough Vitamin D.  The body makes vitamin D when direct sunlight converts a chemical in skin into an active form of the vitamin (calciferol).  A healthy dose of vitamin D increases the body’s ability to absorb calcium, which benefits bones and  the immune system.  Studies suggest that people who get enough vitamin D and calcium can slow bone mineral loss, help prevent osteoporosis and reduce bone fractures. 

Growing Your Own Food – The most obvious health benefit of gardening is growing your own food.  You will have access to the freshest fruits and vegetables, fertilizers and pesticides can be controlled or eliminated, and you’ll save the money you may have spent on expensive organic foods in the grocery store.  Last, vegetables allowed to ripen in the garden have more nutrients than some you buy at the store that may have been picked early.  

Connecting with Nature – If you feel good when you walk through a park, botanical garden, or your own landscape, taking in the fresh air, birds singing, and the colors of spring, fall, or any season, you are connecting to nature.  The enjoyment of watching a hummingbird at a feeder, digging in the soil, planting seeds and watching them grow, or watering a garden, is connecting to nature.  Finding this escape from the hectic pace of life can relieve anxiety, improve mood, and bring about a calming force by helping you to let go, take a deep breath, and just relax.  Connecting with nature is therapy for the heart, mind, and soul.  

Gardening Makes us Happy – Shopping for plants always makes me happy – I would much rather survey racks of annuals and perennials rather than clothes or shoes.  Planting flowers or shrubs and trees to create a garden room or improve the curb appeal of your home offers an opportunity to use those creative instincts, and a little hard work can be very satisfying.  The planning, purchasing, and planting of a new garden bed or simply adding to what you’ve got, gives pleasure and a sense of accomplishment and pride.   And, honestly, getting a little dirt under the fingernails feels pretty good!  Gardening is good therapy for depression.  Being outside in the fresh air can be a good distraction while digging in the dirt and planting something beautiful provides a feeling of hope and encouragement.  

Family Activity – Gardening is a wonderful family activity, providing kids and adults an opportunity to get outside (away from TVs, phones, computers, video games, etc.), to learn about plants and what is needed to care for them.  A vegetable garden is a way to see exactly where food comes from and can hold interest, by checking each day on the progress and then, finally, harvesting and eating!  By working together, a family vegetable garden becomes a place to gather, work, and discover.  

Builds Self-Esteem and Encourages Friendship – Many people will say, “Oh, I just don’t have a green thumb.”  A few failures can certainly diminish confidence, but often it’s just a matter of learning the ropes on proper planting, fertilizing, light requirements and watering.  Once educated, success is much more likely and can provide confidence and self-esteem.  Talking to others who have the “gardening bug” in common offers an avenue to friendship and sharing.  

Dementia Benefits – National Institute of Health (NIH), the National Library of Medicine cites research conducted on the benefits of gardening for people with dementia.  “The usefulness of activating the senses, particularly those of touch and smell; the significance of being occupied in meaningful, productive work; the importance of cultivating a sense of curiosity, wonder, and learning; the positive gains derived from socialization in a group context; the peace and hope derived from being ‘in the moment’; and the positive mental and physical well-being derived from participating in the outdoor garden. Our findings support the integration of therapeutic gardening as a valuable practice for people with dementia.” To access this article and additional resources, click HERE.

The Dirt on Dirt – Believe it or not, there is evidence that certain microbes found in soil can contribute to a decrease in stress and even asthma.  Those of us who enjoy digging in the dirt are not surprised.  See the links below if you’d like to read more.  Covid certainly brought about an enhanced effort to keep our hands clean, but maybe we need to adjust a bit, unless we are ill.  

Fat in soil bacteria may protect against stress (

Hygiene Hypothesis: Could More Dirt and Germs Boost Your Health? | US News

Other than just a hobby to enjoy, gardening IS actually good for us. The benefits are many and can go a long way to improve physical and mental health.  I love this quote from Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States.  “All growth depends on the activity.  There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work.”  Staying healthy and happy takes work, so let’s get busy! With spring right around the corner, it’s time to make a plan for planting flowers, creating a new plant bed, or starting a family vegetable garden.  Get the kids involved in researching and planning.  Staff at Wingard’s Market are available and ready to assist you in selecting plants, soil, and everything else you need for a spring project.  Go ahead and get your hands dirty…. you will reap many rewards!


There’s always something blooming at Wingards!


By Kathy Torres

So… Here we are in the “dog days” of summer when it’s hot and dry and hard to get motivated to get out in the yard that we were so devoted to in spring.  We just want to sit by the pool and sip on a nice, cold drink, right?  Unfortunately, it’s the time of year when disease, pests, and weeds begin to affect the beauty of the landscape, and we have to muster up the will to take care of a few problems.  For example:  Our gorgeous rose bushes were just attacked by japanese beetles (they visited in June); the foliage on the azaleas is being eaten; the crape myrtle has powdery mildew; and brown patch is beginning to rear its ugly head, along with nutsedge in the lawn.  Hopefully, you don’t have all of these issues, but it’s likely you’ve “been there, done that” with at least one of them.

The heat and humidity are culprits, for sure, and, when combined with overhead watering, can encourage fungus on shrubbery.  A drip system, which waters beneath the foliage, is best.   Other than proper watering, there are additional things you can do to minimize fungus problems.  Prune inner branching on dense shrubs to provide air and light (best in early spring), especially roses.  Remove any “sickly” foliage that has fallen to the ground to prevent the spread to other plants.  Look for plant varieties that are disease resistant. 

A lawn care program (Wingard’s has one! Click HERE) will go a long way to eliminate weeds in your grass, but a few persistent ones may pop up. Nutsedge and Chamberbitter are very hardy, aggressive weeds appearing in summer.  Of course, overhead watering is the only way to water the lawn, however, watering too much can bring on the fungus.  Typically, 1 inch of water per week is sufficient for most southern grasses.   

Warm weather invites a variety of insects to visit the garden, many of them beneficial, however, some control may be necessary to avoid damage to foliage and fruit.  You don’t want to harm the good insects, so make a practice of using organic products or apply pesticides in the early morning before bees are flying.

When faced with all of these challenges, it becomes necessary to take action, (1) to maintain the health of plants and lawn, (2) to protect fruits and vegetables so they can be harvested and (3) to preserve the beauty of the landscape.  Many organic and chemical products are available, but it’s important to choose the right one and apply it correctly, potentially more than once.  Be aware when choosing what to use on edibles.  Some products are safe for your vegetable garden and fruit trees, but NOT all of them, so be sure to read your labels.  Requirements relative to temperature are extremely important during the summer.  Don’t use oils when the temperature is above 85 degrees, and for those products that can be used in the heat, apply in early morning or evening.  ALWAYS read the label carefully and following instructions as indicated. 

It can be quite overwhelming finding your way through the Medicine Chest of products available to solve these problems.  CONTACT products are available and will have an immediate effect.  SYSTEMIC products are absorbed into the root system or the foliage and take a little longer, but are very effective, and can often be applied as a preventive method.  At times it may be necessary to use both a CONTACT and a SYSTEMIC product to eliminate the problem if it is severe.  We have developed a few CHEAT SHEETS to provide recommendations on product use in dealing with insects, fungus and weeds.   Click on the links below to access them.  As always, you can rely on staff at Wingard’s to answer any questions you may have, to help you through the problems and keep your landscape at its best. 




There’s Always Something Blooming at Wingard’s

Growing Blueberries

By Kathy Torres

Blueberries are often labeled a “superfood” because they are loaded with vitamins and minerals.  The deep blue color comes from anthocyanin, an antioxidant that can help protect the body from heart disease and cancer, reduce inflammation and increase immune function.  Research also suggests the compounds found in blueberries may boost brain health, lower blood sugar levels, and improve insulin sensitivity.  A half cup of blueberries a day just might be what the doctor ordered!  Wouldn’t it be great to rely on your own backyard blueberry bushes to provide them?  Did I mention they are also low in calories?

There are four types of blueberry plants: Northern Highbush, Southern Highbush, Rabbiteye, and Lowbush.  Rabbiteye varieties are hardiest in the south, producing sweet fruit with high yields of large berries, and are not problematic with regard to diseases and pests.  Various cultivars are available, including Brightwell, Climax, Delite, Pink Lemonade, Powderblue, Premiere, and Tift Blue.  Pink Lemonade is the smallest, with a maximum height of 4.5 ft.  Brightwell and Delite can reach 10 ft. tall, and the others will mature at about 6.5 ft.

Rabbiteye blueberry bushes can be grown successfully in a sunny spot and they prefer acidic soil.   It’s a good idea to test the soil to determine the pH, which should be between 4.0 to 5.3.  This is lower than many plants will tolerate, even camellias and azaleas.  If soil test results show your soil pH is over 5.5, you may need to apply aluminum sulfate or sulfur to the soil.  Stop by one of our Wingard’s checkout stations and we can provide a soil sample bag and process the paperwork and payment to Clemson Extension for you.  Check out this Clemson Extension fact sheet for more information on changing soil pH.  FACT SHEET 

Blueberries grow best in well-drained soil that has plenty of organic matter.  We recommend Stout Ollie, a mixture of three different organic composts. If you have heavy clay soil or poor drainage, amend the soil by mixing in soil conditioner (finely ground pine bark).  Mounding the soil 6”-12” high and 2’-3’ wide is another way to improve drainage in clay soil.  Keep plants adequately watered, especially during the first few years while they become established.  Blueberry bushes can retract water from berries during fruit production, so it is essential for the plant to receive adequate water through the roots in order to produce plump, juicy berries.  Next year’s buds are set in late summer and early fall, another reason they must receive adequate moisture.  Add mulch to help retain moisture and reduce weeds.

Although fall is the absolute best time to plant, inventory in garden centers is plentiful in the spring and the chances of finding varieties you want are better.  As long as you are diligent about watering in the heat of summer, you will be OK.   Be sure to plant at least two different varieties for cross-pollination to occur.  This will bring you the best yield of berries.

It will be painful for you, but cut off the blooms that appear in the first spring.  Not producing fruit will put the plant’s energy into root and stem growth, which will make it bigger and healthier the next spring.  Rabbiteye blueberry bushes, during the first five years, require very little pruning.  During dormancy (Dec-Mar), remove lower, twiggy growth, dead shoots and spindly growth.  Cut back excessively long shoots to stimulate lateral branching and to thicken the shoots.

Mature plants require more dramatic pruning to maintain health and ensure maximum yield.  Generally, remove all but seven canes, eliminating the oldest or largest canes.  Selective cuts should be made to open up the center of the plant to allow light penetration and discourage disease.  Pruning of older plants should take place immediately after harvest.  

Do not fertilize blueberry bushes when first planted.  Wait until the following spring.  From that point, fertilizer should be applied twice a year.  Apply Holly-tone when spring growth begins and again in June.  Do not use nitrate forms of fertilizer for blueberries as this will cause root damage.

We often have a late freeze or two in spring that can harm blooms or young fruit, so pay attention to the freeze warnings and cover the plant with an old sheet.  Anchor it down if it’s windy. 

Your first harvest will be in late May or early June.  Wait until the berries are plump and deep blue.  Let them sit out a few days after you pick and they will become sweeter.  You will harvest several times as the berries ripen.  Be prepared to lose a few to the birds that visit your yard, however, netting is available to cover the plant and discourage the birds, if you’d rather not share.

One of the most enjoyable treats of early summer is fresh picked blueberries.  A nutritious snack to eat just as they are, or mixed into delicious pies, cakes, and muffins.  Click on this link for one of my favorite Blueberry Muffin recipes.  To Die For Blueberry Muffins Recipe | Allrecipes  Try them and it’s highly likely you’ll want to plant your own blueberry garden!

Aquatic Plants

by Kathy Torres

The sights and sounds of water provide a relaxing, soothing atmosphere in the garden.  An extra reward is the attraction of pollinators, frogs, butterflies, and other beneficial wildlife.  As water gardens and ponds have gained popularity, so has interest in plant life to enhance the natural appearance of these landscape additions.  There are many aquatic plants for use in natural, as well as man made water features that, in addition to just being beautiful, add oxygen, help to control algae and provide a home or hiding place for wildlife. 

Different aquatic plants require different depths of water, so it is important to do a little research and choose plants that will best suit your particular conditions.  Some aquatic varieties just like to have wet feet, as in a bog situation. Other plants need to be fully submerged, and some float on the surface with their roots hanging in water.  You can achieve the proper level for one or multiple plants by placing bricks, cinder blocks, etc. under the pots. 

Specialty pots, soil, gravel, and fertilizers are available for aquatic plants.  Soil should be loamy and heavy so that it won’t float away when the pot is placed in water.  Potting mix is not suitable, as it will float out of the pot and muck up the water.  Aquatic or pea gravel can be added on top of the soil to hold it in place.  Some water gardeners also plant completely in gravel.  It’s good to experiment to see what works best for you. It may be appropriate to plant bare root directly into the pond or water feature, using rocks to hold the plant in place.  Just be sure to remove all the dirt from the roots before it goes in the water. 

An aquatic garden will require some tending, as far as plant growth is concerned.  Because many water plants are bulbs that will multiply, it will likely be necessary to divide them as they outgrow their space.  Avoid cultivars that are invasive.  Go to for a listing of nuisance (and illegal) water plants in South Carolina. 

With any plant, it is key to be aware of the mature size as you make plans to include it in any part of the landscape to make the most of your space and avoid overcrowding.  Plant a variety of heights, leaf shapes, and blooming specimens to give dimension and interest to your water garden. Also key, is the sunlight requirement. Many aquatic plants like full sun to part shade, but make sure before you put them in place.  Of course, one really great benefit in a water garden is the ability you have to move plants around!  Make sure taller plants don’t block sunlight to smaller ones.  Know which plants are vulnerable to colder temperatures in the winter months; you may need to take them out and keep them in a warmer place.

Consider the following categories and examples when making your selection of aquatic plants:

BOG &  MARGINAL AQUATIC PLANTS – These specimens bridge the gap between water and dry land.  Bog plants enjoy moist soil around the edge of ponds, with water just covering or slightly below the soil.  Marginal aquatic plants, the most abundant of water plants, thrive in the shallow waters at the inside edge with an average water depth up to 6 inches over the crown.

Saururus cernuus AKA Lizard’s Tail – Deep green heart shaped leaves.  Gracefully arching spikes of tiny white flowers 4-6 in. shaped like a lizard’s tail.  Will flower even in dense shade. The plant grows to height of 3-4 feet. Plant in a medium pot with water from 1-6 in. over crown of plant.  

Lobelia fulgens ‘Queen Victoria’ AKA Cardinal Flower provides interest all season with rich burgundy foliage.  Upright stalks can grow to heights of 2-3 ft.  Striking red flowers in late summer.  May be planted in 1-3 inches of water. Grow in sun to part shade.

Juncus effuses ‘Spiralis,’ commonly known as Corkscrew Rush has attractive corkscrew stems which are both upright and prostrate, cylindrical, green, and smooth.  They grow in 1-6 inches of water over the crown into a clump 12-18 inches tall and wide with late summer yellowish-green flowers.  Full sun is best but some shade can be tolerated. 

Juncus effusus / Soft Rush – Soft, grass like stems grow in clumps that rarely intrude upon other plants.  Each stem bears a cluster of very small, greenish brown, scaly flowers that bloom in July through September from a point on the stalk near the top.  Grows to a height up to 1 ft. tall.

DEEP WATER PLANTS – These water plants flourish in the deeper recesses of the pond. With the crown fully submerged beneath water, many (such as Water Lilies) produce foliage on long stems that float at the water’s surface.

Water Lilies are a group of plants containing about 70 known species. They are either tropical or hardy and grow in water 3 inches to 2 feet deep. Larger plants need larger water gardens or ponds. They prefer non-moving water without fountains or currents. Most prefer full sun but some will tolerate shade. The flowers are showy and usually fragrant with showy lily pads for leaves.

Nymphaea ‘Georgia Peach’ is a hardy, free-flowering, showy water lily with a long bloom season. Blooms stand 3-4 inches above the water surface. It is very adaptable to different growing situations. Use in medium to large water gardens.

Nymphaea Pink ‘Sensation’ is considered one of the best hardy pink water lilies. Blooms are held above the waterline, stay open later in the day, are free-flowering and have a slight fragrance. Use in any size water garden.

Nymphaea Albatros has beautiful, star-shaped, snow white flowers. A free flowering hardy white water lily, it will perform well in full sun or partial shade. The new foliage is deep burgundy and turns a deep olive green as it matures. Flowers stay open later in the day.

Thalia Dealbata AKA Hardy Water CannaPurple flowers on top of tall, graceful stems.  Large blue-green leaves.  Will grow to heights of 4-6 feet.  Do not allow crown of plant to freeze during winter. Plant in a medium pot with water from 1-2 ft. over crown of plant.  

SUBMERGED OXYGENATORS will create a healthy pond with well oxygenated water, essential for fish and wildlife to flourish. Many submerged aquatic plants are sold as bunches of stems that can be weighted or planted into pots to anchor them at the bottom of the pods.

Vallisneria americana AKA Water Celery is an evergreen perennial with clusters of ribbon-like leaves, about 1 inch wide that can grow up to 3 ft. long, producing single white flowers that grow to the water surface. After pollination, the flower stalks curl into spirals and pull the flowers underwater, where they form capsules containing many tiny seeds.  Very fast grower, able to reach full height in 2 months.  Performs best in full sun to light shade in water 12-48 inches deep.

Come in and check out the inventory of aquatic plants and supplies at Wingard’s.  We’re showing them off in a brand new display! 

There’s always something blooming at Wingard’s!

Top Five Plants for Beginner Vegetable Gardeners

by Kathy Torres

April is the official start time for planting many summer vegetable plants in the midlands of South Carolina, even though we may have to cover and protect tender new plants when a late frost or freeze occurs.  For first-time vegetable gardeners, it’s a good idea to start with those veggies that are EASIEST and give a BOUNTIFUL HARVEST.  It is so easy to go crazy and purchase an enormous selection of plants with a vision of a regular farmer’s market flowing from your garden, but, our recommendation is that you start slow and easy to afford yourself the best chance of success.  Then, next year, you can go crazy!

So…we came up with a short list of five, along with recommended cultivars, that are great for starter vegetable gardeners:

  1. SNAP BEANS:  Rapid growing, early maturing and productive, bush and pole (vine) form snap beans are a popular choice for the home garden.
    Blue Lake
    274 (bush) –
    A string-less, bush variety, there is no need for staking.  The beans are long and straight, with superior flavor, color and texture.  They can produce large yields within a few weeks, leaving time for a second crop, and are typically low maintenance (resistant to bean mosaic virus). To harvest beans, break off the stem above the cap. Quality is best if beans are harvested in early morning hours. Bush Blue Lake is an heirloom variety and has been around since the early 1900s.  

    Kentucky Wonder (pole) – Because they grow upward, pole beans are a great space saver in the garden. A sturdy trellis is required for support, at least 6-8 feet tall. Kentucky Wonder is a green pole bean with seven to nine inch long, fleshy pods that can be slightly stringy. They are curved with seeds filling to the tip and edge but not crowded, very reliable and rust resistant. Harvest beans every three to five days once they start producing, removing all bean pods when they are plump and you can see the beans in the pods. (For less stringy beans, harvest before they mature).  Also an heirloom variety, Kentucky Wonder was first sold commercially in 1877.

  2. TOMATOES:  Hundreds of tomato cultivars are available, so make it easy on yourself and start with these, which are all fairly disease resistant. Staking, caging, and trellising are good ways to keep the plants and fruit up and off the ground, providing easier access for picking and spraying, and allows airflow to prevent disease.  Pinch off suckers growing between the main stalk and branches.
     tomato plants grow to a certain size, set fruit, and then decline. Most early-ripening tomato cultivars are determinate and won’t produce tomatoes throughout a South Carolina summer. Indeterminate tomato plants continue to grow and produce for an extended season. Fruit production may continue until the first frost.     

    Better Boy is indeterminate and one of the most popular tomatoes grown in the US. It’s actually in the Guinness Book of World Records for the amount of fruit produced from a single plant. Superior flavor, large size, disease resistance, and high yields make this cultivar one of the easiest slicing tomatoes to grow.  Not suitable for containers, Better Boy must be caged or staked.

    Better Bush is a semi-determinate tomato plant growing to 4 ft. This is a great choice that bears sizeable fruits on a very compact plant that works well in containers and small gardens. Strong, bushy plants produce tasty, medium-sized tomatoes great for sandwiches and slicing. The heavy foliage of this hybrid helps protect tomatoes from sunburn. 

    Sweet 100’s are vining cherry tomatoes and do best growing on a trellis. Early maturing, these sweet gems are great for snacking (right off the vine) and salads, and will produce large clusters of tomatoes all summer long up until frost.  What do you think…indeterminate?  Yep!

    TIP:  Add Stout Ollie compost and Calcium Nitrate to the soil when planting tomatoes to enrich the soil and reduce the risk of Blossom End Rot, a nasty disease that ruins the fruit.  Also, be sure to water consistently, not allowing the soil to totally dry out between waterings.

  3. CUCUMBERS:   Cucumber plants grow in two forms: vining and bush.  Vines need a trellis to keep them off the ground, and produce more fruit the more you harvest. To remove the fruit, use a knife or clippers, cutting the stem above the fruit. Pulling them may damage the vine.  Don’t let the cucumbers get oversized or yellow on the end or they will be bitter.
    Burpless Bush Hybrid
    is excellent in small gardens and containers.  A space-saving form with short vines growing about 2 ft. long.  Fruit is smooth-skinned, dark green, straight and approximately 10-12 inches long. Enjoy high yields, great for pickling or slicing.  

    Boston Pickling is a popular American heirloom cucumber first marketed in 1877 by the pioneering Detroit-based seed company, D.M. Ferry & Co. A favorite of gardeners for high yields of short, straight “cukes” with thin, green skin. Vines bear continuously and should be trellised.  Flesh is crisp and very receptive to pickling spices. May be harvested at sizes from 3 to 7 inches, depending on your pickling needs. Plants resist scab and are tolerant to cucumber mosaic.

  4. YELLOW SUMMER SQUASH are harvested when immature, while the rind is still tender and edible.
    Crookneck squash
    are named for the slight curves in their narrow necks. These fast-growing plants can spread 3 to 4 feet across with leaves that are 1 to 2 feet wide, so leave plenty of space for them to spread. Their yellow fruits, which form underneath the leaves, can have smooth or bumpy skins.  Because they’re bushy plants, crookneck squash don’t have to be staked and can grow in large containers or in the ground. Use a knife or garden shears to cut the fruits off the plant when they are 5 to 6 inches long.  If you harvest fruits regularly, the plants will bear until frost. 

    Straightneck squash have a tapered, straight neck with creamy yellow, mildly sweet, tender fruit of excellent quality early in the season. This squash grows on vined plants that thrive in mild weather. The straight shape makes it perfect to slice into lengths for grilling.

  5. BELL PEPPERS are a warm-weather fruit, appreciated for cooking and eating raw. Crunchy, sweet bell pepper plants lack capsaicin, the active component in hot peppers that gives them their heat.  The fruits can be harvested when they are green, to increase the yields.  Alternatively, the fruits can be allowed to ripen to red, leaving them time to develop flavor with smaller yields.  Provide support for the limbs, to hold the weight of the peppers by caging or staking.
    Big Bertha
    is the largest elongated bell pepper available! Thick-walled, 7-inch long fruit, plants are disease resistant and ideal for giant stuffed peppers.

ALL OF THE ABOVE need the following to flourish and produce high yields:

  • Good, fertile, well-drained soil.  Add compost when preparing the soil and fertilize regularly after planting.
  • Sun, a minimum of 6 hours, but all day is even better.
  • Regular, consistent watering, sometimes twice a day when temperatures get above 80 degrees.  Avoid overhead irrigation; use soaker hose to decrease chances of fungus.
  • Insect and disease control.  Be on the lookout for leaves/fruit with spots or holes and contact Wingard’s to get advice on the best solution. There are many products available for edibles.

For more information on vegetable gardening, visit our Blog:  “Vegetable Gardening”

There’s Always Something Blooming at Wingard’s!


To Prune or Not to Prune… Hydrangeas

Header_Hydrnageas-Pruning As we survey our landscape in anticipation of the upcoming spring season, and notice that the weathered blooms remain on our hydrangeas, the question arises… Was I supposed to cut those off in the fall?  Before you grab your pruning shears, there are a few things you need to know about caring for this beautiful southern shrub.  There is not one rule for all hydrangeas, and if you prune at the wrong time, you will ruin your chance to enjoy the gorgeous blooms.

Within the scientific plant family Hydrangeaceae, common name Hydrangea, are many species and within each species, many cultivars/varieties exist.  Each species has its own characteristics and requirements for pruning.  It sounds quite complicated, but it’s simply related to whether the blooms appear on old wood, new wood, or old AND new wood.  In the species available to our region of the world, this factor varies.  The plant tag may provide this information when you buy; if not, identify the botanical name to determine the group in which the hydrangea belongs, and this will help to answer the pruning question. 

Here is a brief description of the species of hydrangeas (indicated by the second word in the botanical name) that are available in our region:

macrophyllaHydrangea macrophylla Bigleaf or French Hydrangeas bloom in mophead or lace cap form.  Bloom color is determined by the soil pH (relative to aluminum in the soil) and is typically blue or pink, however, there are some cultivars with white blooms.  A few popular cultivars are Endless Summer, Big Daddy, Mini Penny, Twist-n-Shout, and Fuji Waterfall.  Buds are set on old wood from last year’s growth and should be pruned soon after flowering.  Waiting until the following spring to prune or dead head will eliminate the new buds. The EXCEPTION to this rule is the Endless Summer® Collection.  These macrophyllas bloom from old and new wood. The first blooms develop from old wood and should be pruned after flowering.  New stems will produce another round of buds and blooms and should be pruned after flowering.  Endless Summer® hydrangeas will repeat bloom throughout the summer.

Oakleaf HydrangeaHydrangea quercifoliaOakleaf Hydrangeas are native and produce conical white blooms next to large leaves similar to those of an Oak tree.  The foliage becomes the star of the show in fall as it morphs from green to bronze, orange and red as temperatures cool down.  Flowers develop on old wood from last year’s growth and should be pruned or deadheaded soon after flowering to allow time to develop flower buds for the following year.

Climbing-hydrangea Hydrangea anomala Climbing hydrangea is a woody vine that produces a multitude of white lacecap blooms in early to midsummer. The vine establishes itself slowly, but once the roots are established, the vines can climb quickly. Climbing hydrangea requires only minimal pruning to keep the vines under control and remove dead wood. Buds are set on old wood.   Pruning or dead heading can be done after blooming occurs.

Hydrangea-paniculata Hydrangea paniculata – While most hydrangeas prefer morning sun and afternoon shade, these can hold their own in full sun.  Limelight, Little Lime, Little Lamb, Quick Fire and Pinky Winky boast striking cone-shaped blooms.  Limelight is known for long-lasting blooms changing from chartreuse in summer to shades of rose in fall.  Panicle hydrangeas develop flowers on new wood during the growing season.  Prune while dormant in late winter or early spring before new growth appears. 

Hydrangea-arborescens Hydrangea arborescensCommonly known as Smooth or Wild Hydrangea, arborescens are loosely and widely branched, often with large, heavy, round blooms.  Annabelle is a noteworthy cultivar, with clusters of white blooms up to 12 inches wide. Collections of arborescens offering white, cream and pink blooms include Incrediball and Invincibelle. Like paniculata, this hydrangea group sets buds on new wood and can also be pruned in late winter or early spring before new growth appears.  

To Simplify:

If buds are set on old wood, prune or dead head soon after blooming to allow time for next year’s buds to set.

If buds are set on new wood, prune or dead head in late winter or early spring before new growth appears

If buds are set on old and new wood, prune after first blooming, then after repeat blooms occur.

Whenever the appropriate time for pruning, remove up to a third of the total growth of the plant to improve shape and density, otherwise, just dead head the blooms.  

While this may all seem a bit complicated, knowing when to prune your hydrangea is simply knowing if the blooms are set on old wood, new wood, or both.  An easy way to determine the answer to that question is knowing the botanical name.  Let’s face it, nature is complex and we (gardeners) are drawn to plants because of it.  Enjoying the variety of hydrangeas available for the landscape makes it well worth the challenge of learning a little about them, don’t you think?

The varieties of hydrangeas mentioned above are just a sampling.  Spring is the very best time to find a full inventory of hydrangeas at Wingard’s.  Come in soon!

To learn more about hydrangeas, go to

There’s always something blooming at Wingard’s!

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 (

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)


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

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.




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.



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.

For additional information, check out these links:  (Master Gardener Training Powerpoint Presentation)  (University of Florida Basic Principles)  (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


Sempervivum – Hens & Chicks

Ponytail Palm

Cactus – Prickley Pear

Stonecrop – Angelina

Sanseveria – Snake Plant

Christmas Cactus

Read more…

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.


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 (

There’s Always Something Blooming at Wingard’s!