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Winter Blooming Plants – A Touch of Spring to Lift the Spirit!

Winter Blooming Winter Blooming Winter Blooming

By Kathy Torres

There’s no doubt that winter is the dark, dreary and often rainy season of the year. I would throw in “cold” but as I’m writing this, the temperatures this week have been in the 70’s! Never put your T-shirts away when you live in South Carolina. In spite of the on-again off-again spring-like weather, keep in mind the “dark and dreary” days typical for winter in order to provide the appropriate backdrop for this blog. Yes, here we are in winter. Even the most devoted gardeners are probably not yet thinking of spring and the implications of fresh potting soil, new shrub selections for the landscape, and colorful annuals and perennials. We still have a few weeks to go (March 19 is the first day of spring, 2024), so the satisfaction and enjoyment of the garden must come from what is already there. Wouldn’t it be great to see something blooming?

It just so happens there are a few plant specimens that provide beautiful blooms during the winter months. When many branches are bare and the colors of green, brown and gray monopolize the view from your porch or window, anything that blooms is truly a light in the darkness! I’d like to tell you about some of my favorite winter blooming plants and encourage you to consider finding a spot in your yard to plant one or two (or more), so you can experience their color during a time when it is much needed! All of these plants prefer or require afternoon shade or filtered sun all day. Remember that your shade areas shift from winter to summer, so be aware that the shade requirements are particularly important to protect your plants from the hot summer sun.

LENTEN ROSE

Lenten Rose Lenten Rose Lenten Rose
Lenten Rose Lenten Rose Lenten Rose

“A rose is a rose is a rose” (Gertrude Stein, 1913) – except when it’s not! Case in point, the Lenten Rose, AKA Hellebore, from the Ranunculaceae family. Not in the rose family at all, this lovely evergreen produces beautiful, unique blooms during the season of Lent (February/March), lasting until summer. Numerous hybrid varieties are available in a wide selection of bloom colors. The average plant size is about 18-24 inches at maturity, including the stalks and flowers, but there are a few taller varieties. During the first couple of years, the plant concentrates on root development, and then it takes off, producing a thick clump. Lenten Rose prefers shade, but can handle a bit of sun (morning, not afternoon) and just a little trimming of older foliage and spent blooms is necessary to keep it looking fresh. Fertilize new plantings to give them a good start, and once established, it’s not absolutely necessary. Water regularly until established, and during summertime dry periods. Don’t overwater, especially if planting in clay soil. Lenten Rose is great for mass planting, “filler” between small shrubs or annuals/perennials in a shade bed, or for cutting and filling a vase. It will give you a colorful surprise during the Lenten season, a sign that Easter and spring are coming soon.

MAHONIA

It’s easy to mistake some Mahonia for Hollies because of the prickly foliage, however, Mahonia is actually a member of the Barberry family. Winter Sun Mahonia shines in the winter with bright, golden yellow flower spikes against the dark green foliage. Reaching a height of 6-8 feet, this slow-growing, majestic evergreen shrub is perfect as a focal point in a shady garden bed. Blue berries appearing in spring attract a variety of birds. Mahonia is not too particular about soil, as long as it is well-drained, and it can hold its own in periods of drought. Another advantage is the toothy foliage, which is likely to discourage deer. Let it grow naturally as a large shrub or prune it into a tree shape. The ‘Winter Sun’ Mahonia pictured below (from my back yard) has bloomed beautifully this year!

Winter Sun If you’re interested in a smaller variety, check out ‘Soft Caress’ Mahonia. It has a different leaf, narrow and long, like fingers and they are smooth, not prickly. Mature height is only 2-3 feet tall. The other characteristics are basically the same… shade loving, slow growth rate, not too picky about soil, drought tolerant, blooms and berries.
Soft Caress



WINTER DAPHNE

Daphne aureomarginata Daphne Odora alba

Known for very fragrant blooms, Winter Daphne joins the group of winter-blooming shrubs. Mature size is about 4 feet tall with a width of 5-6 feet, but it will take a few years to get this big. It has a reputation for being difficult to grow, however, by planting it correctly you can avoid the most common problems. The plant requires afternoon shade or filtered sun all day. Don’t plant in clay soil without amending it with loose, porous soil and organic matter. Plant so that the top of the root ball is a few inches above soil level and mulch around it. Water once a week during periods of drought but be careful not to overwater. There are two different distinctions in most Winter Daphne types available: variegated or solid green leaves and pink or white blooms. Some may be more fragrant than others. Also deer resistant, this is a great addition to your landscape, most appreciated in winter.

EDGEWORTHIA

Edgeworthia Edgeworthia

Another focal point contender is Edgeworthia, AKA Paperbush. A notable characteristic of this plant is that it blooms on bare branches in the winter months, after the large, elongated leaves drop in fall. Also “note” worthy… the common name, Paperbush, comes from its use in Japan for producing banknotes. Edgeworthia has a tropical look in summer and gorgeous blooms in winter. It can grow up to 7 feet tall and wide, prefers a shady location, and has a moderate to fast growth rate. Clusters of fragrant, yellow blooms appear on the branches, usually beginning in December. For Edgeworthia to thrive, it’s a good idea to add organic matter to the existing soil to make sure it is rich in nutrients.

CAMELLIA

Camellia Greensboro Red Camellia Jurys Yellow Camellia Corkscrew Camellia Tri Color

As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post on Camellias (Click HERE), there are two types. Camellia sasanqua blooms in fall (October to December) and Camellia japonica blooms in winter (December to March). In my mind, every southern landscape should have a Camellia. They love the climate and are beautiful, traditional, southern ornamental shrubs. Most Camellia japonica shrubs grow 8-10 feet tall, however, there are some varieties that are smaller. They prefer shade, but a little filtered sun or direct early morning sun is ok and will encourage blooming. The large leaves are waxy and deep green. Fairly slow growing, Camellia japonica will take a while to reach its mature size, but at any stage should produce plenty of blooms. There are a few diseases that can be a problem with Camellias; keep an eye out for spots on foliage or browning of buds, and spray with a fungicide per the directions on the container. Mature Camellias are drought tolerant once established, but water and fertilize regularly in the first year or so. Keep in mind that the soil doesn’t dry out as quickly in the shade as it does in the sun.

The very best time to buy Lenten Roses and Camellias is when they are blooming, and right now, Wingard’s has them in stock (those pictured above and much more). Edgeworthia and Winter Daphne are also available. Mahonia varieties will be coming in soon, as spring approaches. Because our winter temperatures are typically mild, the ground doesn’t freeze, making it possible to plant this time of year. Even though the plant won’t have much growth above ground until the temperatures warm up, the roots will be establishing underground. Set yourself up for future winters with blooming plants by purchasing now and getting them in the ground. Once established, these beauties will perform year after year with little or no maintenance. So, grab a jacket, get outside and plant something fresh and new to perk up the yard. You can get your hands dirty and not even break a sweat… a southern gardener’s dream come true.

There’s Always Something Blooming at Wingard’s!

African Violets…Mysterious and Captivating!

By Kathy Torres

Happy New Year!!!  I can’t think of a better way to start off a new year, than by adding a gorgeous indoor plant to your home.  Especially because things look a bit dreary and bare after taking down the Christmas decorations.  Lucky for you, Wingard’s Annual Poinsettia Trade-In will begin January 10th!  All you need to do is bring in your Poinsettia, which, quite honestly, is probably looking pitiful by now, and you will receive a fresh African Violet.  These lovely plants can be tricky to grow, but with a little education on how to care for them, you can do it!  But first, I want to send you on a journey to help you find the enthusiasm to try. 

While doing my research for this blog, I stumbled on a piece from National Geographic Magazine that captured my attention and sparked my excitement about this delicate flower through the writer’s personal encounter in Tanzania’s Udzungwa National Park.  The article, actually a letter to African Violet Society of America, is a charming example of the lure of this enchanting plant specimen.  It’s an entertaining read and you can access it HERE.

After reading Andrew’s letter at the link highlighted in the paragraph above, I am sure you will be enticed into trying an African Violet in your home, (and you may even want to plan a trip to Tanzania)!  As with any plant, it’s best to know as much as you can about the requirements for it to flourish and remain healthy.  I would generally give you that information at this point in my blog, however, the job was made easy this time because Wingard’s has an existing blog that contains all you need to know.  Learn all about what African Violets need in terms of Light, Water, Soil, Food and Air by clicking on the link to African Violets 101, right HERE.

There are many species of African Violets and many bloom colors.  Also, to give them the best chance to do well, there are many products available made especially for them.  So… with all of this in mind, you are cordially invited to visit Wingard’s Market and the friendly, knowledgeable staff will assist you as you begin your own African Violet adventure!

May the new year bring you and your family many blessings and many things blooming!

There’s Always Something Blooming at Wingard’s!

New USDA Agricultural Hardiness Zone Map

Hardiness Zone Map

By Kathy Torres

Bob Dylan wrote a song in 1963 with lyrics, “The times, they are a changin.” It was an anthem for social change directly related to the civil rights movement. The song was appropriate and true then and it resonates loudly in this century as well. While its message had a deep and serious nature, let’s switch gears and apply it to another subject, also appropriate and true…. THE WEATHER. Not to minimize the intent of the song, but nothing changes much more than the weather. And, ironically, the topic of climate change is a real social/political topic of our time. Research is indicating a slight warming of winter temperatures in the U.S. and has been documented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in its official plant hardiness map. While the idea of fewer cold snaps that damage plants in winter is a welcome thought, we don’t know precisely how this change will impact us. It is possible that eventually we may have more in common with our coastal neighbors in terms of weather that allows for more tropical plants, BUT, it’s a bit too early to make that assumption. One thing is for sure, however… the weather, “it is a changin.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has recently released its 2023 Agricultural Hardiness Zone Map, a tool that provides valuable assistance to gardeners, farmers, researchers and others involved in growing plants by establishing “growing zones” or “gardening zones.” Developed by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and Oregon State University’s PRISM Climate Group, the map provides a standard/guide for helping gardeners and farmers select plants that will thrive in their region. Data from 13,412 weather stations was collected and evaluated to support the map divisions, compared to 7,983 stations in the last revision (2012). Lowest winter temperatures are averaged and used to characterize each zone. Cold weather is not the only factor in plant survival, however it is significant, and is the basis for USDA’s map. It has proven to be a reliable planting guide throughout the United States.

The map is based on 30 years of weather data from 1991 to 2020 and consists of 13 individual zones that include the contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Zone 1, the northernmost zone, is Alaska, where temperatures can reach as low as -60 degrees Fahrenheit. Zone 13, the southernmost zone, can be found in Hawaii and Puerto Rico, where the average minimum temperature is above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Zones represent low temperatures in 10-degree increments, plus, each zone is further broken down into additional 5-degree half zones designated “a” and “b”.

When compared to the 2012 map, the 2023 version reveals that about half of the country shifted to the next warmer half zone and the other half of the country remained in the same half zone. The shift to the next warmer half zone means those areas warmed by 0-5 degrees Fahrenheit. USDA cautions that temperature increases in plant hardiness zones are not necessarily reflective of global climate change, for several reasons… (1) Because mapping methods are more sophisticated, (2) Extreme minimum temperatures vary from year to year, and (3) Data from additional weather stations was used. According to Chris Daly, Director of the PRISM Climate Group at Oregon State University that jointly developed the map with USDA, “The reasons the 30-year data led to half-zone shifts is too complex to attribute to one cause, such as climate change. However, over the long run, we will expect to see a slow shifting northward of zones as climate change takes hold.”

The zones have shifted to slightly warmer average temperatures in parts of South Carolina, but this change shouldn’t really make a big difference for us because the average minimum temperature range indicated is still below freezing. Most of Lexington and Richland counties were previously considered Zone “8a” (average minimum temperature in winter 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit). The new version of USDA’s map indicates this area is now mostly Zone “8b” (average minimum temperature in winter 15-20 degrees Fahrenheit). There are a few areas in Lexington and Richland counties that remain Zone “8a” that are close to Aiken, Saluda, Newberry, Fairfield and Kershaw counties. Areas surrounding Lake Murray are primarily considered Zone “8b” until you get close to Saluda and Newberry counties. It’s interesting that last winter we experienced Zone “8a” temperatures that had a dramatic effect on some of the plants that usually handle winter very well here. It was unusual, however, so it is To Be Determined as to whether or not those low temperatures will affect the next 30-year average. If anything, the cold temperatures we experienced support unusual temperature fluxuation and underminds the global warming theory. Hopefully, reliable, scientific research will lead us into the future with sound evidence either way.

When purchasing plants, it’s a good idea to investigate their winter hardiness. Most of the time, you will find this information on a plant tag, but not always. Most garden centers are more conscientious about selling plants appropriate for the region, however the box stores will miss this detail occasionally. Just be sure to do your research if a plant tag is not available that includes this information. If a search on the internet doesn’t get you to the hardiness zone information, try one of these websites: Monrovia.com or NC State University Plant Toolbox.

As we prepare for the holidays, it’s unlikely our new agricultural hardiness zone assignment will affect our chances of a snow flurry (Oh, the anticipation of a White Christmas… a South Carolina dream!) If we do get that snowfall, or, if a January, February, March freeze comes upon us, just remember to cover or heavily mulch the vulnerable plants like blueberries, tropical banana trees, elephant ears, etc. And if you’re trying to overwinter your hibiscus or bougainvillea, be sure to bring them inside to the garage or sunroom. The future may take us to warmer temperatures; we just don’t know for certain, so, let’s do all we can to care for our planet in the meantime. And don’t panic over this small change in our agricultural hardiness zone – “frost” and “freeze” will continue to be a part of our winter weather language.

Here’s a link to South Carolina in the revised USDA MAP.

Best wishes to you and yours this Christmas!

There’s Always Something Blooming at Wingard’s!

Evergreens that satisfy a yearning for the North

EVERGREENS THAT SATISFY A YEARNING FOR THE NORTH
By Kathy Torres

It’s no secret that many people from the northern states move south to escape cold weather, ice and snow, high cost of living, to access beach life, or even to get a little closer to SEC Football. (Possible? Probably!) Regardless of the incentive to live in the south, the difference in climate holds both positive and negative realizations when it comes to gardening and landscape characteristics. A much longer growing season is a definite plus, however, with that comes the heat and humidity that can often be challenging to maintaining happy, healthy plants. Milder temperatures in winter with fewer hard freezes creates a great environment for fruit trees, but not so much for the magnificent Cedar, Spruce and Fir trees that line the highways from Maine to Washington State. How wonderful it must be to drive to a nearby tree farm to cut your own Christmas tree! We have no idea of that experience here in the south, but thank goodness we can shop Wingard’s Market (Frasier Firs will be available the Monday before Thanksgiving) and enjoy the wintery fir tree for a little while. So many of the beautiful evergreen trees and shrubs that can be grown up north will just not grow here because our summers are too hot and winters are not cold enough. Customers who have relocated from northern states often visit Wingard’s looking for similar plants that can be substituted for the beloved evergreens they left behind.

Many pyramid-shaped evergreen trees are prominent in northern landscapes. While there are not as many options for us in the south, several come to mind that have the same look. Arborvitae AKA Thuja, variety Green Giant is an excellent evergreen specimen tree (focal point) or screen plant growing to a mature height of 40-60 feet tall and 12-18 feet wide. You may remember the Leyland Cypress tree that was widely planted in recent years. The Leyland Cypress developed disease issues and is no longer recommended. The Arborvitae Green Giant looks very much like the Leyland Cypress and offers a perfect fast growing substitution option. Arizona Cypress ‘Carolina Sapphire’ (developed by Clemson University and South Carolina Forestry Commission) is another attractive pyramid-shaped evergreen with a lighter, silvery blue-green color, about the same mature size, also very fast growing. Both thrive in full or part sun (at least 6 hours), are drought tolerant once established, and can stand the heat and humidity. Cuttings are long-lasting and perfect for natural Christmas wreaths and garlands. An added plus for Carolina Sapphire is the appearance of small cones in winter on the graceful, airy branches. For a smaller pyramid-shaped evergreen, Blue Point Juniper is a contender with a mature height of 12 feet and width of 6-8 feet. Blue Point is densely branched with blue-green foliage, grows at a moderate rate, and also thrives in full to part sun.

All three of these tree varieties require little or no pruning to maintain their shape and density. Just be sure to plant the big ones in a spot that will handle their mature size. If you’re planting several in a line for screening, don’t plant them too close together or you may be inviting disease problems due to lack of air flow once they are mature. For both the Green Giant and the Carolina Sapphire, a distance of 6-8 feet apart is best; plant Blue Point Juniper trees 4-5 feet apart.

Arborvitae Green Giant
Arborvitae Green Giant
Arizona Cypress Carolina Sapphire
Arizona Cypress Carolina Sapphire
Blue Point Juniper
Blue Point Juniper

A slower growing evergreen, the Eastern Red Cedar is native to South Carolina and can be found all the way from eastern coastal Canada south to the Gulf Coast of the United States (Agricultural zones 2 to 9). Native plants give you an extra advantage because they have adapted to the environment, making them much more likely to thrive when you add them to your landscape. In many cases, established native plants can grow with little to no fertilizer, pesticides, and even irrigation. In this way, native plants generally help protect water resources. The Eastern Red Cedar is really not a Cedar, it’s actually a Juniper (like botanical names aren’t confusing enough). Its dense, blue-green scale-like needles turn bronze in fall. With a mature height anywhere from 30-40 feet tall and 10-20 feet wide, the Eastern Red Cedar offers an excellent habitat for birds; female trees produce blue, berry-like fruit.

Eastern Red Cedar
Eastern Red Cedar
Berries of Eastern Red Cedar
Berries of Eastern Red Cedar

A more ornamental conifer (another word for evergreen trees that produce cones), is Japanese Cryptomeria, AKA Japanese Cedar. This tree, known as sugi in Japan, is the national tree. It is perfect to stand alone for interest in a sunny spot in the landscape, with small cones appearing in fall. As it grows, branches separate, making it’s appearance slightly less dense and pyramidal than some of the trees mentioned above. Very slow growing, it may not be the best choice for a hedge or screen. It may reach 50-70 feet tall and 20-30 feet wide, but probably not in your lifetime. Don’t let this discourage you, because the beauty and interest of Japanese Crytomeria, even when it’s small, makes a special, out of the ordinary, addition to any garden bed. Also, if you’re in to Bonsai, it’s a perfect candidate.

Cryptomeria
Cryptomeria
Cones of Cryptomeria
Cones of Cryptomeria

Now that you have a few ideas for trees to give you that “northern” feel, consider other evergreens that provide year round foliage and compliment them. Most southern landscapes contain a combination of deciduous (drops leaves) and evergreen plantings. Because our winter is fairly short, we can handle the bare branches for a bit, however, they are certainly less noticeable when mixed with evergreens. Here are a few “southern” evergreens that we highly recommend.

Japanese Plum Yew, Cephalotaxus harringtonia, is a wonderful alternative to boxwood for a low growing, evergreen border/hedge. Native to Japan, northeastern China, and Korea, it is often cultivated for its edible fruit (must have both male and female plants). Japanese Plum Yew is different from Japanese Yew, Taxus cuspidata, which bares poisonous seeds and leaves. Look for the botanical name when you are looking for it to distinguish the varieties. Many Yew varieties do not tolerate heat like we have in the south, however Japanese Plum Yew is suitable for USDA Zones 6 to 9 (we are 8). The ‘Yewtopia’ cultivar has a growth habit which is rounded and spreading, usually wider than tall. Mature size is 2-3 feet tall by 4+ feet wide. In our warm climate, this Yew prefers part sun (morning sun, afternoon shade) or full shade and well-drained soil. The lush, dark green foliage is needle-shaped with a lighter green underside. Perfect for mass plantings, Japanese Plum Yew maintains its color year round. It is not likely to need pruning, and will typically not have disease and pest problems. Another cultivar, Cephalotaxus harringtonia ‘fastigiata’ is upright, reaches 8-10 feet in height, making it a great specimen plant in a garden bed.

Cephalotaxus harringtonia
Cephalotaxus harringtonia
Cephalotaxus harringtonia 'fastigiata'
Cephalotaxus harringtonia ‘fastigata’

Podocarpus is another Yew-like shrub/tree, though not actually in the Yew family. The foliage looks exactly the same, and it shares the same growing requirements, but the common variety can grow quite tall (10-15 feet). Podocarpus is easily pruned to whatever shape you desire. You’re likely to see this plant espaliered (pruned to grow on a trellis) or planted in rows to create a garden wall, adding a formal touch. Because it is slow growing, pruning is really only needed for shaping. On your next visit to Charleston, peek through the gate of one of the historical homes on Meeting Street and you’re likely to see it.

Podocarpus Topiary
Podocarpus Topiary
Podocarpus
Podocarpus
Podocarpus Espalier
Podocarpus Espalier

There are many other evergreen trees and shrubs that will provide year round greenery, some with the added benefit of blooms or berries. Holly trees and shrubs make wonderful anchor plants on the corner of a home or as a focal point in a garden bed. Rich, green foliage serves as the backdrop for the prickly foliage and red berries appearing in winter. The “Big Mama” of the Holly family is Nellie Stevens, growing as tall as 30 feet and just slightly less in width. Needle Point is another variety, not quite as enormous as Nellie Stevens, with a mature height and width of 15-20 feet. Both of these varieties have a natural, Christmas tree shape. For a more compact, round shrub, try Dwarf Burfordi Holly, great for foundation planting or a hedge. It will grow 4-5 feet tall and wide.

Nellie Stevens
Nellie Stevens
Needle Point
Needle Point
Dwarf Burfordi
Dwarf Burfordi

Did I mention blooms? Two favorite evergreens for the landscape with gorgeous blooms are Magnolia and Camellia. Not likely to survive in northern climates, these beauties represent yet another reason to move down south! The Southern Magnolia is a large, broadleaf evergreen tree that is known for attractive glossy dark green leaves and large, extremely fragrant flowers appearing in summer. Pyramidal in growth habit, Southern Magnolia typically grows 60-80 feet tall with a spread of 20-40 feet wide, and a trunk diameter of 3 feet. Full or part sun is best (at least 6 hours). Magnolias are one of the oldest known tree species in the world. Common varieties include Brackens Brown Beauty, Kay Parris and Claudia Wannamaker. If your landscape isn’t large enough to accommodate the big guys, there are other smaller varieties, such as Little Gem and Teddy Bear that won’t require as much space and will give you the same beautiful foliage and blooms.

Magnolia Bloom
Magnolia Bloom
Southern Magnolia
Southern Magnolia

Finally, the Classic Camellia is a must for the southern landscape. As summer’s end approaches, many of the stunning flowers you planted are looking a bit scorched, the rose bushes have lost the fresh appearance you enjoyed in the early spring, and soon the branches on the deciduous shrubs and trees will be bare. Camellia sasanqua is about to shine as buds appear amid the waxy, deep green foliage. Blooms will begin to appear in October or November. Camellia japonica will bloom in the winter months (December to March). Camellias are available in many sizes with a variety of bloom colors, and both types (sasanqua and japonica) are evergreen. Camellia japonica is shade loving, however, some sun is needed to encourage blooming. It’s best to avoid planting in full sun; morning sun/afternoon shade or filtered sun is best. Camellia sasanqua can take more sun, but full sun is still too much, so use the same philosophy for both. Avoid planting in dense shade because it will likely prohibit blooming. Fall is the best time to plant, and I have it on good authority that Wingard’s camellia inventory is fully stocked!

Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide'
Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’
Camellia japonica 'Pink Perfection'
Camellia japonica ‘Pink Perfection’

NOTE: For more on Camellias, click HERE for Wingard’s Blog entitled “The Classic Camellia.”

As we approach the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, most “northerners” who live here in the south are probably grateful that a snow shovel is not a part of life anymore, but, there may be a yearning for the familiar landscape they used to know. We can’t capture it exactly, but there are many beautiful substitutes that may just fill the void. So, consider trying a few trees and shrubs that remind you of that place you lived before… and embrace a few southern treasures now that you’re here. The staff at Wingard’s Market are always available to help you make the transition!

There’s Always Something Blooming at Wingard’s!

Spotlight On Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental Grasses

SPOTLIGHT ON ORNAMENTAL GRASSES
by Kathy Torres

The more you experiment in landscaping, the more likely you are to realize that you don’t want every shrub in the yard to be green. In addition to variations in color, a pleasing design will include different plant sizes, leaf shapes and textures. Ornamental grasses provide a breezy, moving plant form that contrasts with existing shrubs and flowers, often producing striking plumes that add to the show. Planted as a focal point, a backdrop for other plant specimens, a border, or even around a pool to create a “pond-in-a-meadow” or a “coastal” feeling, ornamental grasses provide great versatility. Great for erosion control, grasses can be a problem-solver as well. Add to that… low-maintenance, drought tolerance, resistance to disease, and what’s not to love? In fact, many varieties of ornamental grasses are not enticing to deer, a much sought after plant characteristic in our neck of the woods.

Many different size options are available from Pampas grass, with its wide blades and fluffy, white plumes, reaching up to 10 ft. tall and wide, to Blue Fescue grass, with its spiky, silvery blue foliage, one of the smallest varieties growing 1-2 ft. tall and wide. More to come on other types/varieties described below. Cultivars may be annual, perennial, or evergreen and are easily adaptable to most soil types. For best results, plant in full sun, however, many varieties can handle part shade with a minimum of 6 hours of direct sun.

Care requirements will vary depending on the grass type you have. Annual grasses are good for one season and will not survive freezing temperatures. Some perennial grasses will turn brown in winter and can be cut back before new spring growth begins to appear. Other perennial grasses may not turn totally brown, but may show slight winter damage, and a cut back is likely necessary for them as well. Evergreen grasses are fairly maintenance free, but it’s a good idea to trim every couple of years to keep them in shape. Most ornamental grasses can be divided, and this will encourage good plant health.

In the scientific, botanical world, there are plants considered and named as actual “grasses” and then there are “grass-like” plants. Because they are all popular and work well in the landscape, (and all look like grasses), we include them in the family of ornamental grasses, the garden center family, that is, not the botanical family. Anyway, here are some of our favorite grasses:

MAIDEN GRASS, Miscanthus sinensis, is perennial and has a graceful, vase-like shape that displays a soft, airy texture. When it blooms, the foliage is topped by silvery seed heads. There are dwarf and large varieties available for any size garden.

Miscanthus Sinesis
Adagio, 3-5 ft. tall x 3-4 ft. wide

Gracillimus, 4-7 ft. tall x 3-6 ft. wide

Zebrinius, 5-8 ft. tall x 4-6 ft. with variegated leaf blades

MUHLY GRASS, Muhlenbergia capillaris, reaches 2-3 ft. tall x 1-3 ft. wide. This perennial grass is best planted in the spring or fall, a month or so before frost is expected. The long, slender shoots of grass are green and as fall approaches, soft, pink “cotton candy” type flowers appear. Plant in groups or as a border for the full impact of the fuzzy mass of pink or white.

Pink Muhly Grass White Cloud Muhly

LOMANDRA longifolia, AKA Mat Rush, originating from Australia, is an evergreen ornamental grass with medium green, thick, strap-like leaves, accented by spiny flower spikes with tiny creamy yellow male flowers. Plant in full sun to moderate shade. Lomandra is winter hardy to 15-20 degrees. This is a drought tolerant plant once established, particularly when grown in some shade along the coast, but can also tolerate regular irrigation or even wet soils.

Lomandra Longifolia
Breeze, 2-3 ft. tall x 3-4 ft. wide

Katrinus, 2-3 ft. tall x 3-4 ft. wide with wider leaf blades

Platinum Beauty, 2-3 ft. tall x 2-3 ft. wide with variegated leaf blades

PENNISETUM GRASS, AKA Fountain Grass, includes many ornamental grasses, both annual and perennial, ranging in size from 1-4 ft. in height. Known for soft, fuzzy flower plumes, they add interest and airy texture to the garden, or make a perfect “thriller” in a container garden on the patio or deck. Foliage color varies from green to burgundy or purple, and include variegated colors. The flowers are perfect for cut and dried flower arrangements.

Rebrum
Rubrum (Annual) 4’hx 4’w Hameln
Hameln Fountain Grass
(Perennial) 3’h x 3’w KarleyRose
Karley Rose Fountain Grass
(Perennial) 3’h x 3’w

SWITCHGRASS, Panicum virgatum, AKA Prairie Grass is a tough perennial grass that has dominated the tall-grass prairies of North America. Upright and sturdy, this narrow ornamental grass serves well as a backdrop to lower growing shrubs or flowers in the landscape. Green stalks/blades may have hints of blue, burgundy or red. In winter, dried flower heads provide interest. Height varies from 3-8 ft. with a typical width of 2-3ft.

Rebrum
Heavy Metal 5’h x 2’w
Hameln Fountain Grass
Cloud Nine 8’h x 3’w
Karley Rose Fountain Grass
Shenandoah 4’h x 2’w

Feather Reed Grass FEATHER REED GRASS, Calamagrostis x acutiflora, similar to Switchgrass, provides showy color and impressive height (3-5 ft. tall and 18-24 inches wide), emerging in spring with a reddish hue. Leaf blades become variegated as they mature and airy, pinkish-purple plumes appearing later in the warm season. Plant this perennial grass individually, in groups or rows, in full or part sun (minimum of 6 hours).

Avalanche

Strawberries & CreamRIBBON GRASS, Phalaris arundinacea, has an upright, arching growth habit, with white-striped foliage blushed with pink. In early summer, panicles of soft white flowers appear. This aggressive grower can handle wet feet, making it great for a pond border. Try it in a large container garden mixed with colorful annuals or perennials. Cut this perennial grass back in winter for fresh, new foliage in spring. Plant in full sun or part shade (minimum of 6 hours).

Strawberries and Cream, 3 ft. tall x 3 ft. wide

Blue FescueBLUE FESCUE, Festuca glauca, an evergreen grass native to southern France, has a distinct silver-blue color with upright plumes appearing in late summer. It can handle the cold temperatures of winter, as well as the hot, humid summer in South Carolina. Small and compact (8-12 inches tall and wide at maturity), Blue Fescue is perfect as an accent, in mass plantings, containers, and because it is drought tolerant, even in crevices of rock gardens. Dividing every 2-4 years will keep it healthy and growing strong.

Elijah Blue is a common variety.

Pampas GrassPAMPAS GRASS, Cortaderia selloana, is the “Big Daddy” of perennial ornamental grasses, growing up to 10 feet tall, with dramatic plumes in white or pink. It should be planted in full sun in an area big enough to handle its mature size. Water it well when first planted, but you can pretty much ignore it once established. Divide it occasionally to keep it under control. Pampas grass is great in coastal or lake front areas and for providing privacy screening, or camouflaging HVAC units or undesirable views. Because it is highly flammable, don’t plant it near a grill or fire pit. The leaves or blades of Pampas grass are razor-sharp, so be sure to wear eye protection, gloves and long sleeves when pruning.

Liriope LilyturfLIRIOPE, AKA Lilyturf or Monkey Grass, is a fast-growing groundcover or border plant. The two most prominent species found here are Liriope muscari and Liriope spicata. Muscari is more clumping and spicata is a spreader. Most Liriope grows to a height of 10-18 inches and a width of 12-18 inches. Typically, the color is dark green, however, there are variegated cultivars available as well. Blooms (usually purple) appear on stalks in summer followed by bluish-black berries in the fall. Extremely tough, Liriope will grow in deep sun or shade. It’s evergreen, however, a good cut back in winter will encourage fresh growth in spring.

Mundo Grass MONDO GRASS, Ophiopogon japonicus, is another evergreen, sod-forming perennial very similar to Liriope that prefers shade, also available in a dwarf size that reaches only 4 inches. It’s a great groundcover under a tree or other area where most lawn grasses fail.

Clemson University has online fact sheets on both Liriope and Mondo grasses. For more information go to LIRIOPE and MONDO.

SEDGE, Carex is a large genus of grass-like perennial plants similar to Liriope and Mondo in appearance and use in the landscape. No flowers or berries appear, however Carex offers a bit more variety in color. Carex Everillo is a beautiful, chartreuse cultivar, providing contrast when placed among shrubs in a garden bed or flowers in a container garden. Carex Evergold is gold and green variegated, and Carex Cherokee is solid green and native to the Southeastern United States. Mature size for these varieties is about 1-1.5 ft. tall and wide, although Cherokee is a little smaller. Part sun is best for Carex and a late winter or early spring cutback might be necessary, but many species thrive without it.

Sedge / Carex Sedge / Carex Sedge / Carex

Creating a landscape plan can be overwhelming with so many choices of plant types, sizes and colors, incorporating textures and interest, in addition to learning about how to maintain and keep it all healthy and looking good. Consider ornamental grasses as part of your design for a component that will be EASY! Most will require very little attention once established, so you can expend your energy on other areas. Ornamental grasses can provide a distinctive impact that is steadfast year after year with very little care needed. As you’re driving around town, keep an eye out for the striking plumes. Fall is approaching and it’s time for them to show off. You’ll love them, I promise!

There’s Always Something Blooming at Wingard’s!

Scent-Sational Plants For The Garden

Simply Scentsational® Sweetshrub Flowers and Foliage

By Kathy Torres

Is there anything more satisfying than the smell of homemade bread or cookies in the oven? How about the air as a rainstorm begins? Or the smells of Christmas… fresh Frasier fir trees, cinnamon, and peppermint? Basically, certain fragrances bring us joy and contentment, remind us of fond memories and, in general, raise the level of our “happy” meter. A good example is evident in the growing business of aromatherapy. Essential oils, which are made from phytochemicals of plants, provide scents that are known for boosting mood, reducing stress, anxiety and pain, improving attentiveness, and relieving inflammation, nausea and headaches.

Growing fragrant plants in the garden is a wonderful way to reap these rewards, by strategically placing them in your landscape in spots near a patio, walkway, entrance or other area you frequent. Creating an herb garden in a pot or along-side of your vegetable garden offers a delightfully fragrant area of the landscape, providing wonderful foliage that can be enjoyed as is, or harvested for cooking. A sunny windowsill allows you to bring the herb garden right into your kitchen!

All herbs are fragrant, so it’s just a matter of planting what you like and following placement instruction (most like the sun but will do great in part shade). If you need a little guidance on which shrubs, trees, perennials, etc. are fragrant, here are some to think about:

SHRUBS:

My all-time favorite shrub (I think every yard should have one) is Fragrant Tea Olive, Osmanthus fragrans. This evergreen shrub grows quickly to its maximum height of 10-12 feet in full sun or part shade. It can grow naturally as a dense, tall shrub, or can be pruned as a small tree by removing the lower branches. It’s not particularly bothered by insects or fungus and is fairly drought tolerant once established. I saved the best part for last… small, white blooms appear 2-3 times during the growing season and the sweet smell is delightful! There is also a variety that blooms orange, Fragrant Tea Olive, Aurantiacus.

Close up of leaves and flowers'Aurantiacus' Leaves & Flowers - Wake Co., NC

Nothing says southern sweetness like the Gardenia, Gardenia jasminoids. Deep green, glossy leaves surround the intoxicating, creamy-white blooms on this evergreen shrub. Gardenias prefer acidic, well-drained soil, rich with organic matter. They love full sun and humidity, which is a perfect fit for South Carolina summers. One of the first varieties cultivated and a larger-growing variety, August Beauty stands out with a mature height of 4-6 feet and is good for hedges or as a focal point. Dwarf varieties (some) have more elongated, pointed leaves and are suitable for a container. Often used as a low growing hedge, dwarf Gardenias reach a mature size of 3 feet tall by 4 feet wide. White flies can be a problem for Gardenias, so keep an eye out and spray as needed. There are over 200 varieties of Gardenias; some that you are likely to find at Wingard’s include August Beauty, Scentsation, Frost Proof, and Heaven Scent.

Close Up :: Credit :: ©Monrovia by Doreen Wynja 153-365 020610 dwarf gardenia blooming | David Stabler | Flickr

An amazing specimen plant for a shady area in your landscape is Edgeworthia chrysantha, AKA Paperbush, named for the Irish botanist, Michael Pakenham Edgeworth and his half-sister, Maria Edgeworth. Chrysantha refers to its winter blooming golden yellow flowers that appear on bare branches. Paperbush, the common name, is from its use in producing quality paper. Fast-growing, Edgeworthia can reach up to 7 feet tall by 7 feet wide, and thrives in well-enriched, moist soil. In spring, after blooms are spent, the plant sports lovely bluish foliage with silvery undertones, turning yellow and dropping in the fall. Be sure to snip a few blooms to keep the house fragrant through the winter.

flowers

Sweetshrub, Calycanthus floridus (Native) AKA Carolina Allspice, Spicebush or Strawberry Bush is known for its reddish-brown to dark wine-colored blooms. There are several opinions as to the smell of the scented flowers; some detect hints of strawberries, pineapples, or melons, others refer to a “spicy” aroma. Even the foliage and bark have an odor of cloves or camphor when crushed. Sweetshrub is easy to grow in your yard or garden and can reach up to 9 feet tall with a spread up to 12 feet. Plant in shade or part shade (morning sun only), in neutral to mildly acidic soil. Once established, you will find it to be drought tolerant. Watch for the flowers to start opening in mid-spring. Green foliage will turn yellow, eventually falling when temperatures get cool. Be sure you don’t confuse Sweetshrub/Carolina Allspice with the herb, Allspice. Sweetshrub is toxic and should not be consumed by humans or pets.

Sweetshrub | Plant Profile – Sylvan Gardens Landscape Contractors10 Seeds Strawberry Shrub Sweetshrub Calycanthus Floridus - Other Seeds ...

Details on other fragrant shrubs that may interest you can be found at these links: Winter Daphne southernliving.com, Banana Shrub Monrovia.com, Mock Orange BHG.com, Clethra NCSU.edu, Witch Hazel (Native) Gardenia.net, Buttonbush (Native) Clemson.edu

TREES:

One of the most well-known trees with fragrant blooms is the iconic Magnolia. Numerous varieties have been cultivated, both evergreen and deciduous, large and small. The “old fashioned” Magnolias can grow to be massive. Smaller, hybrid Magnolias, such as Tulip and Saucer Magnolias are perfect specimen trees, providing a lovely focal point in a garden bed. The following grow well in the Midlands, and are likely to be found at Wingard’s:

The Southern Magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora is the BIG ONE! Part shade is ideal and it will grow to a mature height of 50-60 feet and a width of 30-40 feet. Although leaves will drop in the spring as new growth appears, it is considered evergreen. Southern Magnolia is noted for its attractive glossy dark green leaves and large, extremely fragrant flowers appearing in the summer months. The woody brown fruits with bright red seeds are often used in dried arrangements. Growth habit is pyramidal with low hanging bottom branches and a potential trunk diameter of 3 feet. Magnolias are one of the oldest known tree species in the world.

What to Plant Under a Southern Magnolia – P. Allen SmithFruit

If you don’t have the space for the BIG ONE, don’t be discouraged… Compact selections are available that won’t swallow the entire yard. They include these Native varieties… Teddy Bear (16-20-feet tall, 10-12 feet wide), Brackens Brown Beauty (35 feet tall, 15 feet wide) and Little Gem (20-25 feet tall, 10-15 feet wide).

Royal Star Magnolia, Magnolia stellata, is a deciduous, dwarf flowering Magnolia with star-shaped flowers that produce a lovely, lemony fragrance. Jane Magnolia is another deciduous dwarf Magnolia variety, often referred to as “Tulip Magnolia” due to its purple and red, tulip-like blooms with white centers. Jane’s blooms are slightly fragrant. Both Royal Star and Jane prefer part shade and bloom in early spring on bare branches. Leaves come out after blooms fall; height reaches around 15 feet.

Magnolia stellataJane Magnolia - Spring - Shade Tree Farm | Shade Tree Farm

Yoshino Cherry, Prunus x yedoensis, is one of the most popular Cherry trees, widely photographed in Washington, DC’s Potomac Park. Considered a small tree, Yoshino is deciduous and grows to 25-30 feet, making a spectacle of itself as bare branches are smothered with clusters of pale pink blooms that fade to white in early spring. A sweet almond scent accompanies the blooms giving way after a few weeks to small, shiny, black fruits, which are devoured by birds. Dark green leaves emerge to form a summer canopy. The Yoshino Cherry tree grows in full sun and may require some pruning to maintain air flow between the branches to keep it healthy. Keep an eye out for pests and treat as needed.

Yoshino Cherry Trees for Sale | BrighterBlooms.comYoshino Cherry Trees for Sale | BrighterBlooms.com

Cherry Laurel, Prunus laurocerasus (Native) may be grown primarily for its glossy green leaves, but also has sweet-smelling, 2-5 inch flower spikes with long-lasting white spring blooms. As the flowers fade, red fruits form then fade to black. The inconspicuous fruits are not edible to humans, but the birds love them! Mature height can be 18 feet by 30 feet width, however, there are more compact varieties. Cherry Laurel will grow in almost any soil type, although good drainage is a must, and it thrives in part shade (avoid afternoon sun, morning sun is best).

PlantFiles Pictures: Carolina Cherry Laurel 'Compacta' (Prunus ...Cherry Laurel | AustinTexas.govCherry Laurel Shrubs for Sale– FastGrowingTrees.com

Check out these links for information on other fragrant trees: Profusion Crabapple Americangardener.com, Tulip Poplar (Native) Gardeningknowhow.com, Apple Thespruce.com

VINES:

Carolina Jessamine: Vine of the South. | HeySmokies
Carolina Jessamine, Gelsemium sempervirens (Native) covers fences and trees in open woodlands and along roadsides throughout the Southeast with its slender vines and bright yellow flowers. It is the state flower of South Carolina. Sweetly scented, golden yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers cover the cascading, fine textured foliage from February to April. Vines can reach 20 feet long and will thrive in full sun. It is attractive on an arbor where the slender branches hung with yellow flowers can be seen from below.

| Amethyst Falls Wisteria | Evans Nursery

Wisteria frutescens ‘Amethyst Falls’ (Native) is a deciduous, twining vine which grows at about a third of the rate of Asian wisteria. Blooms at an early age, with lightly fragrant purple racemes weeping gracefully downward. Train it up an arbor or trellis for a beautiful show in spring. Plant in full sun for abundant blooms.

Additional fragrant vines can be found at these links: Honeysuckle Southernliving.com, Confederate Jasmine NCSU.edu

PERENNIALS:

Bee Balm Care in Vermont

Bee Balm, Monarda (Native) is a beloved perennial not only for its beautiful blooms, but for its fragrant foliage. The Bee Balm flower displays an open, daisy-like shape with tubular petals. The colorful flowers develop on the ends of square-stemmed stalks above the main foliage and bloom in mid-summer. Moist, rich soil and a sunny location are preferred, and as the name indicates… the bees love it (hummingbirds, too)!

Hyacinthus Orientalis 'Aida' Hyacinth from ADR Bulbs

Hyacinth orientalis or the common Hyacinth, is a fragrant flowering bulb that blooms early to mid-spring. Hyacinths produce showy flowers in shades of blue, purple, white, pink, and red. The flowers appear in thick clusters on tall spikes; each spike has small, deeply fragrant, bell-shaped blooms. Long bright green leaves form around the base of the plant. Find a sunny spot in your landscape with good soil, or plant in a pretty pot on your patio. Hyacinths will be one of the first spring flowers to pop up.

A bush of white flowers Description automatically generated
Phlox paniculata (Native) is compact, low-maintenance and long-blooming. Known for a spicy, vanilla-clove fragrance, Phlox is dense and clumping, reaching up to 16 inches tall and 18 inches wide. Establishes quickly with full sun and well-drained soil.

Check out a few other fragrant perennials at these links:

Daffodils Gardenia.net, Agastache/Giant Hissop NCSU.edu,

Oriental Lily Gardenia.net, Peonies Petalrepublic.com

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” – William Shakespeare

Mr. Lincoln rose seeds 10 count germination instructions image 1
It seems we should consider ROSES at the top of the list when it comes to fragrance, but the truth is… There are SO MANY varieties of roses and many are not fragrant. Some are, and one that always comes to mind for me is Mr. Lincoln, a striking hybrid tea rose with very large, double, velvet wine-red flowers, up to 5 in. across, having as many as 26-40 petals. The fragrance is captivating, so much that you will want to always keep a cutting in a vase! Next year, be sure to check out Wingard’s website for the rose varieties that have been ordered for spring and look for those that are fragrant. The description usually gives you a heads-up. You can even order ahead if you want to be sure to get a particular variety.

https://wingardsmarket.com/?s=roses

Spending time gardening is such a fulfilling use of our senses. Seeing the beauty of plant forms, textures and colors is a delight to the eyes. Hearing the birds chirping, or the breeze rustling the tree branches, or even the quiet is pleasing to the ear. Holding a plant by its root ball and gently placing it in the hole you dug, tamping down the soil, awakens the hands. Taking in the smells of the freshly cut grass, or the Fragrant Tea Olive planted by the front door as you enter your home, or gathering herbs for a special dish you plan to cook for dinner, creates a special feeling, just like opening the door to the smell of homemade bread baking in the oven. And last, but maybe the best of all the senses is satisfied when you walk past the cherry tomato plants, pick a couple and pop them in your mouth. Yum!

There’s Always Something Blooming at Wingard’s!

WATER…The Essential Element

watering can in garden sprinkler system in yard watering hose being used by a gardener

 

By Kathy Torres

Water is critical for a healthy garden and landscape, however, it’s not exactly easy to determine how often and how much is necessary to keep plants looking good and thriving.  Overwatering, as well as not watering enough are mistakes that can cause problems, and unfortunately, there isn’t a specific formula.  Getting it just right can be complicated because of these variables:  Water requirements specific to plant varieties, soil type/quality, sun exposure, temperature, plant maturity, and overall growing environment.

Let’s elaborate on the variables…

Water Requirements Specific to Plant Varieties – There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to adequate watering.  So many different plants exist and each has its own needs in terms of sun, soil, nutrients, and water.  Dessert plants like Agave, Cactus, or Succulents like almost ignored and do not need much water.  Other specimens like Iris and Elephant Ear like the soil to be damp. River Birch trees are perfect for the edge of a pond, lake or river because their roots can stay wet.  Most plants like a good, deep watering, and then time to dry out before watering again, however, this is NOT ALWAYS the case.  It’s a good idea to have some knowledge of a plant’s general growing requirements when determining the location in the garden. It will keep watering simple if you plant a new specimen near other plants with similar water requirements. In this way, there is no need to readjust an irrigation system or watering schedule, since all the plants in the group have similar needs.

Soil Type/Quality – Planting in a container is ideal because you can make sure to use a professionally prepared potting mix that provides exactly what is needed.  NOTE:  one or more drainage holes in a container/pot are a must!   Ultimately, in all planting areas, you want proper drainage, as well as a good growing medium with proper nutrients.  The soil in your landscape may not, unfortunately, be the best possible growing medium for your plants.  Soil in the Midlands can be sandy, clay, loamy, or a combination of all of these.   Sandy soil allows water to seep through quickly, causing plants to dry out quickly.  Clay soil holds water because it is very dense.  If plants in clay soil are overwatered, roots may rot.  At Wingard’s, we recommend using one of our soil amendments to enhance the existing soil if needed to adjust the drainage capability, texture, and nutrient value to give plants a better chance to thrive.  Typically, sandy soil needs more water, clay needs less, and loamy is somewhere in-between.

Sun Exposure – Every single plant specimen is suited to a particular amount of direct sun.  Some like a lot and some are ok without any at all.  It’s very important to know this characteristic and you can usually find this on the plant tag.  As you know, full sun (morning AND afternoon, or just afternoon) in this area of the country is extremely hot in the summer months, so understand that these plants will need more water than those in areas of more shade because the soil will dry out faster.  The exception is clay.  Checking the soil before watering (more about this below) is key to avoiding overdoing it.  Areas of part sun in the morning, or full shade can usually be watered less frequently.

Temperature – Seasonal changes in temperature directly affect how well soil will hold moisture.  Because temperatures are mild in fall and winter here, fall annuals like Pansies grow well in full sun, and don’t require constant watering.  Summer annuals like Petunias, however, will be exposed to much higher temperatures and need frequent watering.  Established shrubs and trees can usually make it ok with water provided by rain showers, but it’s good to pay attention in times of drought.  They may need a little extra watering and we have some advice on that below.  The primary reason we recommend fall and winter for planting trees and shrubs, is because temperatures are cooler, soil doesn’t dry out as fast, and less watering is required because we usually get more rain during this time of year. If you do decide to plant trees and shrubs in the summer, significantly more watering will be required.

Plant MaturityAll plants, including specimens described as drought tolerant, will require water when first planted. This is because the root system is in the early stages of development and many of the smaller roots responsible for water uptake are usually damaged during shipment and planting. Watch new plants carefully and keep them well-watered as their roots settle in and they adapt to their new or transplanted location.  As plants mature, the root system becomes more complex and creates a better system for obtaining water and nutrients, however, if signs of stress are indicated in periods of drought (leaves turning yellow, brown and crispy, dropping off), a little extra watering may be indicated. 

Overall Growing Environment – Additional factors may exist that need to be considered in terms of watering.  One example is planting beneath an existing tree.  In this case, the new plant will be competing with the established plant for water, and extra watering may be needed, especially in the summer.  Are you planting in a damp/wet area?  In this situation, understand that most plants will not survive when the roots stay wet, but there are some plants that can do well.  Just do your research.  Maybe consider a Rain Garden.  Planting on a slope can make it challenging to water appropriately.  Build a small soil wall to contain water while it percolates into the soil, otherwise it will run off.  A soil wall is a good idea for all new plantings, especially shrubs and trees. 

How can you tell when it’s time to water?  Often plants will wilt as the soil becomes too dry. The leaves may droop, and if it’s an upright plant, the top ends may become soft and bend over. Glossy plants may begin to look dull, while thick leaves will shrivel. If you notice these signs, it is time to water! Most plants will revive if watered quickly enough, just be sure to water deeply.  The best way to determine if the soil is dry is to push your finger into the soil an inch or two from the base of the plant.  Perfect soil should feel cool and slightly moist. Some soil should stick to your finger. If none does, it’s too dry.  Some gardeners use water meters to see the precise amount of moisture. If you’re unsure, this tool can be helpful, especially with clay soil. 

The amount of water that is appropriate for your plants or landscape can change from day to day. A cool morning will allow more dew to form and drain to the soil, or a sudden afternoon thunderstorm can be enough water to keep your plants hydrated for a few days. An overly hot day, however, can rapidly deplete water resources and extra watering may be required. Check your plants and landscape regularly to be sure they are getting adequate water and make adjustments as needed to keep them suitably moist without either too much or too little water.

How MUCH water?

Newly Planted Trees or Shrubs (3 or 7 gal) installed in summer – Each plant will need about 1 inch of water a day when daytime temperatures are 90 degrees or higher. (Even more if temperatures exceed 100 degrees.) Put several containers out and put a mark at a depth of 1 inch. Then turn on the irrigation. Determine how long it takes to fill the container to the 1 inch mark. Divide the time by 4 and set the zones to run that
amount of time every other day starting at 5:30 am.  Some zones may need more or less water due to the soil’s ability to drain.  If you are hand-watering, use a shower nozzle on the hose, circle around the root ball until it is soaked to 1 inch (time may vary, depending on your soil type).  Direct the water shower to the ground, rather than the foliage to avoid causing fungus issues.  When the soil dries out (check the soil as recommended above), water again.  When planting in cooler temperatures in spring, fall and winter, less watering is necessary.  Check the soil for dampness every few days and water if soil is dry. 

Trees (15 gal) installed in summer – Take a 5-gallon bucket and put a hole on the side near the bottom using a 1/16 inch drill bit (approximately the diameter of the lead in a #2 pencil). Fill it with water daily, and it will slowly trickle out. Put a brick in the bucket so it doesn’t blow away when it is empty. For larger trees, use more buckets.

Remember to reduce the water when our high temperatures decrease.  If the temperature high is in the:
80’s – water every other day
70’s – water every 3rd day
60’s – water every 4th day
50’s – water once a week

Summer Annuals and Perennials – A general rule for these types of plants is to water deeply, then let the soil dry out in between waterings.  If you check the soil and it is wet or damp, give it a little more time; if the soil is dry, go ahead and water again.  Plants in containers will dry out much faster than those in the ground, so keep that in mind and pay attention to them, especially if they are in full sun.  The general rule applies to most summer annuals and perennials, however, there are a few exceptions, and this is why it’s important to seek advice from the experts in the garden center.  Some may like to stay dry, like Begonias, Pentas, and Vinca (all annuals); if you water them too much, they may rot.  Perennials are often purchased in a bigger size, with a more developed root system, so they can typically hold water a little longer, especially if planted in the ground rather than in a container. The general rule, stated above, usually applies.

Established lawns require approximately 1 inch of water per week in the summer.  Use the container method mentioned above to determine how long to run an irrigation system to get 1 inch of water.  Keep a rain gauge in your yard to help determine if you will still need to water after it rains.  

New lawns – follow the instructions from the installer, or the place of purchase.

It’s not an absolute science, but experience and following these recommendations will get you headed in the right direction.  The key is to understand the factors in your landscape that affect the needs of the plants, and to watch how plants respond.  Either increase or decrease watering if necessary as you observe.  We have created a watering chart to provide additional help for you.  Click HERE.  Also, Clemson Home and Garden Information Center is a great resource for information on all things gardening.  Check out https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/watering-shrubs-and-trees/.

THERE’S ALWAYS SOMETHING BLOOMING AT WINGARD’S!

Hibiscus, Striking Blooms For Summer Color!

red hibiscus flowerpurple hibiscus flowerwidth=

By Kathy Torres

When it comes to big, beautiful blooms in summertime, Hibiscus comes through like no other. Its vibrant bloom colors are showy and dramatic, and although each bloom is short-lived (lasts one day), the plant continues to produce blooms throughout the warm season until frost appears. Tropical Hibiscus is one of the most popular plants for adding color and interest to the home – around pools, patios, decks and other areas used for gathering and enjoying the outdoors. Rose of Sharon, a hardy perennial hibiscus, can withstand cold temperatures and grow anywhere from 5 to 10 ft. tall, making a great focal point in a garden bed. Another category is Perennial Hibiscus. Also known for winter hardiness, it dies back to the ground, but comes back up in spring. Perennial Hibiscus varieties have large blooms, some as large as a dinner plate. The common denominator for all categories of Hibiscus is that each likes the sun! Typically, Hibiscus can handle full sun, however, the summer sun and heat in South Carolina can be brutal, so if placed in all day sun, it is key to provide sufficient water. An area that provides a minimum of 6 hours of sun is ideal and may require a little less water than all day sun. Don’t let your hibiscus dry out, or blooming may be inhibited and leaves will yellow. Hibiscus will not bloom in shady spots. There are differences in these groups of Hibiscus, so let’s get into the details.

TROPICAL HIBISCUS

pink hibiscus flowerplant inside of pot with yellow flowersorange flower

Tropical Hibiscus, Rose senensis, AKA Rose of China, can be found year-round in warm climates like Florida, where the temperatures don’t often, if ever, dip below freezing. In our neck of the woods, however, we consider them to be “annual” plants, and most folks replant each spring. You can certainly overwinter potted Tropical Hibiscus in a protected place like your garage, but make sure it gets some direct sunlight, and don’t forget to water. Common bloom colors include pink, red, orange, salmon, or yellow, and blooms are trumpet shaped often with a contrasting eye in the center. Some, like the examples below, have colorful edging and/or layered petals. Tropical Hibiscus is available in dwarf and standard sizes, reaching heights of 1-2 ft. and 4-5 ft., respectively. Foliage is shiny, dark green, creating a dramatic contrast against blooms, and you will find them in bush, tree and even braided forms. Great in a container garden or standing alone, Tropical Hibiscus is a notable presence in the garden.

ROSE OF SHARON

Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus syriacus, is a member of the mallow family and a relative of Tropical Hibiscus. It is also known as Althea or Hardy Hibiscus, just to add a little more confusion. It is not a rose, in fact, the bloom looks nothing at all like a rose. Good grief! This type of Hibiscus is a woody perennial that drops its leaves in winter, but the branches remain. Think of it as a large, blooming, deciduous shrub. Most cultivars grow 6-12 ft. tall, however, you may find dwarf varieties that only reach 3-4 ft. in height. The large single, semi-double or double flowers can be flat or frilly and open from summer to fall when few other shrubs are blooming. Rose of Sharon grows in an upright, vase shape with dark green, toothed foliage. Flowers range from violet, blue, pink, red, lavender, purple or white, with a prominent stamen and often a dark colored eye. Typical growth rate is about 1-2 ft. per year.

PERENNIAL HIBISCUS

pink flower with green leafs in the backgroundwhite flower with red centerhibiscus bush

Perennial Hibiscus, AKA Hardy Hibiscus, characterized by winter hardiness and oversized blooms, is an exciting addition to any sunny garden space. Blooms start as bulging, pointed buds, slowly opening into striking discs of colors in the red to white color spectrum. Most blooms are one solid color with a contrasting dark eye in the center. Some varieties have light blushes on the outer edge. Foliage will be green or in some varieties Perennial Hibiscus has spectacular deep reddish-green to burgundy leaves, making an even bigger impression in the garden. The plants can reach up to 8 feet tall and should be placed in an area that is protected from wind to keep the stalks from breaking. If you have a wet spot in your garden, this is perfect for Perennial Hibiscus. It does not like to dry out. As winter approaches, leaves will drop and some stalks may remain. Leave them until new growth begins to appear from the ground in spring, then cut off the old stalks. This wonderful specimen plant does not disappoint!

red hibiscus flower in grass

One very popular type of Perennial Hibiscus is Scarlet Swamp Hibiscus, Hibiscus coccineus, AKA Texas Star. A southeastern native with large (6-8 inch wide) brilliant red blooms, Texas Star’s petals are more separated than other hibiscus, giving the blossoms a star-shaped appearance. The leaves are deeply separated into narrow, toothed, finger-like lobes. Mature height is 7 ft.

Hibiscus are generally easy to grow with proper watering and sunlight. Feed them like you would any blooming plant with a high phosphorous (middle number) fertilizer. Look out for Japanese Beetles in late May/June and spray with an insecticide. Thankfully, they don’t hang around too long!

In addition to being absolutely gorgeous in the garden, Hibiscus can also be found in syrups and teas. Curious? You’re invited to Wingard’s (newly expanded) Produce Market to check out these products containing Hibiscus:

Roots & Leaves Elderberry Tonic Figment Kombucha – Hibiscus Cherry Lime Flavor
Tea Drops – Hibiscus Glow Flavor

If you’re looking for something with special flair for your garden, Hibiscus, regardless of the type you prefer, will meet the challenge. Providing color and interest throughout the summer, right up until frost, it’s hard to find a better star of the show!

THERE’S ALWAYS SOMETHING BLOOMING AT WINGARD’S!

Creating a Tropical Paradise with Banana and Elephant Ear Plants

tropical paradise patio

By Kathy Torres

If you have a pool, or a home on Lake Murray, or you just want to feel like you’re on vacation, it’s easy to bring the feel of the tropics home with a variety of plant selections.  Fortunately, our climate typically supports growing and maintaining tropical banana plants as perennials. These exotic beauties thrive on sun and humidity, so our summers are perfect!   We don’t have a long enough growing season to produce fruit on banana plants, however, these tall, tree-like plants with delicate, elongated leaves can be enjoyed throughout the warm weather year after year, with a cut-back and mulch when frost arrives.  Elephant Ear plants, sometimes considered annuals in our area, can be used as a focal point in the landscape, a stand-alone plant, or a “thriller” in a container garden plant grouping.  Many colors are available, accented with beautiful veining, offering a dramatic effect.  If you take the container garden route, it’s possible to overwinter by bringing it inside to provide protection from the cold temperatures.  

There are a variety of species and cultivars of banana plants, and most that we have access to belong to the genus Musa.  Banana plants originated in Southeast Asia near present-day Malaysia and Indonesia. Travelers introduced the plant to Africa sometime in prehistoric times and brought it to South America during the mid-1000s.  While we often hear banana plants referred to as trees, they’re actually large, herbaceous plants. Banana leaves emerge from a corm, which is a swollen, underground stem in a tightly-rolled form. The leaves lead to what looks like a trunk, but the structure is actually a pseudostem and if it were to produce actual bananas, the stem would then be cut away.  Each pseudostem that develops will only produce one time.  It’s not really an issue in this area of the country where fruiting is not likely to occur, but it’s interesting to note and supports the cutting back of the stem(s) in winter. It’s normal procedure for the plant.  Some locals have been known to dig up the banana tree each Fall, cut the leaves off, lay the trunk and roots down, “bury” trunk and roots under heavy mulch in a protected area (crawl space of the house works well), and replant it each Spring.  This technique keeps the trunk from freezing and creates the potential for fruit development over time.

Banana plants are very fast-growing and are not particularly vulnerable to pests.  Mature size varies anywhere from 2 ft. (dwarf varieties) to 15 ft.  They like heavy feeding with a high Nitrogen fertilizer and like to stay moist, but not completely saturated with water. 

Elephant ears, also native to Asia, provide dramatic foliage with their enormous, heart-shaped leaves, ranging from 2-6 ft. long on top of 3-7 ft. stems.  Species Alocasia and Colocasia do well in the Midlands with many varieties and colors available. These tuberous plants can be grown as summer annuals however, Colocasia varieties are often perennial in our agricultural zone. In general, morning sun and afternoon shade are preferred, but if the leaves point up full sun can be tolerated.  Elephant ears prefer fertile, loamy soil that is slightly acidic and they don’t like to dry out.  Keep them wet.  If you’re looking for something to plant around the edge of a pond or in a rain garden, Elephant Ears are perfect for the job.  You may need to dig up the tuber and replant in the spring (after danger of frost) if it is not a type that can hold its own in cold weather.  Bring vulnerable Elephant Ear plants in container gardens into the garage or greenhouse in the winter.  Fertilize regularly with a high Nitrogen fertilizer during the growing season.  If you see aphids, whiteflies, or spider mites, spray an all-purpose plant insecticide to eliminate the little buggers.  See info at the end of the blog for pest control options.  Interesting Fact… Elephant ear is grown as a food crop in much of the tropical world and the traditional Polynesian dish, poi, is made from the tubers. It is, of course, cooked.  Note… The calcium oxalate crystals in the leaves are toxic and very irritating to the mouth (if uncooked), so be sure to keep pets and small children away from Elephant Ears in the garden.

The following (*) Banana and Elephant Ear plants are available right now at my favorite Midlands Garden Center – Wingard’s Market.  Others listed will likely be available later in the season, so check back as the inventory increases.

BANANA
*Cavendish, Musa acuminata ‘Dwarf Cavendish’

Cavendish, Musa acuminata ‘Dwarf Cavendish

Mature size 3’ H x 3’ W, will stay smaller in a container, leaves develop maroon/purple coloration that fades.

*Red Abyssinian, Ensete ventricosum

Red Abyssinian, Ensete ventricosum

Mature size 8-10’ H x 6-8’ W, red coloring on the leaves, cold hardy to 25 degrees, not a true banana plant.

Hardy Fiber, Musa basjoo

Hardy Fiber

Mature size 6-15’ H x 6-15’ W, leaf size up to 6’ long x 2’ wide, cold hardy to -10 degrees.

Zebrina Rojo, Musa acuminata zebrina ‘Rojo’

Zebrina Rojo

Mature size 5-6’ H x 5-6’ W, large green leaves splashed with burgundy-red coloring, reddish stem.

Little Prince, Musa hybrid ‘Little Prince’

little prince

 Mature size 2’ H x 2’ W, Compact with green leaves, great in a container garden.

ELEPHANT EAR

*Colocasia Esculenta, AKA Taro

Colocasia Esculenta

Mature size 3-6’ H x 3-6’ W, green leaves, conspicuously-veined.

*Colocasia Esculenta ‘Black Magic’

*Colocasia Esculenta ‘Black Magic’

Mature size 3-6’ H x 3-6’ W, smoky purple leaves about 2’ long.

*Colocasia Esculenta ‘Waikiki

*Colocasia Esculenta ‘Waikiki

Mature size 3’ H x 3’ W, glossy green and white with vivid pink veins on dark stems.

*Alocasia Calidora

Alocasia Calidora

 

Mature size 5-9’ H x 3-5’ W, grows in a vase shape with green, arrow-shaped, ribbed leaves 6’ long x 3’ wide, upward facing leaves indicates sun tolerance.

*Alocasia Odora AKA Night-Scented Lily

*Alocasia Odora AKA Night-Scented Lily

Mature size 4-8’ H x 2-3’ W, brilliant green leaves grow to 2’ long, fragrant at night, sun tolerant

*Alocasia Portora

*Alocasia Portora

Mature size 6-8’ H x 4-6’ W, dramatic green, ribbed leaves, sun tolerant.

When you can’t get to a tropical paradise, just create one in your own back yard.  Bring drama and interest into your landscape or combine smaller versions in containers with summer annuals.  Pay attention to cold weather characteristics of the different varieties you come across and take the necessary action to overwinter them successfully, or simply plant as annuals.  There are SO many tropical plants in addition to these favorites, so come on out to Wingard’s and check them out.  After you’ve planted your tropical accents, relax and play a little Jimmy Buffett music.  Imagine you’re sitting on a beach somewhere on an island in the Carribean and head on over to Margaritaville.

There’s Always Something Blooming at Wingard’s!

 

Here’s the scoop on fighting aphids, whiteflies and spider mites:

  • As a preventive measure, use Fertilome Tree & Shrub Drench in the spring. This is a systemic product that is absorbed through the roots and works its way into the plant foliage.  Pests are eliminated as they feed on the leaves.
  • A contact pesticide is best if you actually see these insects on the plant.  We recommend Bayer 3 N 1, which also contains a fungicide and mitecide.  It’s a good product to have on hand for many plant pest problems. It is not oil based, so it is safe to use when temperatures are hot in the summer.
  • Fertilome Spinosad or Spinosad Soap are our organic products.  The “Soap” version also contains Potassium Salts of Fatty Acids (soap), sort of a one-two punch.  Spinosad kills in one way, soap kills in another.
  • For a REALLY natural solution, we will have live lady bugs all summer.   They love aphids, but will also eat other insects…. according to https://savvygardening.com/5-surprising-facts-garden-friendly-bugs/  they eat aphids, scale, mites, mealybugs, small caterpillars, insect eggs and pupae, whiteflies, mites, and psyllids.  WARNING:  DO NOT USE LADY BUGS TOGETHER WITH INSECTICIDE, AS IT WILL KILL THE LADYBUGS.

Surviving the Cold, Our Poor Plants!

 

Freeze Damaged Distylium

Freeze Damaged Distylium

Freeze Damaged Gardenia

Freeze Damaged Gardenia

By Kathy Torres

The Blizzard of 1973, the worst snow storm in South Carolina history! Nearly two feet of snow accumulated in the Midlands in February over a 3-day period, at the average rate of an inch per hour in the first 24 hours. My family had just moved to South Carolina, our driveway was on a slope and we couldn’t get the car up the hill for a week. We never, in our wildest dreams, thought severe winter weather would impact our lives so dramatically in South Carolina. I can’t think of a better example to use to demonstrate the unpredictable and traumatic effect of severe weather. A winter storm of this nature is certainly not the “norm” for us here in South Carolina, but sometimes… it happens! A more recent example of abnormal weather here is the 6-day cold spell we had last Christmas. Accuweather.com shows the low temperatures between Dec. 23 and 28, 2022 all below freezing, with 4 nights from 12–18 degrees. Casualties of this cold spell were our power bills and our plants.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides a guide for planting by distinguishing zones throughout the country directly related to the average low temperatures. Click HERE for the map. South Carolina is divided into the following zones which include the upstate, midlands, and coast:

Primarily for farmers, this information provides a guide for selecting crops that will grow and thrive in various regions throughout the U.S.  In addition, most ornamental (landscape) plant growers provide a zone recommendation, which can usually be found on the plant tag.  At Wingard’s, our inventory consists of plant specimens zoned for the Midlands (8a), however, we include some plants that will need to be protected in winter, such as citrus and other tropicals.  Keep in mind, the zoning recommendation is provided with the “typical” climate in mind.  Because of the possibility of unpredictable severe weather, there is not a guarantee that all plants zoned appropriately will survive.  How many times over the years have the peach farmers in SC suffered loss of crops because of a late frost or freeze.  If we have our typical seasonal weather, all is good, but Mother Nature can be quite fickle and decide she’s just not yet in the mood for warmer days and nights.

It’s painfully obvious now… many plants that usually do fine in winter here were damaged by the extreme cold we recently experienced, some, even beyond help.  Covering vulnerable plants may have helped, but potentially may not have been enough in these lower than normal temperatures, especially with consecutive days.  Camellia buds may have dropped without opening into full flowers.  Plants such as Palms, especially the Sago, as well as Oleander, Bottle Brush, Farfugium, Acanthus and even Lomandra Breeze ornamental grass are showing signs of damage.  I’ve noticed my Mediterranean Palm and Distylium are looking burned.  These are plants that typically handle our “normal” cold weather without an issue.  I moved my Meyer Lemon to the garage, so it’s ok.  There is nothing to do about plant damage right now.  Do not prune!  Be patient and wait until spring to see if new growth appears.  After the danger of frost has passed (usually April), fertilize and prune away the brown foliage.  If new growth does not appear, cut a branch or two on the plant to determine if the plant is dead.  If the inside of the branch is green, it may just need a little more recovery time.  If the inside is brown, you are out of luck.  Sometimes, only a portion of the plant may have been affected.  Then it’s up to you to determine whether to remove the dead part and see if the plant will regain shape and fullness, or dig it up and start over.

Sometimes plants such as Azaleas, Pittosporum, Hollies, Gardenias, and Mimosa trees won’t reveal winter damage until the heat kicks in about June.  If you see branches beginning to yellow and die out this summer, look closely at the bark on the dying branches.  If you see the bark has split, this is due to the sap freezing.  When the plant tries to function in the summer, it can’t get enough water and nutrients in its stems, so it dies back.  If the affected areas are just some of the limbs, you can cut out the dead material and let the plant recover.  If the primary trunk is affected, the plant may not survive.

At Wingard’s, we guarantee our plants after purchase, as long as proper planting and care are indicated.  We do not, however, guarantee their survival in extreme winter weather.  It’s only February, and we may have more cold weather ahead, so here are a few tips for protecting plants that are vulnerable:

  • Do not cover plants with plastic.
  • Cover with sheets, burlap or frost cloth when below freezing temperature is expected.  
  • Anchor cloth with bricks or rocks to keep it from blowing off.
  • Remove cover when temperature is above freezing.
  • Wrap plant with outdoor low voltage lights, underneath cover (be sure to turn them off and remove cover when temperature rises above freezing).

Spring is a bit far away at this moment in time, and as much as we want to be outside, it’s often more sensible to stay in.  So, in that case, embrace the winter … sit by the fireplace, grab a blanket and a good book, a cup of hot chocolate, and RELAX.  Be mindful of any freeze warnings in the weather forecast and cover plants that need protection, but don’t stress over it.  And let’s all cross our fingers that Mother Nature is in a good mood for spring 2023!

There’s Always Something Blooming at Wingard’s!

Wingard’s Lawn Care Program Blog

BE THE ENVY OF YOUR NEIGHBORS – LAWN CARE MADE SIMPLE!

By Kathy Torres

Happy New Year everyone – here’s to a happy and healthy 2023!  January is a time of year for resolutions and organization, a period to begin anew, in which most of us are inspired to make changes and improvements.  We were too busy in December, but now it’s time to get back to the gym to the exercise class or workout routine. Taking down the Christmas tree and packing away the decorations encouraged us to clean, organize and put things back the way they were.  It’s a time for pondering what is ahead of us in the coming months… tackling a project at work, focusing on a home improvement idea, planning a family vacation, or thinking about your summer garden. This is also the best time of year to get organized and prepared to care for your lawn. You can’t wait until the weather gets warm or you’ll be scrambling to catch up!  Lawn care can be over-whelming and complicated, but not if you follow Wingard’s 4-Step Lawn Care Program.  Wingard’s has taken all the guess work out of the equation by recommending exactly what is needed for your type of Southern grass and providing the timeline for application of products to keep your lawn looking it’s absolute best during both the dormant and growing seasons.

Wingard’s 4-Step Lawn Care Program was established to provide customers with a SIMPLE, easy-to-follow guide to lawn applications, and has proven to be a dependable, cost-effective solution.  A discounted price (25%) is offered if you sign up each year in January and pay for the steps in advance.  It’s your choice to either take all the products with you at the time of purchase, or let us hang on to it for you until it’s time for the application.  Either way, you will receive an e-mail reminder from Wingard’s to remind you when it’s time to apply.   Whether your grass is Centipede, St. Augustine, Bermuda, or Zoysia, our program can help you be the envy of your neighborhood!

You have a homework assignment to complete before you get started.  First of all, you need to know what grass or combination of grasses you have in your landscape.  It all looks green to you?  Bring us a clump and we will try to identify the variety. If we’re stumped, we will refer you to Clemson Extension.  Next, measure the square footage of your lawn.  A rough estimate is sufficient.  In addition, consider having your soil tested, front and back.  It’s not absolutely necessary, but will give you the best results.  Stop by one of Wingard’s checkout stations to pick up the soil sample bag(s) and form you need to provide for Clemson Extension to test for you.  We can also assist you with filling out the form, but you will need to mail the sample to Clemson University or deliver it to the Clemson Extension office in Lexington.

Another important prep is to make sure you have the best type of spreader and that you understand the settings.  We highly recommend the broadcast (disperses in a circular motion) versus the drop spreader.  Broadcast spreaders provide a more even application, reduce your passes by more than half, and you won’t end up with stripes. Here are a few more spreader specifics: 

  • When spreading fertilizer, put the setting a notch or two above half.  For example, if there are 20 notches on the spreader, 11-12 would be the setting.  You don’t have to cover every square inch of turf to get good results, so if you think that’s too much, drop to a notch below half.  With hand-held spreaders, if there are 5 or few settings open it all the way.  If a hand-held spreader has 10 or more settings, put the setting a notch or two above half.
  • For pre-emergent herbicides, put the setting on, or a notch above, one quarter.  (If there are 20 notches, 5-6 would be the setting.)  On hand-held spreaders, if there are 5 or fewer settings lower the setting to 3, or even 2.  If a hand-held spreader has 10 or more settings, put the setting on, or a notch above, one quarter.  If your gut tells you the dosage is not enough – you don’t think it’s covering the zone that needs to be covered – then up it a notch or two.

Don’t overthink the math on this. You can be off by a notch or two without fear of over doing it.  Lastly…always wash your spreader after every use to prevent corrosion.

The 4 STEP PLAN:  Each step in Wingard’s Lawn Care Program is designed for the season or time of year and the needs of each type of grass. In addition to the recommended products for weed control, fertilizer, and nutrients, the plan includes the appropriate pH, mowing height, and water needed for each type of grass.  There is no “one size fits all” for lawns, however, when a combination of grasses exists, the best solution is typically the care plan for Centipede grass.  All of the information on the Lawn Care Plan is available on the Wingard’s Market website.  (CLICK HERE).

Just to give you some basics, let’s talk a little about each step:

Step 1:  Application of pre-emergent weed control is recommended for February to March, usually when the Forsythia begins to bloom, or when temperatures remain above 65 degrees for 4 consecutive days.  Fertilizer is NOT applied this early!  The same product is used for all grass types on this application.

Step 2:  In April or May, after you have mowed your lawn two times (mowing early-sprouting weeds does not count), it is time for weed & feed. This is applied when grass is fully out of dormancy and ready to absorb and use the fertilizer.  The “weed” component will prevent germination of new weeds, but you may need contact weed control for spot treatment of pesky weeds.  More about that ahead.  This is also time to apply product to prevent this particularly pesky weed… Chamberbitter (CLICK HERE) that shows up in August.  

Step 3:  The grass is really looking good in June and July because the main ingredient, warm weather, has arrived.  The goal now is to give the lawn the nutrients it needs to stay green and healthy.  St. Augustine needs an application in June, however, Centipede, Zoysia and Bermuda will wait until July.  St. Augustine and Bermuda need iron, which is included in the product for this application.  Because of the ideal growing conditions for the grass, the weeds also are on board, so a bit of contact weed control may also be necessary.  It is nearly impossible have a completely weed free lawn, but you’ll get as close as you can with this lawn care program.  

Step 4:  September to October is time to prepare for overwintering the lawn.  Another application of pre-emergent weed control is recommended because of the mild temperatures and the ability of some weeds to germinate in cooler weather.  For St. Augustine and Bermuda, potash is applied to provide nourishment needed in winter.  Step 4 (a) is an optional application of pre-emergent weed control applied in November/December for lawns with Poa Annua (Annual Bluegrass) issues. (CLICK HERE for more info on Poa Annua).

Contact weed control (spot treating for weeds) can be tricky, so it is VERY IMPORTANT to read the label on any product you use.  Staff at Wingard’s can provide assistance in identifying a particular specimen, as well as directing you to the appropriate product for your type of grass.  There is no “one size fits all” here either!  

There are basically 2 kinds of weeds…broadleaf and grassy (the name pretty much describes the beast), and the weed killing products are for either broadleaf weeds or grassy weeds. When spot treating the lawn with products to destroy persistent weeds, you must identify whether broadleaf or grassy first, then find a herbicide that is safe for your type of lawn AND works on that particular type weed.  Broadleaf weeds are easier.  For most of them, use Fertilome Weed Free Zone, which is safe for all southern grasses. Grassy weeds are more complicated. For Centipede or St. Augustine, use Atrazine, and for Zoysia or Bermuda, use Weed Out w/Crabgrass Killer.  The label will indicate which weeds are controlled.  There are some very determined specimens like nutsedge that need a more specific product like Weed-Out with Nutsedge Control.  When in doubt, ask one of Wingard’s knowledgeable staff. 

Now, if all that weed talk makes you scratch your head, don’t panic.  It’s just an example of the complexities of lawn care.  From nutrition to fertilizer to weed control, there is a lot to know.  Educating yourself is key to success in just about everything, so don’t be discouraged, just push up your sleeves and meet the challenge.  OF COURSE…if you want to make lawn care just a little easier, rely on Wingard’s 4-Step Lawn Care Plan to give you an outline to follow.  We still want you to learn, but we will lead you through the process!

Take some time to review the plan at https://wingardsmarket.com/do-it-yourself-lawn-maintenance/ then give us a call or come in and sign up for the pre-pay option in January.  You’ll save a few dollars AND be reminded of the exact time to make appropriation applications for your lawn.  That means less doing and thinking for you and more time for those other New Year’s resolutions and projects!

There’s Always Something Blooming at Wingard’s!

THE CLASSIC CAMELLIA

Camellia sasanqua ‘Shishigashira’ (Kathy’s)

Camellia sasanqua ‘Shishigashira’ (Kathy’s)

THE CLASSIC CAMELLIA

By Kathy Torres

Cherished in southern gardens, the Camellia has no actual “native” significance here. In fact, its journey began in the ancient temple gardens of the Orient. Before the westernization of Japan, Camellia, known as “Tsubaki” or “tree with shining leaves” was believed to provide a home for the gods in spirit form when on an earthly visit. Plantings of Tsubaki were an essential feature of temple gardens, graveyards, and other areas associated with religious life in the community. Camellia is the symbol of love in Eastern culture. The reason is due to the inseparable parts of the flower, which represents everlasting love. In Korea, camellia has been a part of traditional wedding ceremonies since 1200 BC because it symbolizes happiness, longevity, and faithfulness. We may find OUR historical connection to the Camellia through the most economically important species, Camellia sinensis, the common tea plant. The East India Company brought tea from China to Europe where it became very popular in London in the 1700’s. I think you’ll remember the next part of this story. Tea becomes universally popular, the government decides to tax it, leading to the Boston Tea Party, and the American Revolution. So…while one of our favorite southern plants is not native, it is “rooted” in our history!

The Camellia was named by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), in honor of a Jesuit missionary, pharmacist and naturalist in the Phillipines, Joseph Kamel. Linnaeus is known for developing the binomial system of nomenclature used to classify plants (the idea that all organisms should be described by only two Latin words: one denoting its genus, and another its species). The Camellia genus now includes over 260 species and over 30,000 ornamental varieties according to the International Camellia Society. Thanks to the beauty of their flowers, ornamental camellias have spread from Asia to the whole world.

Camellias flourish in the southeastern United States, where winter temperatures are typically mild. Some new varieties may be cold hardy, but often the blooms will be smaller, especially if temperatures drop quickly below 28 degrees. Lucky for us in South Carolina, the climate is perfect! If you’re on the lake, however, it’s a good idea to plant in an area that has some protection from the wind, and in any landscape, be mindful of too much afternoon sun exposure.

The two species most prevalent in our area of the country are Camellia japonica and Camellia sasanqua. Both are evergreen, have glossy leaves and grow fairly slow (sasanquas, a bit faster than japonicas). The descriptions below note the differences.

  • Camellia japonica varieties typically reach 6-12 ft. tall; the leaves are large, 3-4 inches long; they prefer more shade (however, in dense shade, blooming may be hampered; morning sun, afternoon shade, or filtered sun is best); and they bloom December to March.
  • Camellia sasanqua varieties are usually smaller in size, some only 3-4 ft. tall at maturity, but some may reach 10 ft. The leaves are smaller, 2-3 inches; they can handle more sun; and they bloom in the fall.

Other species exist like Camellia vernalis, a hybrid between japonica and sasanqua, but very few are known. Camellia reticulata were brought over from southern China in the 1940’s and have the largest of all camellia flowers. Mentioned earlier, Camellia sinensis is the common tea plant. It grows well, but the blooms are not significant as an ornamental. Camellia oleifera, was used for its oil in China and Japan and is used in the US as a parent in hybrid varieties. Camellia chrysantha or nitidissima has been used successfully in hybridizing yellow camellias, however, it is not cold hardy. There are many Camellia hybrids that combine features resulting in more colors, bloom types, fragrances, and hardiness. Selecting a Camellia is one of the most difficult plant choices to make because there are SO MANY in beautiful shades of red, pink, yellow and white. The American Camellia Society has established official classifications of the flower forms for Camellias. A variety of flower forms is just another attractive feature of this shrub.

Class I, SINGLE, One row of not over eight regular, irregular, or loose petals and conspicuous stamens

Afternoon Delight

Afternoon Delight

Afternoon Delight

Class II, SEMI-DOUBLE, Two or more rows of regular, irregular, or loose petals and conspicuous stamens

Greensboro Red

Greensboro Red

Greensboro Red

Class III, ANEMONE, One or more rows of large outer petals lying flat or undulating; the center a convex mass of intermingled petaloids and stamens

Victory White

Victory White

Victory White

Class IV, PEONY, A deep rounded flower of either a Loose Peony Form consisting of loose petals, which may be irregular, and intermingled stamens, and sometimes intermingled petals, petaloids, and stamens in the center (Betty Sheffield) or a Full Peony Form consisting of a convex mass of mixed irregular petals, petaloids, and stamens or irregular petals and petaloids never showing stamens (Debutante).

Betty Sheffield

Betty Sheffield

Betty Sheffield

Debutante

Debutante

Debutante

Class V, ROSE FORM DOUBLE, Imbricated (layered like scales) petals, showing stamens in a concave center when fully opened

Hiryu

Hiryu

Hiryu

Class VI, FORMAL DOUBLE, Fully imbricated, many rows of petals, never showing stamens.

Guest Star

Guest Star

Guest Star

Fall is the best time for planting Camellias, and Wingard’s is stocked up right now with a large selection for you. All of the varieties shown above are available and many more! Make sure you add soil amendment if you have clay or sandy soil. Mulch and water weekly after planting if we don’t get a good rain. Don’t fertilize until next spring. Not much pruning is needed with Camellias, except for occasional shaping – do this after blooming. Keep an eye on foliage in the summertime. Humidity and overhead watering can cause fungus. Try to stay on top of it and spray as needed before buds begin to form.

Camellias bloom about the time we are removing our summer annuals and feeling the loss of all that rich, bright color in the yard. As we face the bleakness of winter, it’s so nice to bring in lovely Camellia blooms and float them in a shallow vase, or just enjoy them as they appear on the shrubbery. They also make a wonderful Christmas gift for a friend, especially a new homeowner. With their rich history and distinct characteristics, Camellias add so much beauty and elegance to the landscape. Even though its native homeland is far, far away, it remains a classic in the southern garden.

Here’s a little something extra that I found in my research…

The University of South Carolina has one of the major collections in the United States of rare, illustrated books about the camellia, it’s history, cultivation, and early varieties. The collection was formed by Mrs. Sheffield Phelps (Claudia Lea) of Aiken. Mrs. Phelps was the first president of the Garden Club of South Carolina (1930-33), and her daughter Miss Claudia Lea Phelps succeeded her as the Club’s third president (1936-38). The exhibition tells the story of how camellias were brought to America, how they were identified and named, and how the major varieties were developed by 19th-century specialist growers. It includes some of the very earliest published depictions of the camellia, from as far back as 1702, as well as gorgeous hand-colored copperplate engravings from the heyday of camellia books in the early and mid-19th century.

How cool is that?

There’s Always Something Blooming at Wingard’s!