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Acer's Florist & Garden Center
Edition 15.28 Acer's Florist & Garden Center July 2015


Quotation of the Week:
"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time."
— John Lubbock

 Acer's Carries a Huge Variety of All the Newest Hydrangeas 
We carry a large selection of
Locally Grown Long Island Perennials
vegetable blow-out

Now that it's July, it's time to do some maintenance in your garden. Taking a little time now to do some upkeep and fertilizing will help to make sure your garden looks great through the summer and produces a good crop of veggies this fall.

Many customers have been asking why their tomato , peppers and cucumbers plants have been growing so slowly this year. Tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers are plants that like warm weather. They thrive in the hot weather of June, July and August. This June has been unseasonably cool. Without the warm weather, the plants will not grow vigorously.

You should keep in mind that you need to keep up with fertilizing your plants. If the plants don't have enough available fertilizer, they are not going to grow. Keeping nutrients available to the plants will ensure that when the heat of summer arrives, your plants will be ready to be fruitful.

If you haven't fertilized your lawn in 8 weeks or more, now is the time to give your lawn an application of fertilizer. At this time of the year, you should be applying an organic lawn fertilizer. Organic fertilizers are slower to release all of their nutrients. During the summer, you do want to maintain your lawn's growth. If you think about the early spring fertilizers, they tend to push out lots of new growth. The new growth needs a lot of water to keep it going. In the last few weeks, we have been lucky to receive a decent amount of rain. If summer weather prevails, we may not get enough rain to support a lot of new growth on our lawns. At this point in time, let's just keep the lawn happy.

Many of you have blue hydrangeas in your yard. In some cases, the blue color isn't really blue at all but rather more pink. You can make the blue hydrangeas a more intense shade of blue by adding aluminum sulfate to the soil. The aluminum sulfate is dissolved in water and the plants are watered with the solution. You can do this every 2 weeks until you get the desired shade of blue.

The rainy weather we have had in June will mean that slugs are happy, plentiful creatures. We have had many people bring in leaf samples that show the distinctive damage caused by slugs. Slugs have a mouth that cuts a smooth edged hole in the leaves. If slugs are a problem in your yard, insecticides will not kill them, because they are not insects, but more closely related to clams. We carry an organic product called Sluggo. It is safe to use around pets but it very quickly controls the slug population.

The warmer weather of summer will mean that some of the early vegetables that you planted in your vegetable garden will be going past their prime. If you pull up these plants, don't leave any empty space in your garden. There is still time to plant vegetables in your garden. Green or yellow beans will still produce a decent crop if planted now. If your lettuce is going to seed, pull up the plants and put in some Swiss chard. There are lots of other things that you can still start from seed in your garden. If you have some open space in your garden, stop by the store and we can show you what can work in your garden.

Invasive Plants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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