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Acer's Florist & Garden Center
Edition 15.51 Acer's Florist & Garden Center December 18, 2015

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Beautiful poinsettias, Christmas cactuses, Amaryllis, paperwhites and cyclamen available now!


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Send a delicious custom gourmet basket this holiday!

Call or stop in to place your firewood delivery now; half cords and full cords available.

Long Island's largest selection of chimineas!
Keep the chill of autumn at bay while your family and friends are over to play!

Gardens for Kids

Now is a good time to start planning your spring and summer gardens. Try planning a garden that will get kids involved!

Not all plants are created equal in the eyes of children. Although they don't differentiate when it comes to flowers and vegetables or annuals and perennials, kids have their hands-down favorites. They prefer huge flowers like marigolds, petunias, and sunflowers and small vegetables like cherry tomatoes, dwarf carrots, and radishes.

They love unique color shades, too, so make sure to include flowers with multi-colorings such as pansy, snapdragon and striped impatiens, and vegetables such as purple carrots, and 'Easter Egg' radishes, along with striped beets and tomatoes.

Textured plants are irresistible. If your conditions are right for them, include the fuzzy woolly thyme and lamb's ears, the prickly coneflower and strawflowers (for sunny locations) and donkey tail fern, maidenhair fern and columbine (for shadier spots).

Fragrant plants transport the imagination. If you grow them now, your child will always remember the scents of gardenia, heliotrope, roses, peonies, and lilacs. If you show them which plants to rub between their fingers, they'll never forget lavender, chocolate and pineapple mint, lemon balm, rosemary, basil, and scented geraniums.

Butterflies fascinate children, and there are many colorful plants that that will attract them. Consider including butterfly bush, lantana, monarda, salvia, sweet peas, and veronica--but don't overlook carrots, dill, fennel, and parsley to round out their diet.

Positively pickable plants also get the thumbs-up from kids. While mom's landscape may be off-limits for bouquet gathering, children should have free rein over certain cutting gardens. Cosmos, snapdragon, salvia, zinnia, coleus, and celosia are just a few that will produce more blooms if frequently picked.

Don't overlook spring- and summer-flowering bulbs that hold the promise and surprise of things to come. Use the same rules as above when selecting colors and varieties.

Gardening can truly be a fun experience for children. So start planning their garden today. You'll be getting started on creating memories that will last a lifetime.

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The ABC's of Plant Fertilizer

Ever look at a bag of plant fertilizer and feel like you were reading a foreign language? What does it all mean? What do those three numbers (different on every bag, it seems) really mean? What is NPK? With a short explanation, we feel certain that you will be armed and dangerous for your next foray to the garden center.

If you look at a bag of plant fertilizer, whether indoor or outdoor, you will always see three numbers (i.e. 8-8-4). These numbers represent the macronutrients (substances that all plants need for healthy growth) that will be supplied by the fertilizer.

The first number (8-8-4) is nitrogen (N). Nitrogen is necessary for leaf growth and health and is the nutrient most often lacking in garden soils.

The second number (8-8-4) is phosphorus (P), which is needed for fruiting and flowering and strong root growth.

The third number (8-8-4) is potassium (K). The plant uses this nutrient for stem and root development. It also helps plants resist diseases and better tolerate heat and cold.

There are other ingredients in most fertilizers as well; these are called secondary nutrients. Most often you will see calcium (for cell formation and growth), magnesium (aids in formation of chlorophyll molecules) and sulfur (works with nitrogen to make protoplasm for plant cells) listed on the container. Many soils have sufficient amounts of these secondary nutrients in them.

The third group of nutrients that are in most fertilizers is called micronutrients or trace elements. These should be given to plants in very small quantities; giving plants too much of these micronutrients can easily harm the plant. Some of the micronutrients often seen on a fertilizer bag are zinc, manganese and iron. Zinc and manganese help other nutrients perform well and iron is for chlorophyll formation.

When choosing a fertilizer, choose the right food for the particular plant you are feeding. For instance, if you are feeding a blooming plant, such as a rose, you will want a fertilizer that is higher in the middle number, because that is the nutrient that encourages flowering. If you are fertilizing a lawn, you want to encourage leaf growth, so the first number should be highest. All plants need to have strong stems and roots, so they all will need potassium. Most fertilizers are labeled for the plants you should feed with them "

Remember, more is not better--you can burn a plant by over-feeding (especially with nitrogen). Plants, just like people, occasionally need supplements to grow well. Fertilize your plants when needed with the correct fertilizer and they will reward you with growth, blooms and fruit--and they'll be better able to ward off insects and diseases.

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Garden Primer
How can I get my poinsettias to re-bloom next year?

  • Fertilize your plant every two weeks after the blooming season with a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer. Continue through August.
  • By March or early April, when the colored bracts begin to turn or fall, cut the plant back, leaving 4 to 6 buds.
  • Re-pot into a slightly larger container (2-3 inches larger in diameter).
  • Keep the plant indoors near (not directly in) a sunny window or outdoors in a morning sun-afternoon shade location. Water and fertilize regularly, and by the end of May you should see vigorous new growth.
  • Make sure to turn the plant so that the new growth grows evenly on all sides.
  • If you have been growing them outdoors in the summer, when fall comes bring your poinsettia indoors to a sunny location before night temperatures fall below 55-60°F at night. Check for pests and diseases and place the poinsettia in a south window.
  • Poinsettias begin to set buds and produce flowers as the nights become longer.
  • Beginning October 1, keep your plants in complete darkness for 14 continuous hours each night by moving it into a dark room or placing a large box over it.
  • During the day, allow 6-8 hours of bright sunlight. Flowers should mature in 60-85 days.
  • Continue this for 8-10 weeks, and your poinsettias should develop a colorful display of holiday blooms!

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