Archives for January 2017

Ground Covers Add A Polished Look To Your Landscape

Do you have the feeling that your yard is missing something? You’ve got all the beautiful shrubs, colorful annuals; but the beds are lacking that “full” look? You may be missing out on the wonderful world of groundcover! Groundcovers can turn your flower beds into a luscious garden. Here at the Family Tree, we have a variety of groundcovers that are guaranteed to fit your liking and your lawn. If you’ve never used groundcover before, or are simply looking for some more information on caring for them, here are some tips for planting your groundcover.

Liriope
Also known as lilyturf or Monkey Grass, this perennial is a member for the lily family. The two main varieties are Big Blue (solid green leaves) and Variegated (green with white edges). It forms in clumps and can grow between 10-18 inches tall. During the summer, Liriope produces purple or white blooms. One of the best characteristics of Liriope is how easy to care for it is. It prefers to be partially shaded, but can grow in full sunlight during the cooler seasons. Establishment is key for Liriope, and fertile soil is needed for strong roots. The Family Tree recommends a wonderful root stimulator called Bio-Tone that will guarantee a great beginning for this ground cover in your lawn. Use a small scoop of Bio-Tone in each hole, spacing the plants about 12 inches apart. They will fill-in in just a few years, providing a full “tall grassslike” look. Once your Liriope is established, the only care needed is to mow it the first of March to about 3-4 inches tall. Fertilize once a year in March.

Mondo
Mondo Grass and Dwarf Mondo Grass are an excellent alternative for shady areas where grass won’t grow. It will form a beautiful carpet and look grass-like. Once established, you can pretty much forget it. Mondo prefers shade but it will be fine with morning or evening sun. Plant about 10 inches apart, using Bio-Tone root stimulator in each hole to guarantee strong, spreading roots.

Asiatic Jasmine
Growing in thick mats up to around 10 inches high, Asiatic Jasmine or Asian Jasmine is perfect for the steeper sections of your lawn. This vining evergreen will eventually spread between 2 and 3 feet and produce tiny pink, white, or yellow flowers. Asiatic Jasmine is often planted under trees as it does well in partial shade, but can take some morning or evening sun. Spacing for this groundcover is a little wider than others; around 1 ½ feet. While it may look a bit too spacey, it will usually only take two growing seasons to fill up the empty space. You can speed this process up a bit more but using Bio-Tone root stimulator to quickly get the roots established and begin the spreading.

Pachysandra
This bushy groundcover is another great plant to place under trees to give your garden a fuller look. Pachysandra also produces a fragrant white flower in the spring, adding to its appeal. Recommended spacing for this groundcover is between 6 and 12 inches. Pachysandra likes healthy soil to get its roots established, so a small scoop of Bio-Tone in each hole will surely do the trick. This groundcovers leaves can be easily sunburnt, so be sure to plant in a shady location.

Hellebores
This is not your average groundcover! Helleborus have beautiful bell shaped flowers that bloom from January to May. Old fashion Heleborus spread easily and have flowers that hang down under the leaves. New varieties are sterile so they do not spread, and have flowers that bloom above the leaves. They are deer resistant, making them a great groundcover to use in large areas under trees or along the edges of flower beds. While they are known for growing a bit slower than other groundcovers, a good stimulator can speed up the growing process when you plant. Space the plants about 10 inches apart, throw a bit of Bio-Tone in each hole, and your Hellebores groundcover will thrive in thick clumps.

Vinca Minor
Also known as Myrtle and Perennial Periwinkle, this groundcover grows best in shady to partially sunny areas. Vinca Minor is a creeping groundcover, forming a dense mat of a beautiful dark green once established. The variegated variety has green leaves with white outline. Recommended spacing for this groundcover is between 6 and 8 inches, allowing space to ground both out and up; Vinca Minor will reach up to 6 inches in height once it is fully mature.

One last good rule of thumb for most groundcovers is to keep the weeds out. Periodically clean out any weeds that may grow between your groundcovers in order to eliminate competition and allow your groundcover to grow faster and healthier.

For more information and expert advice, visit The Family Tree Garden Center!

By Lindsey Meade

15 Ways To Use Pansies

Pansies and Violas set the stage for a fresh bright spring season. Planting these perky winter/early spring favorites bring seas of color to your gardens and containers from fall to spring. With so many colors to choose, here are some easy ways to incorporate fresh color now before warm season annuals come available.

  1. Set the table Use the purple and yellow blooming pansies in green, glazed pots to create a living centerpiece on your patio table.  Or, simply plant one pansy in a tea cup for a simple elegant look.  
  2. Classic Containers Yellow faced pansies combined with solid yellows come together in an impressive arrangement that bring a classic look to any container.
  3. Stack for Texture Gather two galvanized buckets. Plant the smaller one with pansies and parsley. Tuck more pansies and Creeping Jenny or Ivy around the edges of the larger one, and stack.
  4. Window Charm Winter days have you feeling gloomy? Bring happiness inside with just a few snips. Plant fragrant pansies, snip some flowers and place in a jar on your windowsill.
  5. Thrillers, Fillers, Spillers A cone-shaped, evergreen arborvitae works perfectly as an attention-grabbing thriller. To brighten up the look of your container, fill up the pot with multi-colored pansies and have variegated English ivy spill over the sides for a dramatic visual.
  6. Classic Green & White Pair variegated American boxwood (‘Elegantissima’) with white pansies for a classic look. Variegated English ivy also serves as green and white accents.
  7. Herb Pairings Pair yellow and purple violas with a cool-season herb such as curly-leaved parsley for an easy-to-care-for display. Snip pansy flowers and herbs to brighten up your kitchen.
  8. Strawberry Jar Makeover Cool Wave pansies dress up a strawberry jar. Pair with yellow, white, and purple pansies and set jars on your porch or patio for waves of color.
  9. Balls of Blooms Create orbs of color with violas that love to bloom. Use sphagnum baskets and Cool Wave Pansies along the sides, then top the container with more pansies. Hang in a sunny location for more optimum splendor.
  10. Tuck In Color To dress up your entryway, tuck in a few pots along the steps and walkways with a simple color scheme to add whimsy and pop.
  11. Window Box Color When filling a show-stopping window box, don’t hesitate to use small evergreen shrubs or perennials, which last throughout the seasons. Euphorbia, Cyclamen also look striking in window boxes.
  12. Fairy Garden Fun Give your outdoor fairies something fun! Fairies love to play hide and seek in flower beds. Pansies are perfect for when warm season flowers are not available.
  13. Glowing Beds Bright yellow and stark white pansies add rich color that will make your pots and flowerbeds glow.
  14. Front Door Spectacular Spreading Cool Wave pansies provide color through fall, winter, and spring. You can add to the show in early spring by slipping in pots of forced tulips and some chartreuse foliage, like tiger ferns and heucheras.
  15. Perfectly Placed Pots A perfectly-placed container makes a big impact in your garden and yard. Try placing 3 sizes of containers for even more drama. Mix pansies with small evergreens, Creeping Jenny or Ivy, and Euphorbia.

One great tip for planting pansies, annuals, trees, shrubs, and perennials is to always use Espoma Bio Tone Starter Plus in your soil mix. We at The Family Tree are huge believers in this product for getting ALL your plants started on the right root!

January Garden Therapy

Your Yard Is Calling!

January has arrived and it brings with it a new year and the anticipation of spring gardens in a few short cardinalmonths! Here are some tips and suggestions for you to get your gardening off to a great start.

Feed the birds

January is bird month! Although there isn’t much snow in Georgia to prevent their finding food, birds will still appreciate it if you decide to put out birdseed to help them through the leaner winter months. The bonus is that they’ll get into the habit of hanging around your yard and stick around all year feasting on pesky insects and grub.

Protect Your Plants

With the unusual weather that Georgia can have, some plants may get confused and think that spring is right around the corner and begin to sprout. Because the warm weather is sure to be followed by more normal winter temperatures, you’ll need to protect those tender sprouts from frost with a thick layer of compost or mulch. If the temps drop below 25 degrees, consider frost cloth for your tender flowering shrubs.  (Never cover your plants with plastic.  It reduces air circulation and could cause damage.) Also, this sounds weird, but go ahead and water your plants thoroughly before a frost.  The water will, at worst, freeze around the roots keeping them at a constant temperature.

Prepping Soil

If the ground is workable, (in other words, isn’t frozen solid or too damp), now is a great time to turn over the soil in your garden plot. Exposure to the elements help to break down hard clumps of dirt, saving you valuable time when spring rolls around. In addition, turning over the soil reveals a multitude of insect eggs and other goodies for hungry birds!

Planting

Yes, you can plant trees and shrubs this time of year.  As long as they are container plants (not B&B) and the ground is not frozen.  Planting now has great benefits!  The roots have time to get established before the spring and summer, and we get lots of rain this time of year so you will water less.  Remember to mulch them well and cover them if it does get super cold.

For monthly gardening chores click here

We welcome you to come visit our team at The Family Tree! If you need information, direction or help please contact our office by calling 770-972-2470. Make sure to follow-us on Facebook , TwitterGoogle+!

Did You Know It’s Time To Put Up Bluebird Houses?

Bluebird season in Georgia is right around the corner! Attracting bluebirds to your garden during the spring can make for excellent relaxation and sight-seeing. Now is the time to get your bluebird houses set up (or cleaned out from last season). In order to get these blue beauties to hang around your lawn once Spring rolls around, here are a few important tips and tricks to keep mind.

Put the bird boxes up by March 1 so they will be ready when the birds arrive to search for a place to set up house. Place bluebird houses 5’ to 8’ above the ground attached to a tree or fencepost. They prefer open areas with low groundcover or well-trimmed grass in order for them to easily hunt insects.

  • Bluebirds love meal worms, and probably love acquiring them easily even more! Offering them a place to feed on meal worms is an excellent trick to bring them to your garden space.

Georgia is home to some great native plants that will attract Bluebirds during colder weather. Since bluebirds rarely eat bird seed, add berries and fruits to your yard that will likely attract them. Elaeagnus, Cotoneaster, Serviceberry, Beautyberry, Ivy, Hollies, Pyracantha are great for early spring feeding.

  • Predators such as House Sparrows, snakes, mice and others need to be considered when placing your bluebird house. These predators will reek havoc on your bluebirds!  Predator guards on poles or at entrance holes are strongly recommended. Click here for more information of why your bluebirds have left the house. http://www.sialis.org/predatorid.htm 
  • Bird baths are a great addition to any lawn, as they attract many kinds of birds. Bluebirds included! However, bluebirds favor moving water. Adding a moving water feature such a small fountain can do wonders for enticing bluebirds.
  • The last important tip to remember is about maintenance of your bluebird house. Bluebirds are not typically known to clean out old nests, moving on from “occupied” nesting areas. The best time to clean out the nest if from October to December (Just make sure it is not in use!). Periodically clean the old nesting material out of your bluebird box to assure the bluebird vacancy.

 

  • Stop by The Family Tree Garden Center for all your birding needs. We carry Coles, Audubon, Friends Of Flight, Droll Yankee, and handmade feeders, houses, and feed.

Would You Like To Sleep Better? And Breath In Your Home Better? 6 Plants For Your Bedroom

The air quality inside your home may not cross your mind as much as the air quality outside, but it is undoubtedly just as important. Poor air quality in your home can cause headaches, sore throat, and other common but annoying irritations.

Fortunately, scientists at NASA have conducted research and experiments on these issues. One of the most promising solutions found were the cleansing and purifying properties in houseplants!

No matter how ventilated your home or apartment may seem, pollutants from outside like car exhaust can still make their way inside and become trapped. These pollutants along with the chemical release of cleaning products combine and linger in your air. A simple and affordable way to combat these pollutants is adding some houseplants into your living space!

  • Plants cleanse the air by simply doing what they are designed to do; create oxygen. Through photosynthesis, plants draw in the dirty carbon dioxide in the air and releases oxygen. This process helps get rid of the three main indoor pollutants: formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene. The research done by NASA helped reveal six specific houseplants that help remove up to 90% of these toxins, making your air cleaner and healthier to breath.
  • Peace Lily plants are one of the most common houseplants on NASA’s list, and one of the most beautiful. Their big white blooms accent their dark green leaves, making them a great design component in your home. Peace Lily plants effectively remove all three of the main indoor pollutants, and they also remove ammonia from the air as well.
  • Snake Plants or “Mother-In-Law’s Tongue” is known for being one of the easiest houseplants to maintain. This is due to their preference for drier conditions and low light. Snake Plants effectively remove all three main pollutants from the air, as well as another toxin called xylene. Put a Snake Plant in your bedroom! By improving indoor air quality and emitting oxygen at night, the Snake Plant can help you sleep!
  • Aloe Vera is a very famous plant because of its wide variety of uses. The clear liquid inside the leaves have been proven to be great for basic medicinal uses, such as an anti-inflammatory or as an antibiotic. In the NASA studies, Aloe Vera was shown to also be effective at removing formaldehyde from their air. Caring for an Aloe Vera plant calls for allowing about the top inch or two of the soil to dry out in-between watering. Aloe is great in your bedroom due to its air cleaning and oxygen emitting abilities.
  • Ficus Trees are rapidly making their way into popularity within recent years because they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, making them a great design focal point. Like the others, Ficus trees remove all three of the main toxins. Keep your Ficus in bright, indirect light and let the soil dry out in between watering. This plant is perfect for your sunroom or bright kitchen.
  • Golden Pothos has beautiful marbled, heart-shaped leaves and is super easy to care for. Place a Pothos in your bedroom, bathroom, or family room to purify the air to aid with sleep and well-being. Pothos thrive in low light and once a week watering. This ivy-like plant makes a beautiful hanging basket and you can easily clip the vines to keep it manicured.
  • Dracaena plants come in as many as 40 different varieties, making them popular for both home and office due to their versatility. Like Snake Plants, Dracaena plants also remove all three toxins as well as xylene from your air.

To naturally clean your air, help with sleep, and offer an overall feeling of well-being, NASA recommend between 15 and 18 air-purifying plants in an 1800 square foot home, with a few of these in each bedroom.

 

For more information, please ask one of our knowledgeable staff members at The Family Tree Garden Center.
Blog by Lindsey Meade

Money Tree Prosperity

Have you ever heard the story of how the Money Tree got its name? It started with a man whose prayers for money were answered by obtaining this unique plant.  When he took the plant home, he discovered he could grow several more from the seeds and new stems. He soon became rich from selling the seedlings.  It is from this story that the plant was given its nickname: the “Money Tree.” The plant (and the story) originated in Japan. The Money Tree consists of several trunks braided together with green leaves sprouting from the top.

  • Braided Money Trees are often given as a gift because they have the reputation of bringing good luck and prosperity.  Generally, the more leaves the Money Tree has, the better!  While it is common to find money trees with five leaves on each stem, it is quite rare to find one with six to seven leaves. Like a four-leaf clover, a Money Tree with a seven-leaf stem is considered to bring incredibly good fortune to its owner.
  • Feng shui practitioners believe that the braided Money Tree creates positive energy for any room that it is placed in.  Following this belief, your Money Tree should be placed in the “financial” part of your home or office. (Make sure it is bright in that area) Each new leaf of the tree will then bring added financial blessing and success.  This plant is easy to grow and will thrive easily in your home or office.
  • The jade green leaves of the Money Tree grow in a pattern often compared with the human hand.  These five leaves are said to symbolize the five elements of balance in creation: metal, wood, water, fire and earth.  Each stem of the “braid” is a unique plant.
  • Money Trees are easy to care for. Simply water thoroughly then let the soil dry. You can tell if you are watering too much if the leaves become droopy and yellow. If the leaves are wrinkled or curled, you are watering too little. The main problem that we see with Money Trees is from overwatering.
  • Place your Money Tree in an area with bright indirect light. In areas with less bright light, your tree’s leaves may grow smaller, but they will adapt if needed. Avoid direct sunlight. In warm weather, your Money Tree may enjoy a little outside time in the shade. Bring your plant inside if the weather drops below 50 degrees.
  • Concerning fertilization, this tree does not need to be fussed over. Fertilize once in the spring and once in the fall with a quality time released fertilizer. Insects don’t seem to bother the Money Tree but if you happen to see whitefly or aphids, spray the leaves with Insecticidal Soap and wipe clean.
  • Propagation is best had from cuttings/side shoots and seeds. Often you will notice new shoots coming out of the trunks. You can simply place these shoots in moist, not wet, soil with Root Starter and they will grow well.

 

  • Find Money Trees and many other interesting houseplants at The Family Tree Garden Center.  Our knowledgeable, friendly staff is here to help with all your interiorscaping desires.