Archives for November 2016

Christmas Trees

perfect-treeFraser Firs:  Our Fraser Fir Christmas trees are hand selected in North Carolina and shipped to us directly from the farm.  With over 2000 trees to choose from in our covered tree forest, you can see your perfect tree from all sides by using our unique hanging system.  We give your tree a fresh cut and secure it to your car or truck before you take it home.  Our trees are watered EVERY DAY so they will stay fresher longer.

Flocked Fraser Firs:  If you have visited the Christmas winter wonderland at 

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the Family Tree Garden Center over the last few years you would have noticed all those white trees that look like they have been freshly dusted with snow.  Flocked trees are becoming more and more popular as people not only appreciate their beauty, but realize just how easy they are to look after.  They don’t require watering and they don’t drop needles!

To flock a tree we start by giving a Fraser Fir a clean cut and securing it to a wooden tree stand.  Our expert then takes the tree and sprays it completely with a wood pulp/glue mixture that we call flocking.  This is an intense process that takes experience.  Our flocking material is non-toxic (so pet friendly) and flame resistant.  Flocked trees do not need to be watered! A big plus! 

There are a few tips when choosing a flocked tree:

  • After the flocking process, the tree has to dry for a day or two and if it is raining, this will hinder the drying process.  You can tell if a tree is dry by touch.  It should feel crunchy and not squishy.   We will advise you on what trees are dry and ready to go to a good home.  You can also look at the date on the tree tag which will show when it was flocked.
  • Time to take it home! When a flocked tree is purchased, we will wrap it in a huge plastic bag so that you can transport it home.  Don’t leave the tree in the bag for too long, but leave the bag on until you get the tree into the house and where you want it.  Then you just untie the bag, and lay the bag under your tree skirt so that you can re-use the bag for easy removal of the tree at the end of the holidays.
  • Don’t water the tree!  Water will dissolve the cellulose.  For this reason, it is not a good idea to transport a tree when it is raining.

Ice Kissed Flocked Trees:  The Family Tree Exclusive!  While these trees are being flocked, we sprinkle them with non-toxic translucent crystals that create sparkles and twinkles! These trees are festive and have added texture and color.

Silver Tip Designer Trees:  These trees are grown wild and sustainably harvested from the mountains of 

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California.  Each tree is unique, none look alike because they are not grown from clones.  

These rare Silver Tips have a unique “open” look, silver tipped foliage, and are sought after by interior designers.  Very few Silver Tips are available due to the unique harvesting method.

20151129_121909-1Caring for the Tree (Unflocked)

  • The Family Tree Garden Center will give your tree a fresh cut before you take it home.  This is very important to open up the pores so that it can absorb water.  Place your tree in a bucket of water immediately when you get home.  Even if you are not setting it up in your home just yet.
  • Consider spraying your tree with WILT STOP™ before bringing it indoors.  WILT STOP™ is a non-toxic tree resin that helps your tree from drying out and losing its needles.  It can extend the enjoyment of your tree for quite a while.  (Spray before you bring your tree inside!)
  • Watering is critical. A freshly-cut tree can consume a gallon of water in 24 hours!
  • When you bring your tree inside and set it up, fill the tree stand with water and keep it filled. (Using a Santa’s Water Wand can make watering easier.)
  • Never let the water level go below the tree’s base.
  • Indoors, keep the tree away from heating ducts or other heat sources. In fact, the lower the temperature, the better the tree will do.
  • We recommend adding Prolong™ to your water to help your tree stay fresher longer.

Camellias For Southern Yards

yuletide-2015We love Camellias here in the south! So much so, it is Alabama’s state flower.  But here in Georgia, each early winter and early spring, the vast varieties of Camellias come alive in our landscapes.  More than 3,000 varieties of camellias exist.  They have a wide range of colors, forms, and sizes; and deer don’t eat them.  As a rule of thumb, Camellia sasanqua blooms late fall/early winter and have smaller leaves.  Camellia japonica tends to bloom late winter/early spring and have large leaves.

Establishing new plants. Plant new Camellias in the spring or fall.  This will give them plenty of time to establish roots before the harsh winter and summer.  Plant your Camellia with half existing soil and half quality amendments like Fafard Planting Mix or Mushroom Compost.  Dig the hole twice the size of the root ball and about as deep.  Plant just as deep as it is in the pot – no deeper.  Give your Camellias and all your plants a boost with Espoma BioTone!  We here at The Family Tree are amazed at the difference this root starter fertilizer makes on all plants!  Mulch thoroughly to keep roots cool and the soil moist. Regular watering is critical during the first year. Water thoroughly; then let the top of the soil go slightly dry before the next watering.

Exposure and watering. Camellias generally prefer partial shade, with shelter from hot afternoon sun.  As they grow larger and their gay-baby_thick canopy of leaves shades and cools their roots, they gradually will accept more sun.  Shade gardening is easy when including Camellias.  You can plant Helleborus and Hosta to add beautiful color and texture.  Camellias don’t care for strong winds and hot sun.

Fertilizing. Your first fertilization should be when planted, as stated above, with Espoma BioTone to give your new plant the initial nutrients it needs.  Camellias prefer acidic fertilizers in the spring after the flowers have dropped off.   Fertilize again in June if the foliage is not a dark green.  Always follow the label instructions, never overdo the fertilizer.

Camellia problems. Camellias can typically overcome most problems with proper fertilization and treatment as needed.  Scorched or yellowed areas in the center of leaves usually indicate a sunburn. Burnt leaf edges, excessive leaf drop, or corky leaf spots generally point to overfertilizing. Camellias do well in the south because of our acidic soil.  If the leaves turn yellow with green veins it usually means they are planted in neutral or alkaline soil and the pH need to be corrected with iron sulfate or acidic fertilizer.

Scale is a common pest. These pests look like tiny brown or white specks on leaf undersides; sooty mold grows on the honeydew they secrete. Infested leaves turn yellow and drop. To treat Scale, apply horticultural oil or a systemic insecticide, following label instructions.

Two fungal diseases are common. Camellia petal blight causes flowers to turn brown rapidly, then drop. Sanitation is the best control: pick up and destroy all fallen blossoms as well as infected ones still on the plant. Remove and discard any existing mulch, then replace it with a 4- to 5-in. layer of fresh mulch. Camellia leaf gall causes leaves to become distorted, pale, thick, and fleshy; they gradually turn white, then brown, then drop from the plant. The best control is to pick up and destroy affected leaves before they turn white.

Bud drop is a frequent complaint. To some extent, this is natural for all camellias (many set more buds than they can open), but it also may be caused by overwatering, summer drought, or sudden freezes.

Pruning. Some varieties of Camellias can get pretty tall and rangy.  Prune after blooming has ended. Remove dead or weak wood; thin out growth when it is so dense that flowers have no room to open properly. Shorten lower branches to encourage upright growth; cut back top growth to make lanky shrubs bushier. When pruning, cut just above a scar that marks the end of the previous year’s growth (often a slightly thickened, somewhat rough area where bark texture and color change slightly). Making your cuts just above this point usually forces three or four dominant buds into growth.

Camellias in containers. Camellias are outstanding container plants whether you grow them outdoors on a terrace or indoors in a cool greenhouse. As a general rule, plant gallon-size camellias in 12- to 14-in.-diameter containers, 5-gallon ones in 16- to 18-in. containers. Fill the container with a potting mix containing 50 percent or more organic material. Make sure the container has a generous drainage hole.

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