Steps to a Perfect Shade Garden

shade-gardeningOften we see people come into the Family Tree looking defeated because they have a shady yard and can’t seem to get plants to grow.  We get excited as there are so many plant choices for the shade and you can make a stunning shade garden if you just ask us which plants to use.  Shade plants have so many different textures and colors, and although you may not have a garden with an abundance of flowering annuals, you can achieve a shade garden that is just as beautiful.  Here are some tips on how to do it.

As with any garden, start with your foundation plants, the ones that will stay there through thick and thin, summer and winter.  Some of our favorite combinations are:

Yew

Spreading Yew

Florida Sunshine

Sunshine Illicium

autumn-fern-frond

Autumn Fern

Hellebore

Hellebore

Yews:  They provide dark green textured foliage and come in a variety of shapes and sizes
Sunshine Illicium:  Great evergreen focal point with beautiful foliage
Hardy Ferns:  Autumn Fern and Holly Fern stay all year round and offer great texture
Hellebores:  This great plant provides flowers from January through to May in the shade and it is evergreen! The hybrids that have come along recently are just beautiful!
Other plants that can be used also are Aucuba, Pieris, Azaleas, Mahonia, Leucothoe, Sweet Shrub, Fatsia, Rhododendron, Hydrangeas and the list goes on.  Come and see our shade section at the nursery.

Japanese Maple Inaba Shidare 7-10' x 7-10'

Japanese Maple
Inaba Shidare

Once you have your foundation plants chosen, then it is time to start adding some focal points. Japanese Maples, especially the weeping varieties, make great focal points.  Add some boulders next to them, and voila, you have a beautiful focal point.  If you are looking for a larger tree, try a Dogwood either in pink or white flowers.  A bird bath, or bird feeder could also be a great focal point, or even a garden bench.  You need somewhere to sit and enjoy the beautiful garden you are going to create!
So you now have your foundation plants and focal points, it is time to add some seasonal interest. Add some herbaceous perennial plants. These are plants that disappear in winter and pop back up in spring. They provide color and texture interest during the spring, summer, and fall.
Some great ones to use are:

Hosta

Heuchera

Bleeding Heart

Astilbe

Hosta:  So many to choose from.  Large leaves with lots of color variations.  These are a stunning addition to a shade garden.
Heuchera:  Also called Coral Bells.  These also come in lots of different shades including burgundy, orange, pink, and chartreuse.  A definite must have in a shade garden.
Bleeding Heart: The flowers on this perennial are breathtaking and the foliage is very fern-like.
Astilbe:  This perennial provides upright flower spikes for a splash of color.
There are a number of other perennials and groundcovers including Solomon’s Seal, Jacob’s Ladder, Ajuga, Pachysandra, and Vinca.

If a little more texture and color is needed then look to the grassy perennials such as Liriope, Mondo, Acorus Grass, and Japanese Forest Grass.

Acorus Grass

Liriope

Dwarf Mondo

Jap Forest Grass

The icing on the cake is to add a pop of color with some pretty annuals.  There are a few annuals that do great in the shade and they are extremely showy, so don’t forget to add some of these as well.

Caladiums – Lots of color variety

Dragon Wing Begonia

Torenia – Wishbone

New Guinea Impatiens

Caladiums come in lots of different colors, and even though they are not a flower, they are still extremely showy and add beautiful texture to your shade garden.  Dragon Wing Begonias are also amazing.  They are covered in big droopy flowers that can be pink or red.  The flowers last all summer long.  Torenia is a sweet little annual and great for the front of the border for a pop of color.  Lots of color variations here also.  New Guinea Impatiens offer a rainbow of color choices, all of which are very bright and intense.  So you don’t have to go without color in your shade garden.

If you are still not sure about design or plant choices, come and see us, we would be happy to help you on your way to create the shade garden of your dreams.  We offer many design options to help you along the way such as our FREE Quick Sketch service and our full landscape design service.

Happy Gardening!

Tracy Davis
Horticulturist/Designer

Christmas Trees and Flocked 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.

silvertip

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

Helleborus, Lirope, and Great Groundcovers

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.

Hellebores (Helleborus, Lenten Rose)
This is not your average groundcover! Helleborus (also called Lenten Rose for their beautiful flowers) have bell shaped, rose like flowers that bloom from January to May. There are a few types of these beauties.  The old fashion Helleborus (the kind that spread easily and have flowers that hang down under the leaves) are super hardy under your trees and in shade gardens. They are evergreen and bloom every year beginning in December or January on into May.  They spread easily by seed after they have been in the ground for about 3 years creating a lush undergrowth. 
The new hybrid varieties (Pink Frost, Candy Love, Love Bug, and Honeymoon) have more vibrant colored flowers ranging from white to deep burgundy that bloom above the leaves. They are sterile so they do not spread.  They look beautiful in a shade garden and in flower pots.  They are deer resistant, making them a great groundcover to use in large areas under trees or along the edges of flower beds. Helleborus tend to grow and spread a bit slower than other groundcovers, but a good stimulator can speed up the growing process when you plant. Space the plants about 10 inches apart, add a bit of Bio-Tone in each hole, and your Helleborus groundcover will thrive in thick clumps.

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.

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!

Small Space Shrubs, You Might Not Know How Great They Are.

There are so many shrubs to chose from when you are landscaping and sometimes it can be overwhelming to sort out the numerous varieties and pick the right plant for the right place. There are many small shrubs that you already know about, such as Flirt Nandina, Creeping Gardenia, Buzz Butterfly bush, but below are some great new selections that can be used for smaller spaces, and a lot of these varieties you won’t find anywhere else!

Marge Miller Camellia
This is the first prostrate camellia! We are excited about this introduction because it is so versatile. It can be used as an evergreen groundcover plant, or trained on a stake to be a weeping camellia. It reaches only 1 foot tall and 3-4 feet wide. Beautiful soft pink flowers cover this plant in late fall. Marge Miller Camellia would look great spilling over walls. Also use it as a focal point on a stake surrounded by spring and summer blooming shrubs such as Crimson Fire Loropetalum, Drift Roses, or Creeping Gardenias. This camellia would do great in a container either spilling over the edge or staked with annuals around the base. Just remember that camellias prefer a partially shaded environment.

Shi-shi Gashira Camellia
This camellia makes a great foundation shrub for that space that gets a little morning sun and is shaded the rest of the day. It stays evergreen and then in the fall it will be covered with semi-double rosy-pink flowers. Shi-shi Gashira gets 4-5 feet tall and 4-5 feet wide. Use it as a foundation shrub and combine it with other shade loving lower growing plants such as Golden Dragon Plum Yew (details below), Hellebores, Autumn Ferns, and Hostas.

Golden Dragon Plum Yew
A designer favorite for shady gardens. This new introduction combines the interesting texture of the yew family and has yellow foliage! Golden Dragon is evergreen and stays low only growing to 2-3 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide and will brighten up shady garden areas. Combine this plant with Camellias, blue Hydrangeas and other shade loving plants. Golden Dragon would also look good with Cast Iron Plant, or Coral Bells with burgundy foliage. It can also take some sun, so it is not restricted to the shade garden.

Cecil Alice Aucuba
Another new introduction that will brighten up a shade garden. This Aucuba only reaches 2-3 feet tall and gets 3-5 feet wide. Aucubas prefer to grow in a very shaded environment so combine this plant with Cast Iron plant, Ferns, Hostas, Hellebores, and weeping Japanese Maples.

 


Enduring Summer Crape Myrtle

We all love Crape Myrtles for their endless summer flowers. Enduring Summer is a dwarf variety with bright red blooms that last all summer. This Crape Myrtle would look great planted in groups or use one or three together to provide a splash of color among some evergreen shrubs. Enduring Summer can take full sun and is fairly drought tolerant once established. Definitely a sun loving, low maintenance addition to the landscape. Combine this Crape Myrtle with yellow foliage plants such as Fire Chief Arborvitae, Kaleidoscope Abelia, Gold Mop Cypress and you will get a stunning display.

Princess Kylie Crape Myrtle
Another great new dwarf Crape Myrtle. This one has magenta pink flowers and gets 4-5 feet tall and 4-5 feet wide. Princess Kylie would be great in the middle of a border with taller shrubs such as Cleyera or Hollies behind it then shorter shrubs such as Crimson Fire Loropetalum, Kaleidoscope Abelia, dwarf Gardenias, or dwarf Encore Azaleas in front. Knock-Out roses have become so popular and sometimes we just want to use a different shrub than a Knock-Out, so the dwarf Crape Myrtles are perfect.

 

 

Holmstrup Arborvitae
At long last there is an option for an upright accent plant that doesn’t get too tall! Holmstrup Arborvitae gets 5-7 feet tall and only 2 feet wide so it would be perfect for an accent plant at the corner of a house or where you need a little privacy, but don’t have a very wide landscape bed. Arborvitaes have great texture and we love to combine these plants with other sun loving leafy evergreens such as Gardenias, Hollies, Encore Azaleas, Loropetalum, Cleyera, Indian Hawthorns, or Distylium.

15 Pet Friendly Houseplants

Pets are part of the family! We want to keep them safe and healthy. At the same time, we want our indoor decor to be warm, inviting, and full of life.  Plants add so much to our indoor spaces. Through cleaning the air to living decor, houseplants should be beautiful and pet safe.  Here are 15 safe houseplants that can add life and drama to your decor.

1. Spider plant – Super easy and lovely in any room in your home.. Not only are they easy to care for, but they also grow well in low-light conditions and can help to clean the air in our homes.
**Spider plants are air purifying plants and safe for dogs and cats

2. African violet – Add an African Violet to a sunny spot and water when needed, and you will have perky flowers off and on for the entire year.

3. Palms – There are tons of different types of palms, and they make excellent indoor plants that are safe for cats and dogs. Areca, bamboo palm, parlor and ponytail are some of the most common.

4. Bamboo – Bamboo plants are not only one of the best pet friendly house plants, they add great drama and are easy to care for.

5. Boston fern – Garfield the cat made it very clear that Boston Ferns are non-toxic. Beautiful in a hanging basket or container, these ferns add an airy feel to a well lit area.  Ferns that are also safe are Maidenhair and Bird’s Nest.

6. Burros tail succulent (Sedum morganianum) – Even if your cat likes to eat plants, they may like to play with the little “tails” that occasionally fall off.  Burros tail succulents are safe, but when it comes to ensuring that other succulents are pet friendly house plants, it can be hit or miss. So make sure to search for each specific variety of succulent plant you grow.

7. Haworthia succulents – Cool looking, easy care, and pet friendly, even if they eat the leaves. (Which they probably won’t, but just in case)

8. Cast iron plant – The cast iron plant definitely lives up to it’s name; it’s one of toughest house plants out there. Not only are they beautiful, but they will thrive in just about any low or bright light room of the house. 

9. Bromeliads – Pet friendly and pretty! Bromeliads add color all year round in a sunny/part sunny spot in your home.  This is especially nice during the winter blahs.

10. Phalaenopsis orchids –  Orchids are not only safe, but the flowers make a beautiful edible garnish to an upscale meal.

11. Christmas cactus – Pretty much only available at Christmas time, snap up one of these pet friendly plants 

12. Peperomia – Super easy to grow, non-toxic, and there are lots of varieties. These pretty little leaves look great in a hanging basket or in a dish garden.

13. Prayer plant – Prayer plants are easy to grow and look great in a dish garden. The leaves tend to close up at night like praying hands.

14. Swedish ivy – Pet safe and look really pretty in a hanging basket.

15. Air Plants – Stash a few air plants around your home in a terarrium, picture frame, or just hang them from a fixture to add a little super easy care life to any area.

Fresh Butterfly Bush Varieties From Proven Winners

Proven Winners® has come out with a lovely series! This “MISS” series grows a medium height, just 4-5 feet tall and has a refined, elegant growth habit with intense colors.  It makes a perfect accent for that sunny spot in your garden or yard. ‘Miss Molly’ is as close to red as you will find in a butterfly bush and ‘Miss Pearl’ has a white so bright you can see it at night!
These beautiful varieties bloom profusely through the summer.  They attract butterflies, of course, and also bees and hummingbirds.  They are seedless so they are non-invasive, heat tolerant, and deer resistant.  AND they are fragrant!  With very little maintenance, ‘Miss Molly’, ‘Miss Violet’, ‘Miss Pearl’, and ‘Miss Ruby’ will bloom every year! Make sure to plant butterfly bush in well drained soil with at least 6 hours of full sun each day.  Don’t forget the Espoma Bio-Tone Starter Plus to reduce transplant shock and give roots ample nutrients for best growth.  Prune butterfly bush only after new growth has begun to emerge in spring. It may take several weeks to appear, so be patient and resist the urge to prune sooner.

Miss Pearl – crisp, clean, pure white flowers of ‘Miss Pearl’ buddleia are the perfect accent for any landscape, from a cottage garden to more formal plantings. The newest member of the perfectly-sized “Miss” series, it offers a new color of these non-invasive butterfly bushes. ‘Miss Pearl’ blooms for months and will never be without dozens of honey-scented flowers in the summer time.

 

Miss Violet – Just like her sisters, ‘Miss Molly’ and ‘Miss Ruby’, ‘Miss Violet’ is a compact plant with vibrant flower color, but with loads of dark purple-violet summer flowers.Seedless and non-invasive; deer resistant, too! Winner of a Green Thumb award from the Direct Gardening Association.

 

Miss Molly – Fragrant flowers are a rich sangria-red color. Red color may be more pronounced in the South. This compact plant is smaller than many other buddleia varieties, and its distinctive flower color makes late summer gardens pop! Like all varieties in the “Miss” series, ‘Miss Molly’ is non-invasive.

 

Miss Ruby -Brilliant rich pink summer blooms unlike any other variety. Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. Fragrant. Deer resistant. It has compact habit and remarkably vivid, rich pink blooms. The distinctive magenta flowers are more vibrant than that of any other buddleia variety.

 

The Confederate Rose Story

If I told you there was a super cool plant in the South with legends of a Rebel soldier’s dying breath laced in its white, pink & red flowers, would that perk your ears?

The Confederate Rose or hibiscus mutablis is actually not a rose but a hardy hibiscus brought to the south as a Chinese import.  First appearing in English gardens in the 1600’s, it is said to have gained favor in the South due to its ease of cultivation during the hard financial times after the Civil War.  The Confederate Rose enjoys a lovely legend and should be considered a staple in every southern yard. 

The Legend Of The Confederate Rose
Before the Civil War the Confederate Rose was pure white. During the Civil War, a young soldier defending the South’s honor was fatally wounded in battle. He fell upon the rose and lay dying. During the course of the two days he took to die, he bled more and more on the flower, till at last the flowers were covered with his blood. When he died, the flowers died with him. Thereafter, the Confederate Rose opens white, and over the course of the two days the bloom lasts, they turn gradually from white to pink to almost red, when the flower finally falls from the bush.  The rose grew on the lawn of the house in Abbeville, SC where the first decision to secede from the Union was formulated prior to the shots at Ft. Sumter, and where Jefferson Davis signed the final paperwork officially ending the war while on his escape from fallen Richmond, VA.  It is also said that a woman in Alabama gave returning Civil War soldiers a Confederate Rose to show her appreciation.

The Confederate Rose, Hibiscus mutablis, is a member of the hibiscus family which includes both the tropical hibiscus and the hardier Rose of Sharon. It is a fast growing perennial considered to be a large bush or a small multi-stemmed tree. The plant roots easily from cuttings, has few pests and grows vigorously during the summer. Once established it is drought resistant. The blooms appear in late summer into the fall and it seems as though these remarkable flowers change color almost overnight.

The Confederate Rose likes full sun, well-drained , slightly acid soil. It grows as a multi-branched shrub or a small deciduous tree with low branches which can get up to 12 feet tall and wide so allow room for expansion.  It is hardy in zone 8-10 and will die back with the first hard freeze but return in spring getting larger each year.

Water Confederate rose generously, thoroughly soaking the plant’s root zone, and then wait a few days before watering again. The plant requires plenty of water, especially during warm summer weather, and dry soil may cause the leaves to turn yellow. However, consistently soggy soil may cause diseases such as mildew and rot.
Feed the plant every other week, using a high-potassium, water-soluble fertilizer with a ratio such as 12-4-18. Apply the fertilizer according to the label’s specifications. Always water deeply immediately after applying fertilizer.
Remove spent blooms as soon as they fade to prevent the Confederate rose from going to seed too early.
• Mulch the shrub in autumn to moderate soil temperature and moisture during the winter months. Use 2 to 4 inches of a mulch such as pine needles, dry leaves or bark. Rake the mulch away from the trunk, as the mulch may attract pests that damage the wood.
• Prune in November or December. Prune weak growth and damaged or diseased wood. Remove branches that are crossing, crowding or rubbing on other branches.
• Protect the plant from whiteflies, which often infests Confederate rose, causing the leaves to turn yellow and drop off. Treat blackflies, along with the sooty molds that often accompanies the pests, with a horticultural oil spray. Water the plants before applying the oil spray so the oil evaporates quickly. Avoid applying the oil spray on hot, sunny days.

Cultivating Is Easy
Confederate Rose roots easily from cuttings, especially in the spring. Plant pencil-sized cuttings in a mixture of 1 part peat moss and 3 parts sand. Keep the container warm and moist. Roots usually appear in four to five weeks. Wait a few more weeks for the roots to mature and then move the new plant into a larger container or plant it in its permanent outdoor home.

 

Perennials All Season Long

Perennial flowers bloom year after year making them a gardener’s dream. But unlike annuals, which bloom all season long, perennials tend to bloom a short amount of time, anywhere from 4-8 weeks. With their short bloom time, they can make a dramatic entrance every year. Planting one or two varieties might make you long for the long blooming annuals, but if we can figure out how to make dramatic entrances over and over, perennial gardens can be very rewarding. By this we mean using a number of different varieties that have alternating bloom times during the spring summer and fall.  Take a look at the following perennials.  You can see the seasons in which they bloom and a few of their delightful attributes.

Looking at perennials in person can be fun too! Stop by today and see the many gorgeous perennials we have! 

 

Homestead Verbena
 Bloom Time:
The longest blooming perennial – from spring to summer.
Light: Full Sun or Light Shade
Water: Tolerates Drought
Zones 4-8
Groundcover; looks great in containers

 

Armeria
Bloom Time:
Mid-Spring, Late Spring
Light: Full Sun or Part Shade
Water: Tolerates Drought
Zones 4-8
Groundcover; Tolerates Salt

   

Asiatic Lily (Lilium)
Bloom Time:
Midsummer
Light: Full Sun
Water: Keep Soil Moist
Zones 4-8
Good Cut Flower

 
Aster
Bloom Time:
Late Summer, Fall
Light: Full Sun
Water: Tolerates Drought
Zones 5-10
Attracts Butterflies, Good Cut Flower
  Astilbe
Bloom Time:
Late Spring, Summer
Light: Shade or Part shade
Water: Keep Soil Moist
Zones 4-9
Good Cut Flower
   
Balloon Flower (Platycodon)
Bloom Time: Midsummer, Late Summer
Light: Full Sun
Water: Keep Soil Moist
Zones 3-8
Easy to Grow; Blooms Profusely
   
Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)
Bloom Time:
Late Summer, Early Autumn
Light: Full Sun
Water: Tolerates Drought
Zones 3-7
Attracts Butterflies, Blooms Profusely
   

Blanketflower (Gaillardia)
Bloom Time:
Foliage: Late Spring, Summer, Autumn
Light: Full Sun
Water: Tolerates Drought
Zones 3-9
Attracts Butterflies, Easy to Grow, Flowers Profusely

  Bleeding Heart (Dicentra)
Bloom Time:
Spring
Light: Shade or Part Shade
Water: Keep Soil Moist
Zones 3-8
Easy to Grow
  Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)
Bloom Time:
Summer, Autumn
Light: Sun
Water: Tolerates Drought
Zones 5-10
Attracts Butterflies, Easy to Grow, Fragrant Flowers
Candytuft (Iberis)
Bloom Time:
Early Spring, Mid-Spring
Light: Full Sun
Water: Tolerates Drought
Zones 3-8
Blooms Profusely
  Clematis
Bloom Time: Late Spring, Summer, Early Autumn
Light: Full Sun
Water: Tolerates Drought
Zones 3-8
Vine
   
Coneflower (Echinacea)
Bloom Time: Summer, Early Autumn
Light: Full Sun
Water: Tolerates Drought
Zones 3-8
Attracts Butterflies, Good Cut Flower
   
Coral bells (Heuchera)
Foliage Appeal:
Spring, Summer, Autumn
Light: Shade to Part Shade
Water: Keep Soil Moist
Zones 4-8
Easy to Grow
   
Coreopsis
Bloom Time: Summer, Early Autumn
Light: Full Sun
Water: Tolerates Drought
Zones 3-8
Attracts Butterflies, Tolerates Drought
   
Creeping Phlox
Bloom Time:
Spring
Light: Full Sun or Part Shade
Water: Tolerates Drought
Zones 3-9
Groundcover
   
Daisy (Leucanthemum)
Bloom Time:
Spring, Summer
Light: Sun to Part Shade
Water: Keep Soil Moist
Zones 5-9
Good Cut Flower    
   

Daylily (Hemerocallis)
Bloom Time: Summer, Early Autumn
Light: Full Sun
Water: Tolerates Drought
Zones 3-9
Easy to Grow

   
Ice plant (Delosperma)
Bloom Time: Late Spring, Summer, Autumn
Light: Full Sun
Water: Tolerates Drought
Zones 5-8
Groundcover
   
   
Dianthus
Bloom Time: Mid-Spring, Late Spring, Summer, Early Autumn
Light: Full Sun
Water: Tolerates Drought
Zones 3-8
Fragrant Flowers, Easy to Grow
   
Foxglove (Digitalis)
Bloom Time:
Late Spring, Early Summer
Light: Full Sun to Part Shade
Water: Keep Soil Moist
Zones 4-8
Attracts Hummingbirds
   
Gaura
Bloom Time: Late Spring, Summer
Light: Full Sun
Water: Tolerates Drought
Zones 5-8
Easy to Grow, Flowers Profusely
   

Iris
Bloom Time:
Late Spring
Light: Full Sun
Water: Tolerates Drought
Zones 3-9
Easy to Grow, Fragrant Flowers

   
Irish Moss (Sagina)
Foliage Appeal:
Spring, Summer, Autumn
Light: Shade to Part Shade
Water: Keep Soil Moist
Zones 6-8
Blooms Profusely
  Isotoma
Bloom Time:
Late Spring, Summer
Light: Full Sun
Water: Tolerates Drought
Zones 6-9
Easy to Grow
   
   

Lavender (Lavandula)
Bloom Time: Midsummer, Late Summer, Early Autumn
Light: Full Sun
Water: Tolerates Drought
Zones 5-8
Attracts Butterflies, Easy to Grow, Fragrant Flowers

  Lithodora
Bloom Time:
Late Spring, Early Summer
Light: Sun to Part Shade
Water: Keep Soil Moist
Zones 6-10
Tolerates Drought
   
Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon)
Foliage Appeal:
Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter
Light: Shade to Part Shade
Water: Tolerates Drought
Zones 7-10
Groundcover
   
Oriental Lily (Lilium)
Bloom Time:
Late Summer
Light: Full Sun
Water: Keep Soil Moist
Zones 5-8
Fragrant Flowers, Good Cut Flower
   
Penstemon
Bloom Time:
Late Spring, Summer
Light: Full Sun
Water: Tolerates Drought
Zone: 3-8
Attracts Butterflies, Attracts Hummingbirds, Easy to Grow


   

Peony (Paeonia)
Bloom Time: Late Spring
Light: Full Sun
Water: Tolerates Drought
Zones 3-8
Easy to Grow, Good Cut Flower

   
Phlox
Bloom Time:
Midsummer, Late Summer, Early Autumn
Light: Full Sun
Water: Keep Soil Moist
Zones 3-8
Fragrant Flower, Good Cut Flower
   
Primrose (Primula)
Bloom Time:
Early Spring
Light: Part Shade
Water: Keep Soil Moist
Zones 5-8
Attracts Butterflies
   

Salvia
Bloom Time: Late Spring, Summer, Early Autumn
Light: Full Sun
Water: Tolerates Drought
Zones 4-10
Attracts Butterflies, Blooms Profusely

   
Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa)
Bloom Time:
Mid-Spring, Late Spring, Summer, Early Autumn, Mid-Autumn
Light: Full Sun
Water: Tolerates Drought
Zones 5-9
Attracts Butterflies, Blooms Profusely, Good Cut Flower
   
Sedum
Bloom Time:
Summer, Early Autumn, Mid-Autumn
Light: Full Sun
Water: Tolerates Drought
Zones 3-10
Groundcover
 

 

A Bit About Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are a beloved flowering shrub here in the south.  Here at The Family Tree we carry over 30 types of hydrangeas and get many questions about what to plant where, how to plant and how to maintain the plants from season to season. One of the top questions we get is “How do I properly prune my hydrangeas?”  It’s a great question to ask since the different varieties need pruning at different times of the year.

To know when to prune you will have to know what type your plant is. There are three main types of hydrangeas: Big leaf hydrangeas (lace-caps and mop-heads), Panicle Hydrangeas, and Oakleaf .

BIG LEAF HYDRANGEA Hydrangea macrophylla
This class includes mopheads such as Nikko Blue and Bloomstruck and lace-cap like Twist and Shout. Big Leaf Hydrangeas have large, thick, serrated leaves and typically upright growth habit.  They prefer filtered shade. They won’t flower well in all shade and may wilt in too much sun.  They don’t deal well with wet feet so give them good well drained soil.  Fertilize with a fertilizer specifically for roses and hydrangeas.  You can change the color of your flowers on Big Leafs by adding soil acidifiers to make them blue and lime to make them pink.  Prune immediately after flowering (if you feel it’s necessary).

PANICLE HYDRANGEAS
This plant produces gracefully arching branches and pyramidal clusters of white in June-August, then pink-tinged in the fall.
Grow in moist, but well-drained soil, in sun to partial shade. Noteworthy panicles are Limelight, Little Lime, Quick Fire, and Strawberry Vanilla.  H. paniculata blooms on the current season’s wood; it may be cut back to a few buds to form a framework in spring to produce larger flowers, or allowed to grow with minimal pruning.  These varieties look great in fall when the rest of the garden starts to get ready for winter.

OAKLEAF HYDRANGEA
The Oakleaf hydrangea is a dramatic, white-blooming shrub with four seasons of interest.  Large oak leaf shaped leaves turn a beautiful burgundy in fall with large white cone shaped flowers in summer turning pink in fall.  Flowers make wonderful dried cut flowers for arrangements.  It blooms best in areas where summers are somewhat hot.  Oakleaf hydrangeas thrive with very little attention. Bloom occurs on old wood. Prune if needed immediately after flowering (little pruning is usually needed).  

Hydrangeas don’t necessarily have to be pruned other than to cut out dead branches or to keep them the size that you want. So start by tiding up the plant by removing the old blooms. Snip off the faded blooms just below the flower head and remove any additional pieces at the soil line. Big Leaf form next year’s flower buds in late summer/early fall so to reduce the risk of removing these buds for next year’s flowers, prune just as the flowers begin to fade.
 

In a Nut Shell:

  1. Summer pruning after flowers fade
    • Oakleaf and Bigleaf or Florist Hydrangea-Bloom on old wood so prune immediately after blooming. If you wait, you may not get blooms the next year.
  2. Late winter early spring pruning
    • Hills-of-Snow or Sevenbark Hydrangea
    • Peegee Hydrangea
    • Tea of Heaven
  3. Prune as needed to control growth
    • Climbing Hydrangea

 

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+!

Earth Day! April 22

Earth Day is on April 22nd and everyone here at The Family Tree just loves to have any excuse to plant!earth day Trees, shrubs and flowers help stave off the effects of climate change, help protect communities from extreme weather, and provide valuable oxygen! Trees have huge impact on our environment, both locally and globally (and of course visually), and we think there is always a need for more trees and shrubs!

Here are some great facts about how trees and shrubs benefit our earth:
1. Trees absorb CO2 thereby removing carbon and adding oxygen.
2. Trees absorb odors and pollutant gases.
3. An acre of mature trees can provide enough oxygen for 18 people.
4. Provide shade to conserve energy.
5. Provide habitats and shelter for birds, bees, and wildlife.
6. A beautiful landscape can increase property values by as much as 15%.
7. Hundreds of thousands of plants provide food source for people, birds, and wildlife.
8. Trees, shrubs, and flowers make you feel good… ‘nuf said!

Just ask us! Our designers and plant professionals offer their friendly expertise in helping you choose the perfect plants for your outdoor living spaces. Here are some great ideas for Earth Day planting:

Flowers – Save the pollinators! Plant some flowers.  Bees and butterflies love most perennials like Agastache, Echinacea, Tick Seed, and Gaura.  They love Mexican Heather, Salvia, and petunias and hundreds more annuals.  Remember bees and butterflies pollinate some of our most nutritious foods. Click here for some great hummingbird, butterfly and bee attracting plants.

Veggie Garden – Planting a vegetable garden will not only provide you with delicious, fresh veggies this summer, but it also gives you a great excuse to get outside and enjoy the lovely weather! Plant some tomatoes, peppers, squash and beans.  If you’re not up to the challenge of planting a whole vegetable garden, try a container garden with herbs and a tomato or two.

container gardenContainer Garden – Liven up any area with a beautiful container garden.  With our designer’s help, you can decorate your porch, patio, windowsill, and pool area with stunning colors and textures.

And of course, plant a tree! Choose one to honor a special someone in your life.  Add a focal point to your landscape.  Add some shrubs to your landscape too.  We can help!

For ideas for your landscape check out our professional services:

Quick Sketch – If you have a small area in your landscape that needs attention, one of our expert designers can help.  We will sit down with you for 20 minutes, sketch out a plan, and give you some ideas on how to make that area blossom into beauty.  Whether it’s a flower bed that just won’t thrive or you’re just plumb out of ideas, we can help you choose the perfect plants to solve the problem no matter what it is!

landscapePlanting Services – You’ve had a great time picking out a cartload of plants for your home, but now you’re dreading the task of planting them; now what do you do? Call The Family Tree; we offer planting services with FREE delivery and no job is too large for us! We’re as happy to plant petunias around your mailbox as we are to put in the new landscape you’ve picked out!

Expert Advice – We have more than 12 Horticulturists and GA Plant Professionals at The Family Tree, all of whom are full of excellent tips and helpful advice. If you have any questions or even just want someone else’s opinion on which color roses to plant by the front door, our experts are always happy to help! Every one of them knows the plant selection at The Family Tree like the back of their hand and can help you find the perfect plant for any condition!

Why not do your part to help make the earth more beautiful this Earth Day? Stop by The Family Tree this week and browse our huge selection of trees, shrubs, flowers, and more! Oh, and remember to just sit back and enjoy the beauty of this world that we live in!