Is It Too Late To…

Is It Too Late To…

Our customers ask if it’s too late to plant shrubs, put in bulbs, dig their dahlias and more. We’re here this week to answer these questions and more.

Is it too late to plant shrubs and trees on Cape Cod? Not at all. As long as the ground isn’t frozen, by all means put them in place in the landscape. Be sure to dig a wide hole, remove the burlap and wire if it’s a B&B plant, and water it well. A one or two inch layer of a dark-colored compost or mulch around the base and beyond the drip-line will help warm the ground to promote root growth, hold in moisture, and amend the soil from the top down.

It’s not too late to put shrubs and trees into the ground.

Is it too late to plant bulbs? On Cape Cod bulbs can be planted into the first week of December. Be sure to water them in well after planting to settle the soil. This prevents the critters from digging them up after you’ve just planted! When putting bulbs in containers, use fresh potting mix for good drainage.

Tulips and daffodils make a great spring display in large containers such as troughs, raised beds or whisky barrels. Remove the old potting mix first to a depth of 12 – 16 inches. Add 6 to 8 inches of new potting soil, put the bulbs on the top, and then cover with 3 or 4 inches more of new potting mix. Water in well so the squirrels don’t rummage around and dig them up.

It’s not too late to pot up some paper white narcissus! You can make a lovely display of these indoor-flowering bulbs by planting them in wooden boxes, clear glass vases, or fruit bowls. Check around in your closets, garage or shed for containers that will display the paper whites as they grow. Watching the process from sprouting to flowering is part of the fun.

Paper white bulbs can be planted in soil or rocks. They are not kept from year to year, nor can they be planted outside, so feel free to grow them in any container that shows them off well.

It’s not too late to get a male for your winterberry holly shrubs! Like other hollies, winterberry (Ilex verticillata) needs a male plant nearby in order for the females to produce berries. We still have a few male plants in stock, so if your gal is looking for a guy, we’re happy to be the matchmaker.

As the leaves drop from the winterberry holly shrubs, the berries are displayed in their full glory. Later in the winter the birds will savor these as well. Some people enjoy the colorful fruit on the plant and others cut stems for their holiday containers. (Note: if you don’t have any to cut, we’ve got some stems of fresh winterberry branches in the store.)

Is it too late to pot up an amaryllis bulb? You’re right on time for planting amaryllis in pots. If you use potting soil in a clay pot you’ll be able to keep your bulb for many years to come. These make nice gifts for the “people who already have everything.”

Come into the store to see some of the new varieties of amaryllis that are available.

Is it too late to dig dahlia tubers up? As long as the ground hasn’t frozen, you can dig up your dahlia tubers. Wash the soil off and then bring them into a garage or other place where they’ll be protected from freezing as they dry out. After they’re dry (a few days for tubers that are washed…up to three weeks for those with the dirt still on the clump) wrap them in newspaper or place them in paper bags and pour dry peat, potting mix or vermiculite around them. (If you use dry potting soil you’ll be able to use that next year to fill your containers.) Store where it’s cool – between 38 and 50 degrees.

Dahlia tubers drying in the garage. Some people write the colors on the tubers with a Sharpie.

It’s not too late to know if you have a Thanksgiving cactus or a Christmas cactus. We commonly call all of these plants “Christmas cactus” since they are for sale in the holiday season. But people often wonder why their Christmas cactus comes into bloom in early November, and again in March. There are two species of this plant that are commonly sold and both are in the genus Schlumbergera. The plant with pointy edges on the leaves is Schlumbergera truncata, and this is commonly called “Thanksgiving cactus” because it blooms in November. Often, they flower again in March. The majority of the Schlumbergera sold today are this species. Growers will time their blooming so that they flower at Christmas time, but once you grow them at home they’ll go back to their November/March schedule.

The true Christmas cactus have smooth edges, not the pointed ones. They are Schlumbergera bridgesii, and they are harder to find.

See the pointy edges on the leaves of this Schlumbergera? That tells you that this is a Thanksgiving cactus, not a Christmas cactus. Both plants bring colorful flowers into our homes at this time of year so they are sure to lift your spirits. They are also easy to keep growing from year to year. Keep them in a bright window all winter, and then put them outside in a part-shade or morning-sun location for the summer. Leave them out through September, and bring indoors right before the first frost. The decreasing temperatures and shorter days will prompt them to bud up and flower.

Can I grow a fruit tree indoors? Yes, citrus trees can be grown inside. Place them in a very sunny window. Fertilize them once a month with Citrus-tone fertilizer and water them well when the soil starts to dry. Place them outdoors at the end of May and bring them back inside in October. Know that these may drop leaves when you bring them indoors, and if they flower inside the house you’ll need to use a soft paintbrush to pollinate the flowers so that you get fruit to form.

This citrus bloomed in the summer outside, so the fruit is developing indoors. Keep these plants in a sunny location and don’t let them get too dry or the fruit may fall off.

We usually have a nice selection of lemon and lime plants in our front greenhouse.
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1 Comment

  1. Illene Brooks on November 24, 2022 at 1:12 pm

    Very helpful information on many plants. Love your store, love the information you share.

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