checking on leaves of a variegated rubber plant before bringing inside

Bring houseplants indoors for winter

As the temps start to cool and the leaves start to fall outside, we need to start bringing in your houseplants to create a plant oasis to enjoy all winter long.

Once the overnight temps are consistently dropping below 50°F,  bring your houseplants indoors to avoid damage and stress to your plant. If you have flowering tropical plants, there is another method explained below that you can use to if you want to have them go dormant.

Watch our Youtube video &/or read instructions below.

Let the indoor greening begin!

Before they go inside…or at least before they’re near other plants.

Step 1:
Treat for pests. The outdoors is full of insects that also want to enjoy our plants. Before you bring them in, you can spray you plants lightly with a hose or inside shower to knock off any insects or dirt. Be careful to not blast them with high pressure as to not damage foliage. Next, you can spray with an organic insecticidal soap, Eight, or any insecticide spray safe for your houseplants if you notice pests.

You can also use a Bonide systemic houseplant insect control that you sprinkle onto the soil and watered in and will treat the plant up to two months against plant feeding insects. Ideally, you treat for pests at least a week before bringing in your plants to avoid introducing insects into your home or other houseplants.

Another method if you are worried about bug eggs in the soil is to repot your plants. You can knock off all the soil and rinse off all old dirt from plants and pot. Repot in new potting soil. This is an easy method if you need to put your plants in bigger pots or split any plants that have grown too large for your space.

See info below on houseplant insects.

Step 2:
You can prune back houseplants that had extensive growth if they don’t fit your space. When you prune, cut right after a leaf node, so you keep the node on. This is where new growth will start.

Step 3:
Check the plant toxicity if you have pets in the house that have a tendency to chew on things. Here is a great list of plants and their toxicity levels to make sure you aren’t bringing in a plant that may be harmful to your pets.

Inside spot:

Imagine where you want to enjoy your plants and pay attention to their light needs! Get creative if you are finding that you don’t have enough shelf or floor space, if you need to keep the plant away from pets, or children. Try training your pothos to crawl up your wall with a pole or trellis or hang your ferns in your bathroom since they love humidity. Make sure that wherever you put them, you are paying attention to their light needs and avoid drafty areas.

It’s normal for your houseplants to have a transition period and some leaves may yellow and drop. Give them artificial sunlight with grow lamps if you find your plants are struggling due to lack of light.

Over-winter flowering tropicals:

Tropicals, like Bougainvillea, Hibiscus and Jasmine will need to go dormant in the winter if you don’t have a very bright spot to put it or it’s too large. Put them in a room that is between 40-50°F with a little sunlight and only water enough so the soil doesn’t get completely dry. No feeding of fertilizer needed until early spring. Flowering vines, like Jasmine, can be cut back 6-12″ above soil line. Tropical Hibiscus should be pruned after completely dormant. Prune a third of the way back, and make sure to keep two to three leaf nodes on the branch for new growth in the spring.

Lastly, have fun with creating your very own plant oasis! This is a year we need more than ever!

INSECTS YOU MAY SEE ON YOUR HOUSEPLANTS:

Please note: If you are worried about any spray treatments damaging a specific plant since some may be more sensitive than others, test the spray on one leaf first and look for signs of damage. Never spray in direct sunlight as that can result in sun scald marks due to the moisture on the leaves.

Mealy Bugs

Signs of infestation: Plant looks covered with snow or leaves have some white spots.

Step 1: Try to wash the Mealybugs off with a steady stream of water. When they have developed their hard outer shell, this may be difficult. Dip cotton balls in alcohol and remove all visible mealybugs. Use cotton balls to clean the leaves and cotton swabs to clean inside small gaps.
Step 2: Repeat the treatment as necessary. This is best for light infestations. Mix 1 cup of rubbing alcohol with 1 quart (32oz) of water. Pour the solution in the spray bottle or straight rubbing alcohol for thicker, hardier leaves.
Step 3: Spray the whole plant, not only where mealybugs are visible. Spray leaves well on their tops, under leaves and stems. Repeat the treatment once or twice a week until the issue is gone.
Alternative sprays for heavy infestation that may work better: Insecticidal Soap Spray, Neem oil or pyrethrins are other sprays that can be used if alcohol wipe isn’t working and often times a quicker way to kill pests.

Spider Mites

Signs of infestation: Plant leaf gets a “dusty” look in an area. They can be yellow or red in color. Often found on the underside of leaves. Spider mites are seen more often in the winter inside because they prefer dry and warm environments. Raised humidity, keeping away from heat source or locating plants in higher humidity areas helps in prevention but not guaranteed.

Step 1: First dislodge mites with a steady stream of water outside or in the shower. Dip cotton balls and swabs in alcohol and remove all visible mealybugs. Use balls to clean the leaves and swabs to clean inside the gaps.
Step 2: Mix 1 cup of rubbing alcohol with 1 quart (32oz) of water. Pour the solution in the spray bottle.
Step 3: Spray the leaves wipe off or use a houseplant insecticidal spray. Some people use Neem Oil that can help but an insecticidal spray works the best and will take less time to get rid of them.
Step 4: Treat any plants that are nearby as well since they spread easily or at least rinse off their leaves and spray with alcohol. *For any spray you can test a leaf to make sure it doesn’t damage the leaf and avoid spraying the leaf during the sunniest part of day or if the plant gets direct light.
Step 5: Repeat the treatment once or twice a week until the issue is gone.

Fungus Gnats

Signs of infestation: Tiny small black bugs are flying around the soil of your plants. They do not feed on your plants but take advantage of moist soil to lay their eggs within the first couple inches of soil.

Step 1: Change your method of watering. Water your plants by setting them in water and they will take up water from below. Leave the top 2 inches of soil dry. Alternatively, only watering your plants once the soil is dry a couple inches down and try to prolong between watering until reduced signs of adult gnats are seen.
Step 2: Use BT- bacillus thuringiensis powder. It’s a natural bacteria that produces proteins that kill insects. Sprinkle BT on the top of soil of your plants. It is safe to use around humans and mammals but avoid ingestion of any product.
Step 3: Control flying adult population with sticky traps placed around your plants.

If you see signs of any other insects on your leaves, most insects can be controlled with above methods of wiping leaves off, use insecticidal spray and systemic insecticide.

If you have any questions about identifying an insect, please email us a picture of your plant if there are signs of insect damage to info@drummersgardencenter.com.

botanical interests flower seed packets

Easy Fall Planting

Fall is the second-best time to plant, with some saying it’s the best! There are flower seeds you can sow after hard, killing frost for earlier blooms next season. Landscape plants, like perennials, trees, shrubs, and evergreens benefit from the less stressful cooler weather, reduced pest and diseases, and focus their energy on root development. Garlic bulbs and fall flower bulbs are also planted in the fall and they are as easy as dig, drop, and done

FALL SOWN SEEDS

PERENNIALS

Sow perennials after a hard frost, below 25 F, that need stratification, the process of seeds being in a cold environment and then breaking dormancy once the weather warms. This ensures that they will not sprout until the following spring.

Mark the spot. Label the area of sown seeds with stakes. If we have a dry winter and less rain in the spring, make sure to water your seeds in the spring to keep soil moist.

We get a shipment of the next years seed from Botanical Interests in late summer, and they provide a list of perennial and biennial varieties that need stratification for higher rate of germination. Sow these after a hard frost to avoid early germination.

  • Blue and Breezy Flax Seeds
  • Forget-Me-Not
  • Hyssop
  • Lavender
  • Russell Lupine Blend
  • Milkweed
  • Penstemon
  • Sundial Lupine Bluebonnet
  • Colorado Blend Yarrow

ANNUALS

You’ll get earlier blooms and reduce time in the late winter/early spring sowing seeds indoors and transplanting seedlings when warm enough. The moisture from melting snow will greatly reduce your need to water in the spring.

Tips for sowing annual seed:

Sow the seeds after a killing freeze but before snow. You may also sow in late winter between snow fall. The snow helps bury seeds and insulates them, helping to retain moisture.

Mix the seed with a bit of sand before sowing. This helps you space your seed more evenly and gives you a better visual of where you sow your seed.

Mark where you planted with labeled garden stakes to avoid damaging emerging flowers.

Annuals to sow in the fall:

  • Bachelor Buttons
  • California Bluebells
  • Bluebonnet
  • Larkspur
  • Poppy

Info Source: Botanical Interests

GARLIC

Garlic is one of the easiest to grow crops. The bulbs are planted in the fall and they are start to emerge early spring. They don’t mind hot summer weather, require little watering if we have consistent rain, and need well-draining soil. We recommend adding compost to your planting area two weeks before planting your garlic. Download our Growing and Storing Guide below or pick up a copy in the store when you get your garlic bulbs.

FALL PLANTED BULBS

Bulbs are really as easy as dig, drop, and done. Each bulb packet will tell you the depth to plant and timing since they have different depth needs. When planting, make sure the soil is well-draining (soil doesn’t stay soggy more than a day) and use Bulb Tone to get their roots off to a healthy start before the ground freezes. Amend your soil with compost or top soil if it’s compacted or not well-draining.

LANDSCAPE PLANTS

Fall is a wonderful time to plant! The heat of the summer is done and the cooler weather is less stressful for the plants during transplanting. The soil also stays moist longer, which requires less frequent water for you! We always recommend mulching around your new landscape plants, leaving a couple inches open around the stems, and wait to do heavy mulching (more than 2 inches), until the ground is completely frozen.

Trees, Shrubs, and Evergreen

Trees, shrubs, and evergreens can be planted up to 6 weeks before ground freeze (average ground freeze is beginning of Dec.). If the trees or shrubs are dormant by the time of planting, you may not need to water if the soil stays slightly moist. Make sure to mulch 2-3 inches around the root zone and wrap your tree saplings Oct. 31st or as soon as possible after that. If you have issues with rabbits or deer around, get a hard plastic mesh tree guard. You’ll be happy you did because if animals chew around the entire tree diameter, it’ll cut off nutrients to the tree. Shrubs and evergreens can also experience animal damage from hungry animals so use a granular or spray animal repellent or fencing.

Deeply water your plants all the way up to ground freeze. Only water when the top 2- 3 inches are dry. It’s usually 5 gallons of water every week to two weeks depending on your soil type, size of the plant, and weather.

Here is an extra note about evergreens. It’s very important evergreens have adequate water before ground freeze or you may experience browning of needles the next spring. Evergreens do better when planted early fall instead of late fall to help them take up moisture before freezing. They slowly lose water from their needles over winter and if they are in an area of high winds and/or bright, all day sun, it dries them out quicker. Read more about evergreen winter care.

Perennials

You can plant perennials up to 6 weeks before ground freeze (average ground freeze is beginning of Dec.) but sooner the better for transplanting success. Just make sure they are watered until freeze and heavily mulched to protect their root systems once the ground is frozen, and no sooner. Smaller potted perennials tend to have shorter root systems before they are established in your soil. When planting use a slow release fertilizer, like Biotone, and keep the deeper soil moist, not soggy. When the top couple inches are dry, it’s safe to water. The plant roots will reach deeper into the soil and create a more robust root system if you water longer and deeper and can reduce watering frequency.

Fall is also a good time to split perennials that have bloomed in the spring or early summer. Iris and peonies, in particular, should be split during the fall months. You can split other perennials but the rule of thumb is if it blooms late summer or fall, split in the spring and vice versa. Don’t transplant perennials while in bloom but if you absolutely need to split them, wait a few weeks after blooming. Dividing perennials (PDF List of perennials and dividing time)

christmas trees at drummers, fraser, balsam, white pine, victorian

Choosing a Christmas Tree

We start the season of festive greenery early at Drummers Garden Center and Floral. Christmas Trees, as well as spruce tops, wreaths, garlands, and evergreen bundles including cedar, pine, and juniper are in around mid-November. We know some of you wave your magic wand of decorations as soon as you can and others fully enjoy just the cozy feel of the season so we have them for you before Thanksgiving!

fraser fir, balsam fir, and white pine christmas trees

Our Christmas Trees come from sustainably grown tree farms that focus on quality and providing freshly harvested trees. Nelson Family Farms up in Wild Rose, WI is one of our Christmas tree vendors and each year we unload a large semi full, and then hang from rafters of our greenhouse for easy viewing. The tree branches relax and you see them in their full form. We also cut the trunk, net them, and help you load if needed! The greenhouse also smells amazing with all the scent trapped inside.

We believe the trees we provide are the best value. We carry Fraser Fir, Balsam Fir, White Pine, and Victorian Fraser Fir. *See image with our four tree varieties

christmas trees at drummers, fraser, balsam, white pine, victorian

Tree attributes:

To help you decide on a Christmas tree this year here are a few attributes of each tree variety. The trees can vary in size 5′-14′ tall also so make sure you measure the height of the room it will be in.

White Pine: Size ranges from 6′-8′ tall and have soft, flexible needles that are bluish-green in color. Needles are 2½ – 5 in. long. They have good needle retention. These trees have little fragrance. Great for people who may have allergies to evergreen scent. These trees look so lovely with lights woven in and out of their long needles and lighter weight ornaments.

Fraser Fir: Size ranges from 6′-12′ tall and have good form and the best needle retention of all the varieties. The branches are slightly upturned. Has a pleasant fragrance. Our most popular tree!

Victorian Fraser Fir: Size ranges from 6′-14′ tall and are the same as Fraser Firs but untrimmed and space between branches are wide. This is a more traditional style of Christmas tree. True to natural form in the wild. Sometimes they are still adorned with little cones on them. Good needle retention.

Balsam Fir: Size ranges from 5′-12′ tall. These Christmas trees have the strongest and longest lasting fragrance of the tree varieties. These are relatively dense trees and have two toned needles with dark green on top and silvery green on the bottom.

keeping christmas tree fresh

wrapping tree wrap around sapling in late fall

Winterizing new evergreens and trees

Wrap new trees (saplings)

We recommend new trees are wrapped with a protective tree wrap or vinyl guards end of October to help protect against sun scald and frost crack. If you tree does experience winter damage it’s not necessarily terminal for the tree but can increase chances of disease and insect damage. The wrap can also help deter animal damage during winter.

Wrap up to the first tier of branches coming out of the truck and slightly overlap the wrap as you go up the tree.

Remove the wrap in spring after freezing temps have passed because you don’t want to trap moisture and heat when it warms up. There are wraps that state they can be used all year-round so read packages before keeping on all year. This should be continued every year until the bark begins to thicken and roughen.

The following trees have higher chances of winter damage if not wrapped due to their thin bark when saplings.

Apple, Beech, Crabapple, Elm, Horse Chestnut, Linden, Oak, Walnut, and Willow.

Guard your evergreens against the harsh winter weather (and animal damage!)

We love the addition of evergreens to almost any yard. The year-round texture, color and refuge for wildlife is something you can’t replicate with other trees. Plus they look great covered in fresh snow and holiday lights.

The same winter weather and snow that contrasts nicely with our beautiful green and picturesque evergreens can actually do damage to them. Here are tips to protect yours, designed to guard against the drying and damaging affects of winter.

The last two tips are included for those of you who may have experienced damage in previous years and/or added new evergreens.

1. Water thoroughly until freeze.

Keep your evergreens well hydrated throughout the year. Continue to provide ample moisture through October and possibly part of November until the ground freezes. Read our Guide to Watering if you need a refresher.

2. Mulch

Surround evergreens with a fresh layer of insulating mulch to regulate the soil temperature and seal in moisture. Once the ground freezes, the roots cannot replace lost water, and sun and wind can deplete it from the foliage, a double whammy for your evergreens.

3. Spray with Wilt Stop®

Evergreen leaves have more surface from which to lose water, so they are more susceptible to winter desiccation (drying). This can be prevented with an anti-desiccant spray like Wilt Stop that helps to seal in moisture and protect your broad and narrow-leafed evergreens.

Wilt Stop is it is natural and non-toxic— made from the resin of pine trees—and it forms a soft, clear and flexible barrier over foliage to prevent your evergreen from drying out.

4. Create a barrier against wind with burlap ( this can also help with animal damage ).

If the evergreens are planted on the south or southwest side of your home, they may be getting the worst of the winter winds and scalding winter sun, a stressful combination for our evergreens.

Post sturdy metal or wooden stakes at an angle around the evergreen trees, then wrap with burlap, making sure to keep the top open for light and air flow. The natural, porous fiber of the burlap or similar fabric allows some wind to pass through, making it resilient enough to withstand the wind, but minimizing the strongest, coldest gusts from reaching your evergreen. This can also minimize the accumulation of large amounts of drifting, damaging snow. When the snow starts to accumulate in the winter it helps keep rabbits from being up to sneak under and munch on your plant when they are wanting to start eating anything they can find. Use of animal repellents is also recommended if you have a large number of animals around your home.

5. Buddy-tie your evergreen branches.

This is the same philosophy that is used when we buddy-tape a weaker, sprained or broken finger to a stronger one for support.

Many evergreens and other trees have multiple leaders, or two dominant branches. On their own, they can be more susceptible to breakage from heavy snow and ice at the point just above the crotch of the tree or the area where the trunk branches into two.

By joining the two leaders approximately halfway up from the weak crotch area, you give them stability and strength. You can use strips of strong cloth (the rest of your burlap) or nylon stockings for the bind. Remove them before spring growth to allow movement and prevent girdling.