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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Easy Fall Planting
Fall is the second-best time to plant – with some saying it’s the best!
We typically have late-summer and fall sales. Check out current plant sales here.
LATE-FALL SOWN PERENNIAL SEEDS
Sow perennial plant seeds, that need stratification, after a hard frost – below 25 F. Stratification is 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.
Be sure to mark the spot you planted. 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.
Perennial plants to sow after a hard frost:
Blue and Breezy Flax Seeds
Russell Lupine Blend
Sundial Lupine Bluebonnet
Colorado Blend Yarrow
LATE-FALL SOWN ANNUAL SEEDS
You’ll get earlier blooms and reduce time in the late winter/early spring sowing seeds indoors. 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 and before snowfall. You may also sow in late-winter between snow fall. The snow buries the seed and insulates them, helping to retain moisture.
Mix the seed with a bit of sand before sowing. This helps the seed spread evenly and gives you a better visual of where you have sown.
Mark where you planted with labeled garden stakes to avoid damaging emerging flowers.
Garlic is one of the easiest to grow crops. Garlic is planted in the fall. They start to grow their roots this fall and then emerge next spring. We recommend adding compost to your planting area two weeks before planting your garlic.
Bulbs are really as easy as dig, drop, and done. 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.
If you have a presence of voles, mice, chipmunks, or squirrels we recommend planting them with a granular animal repellent.
Fall is a wonderful time to plant in you landscape. 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, there is less disease and pest stressors, and your plants will put more energy into root growth than foliage.
We recommend mulching around your new landscape plants, leaving a couple inches open around the stems to help retain moisture when they are establishing themselves.
PLANT TREES, SHRUBS, AND EVERGREENS
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.
Deeply water your plants until the ground freezes. 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.
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 after ground freeze to protect their roots.
When planting, mix in a slow release fertilizer – like Biotone. When the top couple inches of soil are dry, that’s when you should water. Water deeply so the plant roots reach deeper into the soil and create a more robust root system before winter weather.
A good rule of thumb to follow: “Blooms late-summer/fall, divide them in spring. Blooms spring, divide in the fall.”
REDUCE WINTER DAMAGE
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, which will cause the plant to die. Shrubs and evergreens can also experience animal damage from hungry animals so use a granular or spray animal repellent or fencing.
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.
Mid-August through mid-September is an ideal time to start new grass from seed. We carry high quality seed from Ramy Seeds in Mankato. If it seems daunting to keep the soil moist to sprout grass this time of year or it’s too late, you can wait until late fall – after we have our first frosts – to sow seeds that will sprout in the spring when the weather warms and spring rains help keep the seed moist.
PLANT COVER CROPS AFTER HARVEST
Cover crops are also an option if you are done with your garden space until next spring or before you plant garlic in late Sept. or Oct. It’s best to start growing cover crops as soon as you can but many crops will grow into late fall. Plant a quick growing crop like peas, oats, radishes, or buckwheat.
A cover crop is used to slow erosion from wind and rain, improve soil health, smother weeds, help control pests and diseases, break up compacted soil, and increase biodiversity. Using a cover crop can reduce the amount of compost you need to prepare your garden soil for next year.
Read our post about Living Soil which covers best practices for healthier soil and head over to the University of MN Extension article with a cover crops selector tool to choose a cover crop for your soil goals. For example: If you fertilize with liquid fertilizers you probably have excess nitrogen in your soil or if you grew peas ( nitrogen fixers) in an area then you’d choose a cover crop that adds other nutrients.
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!
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
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.
Winterizing new evergreens and trees
Wrap New Trees
We recommend new trees, also known as saplings, 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.
Trees with higher susceptibility to winter damage:
Guard Evergreens Against 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 sometimes cause damage.
Protection Against Winter Air and Snow
1. Water Thoroughly
Keep evergreens well hydrated throughout the year. Proper watering depends on soil drainage, weather, and size of the plant. Average is around 5 gallons of water a week to two weeks for shrubs and trees. If the soil is still moist, wait to water. Water thoroughly one day and not every day. Continue to provide ample moisture until the ground freezes.
2. Cover Soil
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. Build a Burlap Barrier
If evergreens are planted on the South/Southwest side of your home, they may be getting the worst of the winter winds and scalding winter sun – a damaging combo. Watch the video above for best examples.
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 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.
Some evergreens have multiple leaders or two dominant branches. On their own, they can be more susceptible to breakage from heavy snow and ice at 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 buddy-tie before spring growth to allow movement and prevent girdling.