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Hydrangea Magic: Changing Bloom Colors

Blue HydrangeaA common question we get from gardeners each year is: "Why are my blue Hydrangeas pink, or, Why are my pink Hydrangeas blue?" The answer is really quite simple (and no, it’s not magic). The color of your Hydrangea blooms are directly linked to the PH levels of your soil.

Knowing this important information means you can easily (well, somewhat easily) change the color of your Hydrangea blooms! Alkaline soil produces pink blooms and acidic soil produces blue blooms. The first step in determing the PH of your soil is to do a soil PH test to determine the acidity of your soil.

Blue to Pink: A test result below 7 means that your soil is acidic (blue blooms). To raise the PH of your soil (to turn blooms pink), try adding limestone – most packages will tell you how much to add to increase your PH to the correct levels.You can also try using a fertilizer with high levels of phosoporus in it. This helps keep the aluminum in your soil from entering the root system of your plant. Pink HydrangeaIf you can’t seem to lower the acidity in your garden beds, consider planting in pots.

Pink to Blue: A test result above 7 means that your soil is alkaline (pink blooms). To lower the pH of your soil (to turn blooms blue), you can add things such as sulfur, compost, pine needles, or pine bark. This will help to add some acidity to your soil. You can also try an organic fertilizer that is low in Phosphurus and high in Potassium.

The best success rate comes from gardeners who grow their Hydrangeas in containers, which allows for them to completely control the acidity of the soil with no outside factors.
Also note that it is easier to change a pink Hydrangea to blue than blue to pink. Other colors of Hydrangea cannot change colors with soil acidity.

What experience do you have changing the colors of your Hydrangeas? Please post in the comments below or on our Facebook Page. Happy Gardening!


February 8, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · 7 Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos, Perennials

Hostas: The Ultimate Foliage Plant for Shade

Hosta, Allium and FernHostas are the ultimate foliage plant for shade. Their resiliance, versatility and endless variety of colors, shapes, and forms makes it a true garden gift that keeps on giving. Whether you’re looking for a smaller variety for a shade container, or a larger Hosta to offset your favorite flowering-plants, there are sure to be (several) choices for you!

Hostas, also known as Funkia or Plantain Lilies, provide interest from spring to fall, finishing off the season with a grand show of blooms. They thrive in almost any zone (3-9) and prefer partial to heavy shade, making them a must-have for almost any garden. These shade beauties grow in almost any type of soil, as long as they have some moisture.

Caring for Hostas is quite simple. These perennials are vigorous growers and it is best to dig up and transplant in the early spring, just as new shoots appear. Hosta and SedumDeer tend to enjoy Hostas as an afternoon snack, so use an organic deer repellant to keep the pesky critters away. The best maintenance to prevent rot or bugs is to weed regularly and remove any decaying leaves around your plants. In the late fall, once your Hostas have died down, cut the foliage back to a few inches.

Adding Hostas to your garden design is both a fun and easy process. Pair Hostas with summer-dormant plants such as Virginia Bluebells, Tulips and Bleeding Hearts. The Hostas provide extended interest in the garden after the other varieties have finished for the season. Hosta and FernIf you’re planting a moonlight garden (learn how here), white variegated Hostas make a great addition. Also, Hosta leaves add lovely green interest to cut bouquets.

What are your favorite ways to use Hostas in your garden design? Please post in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Happy Gardening!

January 31, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos, Perennials

Great Gardens and Landscaping Symposium

WildflowersAmerican Meadows is proud to be a sponsor of the 11th Annual Great Gardens and Landscaping Symposium. If you’re in the Northeast, come for a weekend of gardening lectures, classes and to talk with hundreds of other gardeners growing near you!

The Garden Symposium takes place on April 4th and 5th in Manchester, Vermont. Learn more information and register here. Whether you are a hobbyist or landscape professional, the Symposium is sure to spark your interest, featuring top quality curriculum, handouts, and interaction time with well-known speakers.

Classes and presentations include "The Layered Garden: Design Lessons for Year Round Beauty," Celebrity Pots," "Fun with Color: Variegated Foliage in the Garden," "Flashy New or Underused Perennials for 2014" and much more.

LilyWe hope to see all of you local Northeastern gardeners at the Symposium this April. Happy Gardening!

(To learn more information, please visit the website here)

 

 

 

January 23, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: How-Tos, In The News, Perennials

Turn your Winter Blues into Spring Blues!

African LilyThere is no better way to cure the ‘winter blues’ than starting to plan your spring planting! Although some claim that there can never be a true “blue” flower, gardeners and growers have worked to come as close to blue as the human eye can tell. Blue flowers illuminate in the sunlight and provide a striking, contrasting statement with their green foliage. In the spirit of planning for spring, I have highlighted some of my favorite blue flowers to try this season.

Blue Perennials are perfect for a hardy, romantic statement in the garden. For those gardening in shade, try the African Lily; its waist-high, beautiful foliage sets off the full, strikingly-blue blooms. Blue Wild Indigo can be planted in sun or shade and will provide a beautiful contrast to your favorite white blooms. For a blue ground cover, try the Creeping Phlox Emerald Blue. This favorite perennial is easy-to-grow and fast-spreading, making it a hardy blue statement in any garden. For a blue climber, try the Passion Flower Vine. It’s wonderfully unique blooms are white with blue highlights – perfect for winding around trellises and a fast-grower.

Passion Flower VineTry planting several blue Spring Bulbs for a unique, dramatic statement in a sunny part of the garden. The Starflower Bulbs Queen Fabiola bloom a rich, deep blue and are named after Belgium’s Queen. Try planting these bulbs among low-growing plants, so the stunning flowers poke up through the foliage. The Semi-Dinnerplate Dahlia Blue Boy is a favorite for its large, full blue blooms and tall foliage. The Gladiolus Bulbs Nori and Blue Moon Mix provide wonderful splashes of blue and do not take up much room in the garden – perfect for tucking in with other colors.

Morning GloriesTry planting an all-blue wildflower meadow for a cool, relaxing statement. Blue Flax is native to the US and is an extremely hardy and easy-to-grow perennial; its blooms are a lovely powder-blue. Baby Blue Eyes is a beloved, quick-blooming annual that will make a lovely statement in any sunny area. Try planting Morning Glories along a fence for a quick-blooming, bright statement of blue.

There are endless possibilities for blue blooms this season; try planting an all-blue garden bed or nestle striking blue flowers in with other colors such as white or yellow, to cool down the color scheme. What is your favorite blue flower? Feel free to comment below or post on our Facebook Page!

January 17, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos, Perennials

Bulb, Rhizome, Tuber… What’s the Difference?

Dahlia TuberThroughout the years, the term “bulb” has come to describe any type of root form that is planted in the ground to produce a plant. However, only a few of these plants are truly “bulbs.” There are four different types: rhizomes, corms, tubers and bulbs. We’ll get the bottom of this misunderstanding and explain exactly what the true difference is between these four terms.

Tuber

Tubers are formed from a stem or root and shoots grow upwards from many different places on the tuber. Examples of tubers are Dahlias, Begonias, Anemones and Potatoes.

Gladiolus CormCorm

Corms are characterized by a dry, flaky outer layer that protects its inner structure. After stems sprout from the corm, buds form on top of the stem. At the end of the growing season, a new corm typically grows on the base of the spent one. Examples of corms are Gladiolus and Crocus.

Rhizome

Rhizomes grow horizontally and form roots from its bottom while shooting out leaves on the top. Buds form at different parts along the structure, not necessarily at the top. Examples of rhizomes are Canna Lilies and Calla Lilies. Calla Lily Rhizome

Bulb

A bulb is comprised of a plant’s stem and leaves. The bottom of the bulb is a compacted stem and roots grow from this part of the bulb. Layers of nutrient-filled leaves sit at the bottom of the bulb and surround a bud that eventually becomes the flower. Examples of bulbs are Tulips, Lilies and Daffodils.

Lily BulbWhether it be a tuber, corm, rhizome or bulb, all of these plant structures are sure to produce an easy, spectacular show in the spring and summer months. Happy Gardening!

 

January 9, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer

New, Cold-Hardy Berries for 2014

Goji BerriesThis season, we’re thrilled to have added a variety of new Berry varieties, including several plants that thrive in colder areas. Haskap Berries and Goji Berries bring attractive foliage and gorgeous blooms to the garden, followed by delicious, easy-to-grow berries. This year (and for years to come), why not grow your own food and try something unique?

Goji Berries

Goji BerriesWe’re carrying two varieties of Goji Berry Shrubs: Dynamite and Firecracker. These shrubs are easy-to-grow and prefer as much sun as possible.  Rich purple blooms in late spring give way to small, bright-red fruits. As the season goes on, the berries sweeten and will produce fruit all the way until frost. Goji Berries are famous for being vitamin and antioxidant-rich.

Haskap Berries

The Haskap Berry Shrub, also known as Blue-Berried Honeysuckle or Sweetberry Honeysuckle, is native to the colder Northern Hemisphere, thriving in colder growing zones. Haskap Berry BorealisThis hardy shrub has waxy-green foliage that produces elegant yellow/white flowers, followed by blue berries in the late spring. The bright green foliage keeps its color throughout the fall. We recommend pruning in early spring, after there is no more chance of frost in your area. Large, sweet berries can be eaten fresh or used to make jams and jellies. We’re carrying two varieties of this shrub: Borealis and Berry Blue.

Have you grown either of these Berry plants? Please share your experience in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Happy Gardening!

60% off Clearance on all Fall Planted Bulbs

Plant Amaryllis for Valentines Day Blooms + Save 50%

January 3, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos

Looking Back at 2013: Thank You

2013 Photo Contest WinnerDear Gardener,

As we welcome the arrival of a new year, the team here at American Meadows wants to take a moment to thank all of our loyal customers for their support in 2013. The year included many firsts as we continued to focus on offering the hardiest gardening products and the information you need to succeed. We are also proud that over 70,000 gardeners have joined our community on Facebook. We just love both interacting with and observing such a vibrant group of gardeners as they talk about all the joys (and frustrations!) that our gardens bring.

We certainly kept our hands full this year thanks to our partnership with High Country Gardens. If you are not familiar with High Country Gardens, they’ve long been known for perpetuating sustainable gardening practices with a special focus on plants that thrive in low water conditions. Pay them a visit.

Mike and EthanAs always, we at American Meadows stand ready to serve you with all of your gardening needs. With a host of new products for 2014, we look forward to hearing from you and hope that it’s a prosperous year for you and your garden.

Best Wishes and to Many Sunny Days in the Garden,

Mike “The Seed Man”, Ethan & the Gardeners at American Meadows

December 30, 2013 · Ethan Platt · Comments Closed
Tags:  · Posted in: Perennials, Wildflowers

Award-Winning Garden Plants

Switchgrass Northwind

2014 Perennial Plant of the Year Switchgrass Northwind

With the excitement of the Academy Awards finally over, it seems a good time to start thinking about red-carpet plants. What will the best-dressed gardens be wearing this season? You can get a preview of what’s likely to be popular by looking at this year’s award-winning plants.

Several organizations offer awards for outstanding plants and each has its own criteria for selecting winners. Some of the groups are regional and promote plants that are particularly well-suited to that climate; others are international in scope. Some promote only new varieties, while others award plants of outstanding merit, new or not. Some limit their choices to varieties available as seed.

Whether spring weather is knocking at your door or you’re still in daydreaming mode, browsing these award-winning plants is not only enjoyable, it’s also a way to narrow down your plant choices if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the options.

Perennial Plant Association
A professional trade association dedicated to “improving the perennial plant industry by providing education to enhance the production, promotion and utilization of perennial plants,” the Perennial Plant Association (PPA) chooses one perennial as its annual Perennial Plant of the Year™. There are four criteria. The plant must be:

  • suitable for a wide range of climate types
  • low maintenance
  • easily propagated
  • exhibit multiple seasonal interest

2000 Perennial Plant of the Year Scabiosa Butterfly Blue

Here’s a list of the winners since 1991, the year they started the awards.

All-America Selections Awards for Outstanding Seed Varieties
The mission statement of All-America Selections (AAS) is “To promote new garden seed varieties with superior garden performance judged in impartial trials in North America.” To this end, since 1932 AAS has worked with seed companies to conduct trials nationwide to evaluate plants under a range of growing conditions. Many of the winners have been around for decades and continue to be popular in home gardens. For example:

Fleuroselect
An international trade group of the ornamental plants industry, Fleuroselect tests and promotes new annual and perennial flower varieties, and also acts as a watchdog for illegal propagation of patent-protected varieties. Toward its goal of supporting growers and stimulating plant breeding efforts, Fleuroselect conducts plant trials across Europe. Here are a few past winners:

So what will the best-dressed gardens be wearing this season? You can bet this year’s award-winning plants will be in vogue. However, if you’re like me, your garden might wear the latest plant fashions but you, on the other hand, will be far less fashionable — unless old T-shirts and muddy work boots find their way to Paris runways.

December 26, 2013 · Suzanne DeJohn · 3 Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Gardening in Spring and Summer, Perennials, Vegetable Seeds

Ice Plant (Delosperma): More Than Just a ‘Cool’ Name

Delosperma Lavender IceDelosperma (or Ice Plant) is an easy-to-grow garden jewel found mostly on the West Coast, but can grow almost anywhere. This groundcover is a drought-tolerant succulent that boasts large, show-stopping blooms, attracting butterflies to the garden. Try one of our five new varieties this spring and we guarantee you won’t be dissapointed!

Delopserma Lavender Ice

This hardy groundcover creates a carpet of jewel-toned, purple blooms from summer into the fall. Lavender Ice tolerates partial shade and is a butterfly magnet. 

Delosperma Jewel of Desert Ruby

Delosperma Jewel of Desert GarnetWith kaleidoscope-like blooms that carpet the garden floor, this Ice Plant is sure to turn heads in any sunny spot.

Delosperma Jewel of Desert Garnet

This long-flowering groundcover creates a unique statement throughout the summer months with bi-color white and pink blooms. Like other Ice Plants, Jewel of Desert Garnet is drought-tolerant and attracts butterflies.

Delosperma Fire Spinner

Ice Plant Fire Spinners is a truly unique, fun addition to any sunny spot. Hot, neon colors ignite the summer garden and attract winged wildlife. 

Delosperma Jewel of Desert PeridotDelosperma Jewel of Desert Peridot

Jewel of Desert Peridot illuminates the summer garden with long lasting, cheerful-yellow blooms. This Ice Plant is heat-tolerant and grows in almost any sunny spot.

Now, choose a sunny spot and plant of these bold beauties this spring. Happy Gardening!

December 18, 2013 · Amanda Shepard · 2 Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Gardening in Spring and Summer, Perennials

Let’s Grow Hardy Kiwi!

Hardy Kiwi Anna - Female PlantWhen I first heard we were going to be carrying Hardy Kiwi plants this spring, I’ll admit I was a bit hesitant. But after doing some research, these vigorous vines are actually quite simple to grow (even in our zone 5) and the small, sweet fruits are extremely sweet and satisfying!

About the Hardy Kiwi

Hardy Kiwis are also called Kiwi Berries, Hardy Kiwifruit, Grape Kiwi, and Baby Kiwi. The Hardy Kiwi Vine is native to Korea, Japan, Northern China and Russian Siberia. The fruits are very similar to the Kiwifruit but smaller and have smooth, edible skin. They can be eaten whole, without being peeled, and are much sweeter than the Kiwifruit.Hardy Kiwi Meader - Male Plant

Growing Hardy Kiwi

Growing this fruit-producing vine is really quite simple if you’re in hardiness zones 3-9 (find your zone here). First, start with both a male and a female plant. This is a must to produce fruit. We recommend planting at least one male plant for every five female plants that you have. Hardy Kiwi plants prefer full sun and average to well-draining soil.

These vigorous vines produce small, white flowers in the early summer, followed by greenish-yellow fruits in the late summer and into the fall. Be sure to provide support for the large vines and prune regularly, cutting back the non-flowering parts. Hardy Kiwi Meader - MaleTo harvest the Hardy Kiwifruits, wait as late as possible into the fall once the fruit has ripened. If you’re threatened with frost before the fruit ripens, harvest and ripen the fruits in the refrigerator.

Have any of you had experience growing Hardy Kiwis? Please post in the comments below or on our facebook page. Happy Gardening!

December 12, 2013 · Amanda Shepard · 10 Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos, Perennials