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Archive for April, 2010

No More Nosy Neighbors – Fastest Growing Hedge Plant

As more people are moving into houses with smaller lots and closer neighbors, they’re looking for the fastest growing hedge plant that can be used to create “instant” privacy.

Thuja Green Giant & Knock Out Roses

Thuja Green Giant & Knock Out Roses

Thuja Green Giant is your fast-growing answer! I’ve traveled the country and this new hybrid was introduced to American gardeners about 15 years ago (that’s still “new” for a conifer) from the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C.

Green Giant is a hybrid that grows an amazing 3’ PER YEAR once it becomes established. The trick is maximizing this fast growth rate. Here’s the secret: every April 15th (the dreaded tax day) I fertilize with 2-3 tablespoons of Osmocote slow-release fertilizer scratched into the top 2 inches of soil at the base of each plant. Then, water at least 1” per week from spring thru late fall. This guarantees you’ll see rapid growth of 3’ or more per year.

Fast Growing Privacy Hedge Plant - Thuja Green Giant

Fast Growing Privacy Hedge Plant - Thuja Green Giant

Can you PRUNE Green Giant Thuja? Absolutely! If left unpruned, Thuja Green Giant will form a graceful pyramidal shape 8’ wide and 40’ tall. They respond wonderfully to pruning in early summer (after they’ve had their spring flush) and I’ve seen them planted a mere 18” apart and kept to a tight 6’ tall around a formal rose garden.

Thuja Green Giant is extremely versatile and thrives in sandy or clay soil. I’ve seen it growing in hot/steamy Atlanta, Georgia all the way up into our location here in Western Michigan!

You can’t ask for a better fast-growing privacy Hedge Plant than Thuja Green Giant. Also, try planting long-blooming Knock Out Roses and Ornamental Grasses at the base of your Green Giant Thujas for the “finishing” touch!

No Blooms? It's Probably Moving Time

I often get asked by newbie gardeners that have a combination of sun & shade in their perennial garden how to go about determining what to plant.  A number of years ago, I planted a number of sun loving perennials beneath a tree that had not leafed out yet – then wondered why I didn’t have very many blooms on my plants later that summer.

Hydrangeas grow well in shade but need sun to flower well

Hydrangeas grow well in shade but need sun to flower well

Because light angles & intensity varies throughout the season it is best to assess your site during the summer months (particularly when trees are fully leafed out)  to determine whether you have a shaded or sunny site.

Every spring I would set aside a day or so just to move plants that did not bloom well the previous year because they were in too much shade.  I would be sure to mark all my plants with a  painted stake the year before so I knew which plants needed moving. One thing I learned is that Hydrangeas can grow in full shade – but really need some sun to flower well.

Don’t Hesitate to Move

To bad I can’t get frequent flier mileage every time I moved a plant.  I’d be flying free for the next ten years.  Bottom line, don’t give up on your plants if they are not blooming or performing well. There are factors such as soil & moisture that affect a plants overall performance but chances are if the foliage is burning – they are in too much sun.  If they are not flowering well or at all – they are probably in too much shade.

When to Select Shade Loving Plants

Too much hot afternoon sun will burns off the blue pigment that keeps Abiqua Drinking Gourd  blue

Blue Hostas will retain their color if protected from the hot afternoon sun

If part of the garden is in morning sun and afternoon shadeselect shade loving plants.  Often times shade loving plants need some sun to flower well and achieve good foliage coloration (such as Hostas & Heuchera)  Shade loving plants just don’t like the hot sun ALL AFTERNOON. A few hours of hot sun is probably fine depending on what part of the country you are living in.

When to Select Sun Loving Plants

If part of the garden is in morning shade and afternoon sunselect sun loving plants.  Sun loving plants  take some shade and if you have a combination of both – just make sure that you have at least 4-5 hours of sun during the day

Spring is a good time to move a majority of  perennials. After all, you are making room for all those NEW plants you must have and can’t live without.

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