All posts by longfellows

January FAQs

Q – Have your seeds arrived at the store yet?
A – We have some seeds available in early January, and many more by February and March.

Q– When is your Cabin Fever Art Show this year?
A – February 8th & 9th 2020 .

Q– When can I plant my (cut) Christmas tree?
A– The popularity of live Christmas trees makes some people think that they can plant a cut tree and it will root. It will not root or grow under any conditions.

Q– What am I supposed to spray on my evergreens to keep them from turning brown?
A– A product called Wilt-pruf, when sprayed on evergreens, (especially broadleaf types like Rhododendrons), helps reduce moisture loss, which can cause browning. Apply according to the package directions at the beginning of winter and again during January thaw (outside temperatures should be above 40F).

Q– Can I apply wood ashes to my garden and around my shrubs?
A– Wood ashes are a good source of potassium (potash) in the garden. They also raise the pH of the soil and sweeten it. Add them to the compost pile, rather than directly to garden soil. Spread the compost around shrubs and perennials that prefer a sweet soil. Do not apply where acid-loving plants like potatoes or rhododendrons will be grown. Have the soil tested periodically to make sure you are not overdoing it, as too much wood ash is not a good thing. Remember to save wood ashes in a fireproof container, as they can contain live embers for a long time. Do not apply ashes to the garden if they have come from burning toxic materials.

Q– Ice and snow have bent my trees and shrubs over. Should I shake them free?
A– Generally, it is best to let warmer weather take care of this problem naturally. Frozen bark, buds, and trunk tissues can be damaged by vigorous shaking and pulling. If it seems advisable to do something, proceed gently and don’t force the branches free.

Timely tips:
• Chip or shred holiday greenery for mulch for landscape use
• Sharpen and clean gardening tools so they will be ready for spring
• Re-apply Wilt-pruf to evergreens on a day when the temperature is above 40F.                                                                                                                         

• Visit Longfellow’s for a brief trip to the “tropics”                                       

• Purchase seed-starting supplies                                                                         

• Brighten your home with new houseplants

  • Plan your spring garden!


“Hanging Glass Terrariums” Workshop with Kerri Day ~ Saturday, Jan. 25th at 11 am ~ Create two hanging glass terrariums using a variety of miniature plants, rocks and mosses. Kerri  Day will discuss terrarium care basics and assist you in creating two beautiful terrariums for your home. Cost is $35. Please call 622-5965.

“All About Houseplants” Lecture with Shellie Harding ~ Saturday, Feb. 1st at 11 am ~ Our houseplant expert, Shellie Harding, will share helpful tips on growing healthy houseplants.  Topics will include fertilizing, watering, light requirements, re-potting and more. Bring all  your houseplant questions to this informative, free lecture.

Artist Marylu Wellwood

Cabin Fever Art Show 

Saturday, Feb. 8th – 10 am 4 pm Sunday, Feb. 9th – 10 am – 3 pm

Walk through the warm greenhouses while browsing talented local artists. We have many new artists this year showcasing their fine art. Hello Good Pie Bakery and Gourmet Kitchen will have lunch options for purchase.

Soul Shine Soap Company

Winter Break Craft Show ~ Feb. 22nd & Feb. 23rd

If you’d like to apply for this craft show, please click the link below.

Craft Show Application

A Plan for Pruning

You may notice some people are pruning their trees and shrubs this time of year. If you would like to do so, be sure to base your pruning time on the plants’ flowering schedules.

Early flowering shrubs such as forsythia, lilac, quince and rhododendrons should be pruned immediately after they flower.  This is because they will start to develop their buds for the following year’s blossoms sometimes within 3 weeks from when they are done flowering. If you prune flowering shrubs in this category anytime from late summer through spring, you will be removing potential blossoms for the following year.

Later flowering shrubs like hydrangea, some spiraea and shrubs that do not flower at all may be pruned now.

It is optimal to prune fruiting and flowering trees now as it is easier to see plant structures when they are without leaves. 

Shade trees that have suffered damage may also be shaped or pruned for safety and aesthetics at this time.  Wait until later in the spring to prune trees that profusely bleed sap such as maple or birch.

While inspecting your plants for necessary pruning, you may observe egg masses of damaging insects that overwinter on your plants, such as eastern tent caterpillar or viburnum leaf beetle.  The caterpillar egg mass can be plucked off the branch, while the leaf beetle branches must be removed and destroyed.

Pruning is always a hot topic here at Longfellow’s. Join us for our “Pruning Fruit Trees & Ornamentals” Lecture ~ Saturday, March 17th at 10 am. Click here for details. 

For more great information:

By Sue McIntyre

And the Winners are… 2018 Plants of the Year!


Candidates for the Proven Winners’ Plant of the Year are judged stringently by growers, retailers and home gardeners against the five criteria: Easy to Grow, Iconic, Readily Available, Perfect for Baskets or Containers and Outstanding Landscape Performance. Plants are selected that are easy for everyone to grow and deliver a clearly exceptional garden performance.

After several rounds of voting, the winners are announced to growers across North America one year in advance to ensure they have plenty of time to grow the millions of plants needed to satisfy the demand at retail. As a result, home gardeners can easily find a retailer who carries the winning Plants of the Year.

Continue reading And the Winners are… 2018 Plants of the Year!

Recipe for a Successful Garden

Enter the kitchen garden:

A garden is as distinct and individual as your tastes will allow. Whether you like it hot and spicy-with herbs and peppers that sing with flavor-or subtle blends of flavorful veggies and culinary herbs, it is easier than you think to have success in the garden and in the kitchen.

Today’s kitchen gourmet is more likely to trek to the backyard garden than to the local market for fresh rosemary, peppers or cilantro. Where else can you be assured of a variety of fresh produce that is designed around your palette?

There are three elements essential to a successful planting: location, drainage and spacing. Continue reading Recipe for a Successful Garden

March FAQs

Q– What seeds can I start indoors now?
A– Check the seed packets for planting dates. If the recommendation is to start seeds ten weeks before planting outside, the middle of March would be the right time to sow indoors. But don’t rush it, or your plants will be ready before they can go outside! Start cabbage, celery, and other cool-weather vegetables soon. After hardening them off, plant outside in mid-May, along with perennial seedlings, cool-weather annuals and herbs, and other cold tolerant vegetables. Cold sensitive plants must wait until the end of May.  Use grow- lights to make sure plants have adequate light; if the stems start to stretch, they need more. If you haven’t started begonia tubers yet, do that now. (See February questions for damp-off information.)

Q– When will your tomato seedlings be ready?
A– The first transplants will be available for sale around the last week of April . Patio tomatoes are ready earlier. We do not recommend planting them outside into the soil until the end of May, unless you have made special arrangements for warming the soil and protecting seedlings from frost. See questions & answers under Vegetables in the April section.

Q– Can I start pruning yet?
A– Yes. But do not prune spring-bloomers like forsythia, except to remove broken branches or suckers, or you will remove spring blossoms in the process. Do not prune birch and maple after the sap starts to rise; it’s okay while trees are still dormant, or after leaves are fully out in late spring. Now is a good time to prune fruits trees.

Q– What other gardening chores can I do now?
A– Anything you didn’t do on the February list, do now; and start cleaning up debris and raking as soon as the snow recedes. Make a cold frame to grow early seedlings outside as the weather warms. Don’t remove mulches yet, even if temperatures are warm and the snow melts. Cut branches of flowering shrubs for forcing into bloom inside the house. Look for Eastern tent caterpillar or other insect egg masses on tree bark, and destroy them; tent caterpillar masses look like blobs of dried, gray Styrofoam wrapped around the branch.

Q– What should I do for my fruit trees?
A– This is a good time to prune fruit trees. Also, apply dormant oil spray late in March to smother insect eggs. Or apply oil and lime sulfur spray (a combination concentrate), which smothers insects and disease. Clean up any debris (leaves, fruit) leftover on the ground from autumn. Do not apply these after buds swell and start to open.

Q– Can I buy those nice trays with many small plants in them that I see on your greenhouse benches?
A– Sorry, plug trays are used for Longfellow’s spring planting projects and are not for sale until they have been transferred to their final pots.

Q– When will your nursery stock and perennials be available for sale?
A– They will be ready the end of April, with the supply increasing to full stock around the first weekend of May. The soil needs to be “workable” (dried out enough to crumble) before planting, anyway, and should not be dug until then.

Q– I forgot to plant my spring-flowering bulbs last year. Are they a lost cause?
A– Plant the bulbs in pots of soil and water them. Place in a cool location (ideal temperatures are between 35-45), where they will not freeze, for ten weeks. If ten weeks of cold is not possible, give them as long a period as you can. Then bring them into a warm, well-lit area and start watering. Fertilize with a product like Bulb Booster™ as soon as shoots appear, and again in a week or two. Plant into the outdoor garden as soon as the soil is workable. Most varieties (but maybe not all) will reappear next spring. If daffodils planted this way do not flower this year, they may next year. If it is really too late to give bulbs a cold treatment by the time you think of it, just plant them into the garden as soon as possible and hope for the best.

Timely Tips:

  • Buy Seeds
  • Begin sowing seeds indoors.
  • Start begonia tubers.
  • Prune trees and shrubs ( not birch or maple or early spring blooming shrubs).
  • Force branches of early flowering shrubs indoors.
  • Destroy insect casings on tree bark.
  • Clean up debris in the garden.
  • Apply dormant oil spray to fruit trees.
  • Purchase pots of forced bulbs.
  • Start applying fertilizer to houseplants on a regular basis; repot if needed.


December FAQs


Q– I forgot to plant my spring-flowering bulbs. Are they any good now?
A– Plant them in good soil in large pots. Place in an unheated, protected area like an unheated basement, woodshed, cold frame, or garage. Water them once, then keep them from drying out during the winter, but don’t keep them soggy-wet. Plant them in the ground in spring after danger of hard frost. Use Bulb Booster or an all-purpose fertilizer when planting, and place them in the ground at the proper depth for that type of bulb (you may have to partially fill in the planting hole at first, then back fill as top growth elongates). If no unheated space is available, just keep the bulbs dry and cool, then plant them outside as soon as the ground is workable in spring, and hope for the best. Some will survive. Of those that do, some may not flower till the next year. Fertilize while leaves are still green and healthy in spring.

Perennials, Trees, & Shrubs:
Fertilizing & Planting: Don’t, until spring.

Holiday decorating, foliage plants: see November.

Living Christmas trees: Keep these indoors only a few days; no more than 3 is best. We recommend the tree be placed in a tub when brought into the home.  This will make watering the tree easier and prevent any mess.  Whether indoors or out, the soil ball should be kept moist and not allowed to dry.  When storing the tree after its use indoors, the easiest method is to place the tree in a garage or other unheated structure.  Place in bark or some other mulching material over the soil ball to prevent moisture loss and reduce freezing and thawing.  Wait for warm weather to arrive in the spring and then plant the tree as you would any other tree or shrub.

November FAQs


Q – How late can I plant spring-flowering bulbs?
A – Until the ground freezes. However, bulbs planted later probably will flower later in the spring than established bulbs.

Q – What if I can’t plant my bulbs before the ground freezes?
A – Plant them in deep pots, spaced apart appropriately for the variety (if you have room), or one per pot for ideal spacing, in good quality soil. Water them and place them in a very cool, protected location such as an unheated basement or a cold frame. Check about once a month to make sure they are not drying out too much. By spring, they will be growing actively, so give them good light as soon as possible. Then, whether they have flowered yet or not, plant them outside in their final location as soon as the soil is workable, and fertilize. If the bulbs were planted at the wrong height in the pots so that planting them in the ground at the right depths will bury the leaves too much, plant the bulbs at the correct depth anyway but don’t back-fill the hole completely until later. Then the leaves will have had a chance to develop and send good nutrients back into the bulb for next year. Fertilize while the leaves are still healthy and green.

Fertilizing: Don’t fertilize outdoor plants now, except for fall bulbs if you are still planting them.

Flowering Holiday plants: See our information sheets.

Foliage Plants:

Q – How should I care for my houseplants during the winter?
A – Reduce water, and do not fertilize till late winter. Apply fertilizer at low rates for African violets and orchids.

Holiday Decorating:

Q – How much garland is needed for a standard door or around a lamp post?
A – 20’ around most doors, 10’ around a standard home lamp post.

Q – How many lights do I need to decorate a tree?
A – See list at the end of the November section. Also check back of light package.

Q – How many bunches of boxwood does it take to make a full-size boxwood tree (on one block of oasis)?
A – Approximately 3 or a little more, depending on the maker’s style. See our handout on making a boxwood tree.

Q -How many bunches of fir does it take to make a one-sided 12” wreath?
A – Approximately three. See our handout on wreath-making.

Q – How do I keep my Christmas tree fresh?
A – Make a fresh cut on the bottom of the trunk immediately before placing it in the tree stand filled with water. This means to cut off a whole cross-section of trunk to open up the tree’s vascular system, so it can draw water up into the needles. Also, use a product such as Prolong added to the water to keep it fresh. If you are able to spray the tree with Wilt-stop, that will help (spray outdoors under natural light for best results, but the temperature needs to be above 40 degress to use this product).

Q – How long can I keep a live Christmas tree inside my home? What else do I need to know about it?
A – Only a very short time. See our handout.

Q – When will you be getting in a fresh supply of greens (holly, fir, boxwood, or whatever?)
A – Ask the manager of that department. In general, we receive wreaths and boxwood by mid-November, evergreen boughs Nov. 1, holly after Thanksgiving, mistletoe by Dec. 1. Outdoor arrangements are ready the week before Veterans’ Day.

Q – How do I get my Poinsettia to re-flower?
A – See our handout on that topic. The process needs to be started in September, by October 1. Controlling exposure to light and dark conditions is critical. General cultural requirements include proper fertilizing and watering.

Q – How do I get my Christmas cactus to re-flower?
A – See our handout on that topic. Bud formation is triggered by day length and occurs in fall if the plant is exposed to only natural daylight and no extra artificial light during that period. One way is to leave the plant outside until frost (do not allow plant to get frost damage). General cultural requirements include proper fertilizing and watering according to seasonal needs.

Perennials & Roses:

Q – When and how should I mulch my flower beds?
A – Mulch after the ground is frozen, or at least after it is freezing somewhat solidly each night, and before a significant snowfall. Mulching is usually appropriate anytime in November (unless the weather is unusually warm) until Thanksgiving, if the ground is not covered with snow. If you do not mulch before snowfall, don’t lay mulch on top of the snow, as it will cause an ice layer to develop that will be damaging to the plants. Do not mulch with plastic or any material that will heat up in the sun or will not allow air to flow through the material. Hay and straw are good if they are free from weed seeds, but sometimes it blows away. Pine needles are good if available but sometimes carry a dormant slug population. Evergreen boughs are ideal, because they allow air passage, provide insulate, are easy to remove in spring, and do not harbor many pests. Another reason to wait until late in the fall is to allow rodents to find other nesting homes for the winter first, so they will be less likely to select your nicely mulched areas.

Q – How should I protect my roses over winter?
A – See “Winter Protection of Roses” hand-out in this section.


Q – There are small tunnels running across the top of my lawn. What causes them?
A – Moles cause these tunnels. They, and other digging rodents, will eat bulbs and roots during the winter, especially in years when their population is high. Use traps or poison. Barriers of woven wire or hardware cloth sunk below the surface of the soil around prize bulbs may stop moles, but you would have to cover a wide surface area. Another method is to plant the bulbs in wire cages with mesh large enough to allow sprouts to come through in spring.

Planting: See Bulbs. Otherwise, don’t.

Pruning: See Sept.

Trees & Shrubs:

Q – When do I apply Wilt-stop to my evergreens?
A – Late November, and again in mid-January. Temperatures should be above 40 degrees.

Q – How do I protect my evergreen shrubs from other types of damage?
A – Tighten guy wires on newly planted trees to stabilize them through harsh winds. They still need light, so a teepee arrangement or a lathe barrier is better than burlap wrap. Never wrap with plastic. Use Deer-Off to protect from deer damage, according to package directions, and reapply every couple of weeks.

Q – Can I still plant trees & shrubs?
A – It’s getting late, and therefore risky. Especially avoid planting any types of evergreens.

Timely Tips:
• Clean up and remove all diseased or insect-infested material, especially around roses, apples, and other plants prone to pests & disease. Remove asparagus at ground level. Don’t compost and of this material, but put it in the trash. Disease-free and insect-free plant material may be composted.
• Spray evergreens with Wilt-stop on a day when temperatures are above 40. Spray deer-susceptible plants with Deer-Off.
• Cut back perennials (not roses).

October FAQs

Fertilizing: Don’t, except for lawns or new bulbs. See Sept.


Q – Do I have to rake?
A – It’s best not to let layers of whole leaves pack down for the winter, as this can kill the grass underneath. You can run a lawnmower over the leaves to shred them. If collecting the leaves for compost, layer them with kitchen vegetable waste and thin layers of soil in the compost pile to help them decompose properly. Run over them first with the lawnmower to shred them, if you want to speed decomposition.

Q – What care does my lawn require now?
A – Continue to water during dry periods. Apply fall (low-nitrogen) or winterizing lawn fertilizer this month, but hold off if there is not enough rain or watering for good growth. Fall is also a good time to lime a lawn.

Mulching gardens: Wait till later. See November’s entry.


Q – Why bother to clean up the perennial garden; isn’t it true that stems help hold snow to provide a winter mulch?
A – Yes, this is true, and also a good justification if you don’t have time for fall chores. However, some pests and diseases can over-winter in dead perennial material, and removing waste helps prevent worse problems next year. Plants that especially benefit from fall clean-up are summer phlox, peonies, roses, and German irises, which may harbor problems you can’t yet see. Anytime you actually notice pests or disease, it is good practice to clean up the plants in the fall and put the refuse in the trash, not in the compost. Use fresh mulch for winter protection (after the ground freezes).

Planting: See September questions.
Plant spring-flowering bulbs now! Bulbs can be planted right until the ground freezes.

Pruning: Don’t prune now. See September questions.


Q – How do I help my roses survive through winter?
A – It is too early to provide protection (see November questions). Continue to provide plants with water and do not fertilize.

Trees & Shrubs:

Q – What can I do to keep my Rhododendrons from turning brown? And how can I get my Rhododendrons to stay healthy through winter?
A – When planting the shrub in the first place, put it in a site that will be protected from winter sun, which dries out the leaves at a time the plant cannot replenish moisture through the frozen soil. Make sure the plant is well-watered through summer and fall. Rhodies are shallow-rooted and very susceptible to dry conditions. Apply Wilt-Stop in late November and again in mid January.


Q – Do I have to water?
A – Continue to water if we do not get at least 1” rain per week. Plants planted this year especially will need regular, deep watering.

Timely tips:
• Wrap tree guards around lower portions of trunks of smaller trees, as high as snow is likely to cover, to protect bark from rodent damage.
• Purchase products to winterize the garden: mulches, burlap, stakes, rose cones and collars, Wilt-Stop.