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13 Dec 2012

Plant a Tree, Pamper Your World

I think that I shall never see
 A poem lovely as a tree. – Joyce Kilmer

Few landscape additions return so much to you, your yard, your streetscape, your environment and your wallet. Trees are decorative accents, many with fragrant blooms. Billowing canopies provide summer shade that can lower cooling costs, and the sun-dappled ground under the leafy umbrellas adds texture and depth to any landscape. Leaves give off oxygen, roots anchor earth to insulate against erosion, and the sheer beauty of a tree is, as Kilmer wrote, one of nature’s most endearing poems.

Planting Tips

Local nurseries can help you choose the best tree for the growing conditions specific to your landscape (soil, amount of direct sunlight, the ground’s natural moisture content, tree height at maturity, ease of care, vulnerability to pests, etc.).

When to Plant

Timing depends on the type of environment the tree will enhance. In “wild” settings or areas being reforested, the dormant months during winter are best. Trees for residential and commercial landscapes fare well when planted any time of the year.

How to Plant

Treat the tree with respect – carry it by the bottom or by the container, never by the trunk. And protect the roots from heat and direct sunlight before it’s planted.

Prepare to plant your tree with the appropriate size trench. Dig a bowl-shaped hole that is only as deep as the root ball and three times as wide. Save the dirt for backfill and do not add mulch, peat, compost or other soft materials, which retard root growth and can produce gases that harm the roots. Do not add fertilizer. Instead, just loosen the dirt in the hole.

Remove the burlap wrap or container and place the tree in the hole, but make sure the surface of the root ball is level with the ground. Tightly pack dirt around the tree and water well.

Tending the Nursery

Adequate water is critical for the first year until the roots are well developed. As with the entire landscape, apply enough water to reach deep into the ground. Avoid more frequent, shallow irrigations that don’t reach the roots and instead encourage them to stay closer to the surface.

Mulching around the tree will help retain moisture and allow nutrients to seep slowly into the ground. Keep mulch from touching the trunk, though, which can promote mold growth. When your tree is about a year old, it’s mature enough to safely be fertilized. Read and respect the instructions.

My Botanica is your source of environmentally sensitive products to treat your tree as the family member it is. Our team is always available to help with information about how to create and care for a picture-perfect landscape. Please call toll free 1-888-722-4308.

13 Dec 2012

Butterflies and Hummingbirds – Nature’s Winged Wonders

Butterflies and hummingbirds are just a few of the attractions that become backyard fare when the right plant materials are part of any landscape.

Butterflies

Butterflies bring smiles to all who see the whimsical wisps of colors in flight. Attracted only to flowers with nectar, these brilliant marvels of nature can see colors that range from ultraviolet to red on the extreme end of the spectrum. The most successful butterfly gardens are lush with plants that appeal to specific species.

The Giant Swallowtail, for example, is one of the country’s largest butterflies and loves the California climates. Dressed in a black suit with bright yellow markings, this showy butterfly comes with a gold-tipped tear-drop at the bottom of each wing. The adaptive flitter, a fabulous garden jewel with a wing spread that can reach six inches, is attracted to several easy-to-grow plants, such as azalea, bougainvilla and lantana, a hardy and salt-tolerant shrub.

Butterflies emerge from caterpillars, which are often mistaken for garden pests because they dine on plant leaves. Garden enthusiasts who choose to attack the “problem” with commercial pesticides and insecticides kill the developing butterflies. Almost without exception, plants that the caterpillars feed on quickly sprout new leaves, so the bare spots are temporary.

To nurture a successful butterfly garden, establish the area as a “no spray zone.” The butterflies will reward you with splashes of nature’s handiwork, and you will make an incomparable contribution to the environment that supports all life.

Hummingbirds

By happy happenstance, gardeners discover hummingbirds love some of the same favorites of the butterfly kingdom, such as nectar-laden red and purple blossoms. The tiny aerodynamic marvels stretch their menu choices to include orange, pink and blue. Because hummingbirds are attracted to such a wide range of flowering ground covers, vines, shrubs and even hanging plants, your gardens can be showy displays of brilliant blooms in an array of colors and plant varieties.

Native plants are fabulous additions to any garden. They are attractive to wildlife and need little care. Natives are naturally resistant to pest infestations, require little water beyond natural rainfall and enhance any landscape or garden.

There are no rules for planting hummingbird haunts, and gardens can be as creative as the gardener. We suggest choosing plants that throw showy blooms, add clusters of species instead of random plantings and choose items that need little care and maintenance. Some charming and brilliantly colored native plants can also be used as accents – scarlet monkey flowers, hedge nettles in the shady areas, native columbines and snapdragons.

My Botanica is a premier source of environmentally sensitive products and pest control options for gardens and landscapes. Our team of professionals welcomes the opportunity to answer your questions, provide information to help you create a nature-friendly garden and choose the best products for your landscape and garden projects. Please call toll free 1-888-722-4308.