Resource Guide


Edibles

Useful external links

For information on our local zone hardiness – see the USDA Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map

For help with planning your edible garden:

For help with edible gardens in raised beds and containers:

For care and maintenance of your edible garden:

For tips on when to harvest your crops:

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Houseplants & Tropicals

Low light plants and care

Low to bright indirect light, early am or late pm direct sun
Plants: aglaonema, aspidistra, dracaena marginata, dracaena ‘Janet Craig,’ sansevieria, nephytus, kentia palm, neanthe bella palm, rhapis palm, philodendron, philodendron cordatum, pothos, spathiphyllum, and zamioculcas (zz plant)
General Care: Water thoroughly when top inch of surface is dry to the touch. Reduce watering frequency in winter. For pothos, zz, and sansevieria, let dry down between waterings.

Medium light plants and care

Bright indirect/filtered light to early am or late pm direct sun
Plants: aphelandra, bird of paradise, calathea, cordyline glauca, dieffenbachia, dracaena limelight/lemon lime, dracaena colorama/bi-color, ficus alii, ficus lyrata, homalomena, ivy, maranta, areca palm, philodendron hybrid, pleomele, and spathiphyllum
General care: Water thoroughly when surface is dry to the touch; reduce watering frequency slightly in the winter.

Bright light plants

Bright light; half to full day direct sun
Plants: aralias, cacti & succulents, citrus, croton, eugenia, ficus benjamina, green island ficus, goldfish plant, areca palm, majesty palm, sago palm, schefflera arboricola, spider plants, and yuccas
General care: Water thoroughly when surface is dry to the touch; reduce watering frequency slightly in the winter.For cacti & succulents, let dry down between waterings.


Perennials

Plant list

Download this comprehensive list of:

  • Perennials for Containers
  • The very best perennials to plant for a lush cutting garden
  • Perennials to plant in your garden for attracting butterflies, bees and/or hummingbirds

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Plant by Bloom Time

Download this table of perennials organized by month of bloom.

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Useful external links

For information on our local zone hardiness – see the USDA Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map

For information on invasive species in Chicago – see the City’s Natural Resources & Water Quality website

For assistance in planning next years garden, you may wish to consult:

For inspiration, we look at:

For general gardening discussions and beyond, we read:

Roses

Rose Care Guide

For information on selection, planting, and maintenance of your roses, download our handy Rose care sheet.


Lawn & Garden Care

Watering Guide

PDF Copy for Printing
Please note: Newly planted plants always require more water during their first year. If you have any questions about proper watering, feel free to talk to our perennials experts.

A luscious green lawn and healthy vibrant trees, shrubs and plants all are a sign of a well-tended yard. A beautiful flower or vegetable garden is a wonderful complement to any home. These things are as much an investment in one’s home as siding or shutters.

One key to a world-class yard and garden is knowing how to water effectively. How do you how much and when to water? There is really no single answer. Weather conditions, soil composition and the types of plants, shrubs and trees you wish to grow all must be considered. Here is some information about soil and watering strategies that can help you grow a gorgeous, green lawn and a bountiful flower and/or vegetable garden.

Climate

On a hot, sunny day in midsummer, the average lawn uses 125 gallons of water per 1000 square feet. The same lawn on a cloudy day uses as little as 10 gallons of water. Mature trees can consume up to 15 gallons of water per hour on a hot day. Any plant exposed to hot sun, low humidity and strong winds will evaporate large amounts of water that must be replaced or it will quickly die. Grass is particularly susceptible since 85 percent of a grass plant’s bulk is water.

Plants

A good drenching once or twice a week is better for your lawn than daily light sprinklings. Deep watering produces strong, deep root systems that can safely withstand drought. To help build such a root system, requires consistent, thorough soaking of the soil, to a depth of 6 to 12 inches. An even, intermittent sprinkling over a period of hours is the best for deep penetration. A steady stream of water from the garden hose, for example, will only wet the surface and mostly will run off.

Soil Type

There are three distinct soil types – clay, loam, and sandy. Each has a different ability to absorb water and therefore your watering strategy will be determined in part by the type of soil you have. Coarse sandy soil has large air spaces that quickly fill with water, but also lose water quickly to the subsoil, requiring shorter more frequent watering. Heavier clay or silt soil has numerous smaller spaces that absorb water slowly and hold it longer than sandy soil. Loam type soil falls in between holding water longer than sandy soil, but not as long as heavy clay soils.

How do I know when to water?

Most lawns need 1 to 2 inches of water per week, depending upon the climate and soil conditions. In dry areas, a regular watering at least once a week is important to maintain good plant health. (Of course, watering isn’t necessary if heavy rain has fallen.) During spring and fall, or in cooler, wetter regions, look for signs that watering is needed. A slower rate of growth, changes in the color, loss of resilience (such as footprints showing in the grass) are all signs that the yard, shrubs or trees need water. You also can check the soil 2 to 6 inches below the surface. If the soil is dry and crumbles easily, then it is time to water.

The soil should always have time to dry between watering. Too frequent watering produces wet areas that make the plants susceptible to lawn diseases, insects and drowned root damage. As the soil is left to dry fully, roots will grow deeper, looking for water below the surface. Roots need to absorb small amounts of oxygen from air spaces in dry soil are warmed by the soil as it dries. Plants respond best when the water penetrates below the top few inches of soil. Light watering produces shallow roots in the upper few inches of the soil, which causes them to dry quickly. In addition, many weeds have shallow roots that thrive on moisture near the surface.

What is the best time of day to water?

Early morning is the best time because water pressure is high and the temperatures are generally cooler. Less water will evaporate and it will soak into the ground better. Late afternoon is the next best time, but be sure that it is early enough for the leaves to dry before full darkness. Watering at night is not recommended because the lawn and other plants stay wet for a longer time, which leaves them susceptible to lawn diseases. Midday watering does not damage the plants, but in the hottest part of the day, a great deal of water evaporates before it soaks into the soil. In extremely high temperatures, the water falling on plant leaves can damage them.

How much is enough water?

The amount of time it takes to apply 1 inch of water will soak deeply into the soil to a depth of about 6 to 8 inches. 1 inch of water is equivalent to 623 gallons per 1000 square feet. Water should be applied no faster than the soil’s ability to absorb it. If the water begins to run off before the inch has been applied, stop sprinkling until it is absorbed, then continue.

How long does it take to water?

The amount of time it takes to apply 1 inch of water per square foot your lawn depends on the size of the hose, the water pressure and the type of sprinkler. There are number of ways to figure out just how much water your sprinkler applies.

Find the gallons per minute (GPM) flow rate from the manufacturer, which generally appears on the sprinkler’s package. Multiply the square footage of the area being watered by .62 gallons or 1 inch of water per square foot. For example: If you have a 10 x 10 foot area to be watered, which equals 100 square feet, you multiply 100 x .62 gal. = 62 gallons. This is the amount of water that area needs per week. If you divide the number of gallons you’ve determined is needed for the area by the GPM of your sprinkler, you can figure out how many minutes of watering will be needed to preform the job properly.

A less mentally challenging way is to collect the water in a glass set in the middle of the area being sprinkled. Turn the sprinkler on and watch the time it takes for an inch of water to gather in the glass. For the most accurate results, place a container at different locations in the sprinkler’s coverage area and average the results.

Buy a flow timer, also called a water timer. This timer measures the actual water flow and is calibrated in 100 gallons. It can be set from 100 to 1500 gallons to give you the water needed for the square footage covered by the sprinkler. Use the formula above to determine the number of gallons needed.

Test the soil 2 to 6 inches below the surface to make sure it is dry before watering. Water for 15 minutes, then retest the soil. Repeat until the water has penetrated to the depth. Keep track of the time of the time it took and that is the amount of time it takes to water.

Following these general guidelines will get you started on the right path to develop beautiful flower and fruitful vegetable gardens as well as a lawn that rivals any in your neighborhood. Experiment with what works best for you, keep good records and develop a regular watering schedule.

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Container Gardening

Container Gardening Tips

PDF Copy for Printing

Is this your first time planting a container? Before you head to Gethsemane, here are a few criteria you should consider. This will help you select the perfect flowers, edibles, and containers for your space, and achieve success in your gardening endeavors.

1. What type of sun exposure do you have?
When growing in containers (either inside or outside on a deck or patio) light exposure is very important. You may look at a plant that says “full sun” and might not know what that means. To break it down:

  • “Full Sun” = 6-8 hours of sunlight
  • “Partial Sun” = 4 hours of sunlight
  • “Partial Shade” = 2-3 hours of sunlight
  • “Shade” = 2 or less hours of sunlight

Which direction you face also plays a part in the type of light you get. Western & Southern facing homes get a longer afternoon sun. This is ideal for many plants including most edibles. Edibles also need “full sun” to “partial sun” (be mindful of any neighborhood buildings that will block your light) for continual harvesting of herbs, vegetable, and/or fruits during the season.

2. Be aware of the wind.
This is something not all gardeners consider when choosing where and what to plant. We are the “Windy City” and the breezes off the lake can be uncomfortable for both you and your plants. Many taller edibles such as tomatoes, dill, and parsley can actually break in gusty winds. Also, hot windy days can evaporate water more quickly, requiring you to water more often. The weather in Chicago is unreliable, so even though we have been having nice weather we could still have a cold spell. Wind chills affect your plants too. Most annuals and edibles need to be covered if the temperature falls below 40o. You can protect your plants by covering them with a sheet or freeze-cloth. If the container is small you can cover it with an empty bucket or box (make sure to weigh it down so the wind doesn’t knock it off). Delicate herbs, like basil, should be brought inside.

3. What size container is best?
Know your space when you come into Gethsemane to select your container. Size can be hard to judge when looking at a container in the garden center. Having measurements will help you stay on track. In addition, it is important to consider what you are planting. Tomatoes, for example, grow tall and have long roots. If you want to grow tomatoes you need at least a 5-gallon container for 1 plant. (There are a few dwarf varieties that can be grown in a smaller container). Once you know what size container fits, it will be a lot easier selecting which plants and how many you can grow in your space.

Remember! All containers need drainage holes. If you purchase a container from Gethsemane without a hole, we will drill one for you. If you try to grow plants without proper drainage, water will build-up at the bottom and cause root-rot.

4. How much are you willing to water?
When choosing what you want to grow, think about how much time you have to give to your plants. Some plants are more draught tolerant and can withstand a little unintended neglect and some are much more delicate needing you to remember to water it regularly. Soil in containers will dry out more quickly than soil in the ground, so even if your containers are outside you should not depend on rain to quench their thirst. The best way to tell if your plant needs water is to simply stick your finger into the soil. If a few inches down into the soil is still damp, you don’t need to water. If it is dry as you push your finger down, then you will want to water. Be sure you are watering deep in your containers for healthy roots. It is important to see water coming out of the drainage holes before you stop. Gethsemane does carry some self-irrigating containers, such as Earthboxes, that have become very popular. They are designed so you can water less often, and your plants still get all the water they need.

Helpful hint: Water your plants in the morning, not at night. The damp soil will give your plants plenty to drink during the hot afternoon sun. If you water at night the sun cannot evaporate water off the plant’s leaves, making it more susceptible to disease.

5. Plant maintenance.
Once you have your flowers and edibles planted, you want to get the most out of them. Remember to deadhead and fertilize. Flowers take a lot of energy from your plant. By removing old blooms, or “deadheading”, you are directing all of your plant’s energy to producing new flowers. This will help keep your containers looking lush and full making for healthier plants. When you have herbs you will be harvesting instead of deadheading. Make sure you harvest from the top down. This will help your plant stay strong and grow new leaves for you to enjoy. When planting in containers you always want to start with a rich potting soil. This will give your plants the nutrients it needs. As the plant uses up those nutrients you need to be adding more. Gethsemane has many great options for adding nutrients including organic fertilizers. It is helpful to use a slow release fertilizer that can be mixed into the soil and will slowly break down with each watering. This will keep a steady supply of nutrients for your plants and less for you to worry about.

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Planting Trees & Shrubs in Containers

PDF Copy for Printing
While the beauty of a successful container garden may be extremely rewarding, the care and maintenance of these types of plantings can pose certain challenges. Primary amongst these challenges is the fact that plants are much less hardy when we try to over-winter them above ground. Indeed, most plants require extra T.L.C when grown in containers, and still tend to be short lived. Before embarking on a container garden that includes trees & shrubs, you must consider the possibility that these materials may need to be replaced as often as every 1-5 years. There are four primary issues that make it difficult to grow trees & shrubs in containers:

    1. Decreased Soil Mass – Limited container size means less room for soil, which results in less room for root development and a greater chance that plants will become root bound.
    2. Temperature Swings – The limited soil mass and exposure of the container can cause drastic changes in soil temperature throughout the season. These temperature changes can stress your container plants.
    3. Moisture Loss – Excessive heat, high wind, and a decreased soil mass will result in faster moisture loss for your container plants. You must water them regularly. Rainfall alone is not sufficient.
    4. Poor Drainage – Despite the need for supplemental watering, your container plants cannot be sitting in water. Make sure your containers have adequate drainage.

When preparing to purchase materials for a container garden, check the exposure of the area where you want to put your containers. How much sun does it get? What direction does it face? It is also helpful to take pictures and measurements of the space and/or draw a diagram. Having this information will simplify the buying process and help you make better decisions when purchasing your plants and containers.

Choosing a Container
Gethsemane’s Statuary Department carries many different kinds of containers in a variety of sizes, shapes, and materials. Resin containers are very popular because they are lightweight and long lasting. Iron, cement, and cast stone containers are also great, but they can be very heavy and difficult to move. These heavier containers can be a great choice for high-rise buildings where intense winds can be problematic. The additional weight helps to stabilize the container during windstorms. When planting trees and shrubs above ground, bigger containers are always better. The larger container size allows for greater root growth. Remember: plants may eventually outgrow the container. Lastly, make sure the containers you purchase have drainage holes. If there are no drainage holes in the container, ask if they can be drilled for you.

Planting and Irrigation
When planting trees and shrubs, the root flare (the area where the roots first start to emerge from the base of the plant) should be at or slightly above the soil line. The soil line should be 2-4” below the rim of the container. To start:

    1. Add a 1-3” layer of rock/gravel to the bottom of the container. The rocks will help improve drainage.
    2. Fill about ¾ of the container with a high grade potting soil.
    3. Make a funnel in the center by pushing some of the soil up against the sides of the container.
    4. Remove the plant from the grower’s pot, break up the root ball, and spread apart the roots.
    5. Settle the plant in the center of the container, add enough soil to cover the exposed roots, and push down firmly to secure the plant in place.
    6. the bottom of the container and make sure the water is draining properly. There is no “formula” to determine how often you need to water your container plants. Every location and container is different. Check the soil moisture every 24-48 hours. If it is dry, water the plant until the soil is fully saturated. Following this schedule for the first 4-6 weeks after planting should give you a better understanding of how often the plant needs water. Please remember that varying weather conditions will affect how often you need to water your container plants.

Winter Maintenance
Over-wintering trees and shrubs in containers can be difficult, but there are steps you can take to protect your container plants during the winter.

    1. Layering insulation (such as burlap or landscape fabric) around the container can help protect the plant’s root system from extreme cold. Repeated temperature swings, such as freeze and thaw cycles during early spring, can “trick” your plant into budding/leafing out early. Buds and leaves are not as cold hardy as the woody parts of the plant and may be damaged by spring freezes. Keeping the insulation in place until we have consistent day and night temperatures above 50º F can help prevent premature bud break.
    2. Grouping your container plants together (with the hardiest plants on the perimeter) can also help protect them.
    3. Just because it’s cold, it doesn’t mean you can stop watering. Your plants need moisture during the winter, especially broadleaf and needled evergreens. The best solution is to put ice cubes on top of the soil in the container. The ice will slowly melt during warmer daytime temperatures, providing essential moisture. You will need to add more ice throughout the winter as it melts.

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Seeds & Bulbs

Seed Starting Basics

Gethsemane Garden Center’s 101 Learning Series: Seed Starting Basics
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Useful external links for seeds

For information on our local zone hardiness – see the USDA Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map

Useful external links for bulbs

  • The University of Illinois Extension Service’s Bulbs & More website covers everything from bulb selection to care and maintenance
  • Cornell University Extension has a handy guide to Overwintering Summer Bulbs
  • Perdue University Cooperative Extension Service provides information on Winter Storage of Geranium, Canna, Gladiolus, Caladium, and Begonia
  • Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has a guide for the Care of the Amaryllis after Flowering
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    Trees & Shrubs

    Planting Guide: Balled and Burlapped Plants

    PDF Copy for Printing

    1. Measure the root ball across the top, from end to end, and dig a hole at least twice as wide as the root ball.
    2. Measure the root ball from top to bottom and subtract 4-6 inches. This is your measurement for the depth of the hole. The plant’s root flare (the area where the roots first start to emerge from the base of the plant) should be slightly above ground level. Do not plant the tree/shrub too deeply.
    3. Add a 1” layer of soil amendment to the bottom of the hole. There are two different soil amendments that we recommend for trees and shrubs: Black Forest Soil Conditioner, and Cotton Burr Compost (you only need one, not both).
    4. Place the root ball in the hole.
    5. Remove the burlap, rope, and any other material that may be around the root flare and the surface of the root ball. If there is a wire cage around the root ball bend the sides half way down or cut the second and or third segment off going around the sides of the root ball.
    6. Refill the hole with a mixture of soil amendment and native soil (the soil you dug out of the hole).
    7. After the hole has been refilled, tamp the soil around the root ball to make sure the plant is stable and secure. Water the plant immediately after you finish planting.

    Fertilizing – Adding fertilizer is not necessary when planting a new tree or shrub. We also recommend that you do not fertilize trees and shrubs during the first year after planting. The plant’s tender roots need to re-establish before fertilizer is applied.
    After the first season, you may apply fertilizer as it is needed. Some plants in your garden may need it, others may not. We recommend using organic, slow release fertilizers for your trees and shrubs.

    Mulching – Adding mulch to your garden beds is both aesthetically and functionally beneficial. Mulch retains moisture around the plant’s root zone, protects and insulates the roots, helps prevent the growth of weeds, and makes your landscape look more complete. Mulch is available in many different types of materials, colors, and textures, but they all work equally well. Deciding which type of mulch to use is purely an aesthetic choice. Do not use rubber, plastic, or synthetic mulch of any kind. Layer the mulch 1-3 inches thick throughout the garden bed or around the entire root zone of your tree/shrub. Do not layer mulch directly around the trunk of any tree. Piling mulch around the trunk may cause the wood to rot and make the tree susceptible to disease and insect infestation. Always leave a 4-6 inch space between the mulch and the trunk of the tree or the base of the shrub. Mulch will naturally break down and decompose, so it may need to be reapplied within 12-18 months.

    Watering – Proper watering is essential for newly installed woody plants. Under-watering or over-watering your plants can kill them. New trees and shrubs may need to be on a watering schedule for as long as 2-3 years before they are fully established. During this time, rainfall alone is usually not sufficient. Trees and shrubs absorb all of their water from their root ball for the first 8-10 months after they are planted. This means that plants may still need water even if the soil surrounding the root ball is moist. The best way to water new trees and shrubs is to place a hose at the base of the plant and adjust the pressure until water is slowly leaking from the hose. Leave the hose in place and soak the plant for 20-40 minutes. You will need to adjust the watering time depending on the water drainage in your soil. Supplying a lower volume of water over a longer period of time will fully saturate the root ball and the surrounding soil. Varying weather patterns and site conditions make it impossible to come up with a “formula” for how often you should water your plants. It is best to check the moisture levels in the soil every 2-3 days. Following these routines will help you better understand how often you need to water your new trees and shrubs.
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    Planting Guide: Containerized Plants

    PDF Copy for Printing

    1. Measure the root mass across the top, from end to end, and dig a hole at least twice as wide as the root mass.
    2. Measure the root mass from top to bottom and subtract 4-6 inches. This is your measurement for the depth of the hole. The plant’s root flare (the area where the roots first start to emerge from the base of the plant) should be slightly above ground level. Do not plant the tree/shrub too deeply.
    3. Add a 1” layer of soil amendment to the bottom of the hole. There are two different soil amendments that we recommend for trees and shrubs: Black Forest Soil Conditioner, and Cotton Burr Compost (you only need one, not both).
    4. Remove the plant from the grower’s container. The roots of containerized plants may be pot bound (the roots are wrapped around themselves in the outline of the grower’s container.) You MUST loosen the roots before planting. Use a shovel, trowel, or sharp knife and score the edges of the root mass. The roots should not be entangled when you are finished.
    5. Place the plant in the center of the hole.
    6. Refill the hole with a mixture of soil amendment and native soil (the soil you dug out of the hole).
    7. After the hole has been refilled, tamp the soil around the root ball to make sure the plant is stable and secure. Water the plant immediately after you finish planting.

    Fertilizing – Adding fertilizer is not necessary when planting a new tree or shrub. We also recommend that you do not fertilize trees and shrubs during the first year after planting. The plant’s tender roots need to re-establish before fertilizer is applied.
    After the first season, you may apply fertilizer as it is needed. Some plants in your garden may need it, others may not. We recommend using organic, slow release fertilizers for your trees and shrubs.

    Mulching – Adding mulch to your garden beds is both aesthetically and functionally beneficial. Mulch retains moisture around the plant’s root zone, protects and insulates the roots, helps prevent the growth of weeds, and makes your landscape look more complete. Mulch is available in many different types of materials, colors, and textures, but they all work equally well. Deciding which type of mulch to use is purely an aesthetic choice. Do not use rubber, plastic, or synthetic mulch of any kind. Layer the mulch 1-3 inches thick throughout the garden bed or around the entire root zone of your tree/shrub. Do not layer mulch directly around the trunk of any tree. Piling mulch around the trunk may cause the wood to rot and make the tree susceptible to disease and insect infestation. Always leave a 4-6 inch space between the mulch and the trunk of the tree or the base of the shrub. Mulch will naturally break down and decompose, so it may need to be reapplied within 12-18 months.

    Watering – Proper watering is essential for newly installed woody plants. Under-watering or over-watering your plants can kill them. New trees and shrubs may need to be on a watering schedule for as long as 2-3 years before they are fully established. During this time, rainfall alone is usually not sufficient. Trees and shrubs absorb all of their water from their root ball for the first 8-10 months after they are planted. This means that plants may still need water even if the soil surrounding the root ball is moist. The best way to water new trees and shrubs is to place a hose at the base of the plant and adjust the pressure until water is slowly leaking from the hose. Leave the hose in place and soak the plant for 20-40 minutes. You will need to adjust the watering time depending on the water drainage in your soil. Supplying a lower volume of water over a longer period of time will fully saturate the root ball and the surrounding soil. Varying weather patterns and site conditions make it impossible to come up with a “formula” for how often you should water your plants. It is best to check the moisture levels in the soil every 2-3 days. Following these routines will help you better understand how often you need to water your new trees and shrubs.
    Return to top.

    Planting Trees & Shrubs in Containers

    PDF Copy for Printing
    While the beauty of a successful container garden may be extremely rewarding, the care and maintenance of these types of plantings can pose certain challenges. Primary amongst these challenges is the fact that plants are much less hardy when we try to over-winter them above ground. Indeed, most plants require extra T.L.C when grown in containers, and still tend to be short lived. Before embarking on a container garden that includes trees & shrubs, you must consider the possibility that these materials may need to be replaced as often as every 1-5 years. There are four primary issues that make it difficult to grow trees & shrubs in containers:

      1. Decreased Soil Mass – Limited container size means less room for soil, which results in less room for root development and a greater chance that plants will become root bound.
      2. Temperature Swings – The limited soil mass and exposure of the container can cause drastic changes in soil temperature throughout the season. These temperature changes can stress your container plants.
      3. Moisture Loss – Excessive heat, high wind, and a decreased soil mass will result in faster moisture loss for your container plants. You must water them regularly. Rainfall alone is not sufficient.
      4. Poor Drainage – Despite the need for supplemental watering, your container plants cannot be sitting in water. Make sure your containers have adequate drainage.

    When preparing to purchase materials for a container garden, check the exposure of the area where you want to put your containers. How much sun does it get? What direction does it face? It is also helpful to take pictures and measurements of the space and/or draw a diagram. Having this information will simplify the buying process and help you make better decisions when purchasing your plants and containers.

    Choosing a Container
    Gethsemane’s Statuary Department carries many different kinds of containers in a variety of sizes, shapes, and materials. Resin containers are very popular because they are lightweight and long lasting. Iron, cement, and cast stone containers are also great, but they can be very heavy and difficult to move. These heavier containers can be a great choice for high-rise buildings where intense winds can be problematic. The additional weight helps to stabilize the container during windstorms. When planting trees and shrubs above ground, bigger containers are always better. The larger container size allows for greater root growth. Remember: plants may eventually outgrow the container. Lastly, make sure the containers you purchase have drainage holes. If there are no drainage holes in the container, ask if they can be drilled for you.

    Planting and Irrigation
    When planting trees and shrubs, the root flare (the area where the roots first start to emerge from the base of the plant) should be at or slightly above the soil line. The soil line should be 2-4” below the rim of the container. To start:

      1. Add a 1-3” layer of rock/gravel to the bottom of the container. The rocks will help improve drainage.
      2. Fill about ¾ of the container with a high grade potting soil.
      3. Make a funnel in the center by pushing some of the soil up against the sides of the container.
      4. Remove the plant from the grower’s pot, break up the root ball, and spread apart the roots.
      5. Settle the plant in the center of the container, add enough soil to cover the exposed roots, and push down firmly to secure the plant in place.
      6. the bottom of the container and make sure the water is draining properly. There is no “formula” to determine how often you need to water your container plants. Every location and container is different. Check the soil moisture every 24-48 hours. If it is dry, water the plant until the soil is fully saturated. Following this schedule for the first 4-6 weeks after planting should give you a better understanding of how often the plant needs water. Please remember that varying weather conditions will affect how often you need to water your container plants.

    Winter Maintenance
    Over-wintering trees and shrubs in containers can be difficult, but there are steps you can take to protect your container plants during the winter.

      1. Layering insulation (such as burlap or landscape fabric) around the container can help protect the plant’s root system from extreme cold. Repeated temperature swings, such as freeze and thaw cycles during early spring, can “trick” your plant into budding/leafing out early. Buds and leaves are not as cold hardy as the woody parts of the plant and may be damaged by spring freezes. Keeping the insulation in place until we have consistent day and night temperatures above 50º F can help prevent premature bud break.
      2. Grouping your container plants together (with the hardiest plants on the perimeter) can also help protect them.
      3. Just because it’s cold, it doesn’t mean you can stop watering. Your plants need moisture during the winter, especially broadleaf and needled evergreens. The best solution is to put ice cubes on top of the soil in the container. The ice will slowly melt during warmer daytime temperatures, providing essential moisture. You will need to add more ice throughout the winter as it melts.

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    Tree Terminology

    PDF Copy for Printing

    • Balled and burlapped – Typically, “b and b” trees are grown in the ground versus a container. Once trees are removed from the ground, their root ball is wrapped in burlap and a wire cage then prepared for sale. Consumers usually have a wider range of material when choosing balled and burlapped trees. They tend to be larger and can be planted at any time.
    • Container stock – As the name implies, some trees are grown in containers. From an industry standpoint, container trees offer an advantage because soil mixes are lighter than native soils. This makes them easier to ship. Home gardeners should know that container trees demand more water initially than trees grown in native soil. Container stock has been babied, so it takes extra care to establish.
    • Bare root – Roots that are bare from soil. Bare root material has a very limited planting time and must be handled (harvested, shipped, planted) during dormancy. Bare roots are a perishable commodity – get them in the ground as soon as possible.
    • Dormancy – Dormancy is that period of winter rest where very little plant activity takes place. Dormancy is thus a good time to purchase, transplant or prune trees.
    • Caliper – A tree’s diameter is known as its caliper and is measured at either six or twelve inches from the ground, depending on the size of the tree. Calipers give the industry a standard method of measuring nursery stock. They help us determine the size and weight of the root ball.
    • Deciduous – Trees that drop their leaves in fall and leaf out again in spring. Many flowering and fruiting trees are deciduous.
    • Variegated – Plants that have more than one color in the leaf, stem, and flower. Variegated plants have been long-valued by gardeners, as the unusually lighter-colored variegation can help break up large blocks of solid green foliage creating beautiful gardens.
    • Broadleaf evergreen – Usually referred to as a shrub such as Rhododendron, Azalea, and Ilex that are known to be deciduous that can sometimes keep their leaves thru winter.
    • Conifers – Cone-bearing or plants that contain a naked seed. Not all conifers are evergreen, but most are. All conifers are woody plants and the great majority are trees with just a few being shrubs.
    • Root flare – This is the transition zone between the main stem (trunk of tree) and the root system, it should be exposed. Trees that look like a telephone pole coming up out of the ground are a definite sign that they were planted wrong.
    • Mycorrhiza – Fungus that grows on the root system of a plant and helps the plant take in more moisture and nutrients needed to maintain good health. Mycorrhiza naturally occurs in healthy soil. Soil that is sterile, clay, and even sandy can cause week conditions for the fungus to exist making it hard for plants to grow and even fight of disease. Mycorrhiza can be found packaged on its own or in a quality fertilizer.

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    When should I prune my trees and shrubs?

    It depends on the plant; some can be pruned in early spring while others may benefit from fall pruning. The first thing to do is identify the plants that you wish to prune or think might need to be pruned. If you are not sure take a 4” to 6” sample or even a picture and bring it in to the department for evaluation. Plants should be pruned to maintain health, size and shape, along with improving flowering and fruiting. Plants that have buds set on old growth like forsythia or lilacs should be pruned after flowering. Plants that bloom on the new growth can be pruned early before the season starts and any sign of new life is visible. All evergreens other than pine should be pruned before the new growth starts in spring or during mid-summer when the growth stage is not active. Dead or diseased branches should be removed first and continue with pruning for shaping, rejuvenating neglected plants, sharpening your hedge line, or to promote fruit.
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    When is the best time to transplant my shrubs?

    Some species may survive transplanting any time during the year when the ground is not frozen, but woody plants are preferably moved in the spring after the ground thaws and before the buds on the tree or shrub begin to swell. They may also be moved in the fall after leaf drop but before the ground freezes. Fall planting should take place soon after leaf drop, providing time for new water absorbing roots to develop before the soil freezes. Evergreens are especially prone to winter browning if planting is delayed until shortly before the ground freezes in the late fall, they should be moved in the late summer to early fall. Fall transplant success may be increased by transplanting hardy plants into sites with good soil moisture and wind protection.
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    Should I fertilize my trees and shrubs after planting or transplanting?

    Woody plants that were planted in the fall should not be fertilized until the following spring. Plants installed in the spring will not require any synthetic or as we say shelf fertilizers within the first season of being planted. Newly planted trees and shrubs can be planted with compost; natural materials can serve to be as effective fertilizers without damaging the tender root system. Too much fertilizers or the wrong fertilizer can over stimulate your plants and cause them to have to be pruned more often. Developing healthy soil for microorganisms to thrive in will encourage good plant health.
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    Why won’t my shrub flower?

    It is sometimes difficult to determine just why a particular plant will fail to set flower buds or will set them and then not develop flowers. There may be several reasons why, like too much fertilizer (high nitrogen), shade, and pruning at the wrong time, cold or drought stress, or not enough time for the plant to be established. In many cases the above mentioned conditions will account for the majority of reasons why a woody tree or shrub may not produce flowers during a particular season. It is important to keep in mind that plants are complex organisms and that flowering in plants is controlled by many factors in the environment. So even though you address the above mentioned factors there will still be some plants in your landscape that refuse to flower. Good plant selection, proper planting and after care techniques, proper site selection and sometimes patience is needed to ensure successful flowering in your trees and shrubs.
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    TS-Warranty


    Garden & Patio Furniture

    Wintering over your outdoor furniture

    Before winter arrives, cleaning, covering, and storing your outdoor furniture prepares and protects it for another season of enjoyment. The outdoor furniture we carry should be washed down with a soft towel or washcloth and mild soap and water. After the furniture is dry, we recommend covering it with either vinyl covers or a plastic tarp, allowing for some air circulation.


    Statuary & Fountains

    Caring for Your Fountains

    Installation

    Each fountain has its own Assembly instructions sheets and comes with all of the fittings and tubing needed to do the installation. If you find anything missing, please call and let us know, we’ll take care of it promptly.

    Fountains should be installed on a flat, level surface to ensure proper water flow. If the fountain is going to be installed on a hard surface like cement, stone or patio tile, we suggest a thin layer of sand ½” to 1″ thick underneath the basin in order to prevent stress cracks. This will also help in leveling the fountain.

    Bird Baths and Pedestal Fountains

    If you choose to install these in a planter bed area on dirt, we suggest placing them on a paving stone or other support material. Gophers and water runoff can erode the soil and topple your feature.

    Water Level

    Be sure to keep your fountain full of water. If this becomes a problem, adding a tube line from a drip system will help. If water levels get too low, your pump will dry and burn out.

    Pumps

    For safety purposes, always plug into a GFI receptacle.

    If the fountain is installed where debris (leaves, etc.) fall into the water, the debris is likely to clog the pump. If the flow of water seems restricted this may be the cause. Simply unplug the pump, remove the cover and foam filter and rinse it out. Be sure to check the impeller and be sure there is no debris that keeps the impeller from moving. Once the pump is clear, replace the impeller and filter and plug in the pump.

    Every so often the pump should be unplugged and the impeller/rotor removed and checked for debris and lime scale. The pump can be cleaned in warm water.

    Foam

    We suggest Jungle products “No More Foam” liquid. A small amount in the fountain water will do the trick.

    Algae

    Green or brown algae may gradually cover the wet surfaces of your fountain. Some people love the aged look it gives their fountains, others don’t care for it. If you are the latter, we recommend using Jungle Products, “No More Algae” or another product called “Fountec”. Do not use chlorine bleach. It is harmful to water plants and animals and will leave a blue/green chemical stain. It may also damage your pump.

    String Algae

    String algae are the stringy, mossy gunk that drapes from the surface of the fountain. Jungle products “No More Algae” or “Fountec” will also take care of this problem. If you like the green aged look but want to get rid of string algae, we recommend “Barley Extract”. If an excessive amount of stringiness occurs, you will probably need to let the surfaces of the fountain dry out and brush off the dried algae, then refill and add the Barley Extract. Barley Extract can be ordered at: www.aquaticeco.com or by calling (877) 347-4788.

    White Scale

    This residue is an accumulation of minerals from your water. In you live in areas where water mineral levels are high or you use well water, this can be a problem. It will get worse as evaporation of the water occurs and the same minerals remain in the fountain. Occasional flushing of the water will help. Using distilled water for smaller fountains is great but a hassle and costly for larger amounts of water. We recommend adding Jungle Products “No More White Scale” on a regular basis.

    WINTER CARE

    Extreme and rapid changes in temperature and humidity affect all cement based and concrete fountains adversely. Concrete has an inherent tendency to expand and contract with climatic conditions. In the Chicago area, where water will freeze in the winter, we recommend that you:

    • Fully drain and dry your fountain in the colder months
    • Do not allow waste to collect and freeze in fountain bowls or shells
    • Do not allow water to collect and freeze in containers, saucers or birdbaths
    • Do not allow statuary or pedestals to sit in a pool of ice

    Cement based and concrete products left exposed to icing conditions may shale or crack due to the mechanical force of water solidifying and expanding along the concrete surface. If you cannot store your concrete containers or fountains indoors during the winter season, you must protect from ice collection or exposure.

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    Over wintering your statuary & fountains

    For fountains, first remove the stature and pump, storing them inside if possible. Next, fill the bowl(s) or shell(s) with an absorbent material such as burlap bags or blankets. Then, cover the entire fountain with a fountain cover. Should condensation form inside the cover, they will be absorbed by the material.

    For birdbaths, planters or statuary set the pieces on high ground, preferably on wood or bricks, so they are elevated from the soil/ground which will freeze and where a pool of ice will not form. Use fountains covers or burlap to cover these and protect them from winter elements.

    By following these simple and sensible precautions during the winter season, you will protect your cast stone and concrete products for many years of beauty and enjoyment.

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