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How to Grow Gorgeous Fall Mums at Home

Ted Lare Design & Build - Grow Mums for Gorgeous Fall Color-chrysanthemum flowers with ornamental kale

No fall landscape is complete without everyone’s favorite autumn-blooming flowers—mums! Growing chrysanthemums is simple, but the key to long-lasting color is selecting a great specimen and treating it with the correct care. Here’s your guide to growing fall mums in Iowa!

Types of Fall Mums

There are two varieties of mums you’ll typically find at garden centers; florist mums and perennial mums.

Florist mums, sometimes called decorative mums, are the mums you’ll typically see for sale in every storefront starting in mid-August. They are best grown as annuals and look spectacular in pots thanks to their dome-like mound of brilliant blooms.

Perennial mums are grown in garden beds with the rest of your perennials and come in a wide variety of bloom shapes, sizes, and colors—from single-flowered, daisy-like cultivars to ones with cushion-like double blooms.

In addition to the two varieties, there are also many different types of chrysanthemum blooms, each more interesting than the last:

  • Single blooms resemble daisies with a single row of petals.
  • Quilled blooms have long, needle-shaped petals.
  • Spider blooms have very long, narrow petals like the legs of a spider.
  • Anemone blooms have a cushion-like mound of petals that emerge from a disc-shaped center.
  • Pom pom blooms look like, you guessed it, pom poms!
  • Incurve blooms have long petals with a slight inward curvature at the edges.
  • Reflex blooms, by contrast, have a slight outward curvature at the petal edges.
  • Decorative blooms are a double flowering type and the most common flowers.
  • Thistle blooms have petals that are long, very thin, and tube-shaped.
  • Spoon blooms also have tube-shaped blooms but flatter, wider edges.
Ted Lare Design & Build - Grow Mums for Gorgeous Fall Colorplanting a fall mum flower

Planting Fall Mums

Both florist and perennial mums prefer full sun, with 6-8 hours of direct sunlight exposure per day. Some cultivars are moderately tolerant of partial shade, but insufficient light can lead to leggy plants and fewer or smaller flowers. Perennial mums also prefer to be planted in a bed of slightly acidic, moist soil with excellent drainage. 

Caring for Your Fall Mums

If there’s one thing all mums have in common, it’s their appetite! Mums need to be watered every other day while in flower and require frequent fertilization with an appropriate formula for flowering plants. Perennial cultivars will also need a deep, thorough watering each week starting at the beginning of the growing season and more often as the temperatures rise. To encourage full, bushy growth, pinch back spent flowers whenever you notice them.

Ted Lare Design & Build - Grow Mums for Gorgeous Fall Color-chrysanthemum flowers

A Buying Guide for Fall Mums

Wherever you find mums for sale, the best value for money will be from a healthy plant that has barely begun to bloom. A low-cost pot of chrysanthemums may seem like a great deal, but clearance prices generally mean the plant is nearing the end of its bloom or the plant itself is unhealthy. 

To get the longest-lasting fall color from your mums, choose a dense plant with perky, dark-green foliage and covered in tightly-closed flower buds. A few open buds are fine, but the more closed buds on the plant, the more blooms you’ll save for your garden beds or containers.

We also recommend checking the base of the plant, especially if you plan on interplanting your mums with other plants in your beds. It’s common to find mold, mildew, and other fungal infections on the mums the discount grocery stores put out for sale, and those infections can also spread and affect your other plants. We provide the best care for our chrysanthemums until the day you take them home to your garden, so you can count on quality mums with a healthy root system from Ted Lare Design & Build. 

Ted Lare Design & Build - Grow Mums for Gorgeous Fall Color-mum flowers in garden bed

There is a great reason mums have earned their spot as the go-to fall flower—their glowing, warm colors and bounty of blooms bring pure joy to your autumn landscape. Discover our selection of fall mums for sale at our garden center in Des Moines!

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The Many Benefits and Uses of Peat Moss

Ted-Lare-Design-&-Build--The-Many-Benefits-and-Uses-of-Peat-Moss-in-Iowa-peat-moss-in-hands

You’ve heard your gardening friends talk about peat moss, you’ve read about it in gardening blogs, and you may have even used it in your garden once or twice. But what is it about this magic moss that offers so many benefits to your landscape plants? Let’s dive deep into all the basic uses of peat moss and its many useful applications in the garden!  

What is Peat Moss?

Peat moss is marketed as an alternative to compost, often sold in bags or bales. It is made of a large, absorbent organism that grows in dense masses in bogs, also known as “peatlands.” Used most often as a soil amendment, peat moss and garden soil usually serve as a two-man show, complimenting one another. 

Why Use Peat Moss?

Although different from potting soil, peat moss is an excellent soil additive for potting soils and seed starting mixes. It efficiently manages your soil pH, keeps plants hydrated, and releases moisture to your plants’ roots in a gradually controlled manner. It also aids in retaining nutrients within your soil so that they don’t get washed out when you water it! This magic moss is rather fascinating, isn’t it? 

Peat Moss in Raised Garden Beds 

When mixed into the soil of your raised garden beds, your peat moss will promote optimal drainage and help retain water so that your plant roots can stay well-hydrated longer between waterings. If your soil is extra packed within your raised beds, mixing in some peat moss with your hands will also help to loosen it, which your vegetables’ delicate roots will greatly appreciate. You can also add peat moss to the soil of your flower beds before the growing season begins. During the transition from winter to spring, till your flower beds and mix it in generously until it contains around 30 percent peat and 70 percent garden soil. With just a few shovel-fulls of peat moss, you can save yourself many waterings throughout the growing season!

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Which Plants Will Benefit the Most?

Many plants are well-adapted to growing in peat moss, from classic leafy houseplants like pothos to decadent flowering shrubs like hydrangeas. Epiphytic plants, like moth orchids, are happiest when grown in light, soilless mediums like peat moss. Moreover, since peat moss is acidic, it works wonders when applied to acid-loving edible plants, like blueberries, peppers, strawberries, and tomatoes. 

Is Peat Moss Bad For The Environment?

It wouldn’t be very green-thumb of us not to acknowledge the environmental effects that peat moss can have on the planet, which is why we’ve also outlined some alternative options that are more eco-friendly and work just as well. Peatlands are delicate habitats that consume a lot of the world’s excessive carbon emissions, and peat moss harvesting disrupts these natural systems. This is why some gardeners opt for other compost options, like pine needles, composted manure, and other organic materials. If you prefer not to use peat, try adding coffee grounds, crushed eggshells, evergreen needles, and citrus peels to the soil in the areas you want to acidify.

Ted-Lare-Design-&-Build--The-Many-Benefits-and-Uses-of-Peat-Moss-in-iowa- black gold peat moss product

Peat Moss Application 

When using peat moss, mix it into the soil rather than applying it on top. It is not recommended to top dress with peat since it will blow around and stiffen after rainfall. If peat moss is well-integrated with your soil or potting mixture, it will improve nutrient access in your Des Moines garden like no other!

From retaining nutrients within your soil to balancing out pH levels, peat moss truly is the magic ingredient inside your soil. For more information on how to mix peat moss into your garden routine, visit us at Ted Lare Design Build in Des Moines, Iowa, today

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The Many Colors of Coneflowers

Ted Lare Design & Build -The Many Colors of Coneflowers in Iowa- multi colors of echinacea

After years of cultivation, there are so many new unique colors and forms of these gorgeous flowers, ranging from shades of pink, orange, red, white, and yellow! These showy perennials are heat tolerant and drought resistant, easy to grow, have long bloom times, make beautiful cut flowers, and attract birds and other pollinators to your garden. Coneflowers are the ultimate statement of simple beauty and elegance with a wild-flower aesthetic that will make your garden feel like a cottage. 

Ted Lare Design & Build -The Many Colors of Coneflowers in Iowa-white echinacea copy

How to Care for Coneflowers 

Although they tolerate almost anything you throw at them, coneflowers prefer full sun and well-draining, nutrient-rich soil. You can add compost or aged manure to the soil after loosening it to a depth of 12–15 inches. 

You will want to plant your coneflower in an area where they receive enough sunlight for the soil not to be wet. To keep your coneflowers blooming to their fullest, you should deadhead them after the flowers fade. Cut back stems to a leaf near a bud in the late season to prevent self-seeding and bird-feeding.

Winter Care

There are several USDA hardiness zones (3-9) where purple coneflowers thrive, but if you live in a cold winter like Iowa, you may want to give them a little winter protection in their first years. That said, once they are established, coneflowers are rugged and hardy! 

Varieties of Coneflowers 

There is always a perfect coneflower shade for your garden, whether you’re looking for a bold, vibrant perennial or a simple-toned flower to tie your garden together! 

Ted Lare Design & Build -The Many Colors of Coneflowers in Iowa-bravado chinacea

Pow Wow Wildberry

This variety features beautiful blooms similar to daisies, except more fun because they have a funky pinkish-purple color! The plant is shrub-like and bushy, making them perfect for filling up extra space and adding volume to your garden. It’s a classic purple coneflower with beauty that never fails to impress.

Ted Lare Design & Build -The Many Colors of Coneflowers in Iowa-hot papaya echinacea

Double Scoop Mandarin

This variety offers a bright and vibrant red color to your landscape with orange undertones and coppery-bronze eyes. As ‘Double Scoop Mandarin’ blossoms age, the cones develop a ruffle of petals along the edges, slowly emerging across the entire cone. Eventually, you will have a beautiful pom-pom-looking perennial to turn up the party in your garden! It’s a great variety to attract birds and butterflies to your yard. 

Ted Lare Design & Build -The Many Colors of Coneflowers in Iowa-double decker echinacea

Double Scoop Bubblegum

This variety is the two-for-one deal of coneflowers. ‘Double Scoop Bubblegum’ coneflowers produce large magenta-pink daisies with a smaller flower on top of each dark brown central cone; literally, one flower sitting on top of another. You plant one flower and get two blooms! Does it get better than that?

Ted Lare Design & Build -The Many Colors of Coneflowers in Iowa-green envy echinacea

Green Twister

In addition to their thick green petals that curl upwards, ‘Green Twister’ coneflower petals develop a pink flush along their length as time passes. A gorgeous bi-colored effect appears as though mother nature decorated the petals herself with her paintbrush! This cultivar is perfect for pairing with other purple-pink flowers, as it will echo the color in a subtle way.

Ted Lare Design & Build -The Many Colors of Coneflowers in Iowa-sunrise echinacea

Kismet Yellow

‘Kismet Yellow’ coneflowers shine bright as the morning sun in your flower bed and will bloom from early summer until the frost! Pastel yellow petals and green-to-copper central cones—these coneflowers make you happy just looking at them. They are great for naturalizing and supporting pollinators in your garden too. We promise, everyone who visits your garden, people and pollinators alike, will love these.

With colors and shapes for every occasion, coneflowers really are the gift that never stops giving to your garden. They’re easy to take care of, beautiful to look at, and will attract pollinators to your garden. We promise it’s a win-win situation! Visit us at Ted Lare Design Build & Garden Center in Des Moines, Iowa, for help selecting the best coneflowers for your landscape

 

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How To Manage Crabgrass: The Weed With Many Unfriendly Faces

Ted Lare Design & Build How to Manage Crabgrass in Iowa -removal of crabgrass with tool

It’s unattractive; it’s clumpy; it doesn’t leave you alone: it’s crabgrass. Weeds like these are so intrusive that even thinking about them can make your mind tense. At first, crabgrass can be relatively hard to identify, but once you find it, you’ll be looking for every opportunity to get rid of it! The good news is that we have the solutions you need. Learn everything you need to know about crabgrass in this blog and how to manage it accordingly so that you never have to worry about it again. 

Ted Lare Design & Build How to Manage Crabgrass in Iowa -crabgrass clumb growing

What is Crabgrass?

Crabgrass wears many different faces, and none of them are friendly. As mentioned, it blends so well with your lawn’s grass that it is sometimes difficult to identify. In terms of crabgrass’ life cycle, crabgrass seedlings look like mini corn stalks when they are young, with the leaves spreading out as the weed grows. The blades of crabgrass become thicker than your lawn grass when they reach maturity, forming from a star-shaped growth habit that attacks your lawn. Luckily, we know how to manage it.

Ted Lare Design & Build How to Manage Crabgrass in Iowa -crabgrass growing in the lawn

How to Get Rid of Crabgrass

Crabgrass is one tough cookie, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have the ammo to manage it and send it packing right out of your backyard. Getting rid of crabgrass at this early stage is remarkably effective, but you’ll likely need to do a little more than this to ensure it’s gone. Best practices for managing crabgrass include: 

  • Pluck out crabgrass as soon as you notice it. The root system of young plants leaves only a tiny hole in your lawn, which will fill with new, healthy grass. 
  • Mow your lawn frequently and keep grass clippings in bags to manage seeds.
  • Reduce the amount of sunlight reaching dormant crabgrass seeds by allowing your lawn to grow at least 3 inches tall; this will protect the soil from getting too hot and keep your grass thick and lush, which means no room for crabgrass to grow!
  • Vinegar is a great natural substance that kills crabgrass! Apply to crabgrass growing on hard surfaces, such as an interlocking tile or stone.
Ted Lare Design & Build How to Manage Crabgrass in Iowa -mowing the lawn

How to Prevent Crabgrass

Crabgrass spreads like wildfire and continues producing seeds until you kill it or cold weather arrives, so it’s best to have a preventative measure in place before it becomes a problem that you need to manage. The best way to rid your lawn of crabgrass and other weeds is to keep your lawn healthy:

  • Mow high by cutting your grass to a height of 3 inches. Longer grass protects the soil from evaporation, which means healthier roots.
  • Feed your lawn with fertilizer, compost or worm castings to ensure it receives proper nutrients.
  • Use a pre-emergent herbicide—these work by creating a protective barrier in the soil that keeps new seeds from germinating. 
  • Manage your watering schedule to allow the surface to dry out in between waterings to promote strong root development. Of course, you’ll need to increase watering during the hottest parts of the summer. 
  • Each year, our lawns get compacted by precipitation, foot traffic, and thatch. At the beginning of each season, hit up your local nursery or Iowa gardening center and discuss how to manage your specific lawn care needs with us.  
Ted Lare Design & Build How to Manage Crabgrass in Iowa -healthy front lawn

Encouraging a healthy lawn to keep it from returning is the best way to manage crabgrass and keep it permanently out of your backyard. For more tips on combatting this deadly weed or other expert gardening advice, visit us at Ted Lare Design Build & Garden Center in Cumming, Iowa. We can’t wait to help you!

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How to Use Groundcovers in Your Landscape

-ted lare garden center - groundcover plants -creeping phlox

You may have heard gardeners use the term “groundcover” before, but what actually is it? We’ll answer that and more, featuring great groundcover options for Des Moines and inspiration on how to use groundcover plants in your landscape for maximum impact.  

What Are Groundcovers?

Groundcover plants refer to low-growing ornamental perennial plants that tend to sprawl rather than grow upright. You can find both coniferous and deciduous groundcovers. Groundcovers are a great way to introduce new colors and textures into your landscape design, but you can cover parts of your yard where grass does not thrive or is prone to flooding. 

Groundcovers are excellent for reducing weeds, containing moisture, preventing evaporation, and keeping the roots of your other plants cool. In fact, groundcover plants work very similarly to mulch in your garden beds! It’s a win-win option for style and function. 

Groundcovers for Des Moines 

Select a groundcover plant suitable for your landscape’s growing conditions. A few of our favorite groundcover options for Des Moines include: 

Sedum: Sedums come in a wide array of colors, textures, heights and bloom colors.  It’s an excellent filler for rock gardens and around garden paths.

-ted lare garden center - groundcover plants - pink dianthus

‘Cheddar Pink’ Dianthus: An aesthetically pleasing set of pink, needle-like flowers form on this sun-loving plant in the spring months.

 

Carex Pensylvanica: An excellent option for planting under trees, this groundcover is tolerant of most things you throw at it, making it perfect for the midwest. These plants have dainty, draping leaves that soften the landscape and blow gently in the breeze.

-ted lare garden center -_groundcover plants - European Wild Ginger

European Wild Ginger: This wild ginger displays glossy, heart-shaped leaves and tiny greenish-yellow flowers in April and May. When contrasted with ferns and fine-texture perennials, it looks great!

 

Creeping Phlox: As one of the fastest flowering groundcovers, creeping phlox is a favorite amongst many gardeners. Creeping phlox blooms early in the spring, covering the landscape with flowers in shades of purple, pink, or white, and is perfectly suited for the Des Moines climate. You can use this plant to cover rock gardens, cascade down retaining walls or fill vast garden beds.

Vinca: With glossy green foliage or variegated foliage, and periwinkle flowers this medium fast-growing groundcover will have your garden lush in no time! 

How to Use Groundcovers in Your Landscape

Partnered alongside other plants, groundcover plants make a great team in dressing up the landscape. Their slow growth provides movement as the eye moves from one level to another, making a great filler underneath tall plants. In selecting a colorful option like the ‘Cheddar Pink’ groundcover flower listed above, you end up with an eccentric look that you can appreciate both near and far. 

Groundcovers also have a spreading habit that makes them perfect for use along paths. By hiding a brick path or rock bed’s edge with groundcover, you can integrate it more naturally into the landscape design. The options are truly limitless! 

-ted lare garden center - groundcover plants -sloped garden

If there are any spots in your landscape where moisture is always pooling, it might be worth leveling the terrain or adding some groundcover plants to stabilize the soil and absorb excess moisture. You can also plant groundcovers on steep slopes that are hard to mow, where you need to fill gaps, soften edges, or plant where you’d like to replace your lawn! Replace the mulch, river rock, or whichever protective groundcover you prefer.

 

There are so many groundcover plants available! Pay us a visit at Ted Lare Design Build & Garden Center in Des Moines, Iowa, and we can provide you with more information about selecting the best groundcover for your landscape design so that your yard looks full and beautiful.

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Growing Clematis in Des Moines

-ted lare garden center - purple blooming clematis _

Clematis takes the cake for being one of the most radiant flowers in the garden. These perennial bloomers come in a variety of unique colors and types, are easy to care for, and are sure to add a dramatic touch to any landscape design. They are the bells of the ball in any garden, and luckily, providing your Iowa clematis with proper care is pretty simple! Take a look at our plant care instructions to keep your clematis happy in Des Moines all year long.

How to Use Clematis in Your Garden Design

Clematis are vigorous, beautiful growers, perfect for climbing fences, walls, trellises, and more. If you want to add some stunning color to your garden, clematis is the perfect option as it will cover anything you put it beside quickly. You can cover your patio railing with it for a secret garden vibe or use it as a backdrop to a cozy seating area. Regardless of your style, this gorgeous plant will add quality to your garden.

Finding The Perfect Spot For Your Clematis

Most clematis thrive in up to six hours of sun, but some varieties can grow in full or partially shaded areas. When selecting the perfect location for the clematis in your garden, you’ll want to ensure that you choose a space with optimal sunlight and proper drainage since clematis plants require well-drained soil. Steer clear of any areas in your garden that get soggy during the thaw or after the rain!

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Growing Clematis In Pots

One benefit of growing your clematis in containers is that you can move the containers around in your backyard if they are not getting enough sun. Providing the proper care for your potted clematis plant involves ensuring the plant is getting enough sun exposure, has optimal drainage in the pot, and receives enough water. These gorgeous perennials can absolutely thrive when grown in containers, but they must receive proper care! As with most container plants, you’ll need to ensure that it gets enough water and nutrients, as the container limits how much your plant can access.

-ted lare garden center -_pruning clematis vine

How to Prune Each Type of Clematis

The key to successful pruning is figuring out which of the three pruning groups your clematis belongs to; the three groups include spring bloomers, repeat bloomers, and fall bloomers. Essentially, the time of year your clematis blooms will determine its unique pruning care needs.

Prune your spring bloomers right after they finish blooming in spring. The new stems that grow will then have enough time to make flower buds for the following year. You won’t need to prune this category too much; removing dead or damaged branches is typically enough to keep these types happy.

A repeat bloomer is a clematis that blooms on new growth in the spring and again in the summer. We recommend pruning this variety lightly in April to encourage branching and repeat blooming. You don’t need to cut these down very hard; simply maintain shape and remove dead or unhealthy growth. 

-ted lare garden center - pink clematis growing

You will want to prune back fall bloomers in early spring so that the branches are only about a foot tall. A significant cutback in the early spring means that you’ll get healthy, beautiful new growth through the season. If you don’t prune fall bloomers, you’ll have a tangled plant on your hands!

As long as your trimmings are free of disease or fungus, you can add your scraps to the compost bin for some green matter. Discard any unhealthy growth elsewhere to prevent the issue from spreading through your garden. 

Clematis plants in the Des Moines region will thrive with these best care practices. For more information on helping your clematis reach its fullest potential all year round, contact us at Ted Lare Design & Build—proudly serving the Des Moines region for over 37 years!

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How to Incorporate Tropical Plants Into Your Outdoor Space

-ted lare garden center - tropical palms patio

Tropical plants can’t survive our Iowa winters, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring them outdoors during the warmer months! Exotic plants bring such a fun flair to the scenery. If you plan on having lots of backyard get-togethers and barbecues, decorating your space with pretty palms and colorful tropicals will instantly transform your yard from ordinary to extraordinary! 

Here Are Some Creative Ways to Add Tropical Plants to Your Outdoor Decor

Keep in mind that if your plants have been indoors for a long time, a sudden transition to the outdoors might be a shock to their systems. Transition them outside gradually by bringing them out for a few hours each day until they’ve built more tolerance to summer sunshine. Once they’re ready to stay outside, try any of these styling tips for incorporating tropical plants into your yard decor! 

ted lare garden center - palm tree on patio

Leafy Potted Palms for Lounge Areas

A big, breezy palm instantly brings the poolside paradise vibes. If you grow them in pots, you can keep them outside during the warmer months and then bring them inside for the winter! We love gathering tall palms around sitting areas with comfy lounge chairs—the leaves create a canopy overhead that feels luxurious and serene. 

Some palms are a bit sensitive to intense, direct sunshine, so check the sunlight preferences of your palms before you pick a spot to place them. For more sun-sensitive varieties, place them somewhere that gets gentle morning light followed by shade from the afternoon sun. 

thriller plant for container garden ted lare garden center

Statement Plants for Mixed Containers

To create an attractive mixed container arrangement, you need one tall, flashy statement plant to act as your focal point. Tropical plants are perfect for this! When the season ends, you can overwinter your container indoors or toss the summer annuals and relocate your tropical plants to an individual houseplant pot. Some of the best tropical plants for container arrangements include:

Remember to plant them with compatible plants with similar sunlight and watering needs. Come tropicals like Cannas and Crotons love direct sunlight, but others like Alocasia prefer shade from the bright afternoon sun, so choose wisely! 

-ted lare garden center - patio palms

Jazz Up Your Outdoor Dining Area

Go from ‘basic backyard barbecue’ to ‘swanky 5-star patio restaurant’ by surrounding your outdoor dining area with avant-garde tropicals! Fan Palms, Birds of Paradise, and Monsteras have a fashion-forward, cutting-edge appeal that brings so much style and attitude to your space. Now you can skip spending a fortune at fancy restaurant patios and start getting your friends together at your own exclusive backyard club. Put together a charcuterie board with some fresh fruits and vegetables from your garden, and you’ve got a recipe for a perfect party night! 

Bringing Your Tropicals Back Indoors

Once the temperatures start to hover around 50°F, it’s time to bring your plants inside. Before you bring them in, you’ll want to give them a generous coating of insecticidal soap or neem oil spray to kill any pests hiding in their leaves. Bring them inside and keep them in a separate room away from your other plants for a few days—this will prevent bugs from spreading to your houseplants. Inspect your houseplants for telltale signs like fine webbing, sticky residue, bite marks, or any other suspicious symptoms, and use some of that insecticidal soap or neem oil to keep them bug-free!

On the hunt for tropical plants for sale in Des Moines? Visit Ted Lare Garden Center and explore all the gorgeous exotic varieties for indoor and outdoor decorating! 

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How to Divide Perennials Like a Pro

Perennials come back every spring, growing bigger and spreading further with each passing year. While this continual growth brings lots of benefits, there are also some challenges. However, you can avoid problems with your perennials if you divide them every few years! 

Why You Should Divide Perennials

As your perennials and their roots continue to grow and spread, things are going to get pretty crowded after a while. If they run out of room, it will be much harder for your perennials to absorb moisture and nutrients from the soil, and their growth will suffer.  

By dividing your perennials, you’ll have two plants with smaller roots systems. If you plant one half in the original hole, it will have so much more room to continue spreading. Then, you’ve got a second plant ready to be transplanted somewhere else in the garden or gifted to a neighbor for their garden! It’s a perfect way to multiply the plants in your garden without spending a dime. 

When your perennials need dividing, they’ll often show signs of reduced growth—or a dead patch—in the middle of the plant, resulting in a donut shape. They’ll also have fewer flowers than in previous years and may appear crowded between surrounding plants in the garden. If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to grab your garden tools and get to work!

The Best Time to Divide Perennials

The best timing for division depends on which season your plant blooms. You’ll want to divide spring and summer-blooming perennials in fall, while you should split your fall bloomers in spring. Your plants need to devote their energy towards restoring and spreading their roots, so if they’re actively flowering, they won’t perform as well. 

Some perennials, like hostas, bloom at different times of the year depending on your chosen variety, so if you’re unsure of when or how to split them, pop into Ted Lare! We can answer any questions you may have, and we have plenty of quality tools for the job. 

How Do You Split a Perennial? 

When you’re dividing plants, it’s important to remember that the roots of a plant are like its brain. Work gently, or else you’re going to scramble them up! 

Tools You’ll Need for Dividing Perennials

 

-Your Hands

-A Sterile Knife

-Garden Forks

digging up a perennial plant

 

Begin by gently digging your plant out from the ground, being careful not to tear too much of the roots, and keeping them intact as best as you can.

 

Brush off any dirt clumps from the root ball, and gently tease the roots with your fingers to loosen them. 

Next, you’ll need to split the root ball in half. You might be able to do this with your hands, but if the root ball is very thick and matted, you may need to use a sterilized knife. For big jobs, you can use two garden forks—stick them both into the center of the root ball, then pull the two halves apart. 

If you see any dead or diseased roots, cut these off. Now your divisions are ready to be planted! Get them in the ground quickly because roots dry out, like a fish out of water. If you’re dividing lots of plants at once, you can keep the divisions in a bucket filled with a bit of water to keep them from drying out. 

When you transplant your divisions, remember to water generously for the next few weeks to help their roots establish. 

Ted Lare has an incredible selection of perennials in Iowa. Visit us soon to see all the incredible varieties of top-selling favorites, like hostas and daylilies, plus all the supplies you need to divide and conquer!

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Cool-Season & Warm-Season Varieties of Ornamental Grasses: What’s The Difference?

-purple fountain grass Ted Lare

There are so many gorgeous varieties of ornamental grasses that add color, texture, and movement to the landscape. However, most tend to fall into one of two categories: cool-season and warm season-grasses. Both have different care requirements and optimal seasons for planting, so if you’d like to grow some ornamental grasses in your garden this year, read this guide so you can choose the most suitable varieties.

Here in Iowa, the weather is not too hot and not too cold—just right for growing both types of grass! While our neighbors up North have better luck with cool-season grass, and the Southernmost states are ideal for warm-season grass, we can grow either kind with minimal effort.

Ted Lare- Cool-Season & Warm-Season Varieties of Ornamental Grasses-maiden grass

Warm-Season Varieties of Ornamental Grasses 

These grasses love hot weather—ideally between 80 and 95°F—so they’re happiest from June until August. If you’re growing perennial warm-season grass, check the hardiness zone before planting to ensure it will survive our cold winter. Des Moines is in USDA Zone 5, so anything hardy to Zone 5 or higher will work great!

Many warm-season grasses produce flowers that appear as fluffy, feathery tufts. They add so much whimsy to the landscape, and the tufts look gorgeous in cut bouquets!

Once the temperature cools in fall, the foliage will turn brown and die. Cut it back once it has died—preferably in late fall, but you should be fine as long as it’s gone by late winter to make room for new growth. 

Like many other perennials, you need to divide these plants when they get too crowded. Always wear gloves when dividing—grass blades are sharper than you think! Divide warm-season grasses sometime between spring and midsummer when the plant is still in its active growing phase. Divide them like any other perennial—gently dig them up, then split the root ball into two or three pieces using your hands or a sterile knife. 

Ted Lare- Cool-Season & Warm-Season Varieties of Ornamental Grasses-black mondo grass

Some popular types of warm-season grasses include:

  • Maiden Grass
  • Giant Reed Grass
  • Fountain Grass
  • Prairie Dropseed
  • Mondo Grass
Ted Lare- Cool-Season & Warm-Season Varieties of Ornamental Grasses-blue fescue grass

Cool-Season Varieties of Ornamental Grasses

As the name suggests, cool-season ornamental grass grows best in mild weather conditions. Their ideal temperature is between 60 and 75°F, so they’re most comfortable from April to June and late August to October. 

They won’t die during the hottest summer months, but growth will slow down, and some of the foliage might start to brown. In the fall, another growth spurt occurs, and some fresh new foliage will emerge. If you like, you can move container-grown ornamental grass to a spot shaded from the bright afternoon sun to protect them from heat stress.

Some cool-season grasses will produce feathery tufts, but many are just grown for their pretty foliage. These grasses often look pretty attractive when winter hits, so you don’t have to cut them back immediately. Instead, you can wait for spring and cut them back before the new growth appears. 

Divide cool-season grass in either spring or early fall—their active growing seasons. Spring is the best option. Transplanting in fall can still work, but you may find that the freezing and thawing of the ground in winter may force your new transplants out of the ground. After planting, water your divisions generously to encourage their roots to spread and take hold. 

Ted Lare- Cool-Season & Warm-Season Varieties of Ornamental Grasseshakone grass

Popular types of cool-season grasses include:

  • Feather Reed Grass
  • Blue Fescue
  • Blue Oat Grass
  • Tufted Hair Grass
  • Hakone Grass

 

You’d be amazed at how many varieties of grasses you can grow in Iowa. Visit us at Ted Lare Garden Center to see everything that’s ready to plant now; you’ll love all the gorgeous colors and textures. Plant them in garden beds, landscape borders, container arrangements—your options are endless! 

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Preparing Your Plants for the Inevitable Late Frost

ted lare garden center frost on calendula flower

The transition from late winter to spring is full of fake-outs and freak frosts. Just when you think the threat of freezing weather has passed, Jack Frost pulls a fast one, and your newly planted spring garden bears the brunt of the impact! But with proper preparation, you can protect your delicate plants and seedlings from potential damage during a late frost.

The average date for the final frost of spring in Des Moines is April 18th, but it’s still entirely possible for freezing temperatures to arrive later in spring. Stay prepared and keep your eye on the forecast through April and May!  

Necessary Tools for Late Frost Preparation

It’s always better to be prepared! Keep these materials on hand this spring as they’ll be helpful when the inevitable late frost creeps in.

ted lare garden center covering rose bush for frost

Plant Covers

There are a lot of different materials you can use to cover flower gardens and raised beds. You can purchase fabrics or plastic tarps meant explicitly for protecting plants from frost, some with built-in frames to keep the weight of the material off of your plants. You can also use old bed sheets you’ve got lying around. Just make sure they aren’t too heavy—you don’t want to crush your plants. If it’s a windy night, use stakes or rocks to keep the corners of your plant covers in place.

Mulch

Freezing temperatures can damage roots, which are the most sensitive part of any plant. To insulate roots from the cold, spread a fresh layer of bark mulch across the surface of the soil. Mulch also keeps out weeds, so you’ll spend much less time weeding for the rest of the year.

ted lare garden center covering sensitive plants from frost

Cut 2L Pop Bottles in Half

Delicate seedlings aren’t strong enough to stay up underneath a fabric tarp. Create DIY cloches for individual seedlings and new, small transplants by cutting 2L pop bottles in half. You can place each half can overtop of a plant and press them one inch into the soil to stay in place.  

What Temperature Should I Cover My Plants for Frost?

Frost occurs at 32°F. However, some plants are more sensitive to the cold than others. For example, tomato plants can suffer damage at 35°F, while cool-season plants like cabbage can handle 28°F. To err on the side of caution, use frost protection for your plants if the forecast calls for 35° or lower. Keep an eye on the overnight temperatures—that’s when spring frosts usually hit.

Make a point of watering your plants before the frost. Moist soil retains heat much better than dry soil, which will help protect roots from temperature shock. 

Bringing Potted Plants Inside for Frost Protection

You can bring container plants indoors to protect them from the cold. If you have a garage, put them in there to prevent introducing pests from outdoors to your indoor houseplants. If you have to bring them indoors overnight, spray some insecticidal soap on the leaves first, and keep them in a room away from your houseplants.

ted lare garden center lettuce and trowel in garden

The Surprising Upside to Spring Frost

While frost in the garden can be annoying, the good news is that it brings some unexpected perks! If you have a vegetable garden, some of your cool-weather veggies may taste better after a cold snap. Root vegetables like carrots and parsnips will become sweeter and more flavorful. Your broccoli will taste better, too!

 

All the supplies you need for late frost preparation in Des Moines are available here at Ted Lare Garden Center. Visit us soon to stock up ahead of time—it’s better to be prepared than scramble at the last minute!