A Mix Butterflies and Hummingbirds will Love- all Summer Long!

If you’re excited to see some butterflies at your home this year, I’m going to share one of my favorite (their favorite too) butterfly and hummingbird attracting container recipes.

1- 4″ Black n Blue Salvia, those hummers can’t get enough of it!
3- 4″ Lantana, in colors ranging from yellow to red to hot pink, butterflies get a crazy color show as well as some delicious nectar!
3- 4″ Verbena, in such bold, fun colors like Denim Blue and Twister Purple, it’s hard to say if it will attract more impressed stares or butterflies!

1-4″ Van Wilgen’s Bloom Booster fertilizer, the more blooms the more butterflies!

Plant your Black n Blue Salvia in the center of your container for your thriller, then surround it with the 3 Lantana, our colorful fillers. Finish the pot off with some Verbena spillers, water it in, and you have yourself the ultimate hummingbird butterfly attraction! To keep your visitors happy all summer, always feed your container gardens, and pick off spent flowers to encourage more to come!

For more butterfly and hummingbird container recipes, come visit us in the greenhouse! We’re full of fresh ideas for sun and shade and color!
June 11, Van Wilgens will host our Kids Klub Butterfly Release event! Ironically, we had just as many adults attending last year’s, as we did kids! Gardeners love the world of beauty of butterflies! Here’s an example of how you can cultivate your own.
Butterflies can be pretty delicate creatures but can also be very complex. If the goal is to add butterflies to your garden, follow this simple approach: attract them and then provide for them when they come. This approach is what makes butterflies return season after season.
Many of my articles talk about attracting and luring butterflies into the landscape, which is easy by planting lots of their favorite nectar-rich flowers, then adding host plants to keep them and their juveniles around. Adding coneflowers/Echinaceas/Rudbeckias to the perennial border is one way to attract Swallowtails and Painted Ladies. Providing host plants like parsley and dill is great to keep these two returning. The butterflies will use the herbs as host plants to lay their eggs and provide for young caterpillars, repeating the cycle. Just a note, when you find caterpillars in your garden, don’t panic, but analyze. Are you seeing just a few or are you seeing dozens upon dozens? A handful of caterpillars is often the sign of butterflies incognito. Loads of caterpillars are usually a sign of pests like moths and flies. Remember, some of the ugliest critters morph into beautiful butterflies!
Just like gardening, butterflying works best when you get involved. Read up on your butterfly guests and plant diversity in your gardens. Looking for great plants? Look no further! Look to us. Its what Van Wilgens does best!

We want you to have beautiful roses. Roses that thrive make everyone happy. Remember there is not just one method of caring for roses. There are several. What works best for one rose owner, may not work as well for another. When it comes to roses, there are some basics and there are some tricks. Most of all, a little patience and TLC are key to beautiful roses.

In this guide, I am going to refer to conventional(C) and organic(O) methods. Neither is right or wrong. It is just nice to have choices. In my opinion, a mix of the two is best for overall rose care.

Let’s start from the very beginning…


Planting Products (C): Van Wilgen’s Jump Start + Van Wilgen’s Premium Planting Mix = The combination of these two products is perfect for planting roses.

Planting Products (O): Van Wilgen’s Root Boost + Soilution Compost = Combining these two organic powerhouses will start your roses off right.

Note: If soil is compact, add Gypsum or Greensand to loosen the soil up.

Note: If soil is sandy, add extra compost to help bind it.

WATERING NEWLY PLANTED ROSES: Watering is key to a successful establishment.

Note: Follow the Rule of 3 = Water 3X’s per week for the first 3 weeks.

Note: Avoid overhead irrigation. Watering roses at a slow trickle or using a soaker hose at the base of the plant will establish a deeper root system and reduce disease.

Note: After the first 3 weeks of watering, switch to 1X per week = 2 inches H2O per week is ideal.


Fertilization Products (C): Van Wilgen’s All-Purpose Slow Release Fertilizer = Use every 2 months, March – September

Note: Bayer’s All-in-One Rose & Flower Care not only provides disease & insect control but provides light fertilization too. It should be used in conjunction with fertilizer & applied every 6 weeks, April-September.

Fertilization Products (O): Espoma’s Rose-Tone = Use 1X per month, March – September

Note: Could supplement with foliar sprays of Van Wilgen’s Fish & Seaweed or Root Boost every 2 weeks through September. They will never burn and will provide extra nutrients for these heavy feeders.

Note: A little trick is to use Monterey’s Epsom Salts 2X per year. 1X in the spring and again in early summer. The magnesium pushes extra root growth.


Mulching Products (C): Any type of mulch from Pine Bark to Cedar would be fine for mulching roses. It depends on what you like the look of. Apply a 3-inch layer of mulch around roses to keep moisture in and keep weeds at bay. Keep mulch 3 inches from the canes of the rose.

Mulching Products (O): Sweet Peet is an excellent mulch for roses. The aged horse manure and moisture retention provided by Sweet Peet really keeps roses healthy. Apply Sweet Peet at 1 inch deep. 3 inches of Sweet Peet will hold too much water.

COMMON DISEASES ON ROSES = Black Spot, Powdery Mildew, Botrytis, Canker, Rust:

*Black Spot: black fringed spots, yellow halo, leaf yellowing, leaf drop, purplish blotches on canes, blistered blotches on canes

*Powdery Mildew: begin as chlorotic or red patches on leaves; turn to white, powdery growth on buds, canes, leaves; distorting, twisting & curling of leaves, shoots, & buds; buds fail to open

*Botrytis Blight: grayish, brown fuzzy growth on canes, buds, flowers; tan flecks/patches on flower buds & petals; sunken, tannish cankers on canes

*Canker: canes only; begin small, yellow to dark-red spots; grow larger to brown with reddish-brown centers; distinctly dark from healthy, green tissue; wilting & death beyond the cane

*Rust: infects all green parts; small, orange pustules; premature defoliation;

Disease Control Products (C): Daconil, Bayer All-in-One Rose & Flower Care, Bayer 3-in-1Insect, Disease, & Mite Control

Note: Begin applications with Bayer All-in-One Rose in April. Apply 1X per month April – September

Note: Begin applications with Daconil in May. Apply 1X every 2 weeks as needed.

Disease Control Products (O): Neem, Rose RX 3-in-1, Copper, Garden Fungicide (Sulfur), Serenade

Note: Begin Control with Neem/Rose RX 3-in-1 in early spring. It works well as a preventative but not as a curative.

Note: Begin use of organic fungicides before the disease starts. Begin in May. They may be applied 1X per week.

COMMON INSECTS ON ROSES = Rose Sawfly, Japanese Beetle, Aphids, Mites, Thrips:

*Rose Sawfly: aka Rose Slug, small, green with orange head, looks like a caterpillar but it is not, turns rose leaves into a brown windowpane

*Japanese Beetles: brownish/green metallic color, feeds in clumps, skeletonizes leaves, eats buds and flowers leaving a ragged appearance

*Aphid: pear-shaped, small, green to red to gray, sucks juices out plant distorting & curling leaves and new growth, clusters on buds and new shoots

*Thrips: tiny, yellowish-brown, scrape the surface of leaves and flowers, cause stippled yellowing of leaves and browning edges of flower petals

*Mites: nearly imperceptible, 8-legged, sucking insects, whitish-yellow stippling on leaves, light webbing if the infestation is heavy enough

*Rose Scale: white to gray waxy bump is adult, sucking insect, girdles canes

Insect Control Products (C): Bayer All-in-One Rose & Flower Care, Bayer Dual-Action Rose & Flower Care, Bayer 3-in-1 Insect, Disease, & Mite Control

Note: If you begin systemic treatments with Bayer All-in-One Rose & Flower Care in the spring, you may not have any serious insect problems. The product lasts in the rose, providing a full month of insect control. Foliar sprays provide excellent insect control but may need to be applied 1 to 2X’s per week.

Insect Control Products (O): Safer Insect Killing Soap, End-All, Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew, Rose RX 3-in-1, Neem, Japanese Beetle Killer

Note: Organic insect controls can be very effective but may need to be applied more often than conventional insect controls. They must make contact with the insect to provide good control.

Side Note: Don’t forget about Deer Control. The earlier you begin applying repellents, the less likely they are to start their feeding habit on your roses!

Side Note: Don’t forget about Vole control if they are an issue in your yard. Planting with Vole Bloc and using Vole repellants may be necessary.

Side Note: Try Triple-Phosphate for an extra bloom burst. A little goes a long way!


Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help!


I think we have all dreamed of being able to re-create that feeling we get when we are on vacation in the tropics.

The large palms, beautiful flowering trees, and fragrant climbing vines have a few of us doing our best to transform our yards into our own personal oasis, that we can come home to every night.

What are your favorites? Here are a few of ours here at Van Wilgen’s.

With a combination of any of the above, you can surely make that tropical oasis we all dream about. Just in time for summer.

There’s no doubt that hydrangeas can hold their own in the garden. With big colorful blooms and beautiful green foliage, summer’s favorite flower makes a bold statement in any garden.

But, why not pair them with delicate foliage, bold flowers or subtle ornamental grasses for more variety? If you’re looking for ways to make your hydrangeas pop even more, try these companion planting tips.

When planting hydrangeas, be sure to use Espoma’s Organic Soil Acidifier for best results.


It’s hard to go wrong when choosing a color for companion plants. Try pairing hydrangeas with foliage in different hues of the same color. This adds subtle dimension and almost creates a 3-D effect in the garden.

If your hydrangeas are pink, pair them with Rose Glow Barberry shrubs. The deep pink and purple foliage emphasizes the pastel pink flowers and contrasts perfectly with the green leaves. Try planting Blue Star Juniper alongside blue hydrangeas for a beautiful display. This low-maintenance shrub provides beautiful bluish-green foliage that complements any blue flowering plants.


When planting flowers with flowers, timing is everything. Be sure to choose a summer-blooming flower that will blossom around the same time as your hydrangea. You can choose to plant similar hues or bright contrasting colors. If you’re looking to create a dramatic contrast in the garden, choose a flower that comes in a variety of colors.

Begonias and geraniums are beautiful flowers that come in many different shades, making them a perfect companion for hydrangeas. Create a colorful rainbow garden by pairing blue hydrangeas with pink geraniums or white hydrangeas with scarlet begonias.


If you want the focus of your garden to be mainly on hydrangeas, opt for more subtle ornamental grasses that simply enhance their beauty. Most ornamental grasses are low-maintenance and easy to grow, giving you more time to spend perfecting your hydrangeas.

Fountain grass is one of our favorites because it provides pretty feathered plumes that dance in the wind. Green and yellow Japanese forest grass also complement hydrangeas very nicely.

Let us know what you’ll be planting with your hydrangeas this summer!

Customers routinely ask me for something that blooms all summer long
with low maintenance. I usually push colorful annuals or long-blooming
perennials. But what to suggest to folks who want to plant something
and walk away? I suggest my “go-to plant” for full sun: the Knockout
series of roses! Eyes go wide when I suggest roses. “Aren’t roses a
lot of work?” In the case of Knockouts, these roses really aren’t!
Star Roses have changed how we view and grow roses!

Culture is simple, like true roses they love full sun. The more sun,
the better the blooming! Keep them adequately watered and fed and you
will get a flower display that rivals geraniums! Rose-Tone works
wonders! Deadheading spent blooms and rose hips isn’t even necessary!
I like to think of the single varieties as self-cleaning as the petals
drop on their own. But, removing spent blooms will keep your plants
reblooming faster and heavier. Follow the standard rule, pruning just
above the healthiest set of five leaves below the spent blooms.
The fragrance is a mellow “salt spray rose” perfume. Expect flowers into
late September!

For roses in containers, consider Knockout’s siblings: the Drifts!
Knockout easy care and hardiness found in compact plants. Drifts offer
single and double flowers in wonderful colors.

Seeing is believing! Stop by any of our stores to check out our
selection of Knockouts and Drifts!

It takes a lot to get our experienced group of plant nerds excited about a new plant. When you spend as much time living, breathing, and handling plant material as us, you rarely get your socks knocked off. Last year, we planted Lil’ Bang Daybreak coreopsis, and man, did we fall in love. We planted five here at the garden center, and it bloomed from June all the way to frost, never needing any deadheading, pruning, or maintenance- just some water. So when Mark Sellew of Prides Corner Farms came to us this spring with a picture of a new member of the Lil Bang series –Radioactive- bred in Massachusetts and grown on his farm, we scrambled to get some for ourselves, and this week, we’ve finally got them on our benches, and right up front where they belong.



(Annual plant care in containers)

Push your annuals to the maximum this year. They can handle it. I promise! We get to enjoy annual flowers for such a short period of time so let’s get the most out of them. Darlene in the greenhouse put together a top 10 list of her annual favorites and it is important that we take good care of the special choices she made or any annual you fancy. Annual flowers in pots are such a treat because they bloom for us practically every day. We get to sit out on our patios, lounge in our chairs, dine on our decks surrounded by beautiful patio annuals, filled with gorgeous blooms, in any color you choose. It is definitely ok to lounge and enjoy. In fact, I encourage it any chance we get. Just don’t relax so much that you completely forget to take care of those gorgeous potted annuals! Remember, plant care is always a little bit of a give-and-take relationship. We give our plants a little love and attention and they give us a whole lot in return.

Let’s show our annuals a little TLC when we take them home from the nursery. Billy P. and the rest of the Van Wilgen’s growing team give them so much love in our growing department. We need to continue to spread the love and care to them when we plant them into our containers at home.

The TLC begins with the soil you use to plant your lovely annuals in. Use a well-draining, fresh, light potting soil such as our Van Wilgen’s Professional Potting Mix. It is just the right consistency for your plants to thrive. Place a layer of rocks at the bottom of your pot to help with drainage and fill the pot up with new soil. Be sure your pot has a good drainage hole in it too. If you have a really large pot and using rocks just makes it too heavy for you, cheat and throw some empty plastic bottles you have from the recycle bin into the bottom of the container. They will add some bulk to the bottom of the large pot and still allow drainage without the weight. If you have some soil in the pots from last year, it is okay to keep some of it but not all. You really need to refresh last year’s soil with some new potting mix. Last year’s annuals most likely sucked the nutrients out of it.

I highly recommend adding some Soil Moist into the potting soil. We have a very cool Soil Moist that has Mycorrhiza in it. Mycorrhiza is this awesome beneficial bacteria that attaches to the roots of the annual plants, allowing them to absorb more water and nutrients. The Soil Moist is most important for helping the pots retain moisture just in case you get a little busy and forget to water one day. If you use our Van Wilgen’s Container Mix, the Soil Moist and fertilizer are already built into it…3 steps in one!

Next comes the fertilizer. I cannot stress enough how important it is to fertilize your annuals in containers. We water our pots so often that the nutrients leach out quickly. Begin by mixing in Van Wilgen’s All Purpose Slow Release Plant Food. This food serves as a good base for planting because it feeds slowly over a long period of time. Use the slow-release food every 2 months in your containers. Don’t stop there! Now it is time to push them to the maximum. Remember, annuals can handle it. Use VW Bloom Booster. The Bloom Booster is loaded with phosphorus and pushes tons of blooms. Use the Bloom Booster every 2 weeks through the season. Why the heck not?!

Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Do not forget the basics such as water, sun, and dead-heading. No matter how good the soil is or how often you fertilize, without the basics, your annuals will not thrive. Be sure to water your annual pots daily. If the temperatures get above 85 degrees, you will need to water those pots two times per day. Don’t forget the sun. The annuals on Darlene’s top 10 list need full sun to give you the bloom you desire. Dead-heading is key to keep them looking sharp and perky.

Give a little to your annuals and you will get a whole lot of flowers and joy in return.

Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help!


*Annuals from Darlene’s top 10 list or any that you like

*Van Wilgen’s Professional Potting Mix or Container Mix

*Soil Moist

*Van Wilgen’s All Purpose Slow Release Plant Food

*Van Wilgen’s Bloom Booster




Large, beautiful hydrangeas are a great addition to any landscape. Their bold colors make them perfect for freshly cut or dried flowers. Getting off to the right start in the right location is the difference between a hydrangea bush that blooms for years and one that never does.

Get the beautiful blooms you desire with these hydrangea planting tips.

Where should I plant my hydrangea? Choose a spot with moist, well-drained soil. Hydrangeas can grow from 4’ to 12’ in height depending on the variety, so plan accordingly. Most hydrangeas benefit from some shade, especially in hot climates. Too much shade means your hydrangea may not grow flowers.

Check the plant tag to find out how many hours of sun your hydrangea should be getting per day. Panicle hydrangeas tolerate more sun than do other species. And if you live in a region where it gets seriously hot, your hydrangea will need more shade than those grown in colder zones. Hydrangeas in southern climates especially need frequent watering to tolerate that stress.

If you’ve noticed your hydrangea has stopped blooming in recent years, it may be time to evaluate the location. Make sure hydrangeas are still receiving enough daily light and check the growth of nearby trees. Consider moving the hydrangea to a sunnier spot.

Get Ready to Plant. Once you’ve found the perfect spot, dig a hole twice as large as the hydrangea’s container. Mix in an organic starter plant food, such as Bio-tone Starter Plus, to keep roots strong. Add 1” of compost or Espoma Organic All-purpose Garden Soil to help with nutrients and drainage. Place the hydrangea in the hole at about the same height it was in the container, spreading its roots wide. Backfill the hole with soil and top with 2-3” of mulch.

Water Well. After you plant, water the hydrangea until a puddle forms. Water twice a week for a month. Then water deeply once a week until fall.

The Finishing Touch. Feed blue hydrangeas with Holly-tone to keep the soil acidic. Otherwise, opt for Flower-tone. For the best hydrangea care, feed 2-3 times throughout the growing season, which is spring until fall.

A good tomato is hard to forget. You know you’ve hit the jackpot in that first, juicy bite.

Every tomato has the potential to be great and some extra attention now will pay off big time come harvest. Set the stage for a stellar performance by this year’s crops with these tips.

How to Get The Best Tomatoes:

  1. Healthy soil, healthy plants. Enrich the soil with Tomato-tone and compost every other week to keep plants supplied with essential nutrients.
  2. Remove damaged plants. Remove any fruit that shows dark patches on their bottom. These leathery patches, known as blossom end rot, cannot be reversed.
  3. Water well. During hot weather, tomato plants need deep waterings. Tomatoes are also less likely to crack when the soil is kept slightly moist.
  4. Cover the soil. Mulch blocks weeds, saves water, and protects your fruit. Adding it is a no-brainer! Spread a 2-3” layer of organic mulch around plants, leaving 2” of room around the stem so water can reach the roots.
  5. Protect plants from heat. Hot sun can cause sunscald, leaving tomatoes with pale, leathery patches on the fruits that pucker when they should be ripening. Bushy plants with lots of leaves naturally shade the fruit from the sun, however, plants with fewer leaves are more vulnerable. Cover plants with lightweight cloth through the first few heatwaves.
  6. Remove tomato suckers. These small shoots sprout out from where the stem and the branch of a tomato plant meet. Though harmless, tomato suckers do drain energy away from the main stems.

Pick tomatoes when you’re ready for them, avoid letting them get soft and mushy. Tomatoes picked at the breaker stage, when they first show signs of changing color, are considered vine-ripened. These tomatoes will continue to ripen off the vine and on your kitchen counter. Plus, tomatoes picked at the breaking stage can still have the same flavor as one that has fully ripened on the vine.

Whatever you do, just don’t put tomatoes in the fridge to ripen.