Over the last few years, the cactus has become the most wanted and most asked for plant here at Van Wilgen’s.

Almost everywhere you look you can find cacti, whether it’s here in the greenhouse or in any magazine, and even on clothing.

It really doesn’t get any easier than cactus. It truly is the perfect plant for the busy millennial family. They really do take care of themselves with little or no help from you. Their hardiness to handle the hot sun, requiring very little water, and their cool aesthetic-looking varieties make it an easy pick for just about anyone.

Many of our customers have a collection of cacti. They are always coming in to add just one more. You can never have too many, right??

My love for cactus comes from my many trips out west to Arizona and Utah. A trip every cactus lover should do at least once. Arizona is where I had my first prickly pear cactus for dinner. Did you know you can eat cactus?? Although it wasn’t my favorite, I did like it in the form of a prickly pear margarita.

So if you have not yet added cacti to your family of plants at your home, now’s the time to get with the trend and try these easy-care low maintenance plants.

stacey tips art 1Your houseplants enjoyed a wonderful, long Summer vacation out on your deck, patio, front step, etc. They got to enjoy bright sunlight, warm temperatures, and many admirers. Sorry houseplants, but it is time to make your way inside. The days are becoming shorter and temperatures are getting colder. Most of your summer vacationing plants cannot handle the temperatures when they dip down below 50 degrees at night. Plants may show signs of damage if the nights get too cold consistently. Leaves may turn yellow, wilt, and drop off. Entire branches may die back or the plant may even meet its’ demise. We can take a lesson from snowbirds, chasing the warmth. They have been doing it right for years! Summer vacationing houseplants will be very happy that you are paying attention to them and not abandoning them out in the cold. However, if you take them too quickly from the bright, outdoor sun to inside house conditions they may not show you all of their gratitude. If you can transition houseplants slowly from outside to inside, they will be so much happier. For instance, take a plant that has been in the full sun and move it to a shadier part of the yard, under a tree, onto a covered patio, or even a screen porch. The longer your plants can transition outside before coming into your home, the happier they will be. If plants are light enough, you can bring them in at night and put them back out during the day. This way they get the best of both worlds, sunlight during the day and warmth at night. Being the “bug lady/terminator” that I am, I must talk to you about insect control for summer vacationing plants. Not only, can the move from outside to inside be difficult but often they have to deal with unwanted stowaways moving inside with them. Certain insects are very happy to make their home on your houseplants. While your houseplants are enjoying a nice summer break, insects are busy laying eggs on leaves and branches, hiding in cracks and crevices of the bark, or burying themselves in the soil of the pot. As you are moving your plants inside, it is very likely that you will not see these unwanted hitchhikers. Once the insects get inside with your houseplants, they have got it made! We turn the heat up in our homes. Bugs love this. The plants are a permanent food source for insects. They love this too. It is important to get rid of these stowaway insects before they become a big winter problem on your houseplants. The most common houseplant pests are aphids, whiteflies, mealybugs, scale, mites, and fungus gnats. They are all in the “sucking” insect category except for fungus gnats. This means they suck the good juices out of our plants and excrete them in the form of honeydew. This honeydew can make leaf surfaces, floors, and furniture below the plants shiny and sticky. Plants will become weak. Leaves may turn yellow and drop. If the insects are not taken care of, the plant will struggle to survive. Sounds dire but it really is not! The solution is easy. You need to build your arsenal of insect control with Neem or Horticultural Oil, Bonide’s Systemic Houseplant Insect Control, Safer’s Houseplant Sticky Stakes, and Mosquito Bits. These are the perfect products to keep stowaways from becoming a problem. Use Neem or Horticultural Oil while plants are still outside and give them a really good spray down. This will help to smother any of those unwanted pests or pest eggs. If you have already brought the plants inside, no worries, you can spray them inside as well. Once inside, apply Systemic Houseplant Insect Control to the soil in the pot. Water it in slowly and your houseplant will happily absorb it into their entire system, protecting it from the inside out from damaging, sucking insects. Sticky traps work really well if you are being bothered by flying whitefly or fungus gnats. Mosquito Bits work organically and like a charm on annoying fungus gnats. There is always so much I could tell you but I am going to leave you with one last piece of advice in regards to overwintering houseplants… DO NOT OVERWATER THEM, FERTILIZE THEM & MOST OF ALL…ENJOY THEM!

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

Your lawn loves you. Do you love it back? Your lawn lets you walk on it, play ball on it, picnic on it, and just take plain old advantage of it. What do you do for your lawn? Do you show it any love? There are so many ways to care for your lawn but this tip is all about fall organic lawn care.

The best way to care for your lawn organically is to have a thick stand of turf. This means to seed and overseed and overseed again. Adding new seed to an existing lawn reduces bare patches. Bare patches set your lawn up for failure. The bare patches are where bully weeds take over. They show no mercy once they take hold. The best way to avoid these bullies is to add new grass seed to the bald spots. The greatest organic weed control is thick grass.

Keep your lawn mowed high all season long except for that very last mow of the year. If your keep your lawnmower set to a minimum of 3 inches, you are mowing as “organically” as possible. A lawn that is left high can withstand drought much better than a short lawn and also keeps weeds suppressed. The last mow of the year is an exception to this rule. This is one of the only times I recommend mowing the lawn shorter. A 2-inch height would be perfect. You do not want your fall lawn going into the winter in need of a haircut. Keeping it shorter for the last mow, reduces the chances of winter diseases such as snow mold.

Organic fall fertilization shows your lawn tons of love. I cannot stress enough the importance of fertilizing not only at the end of the summer but late into the fall. At the end of the summer, your lawn needs some recovery time. Fertilizer helps it to do this. I mentioned the last mow before. This is also a very important time to put down a fall lawn fertilizer. Once your lawn stops actively growing up top, it still grows down below. This is where the fertilizer comes into play. It pushes root growth and stores what it cannot use in its root system to use immediately in the spring.

A great way to think organically is to think about the soil. In particular, the soil pH is key. If your pH is off, then your lawn just won’t be happy no matter how much fertilizer or seed you throw at it. Test your pH. Pick up a DIY pH kit, bring your soil to me to test at Van Wilgen’s, or bring it to the Ct Ag Station. If your pH is low/acidic, you need to apply lime. Lawns need a pH between 6.8 to 7.2 to feel their best. Any other number and lawns shut down. Let’s keep our lawn naturally happy with Limestone.

Is your soil compact? If you want your lawn to thrive, it needs room to stretch its’ roots and absorb water. If your soil is like brown pavement, your lawn will always struggle. Aerate your lawn every 2 years. While you are at it, throw down a little more seed. Oh, did I say seed already?! I know I sound like a broken record sometimes but I just want the best for you and your lawn.

So, show your lawns some organic love this fall. I promise the love they return by providing you and your family oxygen and leisure space will be well worth it.

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


*Van Wilgen’s Grass Seed

*Espoma’s Organic All Season Lawn Food

*Espoma’s Organic Fall Lawn Food


*pH Testing Kit

*Soil Doctor Lawn Lime

It’s always a good day for the team when we can take a minute to talk about some of our favorite plants. Fall is a fantastic time to plant, and an event better time to admire the landscape. We put pen to paper and came up with a baker’s dozen of our favorite Autumn Flowers and Fruits. If you don’t see yours let us know, we love to know what you are planting!

Beauty Berry

Winter Berry

Sweet Autumn Clematis


Perennial Plumbago


Snow Berry


Butterfly Weed

Crab Apple


Knock Out and Drift Roses

Fall Anenome

We love the contrasts and textures of fall foliage. From grasses to trees we have compiled a baker’s dozen of our favorites to see in the autumn landscape. If you don’t see your favorite let us know, we are always interested in what you are planting!

Hydrangea ‘Little Quick Fire’


Witch Hazel


‘Standing Ovation’ Grass


Oakleaf Hydrangea


Perennial Plumbago



‘Little Miss’ Miscanthus

‘North Wind’ Panicum

Screen Shot 2016-09-15 at 1.25.33 PMAs we get into late fall, many gardeners instinctively begin to clean up their gardens. Perennials get cut back, weeds get pulled or sprayed, and roses get mulched in. For these classic garden staples, fall care is often quick, fun, and devoid of thought. Grasses, however, do not share the same instinctive nature. Many customers call in this time of year wondering about their grasses. Should I cut them back? How do I keep them healthy? Thankfully, grasses could not be easier to take care of.
All ornamental grass can be left alone till early spring. Grasses provide winter interest in the landscape and shelter for the birds in the cold season. They will also perform much better when cut an inch or two from the ground in March or April.
Happy Gardening!
The nights are getting cooler, the days are getting shorter, and for us, at Van Wilgen’s that means mums, fall foliage, corn stalks, and of course, pumpkins everywhere! Unfortunately for our summer container gardens, it also means it’s time for a change.

Autumn is a wonderful (some might say the best) time of the year for color. Trees and landscapes turn into amazing shades of reds, golds, and oranges. Everything in the yard makes us want to bring those same colors indoors.

While a cutting arrangement full of autumn flowers is wonderful, they won’t last all season. That’s why we have autumn houseplants. Indoor plants bring a welcoming burst of color during the dark winter evenings and keep homes feeling cheerful.

Keep plants happy during colder months by following directions for your houseplant’s light and water requirements. Feed regularly with Espoma’s Indoor! liquid fertilizer to keep those amazing colors vibrant all season long.

8 Houseplants You Need This Autumn

  1. Crotons

Invite this bold houseplant to your space this season. The foliage comes in incredible colors of red, green, orange, yellow, and even black! You will not be disappointed. Crotons like bright areas, so place them near a big window.

  1. African Violet

Bring vibrant hues to your home with African violets. They can be grown almost anywhere there is light and a bit of humidity. African violets prefer full sun in the winter to get their gorgeous color. Rotate them regularly to keep growth even. Feed regularly with Espoma’s Violet! liquid fertilizer to ensure sensational blooms.


  1. Dracena

Nicknamed the dragon plant, this houseplant brings great texture to any décor. Choose the variety of dracaena that best complements your design styles– such as dark green foliage or red lined foliage. These plants are easily cared for, tolerating low light, but thriving in medium to bright spots, too.

  1. Lemon Cypress

This holiday favorite brings joy to your home all season long. Keep it trimmed into the cone shape to keep it looking like a miniature tree throughout the rest of the year. Keep it in direct light and cool temperatures.

  1. Chrysanthemum

Mums are a sure indicator of autumn with their yellow, orange, and red hues. Put them anywhere they can get bright filtered light during the day but remain in the dark at night. They look great on shelves and desks that have some sunlight hitting them.


  1. Goldfish Plant

A member of the African violet family, the goldfish plant brings a unique orange flower to your home. It’s named for the flower’s fishlike bodies and puckered mouths. Place this plant a few feet away from windows. Its curved stems make this a great choice for hanging.

  1. Oxalis triangularis

Also known as red shamrock plant, oxalis triangularis is a wonderful addition to any houseplant collection. It has big, reddish-purple, clover-shaped leaves which give it the nickname shamrock. It blooms little pink or white flowers that contrast with the foliage so well. It is a dream to have. Oxalis triangularis doesn’t like direct sun, so anywhere will work for this plant. It is a bulb, so allow for drying in between waterings to prevent rotting.

  1. Bromeliads

Known for the bright yellow, it may be surprising to some that bromeliads are offered in a sunset of colors. Bromeliads thrive on low light and minimal watering. So those who are looking for hardy plants, this one’s for you!

stacey tips art 1Lawns love fall. They feel so much better once the summer heat has passed but they still need your help. With a little TLC from you, fall will become your lawn’s favorite time of the year. Spring will become your favorite season because the fall work you do to your lawn now will pay off in spades next spring. Don’t forget how much your lawns do for you all spring and summer. They provide your family with oxygen, picnic areas, backyard ball fields, etc.

Let’s get cracking. Your lawn needs you, now. Here’s what we’re gonna do…

• FERTILIZE: Use Step 3(All Season Lawn Food) now to help the lawn recover from summer.

• FERTILIZE AGAIN: Yes folks, again! Save Step 4(Fall Lawn Food) for November. This is one of the most important fertilization steps of the year. Yes, siree!! After you have mowed your lawn for the very last time in the year, this is the time to put down your Fall Lawn Food.

• BEGIN TO MOW LAWN SHORTER: I know, I know, I am always telling you to keep your lawn as high as possible all season long. Well now, I am changing my tune. Begin to mow your lawn shorter, but no more than 1/3 of the grass blade at a time. Bringing your lawn down to a good 2 inches going into the winter, allows more sunlight to get down to the crown of the plant and helps keep it disease-free.

• AERATE OR DETHATCH: Aerate if your lawn is compact & sparse. Dethatch if your lawn is really thick and has a dead, brown, thatch layer at the base of your green grass.

• TOP DRESS: Get a little compost and/or topsoil and rake into your existing lawn. A 50/50 combination would be perfect and help restore the organic matter in your soil.

• OVERSEED OR FILL IN BARE PATCHES: This is the perfect weather to seed, whether it is to fill in small bare patches or to thicken up an existing lawn, don’t miss this ideal fall weather to seed.

• WATER: Yes, even fall can be dry. If you seed, you need to water every day. Your existing lawn could use a drink too. Less frequent but deeper soakings that go down a few inches into the soil will really help to establish a deep root system.

• REMOVE LEAVES: Do not allow leaves to build up too thickly. They can smother out the grass and cause disease. Rake or mulch them with your mower.

• BROADLEAF WEED CONTROL: I highly recommend doing some broadleaf weed control if you are not seeding. It is important to kill off perennial weeds before they take a strong hold next spring. If you use a broadleaf, granular weed control, be sure to apply to a damp lawn and do not mow or water for a couple of days. I love Weed Beater Ultra. It is a liquid weed control that you can use to spot treat weeds and it will work even when temperatures dip into the 4o’s. This really extends the weed control season! Your lawn loves fall. Love your lawn in the fall and it will love you back even more in the spring. Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help!

It’s almost fall, we are all starting to feel the nip in the air. It’s time to start thinking about making room for life inside our homes. Plant life that is! I love to try and fill our greenhouse this time of year with plants that will make your homes plantastic. Plants not only add greenery and color to your home but also enhance the quality of life for everyone.

Breathe easy-Plants purify the air in our homes. As we take in the oxygen gas the plants release which helps keep our cells and bodies alive, the plants take in the carbon dioxide our bodies release. Our plants also pull other contaminants from the air and then the root micro-organisms convert them to food for the plant. The plants help us and we help the plant.

Improve health-Did you know plants release water vapor into the air? By adding that humidity to the air studies have shown that those of us with many house plants in our homes tend to have lower risks for illness, and generally promote the healing process of those that have been sick.

Enhance concentration-This year especially I have had a few large businesses come in to buy plants for everyone’s office. They truly believe that the enhancement of concentration and boost in the mood the houseplant helps with makes for a very productive company.

As a mother, a few houseplants for your kids going off to college not only makes it feel more like home but lets them be creative with their space while they are trying to make a home away from home. I would start with something easy at first like cactus/succulents, or maybe a ZZ plant until they get used to taking care of things themselves.

Let us help you pick the right plant for the right place.

Make sure you take advantage of our website, we have lots of creative videos, and on our events page we will soon have info on our annual houseplant weekend. Always a great time with new fun workshops and videos on how to be creative to make your home and health plantastic!