The holidays are upon us, and nothing brings that festive spirit out more than getting your Christmas tree. For many families, this means gathering up the family and traveling to cut a tree down. But for others, this means going to a nursery to pick out a live tree. While it may seem intimidating at first, decorating and then planting a tree that you can enjoy the rest of your life is simple, and only requires you to follow a few key guidelines.IMG_1495

By following this list, as well as your usual planting instructions, you will be able to enjoy your tree year after year. Happy Holidays!

The seasons have officially changed. With that, it’s time to start thinking about some new homes for all those house plants that have made their home outside for the summer. As you bring each plant in it’s a good time to clean up your plant babies, check their roots and repot if necessary.

Depending on which plants you have will depend on what soils you will use.

For most houseplants, we recommend using one of the following 3 potting mixes.

Most of your plants will do just fine with the professional potting mix, this is lightweight soil that does not retain extra moisture in your potting mix which can cause issues with some plants.

For plants that love their water, I recommend using the premium container mix.

This potting mix has a wetting agent which allows the mix to retain water which helps keep those water-loving plants very happy. Peace lilies, anthuriums, crotons, and all ferns would love this mix.

Cactus and succulents would do better if you used a cactus and succulent potting mix. This mix allows the plants to drain well while letting each plant get what it needs in the way of water. If you do not have any of this mix available go ahead and use the professional potting mix but add 1 to 2 parts sand to your mixture.

Along with cactus and succulents, I would add ZZ plants and snake plants to the list for this potting mix.

I also have a preference for what to use for repotting orchids.

We do carry both sphagnum moss and bark for orchids. Everybody has their favorite but, I prefer the bark. The bark holds just the right amount of moisture that your orchid needs. Sometimes the moss will either hold too much or too little water. And please remember to water your orchids in the sink DO NOT USE ICE CUBES! We don’t get our water from ice cubes alone and neither should our plants.

Any questions or concerns about any of your plants can be answered by any of us here at Vanwilgens garden center. Email or call us any time. We are always here to help.

Voles may appear to be smaller and cuter versions of mice but don’t let their outward good looks fool you. For those of you who are not very fond of winter, I am going to give you one more reason to put winter on your “naughty” list…Voles! Voles love warmer winters and continue to breed, tunnel and feed. They happily girdle roots, gnaw on bark, and munch on bulbs. They tunnel freely in the soft earth and snow, damaging trees and shrubs all the way up to the snow line. Their kissing cousins, moles, are a pest too but they are meat eaters and don’t do the extensive damage that voles do to our plants. Our focus is voles this fall & winter, but fortunately treating for voles will also greatly help to reduce mole populations in unwanted areas.

Get ready now! Keep a bag of Mole & Vole Repellent in your garden shed or garage. When the weather station gives us a warning of our first snowfall, grab that bag you tucked away, head out into the garden, and protect your favorite plants before the snow falls. It is really important to get a repellent down around the roots of your plants. Voles will be much less likely to wreak winter havoc on their roots if they are deterred by something smelly and distasteful. Don’t let them have a field day under the cover of snow.

I know I am jumping way ahead now but as soon as the snow melts, heading into next spring, reapply vole repellent. This is often when you will see these crazy-looking runways all over your lawn and into your garden beds, a sure sign of voles. Don’t wait to take action or you will be kicking yourself later. Get ahead of the game and outsmart those critters

Come see us at Van Wilgens. We would love to help!