FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why isn’t my hydrangea blooming?
The most common reason hydrangeas do not bloom have to do with when you prune. If you prune your hydrangeas in fall you are most likely not going to have many flowers if not an at all. The Endless Summer collection of hydrangeas is famous for its reblooming abilities because it can bloom on old and new growth. Older varieties bloom on only older growth so when you prune in the fall you are pruning off all the flowers for next year. Other common reasons include the need to fertilize as well as too much shade.
What is CANP?
CANP is an acronym for Connecticut Accredited Nursery Professional. Van Wilgen’s is proud to have a long list of employees who have passed this challenging exam facilitated by the Connecticut Nurseryman and Landscape Association (CNLA).
Are your plants/products local?
Van Wilgen grown plants are produced right here on our farm in North Branford, it doesn’t get more local than that! We do source material from as far as Oregon but predominantly our plants do not have to travel far to get here. Our biggest suppliers are right here in CT.
Can I charge my electric car?
YES! We have an electric car charging station right in our lot. During business hours charging is free. Look right up front for the reserved spot for electric vehicles
Can I buy trees online?
YES! Check out the Van Wilgen’s Bower and Branch program to browse our tree catalog. Click “Trees” and the “Shop” drop down.
Can I buy Mulch online?
Yes! Under the “Shop” drop down you can purchase truckloads of mulch and soil. We will receive your order and call to schedule. Make sure you put special instructions and list a few dates and time windows that would best suit you.
Can I buy gift cards online?
YES! Under “Shop” click “Gift Cards” and choose an amount. Send
What is your most popular mulch?
Pine Bark Mulch is by far our most popular mulch in bags and bulk. We’ve added Hemlock Mulch and Dark Bark Mulch to our line of bulk mulch, we were very impressed with some samples we experimented with.
Why we love VW planting mix?
Van Wilgen’s Premium Planting Mix is a blend of peat moss and compost formulated for our soil. Everything you need to get your plants started off right. Developing a strong root system is the key to any healthy plant. Combine with our Van Wilgen’s Jump Start and you have a winning combo. These 2 combined give your plant a jump start to establishing. A few years back and we planted a row of large Zelkova trees in the middle of the summer heat, of course, we used both VW planting mix and jump start. One of those trees was a few inches out of line, it finally got to use enough that we decided to move it. It was only in the ground for less than a month and the root system almost doubled in size. We knew with Planting mix, Jump Start and proper water success is almost guaranteed.
Is this deer resistant?
When a deer is hungry there is almost nothing you can do to stop them. We offer a well-rounded selection of repellants which is always a good idea when you have a large deer population as well as choosing plants that are known to be deer resistant. A quick rule of thumb includes anything fuzzy, fragrant or sharp. Look to our deer resistant tree and shrub list as well as shop our deer resistant perennial bench.
When should I prune my spring flowering shrubs?
Azaleas, Lilac, Rhododendron and others, are best pruned immediately after flower and before the fourth of July. This timing allows them to set flower buds for the next spring season.
When should I prune my Evergreens?
Boxwoods, spruce, hemlock, and others, should be pruned after the plant is showing new growth in early spring. Avoid pruning in the fall, as this will promote new growth which can be damaged by early season frosts and freezes.
When should I prune my Hydrangeas?
Hydrangeas are difficult to nail down one good pruning time. For your classic varieties of mophead hydrangea that only bloom on old wood, prune while they are in or immediately after flower. For newer varieties, such as the Endless Summer series, prune at any time during the growing season after new growth appears, as they bloom on old and new wood growth. Panicled Hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata) should be pruned as much as one third in early spring or late fall.
When should I prune my Roses?
Roses are best pruned in spring after winter before the plant break dormancy. If you have older roses prune after flowering. Some older roses like older hydrangeas only bloom on older wood. You wouldn’t want to miss out on a bloom cycle!
How much water?
Trees, shrubs, perennial, roses etc. should receive about an inch of water a week, whether it be with rain, irrigation or hand watering. Remember long soaking waterings and letting the soil dry out between watering is the best. Avoid short frequent watering, this does not promote root growth. You annual containers may require water everyday depending on the location, size of the container and types of plants. Check out our help guide on watering in the “helpful tips and guides” page
When should I seed my lawn?
The soil temperature needs to be about 50 degrees in order for grass seed to germinate. We recommend seeding in spring when the soil temp reaches 50 degrees. Seeding in fall is also a great time because days are cooler but the soil temperature is still warm. The key to germination is water water, water.
How do I plant?
When planting almost any type of plant, it is important to keep a few things in mind: depth, root preparation, amendments and fertilizer. Be sure that you’re not burying any of your woody or herbaceous plants too deep in the ground. Instead, make sure that your planting height is level with the top of the ground (The only major exception to this rule is clematis, which prefers to be planted deeply). You also want to make sure that you remove any burlap, wire baskets or containers that the plant’s root system is currently stored in. You should also be sure to amend your existing soil with a premium garden soil, such as Van Wilgen’s Premium Planting Mix, and to use a transplant fertilizer, such as Van Wilgen’s Jump Start, at the rate indicated on the bottle.
How much mulch do I need?
One yard of mulch can cover a 10 x 10 area at 3 inches thick. Use our mulch calculator on the mulch, stone and topsoil page. Determine how many square feet you have. For a square this is Length time width. (L x W). If you have a circular bed use this handy formula, πr². This is 3.14 x radius². Remember the radius is half of the diameter.
How much is full sun?
Generally 6 hours of sun would be considered “full sun”. Afternoon sun is much stronger than morning sun so take that into consideration.
Can someone help me design my landscape?
Yes. We have a DESIGN BAR, a designer is on staff every day, and there is no charge. Check under the “Let us Do the Work for You” page for details
Can someone help me design my container plantings?
Yes, we have an idea book at our Custom Container Design bench in the greenhouse for inspiration, as well as a team of experienced staff more than excited to show you what plants go best together and where they will thrive.
When can I plant my veggies?
Cold weather veggies like broccoli, cabbage, lettuce etc. are good to plant in early April. The warm weather veggies like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, cucumbers, etc. are best to plant around May 15th. These vegetables do no not like to go below 50 degrees. The plant may survive but you can compromise yield.
What is a perennial?
A perennial is a plant to come back year after year. Perennials can bloom once in a season or multiple times. All perennials benefit from deadheading spent blooms.
Do you deliver?
Yes. We can deliver 1 plant to truck loads. We also deliver bulk mulch, stone, topsoil etc. to the surrounding towns. Click on the “Let us Do It For You” link on the home page for more details.
Do you install?
Yes. We can install 1 plant or a whole landscape. We can even install container mixes onsite, as well as deliver premade mixes to your home, business, or event. Need help deciding the best plants for your spot? Visit with any of our sales associates for advice or meet with our designer create a plan. Click on the “Let us Do It For You” link on the home page for more details.
Does preen really work?
Preen is great at weed prevention. Whenever mulching we suggest applying. Some things to consider: It will last for a few months so remember to reapply throughout the season for best results. Preen will not kill existing weeds it only prevents new weeds from germinating.
Can I mix topsoil and compost?
We highly recommend it. We suggest not mixing more than 50% compost. Anytime you add organic matter to your soil you are doing it a great favor. Compost is very rich in organic matter and beneficial microbes. If you pick up or have delivered, we can load a scoop of topsoil followed by a scoop of compost which mixes the 2 together perfectly when you dump or shovel it out.
How much Mulch/Topsoil/Stone can I get in my truck?
Mulch has an average weight around 600 pounds a yard. Generally you are limited by volume rather than weight
Short Bed: Between 1 to 1.5 yards
Long Bed: Between 2.5 to 3.5 yards
Stone has an average weight of 2700 pounds per yard. It is very heavy. We recommend understanding the weight limits of your vehicle when transporting bulk stone.
Light Duty: Half yard
Heavy Duty: 1 yard
Topsoil has an average weight of 2500 pounds. While compost has an average weight of 1300 pounds. Topsoil is very heavy. We recommend understanding the weight limits of your vehicle when transporting topsoil.
Light Duty: Half yard
Heavy Duty: 1 yard
Why should I use mulch?
Mulch is like tucking your plants in to bed. Mulch retains moisture so you have to water less, it covers exposed soil reducing soil erosion as well. Great at reducing weeds. As mulch breaks down it can add organic material back into the soil. We love the way it accentuates plants too.
Can I plant now?
The only time you cannot plant is when the ground is frozen. Otherwise, grab a shovel and head outside!
How do I take care of my citrus?
For the best citrus fruit around, keep your tree in a minimum of 6 hours of sun a day, the more the better! Citrus do just fine up here planted in pots. You can keep your citrus tree outdoors in temperatures above 50° F, and indoors in a south-facing window when outdoor temperatures get too low. We use Espoma’s Citrus Tone to keep our trees healthy and happy for a bountiful harvest year after year.
How do I take care of my fig?
You can always check in with our fig master Jerry but here are a few tips. Figs thrive in hot sunny summers. Make sur you fertilize with Espoma’s 5-10-5 every 4 weeks during the growing season. Water moderately to keep the soil moist. If you need tip on over wintering, give us a call or email us and we can talk you through it.
When is it safe for tropical to go out?
Tropical plants need to be kept above 50 degrees. As their name suggests they really prefer to be warm. We try to tag all of our tropical material with a yellow tag that says “Keep me above 50 degrees”. Usually the temperature stays at 50°F and above around May 15th, but we recommend you keep an eye on the night time temperatures for a week or two after, just like we do at the garden center.
When should I bring them in?
Our New England weather can be pretty unpredictable, but once the night time temperatures begin to drop below 50°F you should bring your tropical plants inside. For our area, this could be anywhere from the last few weeks in September to the beginning of October.
What products do I need when planting?
The two major products you need are a high quality garden soil, such as Van Wilgen’s Premium Planting Mix, and a good transplant fertilizer, such as Van Wilgen’s Jump Start. These two products combined give the plant a good boost of b vitamins to get the roots going, and a high quality, nutrient rich soil to establish those roots in.
When do I plant bulbs?
Bulbs like Tulips, daffodils, hyacinth should be planted in the fall to enjoy them in the early spring. Summer flowering bulbs like Canna, Elephant ears, Gladiolus, Liatris, Dahlia should be planted in spring. You can start them indoors and move them outside after the threat of frost.
How long will my Christmas tree last inside?
Your Christmas tree should have no problem lasting from Thanksgiving all the way to Christmas. Make sure you keep your tree well-watered. A fresh cut on your tree will help it drink up water which is the best. We recommend keeping your tree away from heating ducts as well.
When can I cut them back?
It is important to let the bulbs go through its full life cycle. About 8 weeks after your bulb is done flowering is adequate time for the leaves to send energy back down into the bulb. This is important for the bulb to have enough energy to flower next year.
What are your hours?
Our hours for all stores are posted at the bottom of every page on the website. It also include information about opening and closing dates of our garden marts.
When do I treat my fruit trees?
You should start treating your fruit trees in early spring. They more applications the better chance for a higher yield. Go Organic and you can treat right up to the day of harvest.
Where are your garden marts?
Boston Post Road in Guilford (at Bishop’s Orchard), Milford and Old Saybrook. You can find their exact address on the bottom of every page on our website.
When do you get ornamental grasses in?
Ornamental Grasses truly love warmer weather. We often wait to get grasses in to the middle or later part of May. We like to make sure they are growing happy and pushing new growth before we bring them in.
Do you have impatiens?
We decided not to grow Impatiens walleriana several years ago. There is a soil born disease that has decimated the impatiens crops across Europe for 10 years. It reared its ugly head in the U.S. a few years ago and we felt it was not responsible to grow a crop that was so susceptible to disease, especially knowing the struggle Europe has been battling and not been able to overcome.
What is magnimoist?
Organic Basket Liner that helps your baskets stay consistently wet. The basket liner deflects water into the basket until the soil is wet, it then releases only the excess water it traps when plants start to need it. Every Van Wilgen’s basket has this organic liner in it to help you have the best hangers on the block.
When is it safe to plant annuals?
Of course living in New England it is difficult to predict the weather, however, if we had to put a date on it I would say May 15th. There are plenty of annuals that can handle a chilly night here or there but if you want the “fun stuff” we suggest waiting. Most common tender plants are New Guinea Impatiens, Coleus, Sweet Potato Vine, Begonia’s (other than Dragon Wing), Zinnias, Lantana, and Ageratum. Ask us if you have any concerns about when to plant.
When can I plant herbs?
There are some herbs that are very tender to cold, including everyone’s favorite, BASIL! We recommend waiting to plant Basil, French Tarragon, Nasturtium and Stevia. Almost all the other herbs we carry can handle cool nights. I would make sure the soil temps are above 50 degrees before planting. Check out our full list of Van Wilgen Grown Herbs under the Herbs and Veggies Product page.
How long will my mums last?
We grow over 70 varieties of mums. This means you can have mums blooming in your fall gardens as early as the end of August, if you chose one of our early blooming varieties, and as late as November if you take home one of our later blooming varieties. The easiest way to tell the difference is to stop by and see what’s in color at the garden center! A typical bloom Mum will last 4-6 weeks in bloom without a weather extremes (Heat/frost)
What is the correct light for my houseplant?
Most of our houseplants do well in what we call indirect light. This means that there are windows in the room, but the sun doesn’t shine through the window directly on your plant. We have dozens of plants for this vague-seeming setting: peace lilies, dreaceana, boston fern, pothos, bromeliads… and the list goes on! We’ve also got recommendations for those little niches in your home, like your north facing window covered by that tree, or your south facing window with the view, who wants curtains when you can have plants instead!
Will you repot my houseplant?
Yes! We are equipped to pot or repot any of the plants we carry at the garden center, as well as your indoor plants from home. All we ask is that you bring us plants free of insects or other pests.
Do you carry terrariums?
Yes! We have glass terrariums in all different shapes and sizes, as well as a wide selection of terrarium-sized plants, all the ingredients to make your terrarium thrive, and the accessories to make it stand out. We generally have premade terrariums in stock, and we will gladly create one for you, or help you to design your own.
Are Orchids hard to grow?
It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3! Not at all, put them in bright but not direct light and give them a shot glass of water a week. For success, use an orchid pot and orchid soil when transplanting. The orchid pot has an attached saucer that holds water, evaporates, and creates humidity which orchids love! Orchid blooms can last up to several months…Enjoy!
Can the hydrangeas in the greenhouse be planted outside?
The hydrangeas we have in full bloom in our greenhouse are great for adding a splash of spring color to your home, and would even be nice potted on a porch or deck to put out for the day. In fact, since these guys don’t bloom forever, we recommend putting them in a pot and placing them wherever they will be most enjoyed, even if that means moving them around! As for being planted or left outdoors, wait until it’s consistently 40 to 45°F, and keep in mind that these hydrangeas aren’t the same as the Endless Summers we have blooming in June. We would never tell you not to give it a try, but these hydrangeas aren’t always hardy in our zone.
Where do I get loaded?
There are large signs in the parking lot designating loading areas. We have a sign for sod pick up, plant pick up and bagged goods pick up. Look for the large signs to direct you. We keep hay, salt hay, mainly mulch, cocoa shells, and lime in the barn with 3 garage doors. Our bulk yard is straight out the back driveway. If you are looking at the Bagged Goods sign, the bulk yard is beyond that and the “back driveway” is towards your left.
Where is your fruit section?
Our fruit section is behind our greenhouse just past where all our Herbs and Veggies are in the spring. If you find the large outdoor koi pond, you are close.
How long does it take to grow a Christmas tree?
Anywhere between 8-10 years from the time we plant a tree in our field till it can be harvested. It is already 2 to 3 years old by the time we receive the seedling and then it goes into the field for 8-10 years.
Do you have any plants that attract pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, as well as hummingbirds?
YES! Be sure to visit our themed benches in perennials and displays in the nursery yard to check out all our great butterfly, hummingbird and bee gardening choices! We have annuals in our greenhouse that will attract bees. These are great for your veggie garden to promote more pollination as well plants that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. These are great for container mixes so you can bring the butterflies and hummingbirds to your porch, patio, or yard!
What are the best plants for along the shoreline?
Shoreline gardening is a way of life here in Southern Connecticut, and we have a wide range of plants that can help you accomplish that. From Black pine and ornamental grass to Sand Cherry, Beach Roses, and Hydrangea, we have a wide selection of seaside loving plants to choose from.
What are the best perennials for shade?
Some of our favorite perennials for shade include Heuchera, Lady’s Mantle, Hellebores, Solomon Seal, Astilbe, Dead Nettle, Hosta, Hackonechloa, Liriope and much much more. Check out our shade perennial area, you can almost see the large sign directing you from the parking lot!
What are the best native plants?
Native gardening is a great way to take an active role in wildlife conservation in your own backyard. We carry a wide selection of native plants, including favorites such as Red Twig Dogwood, Arrowwood Viburnum, Winterberry, Mountain Laurel, Eastern White Pine, and many more!
Why are Knock Out roses so good?
Knockout is the brand name of a series of roses that, in our experience, outperform any other rose on the market today. They have excellent disease resistance, cold hardiness, sun tolerance and even self-deadhead their own spent blooms! Also check out Drift Roses. They bred by the same people who brought us Knock Out but they are a low growing, spreading rose that is just as easy to grow.
What makes Endless Summer® Hydrangeas so popular?
Endless Summer is a group of Hydrangea bred by Dr. Michael Dirr that perform exceptionally in our area. They have an incredible bloom period, with excellent reblooming from June all the way to dormancy. They also bloom on both old and new growth, ensuring excellent flower production, even if you prune them in mid bloom cycle!
What make Proven Winners Plants so good?
Proven Winners has a rigorous trailing program that tests plants longer than most. You can say that each plant is “proven” before it gets to us. Proven Winners is great at listening to what you want and finding plants that fit. You can be confident that if it’s a Proven Winner, it will be easy to grow and care for and preform all season. Look for our Proven Winner displays in Shrubs, Perennials and in the greenhouse. Proven Winners and Van Wilgen’s; it doesn’t get any better than that.
Do you have sod?
We do carry sod when it is available. The cutting season for sod varies every year. We have even sold sod after Christmas. Our sod is 100% Kentucky Blue Grass. It is sold in 2’x5’ strips equaling 10 square feet. We do keep sod in stock throughout the season and deliveries usually arrive on Tuesdays/ Fridays. For order over 50 pieces (500 sq. ft.) we highly suggest having us arrange a drop ship straight to you direct from the sod farm. It is a huge time saver as well as big cost savings.
What do I need for a raised vegetable bed?
The key to a great raised bed is great soil. You want to make sure you have a topsoil that is high in organic matter. We recommend topsoil mixed with compost. Also make sure you have a nicely balanced pH. Ask Stacey to test your soil and she can give you an idea where you pH is measuring.
What are the best vegetables for small space gardening?
Most herbs are great for small space gardening. The key is to keep using the herbs as it is beneficial for the plant as well as keeping the plant a manageable size. We have a few veggies that are great for small space gardening. I would recommend Eggplant, Patio Tomato, Bellina Pepper, Cute Stuff Red Pepper, All lettuce, Bush Pickle Cucumber, Bush Beans.
Do you have elevated garden beds?
Yes, we have a selection of elevated garden beds that would look great on any patio or deck. Harvest food without having to bend over.
What is Van Wilgen Grown?
Van Wilgen Grown is our own line of plants that are grown right here on our farm and greenhouse. It does not get any more local than that! For a full background and information on what makes VW Grown special click on the Van Wilgen Grown icon on the homepage.
Do you have pots?
Yes. We carry a wide selection of pottery including terra cotta, wood, glazed ceramic, light weight fiberglass and plastic pots.
Can I leave my pot outside for the winter?
Nine out of ten times yes, however, it only takes one rough winter to cause a crack. Moving large, heavy containers is difficult. If you do leave ceramic pottery outside we suggest to make sure there is no moisture in the soil. If you can remove the soil and allow water to drain you should have no issues. You can tip them over or try to cover your pots so that no water can get in.