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A year round resource for all of your gardening questions and outdoor inspiration!

02/2017  Rules of Repotting

Darlene Pastet • Greenhouse Manager 

As a rule of thumb, when we repot houseplants, bigger is not always better. We advise that when you transplant your houseplants to go up in size only an inch or two. When your plant is in a pot that is too big, it’s roots try to ‘put their feet on the ground’ so to speak. Meaning your plant spends all of it’s  energy growing down. The top of the plant is left depleted and begins to fail. You may see leaves dropping, turning brown or yellowing.  If this occurs it’s important to move your plant into a smaller pot.

If you have a question about what size pot to use, or care your your plant. Let us know, we’re here to help!

01/2017 Easy Care Houseplant list 

Darlene Pastet • Greenhouse Manager 

When it comes to houseplants, do you feel like you don’t have a green thumb? NO problem we say! Easy Care plants are for everyone. At Van Wilgen’s we want you to be a successful gardener. Our glasshouse hosts many indoor plants that are sturdy, durable and low maintenance. What have you got to lose? Why not bring a little color and life into your home with one these indoor plants. 

Snake Plant


Air Plants

Areca Palm



Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree

Arbicola Schefflera

ZZ Plant


We know you can do it!

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01/2017 Stacey’s Tips: Deer Daisy

(How to prevent deer damage this winter)

Stacey Pope • Lawn & Garden Specialist

  Click the image for a printable Stacey’s Tips!

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“Deer Daisy was here again.  I caught Daisy and her friends leaping over the stone wall this morning after enjoying breakfast in my yard.”  This is what my Poppy used to tell me all the time.  He would act frustrated but secretly he enjoyed seeing them leap, white-tailed, one after the other at sunrise in the garden.  As much as he got pleasure from Daisy’s morning shenanigans, he would have preferred if they did not feast on Meme’s favorite hydrangeas.

Poppy did not have all the deer repellents we now have available today.  He tried all sorts of home remedies; moth balls, soap shavings, bags of human hair, and metal pie tins tied to stakes.

Maybe they helped for a few days but Daisy was soon back again with her gang to do some more plant damage.  If only I knew then what I know now!  I could have helped keep Daisy out of the garden and my Poppy could have enjoyed watching them forage in the neighbor’s yard. (tee hee)

Daisy and her herd were creatures of habit.  They found a restaurant in my Poppy’s yard they loved to eat at and they went every day.  They sometimes ordered different things off the menu and feasted on Meme’s rhododendrons instead of her hydrangeas.  Deer are flexible and they will eat whatever is available, even if it is not part of their regular deer diet.

Most of you probably know this but I am going to pretend that I am telling you something ground breaking.  Here it is…since deer are creatures of habit, we need to stop their habit before it even starts.  In other words, don’t let your yard become their favorite restaurant.  Start applying repellents before the deer start their winter foraging.  Deer are extra bold in the winter because their menu choices are limited.  They no longer have green grasses and wild flowers to feed on so they need to turn to woody plants.  This is when we start to see the damage on our trees and shrubs.

Poppy, will be happy that I am protecting my Meme’s transplanted hydrangeas with effective deer repellents.  The best deer repellents contain putrescent egg solids, garlic, peppers, oils, and dried blood.  Delicious!  The deer really do not like the smell or taste of these products and the dried blood tricks them into thinking there is a dangerous predator in the area.  If applied to your most vulnerable plants before Daisy’s gang begins feeding this winter, you may not have any problem at all.  That is a pretty big promise on my part.  Maybe I should rephrase and say that you may have tolerable damage this winter.  That’s better.

Here is another ground-breaking secret…use more than one product.  I usually recommend a liquid product combined with a granular product.  A delicious recipe for success is, Liquid Fence  sprayed on the plants combined with granular Deer Scram sprinkled on the ground around the plants.  Deer Scram can also be successfully combined with other liquid products such as, Deer Stopper and Bobbex.  Switch up the menu folks so deer don’t get too used to the repellents.  Remember, just because one product worked last year, does not mean it will work again this year.  Deer Stopper makes a very cool product called a Barrier Ribbon.  This ribbon is 100 feet long and treated with a repellent.  If staked 30 inches high, this can be an excellent deterrent for deer even entering your yard.

Yes, “Deer Daisy” is beautiful but so is your yard and garden.  Put up the “Restaurant is Closed for the Winter” sign on your yard before the Daisy and her gang make this their regular eating spot.

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

Thanks a bunch…Stacey

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01/2017 Stacey’s Tips:


Stacey Pope • Lawn & Garden Specialist

  Click the image for a printable Stacey’s Tips!

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“This orchid is so beautiful but how the heck do I take care of it? I’d probably just kill it!” This is what I hear from a lot of our Van Wilgen’s customers and I respectfully beg to differ with you. Orchids are fairly easy and the main variety we carry, Phalaenopsis, blooms for months and yes folks, you can get it to rebloom again and again. If patiently waiting for an orchid to rebloom is just not your thing, then do as Ryan Van Wilgen suggests and simply enjoy them for the 3 months that they bloom. That is more then you will get from any cut flower bouquet. Don’t let orchid’s slender and delicate looking beauty fool you. They are tougher then you think and can handle any type of home from a quaint cottage to a New York City apartment. Care is pretty basic but there are a few things we should discuss. Orchids need 4 main things to be successful: light, temperature, water and fertilizer. The beautiful orchids you buy at Van Wilgen’s will keep you happy if you keep them happy. Light: Phalaenopsis/Moth Orchids can thrive in a little less sunlight then some other varieties. A brightly lit window will do, but pounding, direct, southern exposure may give your orchids a sunburn. Ouch! Believe it or not, the more yellowy/green orchid leaves look, the better the lighting is. The darker green the leaves are means that they could use a little more sunlight. I know the leaves look healthy but chances are you will not get another bloom. If your orchid leaves have a reddish tinge or streak to them, they are getting too much sun. Play with them in different parts of your home. Their color will let you know when they are pleased. Temperature: If we think about the fact that orchids come from and thrive in warm, tropical climates, then it makes sense they would like a fairly warm home. Orchids do fine in our consistently 70 degree houses. Damage can be done if temperatures drop below 60 degrees. The only time we want our orchid friends to experience a cold shock is in the fall. This will push them to produce a flower spike. Often, we recommend putting them by a cooler window or opening the window at night to give them a temperature drop. The drop in temperature for a few weeks (only down to 55 degrees minimum) seems rather cruel but they tend to like it. Consider doing this around September/October. Water: We all need it but orchids need it in the form of watering and humidity. A good rule of thumb that I like to follow is to water the orchid as many days apart as the pot measures in inches. For instance, if your orchid is planted in a 5 inch pot, water it every 5 days. Easy, right?! Give your orchid a real treat and set it in a tray with rocks and water. Ahhhh, humidity, they love it! The orchid roots need to sit on the rocks, above the water, not in it, or you will get root rot. This constant release of humidity gets absorbed by all the air roots and orchids thrive. Misting an orchid is just not the same as a tray full of pebbles and water. Misting can actually cause some unwanted fungal leaf problems. No ice cubes folks, remember they are tropical plants.

Fertilizer: There are many schools of thought on fertilization of orchids but I think we narrowed it down to the easiest and one of the most productive programs using Jack’s Classic Orchid Special 30-10-10 and Jack’s Classic Orchid Bloom Booster 3-9-6. First we need to understand the cycle of the Phalaenopsis orchid. We talked about what a long bloomer it is (yay!) but we did not discuss the time of year it usually likes to bloom. Late spring and summer is time for vegetative growth of orchids, meaning they are busy producing leaves and strong healthy root systems. We need to up the amount we fertilize them for these months and use Jack’s Classic Orchid Special 30-10-10. The higher dose of Nitrogen (the first #) is necessary because our orchids are planted primarily in bark and bark gobbles up the Nitrogen. In fall, most orchids will set their spikes to get ready for winter and early spring bloom. During the fall and winter, it is important to fertilize with Jack’s Classic Orchid Bloom Booster 3-9-6 because the higher Phosphorus (the middle #) will get the spike going and keep the flowers blooming longer. “Fertilize weekly weakly” is a common expression used for orchid care. You can either fertilize your orchids weekly with Jack’s at a ¼ dose rate or 1X per month at full strength in the fall and winter. In spring and summer, fertilize at ½ dose rate or 2X’s per month. I am giving you choices so you can have a say in how you care for your beloved orchids. Remember, orchids are tough, so don’t over-love them. Now, throw every piece of advice I gave you away. Tee hee. I’m just kidding with ya. What I am really trying to say is there are different ways to care for your orchids. My suggestion is not the be-all and end-all of orchid fertilization but I guarantee, it will help. Come see us at Van Wilgen’s Garden Center. We would love to help! Thanks a bunch…Stacey

Orchids, Just say NO to ice cubes!

Darlene Pastet• Greenhouse Manager

Orchids catch everyone’s attention as they walk into our glasshouse here at Van Wilgen’s. With their gorgeous big blooms in a variety of colors, it’s easy to see why we are a bit mesmerized by them.

As I walk through the glass house I often hear customers talking to each other about the orchids. More often, than not the discussion is  that they wish orchids were easier to care for.  Well, I can’t just walk by without helping you  and letting you know that orchids are easy to care for.

As easy as 123.

1. A bright room is a must.

2. Food monthly.

3. Water.

Water is probably where most of you have issues with your orchids.   When we say water, we do not mean ice cubes.  Sometimes when you buy an orchid they come with a tag that says to use one ice cube, but please, throw that tag away and don’t do that. My way of explaining it to most of you is, ”how would you feel if you were thirsty and I gave you an ice cube too put on your lips”. First off you wouldn’t get enough water at any given time to quench your thirst. And most important you couldn’t keep it on your lips because it’s too cold. If it’s too cold for your lips it’s too cold for the orchids air roots. I have also heard Daniela here at Van Wilgens tell some of you they don’t have ice cubes in the rain forest where most orchids grow. That is also a good way to explain why you should say no to ice cubes. So just take your orchid to the sink let water run completely through out, let drain, and put back in its favorite spot. Now, relax and enjoy its beauty.

We have put new tags on all our orchids to ensure you have all the tools you need to have an amazing orchid experience.

Houseplant problems can be usually be defined in 3 words too much water.

Darlene Pastet• Greenhouse Manager

Would you believe the number one way we harm our houseplants is over watering. It’s true from time to time we over love our plants.  To help keep your plant happy we put together a simple watering guide so you can maintain a healthy thriving plant.

How much should you water your plant? The answer varies widely from plant to plant. Below is a list of some of our most popular houseplants. Don’t see yours? Feel free to give us a call, we are here to help.

These plants thrive when you water them sparingly, roughly every two weeks is just right.

  • Aloe Vera
  • Bromeliads
  • Cactus
  • Cast Iron Plants
  • Jade Plants
  • Orchids ( in Moss no ice cubes!)
  • Ponytail Palms
  • Sago Palms
  • Spider Plants
  • Snake Plant
  • Succulents
  • ZZ Plants

These guys like to be watered  a little more frequently roughly every week, keeping the soil moist.

  • Dracaena *small amount of water at a time
  • English Ivy
  • Fiddle Leaf Fig
  • Flamingo Flower
  • Philodendron
  • Norfolk Island Pines
  • Orchids (in bark, no ice cubes!)
  • Pothos *small amount of water at a time
  • Schefflera

Our next group really likes to keep soil moist at all times. However, be careful not to over water. You do not want the soil soggy, just moist. Water roughly twice a week.

  • Areca Palms
  • Ferns
  • Croton
  • Peace Lily
  • Rubber Plants *small amount of water at a time
  • Staghorn Ferns

Don’t see yours and need some advice, feel free to give us a call, we are here to help.

Breathe Easy with Houseplants

Darlene Pastet• Greenhouse Manager

Did you know that Houseplants can turn carbon dioxide into oxygen? According to NASA, they also remove Airborne Volatile Organic Chemicals like benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene. These chemicals are commonly found in things like detergent, paints and tobacco smoke. Plants also have the ability to increase humidity levels inside, provide you with a less stressful, happier and greener environment. NASA recommends at least one plant per 100 square feet of living or office space for efficient air cleansing. Some of our favorites include sansevieria, spathiphyllum, areca palm, bromeliads and golden pothos.

Our Glasshouse is an oasis all year long, bringing you colorful plants for all the seasons. Our team is eager to help you find the perfect plants for your home. Curious about which plants will grow best in your light conditions? We’re here to help just ask, success grows here.

2017 Gift Guide for Gardeners

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  1. Live Trends Potted Haworthia Succulent  $19.99
  2.  Live Trends easy care desktop mini plant  $9.99
  3.  Phalaenopsis Orchid~ Flowers that last for months! $29.99
  4.  Self Watering Poinsettia Kit~ comes in 3 different styles  $8.99
  5.  Air Plant~ easy care and pretty!  $7.99

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  1. Fox Glove Hat ~ Stays on your head on a windy day! $29.99
  2. Felco Pruners~ simply the best!  $84.99
  3. Light Up Orb, indoor or outdoor fun. $19.99
  4. Stainless Steel Houseplant Watering Can  $34.99
  5. Terrarium Kit ~ all you need is plants! $29.99
  6. Sloggers waterproof garden shoes, various patterns & colors $35.99
  7. Seeds ~ a great stocking stuffer! $1.89
  8. Dramm no kink hose in fun colors $74.99

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  1. T-Shirt that says it all! $10.
  2. Insulated heavy duty work gloves $24.99
  3. Berkshire Ultimate Fire Pit~ with delivery $599.99
  4. Tru Tough Shovel $27.99
  5. Tru Tough Pitch Fork $29.99

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  1. Butterfly Net for backyard bug hunting. $5.00
  2. Tub Trugs for fun with dirt, toys, sand…you name it! $9.99-$31.99
  3. A little dirt never hurt T-Shirt $10.00
  4. Little Pals Paint your own Rain Boots $29.99

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  1. Succulent Frame easy care plants in wood hanger~ $34.99
  2. Wind Chimes~ various sizes  $29.99-$79.99
  3. Funky glass Birdfeeder $32.99
  4. Worlds best birdhouse~ what bird wouldn’t want to live here? $54.99
  5. Van Wilgen’s Gift Card order online at
  6. Pink Flamingo for your lawn $10.00 and all $10 goes directly to Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven. Start your flock today for a great cause.

Happy Gardening!


 Merry Christmas everyone! Darlene Pastet, Greenhouse Manager

poin wrap 2poin wrap 3Poin wrapNow that the holidays are upon us we are all out and about looking for that perfect gift. Most of us will either give or receive a holiday plant of some sort. This year as we were exploring new products for Van Wilgen’s we came across a few ideas for wrapping your plant in love. While buying plants for our loved ones, we all always look for something pretty to put them in. While some like the glazed ceramic pots others have asked for other options.

Our two newest finds: Self-Watering Pot Covers and our Cover Wraps.

Our self- watering pots were designed specifically for Van Wilgen’s. We had them made to fit our 4 and 6 inch pots. With many designs to pick from and more on the way, it’s the perfect complement to any plant. Just put the Van Wilgen plant with pot in the pot cover and you have a great little gift.

A few weeks ago, we introduced our new wraps. There’s no easier way to dress up a potted plant for any occasion then to wrap it in a wrap. It adds a lot flare in the simplest way. Each sheet has two colors, this is my favorite part of our new wraps. I love the look of the two tones, not only does it give you two choices  on how to use your wrap but the contrasting colors make it look like it’s wrapped up like a present.

Here’s a little extra info on our new wraps. While researching them I also discovered they are made from Eco -Friendly plastic film. So, they are recyclable!!

So as we wrap up 2016, stop in and see us and let us wrap something up for you.


Stacey Pope, Lawn & Garden Specialist







































Thanks a bunch…Stacey

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11/2016 Stacey’s Tips:


…and found a pantry pest

Stacey Pope • Lawn & Garden Specialist

  Click the image for a printable Stacey’s Tips!

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“Fa la la la la…la la la la”, Mother Hubbard was happily singing a Christmas song as she went to her cupboard to pull out the secret ingredients for her famous Cranberry bread.  As she was mid-tune, with mouth wide open, something awful happened.  “Fa la la la… gasp, gulp, cough”.  Mother Hubbard rushed to the sink in hopes of extracting what she had accidentally swallowed.  What was that horrible thing that flew into her mouth, interrupting her jolly Christmas melody?!

Poor Mother Hubbard was terribly flustered but managed to pull herself together and make her way back to the cupboard.  Very slowly, she creaked open the door in hopes of not being taken by surprise again.  1, 2, 3, out they flew.  Mother Hubbard screamed.  Her cupboard had been invaded.  She wondered what those terrible pests could be?!  She mustered up her bravery and looked one more time.  She saw the pests fluttering around but she calmed when she saw they were just innocent moths…or are they?

Poor Mother Hubbard’s cupboard was infested with pantry pests, most likely Indian Meal Moths or Mediterranean Flour Moths.  They are not that innocent.  They come in to your home on unsuspecting groceries and have a party in your pantry.  They hitch hike on dried goods, grains, flour, pasta, cereal, cornmeal, rice, crackers, nuts, dried fruit, powdered milk, nuts, and even our precious chocolate. They also like pet food and bird seed.  Mother Hubbard has another project ahead of her besides making cranberry bread. She now has to go through every product in her cupboard and search for these little critters.  If I was visiting with Mother Hubbard I would tell her to look for certain signs of infestation such as; webbing inside of food, on the lids, and the sides of boxes.  Another unpleasant thing to search for is the maggot larvae.  They look like little grains of rice.  Once inspection is done and critters are found, it is time for Mother Hubbard to throw out all infested foods into a sealed plastic back and get it to the dump.

Mother Hubbard’s inspection is not over yet.  She needs to search for the adult moth.  They are grayish to coppery brown, often banded, small, and very narrow.  They can be seen fluttering at night in a drunken, zig-zag pattern or tucked into the corners of the cupboard ceiling and walls.  Clean the ceiling, walls, and shelves with bleach and warm water to eliminate any hiding adults or pupae.

Now that Mother Hubbard’s cupboard is sparkling clean and all the infested foods have been thrown away, Mother Hubbard needs to place The Pantry Pest Trap by Safer in her cupboard.  This all natural trap uses powerful pheromones to lure the adult moths to it.  She will need to replace the traps every 3 months.  This will help to keep her cupboard pest free.

Mother Hubbard did not get to make her famous cranberry bread today but at least she does not have to worry about swallowing anymore pantry pests.  She went to the grocery store to buy all new ingredients for her Christmas bread and belted out a holiday song the entire way. “Tis the season to be jolly. Fa la la la la la la la la”.

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

Thanks a bunch…Stacey

Holiday Hack~ DIY Cake Stand Candle Wreath 

 John Franke, Old Saybrook Garden Mart Manager

Do-it-Yourself Cake Stand Candle Wreath or  Holiday Hack

Van Wilgens Candle Wreath
Glass Candlestick
Glass Plate
Glue Dots – removable type

A great idea if you need to add a little height to any tablescape.  Glue dots are forgiving and easy to remove so your candlesticks and plates can return to their usual duties after the holidays.

1. Clean all glassware.
2. Add glue dots to the surface of your candlestick.
3. Place plate onto candlestick securing with glue dots.
4. Position your candle wreath on the plate and add your candle!
5. Finished!

Metal, ceramic and porcelain candlesticks and plates work just as well!
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Citrus, a Fun Twist on Holiday Decorating

Nature with nature… to me, the most beautiful way to decorate for the season. The scent of freshly-cut pine mingling with cinnamon sticks, clove-speckled oranges, a wreath of eucalyptus greeting you at the door. Citrus is an incredibly easy way to add that natural touch to your holiday decor. A citrus garland adds a pop of vibrant color to your tree or mantle, adding a fun twist to your holiday decorating.

So bright and warm, a lovely contrast to all the cold colors you normally see in Christmas decorations. Slices of orange and lemon look like little mini suns!  My favorite tip is to add a string of white lights to your garland or mantle piece creating a warm orange glow, your citrus will look just like mini stained glass!

Why not add a pop of sunshine to your decor!

Swag, Wrap & Rope

Stacey Pope, Lawn and Garden Specialist

Time to swag, rope and wrap. Turn your plain doorway, mantle, railing, or lamp post into a fragrant, holiday wonderland with fresh cut garland.Follow the formulas to determine just how much garland you need to beautify your home or business.

*Doorway formula:  Measure height x 2 + door width = amount garland needed
i.e. Standard doorway is 10 feet tall x 4 feet wide = need 24 feet garland

*Mantle formula for swaging:  Measure length of mantle x 1.5 = amount garland needed i.e. Standard Mantle is 6 feet wide x 1.5 = need 9 feet garland to swag

*Banister formula for swaging: Measure length of banister x 1.5 = amount garland needed i.e. Banister is 10 feet long x 1.5 = need 15 feet garland to swag

*Banister formula for wrapping: Measure length of banister + height of newel post and then x 2 = amount garland needed i.e Banister is 10 feet long + 3 foot high newel post = 13 feet x 2 = need 26 feet of garland to wrap

*Lamp post formula for wrapping:  Measure height of lamp post x 2 = amount garland needed i.e. Lamp post is 8 feet high x 2 = need 16 feet of garland to wrap

There is no right or wrong to holiday decorating!  We will cut any of our various styles of garland to any length.  Enjoy the scent and beauty of your fresh cut garland this holiday season.

*Don’t forget to Wilt-Pruf!

Poinsettia, A Colorful Tradition

Darlene Pastet, Nursery Manager

IMG_2891This past weekend we had a lot of holiday happenings going on here at Van Wilgen’s. Most of you were here to see Santa, take a ride on our train, and of course get your Christmas tree.
After all the cold weather outside there’s no better way to warm up, then to come inside to our warm greenhouse and pick out a poinsettia or two. When you walk in the first thing you notice is that there is so many color choices. From your all-time favorites of red and white, to many variations in between. Red isn’t just red any more. Some new favorites are the different colors of pink, and of course the rose poinsettia which have been gaining in popularity of the last few years.
New to us last year was the princettia poinsettias. This variety is an exciting new series we felt was a nice addition to our poinsettia choices here at Van Wilgen’s. This is a compact plant with smaller flowers (bracts). The show of color on this variety is amazing. I think it will soon become one of your favorite.
There’s no better way to add some Christmas color to your home then a colorful Poinsettia. Let us wrap one up for you this holiday season.

Labor of Love, Turkish Fir Christmas Trees

Jason Scire, Nursery Manager

Turkish Fir is quickly becoming our most popular Choose & Cut Christmas trees at Van Wilgen’s.  Growing Christmas trees is a labor of love.  There is a lot of work that goes into making sure our fields are full of Van Wilgen Grown trees.  We all know Fraser Fir, The most popular Christmas tree in our area.  They are great for needle retention, great color contrast and pretty good for holding heavy ornaments.  Frasers are slow growing and may take up to 10 years before they can be harvested.  They are also tricky to grow.  Frasers do not like hot dry summers and are prone to many pests and fungal problems.

Those are many of the reasons we started looking for alternatives to Fraser Fir for our fields.  We needed a tree that had all the great features of Fraser without many of the headaches.  We were recommended to try Turkish Fir by many people we know in the industry.  At the time none of us knew much about them.  All the research on them was positive so we started planting them in our fields.  We quickly saw that we had a winner!  They were growing much faster and fuller than Fraser.  Now that we instantly liked!  They have not suffered pest damage or root rot like Frasers either.  All positives from a growing point of view.

Turkish Fir are native to the mountains of the Black Sea.  Their needles are two-tone green and silvery blue that give off a shimmery look.  They are very full and elegant looking and have been the number one choice for Christmas trees in Europe for many years.   I invite you to come walk our 15 acres of trees and see why we love Turkish Fir so much!

 Holiday Decorating!

Elaine Blackstone, Store Manager

Fireplace storeIt is beginning to look and smell a lot like Christmas here at Van Wilgen’s.  Let us help you be festive. We have everything you need from ornaments to Christmas trees.

Is your door a bit blah? Choose from our many different styles of swags and wreaths.

Is your railing, lamp post or fence feeling naked? We can dress it up with roping cut at any length.

Is your front step being neglected?  Holiday porch pots come in every different size and color or we can customize a unique one for you.

Feeling creative? You can fill your own window box, urn or barrel with ourassortment of fresh bunched greens. Don’t forget to add a colorful branch of winterberry or choose from any pick located inside our Christmas store.

Let’s head inside.
Is your table longing to be the center of attention?
Give it some pizazz with our holiday centerpieces.

Is your mantel in need of a touch of joy?
Give it some love with our gorgeous fresh or faux mantelpieces.

Need the perfect Christmas tree?
We have so many to choose from. Cut your own, precut, table tops and live. Receive a custom made Van Wilgen’s ornament with every tree purchased.

We hope you enjoy decorating as much as we do.  Enjoy the holidays!

11/2016 It’s Time for Christmas Trees

Jason Scire, Nursery Manager

IMG_1495The 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 follow a few key guidelines.

  • Pre dig your hole: By digging now and covering your hole with mulch or straw, you can avoid the hassle of having to dig in frozen ground.
  • Slowly bring your tree inside: Your tree will be used to cold temperatures. Before bringing it to your heated indoor space, bring it to an unheated garage or porch first, allowing it to slowly acclimate.
  • Plan to keep your tree inside no longer than five days. Any longer and the tree may begin to break dormancy.
  • Keep the root ball moist but not overly wet.
  • When moving outside, follow the same routine as you did bringing inside. Allow a week to readjust to colder temperatures before putting your tree out in the elements.
By following this list, as well as your usual planting instructions, you will be able to enjoy your tree year after year. Happy Holidays!

11/2016 Christmas Picture Time

Gina Amoroso

photo op 1It’s that time of year at the garden center when we peek through the holiday greens on the patio and spot families trudging through our tree fields. Decked out in their Sunday best, bags of pre-wrapped gifts in hand. In search of the perfect spot to take the annual family photo. Christmas card photos are always at the forefront of preserving memories. If your like us and love to make your own cards instead of purchasing store-made ones, we know you’ll want your photos to be extra special.

We also know that in the midst of the yuletide season accomplishing this can feel like Olympic event! Wouldn’t it be great if someone made it a little easier for you? That’s where we can help. Throughout our 56 acres some of our creative team members have decorated areas and created lovely vignettes for you and your families. It’s a fun, festive time of year and it’s always a joy for us to be able to help.

Just in case your are looking for a few pointers on how to create great photos, here are a few simple tips:

The best place to get flattering, natural lighting is outside. Try shooting in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the
squint-inducing glare of direct sunlight. Find an area that your family can be in the shade, to secure even, soft light. Outdoors also creates a sense of place and lends to some unpredictability ~ you never know what can happen!

11/2016 It’s Time for Trees

Jason Scire, Nursery Manager

IMG_1495It’s the time of year to start talking about Christmas Trees.  Although given our unseasonably mild weather we are having it may tough for some to get into the spirit.  Lets give it a try!  Here is a guide to help you select the perfect tree for this Christmas from Van Wilgen’s.
Fraser Fir
-Needles are short dark green with a silver underside.
-Soft to the touch.
-Very fragrant with excellent needle retention.
-Branches are strong, great for heavy ornaments.

Douglas Fir
-Needles are long light green in color
-Soft to the touch
-Very full in shape
-Extremely fragrant- smells like oranges!
-Best needle retention

Blue Spruce
 -Needles are deep blue in color
 -Sharp to the touch…Kids & Pets be careful!
 -Strongest branches…Perfect for heavy ornaments
 -Pleasant fragrance
 -Good needle retention
Turkish Fir
-A Van Wilgen Favorite!
-Needles are dark green with a silver underside.
-Needles are larger and showier than that of Fraser Fir.
-Soft to the touch.
-Best fragrance and needle retention.
-Sturdy branches are perfect for heavy ornamnets.

11/2016 Christmas in the Greenhouse

Darlene Pastet, Greenhouse Manager

IMG_2891In the words of everyone’s favorite Christmas song, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
I absolutely love the greenhouse this time of the year. Everywhere you look all our holiday plants are starting to show their true colors. When the poinsettias first arrive in the green house they are green, without their tags it would be hard to tell one color from another. Day after day you see them change and get their popular Christmas color. It’s amazing!

Along with the poinsettias we have plenty of other favorites to decorate your home with festive holiday color.Who doesn’t remember going to grandma’s house and seeing her Christmas cactus in full bloom on her window sill. We have some in full bud just waiting to go home with you, hopefully to making some new memories to pass along with you and your family just like grandmas did.

Cyclamen have become increasingly popular …of course this time of year everyone wants the red and white, but they also come in shades of purple and pink and usually bloom strong through February. In the next week or so we will also have the cyclamen and the poinsettias in 2 inch pots. Just too cute, my little niece loves them they are just her size.

Although Norfolk Island pines don’t have color, lots of fun color can be added to these indoor pines. Many of you love these plants and use them for your Christmas tree. Best thing is after Christmas you just find a special corner in your home and give it lots of love til next Christmas when it becomes your Favorite Christmas tree yet again for another year. One of my regular customers brought a small 4inch Norfolk Island pine 8 years ago when her grandson was born…That plant is now in a 10 inch pot an about 2 and ½ feet tall. She hopes to pass this tree on to him when he’s grown and has his own place.

I love stories like that, how about you?

Over the next few weeks I think you all should come take a stroll through our greenhouse just to take all the Christmas color and spirit of the season. It’s good for the heart.  After all it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

11/2016 What is a Nativar?

John Franke, Old Saybrook Garden Mart Manager

NativarsAs I see my witch hazels and Fothergillas’ fantastic fall color, I remember a talk from this summer that Allen Armitage gave.  He had all the latest buzzwords.  You know, the choice words speakers use to get you to listen, usually on subjects you don’t want to hear.
He used the word and term “nativars” several times. Short for native cultivars. I paraphrase him when I say, “that these plants will be the wave of the future.”  Personally, as a horticulturist, I don’t care where my plants originated from.  I just look for the best cultivar in the crowd.
Allen made his case for nativars and made it quite well.  Native cultivars are already perfectly suited for our climates and our gardens.  Often, nativars are very disease resistant and in many cases, the last plants subject by deer!  He also made the case for ecology stating perennial nativars make for greater pollinators than exotics. Think of the plight of bees.  A good example of a nativar is one of my favorites, Aster ‘Purple Dome.’
Well, I wasn’t quite sold.  Then the autumn sun hit the glowing foliage of my yard’s own nativars, the Fothergillas and witch hazels, and I saw the buzz in his buzzwords!  At Van Wilgen’s watch for our increasing selection of native cultivars, like our American Beauties collection.

11/2016 Tis the Season

Stacey Pope, Lawn and Garden Specialist

Fireplace storeWhen the first truck of Christmas decorations arrives, the smell of the fresh greens fills the air. All of us are instantly in the mood for holiday decorating. When all of the Van Wilgen’s elves get together, boy do we have fun!
We gather together to create winter decorating inspiration. There are reds, greens, winter whites, and splashes of gold and silver. As we setup our workshop our imaginations flow as we bounce ideas off of each other with a lot of laughter & creativity.
Elaine is the head elf of Santa’s Workshop. Daniela, Susy, Nicole, and Stacey love working as Elaine’s cheerful team.  They scurry around with glee, hanging wreaths, draping garland, fluffing trees, and sprinkling glitter.  Elaine, nimbly pops in with a few nudges, tweaks, and winks.  Daniela doesn’t ALWAYS mind.  She cheerfully says, “yes, Miss Elaine!” and off she goes.  Stacey pops in with a solution or two.  Susy giggles as she speeds through her tasks.  Straight faced Nicole, twinkles when it comes to decorating.
Van Wilgen’s elves welcome you to our winter wonderland where you can find everything from special bird treats, Christmas bulbs, decorative picks, ornaments and more.  Fa la la la la la la la la…

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11/2016 Stacey’s Tips:



(How to protect our plants in winter)

Stacey Pope • Lawn & Garden Specialist

  Click the image for a printable Stacey’s Tips!

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The Winter Warlock is coming soon.  With him he brings salt, sun, wind, snow and animals.  This does not sound too bad, does it?!  Hmmm.  Let’s think about this.  Salt, delicious in our food.  Sun, great for supplying us with Vitamin D.  Wind, cools us on the hottest of days.  Snow, perfect for building snowmen.  Animals, cute and fuzzy.  This definitely is one way to look at things.

Let’s look at these things from the perspective of trees, shrubs and flowers.  Shall we?!

SALT:  The big, mean, town trucks come along dumping drying salts along the roadside.  Homeowners throw damaging salts onto their icy walkways and driveways.  These salts dry out evergreens, cause leaves to brown and kill roadside plants.

SUN:  This hot, yellow thing shines down from above burning up boxwoods and creating splits in the tender bark of maples, crabapples, etc.

SNOW:  Although beautiful, giant snow plows pile it against hedges, causing them to suffocate, break and rot.  Japanese Maples, Arborvitaes, etc. split under its’ weight.

WIND:  It blows across branches and leaves drying them up, causing them to curl and fall off.  Salty, ocean wind is the worst!

ANIMALS:  Cute and fuzzy turns into mean and ugly when winter hits. Voles eat roots of roses and more. Mice gnaw at the base of tree trunks, making their survival difficult.

What to do? PLENTY!  There is plenty of help you can offer to your plants to protect them from the Winter Warlock.

COMBAT SALT:  Apply Gypsum to the soil around plants that are close to roads, walkways and driveways.  Do this before snow and ice is anticipated.  Gypsum helps to displace salt from the soil so our plants do not absorb the deadly salt through their root system.  Wilt-Pruf will also give leaves extra protection from salt spray.

COMBAT SUN: Wilt-Pruf acts like sunscreen for most of our evergreens. It helps protect evergreens, like vulnerable Boxwoods, from sunburn.  Tanglefoot’s Tangle Guards work well to protect the bark of young trees from splitting due to sunburn.

COMBAT WIND:  Rolls of Burlap staked to make a wind barrier for vulnerable plants will help to prevent drying winds.  Look for Shrub Jackets and Winter Pals in the store to cover plants individually.  Wilt- Pruf to the rescue again.  It works to prevent leaves and needles from curling and dropping.

ANIMALS:  Voles, unlike most animals do not go into winter hibernation.  They love the Winter Warlock and all the snow he brings.  They are most active under snow, chewing on plant roots and gnawing on bark.  Mice also enjoy nesting at the base of trees and scraping away at the bark.  Protect trunks with TreeKote’s Vinyl Tree Guard.  I Must Garden’s Mole & Vole Repellent is a must to protect trees, shrubs, roses and plants from vole damage.  Apply this good smelling repellent in garden beds and around the base of trees and shrubs before the winter snow hits.  It will really help!

Salt, Sun, Snow, Wind and Animals.  It all depends how you look at it.  These things can be good until Winter Warlock brings them to our trees, shrubs and flowers.  These are winter gifts they could do without.  PROTECT THEM!

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

Thanks a bunch…Stacey

11/2016 Grasses, to cut back or not to cut back?

Trevor Hicks, Assistant Perennial Manger

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!

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11/2016 Stacey’s Tips:

Ouch! Winter Sun & Wind Burn

( How to protect trees & shrubs in winter )

Stacey Pope • Lawn & Garden Specialist

  Click the image for a printable Stacey’s Tips!

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The Boxwoods, Rhododendrons, Hollies, Azaleas and Arborvitaes were all hanging out around the birdbath that sits between the properties of two neighbors, the Protectors & the Forgetters.    They often get together to chat about insects, diseases and deer that have been bothering them.  This time they joined to discuss the upcoming winter.  All of them at the Forgetters home were dreading the upcoming winter.  “We get so dry that our leaves ache.  And forget about the sunburn!  It takes us all spring to recover from that.  Our owners have no idea how we suffer in the winter.”  The Boxwoods and Rhododendrons at the Protectors were kind of looking forward to a winter rest.  They did not suffer like their friends next door. “What is your secret? How could you possibly be looking forward to the cold, drying winds and hot, burning sun!?” The trees and shrubs figured they should share their secret considering they were their good friends.

With the first wind that came by, the Boxwoods and Rhodies leaned into their friends and whispered “Wilt-Pruf”.  “Wilt-Pruf is our secret.  They shower us in it every year around Thanksgiving.  It keeps us warm and cozy throughout the winter.  At first it is a little sticky.  It is a natural pine resin.  Once it dries, we enjoy it immensely.  Its waxy layers keep us from drying out and protect us from the sun.  It is flexible too.  We can still stretch our branches and sway easily in the breeze.”  The trees and shrubs at the Forgetters could not believe that there was a possible miracle that could give them some relief through the long winter.

The Rhododendrons at the Protectors raved about Wilt-Pruf.  “My leaves used to all curl up and get brown at the tips before Wilt-Pruf.  The Protectors don’t spray us right now.  They wait until closer to Thanksgiving or the beginning of December.  We need to harden off before they spray us down.  My Arborvitaes friends, you should definitely wait a little longer until you harden off.  I don’t want you to get damaged.  I do know that our owners never spray us when the temperatures are under 40.  After all, we don’t want Wilt-Pruf freezing on our tender branches.  Wilt-Pruf is the best thing that ever happened to us!”

The Arborvitaes at the Forgetters house had some hope again.  If only they could get the homeowners to use Wilt-Pruf!  But how?  The Azaleas had an idea.  “When the Protectors come to spray our leaves we will knock the empty bottle out of their hands with the first wind.” The Arborvitaes chimed in.  “Great idea and then we will hide the empty bottle under our branches for the Forgetters to find.”  They all raised their branches in joy.  “Let’s hope our plan works, exclaimed the Hollies.  We really could use some winter help.  Wilt-Pruf to the rescue!”  Stacey Tips Winter Sun & Wind burn

11/2016 Orchids, Just Say No to Ice Cubes

By Darlene Pastet, Greenhouse Manager

Orchid smOrchids catch everyone’s attention as they walk into our glasshouse here at Van Wilgen’s. With their gorgeous big blooms in a variety of colors, it’s easy to see why we are a bit mesmerized by them.
 As I walk through the glass house I often hear customers talking to each other about the orchids. More often, than not the discussion is  that they wish orchids were easier to care for.  Well, I can’t just walk by without helping you  and letting you know that orchids are easy to care for.
 As easy as 123.
1. A bright room is a must.
2. Food monthly.
3. Water.
Water is probably where most of you have issues with your orchids.   When we say water, we do not mean ice cubes.  Sometimes when you buy an orchid they come with a tag that says to use one ice cube, but please, throw that tag away and don’t do that. My way of explaining it to most of you is, ”how would you feel if you were thirsty and I gave you an ice cube too put on your lips”. First off you wouldn’t get enough water at any given time to quench your thirst. And most important you couldn’t keep it on your lips because it’s too cold. If it’s too cold for your lips it’s too cold for the orchids air roots. I have also heard Daniela here at Van Wilgens tell some of you they don’t have ice cubes in the rain forest where most orchids grow. That is also a good way to explain why you should say no to ice cubes. So just take your orchid to the sink let water run completely through out, let drain, and put back in its favorite spot. Now, relax and enjoy its beauty.
We have put new tags on all our orchids to ensure you have all the tools you need to have an amazing orchid experience.

10/2016 The Montauk Daisy

By John Franke, Old Saybrook Garden Mart Manager

beckyWhen we as plantsmen use words like tough and hardy, plants like the Montauk Daisy come to mind.  The daisy is one of the last perennials to bloom in the fall.  Ask anyone who’s grown one.  Words like easy-to-grow and tough are always used in the same sentence with the Montauk Daisy.

Originating from the shores of Japan, this daisy is extremely hardy.  It was found naturalizing on Long Island and this is where it’s common name comes from.  It’s easy to grow, thrives in almost any kind of soil and and thrives in sun or shade.  Fertilizer?  It helps, but its not necessary.  As easy as the Montauks are to grow, one common question always comes up:  how do I keep it nice and tidy?

The Montauk daisy is a rapid grower and can spread to several feet.  Treat it as a shrub like you would a butterfly bush.  Prune the bare stems down hard in spring.  As long as you can see small buds on the “old wood,” new growth will sprout. This pruning will give you a flush of new growth, revitalizing older plants. The pruning can be done any time from April to the end of July. Some folks do it every year, keeping their Montauks in line.  Unsure where to prune?  Stop in and see us and we will give you a quick tutorial.

10/2016 Knockout Roses: Still the Undisputed Champ

By Rich Baker, Milford Garden Mart Manager

double knockThe Knockout family of roses were introduced in the early 2000’s by Star roses and have since become a staple of sunny borders across the country. These plants were bred to simplify rose gardening. And, wow what a success! The traditional rose “rule book” was completely thrown out of the window with the introduction of these shrub roses. These are not Grandma’s roses! Requiring minimal maintenance, these roses grace our mixed borders and foundation plantings with an almost non-stop show of color from Spring until a hard frost. Extremely cold hardy, disease and pest resistant, and incredibly floriferous, these plants truly have become the “king” of the rose ring!

These bulletproof roses come in seven colors ranging from red/pink to creamy yellow/white. The pink/red varieties also come in a double petal version. The natural proclivity of these roses is to form a shrub in the 4’x4’ size range, but smaller sizes are easily maintained with simple pruning. Again, no need to worry about traditional rose pruning rules here. Just cut them down to the desired size in late winter/early Spring while the plant is still dormant. I, myself cut them down to approximately 6” above the ground every season! Did I mention how tough these roses are? For those who want them a little larger, just prune off about one third of the plant every season, retaining a nice rounded shape.

For best flowering it is ideal to feed your roses with a complete fertilizer made specifically for roses. There are many wonderful brands to choose from. Come see us here at Van Wilgen’s to get the one that is best suited for your situation. Ideally they should be fed after each flowering cycle. This is the time in between the flowers starting to fade and the formation of new flower buds for the next “round” of blooms. At the very least, I would recommend feeding your roses in Spring and Fall while you are fertilizing your other shrubs and perennials in the garden. I personally like the addition of compost as a top dressing. Not only will this feed your roses, it will eventually break down and improve the garden’s soil. Of course, the removal of any spent (dead) flowers will help to promote the formation of new buds, but with the Knockout series of roses, this is not a necessary step. These roses are self-cleaning!

It is easy to see why these roses have become so popular. With sunshine, water, and minimal maintenance they put on a show that is almost unrivaled in the garden. Because of their hardy nature and ease of care they really have become a go to plant for beginner and experienced gardener alike. Fall is a fantastic time to plant new material and to take advantage of our end-of-season sales.  The perfect opportunity to try this outstanding line of roses or to add to your existing collection. We would be more than happy to answer any questions or help in any way necessary. We look forward to seeing you soon!

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10/2016 Stacey’s Tips:

What the Heck is Dormant Seeding and Can I do that?

Stacey Pope • Lawn & Garden Specialist

  Click the image for a printable Stacey’s Tips!

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You sure the heck can!  Dormant seeding is not common practice but I say, give it a whirl.  The spring outcome can be very rewarding and the fall effort is very minimal.

The key to dormant seeding is to put seeds down late enough so they do not begin to germinate too quickly.  Be sure that the last leaves have fallen and have been cleaned up.  Thanksgiving week is always a good benchmark holiday for winter garden activities.  This would be a good time to begin your dormant seeding project.  I use the word project lightly, because the work is not so difficult as the word project suggests.

The second key is to mow the lawn short.  Yes, down to 2 inches.  Some people call this scalping but nothing about that word sounds healthy to me.  A short lawn ensures that the seed will get down to the soil.

Key #3 is to be sure that there is good seed to soil contact.  This is important for any type of seeding you do.  Seed that hovers above the soil has nowhere to put its’ roots. Yes, this does require a little manual labor.  This is a good thing.  The cool, fresh air is great for our lungs.  Get out there and rake that lawn to expose as much of the soil as you can. Some people even wait until the ground freezes a bit.  The frost cracks are perfect for grass

Key #4 is to water the seed.  Here is the very good news…you may only have to water it 1 time!  After seeding, water the area until it is thoroughly damp.  No puddles.  If we get some very dry days, you may need to give the seed one more quick watering.  How easy is that?!

Key #5 is to enjoy the winter break with a hot cup of coffee or whichever beverage suits your fancy.  Snow provides a good cover for seed.

Key #6 is to be patient and wait for spring.  If winter conditions agree with the grass seed, you will see little green sprouts emerging as soon as the soil temperatures warm up.  Don’t be discouraged if it is a little thin.  It is better than nothing and you can always throw down a little more seed.

Make this your last task of the fall season or the first one of your winter season.  However you view it, go for it!  It is a quick, easy project, that could yield great reward

p.s. You still have time to do regular seeding this year before your dormant seeding time approaches.  Perennial Rye will give you the quickest results.  Take advantage of every minute.  There is so much we can get done before winter arrives.  You will feel so good about yourself!

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

Thanks a bunch…Stacey

10/2016 Is it to late too Plant?

By Jason Scire, Nursery Manager

fall is fantasticOne of most commonly asked questions this time of year is, “Is it too late to plant?” Thankfully, the answer is no. Fall is a fantastic time to plant for a number of reasons. Cool nighttime temperatures, moderate daytime temperatures and favorable soil conditions allow for rapid root establishment. Coupled with the fact that most plants are now finishing their top growth for the season, it allows the root system to take advantage of all the hard work your plant did during the growing season. You can certainly help your plant get ready for winter by planting with a high quality starter fertilizer, such as Van Wilgen’s Jump Start, and amending the soil with Van Wilgen’s Premium Planting Mix; after this, and making sure you water your plant every three days, your plants will have a head start on next spring.

10/2016 Funky Pumpkins, not just for Halloween!

By Cecile Bardinelli, Guilford Garden Mart Manager

squash 2What is the number one must have for fall decorating?  It’s the pumpkin of course!  Everyone loves the jack-o’-lantern.  Spooky, silly or just plain cute, the carved Halloween pumpkin is a staple for the front porch in October.

But why stop there?  Colorful gourds, squash and pumpkins make excellent accents for Thanksgiving decorating too!  After all Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for many things including a bountiful harvest.   Fill a large wooden box or basket with colorful gourds and you have an instant fall centerpiece that’s casual, quick and easy.  For a more traditional look, try stuffing a cornucopia with a mix of gourds, small pumpkins and squash.   Looking for something a bit more formal?  Stick with a simple groupings of all white. Choose ghost pumpkins, white jack gourds and pale green, white or yellow squash. Simply scatter on a table runner, arrange in a decorative container or try placing the small pumpkin like gourds atop candle sticks for an elegant accent.

Need place-card holders?  Grab some mini pumpkins with a tall twisted stem,  place one at each table setting and prop a name card atop the pumpkin leaning against the stem. It’s that easy.

If you have a little more time on your hands and are looking for a fun and creative DIY project check out Stacy’s video for step by step instructions on how to create an adorable pumpkin planter filled with succulents.  What a great way to put a personal, one of a kind centerpiece together for your family gathering or perhaps to give as a hostess gift!

There are so many choices for fall decorating including and beyond the traditional orange pumpkin.  Unique pumpkins is shades of pink, green and white.  Colorful Turban squash and of course gourds with an endless variety of shapes, sizes and colors to choose from.

Bring the beauty of outdoors in and celebrate with the fabulous colors of fall.

10/2016 Fun with Fall Containers

By Kirsten Famiglietti

IMG_4375It finally feels like fall and we could not be any happier! With the cooler temps we’ve been having, I think I speak for everyone when I say out with the summer annuals and in with the fall. This season we have a huge assortment of fun, unique,and functional fall plants to freshen up your pots. As always, mums will be the go-to fall annual, but don’t be afraid to try out some of our more unique plants that we’ve selected and grown especially for fall container gardening! From heucheras to heathers, halloween – themed pansies to spicy ornamental peppers, we have endless options for the most fun, lively, and unique container mixes.
Not only will your fresh and fun container mixes impress for the fall season, but, spoiler alert, many of these plants will last well into the winter holiday season, simply switch out pumpkins and mums for pinecones and berries!
I’ll be by the potting bench having fun with some unique fall combinations, come by for some inspiration, and show us how you’ve decorated for fall!

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10/2016 Stacey’s Tips:

Tip Toe Through The Tulips

Fall bulb planting and care

Stacey Pope • Lawn & Garden Specialist

  Click the image for a printable Stacey’s Tips!

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Tip toe through the Tulips, dilly-dally in the Daffodils, fraternize with the Fritillarias, take a hiatus in the hyacinths, snooze in the snowdrops, cruise through the crocus, be at peace in the Alliums…hmmm…I know I forgot one…oh, and idle in the Iris.  Doesn’t all of that sound so nice and relaxing?!  A little corny, I know, but none-the-less, relaxing. In the spring, this could be you but only if you do some work now.  Yes folks, you need to get your hands a little dirty this fall for lots of enjoyment this spring.

We have a bevy of beautiful bulb choices and we are so close to perfect bulb planting weather.  Typically when night time temperatures dip down consistently between 40 and 50 degrees, it is bulb planting time.  Let’s get going!

*Pick out your favorite bulbs. One of each, right?!  It is just so hard to choose.

*It is still a little warm so tuck your bulbs into the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.  Yes folks, the refrigerator.  Not right next to the fruit.  Fruit releases rotting gasses.  Ew.  The cold refrigerator will help the bulbs harden off and withstand winter better.

*When night temperatures dip into the 40’s now it’s time to plant.  Yay!

*Get a good bag of soil like Van Wilgen’s Premium Planting Mix or some compost.  Most bulbs like the soil rich.  Alliums might be the exception.

*Mix Bulb-Tone or Bone Meal into each planting hole.  Use an inorganic fertilizer like Van Wilgen’s Slow Release, if animals digging up your bulbs is an issue.

*Dig a hole that is 3X’s deeper than the height of the bulb. i.e. If bulb is 2 inches high, dig a hole that is 6 inches deep.  This will ensure that the soil is loose enough for healthy root development.

*Plant bulbs 2X’s deeper than the height of the bulb.  i.e. If the bulb is 2 inches high, plant it 4 inches deep.

*If squirrels, voles, and chipmunks are an issue, add some deterrents.  Perma-Till/Volebloc is a course material that permanently discourages these critters.   I Must Garden’s Mole & Vole Repellent is really helpful mixed into the soil with the bulbs.

*Water.  One time a week is usually sufficient for bulbs.

*Take a winter’s nap.

*Be patient.

In the spring you will be excited to see the beautiful metamorphosis of your bulbs into beautiful flowers!  For now, happy fall planting.

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

Thanks a bunch…Stacey

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10/2016 Stacey’s Tips:

Lawns Love Fall

Fall is the Most Important Time for Lawn Care

Stacey Pope • Lawn & Garden Specialist

  Click the image for a printable Stacey’s Tips!

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Lawns 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 summe.

• 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

combo 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!

Thanks a bunch…Stacey

10/2016 Houseplant 411

By Darlene Pastet, Greenhouse  Manager

HP NG WEBThe greenhouse here at Van Wilgen’s has been transformed into a home of sorts.  After all there is no place like home!
This weekend I’m inviting all of you to come join us for some fun activities. Beginning on Thursday October 6th with our night in the greenhouse. Come spend a few hours with us and a few friends from 5:30 to 7:30, where you will spend an evening sipping wine in our lush plant filled greenhouse as we get creative making a succulent filled centerpiece. $50.00 gets you 2 glasses of wine, a great centerpiece for the upcoming holidays and lots of laughs and memories made with friends. You can register on line, in our store or at the event that evening. Come be part of the fun!
As fall is upon us many of you have been asking about all the do’s and don’ts of bringing your plants back into your home.
To help answer all of your questions we have put together a weekend of mini workshops for you to attend. There will be two a day free of charge.
Every day from Friday October 7th thru Monday October 10th the workshops will be at 12 noon and another at 2pm.
12 noon- Ultimate houseplant Q & A. Everything you need to know to make your houseplants thrive. Get your questions ready and come pick our brain’s.
2 pm- How to pick the right plant for your home. That being everything from the lighting in your home, to the correct pot, to the space your home allows.
At Van Wilgen’s we want you to be successful both outside and inside your home.
So come spend some time with us this weekend, In the home we created for you.
There’s no place like home, especially a home filled with friends.

Stacey Tip Logo

9/2016 Stacey’s Tips:

Summer Vacation is Over

Bringing houseplants in for the Winter

Stacey Pope • Lawn & Garden Specialist

  Click the image for a printable Stacey’s Tips!

stacey tips art 1

Your 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 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 the

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


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

Thanks a bunch…Stacey

9/2016 Can You Over-Winter Tropicals?

By Darlene Pastet, Greenhouse  Manager

sum saleThe answer is yes!! If you think about it, what do you have to lose.
Here are a few of my Favorites.
Hibiscus, palms, mandevillas, bougainvillea, elephant ears, and canna lilies. To get started let’s break them down into two different categories. The tree category which will be your hibiscus, palms, mandevillas and bougainvilleas. And your bulb or tuber category, those will be the elephant ears and the canna lilies.
Let’s begin with the tree category, since that’s the one I get asked about the most. When the night time temperatures are consistently in the mid to lower 40’s it’s time to get them ready to overwinter.
*First hose down entire plant. *Next spray the plant with an insecticidal soap and then add a systemic to the soil. This will help with any bug issues you may have going on with your plants. Now it’s time to choose what method of over-wintering is right for you. There are two different but equally effective ways.
* First is the dormant method. With this choice you will place your tropical plant in a frost free garage, basement or attic. You will water sparingly every 3 to 5 weeks. This is enough to keep the plants roots from drying out. It’s surviving but not thriving. That’s just what dormancy means. This method will also have the plant losing most if not all of its leaves so it takes a little more time to get it going again in the spring.
*The second way is the active growing method. This is my favorite way to over-winter. By using this method, I believe it gives your plant the best chance for a faster start in the spring by allowing the plant to retain most of, if not all of its leaves, so if you have a nice sunny spot in your home this will be the ideal place. Just water and lots of sun is what is needed to keep your plant happy. You might need to water a little more than normal during Jan and Feb, as these are the months when the heat in our homes really start making the air much drier. So remember when you skin starts getting drier it’s time to up the water for all your plants.
* Now for the tuber category.
This one is pretty simple. For your elephant ears and canna lilies all you have to do is carefully dig them up without causing damage to the bulbs themselves. Lay all the bulbs out on some newspaper and let dry for a few days. This gets all the moisture out of the bulbs to ensure they won’t rot during storage. Then all you do is place them in a brown paper bag with either peat moss or saw dust and then store them in a cool dark spot for the winter.
With all these over-wintering ideas, you may put your tropicals back outside for the year once the treat of cold weather is past in the spring. We encourage you to give us a call, we will be happy to walk you through it all. We will also be talking a little bit about this at our Houseplant 411 Show Oct 6th thru the 10th . Come see us!!!

9/2016  Not your Everyday Pumpkin Patch!

 Elaine Blackstone, Operations Manager

IMG_2180Yes, we have your traditional carving pumpkins and the sugar pumpkins for baking. However, I want to tell you all about the other varieties we carry.  These are a few of my favorites:
Cinderella and fairytale pumpkins: They got their name because they resemble Cinderella’s beautiful pumpkin carriage. They make a perfect base to build a pumpkin totem pole.
Peanut pumpkin: Has distinctive peanut-like growths covering the exterior. Makes one of the coolest looking jack-o-lanterns ever! The “peanuts” are actually a buildup of excess sugar in the flesh.
One too many: This pumpkin looks like a bloodshot eyeball. There’s a character in every crowd, and it’s no different in the pumpkin patch.  No two are alike!
Turbans: Have a distinctive shape; each has its own colorful cap on top, making it a popular choice for autumn displays. A new addition to our fall decoration is Gourds on Steroids.  Extra-large, very funky gourds. You will definitely need a few of these.
We have so many varieties to choose from. Stop by and we will be happy to give you a guided tour. Remember, most are excellent for cooking, enjoying the seeds, carving out to serve soup or to use as a floral centerpiece.

Stacey Tip Logo9/2016 Stacey’s Tips:

Fall is the Perfect Time to Lime

Stacey Pope • Lawn & Garden Specialist

  Click the image for a printable Stacey’s Tips!

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Just because you can’t see it, does not mean it is not important.  pH is probably the most significant soil factor in growing grass, flowers, and veggies.  Do you know your soil pH? If you do, your yard will be very proud of you.  If you do not, you need to come down to Van Wilgen’s Garden Center, get one of our many soil testing kits, head down to the Connecticut Agricultural Station in New Haven.  They can test your Nitrogen, Phosphorus and pH balance there.

What is pH? Why is it so important? Think of soil pH as a chemical balance in the soil.  If it is out of whack, nothing grows as well as it should.  In general, Connecticut soil leans toward the low end of the pH scale, making our soil acidic or “sour”.  The more sour our soil is, the more your plants

struggle.  Who likes a sour-puss anyway?

Once you determine your soil pH, we can help.  If you measure a 7.0, you are in luck because your soil is neutral and you need not do a thing!  Below 7.0?  Here is what you need to do…apply Lime!  Fall is almost here and is one of the best times to apply Lime.  It has all winter to work its’ magic.

Van Wilgen’s offers Fast Acting Lime by Encap and Soil Doctor’s Pelletized Lime.  Both are great

solutions but I prefer the slower acting Lime by Soil Doctor for the Fall.  It takes its sweet time,

breaking down under the snow, and is more available in the Spring.

Think of your lawn and garden as having a bad sweet tooth.  It needs a sweeter soil to thrive.  If your soil is sour, raise it up with a Lime application.  You will have a happier lawn next Spring and I know that will make you smile.

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

Thanks a bunch…Stacey

9/2016 Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink!

 Jason Scire, Nursery Manager

Watering the Garden

This must be how are plants feel when Mother Nature decides to not give us rain.  Here are some great tips from the plant experts at Van Wilgen’s to ensure all of our plants get through this dry spell looking great!

Click here to view and print a copy of our watering guide.

9/2016 Fall Decorating

Cecile Bardinelli, Guilford Garden Mart Manager

There are many choices when it comes to fall decorating.  Traditional mums, cabbage, kale and pumpkins are only the beginning

When it comes to dressing up our entryways, containers and window boxes countless combinations can be created that will add color, style and excitement from now thru the frost and in some cases beyond!

Unofficially summer is over with the passing of Labor Day, but warm weather will still be around for several weeks. For a fresh new fall look, check out our colorful annuals in seasonally decorated 4 inch pots from Proven Winner,  Add Autumn interest, height and movement with purple fountain grass ( Pennisetum rubrum ) or some tall millet.  Celebrate the fall harvest with red, orange, yellow or purple decorative peppers. And don’t forget Asters with dainty daisy like flowers in shades of purple and white.  If you’re looking for something different, may we suggest Celosia the bright pink brain coral or the fluffy spiked flowers that resemble feathers add interest ant texture to every mix.

But don’t stop there.  As temperatures cool off there are still plenty of ways to extend the season even further.  Remember how great those pansies looked during the cool weather last spring?  Well, they like cool fall weather too and will thrive in temperatures down to 28 degrees!  Pair your pansies with cabbage and kale for non stop color far into late fall.  Additional selections for cold fall weather include  plants in pots perfectly sized to pop right into any container combo such as Holly, Winterberry or Heather.    We’ve got pumpkins, cornstalks and of course we have Mums!  Beautiful Mums in so many colors you may have a difficult time choosing just one.  Fortunately you don’t have to.

Pumpkin Lanterns are coming soon.  So stop by and check out what’s new for fall.  The choices and combinations are endless.

9/2016 Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

John Franke, Old Saybrook Garden Mart Manager

Back in 1986, when my career in horticulture began, I worked in the
garden mecca of Longwood Gardens.  The buzz was, that there was
something new on the gardening horizon!  Are you ready?  Don’t laugh!
“Perennials!”  You see, before the gardening craze, perennials were
Bleeding Hearts and Snow-on-the-Mountain (Bishops Weed) and seeded
favorites like hollyhocks and columbines.  Most of the perennials were
Screen Shot 2016-09-19 at 11.48.11 AMfavorites dug from grandma’s garden.

All of the staff at Longwood were buzzing about a new plant, grown from
cuttings, called Sedum ‘Autumn Joy.’  It was considered the ideal
perennial for its reliable bloom, disease resistance and hardiness.
I’ve grown it every garden I’ve ever planted.  While ordering for my
customers in Old Saybrook this fall, I saw that it was still just as
popular and still available as ever.  What’s the significance?  The
other perennials introduced from that same time period have all been
replaced or are plants we as gardeners no longer grow.  All the while
Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ continues to be unchanged and still popular.

Of course ‘Autumn Joy’ has its spin offs.

Sibling ‘Autumn Fire’ is a sedum with a tidier habit, taller than
‘Autumn Joy,’ to 24 inches, with larger flowers than bloom longer than
its big sister, Joy.

Proven Winner selection, ‘Pure Joy’ is a very compact version of ‘Autumn
Joy’ to only 10 to 12 inches with the largest flowers of the sedum
family!  ‘Pure Joy’s’ flowers are 10 to 12 inches across and form domes
of pink blooms!  Just as easy to grow as  it’s parent, ‘Pure Joy’ is a
perfect staple for the autumn perennial border.

Of course, while ‘Autumn Joy’ was one of the first successful perennials
for American gardens, sedums continue to grow in popularity some thirty
years later.  Classic sedums like ‘Neon’ and ‘Brilliant’ have joined the
ranks of ‘Autumn Joy,’ along with newcomers like ‘Mr. Goodbud.’ What
would gardens be without sedums?

Thirty years ago, a great plant started a family of great perennials
that no fall garden should be without.

9/2016 Aster ‘Purple Dome’

John Franke, Old Saybrook Garden Mart Manager

ghWith the end of summer’s heat comes the beginning of fall’s color.  I love asters and fall brings lots of them.  A favorite of mine is Aster novae-angliae ‘Purple Dome.’  Nova-angliae is botanical Latin for New England where this aster is most happy. The flowers are a clear rosy-purple and the foliage is a healthy deep green. Height is close to 18 inches to 2 feet and rarely needs to be cut back to keep the plants compact.  Purple Dome’s fame comes from its disease resistance, while most asters suffer from powdery mildew, Purple dome isn’t fazed by it!  Purple Dome is a good color contrast to Rudbeckias and and a great compliment to Sedums.
Much of the charm of Purple Dome comes from its origin.  Discovered by plantsman Dick Lighty, former director of Mt. Cuba in Delaware, who’s position it was to map and catalogue plants of the Eastern piedmont.  Always looking for outstanding plants for American gardens, Dr. Lighty found Purple Dome growing in the wilds of the eastern seaboard, in the days before we discussed GE and GMO’s and their impact on the environment.  Aster Purple Dome is a great example of natural selection.  And while most of my favorite plant picks are chance discoveries, Dick Lighty’s Aster Purple Dome is a classic example of finding good genetics by observing nature.  Purple Dome is a simple plant that simply fits in every fall border.

Stacey Tip Logo

9/2016 Stacey’s Tips:



Stacey Pope • Lawn & Garden Specialist

  Click the image for a printable Stacey’s Tips!

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IT IS NOT FALL YET!  Do not get too hasty.  It is not quite time for Step-4.  I know as soon as September hits, we all get a little impatient and start rushing Fall.  Don’t rush.  Take your time.  You have plenty of it before Step-4 needs to go down.  It is, however, time to put down the green bag, otherwise known as, Step-3.  The green bag contains All Season Lawn Food.  This is the perfect fertilizer to use for this time of the year to help your poor lawn recover from the brutal summer heat and lack of rain.  
You have the freedom to choose Greenview’s Lawn Food in the 5,000 or 15,000 sq. ft bag or Espoma’s Organic All Season Lawn Food.  Both are wonderful.  They will help replenish your lawn’s lost nutrients, organic matter and growth.  3 great things!  
It is not that I do not like Step-4.  It really is nothing personal.  Step-4/Fall Lawn Food is great.  I just prefer that you wait a wee bit before applying to get the maximum benefit from it.  You can wait all the way until you have mowed your lawn for the very last time this year and then apply Step-4.  The secret is…when your lawn stops growing up top, apply Fall Fertilizer and it only pushes root growth. This is great because your lawn will develop a much deeper root system, thus, a healthier lawn next year.  Patience pays off in this case.  
With all this hub bub about Step 3 & Step 4, don’t forget about Lime.  Lime is flexible.  It can go down with Step 3 or Step 4.  It does not play favorites.  I recommend Pelletized Lawn Lime.  It breaks down slowly and can work its’ magic over the winter.  We could take a lesson in patience and pacing ourselves from Lime.   Good ole’ Lime!
Come see us at Van Wilgen’s.  We would love to help!
Thanks a bunch…Stacey

9/2016 Houseplants…Houseplants…Houseplants

Darlene Pastet, Greenhouse Manager

fiddle leafJust like in the legend of Beetlejuice, if I say houseplants 3 times fast this time of the year a truck from Florida magically appears, I absolutely love it. I can’t wait to open each and every box. To me it is right up there with the feeling you get on your birthday or Christmas when you get all excited at the thought of ripping open each package to see what’s inside.

As the end of summer sneaks up on us here at Van Wilgen’s, most of our annuals that once filled our greenhouse have now found their way from our home to yours. This leaves us with some empty space to fill, houseplants are the perfect fit.

Here are a few of our favorites:
Jerry(Staghorn ferns),Kirsten(Bromeliads),Ryan(Dracaena-lemon surprise, and Alocasia- polly), and I myself like ( anything in the cactus and succulent family and also our new live trend products.

Stop by and say hello and check out what was in all those boxes. Maybe one or two have your name on them.I also have a save the date, for all of you houseplant lovers.October 6th thru October 10th  Houseplant 411″ There’s no place like home”.

9/2016 Fun Plants for Fall Decorating

 Kirsten Famiglietti, Custom Container Design

Last fall, we went out on a limb and started carrying heather in our annual department. We couldn’t resist the urge to add these heathers to our fall containers. Calluna vulgaris, commonly called heather, is a hardy flowering shrub perfect for that sunny-dry spot in your garden. We work with a grower who offers small 4″ pots of heather in full bloom for the fall season. Anyone decorating for fall should consider how fantastic heather is for a filler in your container mixes! It’s a hardy evergreen shrub when planted in the ground; however when planted in a pot, it may not last until next spring.  Heather will hold its color for the whole fall season, and also provide winter interest to add texture to your winter displays! Since you guys were just as enthused as we were by these great little fillers, we’ve decided to try out a few more varieties of heather. With colors ranging from pinks, purples, reds, and whites, there are even more great plant pairings with heather this fall. It’s been an exciting new venture for us in the greenhouse to coordinate with Jason; with his advice we’ve picked out all the best heather varieties.  We’ve also added some gold mop cypress, a bright yellow pop for fall interest, as well as some dwarf alberta spruces, which would be great thrillers in any container planting to take you right into the Christmas season! A few less common, but equally as exciting, new additions to our fall container plant line-up include American Wintergreen, a great spiller with festive red berries for fall and winter interest, as well as Goshiki False Holly, which has thrilling and filling potential, with creamy-golden variegated foliage.
Pick our brains for pairing tips, these mini sized shrubs are awesome to compliment classic fall mums, or create a unique and one of a kind fall display.  These fun sized shrubs will make the fall decorating fresh and fun.

Stacey Tip Logo9/2016 Stacey’s Tips:

What to do…Fall to do List

Stacey Pope • Lawn & Garden Specialist

  Click the image for a printable Stacey’s Tips!

stacey tips art 1

Put on your garden shoes, gloves and hat.  It’s time to get back outside and tend to your yard.  It missed you and suffered during the August heat.  Ugh!  Poor, poor yards.


•Fertilize all trees, shrubs & perennial flowers with one of Espoma’s “Tones”

at half the rate instructed on the bag.

•Use Plant-Tone for most deciduous shrubs except Hydrangeas. Use on Arborvitae &


•Use Plant-Tone for all perennial flowers.

•Use Holly-Tone for all evergreen shrubs such as, Rhododendrons, Azaleas, & Andromeda.

•Use Holly-Tone for all evergreen trees & Dogwood trees.

•Use Tree-Tone for most deciduous trees such as, Cherry, Maple, & Fruit trees.

•Fertilize the lawn:

•Use Greenview’s Lawn Food in the green bag for a great conventional choice.

•Use Espoma’s Summer Revitalizer if you want a boost of Iron for quick green up.

A good organic choice.

•Use Espoma’s Organic All Season Lawn Food to help with summer recovery.

•Seed the lawn:

•Now is the perfect time to seed.  Warm soil and cooler nights makes for quick seed


•Start a new lawn or thicken up an existing lawn.

•Use Van Wilgen’s Premium grass seed.

•Use Greenview’s Starter Fertilizer in the blue bag or Espoma’s Organic Lawn Starter.

• Begin Veggie garden clean up:

•Get rid of any dead plant debris.

•Purchase a cover crop of Winter Rye, Buckwheat or Clover.

•Refresh soil with Espoma’s Garden-Tone.

•Apply Garden Lime in all beds except for where potatoes are planted.

•Think about bringing houseplants inside:

•Spray all plants with Bonide’s All Season Horticultural Oil or Neem Oil before

bringing indoors to control hitchhiking insects.

•Treat all non-edible plants with Bonide’s Systemic Houseplant Food.

• Fertilize all houseplants.  There are many good choices:

•Conventional:  Van Wilgen’s All Purpose Slow Release Plant Food, Van Wilgen’s All Purpose Water Soluble Plant Food, VanWilgen’s Root Boost, or Bonide’s Liquid Plant Food.

Now your chores are done. Kick off your garden shoes and relax!  Come see us at Van Wilgen’s.  We would love to help.

Thanks a bunch…Stacey

8/2016 Who doesn’t love garlic?

Elaine Blackstone • Operations Manager

Softneck garlic is among the easiest to grow for many reasons. It has the traditional garlic flavor with huge heads and many cloves. All they need is full sun and average well-drained soil.  They have excellent storage ability. You may braid them for a beautiful look!  Plant them around October or two to three weeks before the first frost. Their roots grow until the ground freezes and resume to grow in spring.
Remember to break apart all the cloves from the bulb and plant point side up 3″ deep and in rows about 6″ apart. The garlic is ready to harvest when you have four-five green leaves left on top.
Besides all the delicious recipes you can use garlic for, here are a few more major benefits…. They are deer, rabbit, gopher, chipmunk and squirrel resistant, They are rich in vitamins A, B-6, B-1 and C and contain calcium, magnesium, iron and also 17 different amino acids! Who could ask for anything more!

We know that maybe you are now looking for a great recipe for your garlic, visit new recipe HERE!

8/2016 Tis the Season to be Pruning! 

Jason Scire • Nursery Manager

For the last week at Van Wilgen’s we have started pruning and shearing all of our many acres of Christmas trees, for the upcoming Holiday Season.  It is hard work, but a nice change of pace form my day to day tasks in the Nursery Yard.

Our crew heads to the fields equipped with hand pruners and 21″ long serrated shearing knives (that resemble monster sized brad knives).  We start with Blue Spruces first because their new growth is the first to harden off.  We walk up and down each row examining every tree.  Looking for ways to make the perfect shape, not only for the lucky trees that will be cut this Christmas, but future seasons as well.  If your family loves Blue Spruce, you will have no trouble finding that perfect tree this year.

Once the Blue Spruce are finished we move on to the Firs.  We have three types of firs in our fields.  Fraser, Douglas, and our one of a kind Turkish Fir.  Each Fir requires a different set of evaluation and pruning technique.  Frasers tend to be slim so they do not need to be sheared aggressively.  We are looking more to create strong, straight leader branches as well as removing terminal buds in order to have future growth fill in holes making the fullest tree possible.  Douglas fir are next up.  They are definitely the toughest to work on.  Doug’s are fat and full!  And time consuming, requiring lots of attention.  But in the end it’s worth it when they shape into a beautiful tree.

I have save the best for last!  It is now time to talk about our Turkish Firs.  They are truly a wonderful tree.  At first glance they resemble a Fraser Fir.  Once you take a closer look you will notice the difference.  The needles are much fatter and longer.  The habit of Turkish Fir is much fuller that Fraser.  When they are young they tend to grow wider than they do tall.  That’s when we come in with our shearing knives and aggressively shear the side of the trees all the way around.  This technique helps the trees grow taller when young   We then identify the leader branch and prune it back to the 13 ” mark, carefully examining where the bud set is on each leader.  You always want to have a strong bud on the north side of the leader.  This insures the leader will continue to grow straight and not lean toward the sun.  After walking every row in the fields, our Turkish Firs this year are awesome!  I can’t wait to see how many find their way into your homes this Christmas Season.

8/2016 Playtime!

Ryan Van Wilgen 

I had a bitter sweet moment last week.  The bitter news first.  We retired the sand box that I played in everyday over 20 years ago.  I remember my dad dumping fresh sand in there with our old John Deere tractor, it was so loud and rusty, and I will never forget how awesome it was to play in a big new pile of sand.  I would build intricate tunnels and sand forts for all my little green army men.  The sweet news, our playground area received a facelift!  Having a little one of my own, now more than ever, I understand how great it is for parents to have a playground available at a moment’s notice.  We were happy to discover the Jet Blue terminal at JFK had a playground; it really saved our bacon when we had a 4 hour wait for a flight.  Kids and parents come check out our newly renovated play area.  There is no longer my sandbox from my child hood anymore but the whole playground has a nice thick layer of playground mulch.  We started carrying the playground mulch back in spring and we are excited to be able to try it out.  Come play on our new flower climber, handicap accessible digger, bouncy duck and climb through the big flower tunnel.  We also fixed up our swing set with a new small toddler swing, a new slide, and new climbing wall grips.


Stacey Tip Logo8/2016 Stacey’s Tips:

To fertilize or not to fertilize, that is the question!

Stacey Pope • Lawn & Garden Specialist

  Click the image for a printable Stacey’s Tips!

stacey tips art 1

Where do I stand on this topic?  Where do you stand on this topic?  Most importantly, where does your lawn and garden stand on this topic?  I may be a little biased because I run the lawn & garden department at Van Wilgen’s.  Yup, this is the smelly part of the nursery that houses all the fertilizers that make our plants and your plants extra healthy and beautiful.  Smelly but important!  

Okay, I can’t hold it in anymore…I LOVE FERTILIZER…and yes, there is a fertilizer for every seed, every plant, and for every time of the year.  I don’t love fertilizer just because of my job, I love fertilizer because it can be so helpful to our plants and the environment.  Veggie gardens will give you a much greater yield, annuals will push out more bloom, trees will establish deeper root systems, shrubs will be less prone to disease, etc.  I am not suggesting that you over-fertilize.  This possibility does exist.  Be judicious.  Be wise.  We can help.

Remember I mentioned that there is a fertilizer for every time of the year?  Well, there is.  For this hot, August month, you have got to try Van Wilgen’s Root Boost and/or Van Wilgen’s Fish & Seaweed Fertilizers.  They are perfect for any type of plant from veggies to houseplants.  There is no risk of burning your plants with these fertilizers.  They will enhance the plant’s vigor with kelp, beneficial bacteria, and nutrients.  Use one or both together every week.  You will truly notice a difference.

Fall is coming.  In spite of this terribly hot, humid, dry weather, fall is on the way and this means it is time to restock the garage with fertilizers or to pull the ones you already have, out of the garden shed.   This heat is brutal on plants.  They will need your help to recover from the stress of summer.  Pay attention to your struggling lawn.  September is the time to apply Espoma’s Organic Summer Revitalizer or Greenview’s Lawn Food.  Fertilize the heck out of your annuals and veggies.  Give them a last hoorah with Van Wilgen’s Bloom Booster.  Push them to their maximum.  Trees and shrubs are screaming for Espoma’s Plant-Tone or Holly-Tone.  Use half the rate, at this time of the year and quiet their screams.  Do not let your lawns and gardens go hungry.  

Sooo, stop by the “smelly” department when you are visiting Van Wilgen’s.  We will help you choose the right fertilizer for the right plant at the right time of the year.

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

Thanks a bunch…Stacey

Stacey Tip Logo7/2016 Stacey’s Tips: LET’S THINK SEEDING

(Getting ready for September Lawn Care) 

Stacey Pope • Lawn & Garden Specialist

  Click the image for a printable Stacey’s Tips!

stacey tips art 1I know it is still summer and we are out socializing, boating, beaching, picnicking, etc.  I don’t want any of you to stop having so much fun, I just want you to put the thought of fall seeding into your head.  You don’t have to do it quite yet but get yourself mentally prepared and come down to Van Wilgen’s to get your supplies for September.

September is the perfect time to overseed your existing lawn, fill in dead patches, or even start from scratch.  The soil temperatures are nice and warm so grass will germinate fast. The nights are getting cooler so morning dew helps to provide moisture. Weeds are not as much competition.  Watering is less time consuming.  Most importantly, you have had a nice summer break, and I promise, if you seed this fall, you will be so much happier with your lawn next spring.

The level you want to seed at is up to you.  You can take small patches at a time, clean them up, throw down a little Van Wilgen’s topsoil, put down our custom grass seed and you are good to go.  Orrrrrr…you can rent an aerator, criss-cross the entire lawn, relieve compaction, apply Encap’s Fast Acting Gypsum, put down a layer of topsoil, spread our Van Wilgen’s grass seed, use Starter Fertilizer, cover the barest patches with Mainely Mulch chopped hay,  water and wait for fresh, green sprouts.  These are a couple of methods.  No matter what, some preparation needs to be done to get the ground ready for new, fall seed!

Lawn preparation comes in many forms.  Some people choose to do a heavy raking only, others rent machines like core aerators and slit/slicer seeders.  Still others, till everything up, bring in new topsoil and start from scratch.  No method is wrong but some tips will help no matter what method you choose.

*September is a great month to seed.  Come see us at the end of August to get your supplies and start your lawn prep.  It would be great if you could get the new grass seed down in the first few weeks of September. Later is okay too, but let’s shoot for the beginning of the month.

*Choose the right grass seed.  Van Wilgen’s has our own custom line of grass seed that is perfectly suited for our Connecticut climate.  Come see us and we will help you pick the right grass for your yard.

*If just overseeding your existing lawn, mow your lawn short!  This is the only time, I will tell you to do this.  The grass seed you apply needs to make contact with the soil in order to germinate.  Make seed to soil contact.  Don’t let the grass seed hover above the soil.  It is best to spread out a little Van Wilgen’s topsoil first.

*Apply Starter Fertilizer.  We offer a great one by GreenView and if you want organic, Van Wilgen’s has Milorganite and Espoma’s Organic Lawn Starter.  Applying starter fertilizer with your new grass seed will really help it to establish deep roots.

*Cover it!  After you have seeded, cover it with Salt Hay or Mainely Mulch.  We also carry a Grass Seed Accelerator by GreenView that has starter fertilizer built right into it.  It is a great cover for smaller areas.

*Water.  Yes, even in the fall you have to water grass seed.  A good rule of thumb is:  30 for 30.  Water your grass seed for 30 minutes, 2 X’s per day for 30 days.  Grass seed needs moisture to split open.  Once it splits, germinates, and your new lawn is about 1 inch tall, change your watering program.  Water every other day for 1 hour in the earlier part of the day.  Watering for a longer period of time helps to push deeper roots.

Trust me on this one, you will be so much happier with your lawn for 2014 if you seed this Fall.  So enjoy the rest of your summer but start thinking seeding.

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

Thanks a bunch…Stacey

Stacey Tip Logo7/2016 Stacey’s Tips: EAT YOUR VEGGIES

(Common Veggie Garden Problems)

Stacey Pope • Lawn & Garden Specialist

  Click the image for a printable Stacey’s Tips!

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Yum. Eat your veggies.  They are so good for you.  It is nice to get them from your local grocery store but even better to pick them out of your own garden.  Nothing like the smell and taste of fresh veggies!  Nothing like the satisfaction of knowing you grew them on your own!  Nothing like the joy of sharing with family and friends!  Nothing like a good ole’ disease to rain on your bountiful vegetable parade!  It’s just like me to be a “Debbie Downer”, isn’t it?! It would be great if we could just yell at the disease and it would go away.  It is not quite that simple but I do have some solutions for you.


Cercospora Leaf Spot:

-The disease lays dormant in old affected leaves left in the soil of the garden bed.

-It spreads quickly by wind, splashing water, and leaf to leaf contact.

-Water is necessary to activate the disease.

-Lesions on leaves are somewhat circular, yellowish at first, and have a white to tan center with a dark halo around the spot.  Spots will dry up and turn into holes.

-Bottom leaves will be affected first, turn yellow and drop off the plant.

Cercospora Leaf Spot Control:

-Remove infect leaves & throw into the garbage.

-Do not overcrowd plants.

-Avoid overhead irrigation. Water spreads the disease.

-Spray immediately with Copper Fungicide by Bonide.  Make treatments weekly.

-Fertilize monthly with Espoma’s Garden-Tone + Van Wilgen’s Fish & Seaweed weekly(especially in this heat) to keep plants healthy.

-Clean garden beds thoroughly in the Fall.  Do not leave any dead leaf debris in the garden.

-Throw infected plant debris away in the garbage, not into your compost pile.


Septoria Leaf Spot:

-It begins on the lower leaves of the tomato plant.

-The disease remains living in old tomato plant leaves.

-Spots appear as water soaked circles with grayish centers, a dark brown margin, and little black spots in the middle.

-Spots will eventually dry up and leaves will drop.

-It is spread by wind, rain, insects, cultivating, etc.

Septoria Leaf Spot Control:

-Remove infected leaves and throw away in the garbage.

-Avoid overhead irrigation.

-Fertilize tomatoes with Espoma’s Tomato-Tone monthly + Van Wilgen’s Fish & Seaweed weekly to keep them strong.

-Spray weekly with a fungicide, such as, Daconil, Copper or Serenade.

-Do a complete garden clean up in the Fall and remove all infected vegetation.

-Rotate your crop yearly to a different location in the garden.


Powdery Mildew:

-This disease shows up on leaves of squash and cucumbers in a blotchy form or a full covering.

-The fungus is white to gray in color.

-It weakens the plant significantly to the point that you may not get any maturing fruit.

-If the fungus completely covers the leaf, photosynthesis will stop, the leaf will turn yellow and drop off the plant.

-It remains overwinter in affected cucumbers and squash.

-In the Spring, it is spread by wind, insects, rain, birds, etc.

Powdery Mildew Control:

-Be sure plants have good air circulation and are not too crowded.

-Water plants at the base, not from the top.

-Pick off and throw away infected leaves.

-Treat weekly with a fungicide.  Daconil, Safer’s Garden Fungicide, and Copper will all do the trick.

-Fertilize monthly with Espoma’s Garden Tone monthly + Van Wilgen’s Fish & Seaweed weekly to keep plants healthy and strong.

-Clean up the dead plants in the garden at the end of the year.  Fungal spores will remain in the dead leaves and reinfect plants next season.

Hopefully I was not too much of a “Debbie Downer” in this tip.  Let’s look on the bright side of things.  Rarely do these diseases kill the plant and you will still enjoy some delicious vegetables as long as you follow some of the control measures above. Now I am more of a “Penelope Positive”, don’t you think?!

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

Thanks a bunch…Stacey

Stacey Tip Logo7/2016 Stacey’s Tips: SUMMER TREATS

(Products that are good for your lawn and garden in the summer heat!)

Stacey Pope • Lawn & Garden Specialist

  Click the image for a printable Stacey’s Tips!

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“It is sooo hot!”  This is what I have been hearing a lot of this summer.  Fellow employees are hot, customers are hot, dogs are hot, kids are hot, everyone is hot!  We are able to express our feelings and even whine about the heat.  What about our poor lawns and gardens.  They are hot too.  They are just a little more quiet about it. Sure, hydrangeas may droop in the afternoon sun, herbs may not be standing at attention, tomato leaves may be curling a bit, and our lawns may be looking a little crispy but at least they are not making a lot of noise about the hot agony they are in.  Since they are being such troopers, shouldn’t we give them a little summer treat?!  Van Wilgen’s has some delicious treats that will really help your plants make it through this hot, dry spell.

Let’s talk about our newest Van Wilgen product…ROOT BOOST.  Root Boost is great any time of the year but its’ summer benefits are off the chart.  Root Boost is as organic as you can get.  It is an organic power house filled with every essential plant element, beneficial bacteria, and myccorhizae (beneficial fungus).  It is also a balance fertilizer with a ratio of 6-5-5.  I do not want to get too nerdy, technical about this product but I do want you to know how great it really works to increase a root system of any plant.  The beneficial fungus and bacteria literally attach themselves to the roots of plants and increase the roots network system.  Roots in turn, can absorb more water and nutrients.  Here is the kicker!  Root Boost will never burn a plant even in this summer heat.  In fact, the added kelp will actually help plants to retain moisture and give them a little breather from the hot sun.  Use it on every plant from veggies to houseplants.  They all will benefit from all it has to offer.  Give your summer plants a boost with Root Boost!

Let’s move onto a little smellier but awesome summer product…FISH & SEAWEED.  This is another awesome summer fertilizer that can be used any time of the year.  Root Boost has no odor and comes in a powder form that you mix with water.  Fish & Seaweed is in a liquid form that gets diluted with water.  It works really well in a hose end sprayer if you have a lot of garden to cover.  Fish and Seaweed is a nice balanced fertilizer that keeps plants strong, helps them retain moisture, and keeps them productive even under the stress of heat.  Van Wilgen’s Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer can be used in conjunction with Root Boost and WOW! your plants will be beyond happy.

Do not forget your lawn.  Love your lawn this summer with DR. EARTH SUPER NATURAL LAWN FERTILIZER.  It comes equipped with a hose-end sprayer so all you do is attach it and go.  One bottle covers 5,000 sq. ft. and fills your lawn with prebiotic microbial food, humic acid, and aloe vera to moisturize that stressed summer lawn.  This can be used in conjunction or alternating with the tried and true Milorganite.  Milorganite is a mainstay for lawn fertilizers that will not burn your lawn even when everything and everyone is suffering in the summer sun.

It is okay to complain about the heat but remember your plants can’t utter a word.  Give them a summer a treat.

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

Thanks a bunch…Stacey

Stacey Tip Logo

7/2016 Stacey’s Tips:


Summer Lawn Care

Stacey Pope • Lawn & Garden Specialist

Click the image for a printable Stacey’s Tips!

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Summer is the best time to run barefoot through the grass.  Who wants to wear shoes this time of the year?  Step your bare tootsies onto the lawn and run free.  I try and go shoeless as often as possible in the summer.  The problem I encounter when walking free is that I can’t help but to pause at every weed, investigate for insects, and scout for crabgrass.  Oh well, I am a lawn nerd.  What can I say?!  I find them interesting.  It is pretty amazing that we can grow these “crops” of grass in so many different conditions.  Lawns are the anchors of our yards. They frame our homes and garden beds and provide recreation areas for our families.

Summer is a time to have fun but hopefully not at the expense of our lawns.  Don’t forget about that green carpet under your bare toes.  It serves you well.  Give it a little TLC.  Here’s what we can do this time of the year:

*Water if you can.  Your lawn needs a minimum of 1 inch of water per week.  If Mother Nature does not provide this, it’s time for you to step up with those bare feet and set up some sprinklers.  Buy a simple rain gauge to measure how much water your lawn is getting per week or set up an empty tuna can to capture the water.  It is really important to give your lawn a deep, root soaking.  Instead of watering daily for a short period of time, I would much rather that you water 2 to 3 times per week for a much longer time.  Most people set their sprinklers to run 20 minutes per day.  Change this up and go every other day for a minimum of an hour.  This way, water will seep deeper into the soil, encouraging deeper grass root growth.  Water in the early part of the day to avoid water evaporation and disease promotion caused by late day watering.

*Let your lawn go dormant if you can’t water.  Lawns have an amazing survival instinct to shut down and go dormant in the heat and drought of summer.  The bad news is, our lawns are brown and crunchy during this time period.  The good news is, they usually recover once the cooler weather of September returns.  Trying to get a sleeping summer lawn to wake up with just a little bit of water in the heat, is not the best idea.  It will wake up grumpy.

*Mow your lawn high.  The taller your grass blades are, the softer, cool grass you have to run your toes through and the better the chances of your lawn’s survival.  A taller grass blade has more surface area and provides more shade for the grass below, therefore, the ability to retain moisture is better.

*Let the clippings fall.  Grass is made up of approximately 80% water.  If you leave the clippings on the lawn, they give back moisture and act as a “green” fertilizer providing a gentle Nitrogen feed for your lawn.

*Keep your blades sharp.  Believe it or not, the sharper your mower blades, the softer the grass will be on your summer feet.  Grass that is rag tag from dull mower blades is more vulnerable to diseases and drying out.

*1/3rd at a time.  Don’t mow off more than a third of a grass blade at a time.  If you mow off more, you will stress out your lawn, making it much more susceptible to burn out.

*Treat for grubs.  Now is the time to apply Bayer’s Season Long Grub Control.  This is no joke folks.  Pretty soon grubs will be hatching and lurking beneath your feet, eating the roots of your lovely lawn.  Don’t wait.  Apply Bayer’s Season Long Grub Control through mid-August.  Be sure to water it in or apply before a heavy rainfall.  The more rain it gets, the better it works.

*Bring out the post-emergent weed controls.  Pay attention to new weeds popping up and nasty crabgrass and Nutsedge.  Crabgrass loves the heat and is one of the greatest summer bullies in the lawn.  Use a liquid broadleaf weed control such as; Ortho’s Weed-B-Gon plus Crabgrass Control. Use Nutsedge Killer by Ortho to control that nuisance Nutsedge.  It is best to use these products when temperatures are below 85 degrees.

*Give your lawn, a non-burning summer treat.  Milorganite is one of my favorite products.  It is organic, non-burning, and has Iron for quick green-up.  Espoma makes a nice, organic Summer Revitalizer that is perfect for this summer heat.  Encap’s Fast Acting Iron is great at putting the green back into your summer lawn.

Everybody, kick of your shoes, run barefoot through your lawn, do cartwheels, have a picnic, play ball, etc.  Be sure to thank your lawn for all it does for you and your family. It provides you with a fun place to play, a perfect backdrop for your garden, and a lot of oxygen to run around.

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

Thanks a bunch…Stacey

Stacey Tip Logo7/2016 Stacey’s Tips: 


 (Japanese, Oriental, Asiatic, & European Chafer Beetles)

Stacey Pope • Lawn & Garden Specialist

Click the image for a printable Stacey’s Tips!

stacey tips art 1

Have you innocently been working in your garden or enjoying a cocktail on your patio, when all of a sudden,”IN-COMING!” you get dive bombed by a beetle that proceeds to get trapped in your hair or stuck to your shirt?! This crazy kamikaze pilot is either the Japanese Beetle, Oriental Beetle, Asiatic Garden Beetle or European Chafer.  They are notorious this time of the year in Connecticut.

The metallic, brown and green, Japanese Beetle gets all the fame or blame, depending on how you look at it.   Every hole we see on a rose, a weeping cherry, basil, or pepper plant, we tend to blame on the showy Japanese Beetle.  Its coppery color shines in the sun and they tend to cluster on a plant while they feed and mate.  They get all the glory but they should be sharing the spotlight with a few other scarab beetles. Oriental Beetles can be out spotted during the day but their mottled gray and black body is just not as interesting as the Japanese Beetle.  Because they do their flying at night, they are not as obvious until they end up tangled in your pony tail.  The Asiatic Garden Beetle and European Chafers are other night time flying beetles that fall under the radar due to their night time clandestine activities.  Don’t be fooled by that plump, little, chestnut brown Asiatic Garden Beetle.  It can do a lot of damage to plants at night and then it stealthily burrows itself in the soil during the day.  Have you ever noticed devoured Basil leaves but no critter?  I bet the Asiatic Garden Beetle is the sneaky bandit.  Dig at the base of an eaten Basil and you may find him hiding in the soil.

This night time dive-bombing of Kamikaze Scarab Beetles will not last forever.  They are busy flying, eating, mating, and laying eggs right now, but in a couple of weeks they will be done. BEWARE OF WHAT LURKS BELOW…GRUBS!  All of these Scarab Beetles lay eggs in the soil of our gardens and lawns.  The next phase that we have to pay attention too is the white, c-shaped grub stage that will be hatching sometime in August.  We can’t see them lurking below the mulch or our turf but they can really be a menace, especially to our lawns.  It’s hard to believe that these ugly looking grubs come from these somewhat flashy beetles.  The newly hatching grub babies are very hungry and feed on roots from summer hatch to late fall. We don’t even notice the damage until next spring.  Those sneaky, little devils!

What should we do to stop these dive-bombing beetles and sneaky little grubs?!  The beetles are pretty easy to control.  There are several good products that will wipe them out especially when it comes to ornamental plants.

Products for Ornamentals:

-Japanese Beetle Killer by Bonide

-Eight by Bonide

-Rose & Flower Insect Killer by Bayer

Products for Veggies:

-Japanese Beetle Killer by Bonide

-Eight by Bonide

-Pyrethrin by Bonide

-Vegetable Garden Insect Spray by Bayer

Products for Herbs: End-All by Safer

The discreet grub stage of the beetle requires a different form of treatment and product timing.  Here are the products that work to control grubs in the lawn.

Pro-Active Product to control grubs before they hatch:

-Bayer Season Long Grub Control applied June 15 – August 15.  This product is best if watered in or applied before a rainfall.  If applied within this time frame, it will control grubs throughout the rest of the fall season!

-Nematodes.  An organic way to control grubs in the soil.  Apply now through August to take care of grubs naturally.  Definitely needs to be watered in for a week following application to keep Nematodes from drying out and to spread them over a larger area.

Re-Active Product to control grubs after they hatch:

-Bayer 24 Hour Grub Control Plus applied toward late August/begin September.  This product must be watered in or applied before a rainfall to be affective.  It kills on contact. You may need to make a follow up application a month later.

-Nematodes. They will work pro-actively and re-actively!

Take charge of these crazy night time feeders and sneaky underground dwellers.  Don’t spend one more evening untangling them from your hair.

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

Thanks a bunch…Stacey

Stacey Tip Logo

7/2016 Stacey’s Tips: DON’T LET A LITTLE HEAT STOP YOU!

(Summer things you can do in your garden)

Stacey Pope • Lawn & Garden Specialist

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Click the image for a printable Stacey’s Tips!

I know it’s getting very hot and humid in Connecticut but there are still things to do in the garden.  Don’t forget about the flowers that are performing beautifully for you in spite of the heat, your potted annuals that are putting on a show all summer, the roses that continue to climb even with the sun blazing down on them, your lawn that could use a little summer boost, and your veggie garden that is getting ready to burst with fresh food for the family table.  They need you; so put on your coolest clothes, some sun block, a wide brimmed hat, and fill up your water bottle with ice cold water.  You can do this!!


*MULCH:  Mulch will help keep your plants cool, hold in moisture, & keep weeds from stealing the plants water.  A 3 inch thick layer is perfect.  Mainely Mulch (chopped hay) is a perfect choice for your veggie garden.

*COMPOST:  An inch or 2 of compost spread on top of the soil around plants will help to hold in moisture and replenish plant nutrients.  Try the Shrimp & Seaweed Compost by Fafard.  Shrimp is great at retaining moisture.

*WATER:  What a great idea!  Soaker hoses are perfect for trees, shrubs, perennials, and veggies.  You can turn them on and forget about them for a few hours.  A slow drip or trickle when watering this time of the year is perfect.  Plants establish a deeper root system this way.  Watering plants at the base as opposed to overhead will really reduce disease problems and summer scorch.

*FERTILIZE:  There are so many fertilizer choices that would be appropriate for this time of the year but I am going to focus on 2…Van Wilgen’s Organic Fish & Seaweed and Van Wilgen’s Organic Root Boost.  WHAT IS ROOT BOOST YOU ASK?!

I am so excited about this new Van Wilgen’s fertilizer.  It really is awesome.  You have to try it.  It is great for any time of the year but I really love it when the summer heat kicks into high gear.  It will never burn a plant, even in the worst heat, but it will definitely enhance a plant’s vigor.  It is filled with every type of beneficial bacteria, fungi and element you can imagine.  Use it dry to establish a new plant or transplant one.  Use it mixed with water to fertilize the foliage and the soil on a regular basis.  Watch your plants thrive with Root Boost during the summer months.

Van Wilgen’s Fish & Seaweed is great to use with Root Boost or alone.  It is a rich fertilizer that feeds, helps plants retain moisture, and keeps them disease resistant.  A little smelly but I love it!

Your lawn will greatly benefit from a straight fertilizer application this time of the year.  Use Greenview’s Lawn Food, Espoma’s Organic All Season Lawn Food or Espoma’s Summer Revitalizer with iron.  Throw in a bag of Fast Acting Iron by Encap.  Iron is a little trick lawn companies use to help keep your lawn green through the summer months.

Don’t forget to do Grub control.  Grubs will start eating the roots of your lawn in August.  Apply Bayer’s Season Long Grub Control now.  Water it in and you will be set for the rest of the year.

There are so many other little tricks for the garden in the summer heat but I do not want to thoroughly exhaust you.  Wait for the sun to start going down, fertilizer in one hand, hose in the other, and go visit your plants.  Don’t forget your drink!

7/2016 Ok…It’s Summer now and where are my Hydrangea Flowers?

Jason Scire • Nursery Manager 

bobo_hydrangea-7One of the most asked questions in the nursery yard in recent days is, “When will my hydrangea flower!  The answer to that question is not as straightforward as I would like it to be. The biggest factor this spring has been our unusually cooler temperatures, especially at night. Due to which some plants in the landscape are a little undersized or not budded yet.  The good news is that I’m seeing positive signs of improvement, not only in my own backyard but at the garden center and feedback form customers as well.
The key going forward is be patient.  I know that can be a difficult prospect for some of us (especially me) but I assure you most plant will be fine.  So what can I do in the meantime? The most important item to remember is to resist the temptation to prune your hydrangeas all the way to the ground.  Most varieties of hydrangea bloom on old wood, so if you remove the old growth it will affect the flowering for the season.  The last helpful hint is to water, especially if you plants are located in a lot of sun.  A 2-3″ layer of mulch around the base will help keep the moisture in as well but remember no “volcano” mulching.   This will encourage deep roots to develop, adding to winter hardiness.
  Right now, your hydrangeas should be leafed out.  The size and height of the plant will vary depending on how old your plant is.  More mature hydrangeas are taller right now than newly planted ones.   You may see portions of the branching of the plant still looking dormant, that is ok.  Any twigs poking out beyond the outside edge of green leaves may be tipped back only so far that they can’t be seen.  Much to my surprise many plants I see in the landscape are starting to form flower buds.  This is a great sign.  Color is on its way!   Now is also the time to feed your hydrangea. We recommend Holly-tone, a slow release fertilizer for acid loving plants, now.  Once your plants start blooming you may apply Color-Me Blue or Color-Me Pink to ensure they are the perfect color for your garden all summer long.

7/2016 The Soothing Sound of Water

Tommy Vorio • Perennials Manager

IMG_1600Garden fountains are a welcomed feature in every yard. The soft splash of water brings life, motion and can attract a variety birds. The soothing sound track can transform your space into a peaceful retreat. As an added benefit the sound of trickling water can also help to block out background noise.
 If you are looking for a focal point in your garden landscape, we offer many kinds of fountains.  New to Van Wilgen’s this year is a line of lightweight fountains, brought to us by a local company Tom’s Home and Garden from Wilton. They are easy to install and very easy to maintain. They have an internal reservoir so all they need is a 120V electrical plug and they are good to go. They can easily be drained for cleaning and also winter storage.  These water features come in a variety of styles, one for everyone’s taste. Why not try something new and add sound to your garden this year.

Stacey Tip Logo6/2016 Stacey’s Tips:Stacey Tips Veggie Care


Stacey Pope • Lawn & Garden Specialist

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Click the image for a printable Stacey’s Tips!

Planting and caring for a veggie garden can be quite a game.  It can be challenging, relaxing, frustrating, rewarding, educational, but most importantly…delicious!  Who or what is to blame for the problems we may encounter with our veggie gardens?   Let’s blame someone or something, shall we?  Let’s blame some of the key players in the veggie garden game.  The key players that we are going to use as scape goats are; temperature, soil, light, and water.  Sometimes it is an insect, sometimes a disease, occasionally Mother Nature plays a part, and often the gardener is the guilty one.  Let’s face it folks, none of us are perfect gardeners.  We try.  We try so hard but sometimes our schedules get in the way or we are just not sure what to do.  Should this stop us?  Never!  Gardening is one of the healthiest and rewarding hobbies we can ever have.

Let’s place some of the blame for a poor performing veggie garden on temperature.  Temperature is a key player in the veggie garden game.  If it is erratic, too cold, or too hot, it can foul up the game.

If the soil and air are too cold…

*Vegetable seedlings may grow very slowly and turn yellow.

*Tomatoes may stay “greenback” and fail to ripen at the stem end.

*Flowers may prematurely bolt and bloom.

*Leaves may brown and melt away at the tips due to frost.

If temperatures are too hot…

*Leaves may turn brown along the edges and tips from leaf scorch.

*Crops may be stunted.

*Produce can be strongly flavored.

*Beets can develop a bulls-eye pattern.

*Onion bulbs may turn gray on the outer layers.

*Flowers may prematurely bloom.

Gardeners don’t have any control over temperature but we can pay attention and be sure not to plant veggies too early in the season.

Soil is a very important player in the game.  Without good soil, you will not have good vegetables.  Soil deficiencies can throw the veggie garden game completely off.

Here are some examples of what you may come across…

*Lower leaves turning yellow and not falling off the plant may be a sign of low nitrogen.

*New leaves turning yellow while the veins stay green is often an iron deficiency.

*A potassium deficiency shows up as yellow leaf edges with brown spots.

*Purplish leaves and veins indicate a phosphorus deficiency.

*Black circular lesions on the blossom end of veggies is usually due to a lack of calcium.

*Forked and twisted carrots and potatoes mean the soil is too rocky or compact.

Veggie gardeners, you have a lot of control over your soil.  Start out right and you will be rewarded with beautiful produce.  Simple steps such as; turning over your soil, alleviating compaction with Encap’s Gypsum, fertilizing with Espoma’s Garden-Tone, adjusting your pH with Limestone, and adding rich compost can make all the difference in the world.

Do not downplay how crucial of a player light is to the veggie garden game.  Without proper sunlight, issues can occur.

Issues such as…

*Vegetables get sunburned just like people.  If you see larger brown, burnt patches on your leaves and/or fruit, the culprit may be too much sun.

*Leaf scorch will cause leaves to turn brown at the tips and edges.

*If leaves are pale green and plants are spindly, they are not getting enough sun and they are desperately reaching for it.

We obviously cannot move the sun but we can help our veggies get the right amount of light.  As a rule of thumb, most vegetables that get a fruit can bake in the sun.  Veggies such as; tomatoes, peppers, and squash love it.  Consider putting your leafier vegetables in the less sunny part of the garden.  Salad greens, broccoli, peas, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, beets, radish, chard, collards, spinach, and mustard will all tolerate a little less sunlight.

I don’t know if I can label water as the star player of the veggie game but it sure is one of the most important.

Here are some examples of water-related problems:

*Wilted veggies & bone dry soil means too little water.

*Wilted plants & soaking wet soil means too much water.

*Wilted vegetables in a container that recover quickly when watered & wilt quickly again are root bound.

*Wilted veggies in the ground that have soaking wet soil are poorly drained..

*If leaves turn yellow & drop at the base of the stems first, the plant is getting too much water.

*If leaves turn brown at the tips & edges, they are getting too much sun and too little water.

*Stunted and strongly flavored vegetables may not be getting enough water.

*If tomatoes look scabby they probably received too much water.

Gardening friends, you have so uch power when it comes to watering.  If Mother Nature is not giving your veggies enough water, it is your job to take over.  Plants need consistent, even watering to keep them healthy.  Your vegetables would be happier if they were watered at the base as opposed to overhead and please do not let them dry out for too long.

Take good care of your veggies and they will take good care of you.

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

Thanks a bunch…Stacey

6/2016 Drought Tolerant Perennials

Tommy Vorio • Perennials Manager

lphenomenalWith the recent extended period of dry weather, I thought this would be a great opportunity to highlight some of our Van Wilgen Grown, drought tolerant perennials. While during the planting period these plants require water, one established these plants can survive on minimal supplemental water.

English Lavender -Lavender is a great drought perennial. It really prefers the driest soil as possible. We carry a variety of sizes and these plants are extremely fragrant that also make a great cut flower.

Sedum – These plants are commonly known as stonecrop. They typically grow between 12-18″ tall and will bloom in late summer through early fall. These plants are excellent pollinators for bee’s and butterflies. We have several different varieties to choose from and their flower color range from different shades of pink. It is a great plant for any fall garden.

Sempervivum – These plants are commonly known as Hen’s and Chick’s. They are extremely drought tolerant and look just like desert succulents. They spread over time hence giving them their name of Hen’s and Chick’s. We carry a cool line of sempervivums that are called Chick Charms which come in an array of bright colors.

Artemisia – These plants are commonly known as wormwood. They have silvery soft foliage that forms a great mound in the garden. They will grow 6-12″ tall and 18-24″ wide. They look great when planted in a mass in a border or cottage garden.

This is a small sampling of our drought tolerant perennials. I encourage you to come visit our garden center to see our full line of plants and see what would be the best fit for your garden!

6/2016 Fresh, Fresh, Fresh, Van Wilgen Grown.

Darlene Pastet • Greenhouse Manager

VWG pink potHow many of you have stopped by to shop with us here at Van Wilgen’s? How many of you during your visit  have seen some of us busy changing up displays? There are a number of reasons why we do this,but the most important reason is to keep our plant material looking as good as it can until it finds it’s new home with you.This not only helps us clean and freshen things up,it also allows us to make room for more fun plants as they make their way up from our growing department. Billy p and his crew work very hard to make sure we always have new and fresh plants.If you were to take a walk though the growing department you would see all the hard work they do to from start to finish,it’s pretty amazing! There’s even a corner of the greenhouse that billy has some test plants that he grows to see if they will make the cut to become a Van Wilgen’s Grown plant.
A great plant is what we strive to give you,and thank’s to our outstanding growing department we are able to do just that. So,When you stop by to shop with us and you don’t see what you came for, please ask. We might just have some more in growing waiting their turn to come over to become one of our new displays.

6/2016 Celebrate Pink Weeks with these must have perennials! 

Tommy Vorio• Perennials Manager

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 8.05.11 AMThis is my second season at Van Wilgen’s and I must say it is a true blessing to be part of the Van Wilgen team. Working side by side with Bill and seeing his hard work and determination toward the goal of making the garden center a customer’s dream, it is no surprise that he was able to beat a major illness not once but twice! With pink representing breast cancer awareness, there are some great summer blooming pink perennials that would be great companions to go along with your flamingoes in the garden. Additionally when you purchase any pink plant, Van Wilgen’s will donate $1.00 to Smilow Cancer Hospital!

Gaura ‘Belleza Dark Pink’ – This perennial is commonly known as windflower. This plant grows 12-18″ tall and 24″ wide. It has long spires of densely covered pink flowers. It is a great plant to be utilized in a border, mass planting, or even a container!

Geranium ‘Max Frei’ – This perennial geranium is a great perennial for your garden. The plant is commonly known as cranesbill geranium. It grows to a height of 6-8″ and a width of 24″. It is a deer and rabbit resistant plant that looks great when massed as a groundcover in a woodland or border garden.

Phlox paniculata ‘Volcano Pink’ – This phlox is known as garden/summer phlox. This plant grows 12-24″ with sturdy stems. It blooms through summer and adds a nice fragrance to the garden. It has a high resistance to powdery mildew and does well in a border, container, or pollinator garden.

Lastly, this is week is national pollinator week and all of these perennials are great pollinators for bees and butterflies.

6/2016 How to keep your hanging baskets looking great all summer long. 

Kirsten Famiglietti • Custom Container Design

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 8.02.43 AMOur top secret formula for keeping our planters and baskets looking hot
all summer long… Leaked!

It’s only mid-June, but already people are wondering what we do to keep
our annual container mixes looking so good all season long. Are we
constantly replanting with fresh annuals? Have we simply set the growth
regulators to “Awesome?” Is it true what they say about singing to your
plants? Let me assure you, with all the pots we have planted on the
property the answer is MUCH simpler and much less ridiculous than any of
those! Whether we’re looking at one of our Super Bloom petunias, or a
more elaborate cone hanging basket overflowing with a variety of
annuals, one key thing we’ve been doing since day one is even watering.
This means watering more or less once a day, and not letting the plants
dry out. If you’ve picked up some of our Slow Release All Purpose
Fertilizer, the little black pellets, and you’ve added it to your annual container mixes, even watering also means that every time you water your
plant it gets some fertilizer! Those little black pellets break down just a little bit each time you water. Your plants are alive just like
you and me, and just like us they need plant food! My philosophy with annuals, especially potted annuals, is that since they’re not coming
back year after year, we want to enjoy them to the fullest extent while we still have them! So call me over the top, but not only do I put a
slow release fertilizer in all of my container mixes, but I follow up weekly with our Bloom Booster fertilizer. This combo is going to ensure
you get the most bloom-for-your-buck out of your annual container mixes!

With all the crazy floriferous new growth your annuals will be pushing out with this secret formula, you may find yourself having to cut them
back around July. That’s right- just like your plants need food, they also need hair cuts. a little trim will promote more branching and more
flowering- this translates into fuller bigger plants with even more flowers! Now that you’ve heard our secret for hot container mixes all
summer long, try it for yourselves! Come see us in the greenhouse, Darlene loves demonstrating how to cut back annuals using my hair as a
prop, and as always we are always more than happy to answer questions and help make sure your plants are the best they can be all season long!

6/2016 Pink Flamingos & Pink Plants

Jason Scire • Nursery Manager

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 8.00.16 AMToday is the beginning of Pink Weeks at Van Wilgen’s.  In addition to flocks of pink flamingo’s arriving to the garden center we will have tons of “Pink” plants to choose from.  When pink plants come to mind most of us think I’m only going to get a pink flower.  Not always the case.  Many plants will give you great pink color from their foliage or bark at certain times of the year.  Pink plants come in all shapes and sizes, for all light conditions, and site requirements.  You will be sure to find one that suits your needs.
Here is a great list of Pink Plants to get you started!
Pia Hydrangea
Dwarf form, great for borders along walkways and container plantings. Pink flowers all summer long.
Dappled Willow
Fast growing shrub, great for borders and mass plantings.  New growth is wonderful shade of salmon-pink.
Pink Microchip Butterfly Bush
Dwarf form, perfect for small gardens and container plantings.  Fragrant pink flowers all summer into the fall.  Attracts butterflies.
Hydrangea Invincibelle Spirit II
Medium sized growing shrub, with large pink flowers all summer.  Great for borders and mass plantings.
My Monet Weiglea
Dwarf selection form Proven Winners.  This plant is a real treat.  Pink flowers in spring set against variegated foliage.  New growth displays a wonderful shade of pink.  The pink returns to the leaves in cooler weather.  Great for borders of walkways and mass plantings.
Satomi Dogwood
Mediuum sized Korean dogwood.  Great pink flowers, late spring into summer.  Multicolored bark for winter interest.
Heritage River Birch
Large growing tree.  Multicolored, peeling bark which display shades of salmon-pink.  Available in clump form and single trunk.

Stacey Tip Logo6/2016 Stacey’s Tips: 4 Lined Plant Bug

Stacey Pope • Lawn & Garden Specialist

stacey tips art 1

Click the image for a printable Stacey’s Tips!

I saw it with my own eyes… the 4-Lined Plant Bug! This is the quick moving culprit that is attacking my Montauk Daisy right now.  I was working in the garden and a little too close for this bug’s comfort.  It immediately felt my presence and scattered fast!  This bug looks like it is built for speed.  The adults yellowish/green, sleek body is colorfully patterned with 4 black racing stripes.  The nymphs(young stage) tend to be more reddish/orange with black spots on their abdomen. If you have the chance, head out to your garden today and see if you can spot this speedy plant feeder.  Take a look at your herbs; especially mint, basil, lemon verbena and sage.  No sign of the plant bug there?  Head over to your flowers such as; nepeta, coreopsis, dahlias, morning glory, lupine, geranium, zinnia, and marigolds.  Still no sign? Walk to the woody plant section of your garden and investigate your azalea, dogwood, forsythia, honeysuckle, hydrangea, viburnum, caryopteris, and weigela.  Veggie gardeners, you may even want to look at your lettuce, squash, melons, and cucumbers. Frustrating!  This bug is not too fussy.

The best time to begin your 4-lined plant bug hunt is in May.  The adults lay their banana shaped eggs in right angles on the top stems of plants in the Fall.  The eggs overwinter and the nymphs begin hatching and feeding usually sometime in May.  They will not show themselves until all of the lush, green foliage on your plants has appeared.  They will wait patiently until your plants are looking their greenest before they attack.  For goodness sake, they need something pretty to feed on!

The nymphs with their reddish bodies and small black wing pads, hatch and immediately begin syphoning out the delicious green chlorophyll from the leaves.  It is kind of like they have their own juicing program.  They inject a toxin into the leaf that helps break it down and make it easier for them to digest.  Their mouths look like little needles or straws.  They pierce the top of the leaf surface and suck out the yummy, green juice.  This feeding action leaves your plants with round, uniform dots on the leaves.  The dots can be very close together.  They look kind of blackish/brown at first and may turn white to clear.  The dots may even fall out, leaving a whole in the leaf.  Usually, the diagnosis for a plant with round, brown dots on the leaf is a fungal leaf spot and often a fungicide is prescribed.  Be careful!  It may be our speedy culprit.  He is swift and likes to hide under the leaf or drop to the ground so you cannot see him, but the round, little dots he leaves behind are a sure sign that he has been there.

The best way to control this “true” bug is to start your spray treatments early on, probably sometime in May, when they first hatch.  In April, begin with Bonide’s All Season Horticultural Oil.  It will do a good job at suffocating the overwintering eggs of the 4-Lined Plant Bug before they hatch. Once those buggers have hatched, it is time to switch to a different product.  In the organic category, Bonide’s Japanese Beetle Killer and Safer’s Insecticidal Soap & End All will do the trick. For something that packs a little more punch, conventional products, such as; Bonide’s Eight & Bayer’s Rose & Flower Insect Killer will really knock them out.

There are other methods which require a little closer inspection but if you have the time and interest, may work for you.  In the Fall, you can inspect the top 2 inches of your garden plants for the banana shaped eggs of the 4-Lined Plant Bug.  They usually lay them in groups of 6 and at 90 degree angles.  The eggs are kind of easy to spot.  If you see them, you can remove them by hand or prune them off.  Sometimes, a Spring clean-up consisting of a 3 inch shearing off of plants can also do the trick.  I have also heard of planting mint as a “trap crop”.  They like it so much that it may be the only plant they attack, leaving your others alone.

The bottom line is, the 4-Lined Plant Bug does not usually kill your plants, especially large ornamental plants.  They can be more destructive on herbs and veggies and of course make your ornamental look not-so-pretty.  If you don’t mind brown spearmint leaves in your Mojito or spotted basil leaves in your tomato, basil, mozzarella salad, then you have nothing to worry about.  If you like entertaining your guests with more edible looking herbs, then an early timed spray or two may be the right answer for you!

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

Thanks a bunch…Stacey

Stacey Tip Logo6/2016 Stacey’s Tips: Think Pink! Rose Care

Stacey Pope • Lawn & Garden Specialist

stacey tips art 1

Click the image for a printable Stacey’s Tips!

Van Wilgen’s is all about the Pink this week.  Bill Van Wilgen is generously dedicated to helping people with cancer.  We have flocks of pink flamingoes up for adoption around the nursery.  You can adopt one and the $10 adoption fee goes to Smilow Cancer Hospital.  Last year Van Wilgen’s raised and donated close to $16,000 dollars for Smilow Cancer Hospital, thanks to all of you generous customers.  How awesome is that!  Something new this year… for every pink plant you purchase, Van Wilgen’s will donate a dollar to Smilow.  During Rose Rally and I know many of you bought some of our gorgeous pink roses.  Now it is time to take good care of those pink beauties!

Roses need a little TLC.  I know Van Wilgen’s gardeners are dedicated to giving their plants the very best care and we at Van Wilgen’s are here to help.  Let’s start at the very beginning, from the day you bring your new, thorny family member home from Van Wilgen’s.  Lisa and others work hard to keep our roses in tip top shape so they go happily from our garden to your garden.

TLC Tip #1:  Water!  Container roses here at Van Wilgen’s are watered every day.  You need to do the same, especially if you cannot plant your new rose right away.  Once roses are planted in the ground, you need to continue watering.  3X’s per week is a good rule of thumb.  Set your hose or soaker hose at the base of the rose at a slow trickle.  This will give your roses a deep root soaking.  Slow & steady wins the race in the case of watering.

TLC Tip #2:  Plant!  Plant your rose with Jump Start.  Jump Start is an excellent root stimulant.  Mixed with water and poured all over the root ball, the high phosphorus and B vitamins in Jump Start push root growth to help your rose establish itself more rapidly and reduce transplant shock.  Amend your soil with Van Wilgen’s Premium Planting Mix and we will warranty your rose for 1 year.

TLC Tip #3:  Fertilize!  Approximately one week after planting your new rose plant, follow up with Rose-Tone by Espoma. It provides your roses with an organic, slow release feed, they will gobble up.  Continue to feed your beautiful roses every month through September.

TLC Tip #4:  Mulch!  Mulch is marvelous for roses.  It helps hold in precious moisture that roses need and keeps weeds from stealing the roses nutrients but don’t put the mulch right up to the canes.  Give them a little breathing room.

TLC Tip #5:  Be Proactive!  Bayer All-in-One Rose & Flower Care is the perfect product to use if you want to get ahead of the game.  Apply this systemic product on the soil at the base of your roses once every month.  It protects your precious roses from diseases such as black spot & powdery mildew, insects such as Japanese beetles & Aphids, and it gives a little burst of fertilizer.  Customers love this product and your roses do too.

TLC Tip #6:  If you must be reactive…We have many great insect controls and fungicides to take care of common rose problems such as, Rose Sawfly & Black Spot.  We have great conventional products like, Bayer 3-in-1 Insect, Disease & Mite Control.  This will knock out Sawfly & Black Spot in one. Copper Fungicide &  End All will also be of great help for organic gardeners.

TLC Tip #6:  Clean Up!  Dead head spent blooms, remove dead canes down to the ground, trim off damaged canes, and remove sucker growth.  Keeping your roses cleaned up throughout the season, will keep them energized and healthy.

TLC Tip #7:  Prune!  The best time to prune roses is in the early spring.  Leave approximately 18 inches of canes when cutting back.  Cut about ¼ inch above the bud eye (reddish or brownish bump on a cane).

TLC Tip #8:  Love!  Talk to your roses.  Tell them how much you love them.  Thank them for all the beauty they provide you.  Give your rose a kiss.  “Oh, stop it!  Don’t think of me as weird.  I know you all do this when no one is looking!”

Come see us for Pink Week.  We would love to help and if you buy a pink flamingo or pink plant, you will be helping all the people battling bravely with cancer at Smilow Cancer Hospital.

Thanks a bunch…Stacey

6/2016 Yoder Hibiscus

Darlene Pastet • Greenhouse Manager

20160613_092318When spring time rolls around there’s nothing like the excitement we all feel here at Van Wilgens when our first tropical truck arrives from Florida.The tropical that gives us the most excitement by far is the Yoder Hibiscus rosa-sinensis {tradewind breeze series}.
The Yoder has quickly become the hibiscus of choice, not only by us, but also by many of you. You can tell a Yoder apart from other Hibiscus by the color of their leaves, and flowers. With large dark green glossy leafs and spectacular flowers that come in an array of vibrant colors, you can see why these hibiscus have quickly became our pick for the perfect full sun tropical plant. Not only are they heat tolerant, they also are ever blooming and will give you tons of blooms well into the fall season. The hard part will be picking a color…my favorite is the yellow with the orange center. We have 6 inch potted hibiscus,10 inch bush and new this year are the 10 inch braided trees
Just remember to water roughly every day during the summer months especially, and don’t forget to feed them. Use our Van Wilgens slow release pellets. A little bit around the base of the plant will feed it for approx. 3 months releasing a little food every time you water. They like acidic soil so don’t forget add our acid water soluble formula once a month.Remember, food is just as important to our plants as it is to you or I. We all perform better with food in our systems!
Kirsten from our Custom Container department has planted up some gorgeous pots using our Yoder hibiscus this year that are quite impressive. Some of you have decided to do containers just like or very similar to those. We know that those of you that have planted our favorite Yoder hibiscus will be back every year to fill your pots with some more of their gorgeous colors.
You will be HOOKED on them I promise!

6/2016 Pink Weeks is Back!

Ryan Van Wilgen

flamingo singleWe are preparing for our second Pink Week and just like last year we have Flamingo drama!  It seems these pink friends are difficult to nail down.  Last year we had them locked in from a vendor who discontinued selling them and never informed us.  This year we are told by our new supplier that they are holding our flock because of either a recall issue or an issue with customs.  I quickly got on the case and started tracking down a new flock of Flamingos.  To my knowledge there is no networking event to connect people who are in the flamingo trade but I do have some contacts in the lawn and garden industry that I was able to turn to.  Bottom line, tomorrow morning I am taking our box truck to the northern part of Massachusetts to pick up 10 pallets of flamingos.  I hope everyone is getting as excited as we are for this year’s Pink Weeks, we will a flurry of flamingos as well as a large collection of pink plants and with every pink plant you purchase, we will donate another $1 towards the flamingo trust at Smilow Cancer Hospital.  See you June 20th through 26th for our Pink Week!

 6/2016 Adding Movement to Your Garden with Ornamental Grasses 

Tommy Vorio • Perennials Manager

Per Grass WebAs we continue Perennial Gardening month, this is the perfect time to add some perennial ornamental grasses to your garden. Grasses are a versatile plant that is an easy way to add movement to the garden. They sway in the breeze and even add sound to the garden. They are also really easy to grow and maintain. They only require watering when they are originally planted, and once established, they do not require supplemental watering. The only maintenance required is to cut them back (around 12” from the ground) in late March or early April.
We carry a full selection of grasses with different heights and colors. There are smaller grasses that can be utilized as a border planting or mass ground cover planting. There are also larger grasses that could be used as screening or a backdrop in the landscape. We have grasses that are blue, green, green that turns red in the fall, and also variegated (combination of green and yellow). When you come to the garden center, our knowledgeable sales team can show you our expansive line of grasses and help you to choose the best grass for your particular need.


(Gypsy Moth control for 2016)

Stacey Pope • Lawn & Garden Specialist 

Click the image for a downloadable Stacey’s Tips.

stacey tips art 1Two weeks ago, we got out of our car after a fun, family dinner.  We were standing under the two, huge Oak trees in our yard.  I have always loved them.  They shade our home perfectly and our hammock is stretched comfortably between them.  “Shh”, my daughter said.  “Listen”.  I wondered what we were listening to.  The bullfrogs in the pond?  The peepers on the trees?  “What?  What do you hear?”, I asked.  My daughter scolded us to be really quiet.  “I hear it!  Rain”.  No, that was not it.  It was a perfectly clear night.  It sure sounded like rain but unfortunately it was not.  It was the sound of Gypsy Moth caterpillars chewing, chomping, and tearing at the leaves of our giant Oaks.  Little pieces of leaves fell to the ground and their feast sounded just like raindrops hitting the foliage.  Darn!

2015 proved to be a resurgence year for Gypsy Moths in many parts of Connecticut or possibly just at my house.  Ugh!  Gypsy Moths are always around us in low levels but I was hoping that they would not be as active for 2016.  2015 was really dry so I understand why the natural virus did not kick in and kill off the caterpillars, but I thought maybe because we had a little more rain this spring that we might be in better shape. WRONG.  I will be the first to admit that I was wrong but I wish I was not.  Gypsy Moths prefer to feed on trees such as; Oak, Aspen, Willow, Birch, and Apple.  However, if the population is high enough, they will feed on most any tree.  They even love blueberry bushes.  I personally have found them on my Hickory, Beech, Stewartia, Maple, and even the Heuchera below the trees.  They will attack some needled conifers and evergreens.  A sad customer sent me photos of an Azalea and Blue Spruce being devoured by this furry creatures.  Not good!

So, what do we do?  Do we let them continue their little tap dance on our tree’s foliage?  Nonsense.  There is always something we can do.  Isn’t there?  At this stage in the game, Gypsy Moth caterpillars are getting larger.  I spotted them on my tree trunk this morning.  Typically they will reach a length of 2&1/2 inches but the caterpillars on my Oak definitely reached 4 inches long.  My poor Oak trees.  I went into my garage and pulled out Bayer Rose & Flower Insect Killer.   As I moved over to Oak tree #2, I ran out of my spray.  Back into the garage.  This time, Bayer’s Vegetable & Garden Insect Spray or Bonide’s Eight will do the trick.  I have some wonderful, organic products in my garage that are also very effective but I was being impatient and could not find them right away.  Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew and Monterey’s BT are my two go-to organic products.  When I head home today, I will be putting Tanglefoot Tree Wrap and Tanglefoot Insect Barriers around my two big Oaks right away!

Here we are at the beginning of June and the Gypsy Moth caterpillar is happily feasting.  They should be winding down towards the end of June/beginning of July.  Let’s hope the natural fungus and virus kicks in and eliminates them before they get to complete their nasty feast.

Unfortunately, they will do a significant amount of damage until then unless we take action.

They will be pupating in a few weeks.  Let’s catch them before they go to this stage.  The only natural control Connecticut has for the pupal stage is the white footed mouse. This little mouse can only eat so many pupae!

Pull out The Gypsy Moth Trap by Safer to control the brown, male moths that make it through the pupa stage.  The trap is filled with a pheremone that the male Gypsy Moth adult loves.  They think they are going to find a female moth to mate with but instead they fall into the trap and can’t get out.  This will help cut down on the reproductive cycle.

After they pupate, out pops the white, flightless Gypsy Moth mama and the brown, Gypsy Moth papa.  They do not live long.  They don’t even eat.  Their sole purpose is to mate and make more babies.  The white, female moth will lay one sac of eggs on trunks of trees, branches, rocks, patio furniture, etc.  Each egg case holds anywhere from 100 to 1,000 eggs.  At this point, I will be heading back into my garage and pulling out Bonide’s Horticultural Oil.  The horticultural oil sprayed on the buff colored, hairy egg cases will suffocate the eggs so they will not be able to hatch in Spring of 2017.  If you miss the chance to spray the egg cases this Fall, there is always early, next Spring.  The Gypsy Moth overwinters as an egg.

Get prepared for Spring of 2017.  Stock your shed or garage with Bayer 12 Month Tree & Shrub Protect & Feed.  It is a systemic product, applied to the soil, at the base of the tree.  The tree will absorb it all the way up into the leaves.  When Gypsy Moth caterpillars hatch in the Spring and make their journey up the tree to eat, they will get a mouth full of product.  If your tree is very large, like my Oak, I would consider doing your treatment in Fall of 2016 or early Spring of 2017. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for a wetter Spring next year.  There is a fungus and a virus that naturally keep the population of Gypsy Moth’s low.  When the Spring is very dry, like last season, the fungus and virus are not as active, thus the Gypsy Moth explosion.

One night, go outside and stand under the largest tree on your property (preferably an Oak) and just listen.  If it sounds like rain but there is not a cloud in the night sky, look close, it may be the the very hungry caterpillar.

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

Thanks a bunch…Stacey

6/2016 Attracting Butterflies:  Three Great Perennial Picks

John Franke • Old Saybrook Garden Mart Manager

monarda webButterflies are creatures of habit.  Once they emerge from their cocoons, they immediately look for blooms to supply them with nectar.  All butterflies prefer sunny open spaces, like meadows and prairies.  Likewise, some of the most popular butterfly plants are meadow and prairie natives.
The most popular butterfly plant is Asclepias, the family of butterfly weeds and milkweeds.  Many different types of adult butterflies will feed from butterfly weed blooms even though gardeners plant it especially for Monarchs.  You see, the Monarch caterpillars that feed from the milky sap of milkweed do not get eaten by other creatures.  All species of Asclepias will host Monarchs, though the species A. tuberosa is one of their favorites and makes a great statement for the meadow bed and the dry perennial border.  Butterfly weeds are attractive, native perennials with compact green leaves and red to orange to yellow flowers. This year Van Wilgen’s has the cultivar A. ‘Hello Yellow’ with clear yellow flowers.
Another popular prairie native is the family of Echinaceas or the coneflowers. Coneflowers are great choices for the sunny perennial border.  Their flower petals are called ray florets and they radiate from the flower’s central cone. We call them daisies and we see pinks, yellows and reds;  butterflies see bullseyes, targets that help them zero in on the flower’s nectar-rich cones.  Dozens of butterflies are attracted to Echinaceas, like Skippers, Mourning Cloaks and Swallowtails. We like the ‘Pow Wow’  Echinacea series at Van Wilgen’s with their easy culture and long-blooming season and a customer fan-favorite is the many colored variety ‘Cheyenne Spirit.’
A third pick is the family of Monardas, collectively known as beebalms; some of the best perennials for pollinators.  Beebalm flowers attract many species of butterflies, as well as honey bees and hummingbirds.  Butterflies love Monardas for their colorful and sweetly scented flowers, but are not so attracted to their pungent foliage.  Gardeners love Monardas for their easy culture and long bloom season.  When choosing varieties, choose the darker colors, like the reds of ‘Marshall’s Delight’ or ‘Jacob Cline.’  Butterflies see these colors better. Beebalms will bloom over the course of the summer which covers many different generations of butterflies.
Butterflies are attracted to masses of flowers. Remember this when you make your selections.  Always look for long-blooming varieties and plants with prolific blooms.
Stop by our garden center and garden marts for these picks and even more great plants to add to your butterfly haven.  We’re here to help, both you and the butterflies.

6/2016 Keeping it fresh with Van Wilgen grown perennials! 

Tommy Vorio • Perennials Manager

poRight now is a perfect time of year to plant perennials in your garden. Trees and shrubs are the backbone of the garden and by this time of the year, the majority of them have leafed out. Perennials are a perfect choice to fill in holes and also add complimentary colors to your garden. Perennials come back year after year and also help the garden to come to life because as the seasons changes so do the perennials.

Here at Van Wilgen’s, we pride ourselves on keeping things fresh. Our summer crop has been planted and is ready to go. Everything looks great and would be a great perennial performer in your garden. We encourage customers to take pictures and bring them into the garden center, so a member of our sales team could help you pick out the best perennial to fit your needs.

6/2016 American Beauties

Jason Scire • Nursery Manager

FullSizeRender-2American Beauties is a native plant program that makes it easy for you to choose the right native plants to attract pollinators, songbirds and hummingbirds!  The month of June is Pollinator month at Van Wilgen’s here are a few tips to get you on your way to creating your own native garden full of the three “B’s”…Butterflies, Birds and Bees!


  • Pick a sunny site. Insects need to warm up their bodies to be able to fly well. They like to perch on warm rocks in the sun.


  • Plant groups of the same plants so pollinators have an easier time spotting the flowers from a distance.


  • Pick a sunny site. Insects need to warm up their bodies to be able to fly well. They like to perch on warm rocks in the sun.


  • Plant natives that bloom at different times of the year so there is a steady supply of nectar and pollen.


  • Provide sites and materials for nesting and overwintering. Create piles of sticks and leaves for wildlife to take cover in. Evergreen trees and shrubs provide shelter from the elements year-round. You can even build nesting boxes for bees and bats.


  • Provide food sources, also called host plants for caterpillars to eat. Although adult pollinators generally thrive on flower nectar and/or pollen, during the larval stages they need leaves to eat.


  • Provide water, birdbaths are great. A shallow dish filled with marbles and water give bees and butterflies a place to land safely for a drink.


Don’t forget to visit our American Beauties display for more ideas and information.



Stacey Pope • Lawn & Garden Specialist 

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Click the image for a downloadable Stacey’s Tips.

John Franke, our Old Saybrook Nursery Manager, wrote eloquently about some of the best plants to attract the caterpillar and the adult stages of butterflies in one of our previous Van Wilgen’s News Letters.  This week John will be talking about the best perennials to draw butterflies in. Plants and sunshine are key to creating a butterfly haven, but there are a few other simple things you can do and accoutrements you can add to ensure they come to visit your backyard butterfly haven every year.

SUN:  When a beautiful butterfly emerges from their cocoon, they are cold.  They need the sun to warm them up, pump blood into their veins, and fly.  Limb up branches of overhanging trees and prune back shrubs to let the light shine into your butterfly haven.

BASKING:  Butterflies love to bask in the sun.  Provide them with a big, flat rock to sunbathe on.  Put it right in your butterfly garden.  Bring a cup of coffee outside and look to see butterflies basking in the cooler hours of the morning.

BUTTERFLY HOUSE:  A butterfly house or hibernation box is a wonderful garden accessory for your butterfly haven.  Place it in a lightly shaded area, several feet above the ground.  Butterflies will seek refuge in the narrow openings of the house where predators cannot enter.  Butterflies like to get away from the wind and rain.  A butterfly house provides perfect protection.  Place your butterfly house near nectar and pollen plants.

PUDDLING: Male butterflies love to hang out at the water cooler and discuss all the problems they are having with their female counterparts.  The only difference is their water cooler is usually a mud puddle.  They love mud puddles on a sunny day, after a nice rain fall.  They drink the salt and minerals from the soil.  Salt and minerals that they later pass to the women as their gift during mating.  Salts and minerals greatly improve the health of a butterfly egg, ensuring generations to come.  Van Wilgen’s has beautiful Butterfly Puddlers or you can make your own at home.  Add sand and water to the puddler or a saucer.  You may even add a pinch of salt.  This will draw in the males and they will pull nutrients from the puddler making future babies stronger.

BUTTERFLY FEEDER:  Butterflies are pollinators that only drink liquids.  They love nectar.  Place a Butterfly Feeder in your butterfly garden and butterflies will gravitate to the yellow and red feeders filled with delicious nectar.  We carry the feeder and nectar in the store.

Of course the plants in your butterfly garden are the most important accessory but there are so many other accoutrements that will truly enhance your butterfly haven and your enjoyment.  The little extras can really attract more butterflies and give you many more opportunities for butterfly watching and picture taking.

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

Thanks a bunch…Stacey

5/2016 Impatiens. Do you have Impatiens?

Darlene Pastet • Greenhouse Manager

FullSizeRender-2By far this has been the most asked question in our greenhouse over the past few weeks. The easy answer to this questions would be no, we do not.
Van Wilgen’s has decided it is best not to sell Impatien Walleriana at this time do to a fungus like pathogen called Downy Mildew that was first discovered in Europe back in 2002 an has slowly made its way across the Atlantic ocean to Florida, and then up the coast to Connecticut during the summer of 2012.We feel it is irresponsible of us to sell you a plant that we know will cause you to have an unpleasant gardening experience.
Instead let us tell you about a few of our favorite substitute plants.
I know for most of you the impatiens worked great in your shaded areas. Plants you should be considering now for those areas are: Coleus Torenia, Lobelia, Fuchsias, Begonias, Browalia, and Bounce and  New Guinea Impatiens. Playing around with any of these either by themselves or in conjunction with each other can add lots of color and texture to your gardening designs. If you are unsure how to make it all work we are always here to help you. I personally love showing customers how to play with a bunch of different coleus colors. Just coleus and a sweet potato vine can look amazing.
So come on in and let us help you explore something new.
I know we have all grown so comfortable with our old standby impatiens. They say things happen for a reason. Maybe that reason is for all of us to open our mind to try other flower combinations. Trying something new can be very rewarding. Who knows you might find something you enjoy better.

5/2016 Chick Charms have Arrived!

Tommy Vorio • Perennials Manager

IMG_1330Chick Charms are a collection of ‘Hens and Chicks’ (Sempervivum) that is a hardy perennial that is deer and drought resistant that grow extremely well in full sun or part shade. This collection comes in a wide array of vibrant colors and styles. They are the perfect choice for rock gardens, alpine gardens, trough gardens, and patio centerpieces. They are sold individually and are also available in pre-planted vase containers. Chick Charms are an excellent choice for the beginner gardener. They easily grow new shoots (baby chicks) that will fill out over time.
We invite you and your family to come out to the garden center to see our farm of Chick Charms so that you can start your own little flock of Chick Charms at home.

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5/2016 Aphids, the new super villain ?!

Stacey Pope • Lawn and Garden Specialist

                                                  Click the image for a printable Stacey’s Tips!
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Are aphids the new super villain?  They have some astounding traits that could qualify them as the super villains or superheroes (depends on your perspective) of the insect world.  I guess humans would place them in the super villain category because of all the destruction they cause to our indoor and outdoor plants.

Aphid eggs can overwinter even in harsh climates.  In the spring, the female aphid is basically born pregnant.  Talk about reproductive ability!  One female aphid can have 12 babies a day without any help from her male counterpart.  Maybe the female is the superhero!  Aphids have many overlapping generations in one season and these villains love to spend time together.  If you go out in the garden now, you may see these villainous clusters everywhere.  In my own garden, I have spied them lurking on my sedum, mock orange, spirea, sand cherry, viburnum, honeysuckle, roses and so many more.  In my house, they have enjoyed sucking on the buds of my overwintered hibiscus.  Shame on them, preying on the new, innocent, tender, spring growth of our sweet plants.  Aphids love all the tender shoots and they love to eat together in a big, aphid feast.  Another incredible, super villain trait that aphids possess is the ability to sprout wings as needed.  Aphids do not normally have wings but will grow them if the feeding spot they are at becomes too crowded and food becomes scarce.  They will sprout wings to find more food.  Pretty amazing.

Not only can they reproduce without a mate, have 12 babies a day, sprout wings when needed, but they also come in an assortment of colors…green, black, brown, orange, yellow, gray, white, pink, and colorless.  Aphids tend to match the plant they eat, providing them with much needed camouflage from hungry predators. Pretty cool!

Aphids are not impervious super villains.  They have their weak spots too.  They are very soft bodied insects so many insects and insect controls can kill them easily.  They are also very slow.  This makes them easy targets.  The most natural controls for aphids are water, Lady Bugs, and Lace Wings.  We sell beneficial Lady Bugs and Lace Wings right in the store.  Come down to Van Wilgen’s and adopt some.  One Lady Bug can eat up to 100 aphids per day.  What great garden helpers.  Knocking the aphids off the plant with water does not eliminate them but it suppresses their immediate damage.  Some Organic products that work very well on Aphids are Neem Oil, Horticultural Oil, and Insecticidal Soap.  They are easy to use and easy on the environment.

Aphid damage is criminal.  Aphids cause plants to twist, curl, stunt, and turn yellow.  These little offenders can also spread viruses to our plants with each suck they take out of a leaf or stem.  If the problem is severe, be proactive and use a systemic product like Bayer All-in-One Rose & Flower Care.  Applied to the soil, it gets absorbed through the plant and as soon as Aphids go to eat, they ingest the product into their system and meet their demise.  This product along with Bayer Dual Action Rose & Flower Insect Killer is kryptonite to Aphids.

The bottom line is that your plants will most likely survive the destruction from these super villains but let’s thwart their unwanted behavior by keeping our plants strong with a slow release fertilizer such as, Van Wilgen’s All Purpose Slow Release Plant Food.  Using high Nitrogen, quick release fertilizers are not the best choice when Aphids are in abundance.  It is also important to keep these unwanted corrupts under control with the recommended pest control products.

Have no fear, the super hero, VanWilgen’s Garden Center is here!  We can help you solve all your pest control problems and we don’t even need to wear a cape to do it!

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

Thanks a bunch…Stacey

5/2016 Beautiful Roses

Lisa Controy • Roses 

america climbingVan Wilgen’s Rose Department is filled with beautiful roses for every type of gardener. From the expert to the novice, there is one of these beautiful bloomers for every type of situation. Climbers for wall trellis and arbors. Roses for containers such as miniatures and Drift are used in combination with colorful annuals and perennials. Hybrid and tea roses for cutting and fragrance. Floribundas, grandifloras and shrub roses for beds and borders. David Austin’s English roses for climbing, tall shrub roses and perennials gardens, I love to place these in a black wrought iron obelisks in the garden. Don’t forget those invincable Knock-out & Drift roses for long blooming and easy care.
David Austin’s ‘Wollerton Old Hall’ one of the most fragrant of all the English Roses, having a classic myrrh scent with a hint of citrus. Soft apricot blooms turning to a pale creamy color. Almost thornless from a healthy base for climbing. So easy to train, nice repeats. Pair it up with Lady of Shalott striking apricot -yellow chalice -shaped blooms Oh! so beautiful.
If your looking for a climber ‘Eden Climber’ is a large, old fashioned, fully doubled  4 1/2 ” blooms 100 petal count. Blooms are an unusual blend of pastel pinks, creams and yellows. Vigorous, bushy, well foliaged disease -resistant. A repeat blooming climber idea for a small or large gardens. Train on fences, trellis, wall and gazebo.
Landscape shrub roses, The Peppermint Pot Rose is a perky tow -toned gem of a rose. Re-blooms nicely from spring to mid fall, white petals edged in deep pink makes them stand out in full force. It maintains a veryuniform tidy habit and is extremely disease resistant.
Come see me at Van Wilgen’s, I’d love to help you with all your rose questions from designing with roses, mixed containers with roses, even a cutting garden with our beautiful hybrid-tea’s !
Happy Gardening, Lisa

Stacey Tip Logo5/2016 Have No Fear Tick Control is Here

Stacey Pope • Lawn & Garden Specialist •

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Click the image for a printable Stacey’s Tips!

In Connecticut, Ticks are no joke.  By now, most of you know I love “bugs”, however, there are a few on my I Don’t Care For At All list.  The number one insect on my I Don’t Care For At All list is the Tick.  The Tick is technically an arachnid not a bug.  No matter, it is the Black Legged Deer Tick that is the trouble maker.  Too many of us have had Lyme Disease or know someone who has been afflicted.  My goal is to tell you how you can reduce and even eliminate these pests in your yard.

Don’t mess around with Ticks.  Make Tick control a regular part of your spring yard work.  Ticks begin hatching in the cool, spring weather.  When they are young nymphs, they are tiny and hard to spot but they still carry Lyme Disease.  Ticks do not love the heat so they hang out in tall grasses, weeds, woods, garden beds, and any overgrown or un-manicured part of the yard.  Keep this in mind, because this fact is important when it comes to proper tick control.

Van Wilgen’s has many effective tick control products, conventional & organic, eliminators & repellents.  Whether you choose to go organic or treat using the conventional method, the applications are the same.

Some great products for conventional Tick control are:

•Bonide’s Insect & Grub Control Granules

•Sevin Lawn Insect Granules

•Bayer Advanced Complete Insect Killer (hose-end)

•Damminix Tick Tubes

Some great products for organic tick control are:

•Eco Smart Organic Insect Killer Granules

•EcoSmart Organic Mosquito & Tick Control (hose-end)

The best type of application consists of a perimeter control treatment, where the manicured part of your yard meets the un-manicured part.  I recommend applying granules for long term control and spray with a hose-end liquid product for immediate knock down.  The organic products help to reduce tick populations but do not provide as quick of a kill and work more as repellents.  It is also important to treat in garden beds where ticks hide under flowers & shrubs.  Wood piles, decks and under garden sheds are also hot spots for ticks to hang out.  Be sure to treat these areas.  If you want to be very thorough, product application can be made over the entire lawn area but your most effective control will be focused along the perimeter of your property.

To enhance your perimeter tick control program, consider control over woodland creatures that carry ticks.  Deer & the White Footed Mouse are big carriers of Deer Ticks.  Using deer repellents will greatly reduce your deer population and in turn, reduce Tick populations in your yard.  The mouse is harder to repel but using Damminix Tick Tubes will really help to reduce the Deer Tick populations in their nests.  It is pretty cool.  Mice steel the treated cotton balls inside of the tick tubes, bring the cotton balls back to their nest, and the ticks are killed by the product on the cotton balls.  Controlling Deer Tick populations in the nests of the White Footed Mouse is an extremely clever and important part of your tick control program.

Ticks are no laughing matter.  It is easy to take Tick control into your own hands with the very easy-to-use products we offer at Van Wilgen’s.

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

Thanks a bunch…Stacey

5/2016 In Seach of the Perfect Shrub

Will O’Hara • Landscape Designer •

Spring has finally sprung in the landscape, and with it, many of the same questions pour into the design office at Van Wilgen’s. Everyone, everywhere, at all times is searching for the Holy Grail of shrubs to put in their landscape. It has to be (in no particular order): deer resistant, shade, cold, drought and sun tolerant, everblooming, and perhaps most importantly, low maintenance. This, of course, is quite the list of requirements, and in my earliest years working here at Van Wilgen’s, a seemingly impossible list to fulfill. Yet every year, we get new, exciting plants with incredible genetics thru the doors that come closer and closer, and they all have one thing in common: the breeder responsible for their production. To our more experienced gardeners reading this, you can most likely already guess that I’m talking about Color Choice shrubs from Proven Winners. And to many older gardeners, these statements are, simply put, ludicrous. But I can personally vouch for these shrubs and trees, and I can do it for one very good reason: I’ve been through their operation, and seen it all firsthand.
20140924_115315In the Fall of 2014, I was honored to be asked to accompany Bill and Ryan Van Wilgen to a conference in Central Michigan, where garden centers and plant retailers from around the country gather to exchange sales trends, new ideas, and ways to grow and evolve as both plantsmen and retailers. As a part of this trip, we were going to tour several local garden centers, as well as one place that had my eyes wide the second I was told about it: Dale’s demo gardens in rural Michigan, where Spring Meadow, the breeder and trial tester for Proven Winners Shrubs, plants the final candidates for induction into the Color Choice family and monitors them for things such as bud hardiness, growth habit, reblooming, and durability. From this garden, only the absolute best performers are allowed to live on and become stock plants with their own names and tags, providing material for cutting and sticking plugs that will eventually become the plants that you see at Van Wilgen’s today. The plants in that garden were simply stunning: long hedges of Pinky Winky and Quick Fire Hydrangea, meandering beds of long blooming Deutzia with incredible new flowers and foliage color, Viburnum and Caryopteris with foliage and blooms fuller and more vibrant than I had ever seen in any landscape and so much more. And yet, most of these plants were most likely doomed to the dustbin of history, because they didn’t check the boxes that Spring Meadow requires to put their name on the pot; those very same requirements that all of us have for plants in our landscape: deer resistant, shade, cold, drought and sun tolerant, everblooming, and perhaps most importantly, low maintenance. I learned something important that day: no one wants you to have the perfect shrub more than Proven Winners. I wish I could attach every picture I have of Dale’s Garden to this post, but this email would never download for you, so please, come on down to the design center at Van Wilgen’s and see me. I still have every one saved to my phone.

5/2016 Van Wilgen Grown Proven Winners

Ryan Van Wilgen

Van Wilgen Grown Proven Winners, it doesn’t get any better than that.  This week we are highlighting some Proven Winner plants that everyone needs topw 1 know about.  Our grower Billy spends months and months methodically and meticulously choosing what he is going to grow each and every year.  Proven Winners plants go through a rigorous trialing and testing period before they are released to ensure you the most success possible.  We then take it a step further, every year we get a notification telling us a package from Proven Winners is on the way.  Usually all of our baby plants arrive on a truck so we know we are receiving our box of samples for next year’s new releases.  We get all excited and greet the UPS driver at the door.  We oh and ah over these tiny top secret plants for a while and then we pot them up and grow them in our greenhouse.  Throughout the summer we punish these new releases putting them through everything we can throw at them and the plants that keep looking good we consider adding to our lineup.  Call it a Van Wilgen’s Proven Winner perhaps.  There are a few Proven Winners in the greenhouse that you just have to know about.  First on the list is the PW Supertunias, they spread like a Wave Petunia but with more flower power and a much better color range.  BY far my favorites are Bubblegum, Raspberry Blast and Bordeaux! Bubblegum is a fantastic performer that spreads 4+ feet wide and is full of blooms, we planted a long line of Bubblegum along the road as you approach our driveway, we are very excited for the show it will put on all summer.  Another favorite is Diamond Frost Euphorbia, we love adding this plant to containers.  Diamond Frost grows in-between all you other plants and adds a cloud of white taking your container from ordinary to elegant.  A couple of new PW’s you should take a look at is the Sedum Lemon Coral, this annual sedum looks like a neon bright yellow carpet.  There are 2 new Superbells you need to see, Holy Moly and Evening Star.  These are unlike any other Million Bell we have seen.  Try these out for sure.  Hope to see you soon, see you at the Proven Winners displays in the greenhouse.

5/2016 Proven Winner Perennial Sampling and Trials 

Tommy Vorio • Perennial Manager •

pwtrialsLast summer, Ryan, Billy P, and I had the opportunity to travel to Columbus Ohio to attend a trade show called Cultivate. This was a great opportunity to meet with plant breeders to talk about new varieties of plants that will be introduced to the market. This has allowed us the opportunity to continue to develop our ongoing partnership with the Proven Winners company.

Currently, we trial annuals every year and this year we are going to start trialing perennial material as well. Proven Winner’s has sent us some trial material, which we will be growing in our greenhouses before planting them out in a trial garden. This is going to be a great opportunity to see how plants fill, compete with similar plants, and overwinter in our New England climate. Some of these new coming soon plants will be on display for PW days, May 16th – May 22nd. We will also have catalogues for current perennial varieties in addition to the new releases for 2017. We encourage you to inquire with us about how these new trials are progressing at the garden center.

5/2016 Tropical Paradise

Darlene Pastet• Greenhouse Manager•

yoderI think everyone at some point in their life has wished for their own Tropical Paradise. Well over the last week my wish was granted. We have transformed the outside area at the back of our greenhouse into a Tropical Oasis. Every morning while I’m opening the greenhouse and getting ready for the day, I look around and just love the Tropical feel and aroma.
The Gardenias are a customer favorite. With large white blooms with a fragrance like no other flower you can understand why. Keeping the Gardenias company back there in Paradise are Hibiscus of every color and size, from tree styles both braided and straight stems to large and small bush styles.
Mandevilla’s have a nice new comfy home there too. This year’s crop is looking really good, colors to pick from are white, pink, red and stars and stripes which has red and white in the same flower petals.  If you are looking for a bright colored fast growing annual vine make sure you come in early before they are all gone. These are for sure one of our summer favorite’s.
Looking for an annual climbing plant to use on your patio to block out the neighbor’s then the Jasmine is the plant for you. Not only does it provide a screen for you, but the fragrance is awesome, almost as good as the Gardenia.
And what would a Tropical paradise be without your favorite Palm Tree. Right? Well we have a few to pick from with more on the way. The three favorites are the Robellini Palm, Majesty Palm and the Areca palm.
With just a few of these gorgeous plants you too can turn your home into your own Tropical Paradise. Come  in and visit our new tropical area, sit back in a bench reserved for you to enjoy , dream and plan your own special oasis.
I am lucky to live my Paradise every day I come to work.

5/2016 Window Sill Herb Collection

Ryan Van Wilgen


It all started last July, Billy our grower, Tommy our perennial manager and I were in Ohio at a trade show. This trade show is like the Comicon or the Sema Show for plants; it takes days to walk the show front to back.  We were walking watch isle intently and we discovered this brand new cover pot system.  We knew we wanted to switch pots so we came home and started doing our due diligence.  How many trays fit on a table?  How many trays fit on a shipping rack?  Once we sorted all these numbers out we decided to go for it.  We even had the supplier make a new custom tray for us.  If you read Cecile’s article a couple of weeks ago you will know a little but about our new Self Watering Cover Pot.  Two of the styles of these covers pots are specifically for herb so we are selling these with herbs right in the cover pot ready to go.  We are calling this our Window Sill Herb collection. This inexpensive decorative cover pot is self-watering, included is a pipe cleaner in the bottom of the pot that wicks up water and all you have to do is watch the sight window on the side of the cover pot to see when to add water.  I took 2 of these window sill herbs home back in early April, I put them on them in my bright sunny window next to the sink and we have been enjoying fresh herbs despite this crazy weather for over a month.  We think this is a neat little gift item too, bring a Van Wilgen’s Window Sill Herb to your next dinner party.  Herbs cannot get any fresher than that!

5/2016 When will my Hydrangea and Butterfly Bush wake up?

Jason Scire • Nursery Manager •

butterfly2One of the most asked questions in the nursery yard in recent days is, “When will my hydrangea and butterfly bush wake up? Did they overwinter okay?” The answer to that question is not as straightforward as I would like it to be. The biggest factor this spring has been our unusually cold temperatures, especially at night. Due to our unusually cold weather, plants are still clinging to their winter dormancy. Once Mother Nature warms up, you will start to see signs of life.
So what can I do in the meantime? Let’s start with butterfly bush.  Prune back your plants to anywhere from 6-18″ high. Feed them with Plant-tone, following the directions on the back of the bag.  Plant-tone is a slow release fertilizer that will feed overtime and not interfere with dormancy.
Now it’s time for hydrangeas.  The most important item to remember is to resist the temptation to prune your hydrangeas all the way to the ground.  Most varieties of hydrangea bloom on old wood, so if you remove the old growth it will affect the flowering for the season.  Right now, you should start to see green foliage breaking form the center of the plant, with large portions of the branching of the plant still looking dormant. Now is also the time to feed your hydrangea. We recommend Holly-tone, a slow release fertilizer for acid loving plants, now.  Once your plants start blooming you may apply Color-Me Blue or Color-Me Pink to ensure they are the perfect color for your garden all summer long.

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5/2016 LITTLE PLASTIC BAGGIES, Pachysandra problems!

Stacey Pope • Lawn and Garden Specialist •

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*click the image for a printable guide

Every year at Van Wilgen’s customers bring me plant samples in little, plastic baggies.  When I see those plastic baggies, I run and hide in the back room.  I’m just teasing.  I am always curious to see what is lurking inside.  Many of those baggies contain some kind of insect, weed, or disease.  How come nobody brings me chocolate chip cookies or bouquets of flowers?! Teasing again.

This year, most of the baggies contain very unhappy pachysandra samples.  What happened to our poor pachysandra over the winter?  The winter seemed mild enough but our pachysandra is coming out of it looking pale, thin, and spotty.  What is going on?  There are a few culprits that could be adversely affecting your poor pachysandra.


*Yellowing, especially if in the full sun

*Brown scorching on the edges of the leaves, making them appear papery & torn

*Lack of vigor


*Dark brown & light tan concentric rings on the leaves with a dark brown margin

*Entire leaf may turn brown

*Brown cankers can develop on the stems as the disease progresses

*Leaf loss

*Laying down of plants

*Thinning of plants

*Dying off in circular patterns


*Oblong, white or brown flecks on the stems

*Mottled yellowish & green top leaves

*Loss of leaves if scale is severe

*Plant die off

*CURE:  Use Bonide’s Horticultural Oil Spray in the spring, summer & fall.  This will help suffocate any scale insects on your pachysandra.  Combine with Bayer All-in-One Rose & Flower Care by Bayer every 6 weeks throughout growing season.


*Chlorotic/pale leaves

*Stippled/dotted leaves

*Very light cobwebbing on undersides of leaves

*Leaf loss is spider mites are severe

*CURE:  Use Bonide’s Horticultural Oil Spray on an as need basis at 1 week intervals between sprays.

There are many reasons your pachysandra may not be looking so hot this season but let’s focus on VOLUTELLA BLIGHT.  This has been a very troublesome disease this spring for our poor pachysandra beds.  Many customers have brought in baggies full of sad pachysandra infected with the Volutella fungus.  There are some definite things you can do to improve the health and look of your pachysandra.


*Rake out all leaf and plant debris that has built up in your pachysandra beds.  Improving air circulation & reducing moisture is key to reducing disease activity.

*If you would like to replant in that area, remove all pachysandra manually or apply Glyphosate to kill plants down to the root system.

*If replanting in the pachysandra bed, choose a different plant that is not vulnerable to Volutella Blight.

*If you would like to revitalize affected pachysandra, cut all pachysandra down to 1 inch tall.

*Fertilize pachysandra with Holly-Tone using 15 cups per 10’ X 10’ area.

*Water in the Holly-Tone.

*Apply Daconil Fungicide beginning at spring bud break.  You will need 3 applications at 10 day intervals.

*The organic fungicide of choice is Serenade.  Apply 3 X’s, beginning at spring bud break, at 1 week intervals.

*Keep pachysandra beds cleaned out of leaf debris always.

*When watering pachysandra, avoid overhead irrigation.  Soaker hoses work best.

*Keep your fingers crossed and talk sweetly to your pachysandra to encourage growth.

***One extra trick to improve ailing pachysandra is Iron-Tone.  Iron adds a quick green up, helping to restore pachysandra’s beauty.***

This is a very puzzling pachysandra problem (say that 10 X’s fast) we are having this year.  There are steps you can take to greatly improve the health of this struggling ground cover.  Keep bringing your little baggies of goodies to me and we will do our best to find a solution to the problem lurking inside.

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

Thanks a bunch…Stacey

5/2016 Three Great Annuals to Attract Hummingbirds.

John Franke •

hummingbirdForget the thermometer, you know when the warm weather’s coming when you see the return of the hummingbirds!  They’ve been spotted already in Connecticut gardens!

Hummingbirds are incredibly smart, little birds.  To attract these little birds, here are a few ideas and a few suggestions. These birds are capable of navigating great distances and are clever enough to
return to  their previous summer’s feeding grounds.  Their diet is  basically nectar and small insects, with flower nectar their preference. Hummingbird feeders are great for photo ops but not a true substitute
for nectar-rich flowers.  Planting a yard full of their favorite nectar-rich plants is the best way to get started.  Below are three great annual picks that hummingbirds love.

Salvia guarnanitica ‘Black and Blue’ is a fabulous summer performer for full sun and an excellent hummingbird magnet.  2 to 3′ tall spires of rich, cobalt blue flowers begin in May and continue until October.  This salvia dispels the myth that hummingbirds only frequent red flowers.  Yes these little birds are attracted to reds, but forage from countless other colors too.

Cuphea ‘Vermillionaire’ or the “cigar” or “firecracker” plant is another great choice.  Orange, tubular flowers (the cigars) cover the bushy plants starting in summer and continue until frost. Cigar plants have hundreds of flowers and are nectar rich. More flowers means more visits. This annual can be used as a bedding plant or in containers.  Also expect to see Cupheas attracting to butterflies.

Fuchsias, in their many different forms, are a great addition to the garden and great hummingbird magnets!  Hanging baskets filled with Fuchsias are perfect for shady gardens and upright Fuchsias work great in window-boxes.  Hummingbirds love the pendant flowers and bird lovers love the eye level show right outside their windows.  Fuchsias also show that hummingbirds frequent more than just tube-shaped flowers.

All three of these annual picks are easy to grow.  Of course hummingbirds love many other picks!  Visit us in our greenhouses and we can share even more great selections with you.

5/2016 Support a Great Cause and Celebrate Mom

Ryan Van Wilgen

flamingo singleWe have a flock of over achieving flamingos that landed at Van Wilgen’s this week.  In celebration of an early Mother’s Day, we would like to let everyone know that we have a huge batch of Flamingos available for sale.    We will still have our Pink Weeks in June 20th-26th but since this flock landed early, why not show support for Mom and support a great cause.  Even Major League Baseball gets into Mother’s say with pink apparel and equipment!  We all know someone affected by cancer, and if you know the story of Bill Van Wilgen, you know he has been affected twice.  Once with male breast cancer and once with Leukemia.  In Bill fashion, he puts a positive spin on his experience and says “I got to meet so many nice people along the way”.
Come in and purchase a flamingo for $10 and the entire $10 will be donated to Smilow Cancer Hospital.  We had a lot of fun last year and we are expecting to have even more this year. Come in and check out our flock of over achieving flamingos.

5/2016 PotliteVan Wilgen’s lightweight  pottery

Kirsten Famiglietti •

Pot light multiplesFinally, Christmas is here! Just kidding, but it definitely feels like Christmas for us in the greenhouse! As of this week, we’ve received an almost overwhelming amount of tropicals, indoor plants, citrus trees, and even Jerry’s Brown Turkey Fig trees. If you’ve walked through the greenhouse recently, you’ve probably noticed us gathered all together to ogle over the most gorgeous crop of citrus we’ve received in what must be years, or some of the coolest staghorn ferns I’ve ever seen! It’s an absolute paradise for plant nerds like us, I’d compare it to Christmas morning as a little kid. Arriving just in time for Garden Party, not only do we have the plants to accent your home and gardens, but we’ve also got the pots!  Van Wilgen’s now has a  full line of light weight pottery  that is officially here, unpacked, and on display! The selection we have is unbelievable, when Ryan said he ordered a boat load, he really meant it. I think the best part is how each style comes in many different sizes and even a few colors, meaning you can have a nice set of coordinated container mixes for your porch, patio, business, even inside for your indoor plants! If you don’t believe me when I say getting these pots in was literally like Christmas morning, come visit me in the greenhouse and pick my brain for a little inspiration… I’ve been itching to plant in these pots all year! Stop by and take advantage of the pottery sale, and don’t forget to visit the potting bench for some tips or a little added inspiration for your container gardens!

5/2016 Decorative, self watering cover pots.

Cecile Bardinelli •

New this year and just in time for Mothers day we now have simple but beautiful self watering cover pots.  Just pop a 4 inch plant into these Whats new aprilcute little containers and you have an instant gift, perfect for any occasion.  There are many styles available to choose from including one that is just right for Mom’s upcoming day!
      Our self watering pots are simple to use and take the guess work out of watering.  Once you have chosen the perfect plant and selected your favorite container, follow these three simple steps to worry free watering.  First, insert the pipe cleaner supplied with the decorative cover about an inch or two into one of the drainage holes in the bottom of your selected plant.  Leave the rest of the pipe cleaner dangling from the bottom.  Second, you will notice a clear level gauge along the side of the cover pot.  Add water to the empty container only to the top of this gauge.  The pipe cleaner will act as a wick and draw moisture up from the decorative container and into the plants root system.  For your third and final step, drop the four inch pot with the pipe cleaner into the cover pot making sure the pipe cleaner is sitting in the water.  It’s that easy!
      You can find these self watering containers at our main store in North Branford or at any of our Garden Marts.  Delightful, yet inexpensive these cover pots put the finishing touch on the perfect gift.

4/2016 What’s in a Name:  Sweet Peet!

John Franke •

For the most part, I am a plants person.  Peonies, Poppies and Oxalis are exciting stuff!  Fertilizers and mulch, not so much; but there are always exceptions to every rule.  I actually have a favorite mulch and it’s called Sweet Peet.
In my younger days, I was an estate gardener on Fishers Island, NY, where Sweet Peet was the mulch of the rich and famous.  I liked Sweet Peet because it was easy to lay down and gave everything a “Chelsea Flower Show-like” appearance. The estate on Fishers Island was a very extensive and a very ambitious property.  I confess I overplanted every bed and border and all of the soil was a mix of clay and sand.  I had my work cut out for me as the soil didn’t really yield serious results.  Fast forward four years, the shrubs and perennials were thriving!  I found myself dividing daylilies that were growing in six to seven inches of rich soil!  A dark loam populated with earthworms!  That soil wasn’t there before, was it.  Actually it was, the Sweet Peet made the difference bringing more than just mulch and color to the beds; it brought beneficials to the soil and added humus and nutrients. Now I loved Sweet Peet!
All the while Sweet Peet appears to be just a yearly mulching, when it really is the greatest soil amendment that you can add just like mulch.  In fact, Sweet Peet is a “secret blend” of aged bark, compost, peat and bio-char, balanced to the right pH with lime.  Fast forward to the present, my own personal estate is 20 by 28 feet and modest with lousy glacial till for soil, with not an earthworm in sight.  Three years later, my peonies now have dozens of blooms instead of three. I even now have earthworms.  At Van Wilgen’s, we offer Sweet Peet in bags as well by the yard.  Sweet Peet will also work just the same for you, whether you are famous or not. Yes, Sweet Peet is a premium mulch, realize you will get benefits beyond just sweet-looking, well-dressed beds.

4/2016 Grow Your Own Grove

Darlene Pastet •

You can tell spring is here when our courtyard becomes overflowed with citrus at the end of April each and every year.Every corner of the limecourtyard is filled with gorgeous myer lemons, mexican limes and bearss limes.It’s great when we arrive each morning to open the greenhouse to the delicious smell of the citrus flowers filling the air.Most of you can’t walk through the courtyard without stopping to take a deep breath of sweet aroma filling the air.Citrus, especially the myer lemons, have grown in popularity over the years. More and more people deciding to grow their own grove.For those of you that have yet to give it a try, stop in and see us, it’s easy.First, pick out the perfect plant, this year’s crop is spectacular. Next, pick out a pot for your plant. We have some great light weight pottery this year that would be a great fit for your new lemon or lime tree. Now on to the fertilizer. We recommend Organic Citrus Tone by Espoma to ensure superior plant growth.Apply 1 cup a month spring, summer and fall. This is a slow release fertilizer, just mix into the soil and water in.Now just give it lots of sun, water, and love. Just remember they are a tropical plant so they need a temperature of 50 degrees at night before they can stay outside for the summer.
When the citrus matures and ripens in late fall early winter you can harvest your lemons or limes and enjoy.

Every year I have made some delicious lemon cookies and tarts from our very own Van Wilgen’s Citrus Grove. It always tastes better when you grow it yourself.

4/2016 Success Kit 

Ryan Van Wilgen •

Screen shot 2016-04-19 at 2.03.49 PMWe believe so much in our Van Wilgen’s Planting Mix and Jump Start that when you purchase these items we are going to extend our warranty.  We are anxiously awaiting a new product that we have been working with and testing for years, coming soon, Van Wilgen’s Organic Root Boost.  Root Boost is a blend of beneficial microorganisms and beneficial bacteria that works with your plant to create a healthy fibrous root system.  Root Boost is the answer for all the organic gardeners that would like to extend your warranty.  When purchasing trees, shrubs, roses and perennials ask us for help and we can help you determine the amount of Planting Mix and either JumpStart or Root Boost for a 2 year warranty on trees, shrubs and roses and a one year warranty on perennials.   We know this sounds like a “would you like the protection plan?” kind of gimmick.  That’s the furthest from the truth, we know for a fact that your plants will benefit greatly for our Van Wilgen’s success kit.  A few years back and we planted a row of large Zelkova trees in the middle of the summer heat.  While planting we used both VW planting mix and JumpStart.  One of those trees was a few inches out of line, it finally drove us crazy enough that we decided to move the tree the 3 inches so it was perfect.  When we moved the tree that had only been in the ground less than a month we discovered the root system almost doubled in size.  Just add water and we are very confident about your success.  We guarantee it.

4/2016 Delivery & Planting Services

Will O’Hara, Landscape Designer •

There is nothing more gratifying than completing a project with your own two hands. Standing back, wiping the sweat from your brow and seeing tangible, real change in your yard can be both the capstone and the high point of a back breaking weekend. Some of our favorite stories here at Van Wilgen’s have been the ones where a customer comes in, picks out the material, and then comes back to tell us all about how they got it all installed. The major hurdle for many of our favorite DIYers is simply getting the materials home. Many of their projects require large trees, heavy stone and soil, and other items that require large, commercial grade trucking that the average homeowner simply does not have access to, which is why we offer delivery services for both bulk and plant materials. We’ll load up our trucks with your favorite materials, bring them out to your house, and dump the soil in your driveway or place the plant and bagged materials where you need them, so you can focus on getting your job. Who’s better than you?
Of course, not every project can be handled with your own two hands. Sometimes, you need to defer to trained professionals to handle large plant material with heavy duty equipment, years of experience and a degree of finesse that can only be obtained through having handled jobs just like yours before. Luckily, our Landscape crew is fully trained, insured, and experienced enough to handle just about any job you can throw at them. Whether taking advantage of our individual planting service or meeting with our designer for a full scaled plan, you can skip the labor and hassle, and come home to the tree or yard of your dreams, planted, fertilized and set up for success by our install team.

4/2016 Specimen Trees

Jason Scire, Nursery Manager •

If you haven’t visited the garden center lately, you are missing some really BIG things.  When I say big, I mean of Screen shot 2016-04-19 at 2.04.24 PMcourse our awesome selection of over 50-75 large and unique specimen trees. I feel like a little kid at Christmas leading up to the days our specimen trees arrive at the garden center.  I always look forward to the looks on my co-workers faces asking, “wow what’s that?” as we unload these unique trees.
   You will see all sorts of trees from big to small, but don’t let the sizes fool you.  Just because you stand above them doesn’t mean they aren’t large! We’ve got a dwarf umbrella pine that is only three feet tall, but probably old enough to go to college!  If you’re in the need for something big, come check our monster 18′ tall weeping Alaskan cedar specimen; what a majestic tree!  Right about now you’re probably asking yourself, “how would I get something like that to my house?”  Van Wilgen’s offers a number of services from onsite delivery to expert installation services.  Let us do the work for you.  We also understand that these large trees are an investment.  In order to ensure your success, we are now offering a 2 year warranty with the purchase of our Van Wilgen’s Success Kit, which includes our Premium Planting Mix, and either our Jump Start starter fertilizer or Van Wilgen’s Organic Root Boost.

4/2016 Bower & Branch

Jason Scire, Nursery Manager •

Screen shot 2016-04-19 at 2.04.42 PMAll of us at the garden center are very excited to introduce our new partnership with Bower & Branch.  Bower & Branch is an e-commerce supplier of trees.  While we strive to maintain one of the best selections of trees around, we realize that we can’t always have everything. Bower & Branch is a great way for our customers to purchase some of the more unique types of trees, like Fringe Tree or Horsechestnut.  It’s incredibly user friendly; just go to our website and click on shop, then click on trees in the drop down menu.  This brings you to our Bower & Branch site.  The site is very easy to navigate.  You can search specific trees or search by groups such as woodland or urban trees.  The site is full of useful information such as background of trees and descriptions.  There is even a link to send questions to the actual grower of Bower & Branch trees!
Once you have found the tree you are looking for, there is the option to have it delivered to three of our locations, Milford, Old Saybrook, or North Branford for in store pick up.  There is also the option of home delivery and installation, all done by the expert professionals at Van Wilgen’s Garden Center.  We are all very happy about this new partnership and encourage all to visit our website and checkout Bower & Branch.

4/2016 Van Wilgen’s Lawn Care Guide

Stacey Tip LogoStacey Pope, Lawn and Garden Specialist •

Van Wilgen’s Garden Center wants you to have the lawn that you desire.  Whether you are happy with, “as long as it is green”, or you want a lawn that is golf course worthy, we can help.  Here are some steps to take you through the year.
We have been trained to think of lawn care as a 4-step program.  It is true that there are 4 basic lawn fertilization steps but there is a little bit more to consider. Van Wilgen’s has the steps for you!
We can test your pH level for free at the Van Wilgen’s Solution Center.  We sell soil test kits in the store to test your Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium and pH on your own, or The Connecticut Agricultural Station at 123 Huntington Street in New Haven, CT 203-974-8521 will test it for you for free.
Depending on the results of your soil test, you may need to apply Lime.  The ideal pH level for your lawn is 6.8 to 7.2.  If you fall below this “sweet spot”, apply Lime.  Use Fast Acting Lime in the spring for better results.  Lime can be applied at the same time as fertilizer.  The key to a beautiful lawn is proper pH.
Mother Nature gives us the best sign.  Apply when the Yellow Forsythia are in bloom. Water in or apply before a rainfall.  Be sure to focus on “hot” spots.  The “hot” spots are: sunny spots, slopes, compact areas, and edges of driveways, roads & walkways.
Dandelions, violets, and clover, oh my!  This is the time of the year that all those unwanted weeds begin to pop up in your lawn.  You can control them.  Apply granular weed control to a slightly wet lawn.  Morning dew is perfect.  Do not mow your lawn 2 days before or 2 days after application.  Do not water in.  Allow 24 hours of drying time.
Shhh…this is a little trick.  Apply Iron and you will see instant green-up of your lawn without stressing it out.
So many choices of when to apply.  If you do not have a sprinkler system apply before or after the summer heat.  It is best applied before a rainfall.
Don’t miss this step.  Grubs are our #1 damaging turf pest.  Apply a season long grub control at this time to control hungry grubs feeding August-October.  Water in well.
Yes, apply this as late as November! Apply after your last mow of the season to establish a deep root system for next spring.encap fast acting lime 2
Even if you applied Lime in the spring, you may need to lime again depending on your pH level.  Remember pH is one of the keys to a beautiful lawn.
This is a basic lawn care guide with a little extra to get you and your lawn through the season.  Keep in mind, every lawn and every homeowner’s vision for their lawn is different.  That’s ok!  Van Wilgen’s has lawn care programs from conventional to organic, granular to liquid, and simple to involved.  Whatever type of lawn you desire for your home, we can customize a plan for you.
Van Wilgen’s wants you, your family and your pets to have fun on your lawn.

4/2016 Express Design 

Will O’Hara, Landscape Designer •

Here at Van Wilgen’s, we pride ourselves on two things: Our plants and your happiness. We love nothing more than to see our plants in your yard, filling you with the same sense of warmth and satisfaction that we get every time we pull trays of annuals and perennials from our growing fields, or open the doors on a new truckload of nursery stock. We also understand that getting to that point where you can see and feel the plants in your yard can be intimidating, which is why we’re constantly trying to find new and different ways to help you. This year, we’re really excited about our improved Express Design service. We’ve done a few so far, and our customer feedback has been nothing short of exhilarating. Come in to the Garden Center with a few pictures and the footprint of your house, and we’ll walk the yard together, showing you all the latest and greatest things we’ve got in our nursery, and within an hour, you’ll be on your way with a new plan for your foundation or yard, just like the one below. You can even submit your information online at
 Come and see us, and together, we’ll get the yard of your (and our) dreams.


4/2016 Cool Crops, Can You Dig It?

Jerry Grava, Fig, Herb and Vegetable Master 

One of the most commonly asked questions as it warms up early in the spring is, “What can I put out in my veggie garden?” The answer is not kalealways as clear cut as you’d think! For your tomatoes and peppers, we always stick to our May 15th rule; however, there are tons of veggies we call cold crops, or as I like to say, “Cool crops”!
These guys are available as early as the beginning of March, and can be
planted in your vegetable garden or containers as early as mid-April. Our Van Wilgen Grown selection of cool crops includes favorites like broccoli cabbage and kale, arugula and many other lettuces, as well as a few cold-tolerant herbs, like parsley, sage, lavender, rosemary, and the list goes on! As usual, all of our herbs and veggies are organically grown and potted in our biodegradable coco-fiber pots.
Come visit us and we’ll be glad to help you along with your really “cool” herbs and veggies! Don’t forget… there are two cool seasons for your cold crops! Experiment in the spring to find your favorites, and come back for round two in the fall!

4/2016 Pansies, Tiny but Tough. 

Darlene Pastet, Greenhouse Manager •

After a long winter inside most of us want nothing more than to get outside and get our hands dirty and plant some gorgeous color to our homes to help us feel alive again.
pansy saleBut what should you plant? What plant can handle the cold temperatures? Especially a temperature that at times can possibly drop under 32 degrees.
Pansies are the answer to those questions.
Pansies are one tough little plant. Not only are they gorgeous and come in a vast array of colors but did you know that pansies can handle a low temperature of 28 degrees. These plants actually thrive and look their best in the cooler temperatures, so relax come visit us here at Van Wilgen’s and pick out some pansies to brighten up your home and your heart.
Pansies are a great start to the gardening season.
Have fun with them.

4/2016 Something a Little Different for your Early Spring Containers. 

Kirsten Famiglietti, Custom Container Design •

The start of a new season is always an exciting time at Van Wilgen’s. It usually means new varieties of our favorite plants, getting our hands dirty to freshen up our garden beds, and most of all, seeing the previous season’s projects and goals coming into fruition. For me, the spring season at Van Wilgen’s is the most memorable year after year. Nothing beats walking into a greenhouse freshly packed with plants for the first time since poinsettia season. It might be a cold day in late February, but in the greenhouse it smells and feels like May 15th, and all you want to do is get down to business working in the garden. The most commonly asked question, as early as February and as late as May is, “What can I plant in my containers this early?” So it’s not just me itching to get out in the dirt, you guys are too! More and more frequently, I’m also getting asked, “What can I use this early besides pansies?” Pansies are a great early spring annual; they bloom like crazy, they freeze overnight and thaw back to normal by lunchtime, and how do you not love their little whiskered faces!? But, I totally understand wanting something different for your early spring container mixes. How are we supposed to use pansies as our thrillers, spillers, AND fillers? That’s why our growing manager, Billy, and I sat down last fall and came up with a brand new program of early flowering early spring plants. Located front and center in the greenhouse, we’ve got a great mix of both annuals and perennials in bloom and ready to planted. These plants are a great addition to your pansies and spring bulbs, and will fill the thriller-spiller-filler void we’ve had to endure previous years. We look forward to you stopping by our Custom Container Design bench in the greenhouse for more inspiration and tips on decorating and designing with our early spring plants in your container mixes!

4/2016 Is it too early to plant?

Tommy Vorio, Perennial Manager •

This time of year, one of the most popular questions we receive at the garden this time of year is definitely; Is it too early to plant? The general rule of thumb is if you can dig a hole (no frost in the ground), it is ok to plant. The majority of our perennial and nursery stock are cold climate grown to our growing region and they handle the colder temperatures.
Also there are some general planting guidelines that we like to offer when it comes to installing plant material. We recommend digging a hole twice the side of the root ball. Also it is really a great idea to amend the current soil with VW Premium Planting mix (Topsoil, Compost, and Peat Moss). After the hole is completely filled in, an application of VW Jumpstart transplant fertilizer should be made to the plant. If you should have any additional plants about planting instructions or cold sensitive plants, do not hesitate to contact us at the garden center.
Happy Gardening !

3/2016 Edibles as Ornamentals

Rich Baker, Milford Garden Mart Manager •

Hello everyone! It is my sincere hope that you are as excited about this spring as we are here at Van Wilgen’s. It is overdue after this long winter. We can finally start to get our hands dirty again and enjoy the mild temperatures and sunshine on our faces. I hope you had the opportunity to come spend some time with us at our Freshtival event this past weekend, but if not I would like to recap one of our presentations for you. Vegetables, herbs, and other edibles can and should be considered for use in our ornamental gardens. Traditionally, when we think about vegetable gardening, large rectangular plots and straight rows come to mind. However, many edible plants, in addition to having a great taste, also have an ornamental appeal with beautiful flowers and foliage. For example, blueberries would be a wonderful addition to a foundation planting. In summer they offer delicious fruits and a fantastic blue/grey foliage followed by brilliant fall color and finally, some varieties have gorgeous bright red stems to offer interest in the winter landscape. There are many benefits to adding edibles to your ornamental gardens besides striking foliage, or beautiful flowers.

strawberry shortcake                An edible paradise can be much more rewarding than clipped hedges or a mown lawn. Many herbs and vegetables are easy to grow and a fantastic way to introduce our children or grandchildren not only to gardening but to nature itself. When we include edibles into our foundation plantings or ornamental gardens, they become much more accessible then some distant corner of the property. We are much more likely to pick vegetables at peak ripeness and snip herbs for the evening dinner when we walk by them on our way through the front door. One of the more important, but often overlooked benefits, is that adding edibles to an existing flower garden increases the biodiversity of our landscapes. This will attract beneficial wildlife and pollinating insects and birds. A healthy and diverse environment will help our plants to thrive. I hope by highlighting some of these benefits it will help to change some of the preconceived notions of the traditional vegetable garden. This spring is a great time to try something new. So consider adding some of those vegetables and herbs to your gardens. We look forward to helping you with any of your gardening needs here at Van Wilgen’s! See you soon!

3/2016 Adding Butterfly Color to your Garden

John Franke, Old Saybrook Garden Mart Manager •

We have seen the shadow of Spring!  The white of winter snow will soon be summer color.  While you plan your spring planting, here are a couple ideas you can add to your garden to attract summer butterflies!butterfly2

Butterflies like heat and bright light.  If your garden is sunny, you’re half way home!  Butterflies are attracted to reds and purples and butterflies see the best in the bright sunny garden.  The sun also provides warmth and heat, as butterflies need this energy for their metabolism. Focus your efforts on the sunny side.

Add herbs to your planting scheme! If you have an herb garden already, you’re on your way!  Adding ‘umbelifers’ like parsley, cilantro, dill and fennel are great plants that provide spice for you and food for caterpillars.  Fennel and dill can be added to your vegetable beds and even added to your perennial borders.  All of the oreganos are great additions to your garden because their flowers provide nectar to many species of butterflies!  The flowers of catnips and catmints also attract a wide range of butterflies!  Be sure to plant extra for yourself and your caterpillars.

The simple addition of a Buddleia/butterfly bush will give your garden a “butterfly soda fountain!”  Butterfly bushes produce three times more nectar than any other summer flower!  With a Buddleia, you will get a summer’s worth of flowers and a magnet that will attract the greatest number of butterflies.   There are many varieties to pick from, with different heights available, making Buddleias the perfect choice for every garden.  All varieties are fabulous at attracting butterflies and other pollinators. Adding one to your herb garden will also direct butterflies to your host plants and give you that classic “colonial garden” look.

These are just two ideas to put your garden on the Swallowtail trail.  Keep checking our spring and summer enews and our new website’s blog for future ideas on how to add butterflies to your garden.

 3/2016 Sweet Peas 101

John Franke, Old Saybrook Garden Mart Manager •

The sweet fragrance of flowering sweet peas in July, is what I think summer is made of.  Sweet peas can be a challenge though.  In my native midwest, they grow quite easily, though here in Connecticut, Sweet peas requires a few adjustments.
Step one, start early regardless of the weather, plant your peas right before Easter or Passover.
Step two, sink the seeds right into the ground in a partly sunny site, preferably with a northern or eastern exposure.  The addition of garden lime will raise the pH and which peas prefer.  If your space is limited, sweet peas can also be grown in containers.  Choose containers with at least a two gallon capacity.  Add a little lime to our Van Wilgen’s container mix or use potting soil and our Van Wilgen’s planting mix in equal parts.  The beauty to pots, is they can be moved when the weather becomes too hot.
Step three, provide supports.  Wood and string work the best as peas attach themselves with fine tendrils. Both trellises and teepees will work.
Step four, be patient.  Flowering peas grow a little slower than edible peas. Fertilize lightly, if at all.  Peas fix their own nitrogen and our soil mixes contain enough nutrients to keep your plants green.
Peas in general, like cool weather. As summer heats up, so will your peas.  Provide just enough water to keep plants moist and from drying out.  Before the weather turns hot, your sweet peas will benefit from a little mulch at their base.
From one package of seeds, you will have numerous bouquets throughout July, so plant them now so you can clip to your hearts content this summer.

3/2016 FRUITING BEAUTIES ( fruit tree care) !

Stacey Tip LogoStacey Pope, Lawn and Garden Specialist •

Don’t you want your family and friends to look at your fruit trees this year and exclaim, “What a fruiting beauty!  Don’t you want to share your bountiful harvest of peaches, apples, and plums with those you love?  I am assuming your answer is a hardy “Yes!”  Okay then, let’s make this happen.  Fruit tree care begins now.

There isn’t much happening right now orrrr isss there?  Yes, there is plenty going on with our fruit trees right now.  The root system is waking up and busily absorbing nutrients and water, the canopy is starting to push out green buds that will open into beautiful flowers, and unfortunately diseases and insects may also be waking up on our fruit trees.

Let’s begin, shall we!?  Grab a bottle of Bonide’s All Season Horticultural Oil spray.  If using concentrate, mix at a rate of 2 tablespoons/1 tone_treeounce to 5 tablespoons/2.5 ounces per gallon of water. Spray entire fruit tree from tips of branches to bottom of trunk.  This will help eliminate any overwintering insects or insect eggs.  I always recommend horticultural oil to wake up the garden.

When you grab your bottle of Horticultural Oil, be sure to pick up a bag of Espoma’s Tree-Tone.  Tree-Tone is the perfect, organic, slow-release fertilizer for your fruit trees.  Don’t be shy.  Most people under-fertilize.  Remember, it takes a lot of energy for fruit trees to push out that delicious fruit.  Depending on the size of your fruit trees, you can use anywhere from 3lbs/9 cups to 6lbs/18 cups per inch of trunk diameter.  That is a lot folks?  Apply the fertilizer at the drip-line of the tree always.  That is where all the hungry feeder roots hang out.  Feeding and Horticultural Spray can both happen NOW!

Don’t get too comfortable.  The next step will happen soon.  When you start to notice green tips appearing on your fruit trees, it is time to switch to Bonide’s Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray or Bonide’s Fruit Tree & Plant Guard.  If using the concentrate of the Orchard Spray, use at a rate of 2.5 ounces/5 tablespoons to 5 ounces/10 tablespoons to 1 gallon of water. Spray every 7 to 10 days up to the day of harvesting fruit.  If using the Fruit Tree Guard, mix at a rate of 2 ounces/2 tablespoons to 1 gallon of water. This product packs a potent punch and only needs to be applied 3 X’s in the season…at green tip to pre-bloom, at petal fall, and at fruit set.  Easy as 1, 2, 3!

Have you already done your winter pruning?  If not, now is the time to cleanup those suckers!  I literally mean, it is time to clean up those suckers.  Suckers are the unwanted branches that grow straight up from the base of the trunk, from shallow roots and from branches.  Anytime you see suckers growing, cut them off at the base.  We don’t like suckers.

After all this work, you and your family will be able to reap the bounty of your plentiful harvest or simply enjoy eating a homegrown apple or two.

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

Thanks a bunch…Stacey


Darlene Pastet, Greenhouse Manager •
In the past few years here at Van Wilgen’s our customers enthusiasm for houseplants has grown quite a bit. It is a real joy for me to watch our customer’s excitement grow as they wander around our glasshouse finding that perfect plant or plants, funny enough most you leave with more than just one!
Right now we are busy preparing for FRESHTIVAL March 18-20th our spring kick off event! We have new houseplants filling live trendsour glasshouse, some that you will recognize and some new ones that we think you will enjoy too. Live Trends is one of our new finds, super cool small plants that are just perfect for adding life to your home or office. We also added a ton of new terrarium plants and containers, in all different shapes and sizes. My personal favorites are the handblown glass terrariums, each one is unique.
We get asked all the time to help our customers make plant selections and provide tips for terrarium making, so we thought, why not have a workshop?  We will provide a choice of containers, 3 plants, soil, charcoal, rocks and education, all for just $30. Visit for a schedule of workshops during FRESHTIVAL.I hope to see you there!
In the past few weeks we have taken many phone calls for people looking for the Fiddleleaf Fig Ficus, and I am happy to report we now have many in stock, so stop by and come pick out yours. It is by far the most popular plant we have right now.
Our excitement for plants whether we are young or old helps us all find our happy place. Come see us in North Branford soon!


Stacey Tips LogoStacey Pope, Lawn & Garden Specialist •

Very unscientifically speaking, I think that if a mosquito and a fruit fly had a baby, it would be an adorable Fungus Gnat.  Remember, all babies are adorable, even if it is a Fungus Gnat larva baby!  Fungus Gnat is not a really beautiful name but it does fit.  The Fungus Gnat is a very small fly, about the size of a fruit fly, with long legs like a mosquito.  It got it’s first name, Fungus, because it loves to feed on decaying organic matter and fungus.  The more decayed and damp, the better.  It got it’s last name, Gnat, because it is a small fly that can be quite obnoxious when found inside our homes.

Fungus Gnats make themselves right at home in our indoor potted plants.  To keep Fungus Gnat babies happy, all you need to give them is damp soil and a warm home.  How did they get here?  Did the stork drop them off?  No, silly!  Fungus Gnat adults are so small they can sneak into any little opening in your home.  They can also enter the home in a bag of infested potting soil or from a plant that spent the summer outside.  Most people confuse them with Fruit Flies.  Unfortunately Fruit Fly traps will not work for this nuisance.

Fungus Gnats do not have a long life, approximately 4 weeks, but they reproduce very quickly and can inhabit all of your potted plants before you can say, “Fungus Gnat!”  The adults lay anywhere from 100 to 300 eggs at a time in the soil.  You need to use yellow Sticky Traps by Safer in your plants to cut down on the adult, egg laying population.  Once they lay their tiny eggs, they develop into larvae in the soil.  The larvae feed on the roots of plants and decaying fungus matter.  The key is to control the larvae in order to get rid of Fungus Gnats in your plants.  I have a few suggestions for control:Mosquito bits


  • *Allow plants to dry out as much as possible before injuring the plant.  This will hopefully dry out the Fungus Gnat larvae in the soil.  
  • *Be sure not to over water your plants or let them sit in water.  Fungus Gnats enjoy feeding on decaying, wet roots and fungus.
  • *Bonide’s Houseplant Systemic is a great product.  Sprinkle it on the soil of each houseplant, water it in and it will begin to control Fungus Gnat larvae.  Apply approximately every 3 weeks.
  • *Mosquito Bits by Summit are a wonderful organic choice that is also sprinkled on the soil to control the feeding larvae.  Do a few applications approximately 5 days apart.

I think I need to retract my earlier statement about all babies being cute.  Honestly, Fungus Gnat babies are just not that cute and neither is the damage they do to our plants and seedlings.  Unfortunately for the adults, what they lack in good looks, they do not really make up for in personality.  I have got to give Fungus Gnats at least one, big, green thumb up…they are good pollinators!

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

Thanks a bunch…Stacey



Stacey Tips LogoStacey Pope, Lawn & Garden Specialist,

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, if we have it, 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 week but fortunately treatiVoleng for voles will also greatly help to reduce mole populations.

You may 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.  Begin with an application of Vole Repellent. I Must Garden’s Mole & Vo
le Repellent works great and is safe for pets and children. It coats the infested area with a smell and taste that voles and moles don’t care for, pushing them away.  Get ahead of the game and start treating now! 

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

Thanks a bunch…Stacey


Stacey Tips LogoStacey Pope, Lawn & Garden Specialist•

Are you having a “brain freeze” because of winter?  I can definitely blame some of my “brain freeze” on the winter weather but I can also claim brain moosh this time of year.  I have the month of January off and my brain seems to freeze or go into a mental moosh.  But…I’m back at Van Wilgen’s and have begun the brain defrosting process.  I am getting my mental mojo back!  I hope this “Stacey’s Tip” helps you to bring all of your gardening knowledge closer to the mental forefront.   I know you tucked this knowledge away with your gardening tools deep into the garden shed of your brain.  Let’s open the garden shed door and let some of that gardening know-how fly to the front.  We all know our bodies are ready for spring.  Let’s give your brain something happy to think about by focusing on Van Wilgen’s and the bounty of gardening.

BRAIN DEFROSTING TIP #1:  It has been a warm winter so pay attention to your lawn.  If you see tunneling or shallow “scars” in your lawn or garden, you have a Mole and/or Vole problem.  The most likely culprit is Voles.  They really enjoy the soft winter ground.  Act fast and apply a Vole repellent such as I Must Garden’s Mole & Vole Repellent.  This products applied immediately after snow melt can save you from a big brain pain later.

BRAIN DEFROSTING TIP #2:  Are you staring out the window and daydreaming about a tropical vacation while the deer eat your entire Arborvitae hedge right under your daydreaming nose?  Wake up!  If temporary fencing is just not your thing, at least put down some granular repellent such as Deer Scram by Epic.  You can apply it right over the snow.  If our temperatures are in the 40’s, get out there and spray with a deer repellent such as Liquid Fence.  This way, you can spend more time staring and dreaming without a deer feast going on right outside your window.

BRAIN DEFROSTING TIP #3:  The earlier, the better.  Sometimes our brains can actually be ahead of our bodies.  If your brain has already put on its’ gardening hat but your body is still in sluggish winter mode, it is time for your brain to give your body a kick in the pants.

* It is better to test your soil earlier in the spring. Testing kits are available at Van Wilgen’s but you’ll have to take it to the CT Agricultural Station to get your results.  Knowing your soil’s base line will get you off to the right start.  If we know your pH level is low, we can put down Limestone right away.  You know how much I love Limestone and how I believe the right pH is the key to the best lawn on the block and the most productive veggie garden!  I can even test your pH level right here in the store…for free!!

*Apply Bonide’s Organic Horticultural Oil or Bayer’s Systemic Tree & Shrub Protect & Feed early in the season.  The earlier you apply, the more you are following the program of Integrated Pest Management.  Act preventatively and you will use less product in the long run.  The Horticultural Oil is great for smothering overwintering insects and eggs before they become a problem in spring.  The Systemic treatment is the best for some of the most damaging pests such as; Boxwood Leafminer, Dogwood Borers, Birch Borers and Scales.bayer tr shrub concentrate

*Early control of some of our most problem lawn weeds can happen as soon as the temperatures reach the 40’s.  Bonide makes an awesome weed control product called Weed Beater Ultra.  The liquid form works wonderfully in the cooler weather with pesky weeds like Creeping Charlie, Chickweed and Hairy Bittercress.

How are you now?  Do you feel warmer?  Has your brain defrosted a little bit?  Are you now staring out the window and daydreaming about your lawn and garden instead of escaping to a remote island?  If so, mission accomplished.  Let’s pull the gardening hat out of the closet, dust off the brim and get our mental gardening mojo back.

We look forward to seeing you all.  Come in and say “Hi” so we can also put your bodies in gardening motion.  I’ve missed you all and can’t wait to garden with you!

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

Thanks a bunch…Stacey