(Annual plant care in containers)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

*Van Wilgen’s Professional Potting Mix or Container Mix

*Soil Moist

*Van Wilgen’s All Purpose Slow Release Plant Food

*Van Wilgen’s Bloom Booster




Forget the thermometer, you know when the warm weather’s coming when you see the return of thehummingbird 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 mean more visits. This annual can be used as a bedding plant or in containers. Also expect to see Cupheas attracting 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.

March sure came in like a lion this year. But I think we are all ready for it to go out like a lamb, right? As we get closer to April we all have spring on our mind. There is nothing like the smell and colors of the spring season.

Our greenhouse is filled with just that. With Easter, right around the corner, we have lots of extra colors to brighten your smile and warm your heart. The daffodils are so alive with the brightest yellow blooms, and the hyacinths hit your senses as soon as you walk into the greenhouse. You can’t help but say what smells so good! The smell of the hyacinths reminds me of going to the greenhouses with my grandmother when I was young. It was the only plant I wanted around the Easter season. Plus, they were purple, my favorite color.

Now to the true spring flower. The pansies have taken over our greenhouse! There’s nothing like filling the greenhouse with all that color. Just try and pick a favorite. I bet you can’t. They all look truly amazing and are waiting to find a new home. Remember pansies are not only pretty, they are one tough little plant. They can handle temperatures as low as 28 degrees, and any April showers that mother nature decides to send our way. So, If you need a spring fix before mother nature is ready to release it to us, stop by and say hello. The greenhouse is the perfect place to get your spring on.

Darlene Granese, Greenhouse Manager