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

“It is sooo hot!” This is what I have been hearing a lot of this summer. Fellow employees are hot,stacey tips art 1 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 quieter 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 powerhouse filled with every essential plant element, beneficial bacteria, and mycorrhizae (beneficial fungus). It is also a balanced 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 the 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 gardens 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 SUPERNATURAL 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 treat.

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

Every spring our gardeners tell us they want to expand their perennial gardens to offer new colors and plants to make them fresh. For those of us that work in the Perennial department, it’s no different. We are always on the lookout for something different or even ‘new to us’. Here are a few Perennials that we think are a must-have in the garden to give you season-long color and interest.

Silene – Early spring bloom of pink on low mounding thick green leaves. Cut back by half after the first flush of flowers wanes in June, to encourage repeat blooming. Attractive to butterflies

Panicum ‘Northwind’- Wow! An unequivocally upright steel blue panicum. ! Wide, thick leaf blades a golden yellow color in the fall, topped in September with attractive narrow plumes.

Veronica Venice Blue – Gorgeous blue spikes of color late spring to mid-summer. Features large, deep blue flowers in spring over bright green, toothy leaves. Benefits from a good hard trim after flowers are finished, in order to maintain a nice tight habit.

Standing Ovation Little Bluestem- A warm-season grass that does well in poor, dry soils. Spikey bluish-green stems and leaves transition to a sizzling display of oranges, reds, yellows, and purplish-browns in the autumn. Also provides winter interest before cutting back in early spring to make way for new growth.

Oenothera Fireworks- Deep bronze foliage and red stems are contrasted by red buds opening to canary yellow blooms in June. The individual flowers may not last for more than a day or two, but they open in succession leaving the plant in continuous bloom. Burgundy rosettes in winter.

Heliopsis Burning Heart – Dynamic yellow-orange flowers are offset by their deep purple foliage. As attractive to butterflies and bees as it is to people, we’ve found this plant really deserves a place in a beautiful border, a cutting garden, or in massed swathes. She stands 4’ tall with dark red-purple foliage and abundant contrasting yellow daisy-like flowers with orange centers. The plant begins blooming in its first year and blooms from June to mid-October.

Echinacea Adobe Orange – Carefree color from a profusion of bright orange blooms that will add excitement to the summer garden. A must-have for sunny beds and borders. Drought tolerant and bred for cold hardiness and compact form with prolific flowering over an exceptionally long season.

Monarda Jacob Cline – Whorls of scarlet red tubular flowers blend perfectly with prairie wildflowers and herbs. Single plants make a great show, but groups heighten the effect. Dark green leaves have an aroma of mint and basil. Hummingbirds love it!

Every day at work I get asked, where are your wave petunias.

As I take you all over, I ask the question. Why wave petunias?

Most of you know only of wave petunias as the ones that cascade and you don’t have to deadhead.

Back in 1995 or so wave petunias took the united states by storm. They were marketed as a gorgeous trumpet-shaped flower, very low maintenance, one in which you don’t have to deadhead. Who doesn’t love a flower you don’t have to deadhead? And so, everyone’s love affair grew with this gorgeous petunia. Now fast forward to 2006. A new variety has made its way across the country, Proven winners Supertunia.

Before I tell you the difference between these two petunias, let me explain something about both varieties.

They are self-shedding petunias. This doesn’t mean no deadheading. It simply means that the spent flower will fall off when finished blooming. This allows for the plant to always look its best. But you still need to get in there and deadhead old stems of the flowers occasionally to promote more new and healthy flowers. Just like you or I, plants also need a haircut now and then to look their best.

Now onto our original question. Wave petunia vs supertunia?

I always asked this question. Are you planting in the ground or in a container? If the answer is ground I would tell you to go with a wave petunia. The reason for this is because wave petunias are vigorous growers with a lower growth habit. So if you plant these in your yard you will get a great plant that will fill in fast and create a carpet of color.

If your answer is container I would suggest going with the supertunia. I would choose these because not only does this petunia have a great trailing habit but it also gets a little height. So not only is it a great spiller plant but it also makes a great filler plant.

IF it was my choice to choose I would always choose supertunias. They are exceptional performers that will bloom from early spring until the first frost. And the colors they offer are truly beautiful. Our favorites here at Van Wilgen’s are Supertunia bubble gum, silverberry, and Bordeaux.

Whether you choose wave or supertunias just remember, deadheading or a good haircut along with some slow-release fertilizer a few times during the season makes for a happy healthy plant.



(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




Finally, mother nature is easing up on us just a bit.

With the sun finally shining and warmer temperatures you can’t help but feel the energy here at Van Wilgen’s. Every day we have more and more plants making their way up from the growing department. Billy and his crew have done their job, growing the most amazing crop of spring/summer color to fill our greenhouse. With the temperature on the warmer side these days, we need to be mindful that we are still in the month of April. So, even though temps are warm during the day, the nighttime temps can still be a little cool for some of the plants we grow in the greenhouse. Look for the signs that will remind you if a plant needs to be above a certain temperature, or just ask one of us, we are here to help make your gardening experience as easy as possible. Mid May is usually when it’s safe to plant outside worry-free. Until then if you are buying a plant such as geranium, you will need to protect it if the temperature drops below 50 degrees at night.

I generally say there are 3 stages of spring/summer plants.

If you really want to feel spring fever stop in and walk through our tropical paradise, enter through the back of our greenhouse. Take a deep breath and enjoy. Remember tropical temperatures are 50 degrees and above day and night.

As we shake off the chill of what seems to be a never-ending winter, it is natural and even soothing to look for those first signs of life in your garden. But while your Crocus may be struggling to push its pretty purple flowers past the snow, there is no plant I look forward to in my winter garden more than my hellebores. Hellebores love the shade, are drought-tolerant, and deal with the ravages of New England’s up and down temperatures better than any early blooming plant I’ve ever planted. Every year, I add two or three more to my under tree gardens, expanding my color palette to pinks, purples, whites, and, this year, even multi-colored varieties. We truly have something for every type of garden.

Will O’Hara

Perennial Manager

It’s time to start your seeds. Most seeds should be started about 6 weeks before our last frost day. In the gardening world, we like to use Mother’s Day as the last frost date.

For cold weather crops like peas, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, and kale you can sow them outside now. We have a great variety of cool weather vegetable seeds to choose from. I have read that is it lucky to plant peas on St. Patrick’s Day. Not sure if other cool-weather plants will bring you luck but they sure will be delicious fresh-picked from your garden this year. Remember New England weather is erratic. We may get a few cold/frost nights where you will want to cover your seedlings with a warm harvest blanket to protect them.

There are many ways to start your seeds. You can begin them in starter kits, trays, and peat pots. Peat pots can be placed right into the ground when ready. Espoma Organic Seed Starting Mix and Fafard Seed Starter Mix are excellent soils to start your baby seeds. Don’t forget to label your seeds.

If you have a south-facing window place your seeds there. If not, we have many different grow lights to help your seeds get the approximate 15 hours of daylight they need.

Flowers have many different attributes. Start your favorite flowers by seed now. Some flowers/herbs are excellent pollinators and help keep certain bugs away from your vegetable garden. Marigolds attract bees and butterflies. Nasturtiums, besides being edible, also help keep away many unwanted insects. The very fragrant lavender is also an excellent general pest repellent flower to use in your garden.

Stop in and get your seeding started right away!