Archive for the ‘Fertilizing Tips’ Category

Get some spring inspiration – perennials!

Need some help in picking perennials to give you all season color?  The Blue Crew is going to give you a quick list of some starters.  We are in zone 6 here in Pennsylvania, but stopping by your local Independent garden center or greenhouse for guidance tailored to your growing zone, is a good idea.   We have broken the year into 3 sections; Early (January-April), Mid(April- early August), Late( August- October).

  1. Early season selections include
    1. Hellebores
    2. Candy tuft
    3. Primrose
  2. Mid season
    1. Daylily
    2. Lupine
    3. Peony
    4. Poppy
    5. Veronica
    6. Coneflower
  3. Late season
    1. Bee Balm
    2. Black eyed Susan
    3. Dahlia
    4. Sedums

 

Still looking for ideas on some awesome perennials trending this year?  Check out this great article from our friends at Fafard!  And of course… don’t forget to feed with some Jack’s!

 

Perennials-Blog

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Bring some plants into your work space.

So you want to “green-up” your work space, but don’t know where to start. Do you have a black thumb, are you new to indoor plants, do you need to clean up the air? Do you have a few you are lusting over? Here at Jack’s we are pretty big plant geeks, so of course we have quite the collection of fiddle leaf figs, jade and other indoor plants. Currently, we have an empty space and are hunting for the perfect upright Philodendron to put there. Below is a list of some of our favorites that are easy to grow, good for work spaces and even clean the air.
What’s on our list???

Philodendron- These plants come in vine and upright varieties. They clean the air, live in a wide variety of conditions and even take some neglect.

ZZ plants– The ZZ plant maybe the best plant for offices, it can thrive under florescent lights, only needs water every 2 weeks or so, and are probably the easiest plants to grow.

Snake Plants– One of the best plant it and forget it options. Snake plants are known for their resilience for even the blackest of thumbs, live forever, and purify the air. They can also tolerate low light conditions quite well.

Peace Lily– Peace lilies tend to be quite tolerant of light conditions, clean the air, grow fairly fast, and even bloom.

Dracaena– Another great indoor plant that tolerates a variety of lighting conditions, needs to be watered once a week and looks great when paired with other plants

Spider Plants– The quintessential office plant that looks great top a filing cabinet or in a hanging planter. They clean air, and tend to have lots of babies.

Pothos– A great beginner plant. It comes in multiple colors and variegations can tolerate low levels of light but does best with medium light levels.

Schefflera– This easy to grow plant does best in high light conditions. It tolerates dry soil conditions, and excellent job at filtering the air.

With all plants, your indoor plants will be most happy if you feed them once every 2 weeks with Jack’s Houseplant Special 15-30-15.

The Benefits of Indoor Plants

It’s National Indoor Plant Week – which is the perfect excuse to green up your living and work spaces. Indoor plants or house plants not only beautify your indoor space, they also have many health benefits!

Here are some great benefits to keeping a few indoor plants around:

  • Faster healing and recovery from injury or sickness.
  •  Calming of the mind and body.
  • Improved heart health.
  •  Increase concentration
  • Changing carbon dioxide back to oxygen.
  •  Cleaning the air of harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds), more on this below.

A few years ago NASA conducted a study about the air cleaning capability of house plants. They found that some plants clean the air of harmful VOCs like formaldehyde, toluene, trichloroethylene, and benzene. The chemicals listed are known to cause cancer and other health issues. These gases are found in common household substances such as glues, paints, spot removers, and tobacco smoke. You need at least one plant per 100 square feet of living space to clean the air

Some great air scrubbers are English ivy, Peace Lilly, Snake Plant, Dracaena, and Bamboo palm. But let’s be honest any indoor plant can brighten your space and your mood.  Keep your indoor plants healthy by feeding them Jack’s Classic Houseplant Special 15-30-15 at ¼ tsp per gallon every time you water.  Use this week as a good excuse to green up your indoor space and head over to your favorite independent garden center and get a few plants and some Jack’s Classic!

Happy plant shopping!

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Fertilizing in the Extremes of Summer!

Summer has finally arrived! For most people this is the time of year for vacations, family picnics and lots of back yard activity! For gardeners, we look forward to being outside tending to our gardens. The daily routine of placing new plants, weeding, picking the flowers or vegetables and occasionally watering the plants allows us to fully enjoy this great passion called horticulture!

Tips for Fertilizing When it’s too Wet!
Rain, rain and more rain! There can be too much of a good thing and too much water can be damaging to your hanging baskets, container and bedding plants. Heavy rainfall can physically damage your plant by removing leaves and flowers as well as over-saturating the soil or container media. Several rainy days with limited sunlight will wash away (leach) almost all the stored up nutrients in the root zone and slow your plants’ uptake of water and nutrients. This can leave your plants looking hungry. The most common nutrient deficiencies encountered under these conditions are of nitrogen and potassium. Deficiencies of these very important nutrients can result in slow growing, stunted plants with paler green or yellow leaves.
A good way to make sure your plants are still receiving the nutrients they need to grow is to use a balanced time release fertilizer. Jack’s ClassiCote with CrystalGreen 15-8-23 is specifically designed to gradually release into the root zone. The recommended rates of application are:
For hanging baskets and containers: 1 Tablespoon per 10 inch basket
For bedding plants, vegetables, trees and shrubs: 1 Tablespoon per sq. foot of planting bed
For new plants: 1 teaspoon per sq. foot of planting bed
Each application of  will last for up to 4 months at 70°F; however, you may need to make a repeat application as soon as 2 months later in a hot and rainy season.
After a heavy rainfall check your baskets and containers to see if your time release fertilizer has been washed out. Re-apply if necessary. Once clear weather returns, it may be necessary to follow up with an application of Jack’s Classic water soluble fertilizer, either General Purpose 20-20-20 or Blossom Booster 10-3-20 or a combination of the two, at a rate of 1Tablespoon per gallon of water.

Tips for Fertilizing when it’s too Dry!
A long spell of hot weather without any rain can lead to temporary drought conditions. Certain annuals and perennials are more drought tolerant than others and are the best choices if you live in an area that is often plagued by summer droughts. These plants employ characteristics that help the plant conserve water such as a long tap root and hairy or fuzzy leaves.
Plants grown in containers, whether considered drought tolerant or not, will require regular watering and routine fertilization to provide the plant with the daily water and nutrients it needs for healthy growth. Plants grown in the soil tend to tolerate drought conditions slightly better due to the increased moisture and nutrient holding capacity of the soil.
To conserve water, you can use a small child’s plastic pool, for several potted plants or any old water-tight container to collect the run off water. This water can be easily “recycled” into watering another set of plants.
A couple easy ways to water your plants with “grey” or recycled water:
1. Instead of emptying your pet’s water dish in the sink, pour it into a potted plant.
2. Rinse vegetables in a large bowl instead of under running water. The water from the vegetables can be used to water plants.
3. Collect rain water. If using this method, make sure you place a tight fitting lid on the collection container to keep out any mosquitoes.

Many beginner or “weekend gardeners” incorrectly assume that once a flower is planted in the ground it will grow into a healthy plant. After all, the plant is in the earth, what more does it need? This is almost a guarantee that the plant will fail!
What more does a plant need? Macro and secondary nutrients, in the form of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (N-P-K); also calcium (Ca), magnesium and sulfur (S). It doesn’t stop there; if it did, almost any fertilizer would do. The plant also requires trace elements or micronutrients (nutrients that are essential to plant growth, but required in smaller amounts). Micronutrients include: iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), boron (B), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn) and molybdenum (Mo). All of these nutrients are taken up or absorbed by the plant’s roots and used by the plant to maintain healthy growth. Most, if not all standard potting mixes, are lacking these vital nutrients, so it is up to YOU to supply them using soluble or time released fertilizers!

A healthy plant will outlast and out perform every time. In times of extreme weather additional steps may be necessary to help your plant maintain a favorable environment however your extra attention will be rewarded with a healthy beautiful plant!

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Growing Tomatoes with Jack’s

Things are really moving now in the garden with the onset of the warmer temperatures. Your transplants should be responding to their new environment and producing new growth. The root systems are ready to take up all the nutrients they need to maximize their bud set and flower initiation.

Here is the feeding program I use for my tomato plants and some of the reasons I use it.

• After transplanting the tomatoes I want to get them off to a great start. In order to do that you need to provide plenty of phosphorus to the root system which has not yet spread out in the soil. I use the Jack’s Classic® Blossom Booster 10-30-20 at 1 tablespoon per gallon when I set the plants in place.

• After the first week I come back and make my first application of Jack’s Classic® 20-20-20. This 1-1-1 ratio fertilizer is just what the plant needs to grow in mass with plenty of new leaves and thick stems that will be the factories to produce lots of energy that will give you a high fruit yield. I repeat these feedings every 10 days to make certain there are no nutrient stresses to hold back production.

• Tomatoes respond well to increased levels of magnesium in the feed program. Be sure to add some additional Epsom salts (1 teaspoon per gallon) to your fertilizer applications. Your leaves will develop a deep green in response to the fertilizer applications and the increased magnesium.

• After the first month I switch my feeding program to a combination of 1 tablespoon of 20-20-20 and 1 tablespoon of 10-30-20 in 2 gallons. That combination makes a 15-25-20 fertilizer, which is a great formulation to feed as the plants are setting buds and fruit. Stick with this combination until all your fruit is set and the first of the fruit is starting to turn red

• From this point on I stick with the Blossom Booster 10-30-20. The high potassium will let the fruit finish nicely. Apply the fertilizers every 10 days or so right through the end of the crop.

Water Quality and Choosing the Right Fertilizer

Choosing the right water JR PetersKnowing your water quality is the first step in successful growing. There are many different factors that come into play. No two water sources are exactly the same, so in theory what works for the grower down the road may not work for you.

Water alkalinity plays the biggest role in choosing the correct fertilizer. A simple way to think of alkalinity is as the ability of your water to neutralize acid. The higher the alkalinity, the more acid it will take to lower the pH of your water. Plus, water alkalinity is often an indicator of your pH and Ca levels in your water. Low alkalinity or pure water sources (less than 60ppm alkalinity) are often lower in pH and lacking in secondary nutrients like calcium and magnesium. I usually recommend picking a basic or neutral fertilizer with added calcium and magnesium, like Jack’s 17-4-17 pure water or Jack’s 15-5-15 cal-mag. Occasionally, you may need a booster of a higher acidity fertilizer like Jack’s Petunia FeED or High Performance, so make sure you have some on hand. Low alkalinity waters are classified as waters with less than 100 ppm of alkalinity.

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Testing at the JR Peters Laboratory

Here at the lab we have tested over 1 million samples for growers and researchers. We test these samples so we can stop problems before they start and help fix them if a situation arises. Testing should also be done if you are having a great crop, then you can repeat the program in the future.

The most important test is a water test. Knowing your water quality is the key to success. Water quality can effect fertilizer selection, MOST usage, nutrient uptake by the plant, and nutrient toxicities. We recommend having your water tested every year in December or January before starting up for the spring.

Water Analysis Parameters:
pH, Soluble Salts, Total Alkalinity, Total Nitrogen, Nitrate Nitrogen, Ammonium Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Sulfur, Iron, Manganese, Copper, Boron, Zinc, Molybdenum, Aluminum, Sodium, Chlorides

Most growers will also send in an unused media sample to test before planting. By doing this you will have a good baseline on your media in case problems arise over the growing season. It will also be able to tell you if any additional media amendments will need to be made. Media tests are also handy to have in case you are experiencing a crop issue. Is the pH off, nutrient levels out of balance, or are salts accumulating? A media test will give you all this and more.

Standard Media Parameters:
pH, Soluble Salts, Nitrate Nitrogen, Ammonium Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Sulfur, Iron, Manganese, Copper, Boron, Zinc, Molybdenum, Aluminum, Sodium, Chlorides.

Tissue tests give you a snapshot of the tissue at the time the sample was taken. They also reflect the conditions of the media 2 weeks prior. The key to tissue samples are correct sample procedures. Take care to rinse off any fertilizer, chemical or media residues, as these can skew the results. The most recently matured leaves should be sampled. If sampling for a problem make sure you take affected leaves off at the same location on plants. You should also be sending in a healthy plant tissue sample as well. I usually recommend sending in a media sample for problem plants as well. By sending in both media and tissue you get the most accurate reading, and will help for a better diagnosis.

Tissue Parameters:
Total Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Manganese, Copper, Boron, Zinc, Molybdenum, Aluminum, Sodium

For more information or to get testing supplies call 1-866-522-5752 x46 or email us at info@jrpeters.com