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Expert offers tips for planting day

With spring blooming into summer, it’s time for some to visit garden centers.

“It is that time of year when the garden centers are overflowing with beautiful healthy plants,” according Warren Garden Club member and Penn State Extension Master Gardener Rebecca Ryan. “The wonderful fragrance of the flowers plus the warm humid atmosphere of the greenhouse makes this shopping trip my favorite of the year.”

“The garden center may have shrubs, flowering trees and bushes as well as perennials which are plants that die back to the ground in fall and then reemerge the following spring,” Ryan said. “Annuals are plants that grow for one season, produce seeds, and die. Perennials usually bloom for about two weeks where annuals will bloom all summer if fertilized and watered.”

“There are a few things to keep in mind for that special trip to the garden center,” she said. “First, please try to shop local. Our locally owned garden centers are staffed with people who know what grows best in our area and if you are a new gardener, they can give advice on successful installation of shrubs and plants.”

“Second make a list – paper and pen – of the plants you need to buy so you don’t arrive home with a lot of interesting plants and none of the basics you need for the garden,” Ryan said. “When making your list make notes on color and size of the plants you want to purchase. Almost everyone makes an impulse buy on garden center day but be sure to get your basics first.”

“When you get your plants home settle them in a space where they get filtered light,” she said. “They have been in the greenhouse and need time to get comfortable in the outdoors. Check immediately to see if they need water. This is a task to do every day.”

“If the little plants dry out, they are dead and there is nothing you can do to bring them back to life. Conversely too much water can also cause problems,” Ryan said. “If the soil feels dry, water gently.”

“Plant as soon as possible,” she said. “The plants deteriorate very quickly in their little six pack containers. “

“At home make sure you are organized with a large work surface, potting soil, hand tools, containers for the flowers and water,” she said. “Planting my containers and perennials is my favorite gardening task of the season. The beautiful flowers, the sunshine and the sounds of the birds make a lovely afternoon.”

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