Leesa Metzger is a landscaper in Northern Indiana and a former agriculture, botany and horticulture teacher. Leesa owns Metzger Landscaping & Design LLC, where her company’s mission is “We Turn Gardens into Art”. To learn more about their services visit metzgerlandscaping.net Leesa is a garden writer, authors the “Ask the Landscaper” newspaper column and serves on the North Manchester Beautification Committee.
 

Recent Blog Posts

Sep 06
FALL MUMS  

May 23
SPRING PRUNING  

Apr 20
Spring Flowering Trees  

Apr 17
The Great Perennial Divide  

Apr 06
Pruning Lilacs   (1 comment)

Mar 22
Creative Landscapes for Country Settings  

Feb 13
Valentine’s Blooms  

Nov 13
Helpful Tips for Overwintering Plants  

 

 

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Valentine’s Blooms
by Leesa Metzger - posted 02/13/18

You just received a breathtaking delivery of flowers from your Valentine, and now you’re probably thinking about how to make their firm petals and vibrant colors last for as long as possible. Here’s how you can make your cut flowers last                                                                                  much longer.

 

First, remove the flowers from the packaging, hold the stems underwater, and cut the stem at a 45-degree angle using a sharp knife. Cutting the flower at this angle allows the stem to have a greater surface area for water consumption. Do not use scissors to cut the stems and do not crush the stems either; this will damage the tips and block the flower’s water intake.

 

Next, prepare the vase and the water. Kill any bacteria or algae that formed in the vase by cleaning the inside with bleach. If your florist does not include preservatives with the flower still the vase with lukewarm water and add a floral preservative. You can either buy preservatives from your florist or make on your own. To make your own preservatives, mix lemon with a very small amount of bleach, or a teaspoon of sugar with a few drops of bleach. Take note that using homemade concoctions might not be as effective as professional cut flower food because they don’t contain the complex mixture of preservatives and nutrients flowers need to survive.

Before putting the flowers in the vase, remove all the leaves that might be submerged in the water. Leaves have the tendency to decay when submerged underwater and when these leaves rot, they poison the water and shorten the vase life of your flowers. Arrange the flowers in any way you desire, but make sure you do not overcrowd the vase. If the bouquet is too large or the arrangement seems too tight, divide them into two and place them in separate vases. 

 

Once you’re satisfied with your floral arrangement, keep the vase in a cool spot away from direct sunlight to avoid rapid respiration. Respiration is the process wherein living organisms age. It is helpful to note that flowers generally have a higher respiration rate than most agricultural crop. The lower the temperature of the room they are placed in, the longer the flowers will last. However, if the flowers are subjected to temperatures below four degrees, their internal cells can get easily damaged and dry out the flowers. If you want your bouquet to decorate an air-conditioned room, make sure the temperature is not too cold.

Finally, take care of your flowers every day and remove wilted flowers so they do not contaminate the rest. It is recommended that you change the water daily but if you are too busy to do so, replacing the water every two or three days is fine. Make sure you add the preservative each time you change the water. You can also re-cut the stem for improved water absorption. Taking care of cut flowers by following the steps mentioned will extend the life of your bouquet for many days to come.

 

To send a question for Ask the Landscaper, contact Metzger Landscaping at 260-982-4282, visit www.metzgerlandscaping.net to send a question, or find us on Facebook

 

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Helpful Tips for Overwintering Plants
by Leesa Metzger - posted 11/13/17

Did you recently drag some of your favorite plants indoors to “save them” from Mother Nature’s cold snap? Not exactly sure what to do with them now? Many plants grown as perennials in warm climates are not hardy enough to withstand the freezing temperatures in Northern areas. Northern gardeners can leave these plants outdoors to die at the end of the season or they can overwinter them until the next growing season. Many gardeners have great success with overwintering annuals such as geraniums, tropical mandevillas, hibiscus and a whole host of other great patio plants.

 

Overwintering involves protecting the plant from the cold, either in the garden or in a sheltered place. There are many overwintering techniques, ranging from covering dormant plants with a thick layer of mulch to moving plants to coldframe, sunny windowsill, or cool basement. What works for one type of plant might be fatal to another.

 

An easy way to overwinter some plants is to grow them in containers year-round and use them as houseplants or on the sun porch during winter. Slow-growing woody plants such as lavender, rosemary, and tarragon make the transition from outdoor plant to houseplant and back very successfully and can thrive for many years.

 

You can hold many types of nonhardy plants, often called tender perennials, indoors over winter. Cutting back, digging up, and potting plants growing in the garden is one option for overwintering, but this may cause transplant shock, especially if the plants are large. An easier way to save tender perennials is to take and root cuttings, and then keep the cuttings indoors over winter. Many summer bedding plants, including impatiens, begonias, geraniums, and coleus can be overwintered this way. Rooted cuttings take up less space indoors than entire plants, and there is less chance of inadvertently overwintering diseases and insect pests. Take cuttings from your overwintering plants in late winter to propagate more transplants to move outdoors once the weather warms. To keep them from getting leggy as winter progresses, pinch them or keep them under plant lights.

 

Fleshy roots of cannas, dahlias, and even four o'clocks (Mirabilis jalapa), along with tender bulbs like caladiums (Caladium spp.) and tuberous begonias (Begonia spp.) can be dug and stored over winter.

 

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Saving Seeds
by Leesa Metzger - posted 11/06/17

You've met the tomato of your dreams…but you don't know his name.  Do you let cindertomato slip away? Saving our favorites through seed collection seems like a simple process. Walk through the woods or eat a few blackberries - seeds stick to our socks or between our teeth with little forethought from us.

However can you save seed and get the same plant next season? It all depends. Depends on the parent's genetics and whether the pollen came from the family or the mailman. Generally in order for seeds to develop, pollen has to be transferred to the female part of the flower either by insects, wind or gravity. If the parent's genetics are fairly stable through generations of inbreeding and the pollen comes from the family and not the mailman, then the seeds can be saved and then planted next season to produce a plant very similar to last season's plant.

The flowers of peas, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant are self-pollinating and saved seeds come with predictable outcomes. Many older cultivars and heirlooms are open-pollinated. Even though they cross-pollinate the genetics is fairly consistent. Saving seed from self-pollinated or open-pollinated plants will yield a similar plant; that is unless they are hybrids.

The tricky part to saving seed begins when the plant is a hybrid or the parents naturally cross-pollinate with other relatives. Any saved seeds from hybrids will produce wildly different offspring from their parents. If you are into the unpredictable, seeds saved from hybrids are your dream come true. Keep in mind some varieties are patented and therefore illegal to propagate.

If you are  willing to embrace any deviations, here are the basics to seed saving: For dry fruits such as marigold, zinnia, spider flower (cleome), most flowers, beans, peas, and herb seeds allow the seed to mature and dry as long as possible on the plant. Generally seed color changes from green to white, beige or brown when they mature.

 Complete the drying process by spreading on a screen in a single layer in a well-ventilated dry location. As seed dries the chaff or pods can be removed by hand or wind. For extremely small or lightweight seed such as dill put the dry seed heads into paper bags to catch seed as it falls.

For fleshy fruits such as tomatoes allow the fruit to ripen on the plant. Keep in mind vegetables will be past prime for eating if seeds are to be saved. Cut the fruit open and spoon the pulp and seeds into a glass container. Give the family an impending gross alert and set the pulp and seeds aside for one or two days to ferment and then spray water into the fermented solution. Healthy clean seeds will drop to the bottom of the container. Pour off the sediment. Several rinses may be necessary. Then spread the seed on paper towels to dry.

 After seeds are thoroughly dry, package in envelopes, label and date for storage in a cool, dry location. Generally, plants grown as annuals do not require freezer storage to encourage germination.

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