Don’t let names fool you: You may want ‘weeds’ & ‘worts’ in your garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko A weed is any plant you don’t want in your garden. So who would want a plant with “weed” already in its name? And “wort” sounds like “wart,” those unappealing skin blemishes. Yuck! “Wort” is often coupled with the name of some body part —such as in “lungwort.” Double yuck! Don’t be turned off by those names. “Weed” comes from an Old English word for herb. The archaic meaning of “wort”, which has lingered in some…

witch-hazel flowers

Witch-hazel’s fragrant blooms add interest in autumn & winter

If you’re looking for a plant that blooms in your garden now, consider witch-hazel. American witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is a native shrub that produces fragrant blooms in late fall and early winter, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The streamer-like flowers are just starting to appear at this time of year, following the annual loss of the shrub’s leaves. The yellow flowers typically last into December. Since witch-hazel is one of the few plants blooming now,…

autumn leaves on grass

It’s leaf season! 9 tips for using autumn leaves in your garden

by Connie Oswald Stofko We enjoyed many weeks of beautiful autumn color in Western New York this year! Now it’s time for the leaves to fall. The bad news is that our recent strong winds brought down branches as well as leaves. I hope you didn’t sustain any damage. The good news is that the fallen leaves give us things to do in our landscapes at this time of year. And those leaves can be used in so many ways!…

Hosta 'Sum of All'

Three tips on overwintering perennials in containers

by Connie Oswald Stofko It’s time to think about some simple steps to overwinter your plant. These tips should work with any kind of perennial that is winter hardy; that is, any perennial that would come back in spring if it was planted in a garden bed over the winter. Bonus tip: Before we get into that, let me say that I was impressed by this stunning hosta at the home of Marcia and David Sully in Eden. I’ve written…

rose hip with flowers in background

How to start roses from seed using rose hips in autumn

by David Clark, CNLP If you want to try to start roses from seed, autumn is the time to do it. However, because of cross-pollination, there is no guarantee that the plant you get from those seeds will flower true; that is, those seeds may not produce the same kind of flower that your original plant produced. On the other hand, you may find a new and exciting variety! What are rose hips? The rose hip is the fruit of…

yellow dahlia flower by Stofko

Dahlias: How to dig & store them for winter

Dahlias are beautiful flowers that you can enjoy year after year, but the tubers don’t fare well if you leave them in the garden over the winter. You should dig your dahlia tubers up before there’s a hard frost, according to information on dahlias from the National Garden Bureau, a non-profit organization for the gardening industry. A hard frost occurs when temperatures drop below 28. A good indication of when to dig your tubers up is when the plant starts…

White and pink amaryllis in bloom by Stofko

Forcing amaryllis: Were we doing it wrong?

by Connie Oswald Stofko A few years ago, David Clark, nationally and internationally known gardening educator, shared tips with us on potting and caring for an amaryllis. Now he has changed his methods. “It’s always good to learn new ways,” Clark said. “What a huge difference it made in the way my flowers grew.” Clark also gives us advice on what to do if the amaryllis gets red streaks on its leaves. You can learn more from Clark in the…

succulents blooming in September

Seven ideas for autumn gardening in Western New York

by Connie Oswald Stofko It’s officially autumn on the calendar, but there are still gardening things to do. Here are some ideas we have shared in past articles. Even if they’re not new to you, it’s always good to get a reminder. Tasks you can do in your autumn garden: Harvest, weed, water & enjoy Debug your houseplants before bringing them inside Test soil and amend it if necessary Enjoy waves of spring color in a single spot or even…

Should you cut back roses in autumn?

After reading a previous article about roses, a reader asked a follow-up question: “Hello! I was always told to cut back rose bushes in the fall. That’s wrong?” Here is the response from Bonnie Vitale, president of the Western New York Rose Society: Save the hard pruning for spring. In the fall, cut off any broken stems. Some gardeners like to cut their rose bushes down to a height of 18-24 inches in the fall to prevent wind and snow…

daffodil hyacinth tulips and narcissus

Plant bulbs in fall for spring blooms

by Connie Oswald Stofko Every spring I hear of someone who wants to plant tulips. If you want tulips, you can’t wait until spring! This is the time to plant tulip bulbs. The same goes for crocuses, daffodils or narcissus, hyacinths and allium. This the time of year when garden centers generally have spring bulbs available, said Mark Yadon, vice president at Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses. He recommends getting them planted right away; they have a rather short shelf life. If…