April Greenhouse News

Denim Jump-up Violas

The planting line has been zooming along every day to fill the greenhouses with our pretty plants.

Planting Line

The potting benches have also been in full swing with people planting everything from bare root perennials to succulents to combo baskets.

Planting at a bench

While the social distancing does slow us down a little, it is worth it to keep everyone as safe as possible.

We are using biocontrol’s in the Annual greenhouses again. We have taken the next step and expanded to using a banker plant system for aphid control.

Aphid Banker Plant

This system helps establish a population of the parasitic wasps that will eat aphids in the greenhouses. How does this work? It sounds so strange, but we intentionally brought in plants with a certain kind of aphid already on them as a food source for the wasps and then released the wasps in the greenhouses. The wasps will lay their eggs in the aphids on the banker plants.This is what an aphid looks like after the wasp has laid their egg. They turn a bronze color and look swollen.

parasitized aphid

By the time it is warm enough that aphids start coming in from outside, we will have a bunch of hungry little wasps hatching and ready to take them on. It takes a couple weeks to get the populations established because it takes that long for the first round to start hatching. FYI, even though they are wasps, they do not sting us. I’m a little bit of a science nerd and I think bugs are fascinating, so it is really exciting for me to see the aphid mummies start showing up in the banker plants.

The annuals are growing to beat the band. Pansies and violas are full of flowers and have already been sent to the stores. The pansies are usually my favorite, but these little denim jump-up violas are so pretty!

Denim Jump-up Violas

Matt has added quite a few new annual varieties this year. This one caught my eye the other day.

It is a double petunia called ‘Midnight Gold. Isn’t it striking?

Double Petunia

What would you plant it with? I really like mixing black flowers with intense pinks and blues so I think it would look real pretty with Iced Cherry verbena, a blue salvia or lobelia and something with silver foliage like silver falls or Angel Wings senecio. Oh, I think I just picked out the color scheme for my containers!

We also have a few new things going on in perennials. We are debuting a 15cm line of perennials for spring. They will be available for a limited time and will be a great option for people getting started with their perennial flower beds.

We have many new varieties of perennials this year as well. The full list is on our website but here are a few that I am looking forward to growing and seeing them bloom.

We grow new colors of bearded Iris almost every year and this new one, ‘Innocent Star’, is already blooming!

Iris Innocent Star

Isn’t it pretty? All the bearded irises we grow are repeat bloomers. This means that they will have an early spring bloom and will bloom again later in the year. The exact time of bloom and re-bloom will depend on the variety and since Irises make great cut flowers, I would recommend picking out as many different colors as you have room to plant.

While they don’t look like much right now, come August these perennial hibiscus will be showstoppers.

Newly planted perennial Hibiscus

We have added few new colors including ‘Evening Rose’ and ‘Dark Mystery’.

Hibiscus Evening Rose Hibiscus Dark Mystery

Both varieties have dark foliage that will contrast with the flowers and make them pop!

In other exciting news, we are starting to fill the perennial benches at both stores this week so let’s get gardening! What are you going to plant this year?

Written by

Cathy Maxson is Sargent's Gardens Perennial Growing manager. In addition to making sure Sargent's grown plants thrive, she enjoys growing in her own garden, canning fruits and vegetables, traveling, and walking her dogs.