When lilacs are in bloom you will know because they smell absolutely wonderful and provide a show of excellent colors! Most lilacs only bloom for 3 weeks in the spring, but there are exceptions...like the 'Bloomerang' and 'Josee' cultivars. They are the only re-bloomers that do well in our climate. Lilacs can withstand shade and will actually be perfectly fine, but they will not produced nearly as many blooms if they are shaded. They like at least 6-8 hours of full sun each day. The more sun they can get the stronger scent and more blooms they will have!
The best time to prune lilacs is just after they are done flowering because they will start producing new buds that same summer. If you prune a lilac in the fall you are most likely eliminating next season's flowers.
Lilacs are one of many species of plants that are more susceptible to powdery mildew than others. 'Bloomerang' cultivar is an great option for powdery mildew and deer resistant.
Tapping for Maple Syrup
Can I tap other types of Maple trees if I don't have sugar maples?
Yes. The sugar maple contains the highest concentration of sugar, therefore it will always be the #1 option, but other maples that are commonly tapped include the silver, black, and red maple. If you are going to tap a maple tree and it is not a sugar maple, make sure to do a little more research! Budding times and other factors can vary drastically.
Silver Maple Leaf Black Maple Leaf Red Maple Leaf
When to tap?
Late winter or early spring. It all depends on temperature. Sap starts to flow when days are consistently above freezing and nights are below freezing. The drastic temperature changes create a pressure which starts the flow of sap! Heaviest flows are typically late February to mid March. The sap is no longer good once the trees start to bud.
How does the process work?
For every 40 gallons of sap collected, one gallon of maple syrup is made! The process is quite simple. You boil down the sap typically over a wood stove until it reaches 219 degrees Fahrenheit. There are methods that can speed up the process like reverse osmosis systems. This step directly separates the water out of the sap leaving you with higher concentrated sap before boiling. It can reduce boiling time by 60-75%.
Written by Sierra
Azaleas & Rhododendrons: Both Spring Bloomers and look similar, but how are they different?
#1 Pay attention to this trick during the fall and winter months. Azaleas are deciduous, therefore they will drop their leaves in the fall, put out buds, and then get new foliage in the spring. An azalea will have no leaves during the winter months; only buds. Rhododendrons are evergreens so they keep their leaves all year long.
#2 Pay attention to this trick during the Spring. They have different shaped flowers. Azaleas have a tube or funnel shaped flower, whereas rhododendrons flowers are more bell shaped.
#3 Pay attention to this trick during the summer months. Azaleas leaves have appressed hairs almost fuzzy-like. These hairs help protect the leaves when they emerge from their buds in early spring. Rhododendrons have scaly leaves and often have dots underneath.
#4 Another Spring trick! Azaleas only have 5 stamens, whereas rhododendrons can have almost double. Stamens are the male parts of a flower that look like strings or little branches coming out of the center of the flower.
Plant of the Week by Sierra
Nothing announces spring is finally here quite as cheerily as a forsythia. The bright yellow blooms are one of the first things to bloom in the spring when the forsythia becomes covered in small, bell shaped flowers. Though the rest of the year you are left with a simple, green shrub, the spring display makes this one absolutely worth it.
Uses: Forsythia comes in a wide range of sizes from the low, spreading Gold Tide forsythia at only 1-2 feet tall and wide all the way to Beatrix Farrand forsythia which stands at 10 feet tall with blooms up to 2 inches wide. So whatever size space you look to fill, forsythia is a good option!
Fun Fact: Already have a forsythia bush? Want more? To propagate your forsythia, just take a cutting of a stem and set it a good, wet potting soil. Wait a few weeks and it will root and become a new shrub! forsythia will also spread naturally, slowly colonizing an area via the roots.
Hardiness zones: 3-8
Winterberry is native to the Eastern United States and Southeast Canada. Commonly found in moist swamps and thickets within these regions.
Uses: Winterberry branches are prized by many décor and art enthusiasts for uses in floral arrangements, winter window boxes, wreaths, and mistletoes.
Fun Fact: The berries are mildly toxic to humans and animals. Also, beware that if you decide to use winterberry in your landscape you are welcoming robins, mockingbirds, cedar waxwings, deer, raccoons, and mice to your yard.
Hardiness zones: 3-9
We are always looking for good shade plants for out landscapes and this evergreen is one of the best. With a hardyness zone going all the way to 2 for some varieties you can be sure this plant will do just fine in Minnesota's long, harsh winter. With dense, dark green foliage these look great in a hedge or just trim it back now and then and let it's natural shape take over. From tall upright forms to low and sprawling there is surely a yew to fit any space.
One caution with this plant is that it is poisonous! They are not recommended for homes with small children or pets.
Fun Fact: Yews are all over in ancient lore. The oldest yews are thousands of years old! Due to their long life and poisonous nature they are often used in ancient mythology to symbolize death and are referred to in Gaelic, Celtic, and Scottish lore. They also have a very close nit wood grain and make great, sturdy furniture.
Hanging Evergreens are an ancient tradition?
Nothing screams the holidays more than the fresh scent of cedar and pine. The fragrance of evergreens have always played a large role in the spirit of Christmas. Along with mistletoe and holly, evergreens have been a symbolic role in the holiday season throughout the centuries.
Dating back to primitive European tribes, evergreens were hung over their doorways to welcome winter spirits in the hopes of receiving good health and fortune. Evergreens were a sign of good luck and brought hope of a prosperous spring. To many ancient people, holiday evergreens symbolized everlasting life because they stayed green and alive when other plants appeared brown and dead. Romans would decorate their homes with evergreens to celebrate the Festival of Saturnalia, the god of agriculture.
Decking the halls with boughs of holly was another special tradition because hollys shiny leaves and red berries were considered magical during the middle of winter and ensured good dreams when hung over the bed. Mistletoe was a symbol of love and forgiveness to the Drudis and Scandinavians and thought to have powers of fertility.
Decorating your home with your favorite evergreens has been a long lasting tradition. From celebrating the the winter solstice to filling the air with Christmas spirit, evergreens will bring joy to the holidays and remind us all that spring will soon come again.
Globe Blue Spruce
Dwarf Globe Blue Spruce, Picea pungens Globosa
3-5 ft tall and 5-6 ft wide
Full to Part Sun
Bright blue needles in spring that fade to deeper blue
The Dwarf Globe Blue Spruce is native to the western United States. In the wild it grows best in dry, well drained soil and in higher elevations. The bright blue needles have helped make this one of the most popular evergreens in ou area. With a hardiness zone going all the way to 2 you don't have to worry about this shrub struggling in our long winters.
Uses: This small shrub is often used as an accent in rock gardens or to provide winter interest in a foundation planting. Often these shrubs are grafted to a standard, giving them a 'lollipop tree' appearance and used as a small accent tree near front entrances or along paths.
Fun Fact: They are super slow growers so they only grow maybe 1-6” per year! Hint hint, this is what classifies this conifer as ‘dwarf’.
Hardiness zones: 2-8
Buying a real Christmas tree is better than purchasing a fake one?
Christmas trees support wildlife, provide oxygen for mother earth, grow in soils that don't support other crops, benefit soil stabilization and water erosion. Artificial trees are petroleum-based and created in factories that emit carbon monoxide.
For every Christmas tree cut and sold, three new seedlings take its place. Artificial trees last an average of 3-5 years and are disposed in a landfill and take centuries to dispose while real Christmas trees are biodegradable.
Christmas trees can be recycled in a variety of way from mulch, fish habitats to elephant food.
To find out more fun facts, benefits of buying a real Christmas tree and where to recycle your tree click the link below!
Euphorbia pulcherrima, Poinsettia
Over 100 types ranging from 1 to 15 feet tall and wide
Red, pink, and white 'blooms' are the most common
Poinsettias are native to mexico and in the wild can grow up to 15' tall. The Aztecs used the red bracts to make dye and the sap to help control fevers. But we all know the Poinsettia as a Holiday plant. This came about as a Mexican legend about a little girl on Christmas giving one to Jesus.
What we commonly refer to as petals on the Poinsettia plant are actually modified leaves called bracts. Normally they are simply green however if they have 12 hours of darkness every day for about a month this triggers the plant to bloom and the bracts turn those bright, vibrant colors.
Poinsettias can stay beautiful in your home for months with the right care. They cannot tolerate freezing, however they do want to be between 55-65 degrees typically. They also like the soil to be a bit drier so be sure to punch holes in the foil that typically wraps a poinsettia to allow excess water to drain out.
Fun Fact: Poinsettias are not poisonous. This is an extremely common misconception surrounding this plant but many studies have been done to prove it. It is estimated a person would have to consume hundreds of poinsettia leaves or bracts before any symptoms would show and even then it is mostly indigestion.