10 April 2009

Baskets and Bedding Plants, Oh My

Gardeners who walk into the greenhouses and growing house at Carson Borovetz Nursery in Muskogee are greeted with the scent of blooming flowers and the sight of rows and rows of bedding plants.

The blooming flats of petunias come in bright colors of hot pink, red and white stripe, purple and white, yellow, white, lavender, and others. Petunias love heat and need at least 6 hours of sun a day to achieve their best flowering. They tolerate average garden soil as long as it drains well. If they are to be planted in heavy clay, dig in some compost before planting.

While you are digging up the bed put in some fertilizer such as the composted Earth Smart chicken manure available at Carson Borovetz. Pete Carson told me he brought in ten-tons of composted manure in 40-pound bags to meet this year’s demand.

Carson also is offering Osmocote this year in hand-filled bags (2-pounds $5). This slow-release chemical fertilizer will keep your flowers blooming for three months.

I’m offering the Osmocote this way for two reasons, Carson said. It saves the customer money and also helps the environment by not sending more plastic containers to the landfill.

If you buy one of the hanging baskets of Wave Petunias to cascade with color all summer, water and fertilize often.

We made 600 hanging baskets this year, Carson said. We have six colors of Wave Petunia, large ferns, Begonias, Purslane, geraniums (Pelargonium), and others. And, everything in hanging baskets is also available in 4-inch pots ready to be planted.

Dwarf Dahlias make another good choice for a sunny location. Either enjoy them as annuals or the dig up the tubers after the first frost, store them over the winter and replant them next spring.

Tomato and pepper growers will be happy to know that Carson grew 11 tomato varieties and 5 pepper varieties this year. The plants are 3 for $1.20.

Tickseed (Coreopsis lanceolata Asteraceae) can take prolonged moist soil and some drought. Bright yellow flowers bloom 2-feet tall in full sun and part shade.

Candytuft would be a great low growing companion plant (Iberis semperviren). White flowers bloom on an 8-inch tall mound in full sun.

Strawflowers (Helichrysum bracteatum) are the most widely grown everlasting variety and Carson has the yellow ones this year. Gardeners cut the flowers just as they open, then hang them upside down by a string in a well-ventilated, cool place until they are completely dry.

When you go to the nursery, you will find an entire table full of bedding Salvia in red, white, bicolor red and white (looks like a peppermint candy), purple and lilac. They grow 8 to 15 inches tall, like sun and part shade.

Also look for the Purslane and Moss Rose (Portulaca oleracea and Portulaca grandiflora) in pots and hanging baskets. Grow in sandy soil that drains well. Great for pots.

All the plants in the Portulaca family are edible. The leaves are rich in iron and omega-3 fatty acids. Chinese medicine used these plants as antibacterial and fever reducing remedies. The juice of Moss Rose leaves is used to treat insect bites, burns and eczema.

Other plants to look for: Annual and perennial pinks, sweet potato vine, Black-eyed Susan vine, Asparagus ferns, Heliotrope and much more.

Carson’s new employee, Susan Billingmeier loves being around the plants and the customers.

Billingmeier said, My grandmother, Oma Irving, was in the Muskogee Garden Club and her gardens were often in the Muskogee paper. She got me started with my love of flowers.

Carson said his goal is to grow a decent start for people so they can have a beautiful garden full of the best and most affordable plants.

Carson Borovetz Nursery is at 3020 North Street, between York Street and Country Club Road in Muskogee OK. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday Pete Carson: 918-682-4404

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