Category Archives: Perennial

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Planting Your Own Hanging Baskets and Containers

Fun Fact: Belgian Nursery plants and grows over 6,000 hanging baskets and 1,500+ planters and window boxes on site! So we know a few tips and tricks when it comes to planting your own containers for Annuals, Vegetables, and Herb plants:

Sun or Shade
Before you start selecting your plants, you have to know your light conditions. The amount of sunlight the intended area receives is one of the most important factors, simply because it’s the only one that’s out of our control. Petunias that are tucked under a porch overhang will not have enough energy to reach their full blooming potential, and Boston Ferns can burn to a crisp in the afternoon sun. If you’re unsure whether your site is considered full sun or part shade, these definitions can help:

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Warning: Frost!

Have your green thumbs been itching to get outdoors and into the dirt? Ours too, like they do every year once the sun starts coming out from behind the clouds. Typically, it’s safe to start planting outdoors around the Victoria Day weekend, but remember that Mother Nature is in charge of the schedule—some years we’ve had frost as late as early June!

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Dividing Perennials

Dividing Perennials in Spring

Reasons to divide your Perennials (after they’ve had at least 3 years in the gardens to grow and establish):
– Rejuvenation: keep the plants looking full and lush
– Propagation: turn one plant into two or more to spread around your gardens
– Community: share your perennial bounty with your friends and neighbours!

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old man hands uprooting weeds in his garden

Preparing Your Gardens for Spring!

Ah, Spring! That most glorious of words, a sign that there are other colours besides ‘grey’ and ‘slush’ after a not-so colourful winter. The sun rises earlier, and weather reports use terms like “thaw” and “rising temperature” with sincerity. Plus we can start wearing less than 10 layers of clothing, oh happy day!

After a tough winter, our gardens may be looking a little worse for wear — guess that’s why they call it “spring cleaning”! Follow these helpful tips to prepare your outdoor spaces for another incredible year of flowers, fruit, and foliage:

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Hellebores

Plant Profile: Helleborus (Hellebores)

Picture this: It’s a typical late winter/early spring, it’s still chilly outside, and your gardens are covered in white. But wait, what’s that poking through the snow banks? There’s no way anything would be awake this early?! But there it is, a flower bud actually pushing through the snow to the light above – the first Hellebore of the season!

Helleborus are incredible early spring bloomers, and we mean early spring! As soon as they feel a slight rise in temperature they’re ready to make their mark on the world, and they won’t let something as trivial as snow (or winter in general) get in their way. What a perfect Canadian perennial!

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Spring/Summer Bulbs (Glads, not Daffs)

What do you think of when you hear “flower bulbs”? Tulips, Daffodils, Hyacinths, the usual. Now think of “Spring Bulbs” and what comes to mind? Tulips, Daffodils…well, yes, those all flower in spring, but they have to be planted in the fall. We’re talking about bulbs you plant in spring to get the gorgeous blooms anytime from spring through fall, depending on the variety. And while many are tubers, rhizomes, corms, and other non-bulbs, the point is that they’re all oh so pretty! Read on to learn about some of our favourites, which can be found in the Main Store in early spring, depending on availability.

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Early Spring Flowers

Early Spring Bloomers

The snowbanks are slowly melting, you swear you heard a robin’s song in the trees, and your green thumb is starting to itch – all sure signs that spring is coming! But before you get too excited about this year’s veggie crop, there are still the cold nights and late frosts to consider. Most Annuals and new Perennials cannot tolerate frost, but that doesn’t mean we have to wait until late May before we can get a healthy dose of colour. There are lots of early spring plants that can handle a few light frosts while welcoming the arrival of warmer weather!

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Green Cucumber seedling on tray close up

Let’s Get Growing!

Believe it or not, now is the perfect time to start planning for indoor seeding! Ignore the chilly weather outside and set yourself up with some pots, potting mix, and seeds of your choice to get a head start on spring gardening.

If you’re a first-timer, vegetables like Peas, Kale, and Lettuce are super easy to start. Or maybe you’ve been around the seed trays for a while now and are looking to add to your perennial garden. No matter your expertise, so long as you follow the packet’s instructions (and have a little patience!) you’ll soon be eyeing rows and rows of cute little sprouts.

Keep It Simple         

The seed racks can be overwhelming, so keep in mind that each seed needs its own space. Keep your numbers manageable and seed only what you can easily commit to care for, including how much space you have for pots. Most seed varieties are viable for up to 3 years, though the first year will give you the best germination. If you find you have seeds leftover, store them in a cool, dry, dark location until next year.

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Fall Bulbs Pic 1

Fall Bulbs: Plant Now for Spring Colour!

Fall is a fantastic time for planting, so take advantage of the cooler temperatures and plan(t) ahead for next spring! Many of your favourite spring bloomers, including Daffodils, Tulips, Crocus, Hyacinths, and Allium, arrive as bulbs in early fall and need to be planted before the deep frosts arrive. Fall bulbs need 12-16 weeks of cold weather before they can flower, and each variety has its own “temperature gauge” that tells them when the soil is warm enough to burst through to the open air.

Fall bulbs come in many varieties, including:

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gardening with gloves and boots in the lavender garden

You Can Still Plant Perennials in the Fall!

Yes, there is still time to plant Perennials! Even though the days are getting shorter, Fall is still a great time to create new or add to your Perennial gardens since the (typically) cooler temperatures mean one less thing for your newly planted varieties to deal with. Those lower temperatures also make it more pleasant for us gardeners to get back into the dirt, doing all those physical garden jobs like pulling weeds and digging to fill in any bare spots. Added bonus: fewer mosquitoes!

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Itoh Peony

Perennial Plant Profile: Itoh Peony (Paeonia hybrid)

Light: Full Sun
Water: Deeply and regularly in first year; drought tolerant once established
Height and Spread: typically ranges from 24” to 36” (60 to 90cm)

     There are hundreds of Peony varieties out there, and until about 80 years ago only two types were available: Tree and Herbaceous. Tree Peonies are known for their giant and gorgeous blooms, while Herbaceous Peonies are much hardier and can handle cold winters. Then a certain doctor made it his life’s work to combine the best of both Peonies, and the hybrid Itoh Peony was born!

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Perennial Fruit

Perennial Profile: Perennial Fruit and Vegetables

There is nothing better than picking your own fresh fruit straight from the vine, or runner, or cane for that matter! Soaking up all that sunshine and deep waterings means extra fresh flavour, not to mention the lack of being packed on a transport truck for thousands of miles. So why not add to your growing edible gardens with Belgian’s selection of Perennial Fruit and Vegetables?

First, the basics: nearly every Perennial Fruit and Vegetable needs a full sun location (at least 6 hours per day) and regular watering, especially in the first few years of growth and while it’s fruiting. Most varieties will take at least 2 years before you get a decent harvest, though some can take up to 7! And each has its own flowering and fruiting seasons; check the individual tags for even more detailed information on planting, pollinating, harvesting, and pruning needs.

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Annual Perennial

Annuals or Perennials: What’s the Difference?

As you walk through Belgian Nursery during the busy Spring season, you may wonder we have a “Perennial Centre” and “Annual Greenhouses” – aren’t all plants the same? They all need sun, water, soil, airflow, maybe some fertilizer, so what’s the difference?

The Basics:

Annuals Bloom All Summer then Die Off In Fall — Plant Every Year

Perennials Bloom for 3-6 Weeks but Come Back Every Year — Plant Once

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Senior woman applying fertilizer plant food to soil for vegetable and flower garden. Fertilizer and agriculture industry, development, economy and Investment growth concept.

Which Fertilizer Is Best? Well, it depends…

It’s amazing how plants can take such simple ingredients – sunlight, water, soil, air – and turn them into a four-course meal. But sometimes they need a little boost to keep up that vitality, and that’s where fertilizers and other soil additives come in. They’re like multivitamins for your plants, and just like the vitamin shelves at the pharmacy there are LOTS of options out there! Hopefully, the following can help you sort out which fertilizer/additive/combination is right for your plants.

The topic of fertilizing is a large, open-ended category since it literally means anything added to the soil, but we’ll keep the manures and peat moss to another blog. For now, we’ll focus on the three big letters: N, P, and K.

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old man hands uprooting weeds in his garden

Preparing Your Gardens for Spring!

     Ah, Spring! That most glorious of words, a sign that there are other colours besides ‘grey’ and ‘slush’ after a not-so colourful winter. The sun rises earlier, and weather reports use terms like “thaw” and “rising temperature” with sincerity. Plus we can start wearing less than 10 layers of clothing, oh happy day!

     Here’s the thing, though. As the snow banks melt away they reveal…well, a bit of a mess. Our gardens may be looking a little worse for wear after a tough winter, but that’s why they call it “spring cleaning” after all! Follow these helpful tips to prepare your outdoor spaces for another incredible year of flowers, fruit, and foliage:

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Bagged Goods Garden

Belgian’s Bagged Goods and Their Uses

We are all about proper plant care here at Belgian, so we try to carry items you’ll need to keep your plants happy and thriving. But what exactly is vermiculite? Do you really need to add charcoal to your pots? Which potting soil is best for which plants? So let’s shed some light on our Bagged Goods:

Potting Soils – use for both indoor and outdoor pots, planters, hanging baskets, etc.

All-Purpose: our “yellow” and “purple” bags are from two Canadian suppliers, Fafard and Lambert. Fafard/Yellow can be used for nearly any indoor and outdoor container planting need. Lambert/Purple is a lighter mixture thanks to its slightly higher peat moss content, and very similar to what we grow all of our Annual crops (and African Violet soil that used to be available years ago); it’s great for indoor planting, seeding, and propagating.

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Early Spring Bloomers pic

Early Spring Bloomers

     It’s happening! The snow banks are melting, your green thumb is itching, and was that a robin you just heard? Yes, all signs are pointing to that oh-so glorious word SPRING! But, as all Canadians are painfully aware, this magical thaw won’t reach its peak overnight, so we’ll all have to be patient as we wait for Mother Nature to get all the cold nights and late frosts out of her system. We’ve done it before, we can do it again; luckily, we don’t have to wait too long before getting our dose of colour.

     Most annuals, and newly planted perennials, cannot handle any kind of frost. Let’s say that again: Most Annuals and Newly Planted Perennials CANNOT Handle Any Kind of Frost! Seriously, we can’t stress this point enough, and this is why there’s an entire paragraph about how they can’t handle frost. Good? Great, let’s move on.

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Rudbeckia (2)

Fall – A Fantastic Time for Planting!

After these long, hot and dry days of summer, some of our gardens and planters may be looking a bit exhausted. Fall brings us shorter days, more frequent rainfalls (hopefully), and bearable temperatures for working in the flowerbeds. Now is the time to remove those pesky weeds, fill in some bare spots and replace those plants that just aren’t right. For your planters, consider adding some fall flowers like Ornamental Cabbage & Kale or Garden Mums. While these varieties are not hardy for our winters, they’ll last well into the fall and even handle some light frosts. 

Consider adding some varieties of perennials that are fall or even late-fall blooming to support your backyard pollinator friends (like bees, butterflies and hummingbirds) so they have enough food for the upcoming winter season. Here are just a few great options that come to mind:

Sedum (Stonecrop), Aster (Michaelmas Daisy), Achillea (Yarrow), Agastache (Anise Hyssops), Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan), Echinacea (Coneflower), Echinops (Globe Thistle), Monarda (Bee-balm), Prevorskia (Russian Sage), Ascelpias (Butterfly Weed), Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed), Gaillardia (Blanket Flower), Helenium (Sneeze Weed), Helianthus (Perennial Sunflower), Heliopsis (False Sunflower), Calamintha (Catmint), Coreopsis (Tickseed), Salvia (Perennial Sage), and Lavendula (Lavender).

Browse through the Perennial Center to see what is blooming for inspiration OR I’m sure a wander through your neighborhood can also be a great inspiration!

Garlic is another fall task. Even though garlic can be planted in spring or fall, I find that when it’s planted in the fall it produces better heads with more intense flavour!‎ Start by picking a spot in your vegetable or herb garden, divide the head of garlic into cloves and plant them in a row about 3 inches deep. Harvest in mid to late summer and enjoy!

 

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Grow Your Own Cut Flowers!

What could be better than creating a stunning bouquet that you have grown yourself? Some of the most memorable bunches of flowers I have received are hand-picked by my children (true, at times they are mostly dandelions, but still!). My favourite hand-made bouquet has been a simple vase filled with Garlic Chives – they have white blooms that last for weeks!

Use bold blossoms like Peonies and Iris or tall spiky flowers like Delphiniums, Veronica and Lavender, then use delicate flowers like Scabiosa or Lady’s Mantle to fill in or frame your centrepieces. Create designer masterpieces with “in season” flowers inspired by an afternoon in your garden.

Try different textures like Rosemary, Lady’s Mantle, and Celosia. Remember that some of the standard plants in your garden can help fill in your creations as well, like adding a few Hosta leaves for a bold foliage feel. Herbs are also a fun addition – beyond adding just flowers and greenery you will also be adding delicious aromas!

But the absolute best part of having a cut flower garden is that you can share it with everyone! A beautiful vase filled with a home-grown, handmade bouquet would make a spectacular hostess gift.

Steps and Tips:

The best time to cut your flowers is either before the morning dew has dried or in the early evening.

Cut above a node or leaf to let even more blooms grow for future bouquets.

Place stems in lukewarm water as soon as you cut them.

Prior to placing your cut flowers in their arrangements, cut their stems on a slight angle and place in a vase of warm water.

Change the vase’s water every few days.

Take time to enjoy them!

Blog – growing perennials in

Growing Perennials in Pots & Planters

It’s no secret that there are lots of benefits to container gardening. Growing perennials in pots & planters is a new idea to some gardeners, but it is a great way to change up your containers and add some new ideas. And with the right care, perennials in containers can be overwintered and grown again the following year! Here are a couple of things that you should always keep in mind when planning potential perennial planters: Read More

Blog – planting a bee friendly

Planting a Bee-friendly Garden

Why plant a bee garden?

Bees help us, a lot! As much as 3/4 of the food we eat depends on bees for pollination. And now more than ever, our bee friends could use a hand in return. This can be as easy and fun as potting up a planter or two, or scattering a few wildflower seeds in an unused section of your yard. Whatever the scale of your garden, we gardeners can make a big difference for our little buzzing buddies! Read More

Project_0443Josh Gabriel Photography Belgian Nursery 55th Aniversary

Fall vs. Spring Garden Clean Up

For most perennials, whether you cut them back in the fall verses spring is completely up to you. Before you start, determine which season gives you more time for working in the garden. And consider what may provide winter interest: many taller grasses or perennials with seed heads atop sturdy stems can look very attractive with frost/snow on them, even providing a place for wildlife, like birds, to rest. Read More

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