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Ideas & Inspiration
Mammoth Mums and Minnesota Mums
We are all Mums around here!
A truly perennial mum is one that can withstand temperatures as cold as -30°F! Just like us hearty and colorful Minnesotans! You’ll be amazed when you see hundreds of beautiful, brightly colored flowers that butterflies just love! Plant them in full sun to partial shade and then enjoy their spectacular fall beauty. They are so easy to take care of—no pinching, pruning or deadheading required!
Look for MN hardy mums and Mammoth mums in the garden center. They’re only around for a short time!
Not all mums are lucky enough to be true perennials, but both mammoth mums and Minnesota mums are hardy enough to stand in that category. These two varieties of mums are perfect for places where the weather gets a little colder than most blooming plants would like. Their hardiness and bright, bold colors make them a must for any cold-weather garden design.
Mammoth mums were designed by the University of Minnesota to handle the age-old curse that lingers over gardeners to this day: the average cold snap. When winter rolls around, even normal mums crumple under the weight of ice and cold, but not the mammoth mums. These bad boys are planted in spring rather than in early fall, giving them several extra months to establish their roots. This not only gives them the security to survive the winter and become a true perennial but helps them accrue more energy to grow and bloom, making them bigger and better than your common, garden-variety mums. When planting, keep a few things in mind:
- Plant in well-draining soil
- They’ll grow up to 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide, so space seeds or young plants accordingly (they’re called “mammoth” for a reason)
- They overwinter well all the way up to zone 3
- Don’t break off dead growth in the winter, leave that until the weather warms in spring
- Plant between early March and mid-April for best results
- Plants do well in full sun but keep away from around-the-clock artificial lights to promote better blooming
Though they’re not quite as big as their mammoth counterparts, Minnesota mums are just as reliable when it comes to shaking off the cold of the namesake state’s harsh winters. They’ve been in the works since the 1920s, and that longstanding dedication to bringing longevity to this plant definitely shows. It’s a cushion habitat mum, meaning the plant itself is dome-shaped and covered by flowers on its outer surface. They come in a huge variety of colors, ranging from pale gold to vivid autumnal red, making them the perfect addition to any garden. When planting and caring for your plant:
- Plant any time in May, after the last frost has passed
- Don’t remove dead growth in winter – wait until spring
- They overwinter well in zones four to eight but benefit hugely from leaf coverage during winter
- Plant in full sun or part shade, away from round-the-clock artificial lighting whenever possible
- Plant in well-drained soil
- Height and spread expected to reach 12 – 18 inches
If you’ve been checking out mums for sale Minneapolis, rest assured that there are no better mums to spruce up your garden than these two frost-resistant options. For additional questions or for more information contact SunnySide-Gardens Online or over the phone at 612-712-3054.
How to Make Your Pumpkins Last Longer
Regardless of how much technology progresses, how many lights you slap-up, or how many fake spider webs you spread oh-so-carefully in your well-kept shrubs, your house will never look ready for Halloween (or fall in general, for that matter) without at least one pristine pumpkin out front. People have been carving pumpkins (or turnips, beets, and even potatoes) into jack-o-lanterns for centuries, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.
As nice as it feels to partake in the age-old tradition of stabbing a gourd into pleasing shapes and scooping out its guts, it’s always disappointing to see your hard work go to rot in a matter of a few days. Fortunately, that doesn’t have to be the case! Storing pumpkins the right way can help you get more enjoyment out of your annual carving spree and keep your home looking festive for a little longer.
A Little Prep Work
It may come as a shock to know, but pumpkins are wet on the inside. The tough exterior skin protects the soft, moist insides from the elements, but once you carve into that outer shell, that protection is compromised, and your pumpkin will begin to mold and sag quickly. Fortunately, taking a few steps prior to carving your pumpkin can help reduce bacteria count on the inner surface to keep your pumpkin creation standing strong for a little longer:
- Clean the inside and outside surfaces with a mixture of one tablespoon bleach and one-quart water
- Allow the pumpkin to dry completely after cleaning before carving
- After carving, give it another bleach treatment – leave it submerged for 24 hours in a bucket filled with water and 2/3 cup of bleach
By killing off as much bacteria as possible, you’re slowing the rate at which your gourd will mold, thus keeping it firm and shapely.
While on Display
Your job as a responsible pumpkin perfectionist doesn’t end when you plop your creation on the porch, all bleached up and expertly carved. In fact, maintaining your pumpkin while it’s in full view of the world (or your neighborhood, at least) is perhaps the most demanding part. In order to keep your pumpkin perky after the carving is done:
- Don’t use real candles – flameless votive candles and battery-operated lights are best
- Rub a bit of petroleum jelly on all the carved edges to keep them sealed and moist (but be sure to clean the pumpkin first!)
- Use a peppermint conditioning spray to moisturize your pumpkin daily – and get the extra benefit of a good whiff of peppermint whenever you pass by
- Pick a shady, cool spot that generally stays pretty dry for display
One of the most details of how to store pumpkins properly is temperature. Try not to leave your pumpkin outside when it’s freezing. If you’re expecting temps under 50 or 60 degrees Fahrenheit, take your pumpkin inside. If it’s too warm, consider putting your pumpkin in the fridge when it’s not on display.
If It Starts to Wilt
No matter how hard you try, no pumpkin is immortal, and even your most delicate, wonderful carving creation will start to sag eventually. Fortunately, you can fight these early signs of aging to get just a little more time out of your hard-won decoration. If it’s starting to wrinkle around the edges despite the petroleum jelly and daily peppermint spritz, it’s time to get serious about hydration. Give your pumpkin an overnight ice bath, a good thorough soak, and that should keep your gourd looking great.
Get Your Perfect Pumpkin
How long do pumpkins last on average? According to sources, most jack-o-lanterns hold out for five to ten days. How long do they last with these tips? That depends on how adamant you are about your pumpkin care.
Make sure you get the most out of every master carving you make this holiday season by starting with a pristine pumpkin and doing everything in your power to keep it moist, cool, and clean. Contact Sunnyside Gardens for more info on pumpkin care and find the perfect gourd to serve as your fall canvas.
What Is the Difference Between Fraser, Balsam Fir, and Canaan Fir Christmas Trees?
Though the debate between fake Christmas trees and real trees continues to rage strong, anyone who’s serious about Christmas cheer knows that investing in a real, live, fresh tree is the best way to set the mood in any home. Real Christmas trees smell nice, look nice, feel nice, and they’re better for the environment. Hard to beat that, right?
It’s deciding on which type of tree to invest in, though, that’s really the hardest part of this annual dilemma. Understanding the differences between the main three types of trees you’ll come across this holiday season – Fraser, Balsam, and Canaan firs – can help you make the best decision for your home.
Fraser fir Christmas trees are the perfect option for those looking to get the biggest and best out of their tree. It’s one of the strongest and long lasting options out there, making it ideal for décor-lovers who have endless amounts of ornaments to fill the branches with. The branches angle slightly upwards, giving the tree a perky, cheery look that’s sure to impress. Fraser firs:
- Grow up to 50 ft. tall
- Have bluish-green needles
- Give off a mild fragrance
- Are some of the most common Christmas tree finds
These trees lack the strong fir smell some people look for in a tree, but make up for it with thick, strong branches and a fullness that’s hard to find anywhere else. They’re easily available and fit well with any décor.
The Balsam fir Christmas tree is likely the first option that comes to mind when you begin thinking about holiday trees, even if you’re not aware of it. These small-to-medium-sized trees are immediately noticeable for their conical shape, marking them as the iconic Christmas tree that they are. Their dark green needles are also interspersed with natural hints of silver, which bring a bigger sparkle to your Christmas décor. These hints of color and the tree’s beautiful green shade are why branches of these trees are so often used for wreaths, garlands, and bouquets. Balsam firs:
- Grow up to 82 ft. tall in the wild
- Have dark green, thin needles
- Give off a strong, sweet-spicy fragrance
- Have an iconic look and feel that complements any décor scheme
These classic trees have the perfect conical shape and fragrant, deep green needles most people want from a tree. However, they’re usually somewhat smaller than both Canaan firs and Fraser firs, and its branches may not be quite as sturdy.
Canaan firs are closely related to Balsam firs. They look much the same in some aspects but are bigger, heartier, and stronger than their Balsam counterparts. In this way, it’s much like a hearty Fraser fir, effectively making this tree a hybrid of the two other options. Unlike the other two, though, this tree is relatively new to the Christmas tree market, making it difficult to find in some areas. Canaan firs:
- Grow up to a whopping 98 ft. tall in the wild
- Have bright, rich green needles
- Give off a medium fragrance
- Feature an ideal combination of both Balsam and Fraser firs
Canaan firs are the best of both worlds. They have the heartiness and branch-strength of a Fraser, but the conical shape and rich green needles of a Balsam. However, their smell is milder, and in most areas, these trees will be more difficult to find than both other options.
Find Your Perfect Tree
Canaan, Balsam, Fraser, or something else entirely, you’ll find the perfect tree when you shop at Sunnyside Gardens. Contact this established gardening retailer to learn more about what these tree varieties have to offer your home this holiday season and find the perfect color, shape, height, and fragrance that appeals to your holiday plans.
Winter Wreath Ideas to Decorate Your Holiday Doorstep
The holidays are about togetherness, love, family, and friends, but do you know what else this time of year is perfect for?
Showing off your design capabilities to their fullest extent, and nothing gets your vision across faster than carefully-chosen front door decor during the winter season. Your front door is the portal to your home, the part of your house that makes the first impression on every guest, carol-singer, and passerby. Make sure it’s a good one by taking into account these excellent winter wreath ideas this holiday season.
Keep It Classic
Red and green is a combination that immediately sparks a sense of Christmas cheer in even the Grinch-iest guest, so why not harness that power and make it work for your doorstep? If you have the time and willpower, consider painting your door a bright, festive red this holiday season. Pair that with a simple green wreath adorned with pinecones and other neutral accents to keep things both classy and classic all season long.
Make a White Christmas
If the front of your home already has a lot of white to enjoy, use that in your favor. Pair a white door with simple, snow-dusted ornaments like lanterns, wreaths, and garland to bring Christmas to your front door in any setting. Earn bonus points by carrying on this theme with nearby windows to make a complete picture.
Berry Pretty If you want a simple pop of color in your front door, consider using bright winter berries (such as winterberry and other options) as a part of your design scheme. Many winter wreaths and garlands come with these worked in as a bright accent already, where they add a touch of rustic charm to any design scheme. Surround your door with luscious berry accents and even consider adding a basket of berry-sprouting fronds at your doorstep.
There’s something about the vast, snowy stretches of Scandinavia that just shout “Christmas” to anyone who glances that way. With a few evergreen branches donned with heavy red berries, a few bright ornaments, you can bring this sense of holiday cheer to your home. This design scheme works exceptionally well when set against the background of a darker-colored home.
Think Beyond the Door
Of course, you never need to touch your door at all to give your doorstep a dose of holiday cheer. Adding a pair of matching spruce top arrangements on each side of your doorstep is enough to get the job done. If this is the route you decide to go, remember that bigger is often better. Having multiple textures and leaf shapes helps the arrangement stay eye-catching among surrounding décor. Additionally, a splash of red in the form of berries, ornaments, or lights set against the greenery of your arrangement is always a plus.
Endless options await those looking for the perfect way to spruce up their doorstep this holiday season. Contact Sunnyside Gardens to check out all the live greenery that’ll get you one of these great looks, or help you invent one of your very own. From berries to spruce tops, wreaths, and pre-made pots, this store has the front porch decorations you need to achieve the perfect holiday look and feel for your entire home.
The Beauty & Pollinator Benefits of Asters
Fall is approaching, and with it plenty of cool weather – but that’s no excuse to have a dull, boring, sparse garden. Plenty of flowering plants thrive in this shifting weather, and none are more remarkable (and easy to care for) than the aster, one of New England’s most notable wildflowers.
These plants manage to brighten up roadsides and fields on their own – so why not harness that power for your garden? Wild asters are bright, colorful, easy to care for and come with other unseen benefits that help more than just your garden, making them the perfect option, whether it be a full flowerbed in your front yard or just some well-arranged pots on an apartment balcony.
A Dash of Color
Asters naturally come in a huge variety of colors, sizes, and shapes, making them the perfect option for those looking to maintain a vibrant and varied garden. Some of the options you might find while searching for the perfect aster plant for creating the perfect ambiance for your patio include:
• Whitewood aster
• Large-leaved wood-aster
• Blue wood-aster
• Tall white aster
• New England aster
Of all these, the New England aster – otherwise known as “purple dome” aster – is one of the most common and most beautiful options – perfect for sprucing up your designated coffee-sipping space. This iteration of the wildflower species features bright purple petals around vivid yellow centers and low yet broad growth that offers a great deal of natural greenery to any space.
Better yet, this version of the aster tends to be smaller than other subspecies, which makes it ideal for even the most cramped balcony space on the block. They enjoy the bright sun, they’re colorful, and they smell nice. There’s nothing not to love about wild asters.
Save the Bees (And Other Insects, Too)
Unless you’ve been living under a rock in some far-off forest, then you know that bees have been having a rough time of things over the past several years. In fact, one well-known species – the bumblebee – was placed on the endangered species list as recently as 2017.
While you may not be able to write laws or perform miracles to help the species, there are things you can do to support your local bees. Planting a wild aster flower in your designated garden space is one of those things.
Asters are hugely popular among pollinator insects like bees that take full advantage of the changing season to stock up on food for the long winter ahead.
They serve as an excellent source for pollinators of all space and sizes, giving bees, butterflies, and more a great place to kick their feet up and rest their wings while grabbing up some of the sweet nectar and pollen that these plants produce. They draw in a wide range of different species, including:
• Miner bees
• Monarch butterflies (and others)
• Larval stages of Pearl Crescent and Checkerspot butterflies
If you’re concerned about the bees, do your part in supporting your local pollinators. Asters provide these fuzzy friends and other important insects with a place to rest, to snack, and to stock up on important pollen that they then spread around to help the environment flourish. They’re the perfect addition to any eco-conscious garden.
Get Your Seeds ASAP
The typical blooming period for the “purple dome” or New England aster is from August to October. Ensure you don’t miss a single opportunity to stop and smell the wildflowers or offer a snack to your favorite bees by ordering your seeds as soon as possible.
Learn more about planting seasons, light requirements, nurturing these wonderful plants, and more by contacting Sunnyside Gardens. Not only will this unique and experienced garden center get you the perfect aster seeds, but the professional staff can also inform you of how to care for your flowers every step of the way.
Image Credit: Shutterstock/sasimoto
House Plants & Their Health Benefits
House plants make beautiful roommates and improve the air quality of your living space, but they can also have health benefits beyond providing fresh oxygen to your environment. Plants have long been used for medicinal purposes when ingested or applied topically, but just having them in your presence daily can provide health benefits. This is especially important due to the modern lifestyles of renters without frequent access to green spaces. If you are looking for an excuse to buy a house plant in Minneapolis, try some of these known health-supporting options.
Get a Better Night’s Sleep
Whether you are constantly on the go or having trouble winding down at night, a lack of quality nights of sleep can be a real problem for many individuals. Some ways to improve sleep quality include temperature regulation of your space and improved air quality. Snake plants are known to help keep the temperature lower and steadier in an indoor environment, while gardenias are beautiful and fragrant but also contain crocetin, which can improve sleep quality.
Take a Mental Break
Besides being aesthetically pleasing and relaxing to view when you need a mental break, the scent of some houseplants can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety or depression and improve your mood. Many people use lavender essential oils or other scented items for relaxation and reduction of stress, so it’s no surprise that keeping a lavender plant indoors can have a similar effect on your mood. Jasmine also works well as a mood stabilizer since it can stimulate the emotion-regulating part of your brain.
Reduce Air Toxins
The presence of any indoor plant will increase air purity and reduce toxins, but several specific ones are particularly gifted at reducing air pollution in your home. Luckily, these same plants are easy to maintain. Air pollution in your home can come from a variety of sources, including household products and materials used in flooring and furniture. If toxins are a concern, consider a combination of air-purifying plants for your collection.
- Boston fern. A popular plant that can be grown both in and outdoors, the Boston fern specializes in formaldehyde removal.
- Peace lily. People like to give peace lilies as presents, and they are the gifts that keep giving as they can remove ammonia, acetone, and other toxins from the air.
- Snake plants. These plants are able to clean the air throughout the night and are easy to maintain even in low light.
Say Goodbye to Headaches and Pain
Some dual-purpose plants like the feverfew can be both relaxing to view and can be used as a supplement in tea to treat headaches or other pain. Croton is a large plant that beautifies your space, and the purifying and relaxation benefits are bonuses. One of the most common and easy to maintain house plants, the philodendron, is both pleasing to the eye and has purifying effects that can lead to a perceived reduction in pain.
Relief from Cold and Sinus Issues
The most well-known plant for helping clear up congestion is the eucalyptus. If you have chronic sinus issues or just need to clear your system when you have a cold, a eucalyptus plant is a must-have in your indoor space. Another option for better breathing is the areca palm. This plant helps keep moisture in the air, making breathing easier.
Pick Out Your House Plant Today
If you want to check out your options for house plants in Minneapolis, stop by or contact Sunnyside Gardens to check out their selection of health-boosting and beautiful indoor plans. Ask us any questions you have about the specific health concerns you have, and our team can direct you to the types of plants that can help you on the path to healing.
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Pollinator Gardening & Perennial Gardening
How do you choose plants for your garden? For new gardeners, two traits set plants apart from other options. Pollinators attract bees, butterflies, insects, and even hummingbirds. Perennial plants are known for growing back in the spring, so you can count on having them in your garden for years to come. Check out these gardening tips in Minneapolis for some ways to plant a garden that will last years and support local wildlife.
Keeper of the Bees
There are many types of plants that will attract bees to your garden. Whether you have an expansive backyard or potted plants on an apartment balcony, they’ll help you get in touch with nature. Bee-friendy plants not treated with pesticides allow local bee colonies to thrive. Just keeping these plants can help the declining honey bee populations stay stable. It’s a simple, easy way to give back to the environment while benefiting from a great view and floral scents. Other pollinators like butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to bright, pollen-filled flowers too. Pick out native plants for extra helpfulness and less maintenance. They tend to grow easily because they’re exactly where they are supposed to be. This means you don’t have to fret overcareful watering routines or pruning since they are predisposed to thrive in your environment.
Some plants known for their ability to attract pollinators are:
- Perennial asters attract honey bees
- Monarda, also known as bee balm, brings in long-tongued honeybees, hawk moths, and hummingbirds
Milkweed is great for butterflies
- Purple coneflowers attract bumblebees, long-horned bees, leafcutter bees, and more
Long-Term Investment Plants
Perennial plants are defined by their ability to live for more than two years. They become dormant in the winter when it gets too cold for them to grow and thrive, but they come back in the spring. Their long lives make them a good option for those who want more bang for their buck. They’re also low-maintenance because they flower each year after only being planted once. That makes them a good option for gardeners who are just starting out.
These choices are some of the options that are easy to tend to:
- Nepeta-Cat Mint
- Shasta daisy
Putting Together a Garden of Pollinator and Perennial Plants
Now that you know the basics of pollinators and perennials, how do you assemble a garden out of them? Native plants are generally easier to grow because they are adapted to the kind of climate your region has. Look for plants that are from the Great Lakes region to better cater to the local bee, butterfly, and hummingbird population.
Gardens benefit from variety, and so will your insect friends. Having a range of flower types will let different bee species find plants to collect nectar from. Pollinators can be generalists or specialists. Generalists can take nectar from a variety of plants, but specialists will only be able to take from certain plant types.
Consider buying plants in a few colors, and placing them together. The effect will give your garden some visual structure. Seeing a larger mass of color will also attract more pollinators since a large mass is easier for them to spot.
Sunnyside Gardens is the go-to garden center for everything from shrubs to houseplants in Minneapolis. We also offer custom containers, landscaping services, and garden maintenance. Contact us for more information about our services or the plants we have for sale.