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Frequently Asked Questions
How do I water?
Water at the base of the plant and deep soak the root ball and the immediate area outside the root ball area. The surrounding ground is going to suck the moisture away from the immediate root ball so it is important to soak the entire area.
Watering this way will actually cut down on the frequency of visits you actually have to make with the hose. It is also best for your plants if you water this way.
Plants generally like to be thoroughly saturated with water and allowed time to drain in between watering. The exception to this is the first week or two after initially planting. After that it is imperative plants be given time between watering to drain. This is also how you get plants to establish themselves in their permanent location. If the plant is given time to drain between watering the roots will chase the water into the surrounding ground.
If watered daily the roots have no reason to go anywhere. Furthermore, roots need oxygen and if the are continually saturated they will begin to rot. One of the most difficult things in gardening to do is get a plant turned around when it is afflicted with root rot or other fungal problems initiated by over watering.
Also if your plant gets use to everyday watering and lives, when you take that two week vacation in August, it can be devastating for your plant friend back home.
How long do I water?
The length of time that you water primarily depends on the size of the plant when you purchased it.
Here is a listing of plant sizes and suggested water times:
- 1 Gallon = 2-3 Min
- 2 Gallon = 3 Min
- 3 Gallon = 3-4 Min
- 5 Gallon = 5-7 Min
- 7 Gallon = 7-10
- 10 Gallon = 10-15 Min
- 15 Gallon = 15-20 Min
- 20 Gallon = 20-25 Min
- 25 Gallon = 25-30 Min
- 45 Gallon = 30-40 Min
These are general guidelines and it is your responsibility to adjust them to your unique environmental conditions as described in Our Planting and care guide and How long do I water? sections of the site.
If the water is running all over the ground slow the flow down and possibly shower the surrounding ground again to break the surface tension so the ground can better absorb the water. Then slow the flow down and try watering at the base of the plant again.
When I pick up my plants, are there any special needs or instructions?
When you pick up your plants please bring old bed sheets or lightweight clothing tarping if you will be taking plants home in the back of an open bed pickup truck.
Plastic tarps are fine in cool weather. During the summer they kind of scare us because of the microwave effect. Cloth allows air to pass through it and is just better for protecting plants in transit.
Water your plants when you get them home because the windy ride has a way of drying them out.
Do plants need fertilizer and when is the best time to do it?
Yes! Plants need fertilizer.
Many of our soils are deficient in nutrients and it is definitely in your best interest to supplement your plants with a good time release fertilizer like the one we use. It's good for 8-9 months. It releases nutrients when the temps are 70F or higher when your plants are actively growing. It also has the micro nutrients such as magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, boron, sulfur, calcium and zinc that other fertilizers do not have. You just can't beat it!
Unlike other places that sell so many different varieties of fertilizer we sell one kind. That is because we believe in it. We also want you o be able to maintain the integrity of the plants you buy here.
The only other thing I might recommend in addition to time release is a shot of a water soluble fertilizer like miracle grow. Apply on May 20, June 20 and July 20 to really get things to pop, if you have the time and ambition. Otherwise time release is enough.
Time release fertilizers are wonderful because they free up so much time to do other things in the garden. Put them down in early April and enjoy!
Do plants require care during the winter months?
Yes. Sometimes plants do require care during the winter months. I always recommend if you have a thaw during the winter go out and water your conifers. Particularly if they have been in the ground less than 3 years. This is especially true of Charmaeyparis. This will prevent their foliage from drying out in the winter winds.
Something else to note is in the past 10 years there have been two to three times when we have had winter droughts. Just remember 7 inches of snow equals one inch of rain. Many times it will seem really wet out after a thaw, however there may just be ice in the surface of the ground preventing water from draining.
In late winter and early spring it is critical that if it has been dry you should start watering your plants. If they do not have significan moisture they will push new growth and die.
It's very hard to bring a plant back from this so do not let it happen!
Before winter, if you have not mulched with pine bark 2 inches deep your plants could suffer.
What is winter watering?
Essentially, the wind down on watering for your first and second year plantings would be water all the way up until the ground freezes. Even on plants that have been in the ground for several years you can give them a average size drink to help them keep tips from dieing back, help evergreens maintain the best color possible, and keep roots properly hydrated to keep them from dieing back during dry winters.
When you water something before the ground freezes the ice that forms around the roots during the freeze keeps roots from getting dessicated during dry winters. Properly mulching your plants with 2" of pine bark is highly recommended as well. Many people think really cold winters kill plants, this at times is true. However eratic shifts in temperatures freeze, thaw, freeze, thaw kills just as many plants. If your plants are properly mulched it helps keep the ground temps more stable.
When can I plant?
As long as the ground is thawed out in the spring we can plant all the way up until the ground freezes. There is no bad time to plant in our opinion. If you can get a shovel in the ground, get busy!
How big should my hole be?
We recommend a hole 2-3 times the diameter of the pot the plant is in. The hole should be 1in shallower than the root ball to prevent the plant from settling below grade which can be detrimental.
If you have heavy clay soil, dig the hole out wider and mince your soil as fine as possible. If you have decent soil you can get by with 2 times the width.
Can I plant in clay?
Yes you can!
We recommend making the planting 2-3in above grade and if you have gray clay, 3-5in above depending on how it will affect the aesthetics.
Gray clay is the worst of all clays and is usually a sign of the soil being inundated at one time or another.
Also, there is absolutely no oxygen in the clay and the particles of soil are so fine that there is very little room for roots to penetrate it and establish themselves.
If you have conditions like this it is advisable to get a soil test done by the Cooperative Extension Service or a private firm. They will be able to tell you what you will want to add to the soil to improve the conditions.
Here is what I do:
- 1 part composted manure
- 1 part fine grade pine bark
- 1 part Canadian Sphagnum
- 1 part top soil
Now till into the clay 8in deep and make sure you end up with 3-4ins of soil above grade. This will help ensure aeration of the soil. Leaf Mold is also an excellent amendment to use when developing a new bed.
It just consists of old composted leaves that have fallen from Deciduous trees.
What are amendments and which ones do I use?
Amendments are ingredients or materials that one can add to their garden to improve conditions for their plantings.
Some of my favorite amendments are black soil, brown top soil, Canadian Sphagnum peat moss, fine grade or sifted pine bark and compost manure.
The black and brown top soil are a good starting point for any garden.
The Canadian Sphagnum peat moss is another choice amendment because its PH is on the acidic side. A lot of plants seem to like the PH on the acidic side around 65 or so.
The fine grade pine bark is another good component to get the PH down. Pine bark brakes down an makes a great soil conditioner for clay type soils. It aerates it and facilitates getter drainage while adding much needed organic material.
Compost manure is great for adding organic material to the soil like pine bark. However it also has nutrients that release slowly into th soil and feed your plants.
What is a hardiness zone and where are they located?
Hardiness zones are areas on climatic zone maps that indicate the coldest or hottest temperatures a geographical area receives. Usually they are indicated in 10F ranges. In northeastern Indiana we are in zone-5 which is -10° to 20°F.
These charts are very useful in determining whether or not a plant is going to be hardy in a particular area of the country. Plants do not generally grow in one zone. Usually at a minimum they grow in two zones and often three to four different zones. An example of this would be Weigela Florida which grows in zones 5 to 8.
However these zones are not the be all end all in gardening. There are areas called microclimates and many times these areas are on the east side of houses sheltered from the northwest winter winds. They could be anywhere though as long as the area is protected.
Many times in northeast Indiana you can grow zone-6 plants in these areas. Its fun to pull this type of thing off, but it can blow up in your face and cost you some money too, so be careful!
An "old school" nursery man told me a few years ago that a lot of the zones in the literature were actually written by people in the UK and northwest coast, so he thought much of this was bogus. This was not just "soap boxing" either. He was actually growing zone-7 plants in the middle of Michigan!
At Blue River Nursery we generally stick to the plants that are zoned to our area in the literature. We may have a few offerings that don't jive with that info. However we will have plants in the trial garden to back up the fact we are selling the plant for our area.
How do I prune my pine, spruce and fir trees?
Generally a good time to prune your pine spruce and fir trees is in between May 2nd and June 5th. You can prune them later than this. However, your plants will set better buds for the following year if you prune during this small window of time. They will also take on the best shape if pruned during this time.
When should deciduous shrubs (shrubs that lose leaves during the winter) be pruned?
Generally we prune deciduous and shrubs June 15 and at the end of July. The reason for this timing is because most spring blooming shrubs are done flowering by June 15 or so. Pruning at this time tightens up the body of the shrub and promotes dense summer growth. At about the end of July a lot of deciduous shrubbery has lost its tight shape and needs a light to medium pruning job. It is important not to prune after August 1st to mid November. If deciduous shrubbery is pruned and new growth promoted during those times will not have time to harden off before the frost comes around the first of October and it will just get burned off (ouch!).
If you miss the second summer prune date, prune after the middle of November after the leaves have fallen, and the plants have gone dormant. Avoid pruning plants such as Lilacs, Weigela, Viburnums, Forcythia and other plants that flower on old wood during this time. If you prune these shrubs during this time you will prune off the flower buds for the following year. It is best to allow these plants to go unpruned and prune tightly after flowering is over in the spring.
Is there any guarantee on your plants?
The wonderful world of horticulture is as much an art as a science.
We have no control over weather, soil conditions, how you over or under water or how you plant.
To the best of our ability the plants you purchase are healthy, correctly named and hardy in zone 5 or even harsher conditions.
That is our only guarantee.
Can I order by phone?
Yes you can order by phone and pick up your plants at the nursery!
You can also have your plants delivered anywhere east of the Mississippi River inthe United States. At this time we do not ship internationally.
Plants are required to be paid in full at time of ordering. There are no cash or credit card refunds. Only store credit will be given. No exceptions. Plants will not be held for longer than 30-days from ordering and there is a 25% restocking fee for plants not picked up within 30-days.
We guarantee we will pull our best plants for these orders. We appreciate your trust and will spend your money as if it were our own. We may ask a few questions to make sure we pull the style of plant you are looking for and this being said everyone still has their own idea of what the perfect plant is.
Do you deliver?
Yes we do deliver! We have delivered as far as Chicago and into Ohio. If you are out of the local area, call or email and we will see what we can do to accommodate you. If you want our plants we will go out of our way to try and get them to you.
All loads will be tarped. We guarantee to get the plants to you in the same condition they left the nursery in. Occasionally a small branch gets broken on a big tree load. However most loads everything will arrive just fine and unscathed.
We have been doing this for 20-years.
Every load is different because of the different shapes and sizes of the plants. If anything major were to be damaged in shipping your plants on our truck, we would exchage it and make sure you are happy with the plants you have purchased.
In the even something arrives from UPS, FedEx or DHL in an unsatisfactory state, I recommend you keep the driver there on the spot while you unpack your box. File a claim immediately with the company.
Call us and let us know what is going on as well. We do our absolute best when packing our plants. However we have no control over how boxes are handled after they leave our facility.
Do you do landscaping and design?
Yes we do custom landscape installation and design work. All designs are unique. We do not do cookie cutter design work unless threatened with bodily harm ;). Feel free to give us a call so you can set up an appointment.
When are you open for business?
We are open from 9 AM to 6 PM. Closed Easter and July 4th.
Where are you located?
We are located 10-15 minutes west of Fort Wayne Indiana, 3 miles north off of U.S. Highway 30.
Warsaw Indiana is about a half hour drive if you’re taking U.S. Highway 30.
Most of the other towns and small cities in the area are about 30 minutes as well, including South Whitley, Rome City, Auburn, Garrett, Albion and Huntington Indiana.
Many of our guests come from Ohio as well. Here are some directions for those of you traveling from Ohio:
- I-469 North (east) to the 930 loop.
- Take 930 all the way around and veer to your right at U.S. 30
- Keep heading west on U.S. 30 for about 10-15 minutes
- Take a right at the light where 300 east intersects
- Go one mile north on 300 east
- Turn right on Hartman Road (Aptly named "13 curves")
- The nursery is about 2 miles down the road on the right
Do you recommend using stakes?
Many times we do recommend you stake your trees. It just depends on how top heavy the plant is in most cases. We recommend using the trimpro tree staking system, which is the same one we use in our nursery.
This system allows trees to move around and cause stress at the root level without allowing the tree to blow over. As a result trees root in quicker to the ground they are planted in and the trunk diameter increases quicker.
Another benefit of this system is it only utilizes one stake to stabilize the tree. Therefore it is almost invisible and does not detract from the aesthetics of your new tree such as other messy systems that use cords, hoses, ropes or more stakes.
What do you do if you have insect and disease problems on your plants?
I have found that the cooperative extension service is a great source of information on questions regarding insects and diseases of plants. In the Fort Wayne area the phone # is 260-481-6826. You can google many things and get good info on problems too. For example type in a search of what is white coloration on phlox leaves. You may have to look at the search results a bit but I am sure you will find powdery mildew in the top ten.
What plants are deer proof?
There are lots of different lists of plants that are supposed to be deer resistant. The key to that is these plants are SUPPOSED to be deer resistant. This is not a guarantee. Like people, deers have their own apetites and if they get hungry enough they will eat almost anything. So these are just a list of some plants that are said to be deer resistant: Candytuft (Iberis), Blue Plumbago, Bearded Iris, Yarrow, Russian Sage, Monkshood (Aconitum), False Indigo (Baptesia), Butterfly Bush (Buddleia), Maiden Grass, Blue Oat Grass.
What can I do to deter deer from eating my plants?
You can hang Irish Spring soap from a rope and this keeps deer away because it is the scent of man. The same can be done with Bounce Fabric softener sheets. Reflective items such as blank cds may be tied up with fish line and allowed to blow in the wind and make shiney reflections that startle deer and keep them moving. This works especially well in the fall when the bucks are in the rut and have antlers and are at their most destructive phase of the year.