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Vol. 23, No. 3 July / August / September 2015 - La Crosse Floral

In this issue:


Did you know?

The name “petunia” originated from the word “petun” which stands for “tobacco” from South America. The tobacco and petunia plants are closely related and can be crossbred. Besides just tobacco, petunias are also related to tomatoes, potatoes, and chili peppers.

Flower Facts

Sunflowers move throughout the day in response to the movement of the sun from east to west.

Saffron, a very expensive spice, comes from a type of crocus flower.


Top 10 Trending Wedding Colors

That’s right! It’s summer! The sun is out and wedding bells are ringing. Here’s a list of the top 10 colors trending in weddings.

  1. Navy – a peaceful easy feeling
  2. Plum – when paired with burgundy, it gives a fresh garden vibrant duo
  3. Blush – brings out the playful and romantic sides of people
  4. Tan – gives a rich organic feel
  5. Pastels – playful yet romance but also a grown up look
  6. Burgundy – rich and bold
  7. Orange – so carefree and contemporary
  8. Brown – soft and sublime…VERY CHIC!
  9. Yellow – gives the feel of fresh autumn air and a look with a pop of color
  10. White – elegant yet sophisticated


Garden Glossary

Fully Hardy (-5°F) – Many temperate climbers from both the Northern and Southern hemispheres fit into this category. Eg. Boston Ivy, Honeysuckle, Rose, Clematis.

Frost Hardy (+23°F) – Some temperate and some Mediterranean-type climbers fit into this category. Eg. Wisteria, Hydrangea, Jasmine, Passion Flower.

Half Hardy (+32°F) – Some subtropical climbers and most Mediterranean-type climbers fit into this category. Eg. Bougainvillea, Allamanda, Mandevilla.

Tender (+50°F) – Most tropical and many subtropical climbers fit into this category. Eg. Sweet Pea, Thunbergia, Philodendron, Morning Glory, some Mandevilla.


Dr. Greenthumb

In 1966 I planted a rock garden about eight feet wide and thirty feet long in the form of a crescent. I never expected most flowers would have survived after almost fifty years. Most of the rock came from the foundation of a barn that stood where my house is now. Spring begins with a show of mini daffodils, Glory of the snow and snowdrop bulbs. Next to bloom are miniature iris and a hardy primrose. Over the years the yellow sedum, hardy rose, lavender, and perennial geranium bloom. I have to pull or cut them back or they would take over the entire area. Years ago I dug some pink oxalis and yellow eyed grass from a hill in Minnesota. They come back every year in late May. A few miniature roses have existed without winter cover. I have added some blue color with campanula and hardy salvia. A few taller hosta and a single yucca plant create a beautiful background. In June sweet alyssum naturally fills in the blank spaces. Old pieces of driftwood create focal points. On the northwest side in my regular garden I have planted a double spirea, and under a log obtained from a trip to the shore of Lake Michigan—a boxwood bush, a bush clematis, and a bonsai mugo pine. When it snows in winter these act as a snowfence and deposit a natural winter cover of snow on the rock garden. Except for pulling a few weeds, the garden is maintenance free.

Dr. G.

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The Little Sprout

What’s the buzz? So much is in the news these days about our bee populations. Just the other night I got home with just enough time to see our local news, with a story about the bees. I am all in favor of building our level of beehives, ever since the damage wrought by the 2006 mass bee die off known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). In reality, the US Department of Agriculture announced in March of 2015 that honey production, continues to improve, up 14 percent in 2014. The total number of hives also increased again, by 100,000 or 4 percent, as it had increased the year before and the year before that. After a rocky few years as the CCD crisis unfolded, beehive numbers stabilized and then began a gradual improvement- and now stand at 20 year highs in North America and worldwide (Source: Genetic Literacy Project Mar. 23, 2015). I think that is GREAT NEWS!

So- what is the big deal? What is under major discussion is the debate over whether and how much neonicotinoids (a class of insecticides) are impacting bee health. The total number of beehives today is higher than it was in 1995 when neonics had just come to the market. In March of 2015- First- researchers from the University of Maryland, the USDA, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), published in a premier scientific journal the results of a three year study on bees and neonicotinoids. The scientists did not observe negative impacts on bee colony health until neonic exposures were four to 20 times higher than real- world field levels of chronic exposure. The scientists concluded that bee health challenges are multifaceted and found “neonicotinoid pesticides to be an unlikely sole cause of colony decline”. Couple that with the info I stated previously, and the result is even more confusing for the consumer. I would strongly encourage you to reference and read the entire article from the Genetic Literacy Project Mar. 23, 2015. Make sure you read about the devastating effects in the U.K. when neonics were banned for the farmers; Europe is experiencing a similar effect. This past fall, farmers in the U.K. experienced an infestation of flea beetles affecting the rapeseed crops (in America known as canola) resulting in a 40 percent decrease in production. In the European Union (EU), Germany is the largest producer of rape. Since rape is one of the main flower crops, providing huge amounts of pollen and nectar for bees, this will hurt wild bee numbers as well as farmers’ livelihoods.

So, as one can see, this is a really complex and confusing issue with no quick and easy answers. La Crosse Floral is a member of both AmericanHort and SAF (Society of American Florists). In addition, I review Scholarships worldwide for the American Floral Endowment (AFE). All these entities, along with the Horticultural Research Institute, launched the Bee and Pollinator Stewardship Initiative. This initiative ensures that as a Grower of Plants, we have a diverse array of tools for managing pests and producing healthy plants. It is also about ensuring that Growers like us, and gardening consumers are making sound decisions in the interest of protecting bees and pollinators.

Here are some ways the Home Gardener can help:

  • Use a wide variety of plants that bloom from early spring to fall. Plant in clumps, so the pollinators can find their favorites.
  • Avoid some modern hybrids and DO look for single blooms.
  • When spraying- use the least toxic possible (we have quite a few that “smother”), and spray in evening when bees and other friends aren’t as active.
  • Include “larval host” plants in your garden. At La Crosse Floral we have Info sheets in mailboxes, such as “ Butterfly Gardening”, and “ Hummingbird Gardening” with lots of suggestions.
  • Spare the limb! Huh? By leaving an occasional dead limb you are providing essential nesting sites for native bees. Just make sure they are not a safety hazard for curious children or pets.
  • Add nectar resources with a hummingbird feeder filled with 4 parts water to 1 part table sugar. Never use honey, fruit juices, or artificial sweeteners. Butterflies are attracted to: overripe bananas, oranges, or other fruits.

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Grower To Grower

One of the wonderful sights of mid summer are the butterflies perched on top of the blossoms of the Buddleia (butterfly bush). The abundance of flowers with their bright color catch our eye. The sweet nectar of the butterfly bush draws a multitude of North American butterflies. Bees and hummingbirds also love the nectar. There are a wide variety of colors available such as white, pink, rose, red, lavender, and purple. The flowers are either upright or arched. The fragrant flowers bloom from early to mid summer and into fall, often putting on a show after other plants are done.

Within the cultivars, Buddleia can grow up to7 feet in height and up to 8 feet in width. They break dormancy, or their winter sleep, late in spring. They are within the USDA Hardiness zones 5-9. We are in zone 4, so winter hardiness can be a problem.. spreading a thick 6” deep later of mulch will help them overwinter to spring. A hard pruning in spring will aid in a wonderful display of blooms since Buddleia bloom on the new wood produced in spring. Do not fertilize heavily because this will promote leaf growth instead of blooms. Buddleia is a drought tolerant plant. Once it is established it will withstand periods of low rainfall. However, if stressed to much, spider mites can become a problem.

Each blossom is composed of tiny florets, which are clustered in tapered spires from 4 to 20 inches long. Buddleia are deer resistant and tolerate urban pollution. Flowers are produced on new wood, as stated earlier, so stems lost in winter will not impact the following summers flowerings. Dead heading, by removing old blossoms, encourages re-blooming and reduces the spread of seeds.

In past years, Buddleia have gotten a bad reputation for being labeled as invasive. This bad rap is due to their weedy and prolific seed production. Blossom clean up in the summer and fall, and weeding out of unwanted seedlings are helpful in reducing their spread. Plant breeding may be an answer to this problem. New seedless varieties have come on the market in recent years. Here is a short list of sterile varieties:

B. Davidii Buzz Series (annual zone 6)

B. Davidii Asian Moon

B. Davidii Miss Molly

B. Davidii Miss Ruby

Flutturby series

Lo & Behold series

If you love the sight of bees and butterflies in the summer, give Buddleia a try. They are widely adaptable to a variety of conditions, and easy to grow in natural or disturbed landscapes. You will be attracted to the variety of colors as much as the butterflies.

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Teresa’s Pieces

Well, summer ain’t over yet! I’m going to give you some tips to keep your herbs and veggies strong to prolong their bounty.


July is here and there’s still time to plant. Use empty pots, spots, and harvested rows to sow seeds and add transplants. Mulch around plants to keep roots moist and cool, reduce weeds, and enrich the soil.

Pick herbs mid-morning after the dew dries. This is when their essential oils are at their peak. Letting the plants set blooms before picking enhances flavor and fragrance.

Thin out beets and radishes to develop and strengthen roots. They’re ready to pull when roots are full size.

Leaf lettuce is ready to pick when outer leaves get about 6 inches. Replant now for a fall harvest.

Broccoli can go from small buds to ready-to-harvest quite rapidly. Harvest full sized heads before yellow flowers appear. Leaving side shoots ensure a later crop but with smaller heads.

Spinach is ready when outer leaves reach a length of 8 inches or so. As days get longer and hotter your spinach become larger, remove the whole plant.

Keep picking summer squash to keep plants producing.

You’ll need to water your veggies and herbs more frequently in hot, dry weather. However, less is better when temps become cooler or rainfall has been plentiful. Otherwise an inch or so a week is sufficient.

Keep fertilizing! Feed vine crops like cukes, tomatoes, and beans when fruit appears. Root crops, sweet corn, and leafy vegetables need to dine when they’re ½ their full size. When the end of July arrives, stop fertilizing peppers. Too much fertilizer after this time keep leaves green, but will hinder the ripening of the peppers.

Updating your garden journal now will help you plan for next year. Include names of veggies and herb varieties that you like and did well.


August is the time to check for overcrowding in your garden. Remove excess plants to allow plenty of space for remaining seedlings to grown and mature. This helps cut down on diseases also.

Melons and other vine crops that creep along the ground or lay in soil in pots need protection from rotting as they ripen. Mulching under the fruit, or placing the fruit on an upside-down plastic lid prevents rotting.

Tomatoes are ready for picking when they’re fully colored, but letting them ripen on the vine for another 5-7 days enhances the flavor.

Check lower leaves of tomatoes for early blight and leaf spots. Remove affected leaves and destroy them. Use a fungicide to prevent spreading of disease. Try Bonide Garden Dust, which is also an insecticide.

Spuds are ready to dig when the tops die. The tubers will be full size at this time. Store potatoes in a spot that is dark and cool.

Pick a peck! Peppers are good to go when the fruit is firm and fully colored. Separate the hot and mild peppers as you pick, so you don’t have any surprises later.

Cukes should be harvested according to how you’re going to be using them. For sweet pickles, pick when they’re 1 ½ – 2 ½ inches long; for dill pickles 3-4 inches long, and 6-9 for slicing cucumbers.

When the top of onions plop over and dry, harvest them. Onion sets don’t store as well as those started from seeds or plants so dig those first.

Make sure your herbs and vegetables are still receiving sufficient water and food.


September is kinda the last “hurrah” of the summer. Plant short season and frost-tolerant plants such as peas, spinach, lettuce, greens, and onion sets.

Herbs that you want to overwinter should be dug up and potted. In our zone 4, mints, english thyme, chives and some lavender can stay in the ground year after year.

Garlic, one of my ultimate faves, can be planted the first 2 weeks in September. This is a little risky but can result in bigger and more flavorful plants next year. Mulching keeps them cozy all winter.

Continue to harvest squash, peppers, and tomatoes.

Use a knife to cut eggplants off the vine. They’re ripe when fruits are deep colored, shiny, and measure about 7 inches long.

Harvest watermelons when they’re dull-colored and the part touching the ground turns cream colored. The tendrils near the fruit will dry and curl when the melons are fully ripe. Muskmelon stems will separate from the fruit; when the crack makes its way all around the stems, the melon is fully ripe and delish!

Rhubarb should be harvested before the first killing frost. The rest of the plants can be cut back after a hard freeze.

Continue to water the garden as needed, but stop fertilizing. Do however, continue to feed containerized plants.

Pruning out stem tips on tomatoes, squash, and melons allows the plants to concentrate their energy on ripening remaining fruits, not producing new fruits that won’t have time to mature.

Peace out,grab a lawn chair and a cold one, and savor summer!

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KZ’s Kreative Korner

Did you know that you could use fruits and vegetables to dye fabric? Really, you can! Instead of buying dye from the store, make your own natural dyes.

Here are some fruits and vegetables to help you get started with colors:

Blues – blueberries

Purples – blackberries, red cabbage leaves

Red/Pink – strawberries, raspberries, beets

Yellow/Brown – orange and lemon peels

Orange – onion skins

Green – spinach, cabbage

Cover the fruits or vegetables with twice as much water in a sauce pan. Over medium heat, bring to a simmer for an hour. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Then strain the mixture, keeping the dyed water in a container.

To color fabric using the strained fruit water, boil your fabric in 4 cups of this water and ¼ cups of salt for an hour. This will create longer-lasting colored fabric.

To color fabric using the strained vegetable water, boil your fabric in 4 cups of this water and 1 cup of vinegar for an hour. Again, this will make the color fabric last longer.

Then rinse your fabric in regular cold water. If it has not reached your desired color, let your fabric soak in the natural dye water, without heat, until your desired color is reached.

Now that summer is here, you can rock out your tie-dyed clothing, NATURALLY!

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Gardening “Trends” as we move into the 2016 Gardening Season are really about what we have noticed on a local level for the past few seasons. According to HGTV, trends for 2016 are:

Neon Shades – These are the hyper-vivid flowers in colors that “pop,” even on a cloudy day. In petunias this year, best sellers included Headliner “Electric Orange and Espresso “Frappe Rose.”

Soft Heirloom Hues – Blush tones and shades are currently all the rage in Bridal selections. There is a cut flower rose called “Sahara” that is tops in what our brides select for their special day. In the garden, a Proven Winner called Snowstorm Blue Bubbles is quite lovely. You may have heard of Bacopa—they have been renamed “Sutera”–and Blue Bubbles is a sport of them that does not stall out in the heat of summer.

Heat Tolerance – Speaking of the heat, did you know La Crosse typically has the highest low temperature at night? We often look at University of Georgia trials when we select what we grown for you to buy. Examples includes: Lobelia HOT Waterblue, Sundiascia Upright Peach, and Magadi Blue Lobelia. Plants that have always been for full sun locations now have heat tolerance built in. Just like there are “zones” for plant hardiness, a Heat Index map has been published and is regulary updated.

Tip to Tale Eating – Just like the trend in livestock, this trend refers to eating all that a plant has to offer. An example is a new Pea from Burpee- “Masterpiece Peas”. You can eat the parsley- like tendrils, shell the peas to eat, or keep the peas in their edible pods.

Outdoor Plants Indoors – The gifting of plants makes this trend a “no-brainer”. We have been growing both Gasana and Toscana Strawberries for 3 years. These plants continuously produce strawberries. Plus you can have outside in the summer, and bring indoors when night temperatures dip. Another plant to consider is “Bandana Purple” Lavender. It is actually not designed to be outdoors or hardy in our Zone in Wisconsin. Rather, this petite plant also can come inside for your cold winter.

Compact Potato Vines – You all love Potato Vines ( Ipomea). But did you realize just how many different kinds and colors of them exist? Black, green, lime green, bronze, purple, – cut leaf, round leaf, heart leaf, teardrop leaf- and now the research is in hybridizing them to be small and not produce a big tuber under the soil. Most of you are familiar with Marguerite- which can trail up to 5 feet! We also grow Emerald Lace, Blackie, and Heart Red – all much more compact!

Bigger Blooms – This size of blooms refers to the “Million Bells”, or “Superbelle” mini petunias. We have been growing the “Cabaret” series of mini petunias for 4 years now, and notice you prefer them vs. the Superbelles. Each year we have more and more colors available to us. We also grew “SuperCal” mini petunias this year and LOVE them! Stop out to see them in our own gardens.

Food Centric – We all know how much healthier it is to grow and harvest food from our own garden. This is my second year with celery. Although it is a very thirsty plant, my celery has encouraged me to eat more chicken salads, cook more stir fry, and even just put out a jar of peanut butter and some cheese spread next to my pot of celery (with a clipper) when entertaining on the rooftop.

Bi Color is Big! – You may have noticed all the 2 tone petunias, geraniums, impatiens, etc. in the last few years. As you read this, you simply MUST stop in to see the “Zebra” Angelonia- it is hot pink and purple. Plus- the deer don’t eat it!

Depending on where in the country you live, TRENDS are just that. I have felt that in the past 5 years, HGTV seems to have taken “G”- for gardening- out of all their programming. As a Grower of plants, even La Crosse Floral cannot join the HGTV Grower network of some of the unique plant collections. The quantities we are required to grow- upwards of 500 per variety- and a minimum of 5,000-10,000 plants- have made them inaccessible to us. However, an “HGTV plant” does not assure you of a great experience. We feel you should be more concerned with a quality Home Grown, Locally Produced Plant, that has been tested and trialed. Think about it- there is KRAFT cheese, and then there is amazing cheese produced by individual Dairy places such as Dairy State Cheese near Rudolph, WI. I think you’ll see the difference.

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Summer Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette


– 1 bag of lettuce

– 1 yellow or red onion

– 1 yellow summer squash

– 10 strawberries

– 1 can of mandarin oranges or 2 fresh tangerines

– 1 mango

– ½ cup of dried cranberries

– 1 tablespoon sunflower kernels

  1. Rinse lettuce and drain in a strainer.
  2. Drain mandarin oranges or peel tangerines and separate each piece. Cut the mango into cubes.
  3. Cut the onion in half and into thin slices. Cut the summer squash into four pieces and also into thin slices.
  4. Mix all the ingredients with the lettuce.


Pomegranate Vinaigrette:


– 1 ½ cups pomegranate juice

– 1/3 cup olive oil

– 5 teaspoons honey

– 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

– 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

– ¼ teaspoon black pepper

– 1/8 teaspoon salt

  1. Bring the pomegranate juice to a boil on medium-high heat in a sauce pan. Then put heat down to medium and cook stirring occasionally for 15 minutes.
  2. Transfer to a smaller bowl to cool.
  3. Whisk in all the other ingredients.


Mix the vinaigrette with the salad and enjoy!!!