Shades of Green

Pink Amaryllis

Gardening FAQ

If you have gardening questions that are not in our FAQ, please use the info below to contact our professional staff. We will be happy to assist you with your gardening needs.


Gardening Tips

Get a Jump on Spring:

Bring colour into your home for spring, by forcing flowering shrubs. Once they have completed their winter dormancy, cut off a few branches and bring them indoors--if you are planning to do arrangements, make sure to cut the branches long enough--smash the cut ends and place the branches in a pail of room temperature water.

Place the cut branches in a cool slightly dark location and change the water twice a week--it is important to keep the water clean. As the buds start to open, you can move the branches into sunlight.

Forced spring branches look beautiful in glass vases filled with coloured stones.

Examples of shrubs that can be forced: azalea, flowering quince, forsythia, magnolia, pussy willow, rhododendron, spirea and serviceberry.

Sharp Garden Edges:

For well defined garden beds, just cut away a couple of inches of your lawn/garden edge with a sod cutter. Once in the spring and once in mid summer, will do the trick, and you can also re-define the shape of your beds when you trim back the sod.

Planting Bulbs:

When fall is near its time to plant some bulbs for beautiful spring colours. Some simple steps to follow are to plant between September and early November before the ground freezes. Dig holes to the depth stated on packages (hole should be 3 times the size of the bulb). Place it pointed end up. Fill the hole back in with soil and water well. Always check bulb packages for height, timing and spacing (small bulbs 2” apart, large bulbs 5” apart). Bulbs like well drained soil, they don’t like soggy roots. Mulch is great for open winters. Many bulbs are deer resistant. Plan carefully and you will enjoy the flowers from early to late spring. Check out Shades of Green for new colours and naturalizing varieties.


Shades of Green Ltd
2483 Westfield Rd
Saint John, NB, E2M 6L4

(506) 738-8319



Answers to Some Common Gardening Questions

Q: What shrubs can be pruned in the spring?

A: Shrubs benefit by annual pruning, especially before the leaves appear, so you can shape them if necessary. Because the following shrubs bloom later in the season, they can be pruned dormant: dogwood, honeysuckle, hydrangea (peegee), potentilla, spirea, and wisteria.

Spring and certain summer blooming shrubs set their buds in the fall and should be pruned after flowering. The common ones are azalea, beautybush, forsythia, lilac, mockorange, rhododendron,serviceberry, weigela, magnolia,deutzia, bridal wreath spirea and daphne. With these varieties one should wait till after flowering--however you can decide to lose a few blooms if the shape is incorrect.

Q: When should horticultural oil be used on fruit trees?

A: Fruit trees are prone to problems with aphids, mites and scale. Because they produce an edible product you can’t spray with any insecticides--also you don’t want to harm natural pollinators. The best application is the dormant oil which is applied, as the name states, when the tree is dormant. When used, it suffocates the insects and disturbs their life cycle.

Timing is important--apply horticultural oil when the buds are starting to swell, but before opening and not in freezing temperatures.

Horticultural oil is also effective against powdery mildew, but summer application is tricky as one must watch for problems with high temperatures, humidity and wetness. It is important to read the label on any product for correct procedures.

Baking Soda Recipe for Powdery Mildew

First, check plant for signs of powdery mildew, then remove the dead leaves, if the problem persists, you can start a weekly application of the recipe.


4 litres of water
1 tablespoon of baking soda
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid

Mix and apply with a spray bottle.

Q: When is the best time to plant seeds?

A: Growing seeds is fun as long as you follow a few rules. Buy good quality seed, and you will have a better germination. Decide what area you want to cover, so that you get the correct amount of seeds--packages give weight, size or quantity. Not all seeds germinate the same: some are placed on, or in, the soil, or need soaking. Make sure you purchase the correct soil as seeds need good drainage.

Timing is important, so check germination days and conditions necessary for planting outdoors.

Lighting is important and, as March approaches, the days are getting longer, but you don’t want stretched plants. To prevent stretching, you can purchase growing lights to enhance lighting, and/or warming pads to keep your seedlings roots warm.

There are a variety of containers that can be used for starting seeds--if using recycled pots, make sure they are sterilized. Some seeds should be planted in peat or cocoa pots so they can be planted directly into the ground without disturbing their roots. If you plant in germination trays, make sure you open or lift the vents during the day.

There are a variety of great seeds available this year for patio gardening, which is easy and convenient.

Q: When should Epsom salt be used?

A: Epsom salt is made up of magnesium and sulphur. The former helps plants absorb phosphorous and the latter keeps plants from rotting. You can apply Epsom salt when plants like roses or tomatoes have yellow and droopy leaves. Epsom salt also lowers soil ph, so watch your soil composition. How much to apply depends on the height of your plant--1 teaspoon for every foot of height--just sprinkle in a circle around the root zone.

Q: When is the best time to plant garlic?

A: The fall is best time to plant most varieties of garlic. It is easy to grow with fun results. Plant the bulb in lose loam with organic matter. A couple of weeks before the ground freezes is best. Cracking or breaking the bulbs apart into cloves is the first step. Choose larger cloves for best results. They can be planted in single or double rows about eight inches between rows and between plants. The pointed end or garlic neck should be placed up and cover with at least two inches of soil. Then cover the bulbs with mulch at least four inches deep. In the spring and summer check if the soil is moist but don’t add water during the last few weeks of maturing. To harvest, remove the bulbs when the wrappers appear to deteriorate or the bulbs start to split. Enjoy.

Q: How do you force flower bulbs?

A: Follow these simple steps and you will enjoy beautiful plants in late winter. The pots require a drain hole and should be at least 5” deep. The soil should be potting soil for containers. DESIGN: Check bulb packages for details on height and spacing. You have many choices. Plant an uneven number of bulbs of the same kind in a pot, such as tulips or crocus. Also you can layer the bulbs (plant on top of each other) with crocus at top, allium, iris, tulips and daffodils at the bottom. They will work their way around one another. They make a beautiful showing of colour. COOLING PERIOD: Place in a cool dark room (48 degrees) for 12-15 weeks. After cold treatment, place them in a warm room for 2-3 weeks and enjoy the flowers.

Q: How do you grow oak trees from acorns?

A: Gather acorns when they start to mature. They turn green to brown and separated from the shell easily. Knock the nuts from the tree and then place them in a dish of water overnight. The dense ones that sink are the ones to germinate. Dry them and then place them into a plastic bag with peat moss and store in a refrigerator for three months. They should be stored between 2 to 4 degrees Celsius. This is called stratification. After this time, place acorns on their side about one inch apart covered in one or two inches of soil. In a few weeks they will germinate. Plant seedling in a pot or outside once the frost passes. Protect the plant with a wire cage to protect it from animals. Enjoy your results as your oak tree matures.