If you are hoping to become a budding fruit tree grower of the apple variety, you’ve probably heard about rootstocks by now. While the idea of planting a seed right from an apple may seem dreamy and appealing, in actuality, it’s not quite that simple! Growing a fruit tree of any kind from seed can take upward of eight years before it will start producing fruit. Furthermore, it’s just generally not how apple trees are typically grown.
The Ultimate Guide to Apple Rootstock
Apple trees are grafted (or fused) onto a rootstock that helps determine the size and strength of your tree once it has reached maturity. Grafting is a practice that has occurred for thousands of years. More recently, immense amounts of research have resulted in a list of the apple rootstocks believed to provide the best results. The online world is full of lots of complicated information, which is why we put together this guide to help you navigate your way to a better understanding of apple rootstocks.
So What Is a Rootstock, Anyway?
In simple terms, “rootstock” refers to the base of a tree, including the roots and trunk, that a scion (or the flowering or fruiting part of the tree that you see above ground) is grafted to. For the grafting process to be successful, the rootstock and scion need to be fairly close relatives. Rootstock varieties can come from a few different places: naturally growing trees, plant mutations, or genetically bred. When a “successful” rootstock is identified, it is cloned so that it can be used over and over again! In addition to determining your tree’s size and strength, apple rootstocks are also selected based on attributes like their level of disease resistance, cold hardiness, and the type of conditions they can thrive in.
What Is The Best Rootstock for Apple Trees?
When it comes to determining what the best rootstock is, there are a lot of factors to consider! What is ideal for one grower may be different for another. There are so many different rootstock variations that have been scientifically studied, bred, and established over decades. But, for the sake of simplicity in our guide, we are going to focus on some of our favorites that you can pick up at Carolina Seasons.
B9: This is what one would consider a “dwarfing” rootstock. As we mentioned earlier, rootstock variations determine the size and strength of an apple tree, and a B9 rootstock will limit the size of the tree to about 10 feet once it reaches maturity. While they are resistant to root and collar rots, they prefer a well-draining planting site and require permanent staking. The B9 rootstock produces a tree that is resistant to fire blight. B9 is also called Bud 9 which is short for Budagovsky 9.
M111: This is a vigorous semi-dwarfing rootstock that produces a tree that grows to about 85% of a standard-sized apple tree. They are considered one of the more adaptable of all rootstocks; they are quite winter hardy, have a fairly shallow-spreading root system, and are relatively drought tolerant. They are also resistant to woolly apple aphid, collar rot, root rot, and fire blight. Trees grown from an M111 rootstock will bear fruit at a relatively young age. The M111 rootstock is also known by the names MM111 and EMLA 111.
M106: An M106 rootstock is another semi-dwarfing variety that will produce a tree that is about 70% the size of a standard apple tree. They are quite productive and do not usually need staking. They should not be planted in wet spots due to their susceptibility to root rot. Rather, if you are looking to plant a tree in your backyard and go with an M106 rootstock variety, be sure to select a location with well-draining soil. Trees on the M106 rootstock are resistant to wooly apple aphid and show some resistance to fire blight. The M106 rootstock is also known as MM106 and EMLA106.
Selecting and growing an apple tree might seem overwhelming at first, but we hope this guide has helped break down some of the general mysteries in the beginning stages of that process. If you’ve still got questions, pop into our nursery, and one of our experts would be happy to help start you on your journey toward growing and enjoying delicious apples for years to come!
Houseplants are almost as popular as pets these days—and for good reason! They help improve air quality by filtering out toxins, they add to your decor by bringing an overall added ambiance to the home, and it can feel wonderful to nurture them and watch them grow. But as much as you may want to fill your entire North Carolina home with houseplants, if you also happen to have fur babies, they need to come into play when deciding which plants to bring into your home.
Unfortunately, not all of the trendy houseplants out there are safe for curious dogs and cats. But, don't let this fact deter you; there are plenty of pet-friendly houseplants out there to choose from! Read on for our top 10 list of pet-friendly houseplants that will look fabulous and keep your furry friends safe.
1. Spider Plant: The spider plant may be the ultimate houseplant for beginners! Known for being highly tolerant of low light and forgetful waterers, spider plants are excellent for folks with busy schedules or very little natural light in the home. When the plant is allowed to thrive in bright, indirect light and regular waterings, it will grow “pups,” or baby plants that can be plucked off, planted, and shared with friends! Best of all, they’re perfectly safe for both pets and young children.
2. Money Tree: Pachira aquatica, most often called a money tree, is a lovely, easy-to-care-for, pet-friendly houseplant to add to your collection. It is known as a symbol of good luck as well as financial success. Its braided trunk and bright green, palm-like leaves will bring a unique, tropical feel to your home.
3. Areca Palm: If you love the tropical look, the areca palm is a safe and beautiful way to give your space that “vacation” atmosphere. Areca palms are statement plants that can grow to be up to 8 feet tall, and yet they’re also easy to care for and perfect for beginners. Fair warning; their graceful fronds may be tempting for your pets to nibble on, but the foliage itself is harmless.
4. Air Plants: Tillandsia, more commonly known as air plants, have an almost ethereal feel to them. They seem to grow from nothing, as they don't require any soil to thrive. This magical quality makes them part of the epiphyte family, which means they grow on other plants (usually tree branches) rather than in the ground. There are hundreds of different varieties and almost as many ways to display them. While they are pet-friendly, they might also look like a fun toy to cats, so we recommend getting creative as you figure out how to display your air plants. You can attach them to hanging planters, make a DIY hanging terrarium for them, or even turn them into surprising little fridge magnets using suction cup hooks.
5. Bromeliads: Bromeliad plants are a bit of a triple threat, in the best way possible. Like air plants, many of them are epiphytes, which means they can be grown without soil. They like bright light and humidity, but otherwise, they are relatively low maintenance, pet-friendly houseplants.
6. Boston Fern: These beautiful, feather-like plants have an incredibly whimsical feel to them. They can grow quite large if cared for properly and make for wonderful hanging plants. They thrive in indirect sunlight, moist soil, and relatively high humidity. While all ferns are not pet-safe, the Boston fern is one of a few exceptions. The birds-nest and staghorn fern are a couple of other pet-friendly options.
7. Hoya: Hoyas are a family of beautiful air-purifying houseplants that helps to improve air quality in your home by removing icky things like benzene and formaldehyde. Their distinct, lustrous green leaves and fragrant flowers range from pink to white in color, and they won't do any harm to your furry friend.
8. Calathea: This eye-catching family of houseplants feature showy foliage with intricate markings. We’re especially fond of the Rattlesnake calathea, with it’s almost snakeskin-patterned foliage with rosy-purple undersides. Not only are calatheas an excellent pet-friendly houseplant for smaller spaces, but their unique appearances add something exquisitely different to your collection.
9. Basil: While basil probably isn’t what comes to mind when you think “houseplants,” the plant is a perfect companion to a bright kitchen. Keeping some fresh basil on hand comes in handy for enhancing hundreds of dishes, plus it looks great and smells fantastic. Unlike some other herbs, basil is also safe for pets, making it a pretty and practical addition to your collection.
10. Christmas Cactus: The Christmas cactus is another quirky succulent that is both pet-friendly and nearly impossible to kill. They also have a somewhat misleading name, as they are a little different than most desert variations that likely come to mind when you think of cacti. The Christmas cactus originates from the rainforest, so it does like a bit more humidity than you might expect. They thrive in indirect sunlight, bloom spectacular flowers around Christmas time, and when cared for properly, can live for decades.
Ready to fill your home with lush greenery, knowing Fido will be safe and sound? We have a wide variety to choose from, so stop by our garden center to browse our full collection!
Are you thinking of brightening your home with a poinsettia for the holidays? Or, perhaps you’ve already fallen in love with one and brought it home. Either way, the poinsettia is a lovely plant both for Christmas and year-round, if you choose to keep it, as it’s perfectly capable of living a long life. Plus, caring for a poinsettia plant indoors is easy-peasy. Here’s how to care for poinsettias!
Poinsettia Care Instructions
1. Choose a healthy plant. If you don’t have your poinsettia yet, be sure to pick a healthy one. Signs of health include thick, deep green foliage and firm, colorful flowers.
2. Protect it from the cold when you bring it home. While our North Carolina winter is milder than many, the cold from outdoors could still be a shock to your poinsettia, which is a tropical plant native to Mexico. So when you take it home, protect it from that cold outdoor air by covering it with a cellophane bag or pillowcase.
3. Put it in a sunny, warm place. Like real estate, poinsettia care is all about location, location, location. Once you get your plant home, put it in a spot that’s both sunny and warm.
4. Meet its sun and light requirements. The poinsettia prefers a minimum of 6 hours of bright sunlight each day. A pro tip: to get the Christmas-time bloom period to last as long as possible, also ensure that your poinsettia gets at least 12 hours of darkness each night. An easy way to remember to meet this requirement is to put the poinsettia in a dark place when the sun sets and return it to its sunny location when the sun rises.
5. Meet its warmth requirements. As already mentioned, the poinsettia is quite sensitive to cold. It’s happiest when it’s in a consistently warm room free of cold drafts and hot drafts, so keep it away from places like the ledge of a drafty window or radiators. Its ideal daytime temperature range is 64 to 70°F, while at night, it’s still fine if the temperature dips as low as 61°F.
6. Water it only when the soil is dry. Poinsettias often fall victim to overwatering. If your poinsettia has leaves turning yellow, that’s a strong sign you’re overwatering the plant. Water your poinsettia only when the surface of its soil has become bone-dry.
When you water it, immediately empty any water that collects in the plant pot saucer, as waterlogged soil is harmful to the plant. One efficient way to prevent waterlog and make the watering process easier is to put the saucer aside, move the plant into the sink, and water it generously. The excess water will then drain out directly into the sink, and you won’t have to fuss with emptying the saucer.
What About Poison Precautions?
Now, what about the stories of poinsettias being poisonous? Is there anything you should do to protect pets and kids from your poinsettia? As it turns out, poinsettias are not poisonous—that’s a myth. However, they’re not edible either, and in fact, are mildly toxic. So even though they’re unlikely to cause serious illness, it’s still best to keep your poinsettia out of the reach of pets and kids.
How to Care for Poinsettia Flowers
Before we answer this, first, an interesting fact: what you might think of as the flower on a poinsettia is not a flower. The colorful non-green parts of a poinsettia are actually bunches of modified leaves called bracts. In the center of the bracts are the diminutive flowers, which look like tiny yellow buds.
So how do you make those bracts last as long as possible?
Holiday Plants at Carolina Seasons Nursery
Whether you’re in the market for a poinsettia or looking for other holiday plants, we have lots available. Contact us so we can check our stock for you and recommend plants that will meet your needs. Happy Holidays!
Fall is the Perfect Time to Plant Shrubs and Trees
If you want to improve your landscaping with some trees or shrubs, now is the time to do it. Fall is one of the best seasons for adding trees and shrubs to your landscaping. The more moderate temperatures, more frequent rainfall, and less intense sunshine reduce the transplanting stress for your new trees and shrubs.
The other perks of fall planting are that your trees and shrubs don’t have to worry about producing fruit or leaves. Deciduous trees and shrubs can drop their leaves and focus their energy on developing a robust root system through the North Carolina fall and winter. Having strong roots come spring will set them up for developing healthy leaves, flowers, and fruit in the spring. Planting in the fall may also result in some trees and shrubs blooming in their first summer instead of waiting until the second summer.
Guidelines for Planting Trees and Shrubs in Fall
Once your trees and shrubs are home, start getting them in the ground quickly.
When you’re adding trees and shrubs to your yard, there are some standard guidelines to follow to help ensure your investments’ success.
Before your trees are delivered, or before you bring them home, figure out where you’re going to be planting. Ensure you have enough room for the full mature size of your chosen tree or shrub wherever you’re going to plant it. Double-check where any buried cables, pipes, or lines are on your property, so you don’t hit anything when digging.
You can also start to prepare your planting holes ahead of time. Planting holes should be as deep as the root ball or pot the tree or shrub is in and about three times as wide as the root ball.
You should plant your trees or shrubs as soon as you can after you bring them home or they are delivered. If possible, plant your trees in the late afternoon or early evening on an overcast day. This will also help to reduce stress and prevent excess evaporation from the roots.
Once your trees and shrubs are home, start getting them in the ground quickly. If you can’t plant them right away, store them somewhere in the shade, and keep them well-watered so that the roots don’t dry out.
When the planting holes are ready, remove your trees or shrubs from their pots or burlap, and center them in the hole. Before you start adding soil, lay a shovel or rake handle across the hole, over the root ball. The top of the root ball should be level or slightly higher than the top edge of the planting hole. If it’s not, remove the tree or shrub and add more soil underneath the root ball.
Center your tree or shrub in the hole, and have someone hold it straight or stake it while you backfill around the root ball. Fill halfway, and water it thoroughly so the soil can settle in around the roots. Once the water has soaked into the ground, finish filling the hole and then tamp the soil in well with your heels. Creating a berm of soil 2-3 inches tall around the tree’s root ball will help keep the water soaking in over the root ball when you water, instead of draining away.
Add a Blanket of Mulch
Once you’ve planted your trees and shrubs, you can add a nice thick layer of organic mulch—aim for a thickness of approximately 3-4 inches. Organic mulch has many benefits for your landscape, besides its clean and tidy look. It helps regulate soil moisture and temperature. It protects the roots of plants from extreme weather, and over time, it actually improves the soil. Just make sure you don’t build a mulch in a “volcano” shape around the trunk of your tree, as that will almost inevitably cause rot, which could kill your pretty new plant.
If you’ve been thinking of adding some trees and shrubs, there’s no better time than the fall! Stop by our garden center today and check out our diverse collection of nursery-grown trees and shrubs.
Get Four-Season Beauty with These Trees And Shrubs
Planting some trees and shrubs is a fairly easy way to add beauty and even increase the value of your property. Having an assortment of trees and shrubs also helps support the biodiversity of plants and wildlife in your area.
Most shrubs and trees have a specific season of beauty, and then they fade into the background for much of the year. But, there are a few trees and shrubs that take beauty to a whole new level, with unique features for every season. Here are a few options for North Carolina.
Paperbark Maple is an excellent deciduous choice for four-season beauty. They're on the smaller side, usually maturing between 20-30 feet tall and feature beautiful exfoliating bark. The older bark, which is a dark purple-brown, peels back to reveal the new cinnamon red-brown bark underneath. This effect is particularly eye-catching during the winter. In the spring, it puts out beautiful dark green leaves, which retain their color quite long into the fall. These are some of the last trees to start turning, and it's worth the wait. Their leaves turn shades of vibrant red and orange, and they hang on right into the winter before they finally drop.
Serviceberries are a large group of trees and shrubs that are beautiful all year round. Also native to North America, they're deciduous, easy to care for, and can last up to 40 years once established. There are many different varieties of serviceberries available, but they all feature beautiful spring flowers, small but pretty apple-like fruits, beautiful leaf colors in the fall, and unique bark colors through the winter. Their fruits are edible and make delicious jams or jellies. The bark of most serviceberries is a unique silvery-gray and looks elegant and refined in winter.
Redbud is another easy-care deciduous tree that offers beautiful four-season interest. They feature beautiful pink blossoms in the spring that can last as long as 3 weeks. The heart-shaped leaves emerge as dark burgundy after flowering, transitioning to forest green. The leaves turn buttery yellow in the fall and leave behind interesting brown pods when they drop. These pods hang on through much of winter and add visual interest when most other trees are stark and empty.
Chinese Fringetree is an excellent but underutilized tree for the south. It tolerates the heat and humidity of our summers and it’s considered a small grower (up to 15-20 feet tall), which is perfect for today’s smaller landscapes. The springtime blooms are wisps of white fringe shaped petals. Summer foliage is a nice, deep green with hardly any pest or disease problems. In autumn, foliage turns yellow, before falling off to reveal the papery, peeling bark.
Japanese Maples are a great family of trees and shrubs for year-round interest. There are many dwarf varieties available with a wide variety of growing habits, sizes, and colors. They all feature the classic 5 lobed maple leaf, but the presentation of the leaves varies widely. Some have the typical broad maple leaf look, while others have lobes that are deeply cut and quite drapey. Then there are the types that have a feathery look with deep cuts, narrow lobes, and serrations. Japanese maples range widely in color, from bright red-almost-pink leaves to bold crimson red. There are also varieties that are shades of vibrant green, bright yellow, or nearly black. Japanese maples often feature uniquely colored bark, and when they drop their leaves they have a beautiful natural shape.
Dogwood shrubs feature pretty spring flowers, long oval leaves that turn stunning colors in the fall, and many types have colorful branches that add contrast to the winter landscape.
Plum Yew is a unique evergreen shrub. It features long, dark green fern-like needle-shaped leaves. It has gray bark that starts to peel in thin strips as it matures. There is a wide variety of sizes and shapes, from a tall narrow upright (known as ‘Fastigiata’), to a round shaped one (‘Duke Gardens’ and ‘Drupacea’), to a flatter ground hugging shape (‘Fritz Huber’ and ‘Prostrata’).
Virginia Sweetspire is native to the Southeast US preferring moist soil and tolerating drier soils. Spring blooms are highly fragrant. Fall foliage is a deep merlot color which, unlike most deciduous shrubs, persists until mid winter.
Fall is a great time to add new trees and shrubs to your landscaping. It gives them some time to focus on growing strong roots before they have to worry about putting out fruit or leaves. Stop by the garden center today and choose some beautiful four-season trees and shrubs for your yard.
Carolina Seasons Nursery