Monday, September 6, 2010

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Simple Table Arrangements

Big wide square vases are not the easiest to arrange in. You need big flowers or structure of some sort. Luckily we had green Annabelle Hydrangeas more than 6" across to use as the main support for these smaller bright flowers the bride requested.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wedding Flower Arranging Workshops

These are photos from our latest arranging workshop. It's a great way to have all the space, materials and design advise you want to make flower arrangements yourself. We offer these Friday morning parties to brides that buy our locally grown flowers. Generally, the party is 10am-~12:30. We try to arrange as many different items as we can in that amount of time. The cost is $250 plus flowers.

Lesley and Peter's Wedding July 24th, 2010

This was a fun wedding at Eagle's Nest. The groom and family put together mason jars of flowers for the reception. They used 5 of our mixed flower buckets for a great show in the Bar-b-que pavilion.

mixed color flower petals for a wedding
flower petals for a wedding

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hydrangeas: Plants and Cut Flowers

Tardiva Hydrangea
QuickFire Hydrangea

Pinky Winky Hydrangea
Pink Diamond Hydrangea
Little Lamb Hydrangea
Limelight Hydrangea
Incrediball Hydrangea

We have the following Hydrangeas for sale in pots: Pee Gee Grandiflora,  'Lime Light' and  'Little Lamb'.  At the bottom you will see several Hydrangeas we have only as cut flowers this year, but if you like them keep in touch we may have some for sale next season.

(H. arborescens ‘Abetwo’) A new and improved 'Annabelle' Hydrangea, Incrediball has beefy stems and massive blooms. The breeding goal was stronger stems to eliminate flop, but we got incredibly large blooms too! Each bloom has roughly 4 times as many flowers as 'Annabelle'! We recommend that this plant is sold in 3 gallon pots or larger. The propagation of, and or the sale of plant parts is prohibited without a license. Patent/trademark tag required. NATIVE: North America.
Zone 4, 4-5 feet, gr 1, Good for Cutting, Full Sun Partial Shade.

'Invincibelle Spirit''The world's first Pink Annabelle!
For years gardeners and landscapers have dreamed of an Annabelle Hydrangea with pink flowers. The dream has come true!
INVINCIBELLE™ Spirit hydrangea is the world's first every pink Annabelle. Unlike other selections it continues to produce new flowers right up until frost. It is very hardy and easy to grow. Unlike many hydrangeas, the flower buds are produced on new wood, so it will still produce flowers even if the stems die back to the ground by extreme weather.

It is useful as a specimen, mass planting or incorporated perennial gardens or into a woodland setting. The blooms are extremely attractive both in the landscape and as a cut flower. It is a durable choice for both fresh and dried arrangements.Hardiness: USDA Zone 3
Bloom Time: Continuous blooming, Mid-summer to fall
Bloom Color: White
Foliage Color: Dark green
Hardiness: USDA Zones 3-9 (perennial in zone 3)
Bloom time: Late May early June (earlier under poly). Reblooms until to frost,
Bud set: Blooms on new wood.
Bloom color: The flowers emerge a dark, hot pink color and mature to bright pink.
Bloom size: 6- 8 inches in diameter
Quantity of blooms: Often 100 or more corymbs per plant over the summer
Foliage color: Green
Fall Color: Pale Yellow
Plant size: 3-4 feet tall, 3-4 feet wide
Branching habit: Freely branching with as many as 100 or more terminal shoots per plant.
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Growth rate: Moderate to Fast
Soil: Very adaptable, but proliferates in rich, well drained, moist soil. pH adaptable.
Pruning: In late fall or early spring. Blooms on new wood and tolerates being cut back to the ground.
Watering: If planted in full sun, sufficient moisture is needed. Will require additional watering on hot dry summer. In South, should be planted in partial shade.
Wildlife: Habitat for songbirds and butterflies.
Native: Eastern United States. Florida to Maine. Kansas to Eastern Seaboard.Type: Deciduous
Fertilizing: Fertilize in early spring by applying a slow release fertilizer specialized for trees & shrubs. Follow the label for recommended rate of application.
Uses: Groupings or masses, perennial or shrub borders, specimen, winter gardens.
Breeder: Dr. Thomas Ranney, NCSU. Mountain Horticultural Crop Research and Extension Center. Fletcher, North Carolina.

Pee Gee Hydrangea is the standard old fashion hydrangea with big white blooms which fade to pink. Train into a tree or grow as a shrub. This is the variety we think of here in the High Country when someone says "regular hydrangea". Newer varieties we use for cutting are listed below.
Zone 4, 8-12 feet, gr 1, Full Sun - partial shade

(Hydrangea paniculata 'Limlight' PPAF)
An extraordinary new Hydrangea with exquisite bright lime-green flowers. The color is breathtakingly beautiful, and adds much needed color to the late summer landscape. Excellentvigor and floriferous blooming, Limelight presents itself well in a container and is certain to be a hit at retail. Hybridized by the noted plantsman Pieter Zwijnenburg Jr. Zone 4, 6-8 feet, Full Sun - partial shade.

‘Little Lamb’ ppaf A special compact plant with the most delicate flowers ever seen on a Hydrangea paniculata. The flowers are sterile like a Pee Gee but only much smaller andforming smaller panicles that look like little lambs dancing above the foliage. Hybridized by the famous plantswoman Jelena DeBelder of Belgium. Zone 4, 4-5 feet Full Sun - partial shade.

(H. ‘DVPinky’, ppaf)
'Pink Diamond'
A large flowered selection with broad 12" by 8" conical lacy blooms. Extremely large white florets transform to a rich pink not seen in other selections. Flowers are held distinctly upright. Degree of coloration is dependent upon climate. Introduced by the De Belders of Belgium. FIRST CHOICE AWARD '96. Zone 4, 6-8 feet, gr 1, Full Sun - partial shade

A real winner, this new Hydrangea from Belgium has indeterminate flowers. This means that the flower heads keep sending up new white flowers from the tip even while the older blooms at the base are turning a deep pink. The effect is a beautiful two toned flower unique to this plant alone. Strong upright stems. Zone 4, 6-8 feet, Full Sun - partial shade

(H. ‘Bulk’, ppaf) A breakthrough plant that blooms more than a month earlier than other varieties. For us it blooms in late May - early June and turns to a rich deep pink before Pink Diamond even begins to show flowers. Breed by noted plantsman Mark Bulk, Boskoop Netherlands. The propagation of, and or the sale of plant parts is prohibited without a license. Patent/trademark tag required. Zone 4, 6-8 feet, gr 1, Full Sun - partial shade

A heavy stemmed, late blooming selection with large lacy flower heads. AWARDS: AGM, PSC
Zone 4, 6-8 feet, gr 1, Full Sun - partial shade

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Taking Peony orders now through September

We are now taking orders for roots of the following Peonies. Prices are listed. They will be available the very end of September-early October. It is an excellent time to get them established in the ground for a Spring show.

Paeonia 'Bartzella'

Walters Gardens, Inc.
Photo Courtesy of Walters Gardens, Inc.
Common Name: Peony-Intersectional

Considered by many to be Roger Anderson’s best Intersectional Peony introduction. We have to agree, this plant gets a gold star in our book!
A mature plant of ‘Bartzella’ is incredibly elegant looking, with flowers neatly spaced on the top and sides of the clump. Established clumps can produce 80 or more flowers apiece! The semi-double to double, pastel yellow flowers have a small rose purple flare in the center and a pronounced sweet fragrance. They measure 6-8 inches across on average.
Healthy green foliage similar to that of a tree peony forms an impressively sturdy clump to 3ft tall and wide. Unlike some garden peonies, the foliage of this plant looks great from spring through fall and is substantial enough to be grown in place of a small shrub in the landscape.
Intersectional peonies are a relatively new class of Paeonia created by crossing herbaceous garden types with woody tree types. They are often called “Itoh Peonies” because the original cross was first made successfully by Japanese nurseryman Mr. Toichi Itoh in 1948. Sadly, he passed away before ever seeing one of his crosses bloom. Since that time, other hybridizers have continued his work including American breeder Roger Anderson.
Intersectional Peonies offer the best qualities of both garden and tree peonies combined including:
  • Very large, tree peony-like flowers in colors not previously seen in herbaceous types
  • Healthy, herbaceous foliage similar to tree peonies but with a robust, bushy habit that does not require staking
  • Strong, herbaceous stems that hold the flowers upright even after a heavy rain; makes a better landscape plant than older herbaceous peonies
  • A longer bloom time due to additional flowers being produced on side shoots
  • Extreme winter hardiness like herbaceous types but with increased vigor
  • Price is $38 each these large unique roots- spring potted price ~$50

Paeonia 'Karl Rosenfield'

Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo Courtesy of Walters Gardens, Inc.
Common Name: Peony-Garden

Brilliant, fuchia-red blooms are both sizable and fragrant. This double variety blooms from early to midsummer.
Price for 3-5 eyes Bare woody root: $10.00 
potted in the spring ~$16

. It blooms in early summer.
Origin: Not Native to North America


30 Inches
24 Inches
Flower Color:
Red shades
Foliage Color:
Green shades
Hardiness Zone:
Find Your Zone
Sun or Shade?:
Full sun (> 6 hrs. direct sun)
Part shade (4-6 hrs. direct sun)
Wet or dry?:
Low water needs
Average water needs
Need critter resistant plants?:
Deer resistant
How fast should it grow?:
When should it bloom?:
Early summer
How's your soil?:
Fertile Soil
Sweet or Sour Soil?:
Neutral Soil (pH = 7.0)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Dwarf Shasta Daisies- 'Snowcap' now ready for sale

These are great little daisies that don't set seed so they keep blooming for about 8 weeks in the middle of the summer. Their only real care requirement is division every 3-4 years to keep the clumps healthy and spread out. They are just 10" tall in our garden!

An outstanding cultivar! Pure white, 2-3in single flowers are produced in abundance atop bushy mounds of foliage. 'Snowcap' has sturdy, uniform habit. Due to its compact nature, it tolerates the weather (wind, rain, etc.) better than other Shastas.

'Snowcap' was introduced in the United States by Wayside Gardens in conjunction with English plantsman, Alan Bloom.

Shasta Daisies are all-time favorites for the perennial border. The cheery flowers begin to appear in late spring and continue on for several months if faithfully deadheaded. Shastas mix so effortlessly with other perennials that no garden should be without them!

Dwarf Shasta Daisy 'Snowcap'is now ready for sale @ $6.00


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Pollinators A Regional Guide for Farmers, Land Managers, and Gardeners In the and NAPPC Central Appalachian Broadleaf Forest Coniferous Forest Meadow

For National Pollinator Week. I thought I'd suggest this excellent 24 page guide to plants for pollinators. It's a great resource for farmers, gardeners and students alike. The regional guide offers nice illustrations, plant lists, seasonal charts to encourage you to have blooms throughout the season and descriptions of the various pollinators in our region.

Below I've listed the plants we sell that are noted as good plants for our struggling pollinators.

Trees and Shrubs
▪ Clethra acuminata 'Vanilla Spice'
▪ Hydrangea arborescens 'Incrediball'
▪ Hydrangea arborescens 'Incrediball Spirit'
▪ Rubus odoratus - Flowering Raspberry
▪ Chelone lyoni - Turtlehead
▪ Geranium macutatum - Wild Geraniium
▪ Helianthus sp.
▪ Liatris spicata - Blazing Star
▪ Lobelia syphilitic - Great Blue Lobelia
▪ Monarda didyma - Bee Balm
▪ Penstemon small - Blue ridge Beards Tongue
▪ Thermopsis sp. 'Sophia'
▪ Vernonia noveboracensis - Ironweed
▪ Aristolochia macrophylla - Dutchman's Pipe
▪ Parthenocissis quinquefolia - Va. Creeper
▪ Flower Habitat for Bees:
▪ Catnip - available some years
▪ Irises
▪ Lavender - great for bumblebees
▪ Penstemon
▪ Rugosa Roses
Garden Crops:
▪ Blueberries
▪ Eggplant
▪ Gooseberries
▪ Squash
▪ Tomatoes

Monday, June 21, 2010

Asclepias incarnata 'Cinderella' is on sale

Our Asclepias 'Cinderella' is in full bloom so we thought we would put them on sale for $5 each instead of $7 for our full gallon pots. I grew these from seed and they are now 2 years old and blooming. The blooms will be bigger when they are in the ground. The following is a description from on of my wholesale sources.

We grow them for the blooms and the butterflies. Be aware the caterpillars will eat the leaves later in the season, so if you like butterflies do not use any sprays or pesticides on these perennials.

A virtually hassle-free perennial, offering three months of vanilla scented, rose pink flowers in large, compact clusters from midsummer to early fall. Deadheading the flowers will stimulate another bloom cycle about a month after the first one. The flowers, which are heavily laden with nectar and pollen, are particularly attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects.
Following the fabulous flowers, typical milkweed seed pods develop which rupture to reveal seeds with long, silvery-white, silky hairs. These are great to use in dried flower arrangements.
This species grows in loose clumps by means of slowly creeping rhizomes. It is not invasive and can be safely mixed in with other perennials in the border. Ascelpias incarnata is native to North America.

We often have people ask for the Orange Butterflyweed Asclepias tuberosa. It is a bit harder to grow here in the High Country but it can be done. Site them in a very dry hot well drained location and they will be happy. They are much shorter at only 12-18" and the Monarchs do love them, like all the Milkweeds. The bitter sap in the milkweed plants makes them taste bad to predators. They do have to eat the foliage to get the protection. A small price to pay for beautiful butterflies.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Basil for Transplant

We are now selling Italian pesto Basil, Lime Basil and Lettuce Leaf Basil. I thought all this great information will help you grow them well. My main advise for the High Country; keep them dry and that may mean planting in a large pot so you can bring them in out of the rain and hail. Organic slug bait like' Sluggo' is a must. Thanks to the National Garden Bureau for this excellent writeup. (You'll need to page down to read the whole article in the shaded area.)

From the National Garden Bureau:

Basil Fact Sheet

Can you imagine a garden without basil? Impossible! Its familiar fragrance, easy care, and many uses make it indispensable in herb, ornamental, and container gardens—and, of course, in the kitchen.

A Sense of History

Basil has been known and grown since ancient times. According to Gerard in his Herbal published in England in the 1600s, the smell of basil was “good for the heart and for the head.” The seeds “cureth the infirmities of the heart and taketh away the sorrow which commeth with melancholy and maketh a man merry and glad.” Gerard also advised that the juice of the plant was good against headaches, if it were drunk with wine, and was useful in clearing up diseases of the eye.

Back in the first century AD, however, the Greek physician Dioscorides believed basil dulled the sight and produced “wind.” Others claimed it bred scorpions and that scorpions would be found beneath a pot where basil grew—a belief that arose, perhaps, from the prevalence of scorpions in some of the tropical regions of Asia and Africa, where basil originated, and their predilection for warm, dark places. Gerard wrote that those who were stung by a scorpion would feel no pain if they had eaten basil. Culpepper, a contemporary of Gerard, suggested in his Herbal that basil would draw out the poison of venomous beasts, wasps or hornets. Today, herbalists claim it helps to ease flatulence and abdominal pains if taken as an infusion.

Basil made its way to Europe by the Middle Ages and to England and America in the mid-17th century, where it was used mainly medicinally. It was not until the 19th century that basil became the ever-present component of herb gardens that it is today. Basil is also very important in Asia and Asian cuisines.

The range of basils available is the result of the variability of the species, basilicum. The species contains a natural diversity of fragrances and colors; plant breeders have selected for and improved on these different traits.

What’s In A Name?

A member of the mint family (Labiatae), as so many herbs are, basils have the familiar four-sided stems and whorled flowers of that family; they are not, however, in the least invasive, as mints can be. The genus name of sweet basil, Ocimum, is from a Greek verb that means “to be fragrant.” The species name, basilicum, comes from the Greek basileus, which means “king or prince.” Basil is often referred to as the “king of herbs,” and no wonder—it is one of the most useful, and most used, of all herbs.

In frost-free climates, sweet basil may act as a perennial, but in most areas of the country, it is an annual, dying at the first touch of frost. There are more than 30 different species of basil, but the most commonly grown are O. basilicum and its subspecies.

Holy basil, O. sanctum (also known as O. tenuiflorum) is a sacred herb in India, where it is used in religious ceremonies and planted around Hindu temples; with its pinkish purple flowers, it is most often planted as an ornamental.

The four basic types of garden basils are the familiar sweet green basil, dwarf green basil, purple-leaved basil, and scented leaf basil. Sweet basil (O. basilicum) grows about 2 feet tall. It has rather large leaves, 2-3 inches long, and produces white flower spikes. It is the most widely grown. Its “cousins” include lettuce-leaf and Genovese basils—varieties with much larger leaves—as well as the spicy Thai basil, ‘Siam Queen’ (1997 All-America Selections winner), an improved tropical basil with an intense fragrance and flavor.

Dwarf basil (O. b. ‘Minimum’) is also known as bush or fine green basil. Its compact growth reaches 10-12 inches high. The leaves are small, about 1/2 inch long, and flowers are white. ‘Spicy Globe’ and ‘Green Bouquet’ are well-known dwarf types; the former is aptly named because the plants grow naturally into rounded, globe shapes.

Purple-leaved basils (O. b. purpurescens) are very ornamental. ‘Dark Opal’ (1962 All-America Selections winner), ‘Purple Ruffles’ (1987 AAS winner) and ‘Red Rubin’ (with solid purple leaves, an improved strain of ‘Dark Opal’) are three of the most popular varieties. These basils tend to have ruffled, frilled, or deeply cut leaves, which are very pungent; they produce deep pink to lavender-purple flowers.

Scented-leaf basils bring additional aromas to the basic clove-anise of sweet basil. Lemon basil (O. americanum, O. basilicum var. citriodorum) has a very distinct lemon flavor, especially in the newest ‘Sweet Dani’ (1998 AAS winner). The leaves are grayish green, the flowers white. The leaves of cinnamon basil have a spicy cinnamon flavor; flowers are deep pink with purple bracts. Anise basil has a flavor similar to licorice; its flowers are slightly purplish.

Growing From Seed

Whether you sow seeds indoors or out, remember that basil does not like cold, or even cool, weather. Sow the seeds outdoors when day and night temperatures reach about 55 to 60 degrees. When sown or transplanted at the right time, basil is one of the easiest herbs to grow successfully.

Starting Basil Indoors

Plan to sow seeds 4 to 6 weeks before the date of your average last frost in spring. Basils do not need a long time to grow large enough to transplant to the garden.

* Fill a shallow container, or flat, or individual 2- to 21/4-inch pots with a commercial seed-starting mix. Moisten the mix and let it drain.

* Sow the seeds in rows in a flat or two to three seeds per pot. Cover the seeds with about 1/4 inch of the mix. Press the mix down lightly and spritz the surface with water to moisten it and settle the seeds.

* To keep the mix from drying out while the seeds are germinating, cover the containers with sheets of clear plastic wrap, or place each in a plastic bag and close it with a twist-tie.

* Set the containers in a warm location; the growing medium should be at about 70-75 degrees F (21-23 degrees C). Seedlings will emerge in 4 to 7 days. When they do, remove the plastic covering and place the containers in bright light or direct sun in a south-facing window or a fluorescent light garden. Give the containers a quarter turn every few days so the plants grow straight instead of leaning towards the light source.

* Keep the mix evenly moist by watering from the bottom: Set the containers in a sink filled with a couple of inches of water until beads of moisture appear on the surface. A liquid fertilizer at one half the recommended rate can be given to seedlings to promote healthy plants.

* When the seedlings are about 2 inches tall and have at least two pairs of true leaves, transplant those in flats to individual pots. Thin those started in small pots to one per pot by snipping off all but the strongest looking one with a scissors. It is not necessary to transplant purple-leaved basils, such as ‘Dark Opal’ and ‘Purple Ruffles’, if you sow them about 1/2-1 inch apart.

* If young plants become tall and spindly, the growing tip can be pinched to encourage branching and compact growth. Some of the smaller basils, such as ‘Spicy Globe’, have a naturally branching habit and do not need to be pinched.

Sowing Directly in the Garden.

Sow seeds in the garden when the soil has warmed up to about 55 to 60 degrees day and night temperatures. Sow the seeds about 1/2 inch deep in good garden soil; if you cover the seeds with less soil, they may float to the surface after a heavy rain. Basil germinates readily, therefore you do not need to sow thickly. You can sow the seeds in rows or in groups; drop two to three seeds in each hole for the latter. Keep the seedbed moist until germination occurs. When the seedlings have at least two pairs of true leaves and are 2 to 3 inches tall, thin them to stand 10 to 30 inches apart, depending on the species or cultivar. Begin pinching out the growing tips for compact growth when the seedlings are 3 to 4 inches tall.

To have an uninterrupted supply of fresh basil, most gardeners sow basil seed several times during the growing season. The National Garden Bureau recommends sowing basil seed every 3 to 4 weeks to harvest fresh leaves for culinary uses.

Selecting Bedding Plants

Basil is so popular that you can readily purchase plants at garden centers or nurseries in addition to growing it from seed. The plants may be sold in individual pots, six-packs or flats. Look for young, compact plants. Avoid tall, leggy plants—even though you can correct their growth habit somewhat by cutting them back after you have planted them at home.

The leaves of sweet basil should be a clear deep green; spots on the leaves may indicate they have been exposed to the cold. Pass up plants that have obvious pests, such as aphids, on stems or leaves.

If you can’t plant the herbs the day you bring them home, set them in a protected area away from the drying effects of direct sun and wind until you can put them in the ground or in containers.

Out In The Garden

Select a Site. Basil grows best in a location that receives full sun—at least six hours (or more) of direct sun daily. With less sun, the plants have a tendency to get “leggy.” Plants in containers require the same exposure.

Prepare the Soil. Although herbs are not very fussy, they do need a light, fertile soil with good drainage. Amend what you have by digging in about a 2-inch layer of peat moss and compost before planting. This is particularly important if your soil is mostly clay.

Transplant. Choose a cloudy, calm day or late afternoon to transplant your basils to give them a chance to settle in before they have to contend with the drying effects of sun and wind. It is very important to plant at the right time, which means not too early in the season. The slightest cold will set them back. Set the plants in the ground at the same depth they were growing in the pots. If you bought six-packs or flats of basil plants, water them first; then carefully lift each plant out of its cell or separate them from each other in the flat, keeping as much soil around the roots as possible to minimize moisture loss. If they don’t come out easily and you need to handle the plants, do so by their leaves, not their stems (plants replace leaves more readily than stems). If you started plants in peat pots, set the pots below the soil line—they have a tendency to dry out quickly when exposed to the air.

Space plants 10-12 inches apart; dwarf basils, 8-10 inches apart; larger basils, such as ‘Sweet Dani’, up to 20 inches apart.

Water the plants immediately after setting them in the ground.

Garden Uses

Basil is as ornamental as it is edible. Put it in a traditional herb garden, in the vegetable plot in the center of a bed of red- and green-leaf lettuces or edging a bed of tomatoes.

Use both the green- and purple-leaved varieties in borders; the latter are especially beautiful with perennials such as coral bells (Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’), Sedum ‘Vera Jameson’, fountain grass (Pennisetum), dusty miller, and blue Salvia farinacea. Both combine well with annuals, such as dwarf or medium-height snapdragons, nicotiana, French marigolds, and petunias.

With its natural round shape, the dwarf basil ‘Spicy Globe’ makes a wonderful edging for any type of garden: perennial, rose, or herb.

Try the old-fashioned technique of keeping flies away by planting basils around a patio or in containers on a deck.

Taking Care of Basil

Like most herbs, basils do not require much maintenance. In sandy or infertile soil, fertilize basil plants for continuous growth. If you amended the soil with organic matter, you may not need to fertilize basil. Basil plants need about an inch of water a week. Water, if rain does not provide for the plant’s needs.

Although the flower spikes are attractive, it is recommended to cut them off as they deplete the plants’ energy resulting in fewer leaves.

The leaves have the best flavor—the most essential oils—when they are harvested before the plants flower. Cut whole stems rather than individual leaves, especially if you want to use the leaves as a garnish because they bruise easily. Cutting whole stems is a tasty way of creating a bushy, compact plant: Cut just above a pair of lower leaves; the plant will produce new shoots at that point.

Growing in Containers

Basils are excellent herbs to grow in containers because they add such attractive colors and textures to the plantings. They look good in pots or window boxes in full sun. A container of basil by the back door or on a deck provides easy access for harvesting!

The container should have drainage holes in the bottom or sides. Fill it with a soilless mix, which is more lightweight than garden soil and is also free of diseases and weed seeds. It is easy to provide nutrients all season by incorporating a controlled-release fertilizer in the mix before planting.

With mixed plantings, place most basils near the center of containers or at the ends of window boxes. Use dwarf basils to edge a container planting or on their own in smaller, 8-inch pots, and place the pots around a larger planter, marching up steps, or along a walk. Basils combine well with other herbs and with annuals.

Plant basils at the same level as, or just slightly deeper than, they were growing in their original pots. Water the container well after planting. Keep the plants evenly moist through the growing season; the roots of any plants in a container cannot reach down or out in search of available moisture. Smaller containers will require more frequent watering than large ones. If you plant in a window box, remember that overhanging eaves may prevent rain from reaching the plants.

From Garden to Kitchen

Basil complements many kinds of dishes and combines well with other herbs, whether used fresh or dried. The flavor and appearance of the leaves are best fresh. Many gardeners are unable to eat their fresh, homegrown tomatoes without fresh basil and a dash of premium olive oil. Freshly harvested basil leaves added to mesclun or lettuce salads liven up the flavors. Pesto is another favorite use for basil. Create the classic pesto sauce, a combination of basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Whip up basil butter. Cream together one stick of unsalted butter and 1-3 tablespoons of dried, crushed basil or 2-6 tablespoons of fresh, minced basil. Place in a covered container or roll into a cylinder-shape and refrigerate for at least an hour before using.

Make basil vinegar to use in salad dressings. Heat vinegar (any type) in an enamel pan; pour it into a bottle and add several sprigs of basil. Let set for 2 weeks before using.

If you have any basil left at the end of the growing season consider drying the leaves. To dry basil, cut the entire plant and hang on a string in a well ventilated room. When dry, just pluck the leaves from the stems and store in airtight jars out of direct light.

Windowsill Plants

It is easy to bring container-grown plants inside, but you can also pot up a few plants from the garden. Cut them back rather severely—to about 3-4 inches tall—so they will put out new growth when they become acclimated to the indoor environment.

Grow them on the sunniest windowsill you have, preferably with a southern exposure, or put them in a light-garden. Keep the soil evenly moist and fertilize them once a month.

Because basils are so easy to grow from seed, however, the National Garden Bureau recommends it is just as simple to sow fresh seed indoors at the end of the outdoor growing season. Pot the seedlings into individual 4- to 6-inch containers and enjoy fresh basil all winter harvested from your windowsill.

Pests and Diseases

You may find a few aphids or Japanese beetles that like your basil as much as you do. To circumvent aphids, wash them off the plants with a strong spray of water from the garden hose. Pick or knock Japanese beetles off into a jar of soapy water and discard.

Fusarium wilt is a soil-borne fungus that causes yellowing of foliage, discoloration of the stems, reduced height and eventual wilting of the entire plant. If you plant basil in the same garden place year after year this could be a problem. Seed companies have addressed this problem by selling Fusarium free seed. Be sure to check the seed packet for Fusarium tested seed. The best cure is prevention. Because it can overwinter in the soil, don’t plant basil in the same location every year. Avoid excessive watering and provide proper drainage that will reduce the spread of Fusarium wilt. The only variety resistant to Fusarium wilt is ‘Nufar.’ Researchers are working towards breeding Fusarium resistance into many of the common basil varieties on the market.

The National garden Bureau recognizes Eleanore Lewis as the author of this fact sheet. We wish to thank the two Basil experts who reviewed our text before publication. Renee Shepherd, Renee’s Garden and James Simon, Rutgers University greatly assisted our efforts to provide accurate information. The logo drawing was created by Nola Nielsen. Johanna McCormick designed this fact sheet.