D'Ercole Farms & Garden Center
518 Tappan Road      Norwood, New Jersey
(201) 768-0495    -    Fax (201)768-1595

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Top Questions Answered:

1. What type of soil should I use for my plant?

The type of soil you need for your planting job depends on the type of plant you have and where you are planting it. For a plant that is to be planted in the ground, Top Soil is what you need. Top Soil is your basic dirt and can be very cost-efficient. Certain types of plants require additional soils. If you have a vegetable garden, or especially tomatoes, a mixture of 50% Top Soil and 50% Cow Manure is recommended. The boost in phosphorous from the Cow Manure leads to more tomatoes and helps promote larger size. Rose bushes require Humus, another type of soil. Humus will help improve your soil pH if it is out of the correct pH range. It will also improve soil that is too sandy, has too much clay, or has other problems. When planting shrubs or trees, we suggest adding Peat Moss to the soil. It conditions all soils by improving aeration, water drainage and nutrient/water retention. For a potted plant, potting soil will do the job. It is a little lighter than Top Soil and contains the basic nutrients a plant needs. Although Potting Soil should be enough, we suggest using Pro-Mix instead. Pro-Mix is soil that has been pre-mixed with all the nutrients needed to bring out the best and most of your plant. Pro-Mix contains potting soil, perlite, vermiculite, peat moss, and limestone. It is also referred to as "lightweight soil". Although it is a little more expensive, it is well-worth it. It is the soil we use here at D'Ercole Farms and we recommend it 100%. Cactus Soil is the recommended agent for cactus plants. You can buy cactus soil or you can make it yourself by mixing together 60% pro-mix and 40% all-purpose sand. Cactus soil comes in only small bags. For a big project, it may get quite costly to buy it pre-made. The more cactus soil you need, the more sense it makes for you to make it on your own.

2. What is the difference between annuals and perennials? What about houseplants, and bulbs?

Annuals are plants that bloom throughout most of the spring and summer, but do not survive the winter to regrow the following spring. Perennials are plants that do regrow after the winter, but only bloom for parts of the spring or summer. Houseplants are plants that can survive indoors during the wintertime. Houseplants may be put outside during the spring and summer months, but may die if left outside during a frost or any cold weather. Bulbs are plants

3. How important is drainage and how is it properly done?

When using pots to plant, it is necessary for the pots to have the proper drainage. Ceramic and clay pots will usually come with the holes already existing. Plastic pots may require you to drill, or punch out holes. When using a basket, it's best to keep plant in basic plain pot that is a little smaller than the basket itself. A plastic liner, or saucer should be placed at the bottom of the basket so the water does not touch the basket itself. If a basket gets wet, it could rot and ruin it. When using any pot with drainage holes, a saucer should be used so the water that comes out does not ruin the floor or surface it is on. If it is outside, a saucer may not be needed. For big pots that are outside, it is recommended that the pot first be filled halfway to the top with Pine Bark Nuggets. The rest of the pot can be filled with pro-mix. We recommend this because it would be a waste of soil if the whole pot is filled with soil. Plus the pot would be too heavy to move if it needed to move. Pine Bark Nuggets serve as a space-holder without making the pot too heavy.

4. How much water should I give my plant?

This is a classic question, but it the answer varies. It all depends on how often you water your plant and how much water you give your plant. The more sun the plant gets the more water it will require. When watering the plant, make sure to pour the water directly into the pot onto the soil. Water that hits leaves or anything else may prevent the full amount of water to reach the soil. When planting, there should be a difference of about 1 to 2 inches from the top of the pot to the top of the soil. Sometimes, a pot is made with a 1"-2" lip to make it easier to tell where this line is. An easy way to know how much to water is to fill that lip to the top with water and let it get soaked by the soil. The next time the plant should be watered should not be until the soil has dried up, but not fully so that it feels bone dry. Of all the plants that don't survive, improper watering is the cause 80% of the time. Either too much water or not enough water was given.

5. How do I know how much sun a plant needs?

Anytime you buy a plant, it is very important to know how much sunlight it requires. It is even more important to follow through with those requirements. If you know a plant requires a lot of sun, but you keep it in the shade all the time, the plant will not survive. Do not assume the more sunlight a plant gets that the better it will do. Some plants require a lot of sunlight, but a lot of plants require a lot of shade. Some plants cannot tolerate too much sun and other plants cannot tolerate too much shade. Most plants will accept fall into a range of sunlight. Plants that require "Full Sun" must have at least 6 hours of sunlight each day. Plants that are "partial sun" or "partial shade" require 3-6 hours of sunlight. "Full Shade" plants can take upto 3 hours of sun. Some plants may fall under two categories, or even all three! One example of this is the New Guinea Impatien. It can take full sun to full shade. But beware, the more sun it gets, the more water it needs. At the same time, the more sun it gets, the flowers it will yield. We have had customers bring in a New Guinea Impatien plant that has dried up because it was left out in the sun too long. All we did was water it, and not an hour later, it was back to normal!

6. What is the "frost free date"?

The "frost free date" is the time of the year which marks when it is safe to plant annuals without having to worry about the temperature getting too cold. Some plants can survive cold temperatures, but most annuals cannot. In our area, the general frost free date can be anywhere from May 15 to May 30. It can even fall before or after those dates. It will vary from year to year. For an accurate frost free date, consult with us before planting any annuals.


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This Page Last Updated March 26, 2006

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