Potting-up Bulbs Lifted from the Gardens

At Vineyard Gardens nursery, we are in the process of restoring and replanting the display beds on State Road. In the unfolding we’ve had to displace a lot of bulbs. Many were able to go back in the ground but there were leftovers which I decided to pot up for spring. I recalled a post by a gardening expert in England who decided to pot his bulbs deeper because in previous years he’d experienced them getting too tall and falling over. I decided to follow suit and plant deeper than I might otherwise.

Here is my process for potting our “leftover” bulbs:

1) POT AND POTTING MIXTURE. I use Happy Frog Potting Mix, one of the products available at the Vineyard Gardens Garden Center. It’s light and fluffy with good drainage and high organic content.

2) MIXED, UNKNOWN BULB VARIETIES. The bulbs I dug up are already in big clumps so they will have a nice, naturalized effect when they emerge in the spring. Ordinarily when potting up bulbs we use individual, packaged bulbs. These “clumped bulbs” can be handled a little differently when potted-up because the individual bulbs will be placed tighter than they would be in the ground. Usually when we pot bulbs we only get one season out of them so we’re not concerned about spacing for years of growth and development.



4) ADD BROKEN CROCKERY TO THE BOTTOM OF YOUR POT. This keeps the soil and sand from escaping every time you water yet allows the water to drain out. Standing water, like in a pot with no drainage hole, will rot the bulb. Paperwhites and Hyacinths do survive in standing water but after they flower they are composted.


6) ADD A NICE THICK LAYER OF POTTING SOIL WITH A SPRINKLE OF OSMOCOTE, A TIME-RELEASE FERTILIZER. We have Osmocote for sale at Vineyard Gardens Garden Center. There are a couple of different kinds, one biased for general growth (green label) and another specifically for developing flowers (pink label). We use Osmocote on practically everything we grow at the nursery. Plants burn up fertility, especially in containers. They are stressed and many nutrients are washed out in runoff due to their need for constant watering.

7) ADD ANOTHER THIN LAYER OF SAND. The whole process is a little like making Lasagna, layer upon layer. I add this layer of sand so the bulbs don’t sit directly in the wet soil. It also provides a quick, easy root run as the bulbs are developing their feeding roots over the winter.

8) ADD THE BIG CLUMP OF BULBS JUST AS THEY CAME OUT OF THE GROUND. Peel off any bulbs that got severed by the spade when they were dug out. Feather apart (divide) really big clumps and any loose little bulblets on the outside of the main clump. Nestle the clump down into the soil base. Add any random loose bulbs around the perimeter.

9) ADD ANOTHER LAYER OF POTTING SOIL UP TO THE RIDGE, A COUPLE OF INCHES FROM THE TOP OF THE POT. Scatter any other tiny loose bulb near the top, then press them in an inch or so. Add a thin layer of potting soil to finish it off.


11) TOP IT OFF WITH SAND. Sand makes a nice even surface for new growth to come up through and acts as a mulch to prevent moisture evaporation. Bulbs need perfect drainage but adequate moisture, so sand is an important material in the process. Ordinarily at this point I would water it but we’re late in the season and I wouldn’t want for the soil to be sodden when we get another hard freeze.


Thank you to our Vineyard Gardens Landscaping and Nursery team!

It’s the season for giving thanks and we are so thankful for our amazing team here at Vineyard Gardens! We could not do this without each and every one of our hardworking staff. These fabulous portraits were documented by the talented Keith Kurman, our resident photographer and landscape designer. Please visit our ABOUT page to meet our team!


Come join us this coming Saturday Oct 6 from 11am to 3pm for our annual Harvest Festival! There will be food, nature crafts, live music and garden tours. Fun for the whole family! FREE!!

Live music by the The Princess Poo-Pooly Ukelele Group

Food: Chili, hot dogs, corn bread, caramel apples and pumpkin pie




Hydrangeas have a beautiful classical elegance and charm that is very representative of Martha's Vineyard. They are easy to cultivate, tolerate almost any soil, and produce abundant blooms throughout the summer and fall. Hydrangea color ranges from shades of blue, pink, lavender to  white. They are very versatile and can be planted in group plantings to shrub borders to containers. At Vineyard Gardens we carry loads of Hydrangeas! We sell them in 5 gal, 10 gal and 20 gallon pots.


  • Plant in spring or fall.
  • Plant in full sun in the morning, with some afternoon shade. Bigleaf hydrangeas will grow and bloom in partial shade.
  • Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and 2 to 3 times as wide.
  • Set the plant in the hole and fill it half full with soil. Water. After water is drained, fill the rest of the hole with soil.
  • Water thoroughly.
  • Space multiple hydrangeas about 3 to 10 feet apart.

Limelight Hydrangea, photo credit

Lacecap Hydrangea, photo credit

All Summer Beauty, photo credit

Bigleaf hydrdangea, photo credit


  • For the first two years after planting and during any drought, be sure hydrangeas get plenty of water. Leaves will wilt if the soil is too dry.
  • If your soil is light or sandy, it’s best to fertilize hydrangea once a year in late winter or spring. Otherwise if your soil is rich you do not need to fertilize, too much fertilizer encourages leafy growth at the expense of blooms.


  • Bigleaf and Oakleaf Hydrangea are pruned AFTER the flowers fade in the summer.
  • Mopheads: It’s best not to deadhead (remove faded blooms). Leave them over the winter and cut them back in early spring (to the first healthy pair of buds).
  • Lacecaps: Deadhead, cut down to the second pair of leaves below the flower head.
  • Flower buds form in the late summer and flower the following season. Avoid pruning after August 1. 
  • Only cut away dead wood in the fall or very early spring.
  • To prune, cut one or two of the oldest stems down to the base to encourage branching and fullness. 
  • If the plant is old, neglected, or damaged, prune all the stems down to the base. You’ll lose the flowers for the upcoming season, but also rejuvenate the plant for future years.


  • Panicle  and Smooth hydrangeas are pruned BEFORE flower buds are formed. These varieties blossom on the current season’s stems.
  • Prune in the late winter when the plant is dormant. This means that if the buds are killed during the winter, the plant will produce new buds in the spring which will produce blooms. 
  • In general, prune only dead branches, and do not prune to “shape” the bush. 


Happy customer!

Bigleaf Hydrangea, photo credit

Oak Leaf Hydrangea



Kate Karam wrote a wonderful post on the Monrovia website about designing with roses. Read on for great tips!

5 Ways To Design With Roses

Kate Karam | May 31, 2018

From bud to bloom to falling petals, no garden, from cottage to contemporary, is really complete without at least a few of these dreamy flowering shrubs. A variety of growth habits, sizes, colors, and textures means there’s at least one that can fill any niche in the home landscape. And, breeders have made improvements in disease resistance so they’re less work, too. Here are five of our favorite ways to use them.


Sure you could plant an evergreen or conifer, but taller shrub roses planted close together make a beautiful and effective hedge to create privacy or to define property lines. Lower growers are spectacular used to outline a path or to divide one part of the garden from another.

The secret to a dense hedge is planting shrubs closely, about 2′ to 3′ apart on center.

Here are three to try:

Candy Cane Cocktail™ Rose

Parade of abundant flower clusters (white petals that gradually intensify to a deep pink with red edges) provide season-long color. Full sun. Up to 4′ tall. Zone: 5 – 9

Grace N’ Grit™ Yellow Shrub Rose

Outstanding disease resistance and proven to thrive coast to coast in heat and humidity as well as dry, hot summers. Full sun. Up to 5′ tall. Zone: 4 – 9

Tahitian Treasure™ Rose

Deep-salmon blooms contrast beautifully against the dark green, semi-glossy foliage on an upright, bushy habit. Full Sun. Up to 6′ tall. Zone 5 – 9



Roses can play a supporting role, too. Look for taller varieties to add height and scale to the back of a border, and free-flowering, mid-sized shrubs to amp-up the summer show of mixed evergreen foundation plantings.

Get a power-planted look by massing two or more groups of 3 roses in a long border or along the foundation. 

These are fat and sassy:

Honey Nectar™ Grandiflora Rose

Continuous bloom with clean, glossy, dark green foliage that’s more resistant to hot, humid temperatures. Great for the back of a border. Full sun. Up to 5′ tall. Zone 5 – 9

Grace N’ Grit™ Red Shrub Rose

Upright bouquets of fully-double, red roses on fuss-free shrubs that endure long, hot summers with unwavering blooming zeal. Full sun. Up to 5′ tall. Zone 4 – 9

Tequila Gold™ Rose

Splendid blooms are beautifully contrasted by dense foliage on a bushy, yet compact form with exceptional disease resistance. Full sun. Up to 6′ tall. Zone: 5 – 10


Climbers and ramblers add interest to otherwise plain walls and fences, and provide shady, flowery cover to arbors and pergolas. Use shorter varieties on smaller trellises, pillars, and tuteurs.

The secret to getting the most from climbing roses is to plant a second kind of climber that blooms at a different time along with it at a ratio of 2-to-1 (two roses for every secondary vine). (Clematis, jasmine, even grapes, are good companions.)

These are long-legged beauties:

Cecile Brunner Climbing Rose

Tall, vigorous rose with small buds that open to fragrant, light pink, double blooms in large sprays. So romantic! Full sun. Up to 20′ long. Zone: 4 – 11

Crimson Sky™ Climbing Rose

Blooms early & continues throughout the warm season with fire-engine red flowers retaining vibrant color without fading. Full sun. Up to 12′ long. Zone: 5 – 10

White Lady Banks Climbing Rose

Blooms spring to early summer with clusters of fragrant blooms on thornless branches. Great for chain-link fences. Full sun. Up to 20′ long. Zone: 6 – 9


Whether one eye-popping large shrub in a large container, or one of the new compact roses alone or snuggled up with a mix of perennials or annuals, potted- up roses provide solutions for places where it’s difficult to plant such as hardscape or around swimming pools.

Roses set deep roots so be sure to provide a container that’s at least 18″ deep and repot with fresh soil every three years.

Perfect for pots:

Grace N’ Grit™ Pink BiColor Shrub Rose

Ideal for a large container–or a row of containers for a flowery privacy border. Full sun. Up to 5′ tall. Zone: 4 – 9

Sunrosa™ Soft Pink Shrub Rose

Sheer, soft pink semi-double blooms on a compact form combined with lacy foliage. Nearly carefree color for patio containers. Full sun. Up to 2 ft. tall. Zone: 4 – 10

Caramba® Shrub Rose

Compact and bushy, this will easily fill a medium-sized container for a nearly continuous display of bright orange-red color. Full sun. Up to 2 ft. tall. Zone: 5 – 9


Mass these surprisingly tough shrubs in that sunny space where other plants might struggle. Edge a driveway, surround a swimming pool, or cover a slope with groundcover roses that grow dense and help keep down weeds.

When using roses as groundcovers, remember to line the bed with weed-barrier fabric (available at garden centers) before planting and top with mulch. 

These are problem solvers:

Coral Drift® Groundcover Rose

Easy-care, vigorous and cold-hardy; Low spreading habit is perfect for smaller garden borders, or along paths. Full sun. Up to 2′ tall. Zone: 4 – 11

Flower Carpet® Amber Groundcover Rose

Peachy-amber blossoms are fragrant with excellent heat and humidity tolerance.  Full sun. Up to 3′ tall. Zone: 4 – 10

Flower Carpet® Appleblossom

Don’t be fooled by delicate pastel-pink color! Exceptionally disease resistant, self-cleaning and simple to maintain. Full sun. Up to 2′ tall. Zone: 4 – 10

Keep Roses Happy:

  • Start by choosing the right rose. A large shrub rose in a too-small container or a rambler on a less than sturdy pergola can be a battle not worth having.

  • Roses love to eat; feed them about 3 weeks after the first flush of leaves and again just after the first flowers have faded.

  • While tolerant of drier conditions in subsequent years, water regularly during the first season;1-inch per week per shrub depending on your soil.

  • Mulch like you mean it!  Apply 1-3 inches of well-aged organic mulch in spring and again in fall.

  • Major prune in winter or early spring but summer pruning can keep flowers coming on. Prune stems just above a set of five leaves.

PLANT OF THE WEEK : ASTILBE 20% OFF (deer resistant!)

Astilbe "Burgundy Red" photo credit

Astilbe "Bressingham Beauty" photo credit


Astilbes are deer resistant perennial flowers that bloom in spring and summer. They have soft feathery purple, lavender, red, white or multiple shades of pink blooms with glossy fern like foliage. Some Astilbes have bronze foliage and the very newest Astilbes have deep brown foliage. They grow well in shady areas were other flowers won't thrive. Their flower clusters vary in size from 6 inches to 2 feet and their height ranges from 6 inches to 3 1/2 feet, depending on the variety. Astilbe's tend to attract butterflies. At Vineyard Gardens we carry 25-30 different cultivars.

  • Astilbe chinensis Pumila forms a ground cover and the blooms rise about 8-12“ above the foliage.
  • A couple of dwarf Astilbes are Sprite and  Hennie Graafland.
  • Astilbe Ostrich Plume is a tall pink Astilbe whose flowers are pendulous instead of upright like other Astilbes.
  • Astilbe Superba is one of the tallest pinks.


  • Plant in shade to part shade
  • Plant in a loamy humus rich soil
  • Water deeply to promote deep roots
  • Protect from hot afternoon sun


  • Regularly check your Astilbes to make sure they are moist
  • Astilbes spread quickly and form broad clumps.
  • Apply organic fertilizer in the spring
  • Divide the overgrown clumps every 3 to 4 years in the spring
  • Removing the flower heads for cut flowers will not promote continued flowering
  • At the end of bloom clip off any spent flower stems. Astilbes will continue to provide attractive foliage until fall

Astilbe "White Glory" photo credit

Astilbe "Younique Salmon" photo credit