From Al's Experts logo

Tim Mouzakis

February is one of the best times to plant bare root fruit trees, but why bare root?  Bare root fruit trees give you the advantage of seeing your root structure and health.  In addition, they are easier to transport because they are lighter and can more easily be lifted into position.

a bare root fruit tree

When planting any bare root fruit tree, be sure to choose an area of the yard that gets full sun and good drainage, especially for cherries and apricots.  The most important thing to remember is to group trees together that have similar root stocks and spraying needs.

a sketch of a bare root fruit tree soaking in a bucket

1. Soak the roots overnight in water before planting.

If the tree is not going to be planted within 24 hours after purchase, "heel" the tree into a pile of soil or a big bucket of soil mix.  Cover the entire root area of the tree so they don't dry out.  Keep the soil moist until the tree is planted.

2.  Dig the planting hole twice as wide as the roots.

It's not necessary to dig a hole any deeper than the length of the root stock, usually about a foot.  However, if drainage is a problem, be sure to break up any layers of hard pan that may exist in the current soil.

3.  Mix native soil and soil amendment.

Al's Slow Release Transplant FertilizerAl's 8-2-4 slow release fertilizer

Us up to 1 part NW Best Soil Builder & Top Dressing or Al's Planting Compost, to 1 part native soil (depending on the clay content of the soil).  Mix Al's Transplant Fertilizer in the hole around the roots.  Refer to the label for amount, usually around 2 cups for a tree of average size.

4.  Place the tree on a slight mound in the middle of the hole and then spread out the roots.

a sketch illustrating the proper way to plant a bare root fruit tree

Don't let them encircle the tree.  Face the bud union of the fruit tree (where the root stock and fruiting section have been grafted; you'll see a bump) to the north east, away from the direction of the sun.  Back fill the hole without compacting the soil.  Instead, drench the soil several times to allow it to settle and eliminate any air pockets.  Add 2-3" of mulch around the tree.  Be sure not to cover the bud union -- this needs to remain above soil or any mulch that has been added.

5.  Don't forget to add an irrigation system for your fruit trees.  

Soaker hoses are really the best way to ensure you get a good, deep root watering.  When trying to establish a tree, consistent watering is key.

6.  Stake the tree.

If you are located in a particularly windy location, use 2 stakes and flexible tape (like stretch tie) to allow the tree to sway gently, but not be blown over by the wind.

So, whether it's cherries or applies you prefer, it's actually quite easy to grow your own fresh fruit.  Choose Bare Root fruit trees from Al's, for the best results.


Are you worried about your plants during these dramatic swings in temperature?  Start by understanding the difference between Cold Damage and Drought Damage.

Hellebore blooms in the snowimage from dartshillgarden.files.wordpress.com

Cold Damage

This is when mid-winter temperature swings can damage broadleaf evergreens.  The most damage is done in early and late winter, when plants are less acclimated to the cold.  This kind of temperature change affects the entire plant.

Winter Drought Damage

In mid-winter, the real damage is drought damage.  When we have warm temperatures followed by cold temperatures.  The combination of extended below freezing temperatures and bright sunshine a little or no wind, will cause a drought like condition, even in winter.

Why?

The trunks and stems of broadleaf evergreens remain frozen, yet foliage is able to thaw due to the sunshine.  The result, the plant starts to photosynthesize.  Since all the water in the trunk and stems has frozen, the result is that no water moves upward the foliage becomes dry.

What to look for

If the burn is more pronounced on southern or western sides of the plant, here in the Northern hemisphere, you are probably looking at mid-winter drought injury.  If the damage is uniform on all sides of the plant, it's more likely that new growth is being killed by a freeze event.

How to Solve

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about it now, but try to remember to water prior to any dramatic temperature change in the future.  That way, your plants will have the best fighting chance.

Don't immediately start removing damaged stems, as it may take weeks for all the damage to be visible.  Rather, take care of any pruning when temperatures have stabilized, usually in late March or early April.

Lastly, remember this weather event on your garden calendar.  So, when you see the damage later in spring, you'll remember the event that caused it.


Every year, the Pantone Color Institute releases its "Color of the Year" to help designers, decorators, and fashionistas stay on the cutting edge of color. While it is a symbolic choice, it serves as a color snapshot of what we see taking place in our global culture and serves as an expression of a mood or an attitude. And 2017 looks like it will be all about freshness and revival.

Greenery

The 2017 Color of the Year is Greenery

Greenery is a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature revives itself. A refreshing and revitalizing color. Greenery is symbolic of new beginnings. Illustrated through the use of flourishing foliage and the lushness of the great outdoors, the attributes of Greenery signals us to take a deep breath and rejuvenate.

That sounds like a match made in heaven for us at Al's. We've been in the business of Greenery since 1948! This natural hue can be seen all over the garden center, especially as the muted tones of winter start to give way to the new growth of spring. And because we like to stay up on the latest style trends, you will find Greenery throughout our clothing and home decor sections in 2017 as well.

Greenery is nature's neutral.  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, so the more submerged people are in modern life the greater their craving to immerse themselves in the natural world. Greenery used to be a great background color, but now Greenery is being pulled to the forefront.  A life-affirming shade, Greenery is also emblematic of the pursuit of personal growth and vitality. Take it from Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute:

"Greenery bursts forth in 2017 to provide us with the reassurance we yearn for amid a tumultuous social and political environment. Satisfying our growing desire to rejuvenate and revitalize, Greenery symbolizes the reconnection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose"

Well said, Leatrice. Look for Greenery all throughout the garden center this year.


Judy Alleruzzo

So you have been to the mall and a holiday bazaar or two, but you still can't find that perfect gift. How about giving somebody special a beautiful living gift? Here are a couple of suggestions from Al's.

a bowl full of hellebore blooms
Hellebore blooms

Hellebores

Hellebores are a welcomed sight in late winter and early spring. If you are a four season gardener, let your hellebores take center stage. These long-blooming, low-maintenance evergreen perennials can tolerate lots of shade. Wrap the pot in a pretty scarf, and you are good to go!

a decorated miniature Rosemary Tree

Lavender or Rosemary Holiday Trees

These 6" small trees are perfect if you don't want a large Christmas tree. Plus, they smell divine! Add some small ornaments and lights and these little trees look perfect on the mantle or coffee table, along with votive candles and your other favorite Christmas decor.

Christmas ornaments on a Norfolk Island Pine

Norfolk Island Pine

If you have an apartment or condo, the Norfolk Island Pine is the perfect gift. You can use it as a Christmas tree now, and continue to use it as a houseplant long after the holidays.

Conifers

A conifer with a festive Christmas bow

It's easy to see why conifers are a staple of most backyard landscapes. They offer nice color and year round structure in your garden, and are mostly maintenance-free. Because they are slow growers, they are perfect for small garden spaces. Add a beautiful container and bow, and you've got yourself the perfect gift for the avid gardener.


If you are shopping for the gardener on your list and need some gift ideas, we've got you covered! Every gardener appreciates the right tool for the job, and being dressed for any weather.

3 garden tools by DeWit

DeWit® Forged Gardening Tools

  • Touted as the best designed trowel on the market
  • Hand forged boron steel had will hold a sharp edge
  • Heavy duty and durable
  • Strong yet lightweight and unrivaled Dutch-made quality
  • Lifetime guarantee
A pair of garden boots from Bogs

Bogs® Footwear

  • Inspired by and created for folks who work and play outdoors -- no matter what the weather.
  • Bogs were born when they designed a durable, comfortable, waterproof, insulated boot for life off the asphalt
  • Bogs are loaded up with legendary durability and comfort

For the Birder in your life, our Suet Kits make for a great present

Supplies for feeding the birds

Pacific Bird & Supply® Suet Kit

  • An excellent start to a hobby that brings tremendous joy and relaxation
  • A terrific way to enhance your backyard birding buffet
  • A perfect outdoor family activity

Al's also has a great selection of bird feeders and bird houses!

Bring the outdoors in with terrariums and indoor home gardens

LED Mini Garden

Tucker's Pride® LED Mini Garden

  • 7" wide X 14" long, it's small enough to sit on your kitchen counter
  • Great for growing fresh herbs and microgreens
  • Avid gardeners can starts seeds for the vegetable garden 
Succulents in a glass terrarium

Syndicate® Home Garden Terrarium Kit

  • Create your own terrarium
  • Easy to assemble and includes all supplies needed
  • Perfect for the college student or apartment living



Syndicate® Home Garden Terrarium Tool Kit

  • Includes 4 tools; brush, rake, shovel and a pair of tongs
  • Perfect for getting into those tight places
  • Show up to our next Wine & Workshop Wednesday in style!

With snow and freezing temperatures in the forecast, there's important work to be done in the garden!

frost on a dormant bush

Remember to:

  • Turn off the outside water, if you already haven't
  • Drain all hoses of water
  • Remove hoses from outside water faucets, and store for the winter
  • Mulch around established plants to provide insulation
  • Wrap tender plants with burlap or bubble wrap to help protect against the cold.
  • Cover tender plants
  • Prior to freezing temperatures, apply Bonide Wilt-Stop® to the foliage of plants to help prevent freeze damage
  • Move containers closer to the house
  • Remove saucers from under all containers to eliminate the collection of water
  • And if you're really concerned, bring plants inside your garage or covered area

So while you're staying warm and cozy inside, you'll know your plants have all been taken care of outside.


Whether your style is traditional or over-the-top glamorous, there is something for everyone at Al's. So get your tree, wreath and garland going, by embellishing them with beautiful home décor.  Add some ribbon, candles or special Christmas ornaments and you've really got something special.

Traditional

A large lantern, block sign, or wooden horse can enhance the warm Christmas feel of your entryway or mantel.

Nordic

Metal houses aglow on the mantle with greens added complete the Nordic look. Simple holiday seasonal signage adds that touch of Christmas to any room.

Woodsy

You may already have a couple of hurricane lamps, just trade out the candles to create your holiday look. A wooden deer and small decorative tree add to the festive woodsy look.

Glamorous

If you're going for glitz and glamour this holiday season, be sure to pick a strong color like red, and don't be shy with the glitter.  This display should be the center of attention in the entrance hall or fit for the dining room table.

Have fun making your house that special gathering place for friends and family.


There is nothing worse than running short on time just before a large holiday party. Searching for a suitable gift for the hostess can often fall to the bottom of the list when getting ready. So Al's has a couple of suggestions that will please even the most discerning hostess.

a white and magenta Christmas cactus bloom

For the Traditional Hostess

Hailing from our friends in Mexico, the Christmas Cactus makes an ideal gift because it will bloom throughout the holidays, but can still be enjoyed for months afterwards.

a display of blooming orchids

For the Stylish Hostess

Nothing says style quite like orchids. Their exotic color combinations and long lasting blooms will have your hostess remembering your thoughtfulness for months to come.

an airplant

For the Hip Hostess

Succulents and Tillandsia are still the rage! These popular plants are easy to display, and even easier to care for.

close-up of a unique shooting star hydrangea bloom

For the Unique Hostess

When something truly unique is required, the Shooting Star Hydrangea is definitely one of a kind. You won't find this at your local grocery store. Plus, they can be planted outside come May!

an array of tropical antheriums and bromeliads

For the Tropical Hostess

For the hostess that would really rather be laying on a beach somewhere, Antheriums & Bromeliads are the perfect gift. They will bring lasting memories of the warm trade winds and sandy beaches.

So if you're invited to a big Holiday party, or just stopping in to enjoy a piece of pie, make sure to not show up empty handed.


It's time to spray your fruit trees. These important preventative measures reduce your workload come springtime. With these simple steps, properly caring for your fruit trees is as easy as 1-2-3!

an apple orchard in fall
bottles of Horticultural Oil and Liqui-CopMonterrey Horticultural Oil and Liqui-Cop are available at Al's.

1

Spray your fruit trees in the fall with copper fungicide and horticultural oil as soon as all the leaves have dropped. This helps control bacterial blight, leaf curl, and other fungal diseases that can overwinter, as well as insects and their eggs.

2

Spray a second time in winter with copper fungicide and horticultural oil around the end of December.

3

Apply the final dormant spray application around mid-February. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's directions on label.

Steps to success

  • Always remove any remaining leaves or fruit from your trees.
  • Clean up any fallen leaves or branches from around your trees, as these can harbor bacteria and insects.
  • Choose a dry, cool day above 40° - we don't want the rain washing away your hard work!
  • Spray from the ground to the top of the bare tree, ensuring that all branches are covered
  • Prune tree to promote good structure and help increase air circulation. Be sure to sanitize pruning equipment prior to and after pruning to help prevent the spread of disease.
  • Congratulate yourself on a job well done!

When decorating for Thanksgiving, you probably don’t think of poinsettias. But you may be surprised to find out there are special varieties that work just great for dressing up your bountiful Thanksgiving table. I’m sure thankful for the broad spectrum of varieties available. Here are a few of our favorite poinsettia picks for fall

An Orange Spice Poinsettia surrounded by fall gourds

 

a Cinnamon Star Poinsettia by a bale of hay

Cinnamon Star

The peachy pink bracts on this variety are speckled with slightly darker pink dots, making it look as though they have been sprinkled with cinnamon.

a Gold Rush Poinsettia next to fall decor

Gold Rush

This beauty is absolutely irresistible, with unique tear-drop shaped bracts in warm golden-pink colors that vary in tone from plant to plant.

a bright Orange Spice Poinsettia

Orange Spice

Rich true orange bracts and it’s narrow lancelet shape provide increased interest, as Orange Spice is the only true orange poinsettia available.