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Blog

When we think of pollinators, striking hummingbirds and colorful butterflies may take the lead. However, while bees, wasps, flies and bats might not be our favorites of the bunch, the truth of the matter is, they need us too and we need them.

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It’s been estimated that more than 1,300 plants are grown worldwide for food, beverages, medicine and even textiles. Of those 1,300 plants, 75% are directly related to pollination by animals. That’s a pretty impressive feat!

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The weather outside this week has been frightful and we are (not so patiently waiting) to plant our tomatoes and other warm season vegetables. One of our veggie experts, Donna, has put together some simple tips for vegetable success. Donna grows so many vegetables she’s basically a one woman produce department!

Pick the perfect site

Most warm season veggies, like tomatoes and peppers, need lots of sun. Make sure you plant them in a place where they will get 6-8 hours of sun. Plants also need good air circulation and well-drained soil. Don’t plant them too close together.

Give them the perfect soil

The ideal pH for a vegetable garden is 6.5-6.8. Mix in TGP Garden Mix and Espoma® Garden-tone to give your plants a healthy start. For tomatoes, you can use Espoma® Toma...

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Flowers hold fascination from childhood. Remember picking a handful of dandelions to give to mom? We always try to bring a bit of the beauty of nature into our homes in any way we can and gathering flowers for a bouquet is just one of the simple pleasures of planting a garden.

Tip 1

If you want to have a steady stream of flowers to cut, create a production style bed with rows, similar to how you would plant a vegetable garden. If you have space, you could even designate an area of your vegetable garden but we like to keep it simple by mixing plants into your established gardens. In fact, you probably already have some cutting flowers in your garden!

Tip 2

Combine blooms for every season and plants with an array of textures like shiny, rough, frill...

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When you think of trees, what state jumps to mind? California, with its redwoods? Vermont and its sugar maples? How about Nebraska? A naturally treeless prairie landscape, Nebraska is the birthplace of Arbor Day!

The holiday began with journalist Julius Sterling Morton, who moved from Detroit to Nebraska in 1854. At the time, the wide open spaces of the west weren't working out so well for pioneers — the shadeless prairie was hot in the summer, with few windbreaks to keep tilled soil from blowing right into Kansas. The solution? Plant a tree.

Morton rose to become the state secretary and helped establish the first Arbor Day on April 10, 1872. More than 1 million trees were planted across the state that day. Arbor Day became a natio...

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At The Growing Place, we like to help out the environment in any way we can. Each year, people from all around the world celebrate Earth Day on April 22. Festivals, demonstrations, and other activities are planned in cities everywhere to bring awareness to the earth’s rapidly depleting resources. The first Earth Day was on April 22, 1970. Senator Gaylord Nelson founded the holiday. Turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth you can save 4 gallons of water every day. Here are other ways to help every day, not just on Earth Day!

  1. Slow the Flow: A faucet leaking just one drop per second wastes over 1,300 gallons per year! If you have an irrigation system for your lawn or garden make sure to shut it off on rainy days. Save gallons of water each summer by adding a rain barrel (or two) to your downspouts to collect rain to water your garden or containers. You can order a rain barrel directly from The Conservation Foundation.
  2. Choose Both Sides: Using the other side of the paper can cut that pollution almost in half! And choose recycled paper—especially processed-chlorine-free recycled paper.
  3. 'Greener' Lawn: You’ll save money and reduce emissions by mowing your lawn less or with an electric mower. Keep your grass at least 3” tall to save on water consumption. The shorter the grass the more water needed. Don't over fertilize! Ideally, your lawn only needs fertilization in spring and fall.
  4. Meatless Dinner Once a Week: Plan a meat alternative for dinner. Think about planting a herb or vegetable garden and adding it a salad or pasta. Reducing meat consumption conserves fresh water, topsoil and reduces air pollution. Shop local or grow local. The closer your food is to you, fewer resoures are expended getting it to you.
  5. Walk, Hike, Ride a Bike: If people in the U.S. would occasionally ride a bike for a short errand instead of driving a car, over 70 million gallons of fuel could be saved each year! And there’s the added benefit of enjoying the fresh air and exercise! For short errands, take a hike!
  6. Plant a Tree Every Earth Day! Over a 50-year lifetime, a tree generates $31,250 worth of oxygen, provides $62,000 worth of air pollution control, recycles$37,500 worth of water, and controls $31,250 worth of soil erosion. It also provides shade that keeps homes and cities cooler!
  7. Give Weeds a 'Hand': Herbicides aren’t the only way to control weeds, and they’re certainly not the most environment-friendly way! Invest in a good pair of gloves and garden tools, and remove weeds by hand. Also, choose natural alternatives to pesticides for getting rid of pests!
  8. Lighten Your Energy Bill: There’s a brighter way to light your home: new Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs). Compared to regular bulbs, CFLs last 10 times longer, use only 1/4 the energy and produce 90% less heat—yet they produce more light per watt! Brighten the future: go CFL!
  9. "Conscious" Laundry: Instead of saving those piles of laundry for Saturday or Sunday afternoon, do it at night when energy costs are lower. If you have to do laundry during the day try hanging your clothes outside in nature's dryer
  10. Save the Plastic: Recycle those planter pots purchased from your garden center. Tip: Use them to fill large pots to save on soil usage and help with drainage.
  11. Green Mother's Day: For the mom who loves to garden, buy her native plant!
  12. Reduce, Reuse Recycle: It’s not just a slogan. You can start making the world a ‘greener’ place today: return hangers to the cleaners, donate clothing and computers to charities, pack lunches in reusable containers instead of bags, there are hundreds of easy things to do! It’s up to you!

Whether you are just starting out growing edibles or you grow so many you can start your own CSA Farm (community supported agriculture) early spring edibles are a wonderful way to get some home-grown veggies while you wait for your tomatoes and peppers.

You’re probably familiar with popular favorites like lettuce, cabbage, and kale but what about adding some edible spring perennials? Some of our favorites include Chives, French Sorrel, Rhubarb, Asparagus, Egyptian Walking Onion, and even Strawberries!

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Chives are a great low maintenance kitchen garden herb that loves the sun. Grow them near your kitchen door in a garden bed or container so they are easy to reach from early spring all the way through the growing season. They have a mild onion or garlic flavor and their edible lavender flowers are considered a delicacy.

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It’s that time of year again when we anxiously await signs of life in the garden. We were foolishly lulled into thinking spring is here after a few warm days only to be snapped back to reality this week when we had to bundle up with coats and scarves. This spring you can satisfy your early flower cravings by planting some of these wonderful trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and bulbs.

First up, bulbs!Have you noticed carpets of brilliant blue around town? That is most likely a bulb called Scilla siberica or Siberian Squill. It is indispensable as an early spring bulb for naturalizing and will bloom a long time with cooler temperatures. At our Naperville store, you can find them blooming their hearts out in our Cottage Garden along...

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Now is the perfect time to prune woody plants if they bloom in summer. Some examples are burning bush, hydrangeas, clethra, barberry, St. John’s wort, and weigela. Wait to prune your fragrant viburnums, lilacs, and anything that blooms before Memorial Day until just after they flower. These plants already have flower buds ready to go for spring.

Only prune if necessary to control the size of the plant or to remove dead, crossing or damaged twigs. Opening up the canopy of a tree or the structure of shrubs will allow greater air circulation and reduce fungal disease. Pruning now before leaves appear allows you to clearly see the structure of the plant. Since it’s been so warm and trees are leafing out fast, it’s probably ...

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Bare root trees are trees that are dug and stored without any soil around their roots. Planting bare-root trees can be one of the best bargains in gardening. While it may seem strange to plant a tree with roots not contained in soil, it’s actually an excellent practice that is amazingly successful. According to Cornell University, a bare-root tree contains 200 percent more roots than the same tree sold balled-and-burlapped, which is dug with soil intact around roots and wrapped in burlap to hold soil in place.

Advantages of Bare-Root Trees

  • Bare Performs Better: Bare-root trees take off more quickly than containerized ones because roots aren’t transitioning from container soil to local soil. Bare-root trees are planted during dormancy, which gives them weeks of root growth that spring-planted container trees lack.

  • Price: Bare-root trees cost 30 to 50 percent less than a container-grown tree of the same size. The cost savings occurs because you’re skipping the labor required for potting and maintaining a containerized tree.

  • Easier to Handle: Bare-root trees are lightweight. You can carry bare-root trees more easily and fit more in your car. Plus, when planting bare root trees, it only takes one person to maneuver a bare root!

  • Variety: The Growing Place offers a selection of bare-root trees every year in the spring. It’s a great way to start a new tree and save some money.

  • Easy Planting: Bare root trees need good soil moisture, so the two best planting times are spring (before budbreak) and mid fall (after leaf fall). Keep trees covered, shaded, and moist until actually planting in the ground. There is no need for soil amendments because the roots will be growing out into the surrounding soil very quickly.

Planting Bare Root Trees

  • Bare root trees should be planted as soon as possible, otherwise be sure they are stored in a cool place and out of direct sunlight.

  • Soak the tree roots in water for 12-24 hrs before planting. This will awake the roots and allow them to soak up needed moisture.

  • Prune off any split or broken roots or branches, using pruners that are sharp enough to keep from crushing or fraying the roots.

  • The planting hole should be wide enough to allow the roots to spread out without bending. The planting depth for a bare root tree should have the root flare at ground level. The root flare is the point where the trunk is flared and the roots begin. Place a board or stick across the hole to indicate the level where the root flare should be. Break up the clumps of soil taken from the hole as backfill.

  • Hold the tree straight and at the proper height, backfill loosened soil under and around the roots first, packing it firmly. Keep filling the remainder of the hole by packing the soil firmly until just about the original grade level and water.

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We promise we’re not jumping ahead to next winter. However, now is the time to really take a look at your garden and see what you can add to brighten up your space even in the dead of winter. Although flowers are few and far between, you can add interest in the winter with the textures of branches, a framework of trees, varying shades of evergreen and even windswept grasses.

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Aurora Location

2000 Montgomery Road,

Aurora, IL 60504

Phone. 630-820-8088

Naperville Location

25w471 Plank Road,

Naperville, IL 60563

Phone. 630-355-4000

Spring Hours

Monday-Friday: 9:00am-7:00pm

Saturday: 9:00am-5:00pm

Sunday: 11:00am-5:00pm

Memorial Day hours

Monday, May 30: 9:00am-2:30pm


Growing for the future with
right plants in right places.