And don’t be afraid to ask us even more questions. Half the fun of taking care of your houseplants, garden beds or vegetable patches is sharing the love of growing things.
What should I add to my soil before I plant?
Adding compost is the best amendment for improving soil conditions. The City of Edmonton has a very good course on how to properly compost. They also offer expert advice with a composting coach.
Most potting mixes are blended for pots to avoid waterlogging. Never use soil straight from the garden. If the soil is composed mostly of peat moss, it can dry out more quickly. By adding a small amount of compost it will improve water retention.
How to water plants
- It is best to water in the morning as to allow the plant material to dry off during the day
- Avoid watering plant leaves to prevent foliar diseases
- Make sure the water reaches the roots
- Apply water gradually so to allow it to fully tack up the water
- Avoid waterlogging hanging baskets and containers
- Pro Tip: For better watering of garden beds, plant an empty pot in the ground, then when watering your garden fill the pot up for deeper waterings – use at least a 5″–6″ pot (tomatoes love this method)
What to look for when buying a plant
- The biggest plant may not guarantee it is the best plant
- Look for signs of unhealthiness such as blemishes, disease, pests
- Look for signs of neglect such as roots growing out of the pot base or weeds in the pot
When should I plant?
- When the night temperature does not get below 10°C/50°F
- Some say after the May long weekend or first weekend in June for annuals
- Watch forecasts for evening temperatures
- Bulbs can be planted out in the Fall
- Perennials Spring, Summer or Fall
Bugs on plants – when to use pesticides
Know what you are dealing with:
- Arch will examine insect and disease specimens if they are brought in in a sealed bag with contact information attached to it
- We’ll rule out physiological problems or diseases
- We’ll let you know if a pesticide is required
NOTE: As a licenced pesticide applicator, our greenhouse manager Aaron is required to educate customers on Health Canada guidelines for safe pesticide usage.
- Chemicals are not always needed
- Not all insects are bad, in fact, they might actually be a beneficial predator eating pests
- Keep garden beds as weed free as possible – weeds can act as a host for insects like aphids
- Don’t over-fertilize your plants with high-nitrogen fertilizers – they cause weak, soft growth that is attractive to most pests
- These tomatoes are very vigourous and will require pruning and support with either with cages or stakes – think of them like vines
- Fruit sets along the vine and most ripen gradually over the season
- Typically cherry, grape, slicers
- These tomatoes are more compact and typically stop growing when the fruit is set at the top bud, they need limited staking and some varieties are used in containers or hanging baskets
- All tomatoes ripen at around the same time
- Typically plum (Roma), some cherry and slicers
- More compact than indeterminate types but are also capable of producing fruit throughout the season
- Beefsteak – Pro Tip: For larger tomatoes prune your truss to leave only two or three tomatoes
Heirloom versus hybrids
Heirlooms have great features in terms of taste, colour and cool fruit shapes. Some varieties can be more prone to some diseases and the fruit is not always the prettiest, but they’e worth the extra effort. The top three personal heirloom favourites:
- Brandywine – large pink-fruited tomato – great tasting
- Persimmon – sweet orange slicer
- Yellow Pear – yellow teardrop shaped cherry tomatoes
Hybrids have great features. They are easy to grow, and have been bred for disease resistance and superior fruit production. Their fruit tends to be more uniform. The top three personal hybrid favourites:
- Sungold – sweet orange cherry tomatoes
- Rapunzel – red cherry that produces an extremely-long truss
- Great White – Pale yellow tomato – fantastic taste
It’s all about preventing blossom-end rot:
- It’s most prevalent in slicers and beefsteak varieties
- Important: Calcium is important for plants like tomatoes and geraniums, always check the analysis on the fertilizer package to make sure it contains calcium – Arch carries organic fertilizers loaded with calcium
- Calcium will strengthen cell walls in tomatoes – as it strengthens our bones, plus it gives the leaves a very dark green look
Are you open year round?
Yes, we are open all year. However, our business hours vary from season to season. Please check back here before visiting if you’re unsure about when we’re open, or call for current hours.
Our Spring season begins early May and runs through June. The poinsettia crop is at its best between mid November and early December.
What is the return policy on non-plant purchases?
The original sales receipt must accompany any non-plant returns. Sale merchandise is sold as is and is not returnable. Regular-priced merchandise must be returned within seven days in original condition. We endeavour to carry quality merchandise. However we cannot always protect against defective items. In the event you find that a non-plant product is defective, please return it with the original sales receipt at any time during the current season.
What does it mean to harden off my plants?
Hardening off means to gradually acclimatize your plants to the location they will be planted in. In the greenhouse, plants are in a more humid environment than outdoors in Alberta. The Sun in Alberta is very intense and because humidity is low, relocating sun-loving plants – recently purchased from the greenhouse – directly to a sunny outdoor location can be very hard on them.
Generally, it is recommended to put plants outside in the shade for four to 10 days before transplanting them. If weather conditions are hot and dry, plants will need longer to get used to the new environment. If conditions are overcast for an extended period or if plants are going into the shade, they could be planted in their final location immediately.
Some plants like begonias, coleus and tomatoes are very temperature sensitive. Early in the season, these types of plants may need to be protected if night temperatures get low.
A lot of my perennials didn’t come back in the spring. How come?
The most common reason is a lack of moisture. Perennial beds need to be moist going into winter. If the soil is dry it can be very hard on trees, plants and shrubs. The Capital region has experienced very dry late falls the last few years, so it’s important to keep an eye on the soil, and water if necessary. Even in November if it’s been mild with no rain or snow.
Also, in areas where the snow is quick to leave in the spring, the plants can be covered with a 4–6” layer of mulch (leaves or peat moss) once the ground is going to stay frozen solid and left until it is certain the warmer weather is here to stay. Quite often there is a week or two in February or March when the weather gets unseasonably warm, the snow melts, the soil warms up and the little plants wake up and start to grow – only to be blasted with -30°C for the next two months. Tender new growth can’t survive that.
How late can I plant perennials?
Perennials can be planted right through to fall, usually until at least the end of September. As long as they have a couple of weeks of warm weather to settle in, they’ll be fine.
If you don’t think there is enough time for your perennial to adjust, just plant it in its pot. It will survive quite nicely and you can dig it up in the spring and then plant it properly.