Tips & Tricks from Garden Guru, A.J. Petitti

Tips & Tricks from Garden Guru, A.J. Petitti Tips & Tricks from Garden Guru, A.J. Petitti

Spring is about to bloom in Cleveland, at least we hope it is. Since we're experiencing the mildest winter in decades, it's hard not to start thinking about the garden and cultivate ideas on new and exciting trends in gardening and backyard living. I caught up with A.J. Petitti, of Petitti Garden Center, at the Great Big Home & Garden Expo at the I-X Center to get the 411 and deliver to you an all you need to know on upcoming trends and advice to make your garden bloom bright and beautiful this season.

Color Your Garden

Like the fashion shows runways of New York, Milan, London and Paris, this season's colors have never been so bright. In the past years the floral colors tended to be more mute and pastel, reflecting on the weak economy. However, as the economy is taking a slight growth, the colors on the runway and the flowers are becoming more vivid. As Petitti describes it "think 1980s but with more class." Juicy citrus colors like tangerine red, lime green, lemon yellow and grapefruit pink will be rocking the greenhouses this season and will definitely give your garden an up to date look.

Go Green

Since there has been increased global awareness of becoming more environmentally conscious, so have the products in your garden. The harmful chemicals that could cause negative effects on the environment, loved ones and pets are a thing of the past. "Converting to natural products and going organic is the way to go, especially since they are getting better and smarter," according to Petitti. He also states that the organic and natural fertilizers are a lot more effective than chemical based products. Another way you can "go green" is by using rain barrels in your backyard. Rain barrels, an ancient tradition, collect all the rainwater funneled through your gutters so that you can then use that same water to water your plants; in all a great way to save money and cut back on water consumption. Lastly, if you are planting indoor, a great plant to keep around the house is the Sanseveria, named in honor of Raimondo di Sangro (1710-1771), prince of San Severo in Italy. The low maintenance, Sanseveria plant is a wonderful air cleaner and the best part is that the older it gets, the stronger the air cleaning capabilities become. One thing however Petitti does warn about indoor plants is to "make sure you're not overwatering and keep the plants away from drafts."

Succulent Plants

Succulent plants are making a comeback and are a huge trend this season. According to Petitti, the water retaining "fat plants" are "especially popular with young gardeners who don't have the time to cure a garden." Succulent plants lend fancy foliage and a different texture to any garden.

Themed Gardens

Building a themed garden is great way to create a unique atmosphere and even involve the kids. Butterfly gardens, bird gardens and even vegetable gardens are perfect opportunities to create a versatile and different environment. Petitti advices to even "get the kids off the couch and away from the TV and involve them in gardening," and a themed garden definitely gets them excited, especially butterfly and bird gardens. Growing a vegetable garden in your background is like having a farmers market at your finger tips. Vegetables gardens are becoming extremely popular since there has been this awareness of eating healthier and buying organic fruits and vegetables. Petitti also suggests, "if you are going to grow a vegetable garden, container it, this way you can maximize your space in confined areas and enjoy your garden year round."

Annuals & Perennials

Every year, species of plants become stronger and more efficient. Petitti touched based on which annuals and perennials will get you more run for your money. Three proven power flowers are the Supertunia, Lantana and Begonia. Petitti suggests that the Supertunia and Begonia are a "great way to incorporate color in a small garden and can also be added to an all green plant containers to give an extra punch of color." Also the Clematis "Abilene" by Raymond Evison is great for pots, likes partly shaded areas and will climb a trellis. A real hot item for the season is the Heuchera "Berry Smoothie," a pink leafed perennial that will bloom all season long and grows well in the shade, along with the Geum Fireball. Petitti highlights also the Quince "Double Take Series," the Butterfly Bush and the Rose "Drift Series" to all be sure winners this season, with increased bloom times and disease and insect resistant, these flowers are absolutely bullet proof.

With the growing interest in gardening, there are so many ideas that you can apply to your garden. It is never too early to start planning for your garden, in fact, although it is only March, Petitti suggests to "start the seeds indoors now so that by mid-May you are ready to transplant everything in your garden." However, if you are a first-time grower, be sure to consult an expert before you start planting.