Gardening for Butterflies

buttterfly_on_FlowerCanadians love butterflies! Not only do we fill our gardens with plants for butterflies but our parks and public spaces are bursting with plants that attract, host and feed butterflies. Summer is the perfect time to plant to invite butterflies into the garden. When doing so, keep in mind that butterflies need plants for shelter, for laying eggs (host plants) and for food. The following combines these 3 types of plants into a helpful list of trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals to attract butterflies to your garden.



There are a few trees that feed butterflies, but most act as hosts or shelter. Either way, the following trees will attract butterflies to your yard. Black Locust trees (like Purple Robe), Black Cherry trees, Willows, Eastern Redbuds, Flowering Dogwoods, River Birch and Sugar Maple.


There are many shrubs that attract butterflies. The most obvious is, of course, the Butterfly Bush! With a name like that there’s no question that it will attract butterflies to the garden. But there are many other shrubs that will also do the job. Some of these include Sweetspire, Summersweet, Privet, Viburnum and Spirea.


If you have a fence or wall to cover and want your vine to double as a butterfly magnet you have a few choices. There are a few climbing vines that will bring butterflies to your garden too. A few examples are passion flower vine (an ANNUAL), Hops, Dutchman’s Pipe, Trumpet Vine and Wisteria.

Butterfly_on_JoePyeWeedThere are so many perennials that attract butterflies, it’s impossible to even list half of them. Each colour perennial table at Canadale is bursting with plants that will do the job! A few favourites include Milkweed and Butterfly Weed, Coneflower, Black Eyed Susan, Joe Pye Weed, Hollyhock, Iceplant, Shasta Daisy, Phlox, Salvia, Goats Beard, Bee Balm, Daylilies, Delphinium, Dianthus, Lavender, Liatris, Scabiosa, Stonecrop, Lupines and Yarrow.


Annuals may only last one growing season, but the colour they provide is worth it! Especially if they also attract butterflies. A few annuals that attract butterflies are Marigold, Zinnia, Aster, Cosmos, Snapdragons, Sunflowers, Pentas, Lantana, Alyssum and Verbena.

Herbs & Veggies

You might not expect that herbs and vegetables could also act as butterfly magnets. But there are some that do a very good job of attracting butterflies. These include Dill, Sage, Thyme, Peas, Legumes, Calendula, Fennel, Nasturtium, Oregano and Borage.

Butterfly_on_RockOther Garden Accents

Consider adding a flat rock to your butterfly garden as well! Butterflies need a warm body temperature to fly and can often be found sunning themselves. Providing a flat rock as a warm sunning area will encourage butterflies to spend more time in your garden. As will including a saucer or birdbath filled with fresh water.

Pruning 101

Spring is here!!  Well, sort of…. at least it is a great time to start thinking about getting our gardens in shape for another season. One aspect of gardening that is often misunderstood is pruning – we frequently get asked the common HOW, WHEN and WHAT in regards to trees, shrubs and evergreens. This article will give you some guidelines for shaping up your landscape!


Pruning Shears                                         Lopping Shears                                              Hedge Shears

Pruner              Lopper                Shears

Handheld Pruning Shears: Use for cutting stems up to 13 mm in diameter. Great for pruning smaller shrubs, roses and evergreens.

Lopping Shears:  Use for cutting through stems up to 38 mm in diameter. Longer handles provide extra leverage from thicker branches. For use on larger trees, shrubs and evergreens.

Hedge Shears: Use for trimming hedges where a neat line of foliage is the end goal, such as privet and evergreen hedges.

Pruning is key to ensuring your plants health and success for years to come.  There are so many different types of plants that sometimes it is overwhelming to keep track of their individual needs.  Generally speaking, the first thing to ask yourself is “when does this plant bloom?”  If it is an early spring bloomer, typically waiting to prune until after the blooming is finished is ideal, but if it blooms at other times during the season, an early spring prune is usually recommended. Of course, there are ALWAYS exceptions to every rule; here are a few of the common trees, shrubs and evergreens and how/ when to prune them. If you are ever unsure of your plants pruning requirements, do not hesitate to come on in and ask us!

Pruning Evergreens

In early spring, pyramidal evergreens such as cedars and junipers can be lightly pruned with hedge shears to remove any winter killed tips. After the first flush of new growth around mid-June,  pruning can be done to keep shape to your evergreens. Spruce and Fir produce buds along the branches, so the new growth should be pruned back by about half to encourage new buds at the cut. This will ensure your evergreens remain thick and dense. Pines do not produce buds along the branch, just at the tips. This new growth, often called ‘candles’, should be cut back by half each year near the end of June.

Spreading evergreens, such as cypress, should be pruned or thinned using the handheld pruning shears.  The best way is to make the cut under an overhanging branch on the evergreen. This way the area pruned will remain unseen and the shape remains as a shaggy mop-head, instead of a uniform straight cut (unless that is the look you are going for).

Pruning Flowering Shrubs

As mentioned above, bloom period is often a determining factor as to when pruning should be done. Here are a few examples:

Spring flowering shrubs and trees that should be pruned immediately after flowering: Forsythia, Flowering Almond, Lilac, Purpleleaf Sandcherry, Caragana, Deutzia, Rhododendron.  For lilacs and rhododendrons, even if you don’t need to prune to maintain size, pruning out spent flowers will encourage more vigorous blooms next season.

Summer flowering shrubs and trees should be pruned early spring just as the plant is beginning to come into bud. Some examples are: Spirea, Potentilla, Butterfly Bush, Viburnum, Hydrangea (see specifics for hydrangeas). These should also be pruned after blooming to remove spent flowers.

Pruning Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas can be tricky to figure out exactly when to prune depending on the variety. This should help break it down:

  1. Big Leaf Types (macrophyllas) form flower buds on the previous year’s growth. DO NOT prune in spring as you will remove the buds, prune after blooming : Nikko Blue, Pink Elf, Forever Pink, Twist n shout
  2. Pee Gee Types (paniculatas) and Annabelle Types (arborescens) for flower buds on the current year’s growth. Prune hard in early spring when dormant to produce large flowers later in the summer: Pee Gee, Limelight, Pinky Winky, Annabelle, Incrediball
  3. Repeat Blooming Big Leaf Types form flower buds the previous year AND throughout the growing season. Prune in June after 1 st bloom: Endless Summer, All Summer Beauty, City Line Series,

Pruning Vines

Most flowering vines are vigorous growers and require a hard prune early spring: clematis(most varieties), honeysuckle, Silverlace vine, Virginia creeper, Boston ivy etc. Some clematis such as Nelly Moser and Duchess of Edinburgh flower on old wood and new wood, so gentle pruning of dieback is needed.


Pruning information courtesy of Landscape Ontario :–evergreens

It’s time for Dormant Oil

One of the most common questions we get throughout the year is “How do I get rid of the insects or fungus on my trees & shrubs?” Wouldn’t it be great if there were a way to PREVENT these pests, instead of having to deal with them in the warm weather of Spring & Summer? Guess what! There is!

Dormant Oil is a preventative spray that protects your plants from bugs and fungus that have settled in to over-winter on them. Spraying Dormant Oil at the right time will kill off any lingering bugs or disease, giving your plants a better chance at a healthy season!

Applying Dormant Oil is a simple process. Pick up your DormaDormant_SprayKitsnt Spray Kit. It will contain horticultural oil and lime Sulphur. Mix 2 parts lime Sulphur and 1 part horticultural oil to deliver a one-two knock out punch to over-wintering insects and diseases. Apply the dormant oil in early spring before leaf buds show green at the tips. Spray on a day when the temperature is over 5 degrees Celsius. Apply early in the day to allow enough time for the dormant spray to dry on the plant before chance of freezing.

*The Dormant Spray Kit will include specific instructions for how much spray to mix for each type of plant.

Waking Up the Garden for Spring

We’re all excited for the spring gardening season, so here are a few tips for what you can be doing in your garden right now:Garden1

  1. Don’t be in too much of a rush! Your garden beds are thawing so they’ll be mucky and easily compacted if you walk around them. Be patient and wait for the ground to thaw!
  2. Check your yard for winter damage on plants, fences, pathways, etc.
  3. Tune up your tools (including the lawnmower that’s been sitting in your garage all winter!)
  4. If you don’t compost over winter, start a pile now!
  5. Prep beds by removing any debris or winter mulch.
  6. Clean your bird feeders, bird baths, pots and containers.
  7. Start seeds indoor!
  8. Start spring pruning on fruit trees if you haven’t already!
  9. As soon as the temperature is above freezing, spray plants with dormant oil and lime sulphur to prevent insects and disease.
  10. Plan to attend Canadale’s SPRING GARDEN SHOW March 18, 19 & 20, 2016 to get inspiring ideas for your garden this year!!!


With the arrival of our herbs in the garden centre, we thought we’d show you how to easily extend the life of your herbs by drying them for future use in the kitchen, in crafts or in displays.

When drying herbs, the first thHerb Plantering to ask is which herbs you want to choose? Almost all herbs can be dried, however, some herbs are easier to dry because they have a stronger leaf and can keep their colour and texture better. Herbs with harder leaves tend to be the easiest to dry. They tend not to shrivel up or turn brown. These include Bay, Rosemary, Thyme and Sage. Tender leaved herbs can be a bit more difficult to dry because they are more affected by moisture. Care has to be taken to make sure they are dried quickly so they do not turn moldy. Tender leaved herbs include Basil, Parsley, Mint and Tarragon.

If you are growing herbs indoors you can harvest your herbs at any time. If you are growing your herbs outdoors, it is best to wait until the morning dew has evaporated and the hot sun has not come out yet (early to mid-morning). For drying herbs, try to harvest just before the flowers open. Look for lots of buds. They are a telltale sign that your herbs are ready to be dried and generally show when the herb will best retain its shape and flavour.  There are always exceptions to this general rule. For example, if you’re drying lavender for a flower arrangement you definitely want to wait for the flowers to be open before harvesting.

Drying should begin immediately after harvesting your herbs. If you allow them to sit around they will be exposed to excess moisture and dust which can ruin the flavour, colour and appearance of your final product.

The first step inThyme drying herbs, especially if you intend to use them for cooking or baking, is to clean them. Rinse the herbs gently under cool water either in a salad spinner or colander. Another method is to simply let the herbs soak briefly in a bowl of cool water. Once washed, simply shake your herbs gently to remove excess water. Remove any bruised or soiled leaves.

There are a lot of different ways to dry herbs.  My preferred method is air drying them indoors. I find that this keeps the herbs more protected from the elements and helps them keep their shape, flavour and colour better intact than other methods (other methods include outdoor air drying, oven drying, microwave drying). Indoor air drying can be done on a hanging rack or a drying screen. Because of the limited space in my home, I prefer the drying rack method. Drying herbs on an indoor drying rack is particularly good for tender leaved herbs. I also find it is the easiest way to dry herbs.

Indoor Air Drying on a Rack

Step 1: Bundle the Herbs

Different herbs take different amounts of time to dry so I find it beneficial to keep different types of herbs separate. If you can avoid it, don’t mix and match. Tie a string or elastic around the base of the bundle with the flowers (or buds) facing down.

Step 2: This is an OPTIONAL step – Place Herb Bundles in Paper Bags

Placing each herb bundle in its own paper bag with a few holes in it. This speeds up drying time and catches any falling leaves or seeds. I choose not to do this step because I love the way the herbs are displayed in my home. It’s a beautiful addition to the décor.

Step 3: Hang Herbs on the Rack and Leave Them to Dry

There are numerous things that can be used for a drying rack. Ladders, ceiling beams, coat racks, clothes hangers and nails in a wall all make great drying racks. Make sure that your herbs are drying away from direct sunlight and moisture. Drying times vary from 5 days to a few weeks depending on the herb you’ve chosen.  The herb is dried when the leaves are crisp and there is no moisture felt.

Step 4: Enjoy Your Dried Herbs

Whatever you are using your dried herbs for, whether it’s cooking, making a craft, potpourri, or dried bouquet, enjoy your herbs and remember how easy drying your own can be!

Winter Burn on Trees & Shrubs

Winter burn will be very common this year, especially on trees andWinter Burn Canadale evergreens. This desiccation is due to the drying out of foliage and branches.  This can be caused by a number of factors but is mainly due to nice sunny days in February and March when the ground is frozen and plants have used up all their moisture reserves earlier in the winter.  The good news is, YOUR PLANTS ARE NOT DEAD!!!
If you have damage on your plants, especially if they are browned on one side (like our Dwarf Alberta Spruce Spiral in our display gardens), please BE PATIENT. Do not dig up your plant.  Wait for new growth to appear in April and fertilize with an all purpose tree and shrub food to encourage lots of new growth.  Before you know it your shrubs and trees will be completely recovered and looking like new again.

Fairy Gardening

What exactly is Fairy Gardening?

A fairy garden is a mini garden that can include garden structures and live plants. It is a great way to get your gardening fix all year round and a magical place to lure fairies and their good luck to your home. Your imagination is the only limit to how your fairy garden is designed and the components you add to it. Fairy gardens can be started using a kit or you can collect individual items as you go.

As Fairy Gardening gains more popularity, more and more items become available to add to your mini garden. Here is a list of only a few of the options you have for your garden: garden arbour, garden bench, birdbath, fountain, wheelbarrow, urn, picnic table, mushrooms, statues, bicycles, swing, pebbles or stones to create a pathway, fairy dust and of course, mini live plants.

Fairy Flowers

Fairy Flowers are a new line of plants that we are carrying at Canadale that were designed specifically for Fairy Gardens. They are plants that either stay small naturally or can be easily trimmed to maintain a small size. They work great as outdoor plants in the spring and summer and also do well as indoor plants in the colder seasons. These Fairy Flowers come with a beautiful tag that introduces a particular fairy and to the plant, he or she has created. The tags include custom artwork and unique stories.

When selecting your Fairy Flowers, try to choose plants that will mimic a realistic landscape. Include groundcovers, shrub-like plants and tree-like plants. Also, add trailing plants that will creep over trellises or arbours. Like regular gardening, make sure to consider things like sun conditions, watering needs and pruning needs when choosing your Fairy Flowers.

Come in and See What All the Fuss is About

Fairy Gardening is a great activity for people of all ages. Children, parents, grandparents and friends can all enjoy creating a Fairy Garden that is beautiful and totally unique. Come in today and check out the Fairy Gardening display at Canadale to see what magic is in store for you!

Starting Seeds Indoors

Starting Seeds Indoors

This time of year our green thumbs start getting anxious to get back out into the garden. While spring is still some time away, there are some things we can do to scratch that gardening itch. One is to start sprouting some seeds so that when spring comes, we’re ready to get planting!

The first thing to think about when starting seeds is to only start what you need. There are a lot of seeds in one seed packet. Consider storing unused seeds in a cool dry place that doesn’t freeze so you can use those seeds the following year. You could also consider pairing up with a friend or neighbour to split the seeds.

Once you’ve decided what to grow, you need to make sure you don’t start the seeds too early! A general rule is to start seeds indoors about 6 weeks before you plan to move them outside. And remember that most seedlings should not be moved outside until after the last threat of freezing has passed. For a more in-depth idea of when you should be starting which seeds, view our Seed Calendar below.

Follow the seed packet instructions. It will tell you if you need to soak or chill seeds before planting them.

Before you start planting, make sure your containers are clean. Whether you’re using peat pots or a planting tray (with an easy-to-use plastic greenhouse topper), make sure they are sterile before you begin. Also, make sure there are drainage holes in your container of choice.

It’s also a great idea to label your containers NOW!  You don’t want to get to the point of transplanting your seedlings and have no idea what they are (which happens more than I’d like to admit)!

Use a seed starting mix to fill your containers. It is a lighter soil mix with more perlite and vermiculite to allow more airflow. To fill your containers, moisten the seed starting mix wSeed_Soilith warm water and fill containers to just below the rim.

Plant your seeds according to the packet instructions. For most seeds, you can just gently press them into the soil (use the tip of your finger or the tip of a pencil eraser to press them into the soil).  Note: choose the largest seeds for best results.

Cover the containers with plastic, making sure to poke holes for ventilation (this step is incredibly easy if you’re using a pre-fabricated mini seed starting greenhouse – all you

have to do at this stage is put on the lid!).

Water your seeds as directed, trying not to disturb the soil.

Find a warm spot in the house (you don’t need to worry about light just yet!). Seeds sprout best between 18 – 24 degrees Celsius. To give your seeds the best start, consider using a seedling heat mat. They keep a consistently warm temperature to promote germination and growth.


Once the seedlings sprout, remove the plastic (or lid) and move them into bright light.

Once the seedlings grow their second set of leaves, transplant them into individual pots (be careful moving the seedlings and water them well). Once transplanted, it’s a good idea to keep them out of bright light for a couple of days to reduce stress.


Click here to view a PDF version of our Seed Calendar (Printer Friendly).

Japanese Beetles: They’re back!

Japanese Beetles: They’re back!

bug  Japanese beetles are destructive plant pests both as adults and grubs (larval stage). Adults feed on the foliage and fruit of several hundred plant species, including ornamentals, fruit trees, shrubs, vegetables and field crops. Adults leave behind skeletonized leaves and flowers and large, irregular holes in leaves. The beetle starts out as a white grubs in the soil where it feeds on the roots of grass, often destroying lawns.



Japanese Beetle Life Cycle: During the summer feeding period, females intermittently leave plants, burrow about 3 inches into the ground—usually into lawns—and lay a few eggs.  This cycle is repeated until the female lays 40 to 60 eggs.  By

life cycle

midsummer, the eggs hatch, and the young grubs begin to feed. Each grub is about an inch long when fully grown and lies in a curled position. In late autumn, the grubs burrow 4 to 8 inches into the soil and remain inactive all winter. In early spring, the grubs return to the turf and continue to feed on roots until mid-June, when they change into pupae. In about 2 weeks, the pupae become adult beetles and emerge from the ground. This life cycle takes a year.


Control: Japanese beetles have become widespread in our area and it looks like they’re here to stay.  So how do we protect our gardens from these voracious bugs?  Fortunately we have some options. Spraying the adult beetles is not one of them.  With the cosmetic pesticide ban, insecticides that would be effective on the beetles have now been banned.  Your best option now is to keep the bugs off your plants by either physically removing them or luring them into a Japanese beetle trap.

If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure than controlling the Japanese beetle grubs in the soil might be a good first step to keeping these bugs off your plants.  The best way to control grubs in the lawn is with an application of nematodes in mid- August to late September.  Treating the grubs will reduce the number of beetles come June.


Even if you take care of your grubs you still may have an infestation of Japanese beetles come summer since they

can fly in from neighbouring properties.  You will notice Japanese beetles have their favourite plants in your garden and that they tend to cluster together in the evening and early morning.  This behavior makes it easy to gather them up.  Simply take a bucket with some soapy water and by taping the branch with the bugs on it over the bucket will cause the beetles to fall off into the soap-water.  If you do this on a regular basis you can limit damage to your garden. 

The other option is to place Japanese beetle traps around the garden.  These traps are very effective in luring the beetles in with the use of pheromones and floral attractants.  Once the beetles get caught in the trap they are unable to get out.  With so many Japanese beetles this year, we have had a very difficult time keeping traps on the shelf.  At the time of writing we just received a new shipment.  At the moment we have two makes available.