Knecht's - Northfield, MN Nurseries and Landscaping

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Bleeding Heart

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 6:30am
Old Fashioned Bleeding Heart

My annual blog on my favorite spring perennial – the Bleeding Heart.

One of the pleasures of having perennials starting in the greenhouse every spring is that you get to watch the plants growing starting in mid-March.   The white bleeding heart in the greenhouse has started blossoming and are quickly finding new homes.   My bleeding heart are up and are just starting the set their flower buds and will soon be blossoming.

The delicate looking – but tough – flowers hang out over the foliage with their heart shaped flowers which will certainly bring a smile to your face.   These plants are a stalwart to the shade garden.  I have several in my shade gardens and my oldest bleeding heart has been welcoming spring for over 15 years!  It is the anchor to one of my annual beds and when June comes and the bleeding heart begins it’s annual trip into dormancy, the annuals take over.

The bleeding heart grows anywhere from 18″ to 36″ tall – depending on variety and site conditions.  When blossoming, you should have these beautiful pink flowers (or red) from late spring into the beginning of summer.  The flowers on my plants begin to wane in early June.  Plant your bleeding heart where you have well drained soil, and in part shade.

Gallium – Sweet Woodruff

In the corner of my hosta garden – way at the end – I have my gold leafed bleeding heart.  From the kitchen window when I look out you can see the gold foliage and it lights up that corner, and becomes a beacon when the sun peeks through the tree canopy.  Mixed in with hosta collection and groundcovers, the flowers fade in June but the foliage of the gold leafed bleeding heart will stand proud with its gold color through most of the summer, finally succumbing to dormancy in late August well after my old fashioned bleeding heart.


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Categories: Businesses

Don’t Forget to Water

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 5:56am

The question that we have been answering the most this past week is :  “Am I supposed to start watering?”

The answer is:  “Absolutely”

Last fall was a dry fall, followed by cold weather in early November which was followed by a snowstorm shortly thereafter which halted any late fall watering of plants.  Locally, we had only about 20 inches of snow .  The heavy wet snow in late March and the rains in early April only amounted to about an inch of moisture.

You need to be sure to start watering your plants that were planted last season.  If you planted in the first half of the 2014 growing season, water once a week.  In the last half of the growing season until September or so – a couple of times a week and if you did late season plantings – late September to late October – your plants were already into their dormancy period and didn’t do any growing – just sleeping.    These plants need to be watering several times a week – in modest amounts – unless we get significant moisture and then even with that – you need to continue  to continue to water throughout this growing season.

We have developed a watering chart over several years that calls for small amounts of water more frequently, to get your plants started off right and provides them with just what they need for a successful start!

A good watering is when we get over an inch of rain.  A rain that is only a couple of tenths of an inch, only soaks into the top couple of inches of soil, and your plant’s root ball is much deeper than that and you need to add water to thoroughly get moisture to all of the roots of the plant!

Dust off the watering can – pull out the hose – get out the buckets and water your plantings!




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Categories: Businesses

Creating Diversity in our Urban Forests

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 8:29pm

Communities that have lots of trees are more appealing, have cleaner air, lower costs for heating and cooling, higher property value, and more wildlife.  Unfortunately, the health of many urban forests is threatened by a lack of diversity in the varieties of trees that have been planted.

Even after the very sad loss of millions of American Elms which had been over planted,  communities, developers, and private property owners have repeated mistakes of the past by over planting  too many ash and maple trees over the last fifty years.  The result is many urban forests that lack diversity and are vulnerable to another major tree die off.  This time the most immediate threat comes from the Emerald Ash borer.

Emerald Ash borers have devastated large swaths of Michigan and  Indiana,  killing 90% or more of the Ash trees in some communities in as little as five or six years once the insect become widespread.  Emerald Ash borer is now is a few counties of Minnesota.

The solution to the problem of mass die off of urban trees is to plant with far more varieties of trees from a far greater number of species and genera.   At Knecht’s Nurseries we currently sell trees from 43 different genera, but the maple (acer) genus represents about 40% of the trees we sell.

The reason for this imbalance is simple.  People love maple trees.  Our customers see the beauty of maple trees, plant them and soon some of their neighbors are wanting a maple tree.  It’s just human nature.  We all have tendencies to make buying decisions in this fashion, and the result is a lack of diversity in the urban forest is the result.

To over come the imbalance, we will need to adapt a deliberate strategy of planting a much wider variety of trees.  Start by taking a look at the 42 genera of trees we currently stock at Knecht’s Nurseries.  I hope this list gets your imagination going!

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Categories: Businesses

7th Annual Kids Planting Day!

Wed, 04/08/2015 - 3:17pm

Our 7th Annual Kid’s Planting Day will take place this year on Saturday, April 25th – from 10:30  am to 11:30 am.

We will provide the pot, selected annuals, soil and all of the care that the plants need until Mother’s Day weekend, when the kids can pick up their planters decorated with a bow and a Mother’s Day plant pick.

This year we are offering a second option – a hanging basket.  These will take a little longer to “fill in” but will still be pretty on Mother’s Day.

We will host this event in one of our greenhouses – so even if it is chilly or raining – it will still be held.

The costs are as follows:  The container option – $6 or the hanging basket option at $10.  We do  encourage pre-registration so we are prepared for the number of children participating.

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Categories: Businesses

Red Leafed Mukdenia

Tue, 04/07/2015 - 10:28am

Do you want a new and different shade perennial?   This unique spring blooming plant forms a clump similar to the heucheras.   With fan-like shaped leaves where the edges will start to turn red during the summer only to turn fire red in the fall – it is a great plant to change things up a bit with.  In early to mid spring,  small white flowers grace the top of the plant which will reach a mature height of 8″-12″.    This zone 4 woodland  plant prefers evenly moist, well drained soil.

Companion plants would be hosta, astilbe, heucheras, Japanese Painted Ferns and the Toad Lily.  We have a limited number of Mukdenias – which are covered with their spring flowers right now!

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Categories: Businesses

Upcoming Events – Sat. April 11, 2015

Tue, 04/07/2015 - 5:48am
Chris Lambert

Chris Lambert, our landscape designer, and Heidi Brosseau from our retail staff will be welcoming guests to our booth at the Northfield Chamber of Commerce’s Spring Business Expo which will be held at the Northfield Ice Arena.  Starting at 9 am to 3 pm – you will be able to discuss landscape design and installation with Chris and Heidi or to find out what new plants are available this spring.  Be sure to pick up our Home Show coupon – $10 off a qualifying purchase!

Also – on Saturday afternoon, Leif Knecht will be one of the featured speakers at the annual Expo of the  Minnesota’s Bluebird Recovery Program which will be held here in Northfield, this Saturday, April 11th from 9 am to 3 pm at the Northfield Middle School.

Add to your schedule a visit to our garden center!  We have been busily preparing our sales areas for this upcoming growing season.  Check out some of the new plants we have available this season or simply just take in the beauty of spring and jump start the imagination.

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Categories: Businesses

Signs of Spring

Mon, 04/06/2015 - 9:02pm

After a long winter, and an early taste of spring in mid-March, followed by 10 inches of snow the end of March, feelings of frustration were there, but after finding these amazing little crocuses blooming this afternoon – you know that spring is finally here.

Bleeding Heart

Leif and I are ahead of schedule at home – our yard is almost all raked, fertilized and over-seeded!  A walk through the perennial gardens at home gave way to spring.   My bleeding heart are up about 3 inches – only to continue to leap out of the ground with each passing day – some of my hosta are peeking through, and the pachysandra are such a bright green and illuminate the far corner of my hosta garden.

Our forsythia will be in full bloom by the weekend, and our magnolia tree has buds ready to burst into bloom!   Take time to stop – enjoy  the moment – breathe in the aroma of spring and appreciate all that you have.  The little things are truly the important things!

Magnolia Blossom

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Categories: Businesses


Tue, 03/31/2015 - 2:09pm

With each year that passes, Forsythia shrubs and trees have become more and more one of my favorites.  After a tough winter, I find myself longing for a burst of spring color and Forsythia are among the very first to produce blossoms.

Northern Gold Forsythia, and Meadowlark Forsythia are two varieties that consistently deliver masses of bright yellow/gold blossoms that delight the eye and lift the spirit.  Northern Sun Forsythia also shows good flower bud hardiness and we have this variety available as a small ornamental tree.

Whether you choose a shrub form or tree form, Northern Gold, Meadowlark, and Northern Sun Forsythia will provide the hardiness and bright spring color you’re looking for.

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Categories: Businesses

Got the Itch? Try This…

Tue, 03/31/2015 - 2:03pm

For gardeners who have spring fever and have the itch to plant something even though it’s only the very beginning of April, try planting trees and shrubs.  If the ground has thawed enough to dig, trees and shrubs can be safely planted even though the ground is cold.

I just wrote an article for the Northfield Entertainment Guide on successful tree planting and am publishing it here as well.

Successful Tree Planting Tips

Planting trees in our landscapes is a long term investment of effort, dollars, and time.  Taking steps to increase the chances of having a healthy, beautiful and long lived tree makes a lot of good sense, both economically and to beautify the landscape.  Here follows some suggestions for success:

  1. Pick trees that have demonstrated good winter hardiness for southern Minnesota. If the variety you are considering has a zone rating of 4, 3, or 2, it will probably do well here.  Zone 5 rated trees are borderline hardy.  They may do well for a period of years, but there is a risk that they could die during a hard winter.
  2. Choose trees that have excellent root structure. Trees that have poor root structure due to circling, matted roots that are root bound are likely to fail after a few years in the landscape.  Trees produced in special air root pruning pots form almost perfect root systems.
  3. Use proper planting techniques. Do not plant too deep. Dig the hole wider, not deeper, and very aggressively cut any roots that are observed to be matted or circling.  Trees that are planted too deep more easily develop stem girdling, circling roots that would later strangle the tree.
  4. Water just enough, but not too much. More frequent and modest amounts of water prevent super saturation of the soil which can encourage root rot.  Over watering is a common cause of failure of newly planted trees.
  5. Eliminate soil compaction in the planting area over as wide an area as possible by digging the soil, and breaking up clumps. Trees will root out faster if the surrounding soil is loose and free of compaction.
  6. Pick a planting site with good soil drainage. Not very many varieties of trees do well in chronically water logged soil.
  7. Pick a planting location with the amount of sunlight preferred by the variety you have chosen. Too much shade often causes a tree to grow poorly and often the tree gets lopsided as it seeks sunlight.
  8. If you already have picked the location for a tree, choose a tree that is a good match for the site conditions. Consider soil type and fertility, soil pH, exposure to winter winds and damaging winter sunlight, the amount of sunlight available during the growing season, soil drainage, and the soil compaction.  Not all trees will do well on every site.

If you are unsure about HOW to plant, stop by our Garden Center and we will  answer any questions, provide you with a copy of our Planting Guide which we have created to help you follow the best practices to ensure great results.  It’s easy to follow and has clear diagrams.

We now have most of our shrubs and trees available for sale and ready to plant.  For perennials, we suggest you wait a few weeks to get past most of the danger of spring frosts!


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Categories: Businesses

Bonus Bucks are Back

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 3:36pm

Melting snow, buds swelling on the trees, tulips and daffodils lighting up the landscape and Knecht’s Bonus Bucks!   All signs of Spring.

During April and May you will receive one bonus buck for every $25 you spend!  Then – in June – you can redeem the Bonus Bucks!  Start your shopping list now!

Also – coming next week we will have our first e-news coupon for the 2015 growing season.  These coupons are only available for customers on our e-news mailing list.  If you are not on our list – you can sign up on our home page.  Don’t miss the opportunity for additional savings!

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Categories: Businesses

Open for Business

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 3:24pm

The  week of March 30-April 5 we will finish uncovering trees and shrubs, and will be getting our sales areas organized.  Stop in – walk around – take in a little bit of spring.  We will be able to help you find just the right tree or shrub that you are looking for!

The trees and shrubs that we have covered and protected through a long winter are ready to plant as soon as the ground thaws at your planting site.  We invested the time and care to produce a well developed root system on each plant during last years growing season.  This will allow each of these trees and shrubs to grow vigorously and establish quickly during the 2015 growing season.

Pictured here is the Forsythia shrub – one of the first of the spring bloomers.  In a few short weeks, you will see this splash of yellow all over town, and it is the Forsythia.  Come on in to check out our trees and shrubs.  We have hundreds of varieties in stock and ready to plant.

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Categories: Businesses

The Spring Roller Coaster

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 3:14pm

It’s happening again.  The roller coaster called Spring.  February was bitterly cold even as the days grew longer, as was early March.  then a couple of weeks of above average temperatures in mid-March stripped away the snow and got us to the first day of Spring at least according to the calendar.  That was last Friday, March 20th.

We got to enjoy one more day of spring like weather on Saturday the 21st which then allowed Deb and I to do a little cleanup around the yard at home.  On Sunday, the 22nd, winter came roaring back with about 9 inches of snow, and it felt like winter all this week.  In other words, its a pretty normal spring.

Lots of flipflopping of warm and cold air masses, and lots of hope on the part of Minnesota gardeners that warmer days will soon return to stay, and the fields, forests and our landscape plants will soon push fresh and vigorous new growth.

Today we have temps in the 30’s, tomorrow the 40’s and the next day on Sunday -it should hit the 50’s.  Early next week – the 60’s come back.

I’m always amazed that for the most part the plants and animals an withstand the big variations of the roller coaster of a Minnesota spring.

Every spring I experience a profound sense of wonder as I am treated to the grand spectacle of the entire web of life going from dormant and seemingly dead to an explosion of new life.  What a blessing it is to be on the roller coaster with Mother Nature.

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Categories: Businesses

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