Plant Facts2017-04-06T10:29:54-04:00

Pansies can be a short-lived perennial?

Categories: Annuals, Blog, Perennials, Plants We Love|Tags: , |

Ohio winters are long and cold and make us SO excited for spring. But sometimes spring flowers take what seems like FOREVER to pop up, making us antsy for summer. But spring should be fully celebrated! There are a lot of perennials we can plant in the fall for spring color.

We plant bulbs in the fall to give us that early color, but did you know pansies can also be planted in the fall and can come back in the early spring? We typically treat pansies as annuals, however in Ohio, being a zone 6, pansies can be a short-lived perennial if planted in the early fall and winter conditions are correct!

A great way to get color all spring long is to plant spring blooming bulbs as you normally would, 4-6 inches into the ground, then plant pansies in the same bed, right over the bulbs! The bulbs will emerge and bloom as usual in spring. When their flowers die down, the pansies will just be starting their spring bloom. This planting technique will give additional color in your gardens while the bulb foliage begins to die back. This is a great way satisfy your craving for color in your flower beds until it’s time to plant summer annuals.

Pansies will struggle and wilt if you have temperatures that regularly go over 70 degrees (Cool Wave Pansies will handle slightly warmer temps). But if you provide them with partial shade, fertilize lightly, and deadhead throughout the hot months, you may be able to get more bang for your buck and enjoy them into the summer months.

Being a short-lived perennial, they may not over winter well a 2nd time so be sure to plant a fresh crop in the fall!

Getting Pumped Over Pumpkins

Categories: Blog, Edibles|

October is Pumpkin Month!

Fall is symbolized by great warm colors and harvest abundance. One of the most symbolic icons of the fall season is the pumpkin. Found in greens, whites, yellows and oranges, the pumpkin is synonymous with fall decor and cuisine.

Pumpkin is native to North America (Southern U.S. and Northern Mexico) and is one of the oldest domesticated plants known. It has been grown and used since 7500-5000 B.C., according to evidence found in Mexico, and is a cultivar of Winter Squash.

Ohio is one of the top producers of pumpkins in the United States. Harvested in the fall for use in food, decorations and agriculture, there is no doubt why the pumpkin is a favorite.

Jack O’ Lantern is historically the variety used for carving at Halloween due to it’s deep orange/red color and beautifully symmetric rounded shape.

The largest pumpkin, the Giant Pumpkin, weighed in at over 1 ton.

Cooking with Pumpkin

Most of the pumpkin is edible including leaves, seeds, flesh and skin. Puree can be made of the flesh and frozen or canned for future use in pies, muffins and other dishes throughout the winter.

Seeds are favored roasted and are a good source of protein, magnesium, copper and zinc. They can be found readily in grocery stores, but you can also roast your own.

The leaves are used in many cultures as vegetables or in place of what we would use Cabbage leaves for. They can be battered and deep fried, stuffed with rice and sauerkraut, stir fried and more.

Flowers are also often battered and deep fried as a delicious treat or appetizer.

Pumpkin can be pureed and canned or froze for future use. Muffins, cakes and breads are favorites, along with traditional pumpkin pie. When buying canned pumpkin in the stores, this is usually made up of many different types of winter squashes, and not necessarily pure pumpkin.

In some cultures, the pumpkin is cleaned out as if for carving, and cut into chunks. These can be roasted in the oven with butter and brown sugar, or your favorite oil and served as a vegetable. Prepare much like you would any other winter squash.

Did you know?

Pumpkin not only offers beneficial nutrients but also helps with keeping things moving due to the high fiber content. Often served to dogs and cats experiencing digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhea, or even hairballs, in small increments, to help keep your pet regular. Specific recipes or instructions from your veterinarian should be followed to be sure of how much and how often you should feed pumpkin to your pet. Always consult your veterinarian before treating your pets. Diarrhea and constipation can be serious and life threatening.

It can be used to help egg production when fed to chickens during the winter months when production goes down. Fed raw, chickens love this treat, but it is a supplement, not a replacement for meals.

Native Americans used pumpkin to expel intestinal parasites, a practice adapted by frontier Drs. in the early part of the 19th century. This use has also been found in many other cultures.


The world seems to have fallen in love with the pumpkin. There are celebrations and festivals dedicated to the honor of the pumpkin in many parts of the world. In the U.S. it is not uncommon to see many festivals per state paying homage to this winter squash.

Circleville, Ohio has hosted it’s Pumpkin Show since 1903! Originally brought about by then Mayor George Haswell, who invited country folks to bring produce into town in an effort to bring city and country folks together. It was a one day event. In the early years that followed, high wire acts, a carousel and fire eaters, to name a few, became the entertainment for the show. Today’s Pumpkin Show offers a King and Queen, complete with court, many carnival games and rides, and a variety of foods both pumpkin and non-pumpkin related.

The record for the world’s heaviest pumpkin was established in Belgium in 2016, weighing in at 2624.6 lbs! What happens after the competition? Often, the fruit is donated and used to feed wildlife, but in some towns, pumpkin flinging is a favorite amusement. Catapults are used to see who can fling their pumpkin the farthest, or cranes are used to hoist the pumpkin high in the air, only to drop it for the pure amusement of watching it smash on the ground.

Read about the history of the Jack-O’-Lantern

The Mid-Summer Gardening Blues

Categories: Blog, Plants|Tags: , , , |

You’ve been a busy gardener. You’ve planned, you’ve gotten down and dirty preparing your soil, you’ve added all the goodies your plants needed, you’ve spent numerous hours pulling weeds and keeping things neat and tidy, you’ve given each plant the best start possible and in turn, they are producing fruit and blooming beautifully for you.

But what happens mid-summer when blooms begin to fade, vegetable plants have produced their crop and are beginning to yellow and in a much needed break (for you), weeds have gotten out of hand? The heat of mid-summer tends to send even hardy gardeners into the air conditioning on humid afternoons and things can get out of control fast. Once plants start to drop off and weeds begin to take over, many enthusiasts loose interest from feeling overwhelmed and seeing their once beautiful garden fading. But bear in mind, your garden is also suffering under the high temperatures and intense sun. It’s important to keep your plants watered to avoid heat stress and keep them producing to their full potential.

Now is a great time to begin planning your mid-summer strategy. There is hope to renew your interest in your garden. Generally, in Ohio, we plant end of May to beginning of June, so mid-summer would fall mid-July to mid-August.

Start with a new plan. You may want to refresh mulch around trees and in flower beds. Often times, a simple fluffing of mulch will do the trick, just to spruce things up. Pulling weeds early in the morning or late evening when the temperatures have lightened a bit will help. Do a little at a time, daily if possible, or hire some neighborhood kids to help, and before you know it, your beds will be neat and tidy once again. Pull spent plants in the vegetable garden. They are done producing and there is no need watching them turn brown and die out. Dead head flowers to help them continue to bloom. If plants are dead, pull them out.

There are several flowering plants that can be replanted mid-summer and even a few vegetables that can be planted or replanted for early fall crops. In Ohio, temperatures remain warm into September, so if replanting in July, plan for harvest mid-late September. Look for harvest times on vegetables and maturity on flowering plants and plan accordingly.

Mid-summer is also a great time to give extra attention to potted plants and hanging baskets. Work on a Faerie Garden, or add ornaments to your garden beds. Photographing your beautiful blooms and abundant harvests and sharing to social media and with friends can boost your enthusiasm as well and offer long lasting imagery that will encourage you to keep up with your gardening.

Talking to other gardeners helps refresh your own enthusiasm as well, so maybe look for a gardening club to join, or find groups online to chat with. This is also a good excuse to meet your neighbors. Maybe they have a garden too and discussing plants is always a good way to bond with another gardener, and exchange ideas. If you find you have an abundance of a certain vegetable that you won’t be able to use yourself, it’s always uplifting to give freshly grown produce to your friends and neighbors. They will appreciate it and it will help renew your own interest in your garden during this time.

If you’re a first time gardener, it’s easy to become discouraged mid-summer. Gardening is a lot of work and dedication, and watching it come to it’s end can be disheartening. Often times our first garden is less than what we had imagined and dreamed of. Now that you have gone through the trouble of getting your garden started, mid-summer is a good time to make additions such as fences and decorative ornaments. This will only make next season’s garden even more exciting and will help revive your enthusiasm. Now that you have some experience, it will be easier to know what additions you’d like to make going forward.

So, don’t let the mid-summer gardening blues get you down. There is still plenty of enjoyment to be had from your garden this year. Be creative and find time to enjoy the splendors of all your hard work.

Until next time, Happy Planting!

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow” ~Audrey Hepburn


Categories: Plants, Plants We Love, What We Offer|

Houseplants thrive in indoor conditions but can also perform well in outdoor containers. 
Houseplants can liven up any room with colorful blooms and lush foliage. All plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen making your air cleaner, but some plants are particularly

good air purifiers such as snake plants, aloes, and spider plants. Each variety has its own preferences for light and watering. Be aware of how much light your houseplants need and place them accordingly. For example a sun loving plant will do well near a bright window while a shade plant would be perfectly happy in a windowless hallway relying on artificial light. Additionally, some plants can be toxic to pets, so be careful when picking out which ones to bring home.

Here at Hook’s we have a variety of houseplants that can match any décor. We have a huge verity of individual plants for $4.59 and up for you to build your own planter with.


Houseplants available at Hook’s (depends on time of season please call ahead to check):


Chlorophytum Spider Plant

Senecio Angel Wings

Hypoestes Hippo Rose

Aloe – Hedgehog, Pink Shell and more!

Ficus bonsai

Wandering Jew

Fiddleleaf Fig



Boston Fern


Silver Lady Fern

Maidenhair Fern

Variegated Brake Fern

Asparagus Fern


Sansevieria –  Snake Plant, Mother in Law’s Tongue

Senecio rowleyanus – String of Pearls

Variegated Vinca

Miniature Roses

Succulents and Cacti including: Aeonium, Echeveria, Haworthia, Graptoveria, Sedum, Jade, Sempervivum


History of the Jack O’Lantern

Categories: Blog, Edibles|

There is a connection in folklore and popular culture between pumpkins and the supernatural, so it’s no wonder that carving pumpkins at Halloween has become tradition in the U.S.

The custom of carving lanterns from pumpkins derives from folklore about a lost soul wandering the earth. In Ireland, a man called Stingy Jack was so manipulative, he caught the attention of the Devil. Admiring him for his evil deeds, the Devil came to take Jack’s soul one night. Jack, however outwitted him, causing the Devil to agree to never taking Jack’s soul. When Jack indeed died, his soul went to heaven where he was turned away for his evil deeds. He then went to hell looking for a place to spend eternity, but the Devil was unable to take his soul because of the agreement they had. The best he could do was offer Jack a single ember of coal which Jack carried in a carved out turnip to light his way while he wandered the earth. He became known as Jack of the Lantern.

This legend became the basis for carving scary faces into turnips and other root vegetables and setting them outside of doors, and in windowsills, lit with a candle, in order to keep the spirit of Stingy Jack away. These have become known as Jack O’Lanterns. The Irish also believed the lanterns would light the way for good spirits to visit on the one night a year, that we know in the U.S. as Halloween.

When the Irish began immigrating to America, they brought this tradition with them. However, they found carving pumpkins to be more appealing than the smaller root vegetables, and this tradition has been continued since.

Jack O’Lanterns, as they have become known, are a variety of pumpkin bred for carving. Pie pumpkins tend to be heavier with thicker skin, while carving pumpkins are bred for thinner skin and less meat, making it easier to carve. However, any pumpkin will work.

When choosing a pumpkin for carving at Halloween, try to choose one that feels as heavy as it looks. Pie pumpkins tend to weight much more than they appear. Carving pumpkins have a meat that is more stringy like Spaghetti Squash. While they are still edible, they may not taste the same as a pie pumpkin.

Carving pumpkins for Halloween has gone from making simple scary or funny faces at the kitchen table, a children’s favorite, in households all over the U.S., to full fledged works of art, carved using professional carving tools and elaborate designs made by professional artists.

The tradition of carving pumpkins, however, may not have started with Halloween in mind in the U.S. It has been noted that pumpkins have been carved as centerpieces for tables as far back as the 1600’s in America, during the final harvest gathering. Since pumpkins are a fall harvest food offering many benefits, they became synonymous with the fall harvest. Smaller pumpkins would be carved into delightful designs and sometimes even lit with a candle to decorate long harvest tables where the food was served during the celebrations. Eventually, this tradition gave way to our modern Thanksgiving, with the pumpkin still in the spotlight, second only, after the roasted turkey.

Nevertheless, pumpkin carving has remained a favorite Halloween tradition, and today can be seen in front of many households across the country. It is estimated that 80% of all pumpkin sales happen in October and used mostly for carving.

Today, while carving lanterns from root vegetables remains tradition in many parts of Great Britian, there is an increasing demand for pumpkins for carving. In America, the tradition of carving Jack O’Lanterns from pumpkins remains the favorite.

So this year, while gathered around the kitchen table carving pumpkins for Halloween, tell a scary little tale to spark the imagination and see what frightening delights you can come up with!

Refreshing Rosemary Lemonade

Categories: Blog, Herbs|Tags: , |

Did you know rosemary is good for more then seasoning your meals!? It also keeps mosquitoes away!! Put some cute pots around your patio to deter the little blood-suckers and enjoy a homemade glass of rosemary infused lemonade!

2 small sprigs fresh rosemary, plus more for serving (optional)
Kosher salt
1 cup fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
1/2 cup agave nectar or other natural sweetener, or more to taste
Lemon slices, for serving (optional)

Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from the heat and add the rosemary and a pinch of salt. Cover and steep, 30 minutes. Strain into a pitcher and cool to room temperature.
Stir the lemon juice, agave nectar and 2 cups cold water into the pitcher. Add more lemon juice or agave nectar to taste. Serve over ice with more rosemary and/or lemon slices, if desired.

Attracting Pollinators

Categories: Annuals, Herbs, Hooks Tips, Ideas We Love, Perennials, Plants We Love|

Pollinators are an important part of any garden as they play a critical role in the reproduction of the vast majority of flowering plants. Without these helpful little critters many plants would be unsuccessful in producing fruits and seeds for the next generation of plants. Building a pollinator friendly garden can help all of your plants thrive. In addition to attracting many wonderful pollinators, such as hummingbirds and butterflies, pollinator friendly gardens are full of beautiful fragrant flowers.


The main aspects of a pollinator garden are sources of nutrition, shelter and water for the pollinators. It is important to plant a diversity of plants that feature different colors, fragrances, heights and bloom in different seasons to provide nectar all season. Variety helps to attract all sorts of pollinators to the garden. That being said, we recommend planting a variety of plants with multiples of each variety to facilitate efficient pollination. Keep in mind that local pollinators tend to prefer native plants.

Be sure to plant plants that are necessary for the larval stages of pollinators as well. For example, milkweed is the only source of food for larval monarch and is a wonderfully fragrant addition to a pollinator garden. Don’t forget herbs too! Fragrant herbs, such as lavender, also attract pollinators.
Heather is another wonderful plant to have in a pollinator garden.


Layered canopies of different types and sizes of shrubs and trees provide shelter for a variety of pollinators. You can also make specific homes for pollinators by building bee condos and bird/bat houses. Butterflies like warm sunny spots to rest and warm their wings. A couple of flat stones placed in warm spots around the garden are perfect for this.

The final key structural part of a pollinator garden is reliable access to clean water. It is important to note that a stagnant water source breeds mosquitoes. If you don’t have a natural water source you can put a bowl, planter bottom, saucer, or bird bath in your garden. Keep in mind bees and some other pollinators can not swim so place a variety of sizes or rocks in your dish (wine corks can also be used as they float and make a nice landing spot). This creates a safe shallow area with high spots they can land on, this allows pollinators to approach the water without the risk of drowning.

The Best Basic Butternut Squash Soup

Categories: Blog, Vegetables|Tags: , , , , , , , |

There are many variations of squash soup but the best soup starts with the best basic ingredients and these simple techniques. This soup is packed with nutrients and will satisfy your cold-weather cravings. Best of all, it’s SOUPER easy to make!

  1. Select 1 medium fresh butternut or acorn squash and 1 onion
  2. Remove skins and seeds
  3. Cut into large chunks
  4. Roast at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, until fork tender
  5. Process in food processor or blender with about a cup of chicken stock and milk until desired consistency


Now you have the perfect base for a delicious, healthy soup. Or change up the recipe with your favorite add-ins such as spices or swap regular milk for almond milk, or coconut milk and top with toasted seeds, fried basil, a dollop of sour cream or smoky bacon. Add potatoes and kohlrabi for a savory wintry medley.

Cutting Gardens

Categories: Blog, Plants, Plants We Love|

If you enjoy fresh flowers in your home, planting a cutting garden may bring a new level of pleasure to your arrangements.

Cutting fresh flowers from your own garden is more rewarding than buying cut flowers from the store. Knowing you grew the beautiful bouquet on your table, can make it just a little more special. 

Not all flowers are meant to be used in arrangements. Some flowers are better suited to tall vases, while some have shorter stems and make lovely arrangements in shallow dishes. Others are best enjoyed on the plant. Peony for instance, is beautiful and has long stems that look nice in both tall vases or cut short for low arrangements. However, the blooms will drop their petals within days, making a mess on your table and leaving your arrangement sparse and ugly. Here are a few of our favorite varieties to get you started growing your own cutting garden and will bring fresh blooms all season long.


The carnation is a staple of floral arrangements. With a variety of sizes and colors, this long-stemmed flower enjoys vase life and is long-lasting in arrangements. A species of Dianthus, the carnation is easy to grow and can add a touch of formality to a wildflower garden without overpowering it. Florists Carnations are specially grown in greenhouses to produce the large full flowers we see in purchased arrangements. These are a bit difficult to grow in a home garden, but there are many varieties available that are just as beautiful and long lasting that can be grown at home. Border Carnations are a favorite home garden variety. Carnations require a well draining soil and prefer a drip watering system to avoid leaf rot from overhead watering. 


Lilac is a garden favorite that was introduced into the U.S. in the 18th century. They are common in yards and gardens and many bushes can be found that are decades old.  Early bloomers for spring arrangements that will fill your home with a sweet scent of spring. Comes in a few different colors from white to deep purple. Prefers full sun and does best in well draining soil.

Black-eyed Susan

The Black-eyed Susan is an old fashioned favorite. Native to North America and one of the most popular wild flowers grown in gardens today. Long lasting in arrangements, the daisy like flower is a member of the sunflower family. Blooms from mid-summer to early fall and is a favorite in fall arrangements. Comes in shades of yellows and pinks. Enjoys it’s own space and can crowd out other plants. Attracts butterflies and bees. Prefers full sun but will do well in partial shade. Makes a lovely border plant.


Roses come in a variety of sizes and colors. Choose a rose that is suitable for cutting. Some roses have fuller blooms than other varieties, so choosing the right one is the first step. With the wide range of colors and types available, it may be confusing at first, but cutting roses are readily available in the form commonly known as Hybrid Tea. These long-stemmed roses are typically what is found in wedding bouquets. Roses are a bush and enjoy full sun and well draining soil. 


Often, we remember the Daylily from grandma’s garden. This old fashioned flower has been a favorite among gardeners for over 400 years. Native to Asia, the Daylily was introduced to Europe around 400 years ago. They are possibly the most easy bloomer to grow, not being particular about soil conditions nor sun/shade. They produce long hearty stems that do well in arrangements and come in a vast variety of colors.


The Chrysanthemum is a fall favorite due to the array of warm fall colors and interesting blooms it exhibits. Found in colors ranging from white to dark pinks, yellows to deep oranges, tan to dark browns and deep crimsons, Mums can warm up any home when used in arrangements. With a shallow root system, they make wonderful potted plants or can be planted in the garden or flower beds for late summer/early fall blooms. 


The Daisy is an old-fashioned classic. Simplicity is at it’s best with the Daisy, also known as Common Daisy or English Daisy. With delicate white petals surrounding a large yellow center, these beauties will bring charm to an indoor arrangement. Although not long lasting as a cut flower, Daisies can invoke a sense of simple innocence. Easy to grow for season long blooms.


The Sunflower can be an addictive hobby for some gardeners. This fast growing plant produces stalks up to 10′ tall topped off with large blooms that can span up to a foot across. The enormity of the plant and blooms can make them seem larger than life but the heads can vary in size greatly down to about 2″. Sunflowers will bloom when they are ready, regardless of height and depend heavily on water for producing optimum blooms. In arrangements, it doesn’t take many to make a strong statement. There are many varieties, from dwarfs to the classic and mixing several varieties in one garden makes an interesting show. Easy to grow, produces blooms in about 2 months.

Cutting gardens are a great way to enjoy your blooms both outdoors and indoors. So when planning your garden, don’t forget a little something to fill your vases.

Until next time, Happy Planting!



“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow” ~Audrey Hepburn

Rain Gardens

Categories: Ideas We Love, Perennials, Plants|


Proven Winners Echinacea PowWow Wild Berry

Spring is on its way and here at Hook’s we are getting excited for all of the planting and gardening that comes with it. After a long winter it’s finally time to get excited about working outdoors. Building a rain garden is a fun project to consider for the spring!



Monarda ‘Pardon My Pink’

Spring brings the April showers that bring May flowers and rain gardens are designed to capture and retain surface water deposited by these showers. By capturing runoff, rain gardens help to increase the amount of water that infiltrates into the soil rather than causing flooding or flowing directly into streams. The spread of urban areas has led to increases in runoff from surfaces such as driveways, roofs and compacted ground. This runoff carries pollutants such as fertilizers and pesticides from our yards and cities into the local waterways. Water that infiltrates into the soil is filtered by plants and soil while also helping to recharge the local groundwater.

Aronia ‘Low Scape Mound’


On top of decreasing runoff and increasing water infiltration, rain gardens are made up of plants that do not mind “getting their feet wet.” Native plants are adapted to the local climate conditions and environment meaning that they do not require fertilizer, pesticides or much water once established making them idea for rain gardens.

Invincibelle Wee White Smooth Hydrangea

Additionally, native plants tend to attract local pollinators better than exotics because they have coevolved together for millions of years. Although native plants are the best for rain gardens, other non-native non-invasive species that don’t mind wet conditions perform well too.

Itea virginica ‘Scentlandia’


In summary, rain gardens are a great way to help keep pollutants out of local waterways while simultaneously being beautiful low maintenance landscape additions that attract pollinators such as butterflies and birds.


If you’re interested in learning how to build a rain garden check out this comprehensive guide, For more information on rain garden benefits and plants click on the reference links below.

Here at Hook’s we have a number of perennials that would fit perfectly into a rain garden listed below:

Aronia melanocarpa – Black Chokecherry

Juniperus – Juniper

Ilex – Holly

Itea virginica – Virginia Sweetspire

Physocarpus sp. – Ninebark

Rosa x species – Shrub Rose

Sambucus canadensis – Elderberry

Spirea sp.

Thuja occidentalis – White Cedar

Thuja plicata – Western Cedar

Hydrangea arborescens – Smooth Hydrangea

Aquilegia – Columbine

Asclepias incarnata – Swamp Milkweed

Coreopsis sp. – Tickweed

Dicentra spectabilis – Old Fashioned Bleeding Heart

Echinacea sp. – Coneflower

Helianthus – Sunflower

Hibiscus sp. – Hardy Hibiscus

Liatris spicata – Dense Blazing Star

Lobelia cardinalis – Cardinal Flower

Mertensia virginica – Virginia Bluebell

Monarda sp. – Bee Balm

Penstemon – Beardtongue

Phlox sp.

Rudbeckia – Black-eyed Susan

Solidago sp. – Goldenrod

Andropogon gerardii – Big Bluestem

Carex sp.

Juncus sp.



Our staff are happy to help you find the plants that fit your gardening needs. Stop by Hook’s on our Spring Opening Day, April 15th, to check out our native plant selection!