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

Growing Potatoes with Kids.

Categories: Edibles, Ideas We Love, Plants, Plants We Love, Uncategorized, Vegetables|

Grow Some Fun this Spring

Spring is here and now is a great time to start introducing your kids to gardening! This can be done with things you probably have laying around the house and is as much fun for adults as it is for children. A large part of gardening is the magic that happens. Taking a seed and seeing it transform into a beautiful flower or edible food is what makes gardening so rewarding.  For this project we will be growing a potato.

What you will need:

  • Container
  • Soil
  • Potato
  • Water

And later: 

  • Large container/bucket or garden space. 

What you may want:

  • Magic markers
  • Construction Paper
  • Tape
  • Paint Stickers
  • Ribbon or twine

We planted right in a 5 gallon bucket

The Fun: Find a container. Large cottage cheese or yogurt containers work well for this project, but use whatever you have on hand.  Spring brings visions of bright colors of blooming gardens and sunny days. So shake off the drab days of winter with multi colored planters and interesting containers. The more you let your kids decorate their own vessel, the more interested they will be in the project. Your container can be spruced up with stickers, magic markers or crayons. If using old  food containers, you can cover it with colorful construction paper taped to the outside or paint it.. Let your child decorate their container how they like. Add a ribbon, twine or bow, and have your child write his or her name on it for a personalized touch. Poke a few holes in the bottom of your vessel or add a little driveway stone to the bottom to keep roots from sitting in the water. Note, if you poke holes in the bottom of your container, don’t forget to add a shallow dish under it to catch water.  Later you can transplant your growing potato into the garden or a larger outside vessel like a bucket. You won’t get a high yield crop in a small container, but it will engage kids in the gardening process if you choose to grow your potato without the intention of harvesting. Choose your potato. We’ve all had it happen. A few potatoes left to sit too long start to sprout. These are ready to plant! But if you have fresh potatoes, you can get them started easily by letting them set in a warm, dark place for a few weeks until they start sprouting. For those who have never left a potato get to this stage, the sprout comes from the “eyes” of the potato.  Cut your potato into small enough sections to fit one  into your container, leaving one or two eyes for each section.  Add a few inches of soil to the bottom of your container and plant the section, eye up. Cover with soil to within about a ½” below rim of container. Add some warm water to thoroughly saturate soil and place in a sunny location. Be careful not to over water, but keep soil moist. You should start seeing a green stem in about 2-4 weeks. Once your potato is a few inches above the container, it’s time to transplant to the garden or a large container given it is the right time of year. You can decorate buckets or leave them as is. Buckets can be found at just about any hardware store but try to find PBA free if you can and do not reuse buckets that formerly had oils or chemicals in them. 

Transplanting into buckets Drill a few drain holes to start. Add about 2″ of soil to the bottom of your bucket and gently pull entire plant with soil from original house container. Be sure to keep the original soil in tact as much as possible so you don’t disturb or break roots. You can fit anywhere from 1-3 plants in one bucket but be sure there is enough room for new tubers to grow for harvesting.  Fill the surrounding area with soil but do not add soil above original soil levels unless stem is 6-8″ tall.   When your potato stem is 6-8″ tall, add soil up to half of the stem. Keep adding soil as the stem grows a few inches until you reach the top of your bucket, leaving about an inch or 2 from the top rim. Your potato will grow several more inches above the rim. Be sure to keep soil moist but not over saturated. 

Transplanting to garden Dig your hole just about as deep as your container soil. Again being careful not to disturb roots  too much, place plant in hole and cover. If your stem is quite tall, you can always mound at this time as well. 8″ in mound is about what your ultimate goal is. Harvest when tops begin to yellow and die off.  Enjoy!!

The Kids unearthed their Buckets!

It was like an Easter Egg Hunt!

Some of Our Harvest.


Categories: Perennials, Plants We Love|

Foxglove, also known as digitalis, are gorgeous woodland plants that attract birds, bees and hummingbirds to the garden while also being deer and rabbit resistant. These showy plants feature tall stalks of distinctive bell shaped flowers in late spring to mid summer. Digitalis makes a wonderful addition to any garden by adding eye-catching height and color.

Biennials vs. Perennials

It is important to note that some varieties of foxglove are considered biennials while others are true perennials. A biennial plant has a lifespan of two years, whereas perennials can live for more than two years. Here at Hook’s we offer three varieties of foxglove, Camelot Rose Cream, Dalmatian Purple, and Dalmatian Rose. Camelot Rose is considered a biennial while the Dalmatian series varieties are perennials.

Varieties of Digitalis

Camelot Rose quickly grows to a height 1’ and reaches 3-4’ with its flowering stalk. This variety grows 20-30” wide and features tall stalks of rose-pink bell-shaped flowers with white rimmed speckles late spring to midsummer. The Dalmatian series varieties grow 16-20” tall and 12-18” wide. We carry Dalmatian Purple and Dalmatian Rose varieties which feature deep purple flowers and rose-pink flowers respectively. Their bloom season is from late spring to midsummer. 

Digitalis Care

Digitalis requires 3-4 hours of sun, but need protection from the hot afternoon sun. These heavy feeding plants prefer moist, well-draining, neutral to acidic soil. We recommend adding peat moss or compost to help improve drainage. Additionally, peat moss increases soil acidity. We recommend planting foxglove in clumps with about 12” of spacing between plants. With its impressive height digitalis may require staking in exposed windy locations. We recommend using a soft material to loosely tie flower stalk to the stake to avoid harming the plant.

For best performance we recommend fertilizing with a bloom boosting fertilizer multiple times throughout the season, after planting, after first flowers fade, post blooming and when new spring growth appears. Mulching helps suppress weed growth and retain moisture. Trimming back damaged foliage promotes the growth of new foliage. Similarly, deadheading when first blooms begin to fade helps promote the growth of a second bloom. After blooming season is over cut back and cover with 3-5” of mulch. This layer of mulch helps to insulate the plant and retain moisture over the winter. Removing debris around foxglove after frosts can also help prevent disease and pest problems. Keep in mind that digitalis is a toxic plant. Avoid ingestion and take precautions to keep away from children and pets. 

Here at Hook’s we offer digitalis and other summer perennials in 2 gallon pots for $12.99. Stop by the greenhouse today to browse our selection of summer perennials. If you have any questions, our friendly staff are happy to help!

It’s Not Too Late To Plant Vegetables!

Categories: Vegetables|

It is not too late to get vegetables planted. If the poor weather this spring has delayed planting or damaged your vegetable garden this year, do not fret! There is still time to get a garden planted or replant a garden damaged by the storms. Tomatoes, peppers and many other vegetables have a short enough growing season to still produce this year. Here at Hook’s we offer a wide range of veggies for $14.99 for a full flat or $1.69 per pack. Check out the list of vegetable varieties in stock that are still ok to be planted now below. Stop by the greenhouse and get your garden started or restarted with vegetables!


Veggies you can still plant!

Yukon Gold Potato

Red Norland Potato

Mountain Rose Potato

Beauregard Sweet Potato


Italian Parsley

Moss Curled Parsley

Swiss Chard

Sugar Snap Peas

Lancelot Leek

Super Star Onion

Red Onion

Candy Onion



Table Ace squash

Multipik Squash

Aphrodite Melon

Crimson Sweet Watermelon

Zucchini Elite


Cole Crops:

Diplomat Broccoli

Candid Charm Cauliflower

Brussel Sprouts

Kossak Kohlrabi


Dinosaur Kale


Early Flat Dutch Cabbage

Stonehead Cabbage

Bravo Cabbage

Red Cabbage

Savoy Ace Cabbage



Carolina Reaper



Thai Hot

Super Chilli

Cayenne Long Slim


California Wonder

Big Bertha

Lady Bell


Red Knight

Orange Bell

Purple Beauty


Giant Marconi

Yum Yum

Sweet Banana

Fooled You 

Medium Hot Block

Garden Salsa

Hungarian Wax

Anaheim Chilli 



Bush Crop



Silver Slicer

Straight 8

Bush Pickle




San Marzano

Amish Paste

Sweet Million


Ground Cherry

Red Grape

Lemon Boy

German Johnson

Green Zebra




Mr. Stripey

Pink Girl

Golden Jubilee

Carolina Gold

Health Kick




Jet Star

Mountain Fresh Plus

Chef’s Choice Orange

Champion II


Better Boy

Big Boy


Park’s Whopper

Early Girl

Black Eyed Susan: Distinguishing Between the Many Varieties

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

We are all familiar with the classic Black-eyed Susan look featuring yellow ray flowers around a dark brown or black center cone, but we may not be aware of the many types of Black-eyed Susan plants available. Black-eyed Susan plants come in many different varieties including upright growers and vines and ranging from annuals to true perennials. Here at Hook’s we have four different types of Black-eyed Susan plants some of which come in a variety of colors. This guide is to help you figure out which of these bold plants to choose for your garden.

Black-eyed Susan ‘Toto’

The Toto variety of Black-eyed Susan is considered an annual in our northern climate and attracts butterflies, birds and bees. This variety of Black-eyed Susan is a tough, upright growing flower. Toto can tolerate droughts and is deer resistant. These sunny flowers do best when planted in an area with full sun, well drained soil and good air circulation. This long blooming flower will show off its colors from summer to fall while growing 6-12″ tall and 15-18″ wide. We love Toto for its versatility in the garden. It thrives when planted in containers or in the ground where it can function as a low maintenance way to add a pop of color. Toto can be purchased at Hook’s in packs of flat for $1.69 or at $14.99 for a full flat.

Black-eyed Susan ‘Indian Summer’

The Black-eyed Susan ‘Indian Summer’ is considered a tender perennial, meaning that it is a short lived perennial lasting between 2-4 years. Indian Summer can maintain its population in a garden whether or not the plant survives the winter by self seeding. This upright growing variety of Black-eyed Susan is hardy with both deer resistant and drought tolerant qualities. Indian Summer blooms from summer to frost, showing off its vibrant yellow ray flowers around its iconic dark brown center in large 6-9″ blooms. The size of these blooms make Indian Summer a striking addition to any garden or flower arrangement. We recommend deadheading the fading flowers in order to help encourage the development of new blooms all season long. This long blooming flower prefers full sun and well drained soil. Indian Summer’s bold colors, large blooms and low maintenance care make it one of our favorites here at Hook’s.

Black-eyed Susan ‘Goldsturm’

The Goldsturm variety of Black-eyed Susan is a true perennial plant that will consistently come back year to year. This variety has an upright habit and features classic Black-eyed Susan flowers with yellow rays surrounding a black center cone. These bright flowers will bloom from mid summer to fall and attract butterflies. Additionally, Goldsturm is drought tolerant and deer resist making it hardy as well as visually striking. Goldsturm thrives in full sun, good air circulation and well drained soil. These sun-loving plants will grow 6-12″ tall, 15-18″ wide and will spread slowly through the garden. Deadheading the spent blooms will promote growth of fresh ones. Here at Hook’s we love Goldsturm for its fabulous colors, low maintenance requirements and true perennial nature. Goldsturm is available at Hook’s in 2 gallon pots for $12.99.

Black-eyed Susan Vines

Related image

Black-eyed Susan plants also come in an annual vine form. This plant is from a different genus (Thunbergia rather than Rudbeckia) and has a different habit from the other Black-eyed Susan plants, but has the same common name which can cause some confusion. This fast growing vine has vibrant warm colored flowers with dark black centers and trails up to 96″. We recommend spacing these plants 14-16″ apart. These bold climbing and trailing vines are heat tolerant, do not require deadheading and bloom continuously all summer long. Black-eyed Susan vine look fabulous in hanging baskets or in landscaping when given something to climb. Here at Hook’s we have three stunning varieties, ‘Lemon A-Peel’, ‘Orange A-Peel’ and ‘Tangerine Slice A-Peel’, that feature yellow, orange and variegated red flowers respectively.



image of Toto from

image of Indian Summer from

image of Goldsturm from

Sweet William Barbarini ‘Purple Bicolor’ and ‘Purple-White Bicolor’

Categories: Perennials, Plants, Plants|

Sweet William Barbarini comes in two stunning bicolored varieties, ‘Purple Bicolor’ and ‘Purple-White Bicolor’. These two fabulous plants feature large clusters of eye-catching flowers. Sweet William flowers are known for their beauty, easy care needs, drought tolerance, deer resistance and long blooming bicolored flowers. In addition, Sweet William’s fragrance attracts hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden.

Sweet William Barbarini is a self-seeding biennial plant that blooms from early spring to mid summer. This means that the original plant will live for 2 years, but its seeds will give rise to new seedlings for you to enjoy for years to come. We recommend deadheading these beautiful flowers early and mid summer, but allow late season blooms to go to seed in order to maintain your flowers for years to come from the seeds. Self-sown seedlings can be dug up and moved in either fall or early spring. Both varieties of Sweet William can prosper in normal to sandy or clay soils, prefer full sun conditions and only need watering during dry spells once established.

Sweet William ‘Purple Bicolor’ displays clusters of purple flowers with rose accents and grows to 10″ tall and should be spaced 6″ apart. The ‘Purple-White Bicolor’ variety features purple flowers with white accents, as the name suggests. Sweet William ‘Purple-White Bicolor grows 18-36″ tall and needs approximately 10-14″ of space between plants. Both varieties are hardy to USDA zones 5-9. These marvelous varieties command attention with their vibrant clusters of bicolored flowers and are perfect for cut flower arrangements, grow well in containers, or as head-turning borders when planted in groups making them one of our favorites here at Hook’s Greenhouse. We offer both Sweet William varieties in 2 gallon pots for $12.99.

Our friendly staff are happy to help you find what’s right for your garden and answer any questions you have!



Hardy Hibiscus

Categories: Perennials, Plants We Love|

Hardy Hibiscus (Rose Mallow) has an amazing tropical look but is hardy to zone 4. Hibiscus plants have breathtaking 12-18 inch blooms making them a striking addition to any garden. This easy maintenance plant attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and many other pollinators while deer typically leave it alone. These awesome perennials survive in wet soil and love full sun exposure.

Be sure to give them some elbow room as Hibiscus are large perennials that take up a lot of room. Even “dwarf” varieties grow at least 3 feet tall and wide, with standard-sized rose mallow growing 4-6 feet tall and wide. Hibiscus love hot, humid, sunny weather making the best place to plant a rose mallow is somewhere that receives sunshine all day long. Another key to successfully growing a perennial Hibiscus is consistent watering. Tricky spots where water sits are ideal for a Hibiscus although they will grow in other conditions if adequately watered.

Russian Sage

Categories: Perennials, Plants We Love|

Russian Sage, produces lacy lavender blue flowers from mid summer all the way through mid fall. The delicate blooms of Russian Sage make great cut or dried flowers. In spite of its delicate appearance, Russian Sage is hardy, drought tolerant and deer resistant. Russian Sage also features fragrant foliage and attracts hummingbirds.

Russian Sage is a showy low maintenance plant that is ideal for perennial borders. Pair it with yellow or pink flowers for a gorgeous contrast. These drought tolerant plants require good drainage and prefer neutral to alkaline soil. Russian Sage does best in full sun and grow to 28-32″ tall and 34-38″ wide. We recommend removing old growth from these perennials in early spring. Russian Sage can be used to create striking perennial borders and add fragrance to your garden.

Here at Hook’s we love this low maintenance plant for its lacy, lavender flowers and fragrance. We sell Russian Sage in 2 gallon perennial pots for $12.99. Our knowledgeable staff are happy to help you find the right plants for your garden!




Categories: Herbs|

Dill is a wonderful plant that is useful in the kitchen, fragrant and easy to care for. Its wonderfully refreshing taste is enhanced by vinegar or lime juice. Dill is an annual herb that is easy to grow and can reach the staggering height of 3 ft! This versatile herb can grow in containers or in the ground and can tolerate poor soils but thrives in fertile soil. Dill is a low maintenance herb that is drought and deer tolerant. The fragrance and flowers of dill attract pollinators and birds. Dill is a sun-loving plant that does best when mixed in with flowers or veggies. This culinary herb also has a variety of medicinal qualities including helping boost immune system and is a natural antibiotic. For example tea made from dill can help relieve flatulence, insomnia and hiccups. Historically, dill was even used to ward off witches (which may come in handy this October !).

Dill can be harvested either for its leaves (dried dill leaves are called dillweed) or for its seeds. Dill has the capability of going to seed very quickly. We recommend frequent prunings during the growing season to both encourage growth of foliage and to prevent bolting, the growth of the flowering stem. The best time to harvest herbs is in the morning after the dew has dried, because at this time the oils in the plants are at their highest levels. These oils are what give the herb its flavor. The leaves can be dried in the microwave, oven or by screen or hanging methods. The seeds can be harvested at the end of the season. Late in the season allow this annual to go to seed. Be sure to allow the seeds to thoroughly dry before removing the umbrella shaped seedheads. We recommend separating the seeds from the seedhead inside a bag to keep the seeds from escaping. After drying store both dillweed and seeds in tightly sealed dark containers out of direct sunlight.

Dill is a fantastic herb to have in you kitchen. Its refreshing taste is perfect for summer dishes and of course for pickles! Here are a couple of recipes to get you started cooking with dill!


Dill Dip

Quick and easy recipe that improves with refrigerating overnight.

⅔ c sour cream

⅔ c mayonnaise

2 Tbsp minced onion or chives

1 Tbsp minced celery or ½ tsp celery seeds

1 Tbsp minced fresh dill or 1 tsp dillweed

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight if you have time. Otherwise, serve at once. Can be used as a dip for raw or blanched vegetables or crackers.


Healthy Tzatziki Sauce

2 cups plain Greek yogurt (full fat or nonfat)

1/2 cucumber

1 1/2 Tbsp fresh dill

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 tsp salt

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp lemon juice

Chop the fresh dill. Peel and mince the garlic cloves. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and remove the seeds with a spoon. Then grate or finely chop the cucumber. To avoid chopping, an alternative is to run the garlic and cucumber through a garlic press. Combine all the Tzatziki sauce ingredients until well combined. Enjoy immediately or store in a sealed container in the fridge until ready to use.


Dilled New Potatoes

1 pound small potatoes of similar size

1 Tbsp minced fresh dill or 1 tsp dillweed

¼ c minced scallions

1 Tbsp butter

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel a small strip around the middle of each potato. Put the potatoes in a medium-sized saucepan. Cover with water and boil, uncovered, until tender. Drain off the water. Add the dill, scallions, butter, and salt and pepper to the potatoes and cook together for a minute or two.


Country Dill Pickles

1 Tbsp mixed pickling spices

4 heads and stems of dill

4 garlic cloves

4 quarts pickling cucumbers

2 quarts vinegar

1 quart water

1 c kosher or other coarse salt

Sterilize four 1-quart jars (try to find widemouthed jars). Divide the pickling spices among the jars. Put one head of dill, complete with its stem, into each jar. Peel the garlic cloves and put one into each jar. Scrub the cucumbers well, then place in the jars, cramming them in as best you can. Put the vinegar, water, and salt in a medium-sized nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over the cucumbers, filling the jars to within ½ inch of the top. Seal. Wait at least a week before trying the pickles.



Growing and Using Dill by Glenn Andrews


Categories: Blog, Herbs|

Basil is one of the most widely used herbs and is found in cuisines worldwide. It is commonly associated with Italian cooking and pairs well with both garlic and tomatoes. On top of its appeal as a culinary herb basil is aesthetically appealing and has a fabulous aroma. The name basil comes from the Greek basileus meaning king or basilisk which is a legendary snake that has the ability to kill with a glance. Both names indicate power. Basil is featured in Indian religious ceremonies, has been used as a sign of love in Italy and planted in French window planters to take advantage of its natural insect repellents. In cooking basil can be used to flavor fish, poultry, beans, cheese, egg or a wide range of vegetable dishes. It pairs well with oregano, sweet marjoram, thyme and parsley.

Companion planting is the practice of planting certain plants near each other to increase vigor and deter pests. Plant basil near tomatoes and peppers to deter pests with its strong fragrance. Planting basil near asparagus can increase the vigor of the asparagus. It also pairs well with nasturtium, zinnias, marigolds, and other basils. Basil is a great addition to herb, vegetable, or flower gardens and does great in containers as well. This fabulous herb features striking green foliage and blossoms, adds fragrance to the garden and has many culinary uses.

Here at Hook’s we carry sweet basil, the classic culinary variety, but there are over 60 varieties of basil out there. As a leaf crop basil needs fertile soil to prosper. However, it is important to note that too much nitrogen can decrease oil production in the plant which finishes the flavor and fragrance of the basil. Basil prefers soils with pH values between 6.4-7 which is the same range as both corn and tomatoes. We recommend using organic fertilizers such as well-rotted manure mixed into the soil prior to planting or fish emulsion. This sun loving herb that requires 6 plus hours of sun.

Basil can be harvested throughout the growing season and frequent harvesting a can promote bushier growth. To harvest, pick leaves from the main stem or branches just above where the leaf meets the stem leaving the node intact (this is key to promote bushier growth). For the best flavor we recommend harvesting just before flowers develop. The flavor changes after flowering so be sure to pinch off the buds before they bloom. Fertilize with a bit of fish emulsion, manure or compost tea after harvesting to help the plant recover.

Harvested basil can either be used fresh or kept for later use. Cuttings can keep for up to one week in water on a windowsill. Do not place leaves in the fridge, because the fridge is too cold for basil and it will not do well. Basil can be dried by hang drying, or in a microwave or oven. Once dried store in an airtight dark container out of direct sunlight. It can also be frozen in plastic bags layered with paper towels to absorb excess water or can be minced and frozen in an ice tray with olive oil.

Here are a number of recipes to give you an idea of the variety of culinary uses of basil!


Basil Pesto

2 c fresh basil leaves, removed from the stem

½ c fresh parsley leaves

½ c olive oil

2 garlic cloves, peeled

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

¼ c roasted pine nuts

¼ c fresh parmesan or asiago cheese

In a blender or food processor, puree the basil, parsley, oil, garlic, and salt and pepper. Add the nuts and the cheese and process briefly until the pesto reaches the desired consistency.


Basil lime vinaigrette

½ c fresh basil leaves

1 Tbsp fresh lime juice

2 Tbsp white wine vinegar

½ tsp dijon mustard

1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped

¼ c olive oil

In a food processor puree the basil with the lime juice. Transfer to a small bowl and add the vinegar, mustard and shallot. Add the oil in a stream, whisking until blended. Serve over slices of fresh tomatoes, as a dressing for pasta salad or a marinade for fish or chicken.


Basil cream for soup

1 c fresh basil leaves

2 cloves garlic, peeled

2 Tbsp olive oil

½ c heavy cream

In a food processor, puree the basil, garlic, and oil. Slowly add the cream until a smooth mixture is formed. To serve, swirl a Tbsp or two onto the top of any hearty, hot soup: tomato, broccoli, cauliflower, or leek and potato soups work great!


Potato and basil gratin

1 c cold water

1 c milk

1 pound red potatoes, thinly sliced

1 bay leaf

1 clove garlic, peeled

4 Tbsp butter

1 c chopped fresh basil

½ c grated cheddar cheese

1 c cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Pour the water and milk into a saucepan, then add in the sliced potatoes, bay leaf, and garlic. Boil for 10 minutes, just until tender. Drain. Grease a 10 inch baking dish. Sprinkle on the grated cheese, then pour on the cream. Dot with the remaining butter. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.



Growing and Using Basil by Ellen Ogden