Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do you have any information on the Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis)?
We received a Emerald Ash Borer Pest Alert document and a Emerald Ash Borer Public Notice to Help Protect Canada's Trees and Forests from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Please click on the links to obtain more information.
2. My flowerbeds seemed to be infested with earwigs last summer. Are they harmful to the flowers? If so, how can I get rid of them?
The European earwig is a very common inhabitant of flowerbeds. They tend to hide during the day in small dark spaces. They often feed on harmful insects and mites, but will also eat flower petals. Their population can increase rapidly as the growing season progresses, causing considerable damage to the ornamental garden. They can be trapped by placing rolled up dampened newspapers in the flowerbeds in the morning, then collecting them in the evening. Heavy mulch in frequently irrigated areas provides ideal breeding conditions for earwigs. By reducing mulch thickness and allowing periodic drying of the flowerbeds, their population can be reduced; this solution is often adequate. In severe cases, insecticide baits containing carbaryl (Sevin), available at Oxford Insta-Shade, can be applied to the hiding places used by the earwigs during the day.
3. Why are the leaves curling and dying on my Japanese Maple?
Japanese Maple Trees are very sensitive to proper soil moisture. These symptoms usually occur due to too much or too little moisture. The best way to prevent this is to water no more than once a week. After watering, ensure soil is moist right down to the roots.
4. When do I prune my shrubs?
To encourage flowers for the next season, pruning shrubs at the right time is very important. The following are to be pruned in October, or in April/May before the buds open:
  • Shrubs that flower in midsummer or early autumn. This is because their flower buds develop only on the year’s new wood; and,
  • Decorative-Foliage shrubs.
The following are to be pruned from the end of May to mid-June, after flowering:
  • Spring-flowering shrubs, because this will give them enough time after flowering to form the floral buds for next spring. They flower on the previous year’s wood.
5. What can I do to help prevent rodent kill on our trees and shrubs?
Various methods may be used to exclude or control deer, rabbits and squirrels in gardens. These methods usually involve protecting the plants with fencing and tree guards or controlling the animals by using traps. Oxford Insta-Shade also stocks a product called “Skoot”, to help repel rodents.
6. Why do my maple tree leaves have black spots on them?
The black spots you are describing are most likely tarspots. Leaves are infected in the spring during cool, wet weather. It causes irregular black tar-like spots on Norway, red, silver, and sugar maple tree leaves by mid to late summer. Improve air circulation to encourage quick leaf drying. This disease overwinters on fallen leaves so it is very important to rake and discard leaves in the fall.
7. Why do we plant spring flowering bulbs in the fall?
These bulbs need a natural cold spell in order for them to bloom properly. Tip: Plant with bonemeal – a very slow release fertilizer that will provide your bulbs with all required nutrients until they have finished blooming. If you have trouble with squirrels digging up your bulbs try adding bloodmeal to the soil. The scent will act as a natural repellant.
8. We are planning a shrub border in our backyard. Can you suggest flowering shrubs that give a succession of bloom throughout the year?
For Spring – Rhododendron, Forsythia and Koreanspice Viburnum. For Summer – Spiraea, Buddleia, Roses and Rose of Sharon. For Fall – Burning Bush, Dogwood, Virburnum, Blue Mist and Sumac.
9. When is a good time to plant my perennials in the spring?
If you purchase your perennials in early spring, generally we recommend you wait until chance of frost is over. Remember that the perennials have come straight from the greenhouse and all the new growth will freeze if exposed to the frost. This will not kill your plant but delays the flowering process as the plant will have to make new growth.
10. Why are my emerald cedars looking sparse and turning brown on the one side?
Most cedars, spruce trees and junipers need full sun to flourish and often these trees are planted beside a house or building where only one side will get sun. This causes the side facing the building to turn brown. In other cases, they are planted where another large tree will shade it partially, causing the sparse look and browning of the needles.
11. Why do my peony buds always have ants crawling all over them?
It’s because the peony bud exudes a sweet sticky substance that attracts them. The reason that a peony wants to attract ants is that they will attack and destroy more harmful insects, which might have damaged the plant.
12. Where can I find a good-sized 'shade tree' for my property and when is the best time to plant it?
The best place to find a good-sized ‘shade tree’ is at Oxford Insta-Shade. A good-sized tree is usually around 18 feet tall. We have over 90 acres of many excellent varieties to choose from including Locusts, Linden, Maple etc., etc. A Deciduous Tree, which makes a really good shade tree, can be transplanted with tree trunks up to 8 inches (200 mm) thick. However, if you are thinking of an Evergreen Tree, they can range from 4 feet to 25 feet tall. The best time to transplant a tree is in the Spring and Fall. In the Spring, trees can be transplanted until the buds begin to sprout. In the Fall, transplanting begins when the leaves start to drop. We have two tree spades available. A 44-inch spade for the smaller varieties and an 80-inch spade for the larger varieties.
13. I want to replant a couple of gardens this summer. Can I move small spring flowering bulbs before the tops die back?
Although most texts recommend that spring foliage should be allowed to die down after bloom, many small bulbs can be moved ‘in the green’. This involves removing the spent bloom, carefully digging the bulbs, splitting and planting at a new site. Water them well and repeat watering if the weather is dry. Daffodils, narcissi and snowdrops respond well to this treatment.
14. Why do my Rhododendrons look so brown after the winter?
We suggest winterizing; putting up a screen made of burlap, wrapped around wooden stakes in the fall (November). This protects them from the harsh winter climates. It is also advisable to spray them with an anti-dessicant (wilt-proof) to keep them from drying out.
15. Do you have a spring checklist for my garden?
  1. Prune spring flowering shrubs and trees (forsythia, witch hazel, daphne etc.) after blooming.
  2. Fertilize your lawn with Botanix 21-4-6 lawn fertilizer. In May – June you can use Botanix 21-4-6 weed and feed to control chickweed, creeping charlie, dandelion etc.
  3. Plant your perennial and flowering bulb garden now – we have giant Dahlias that are 8 – 10” (20 – 25 cm) high. We also have cannas, calla, begonias, gladiolas, and many more varieties to choose from. Remember to dig up the annual bulbs in the fall before the frost – they can be dried and stored over winter in your basement.
  4. Clean up fallen twigs and prune branches damaged by winter storms.
  5. Rake up thatch and dead grass from your lawn.
  6. Remove winter wrap from evergreens and tender shrubs such as rhododendrons and azaleas.
  7. Turn your compost heap to start it working after winter dormancy.
  8. Remove small weeds from your perennial and shrub borders before they get to be a bigger problem.
16. Do you have an autumn checklist for my garden?
  1. Winterize your Rose bushes, Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Yews, Alberta Spruce, and upright Junipers.
  2. Feed your lawn with Botanix Fall Fertilizer or Botanix Fall Weed & Feed; the nutrients will help protect the grass throughout the winter and gives it a good boost for next spring.
  3. Protect your less hardy plants when winter sets in by wrapping them in burlap.
  4. Pull out your Annuals and put them on the compost pile, get your garden ready and plant your spring-flowering bulbs like tulips, crocus, daffodils, hyacinths etc.
  5. To get some good fall colour, plant some hardy mums. We have plenty in stock and they are in full bloom.
  6. Seed over bare spots in lawn.
  7. Rake up fallen leaves and add to compost pile.
  8. Dig up tender summer flowering bulbs and store in the basement.