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Garden & Horticultural SocietyBeautifying Richmond Hill since 1914

Gardening Tips

Gardening Tips began in September 2020 as a weekly collaboration with Email recommendations for future gardening tips to 

Society members may click Add Comment following any article, and post comments such as adding more retrospective, agreeing with the contributor, or even suggesting a correction. 

  • October 21, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Missing your warm afternoons in the garden?  How about growing an indoor plant from something you bought at the grocery store?  An indoor plant can be a source of food.  With this Gardening Tip, it could be both and indoor plant and a source of food.  And with patience once you eat the fruit, you can use it to grow another of that plant.

    I’m speaking of the beautiful pineapple!  You can grow your own pineapple right here is Richmond Hill.  Here’s how to grow a pineapple from another one. In the picture, you can see the new pineapple growing amidst its parent’s spiky, yet leafy, crown.

    1. Start with a complete pineapple that you bought to eat. Before using it, hold the body of the pineapple in one hand and the spiky leaf top near the base of the leaves with your other hand. You may want to wear gloves to do this. Gently twist the leafy crown (as if you were opening a jar) until it separates from the fruity base.
    2. Now gently pull off the last inch or so of the spiky leaves so the bottom part of the stem is bare of leaves.
    3. Place that base in water almost up to where the leaves remain.
    4. Keep the container in direct sunlight. If it is warm outside, sit it on the porch or deck during the day and bring it in at night.
    5. Change the water every other day or so and keep the container filled with the right level of water.
    You will notice roots starting in about a week but lots of roots by 6 to 8 weeks. At that point you can transplant it into potting soil.

    Once transplanted, it makes a great leafy green houseplant but it may take 1 to 3 years before it develops a new pineapple.  Blooming depends on the production of ethylene. Some believe that putting the plant in a plastic bag with a few apples will produce more ethylene and blooming could start in 2 or 3 months! 

    For more information about Scrap Gardening check out these sites:
    · Gardening Knowhow: Planting pineapple tops
    · Gardening Know How: Children’s Victory Garden: Ideas And Learning Activities For Kids
    · Monica Mangin’s Instagram (DIY expert) Click here.

    Submitted by Doreen Coyne, a member of Richmond Hill Garden & Horticultural Society

  • October 14, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Helping your Self-seeding Plants to Regrow.

    Nasturiums are an annual flower that make a great flower that will grow endlessly in your gardens.  They are completely edible, are easy to grow, come in many colours, and they self-seed.  Self-seeding is important because I can let them go to seed. Once the plant has dried at the end of the season, I can simply shake  those seeds off the “dead” plant and they start growing in the spring! Very satisfying. 

    Indeed, I have several cherry tomatoes that have “regrown” themselves for the 4th time this past summer.  Done simply by allowing the last few tomatoes to fall into the soil then covering them with some extra soil. Voila – new plants the next year. 

    Other self-seeding flowering annuals include: 
    ·         Morning glory (Ipomoea tricolor)
    ·         Plains coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria)
    ·         Larkspur (Consolida ajacis)
    ·         Tall verbena (Verbena bonariensis)
    ·         Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus)
    ·         Pot marigold (Calendula officinalis)
    ·         Borage (Borago officinalis)
    ·         Beefsteak plant (Perilla frutescens)
    ·         Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena)
    ·         Spider flower (Cleome)
    ·         California poppy (Eschscholzia californica)

    Submitted by Doreen Coyne, a member of the Richmond Hill Garden & Horticultural Society

  • October 07, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    My late husband used to make stained glass projects for around the house.  Some of the items he made included Christmas ornaments, wall hangings, a jewelry box with inlaid glass, and a stepping stone. A couple of years ago, the glass was broken on the stepping stone due to service people using it to actually step on.  The one Ken made was more for looks than usage. I thought I’d see if I could repair it and in doing so, wanted to share the fundamentals of making a stained-glass stepping stone in case you wanted to give that artform a try.

    Below on the left are 2 photos of Ken’s stepping stone. Thanks to Chris Robart for resurrecting the stone from two old, low resolution photos.  To their right, is that of Val’s stepping stone. 

    Materials and Tools:Local stained-glass suppliers for stained glass and the supplies include Michaels in Richmond Hill, Glasstronomy Studios in Markham, and Aurora Stained Glass Works in Aurora.

    • Paper or pencil or black permanent marker
    • copier machine
    • glass: red, orange
    • dichroic glass pieces
    • glass grinder
    • glass-breaking pliers
    • glass cutter
    • sticky shelf paper
    • cooking spray
    • round stepping-stone plastic mold pan
    • quick-setting cement
    • bucket for mixing, mixing spoon, water
    • hammer
    • sponge
    • utility knife
    • glue stick
    • rags
    • scissors
    • glass cleaner dichroic glass powder

    1. Pick a pattern for your stone. Ken made his of a green frog sitting on a yellow lily pad in a blue pond beneath a lighter blue sky. But yours could be as simplistic as you wish. Maybe just squares and rectangles of colour or as many teachers of first-time students suggest, the head of a flower such as a sunflower or daisy. However, cutting so many curves may be difficult if you don’t yet have glass cutting experience.
    2. Measure your plastic mold to ensure the pattern fits within the mold leaving at least an inch around the outside edge. That edge will act as the “frame” around your picture.
    3. Make two copies of you pattern, and number each piece within the pattern on both copies.
    4. Using one copy, cut along the lines of the pattern and lay those pieces of paper on the original, ensuring that you have all the pieces.
    5. With a glue stick, glue each paper piece onto the selected glass for that piece. Ensure the numbers are facing down on the glass.
    6. Now you have to cut your glass pieces. Wearing safety glasses, score the lines around each pattern piece with a glass cutter. Break away the excess glass with glass-breaking pliers.
    7. Smooth the edges of each glass piece with a glass grinder.
    8. Place these glass pieces on the second copy of the pattern, paper side down, to make sure they fit.
    9. Cut out a piece of sticky shelf paper to fit the inside of the mold. Remove the backing of the sticky paper and place the adhesive side on the uncut pattern on which you placed your cut pieces.  Rub out all the bubbles under the paper.
    10. Spray cooking spray into the bottom and sides of the mold.
    11. Turn the entire glass piece over so that the shelf paper will be on the bottom, and the numbered pattern pieces that are glued to the glass pieces will be on top of that. Place that into the mold. Sprinkle dichroic glass powder between your glass pieces that are close to each other. Just to be sure of the order of the items in the bottom of the mold going up: sticky shelf paper, our coloured cut glass pieces with the glass powder between the pieces (not on the outside frame area).
    12. Mix the quick-setting concrete according to the manufacturer's directions, about six parts cement to three parts water. The consistency should be that of peanut butter. Work quickly because the concrete sets up fast.
    13. Pour the concrete over your glass pattern that is in the mold to about a ½-inch from the top of the mold. Tap the edges to force out any air bubbles. Let the concrete set up for 45 minutes to an hour.
    14. Turn the mold over to release the stepping stone. Peel away the shelf paper which should now be on the very top. Clean away any concrete that may have stuck to the glass before it sets permanently.
    15. Shine the stained glass on the stepping stone with a rag and glass cleaner.

    If you’ve worked with stained glass, these directions should be enough information for you.  But if you are newer to stained glass, then I’d at least recommend the very good YouTube series on doing this. It’s made up of 6 videos each about 2-3 minutes long as it provides good step by step instructions. The series is called. “How to create stained glass stepping stones” by ExpertVillage Leaf Group. If you’ve never cut glass before, you should ask your local suppliers if they offer a course on this.  

    Good luck! But keep some bandages close by; you are working with glass!  Our friend Valery also made a stepping stone and here is a picture of hers.  I’ve also included another item Ken had made during this time of stain glass work.

    One last note.  As I mentioned, Ken’s was more decorative and the glass was eventually all broken by sales people walking across on lawn and onto it to get across my flower garden to the front door.  If you don’t want yours to break, perhaps consider making your “picture” out of small mosaic tile, flat stones, or decorative buttons.

    Reference: “How to create stained glass stepping stones” by ExpertVillage Leaf Group in six parts:

    1. Starting to make a Stained Glass stepping stone. LINK 
    2. How to Mark the Pattern for Stained Glass. LINK 
    3. How to Score (Cut) Stained Glass. LINK
    4. How to Pour Grout for Stained Glass Stepping Stones. LINK
    5. How to Remove Stained Glass Stepping Stones from the Mold. LINK  
    6. How to add water sealant to your stained glass stepping stone. LINK 

    Submitted by Doreen Coyne, a member of the Richmond Hill Garden & Horticultural Society

  • September 30, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    After a cold winter, spring flowers peeking through the snow are a welcome sight!  Did you know some early spring bloomers will begin to show themselves before the snow is gone?  I’ve seen Snowdrops, Crocus, and even the tips of Tulips start pushing through the soil even though there is still snow around them.

    These early spring flowers are typically bulbs that are planted in fall and once planted, will continue to bring colour and warmth to your garden every year weeks ahead of schedule. Not only do early spring blooming flowers add beauty, but they can also help attract bees and other pollinators to your yard early in the season. What a great way to encourage the pollinators to make your garden a regular place to visit.

    Below are lists of plants started from bulbs that bloom in early spring.  And this fall – typically in late September until October’s first frost - is the time to plant them!  Names of the plants are provided with their Latin names in parenthesis.  I’ve tried to list mainly North American native plants.

    Early Spring Blooming Bulbs
    When it comes to early flowering plants, most people think of bulbs. Early spring bulbs include Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis), Dwarf Crested Iris (Iris cristata), Snow Crocus (Crocus chrysanthus), Wood Hyacinth (Hyacinthoides hispanica), Grape Hyacinth (Muscari), Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis), Spring Snowflake (Leucojum vernum), and Striped Squill (Puschkinia scilloides).

    Let the early spring flowers brighten your spirits after a long and dreary winter.  Even if the snow of winter has not left, you can still enjoy the beginning of spring if you take the time now - this fall - to plant some bulbs that bloom in the early spring.  Let them remind you that spring is already peeking her head out.

    Now if you get bulbs and forget to plant them even as late as early November, they likely won't be viable come the following fall to plant. So, if you find some unplanted bulbs while readying your garden in the spring, go ahead and plant them in your garden – its their best chance of survival, and they may grow. Or put them in the fridge for a few days and pot them as indoor plants!

    Submitted by Doreen Coyne, a member of the Richmond Hill Garden & Horticultural Society
  • September 23, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Fall is a good time to create a new garden bed. Dig up the entire area, turning over any grass or perhaps removing the grass to make more depth for what you’ll be adding. Don’t worry about big clots of soil. They’ll be broken up by the action of snow and ice which is preferable to your backbreaking effort. Put in a thick layer of compost, manure, leaf mould, or any other organic material that is available.  Mix it in if you have time.  Either way, in the spring this area will be easier to work with, and after a little bit of spring raking you can get your seeds and seedlings planted.


    Thinking of adding a fruit tree or shrub next spring?  Start this fall.  Dig the holes for fruit trees and shrubs in the fall.  If the soil you've dug out is poor, amend it with compost and return that amended soil to the hole. Then cover the hole with boards so it won't compact during the winter.  In the spring the soil will be easier to work and you’ll be able to get a quick start on planting your trees and shrubs.

    Perhaps you have a small tree or shrub that you no longer want in its current spot.  This is the time of year to move it.  Prepare the new area, amending the soil as needed.  Then dig out the old shrub or tree, and carefully move it to the new spot. Backfill the hole as needed then take the remaining soil removed to make the new hole and use it to fill the spot from which you took the shrub or tree.

    Submitted by Doreen Coyne, a member of the Richmond Hill Garden & Horticultural Society

  • September 16, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I have three areas around my house that just don’t get a lot of sun. Closest to the house, the plants in this area only get the sun from dawn to about 11 am. Most of the day they are in the shade caused by the shadow of the house. I have that marigolds and coleus do well there.  Indeed, the marigolds seem to do well whether they were in partial shade or full shade. I’ve learned that coleus with darker-coloured leaves will grow even with long periods of shade. I do love both plants but they are not perennials and do not grow by magic each year. 

    But other HORT members are helping me understand that these plants are relatively easy to grow every year using the same plants you planted outdoors in the summer. i.e. No need to pay more at the nursery. 

    Marigolds: The marigold flowers form seed heads which are easily harvested by pulling the seeds from the head.  After harvesting, you simply dry the seeds. I place mine on a napkin for a week indoors in an area without much light and then place them in a marked envelope that states their colour, name, and year harvested.  In the spring, I cast them into the soil once there is no frost nor forecast of fewer than 10 degrees Celsius at night.  You could also plant each seed, or group of seeds, separately.

    Coleus: Greta is one of our members that does an excellent job with propagating plants including coleus and succulents! Here’s how she propagates coleus.  Coleus is one of those summer plants that have so much variety in leaves that it doesn't matter that their flowers are small. They give a burst of colour all summer. When you would like to have more plants, cut off a long straggly branch. Snip off all the leaves except for the top 4. This green branch is put in water until it starts growing roots. At that point, it is time to give your new plant some fresh potting soil. Make sure you keep it nice and moist but do not overwater. And voila, you have a new coleus plant. That plant can remain indoors for the winter and then be taken outside in the spring.

    The photos below were taken by Greta with the first one showing a cutting in a glass of water; the next shows it with roots now in a pot of soil, and the last one shows the grown plant.
    If you are the kind of person who may forget to think about propagating plants in the fall, then at any time in the summer, get a cutting as described above and create new plants then.  Coleus does very well as delightfully coloured potted indoor plants. Those can then be your source of cuttings for future propagating purposes.

    One last tip: To make your current plant look bushier, trim it back to the first set of leaves a few weeks after planting. As it grows, there will be more branches and thus more leaves than before.

    Submitted by Doreen Coyne & Greta Van den Bossche, members of the Richmond Hill Garden & Horticultural Society

  • September 09, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    For the last several years I have found that its been getting cooler by mid to late August.  But even if this year doesn’t follow that pattern, cooler weather will be coming soon.  So it’s time to get outside and prepare your garden for our upcoming Canadian winter. As you prep each month, you’ll have fond memories of the past summer and beauty, colour, and food your garden provided to you during this growing season.

    There are a lot of little tasks that need to be completed to get your garden ready for winter. Online there are lots of sites that provide to-do lists. I’ve taken several of these and put them together to form a month by month set of tasks that will benefit your garden and lawns. Fall is the  time to plant trees and shrubs, cut back perennials, remove annuals, and get your lawn healthy for next spring.  Below is a handy guide to fall clean up tasks.


    • Collect seed and herbs for drying.
    • Add compost or manure to garden beds.
    • Cover water features with netting to collect falling leaves.
    • Check houseplants that you moved outdoors for the summer for pests, then start to move the houseplants back indoors.
    • Plant spring flowering bulbs from now until mid-October.
    • Prepare some decorative pots of late growing vegetables and small branches for a fall display.
    • Clean bird feeders.
    • Clean gardening tools, then store them for the winter.
    • Bring in any clay pots.
    • Pull weeds before they go to seed to reduce the number of weeds next year.
    • Plant new trees and shrubs, giving them at least six weeks before the first frost. (In 2022, the Old Farmer’s Almanac suggests that first frost could be as early as October 3rd.) Trees and shrubs that are deprived of water now will be easily stressed in the winter so keep watering them until the ground freezes.
    • Fertilize your lawn.


    • Cut diseased areas out of perennials. Do not compost the diseased plants.
    • Dig up tender bulbs such as dahlia, canna lilies, and gladiola. Wrap them in moist material and store in a cool, dark space for the winter.
    • Clean up garden debris. Remove all vegetable plants and fallen fruit and veggies.
    • Remove dead annuals from the garden.
    • Cut back perennial foliage to discourage overwintering pests. Leave flowers with seeds for the birds.
    • Rake and compost any fallen leaves. Consider adding some of the leaves to garden beds to protect the plants while providing compost for next year.
    • Trim tall grass away from trees and corners of your home to discourage small rodents from creating nests.
    • Transplant shrubs or young trees to new locations.
    • Continue watering trees and shrubs until the ground freezes.
    • Sharpen your lawn mower blade and pruners.


    • Divide spring and summer blooming perennial plants. This could be done in October if time allows.
    • Add mulch around your rose bushes.
    • Buy bulbs to force during the winter for added colour indoors.
    • Wrap screening around fruit tree trunks to protect them from small animals.
    • Clean fallen leaves out of downspouts and gutters.
    • Turn off outside water connections. Drain garden hoses.


    • Prepare and set out a few outdoor pots of dried plant materials. Or simply change up some of the décor in the ones you made for fall by adding red bows or lights
    • Start paperwhites and amaryllis indoors for winter blooms.
    • Prepare for the holidays and enjoy them.

    Article submitted by Doreen Coyne, a member of Richmond HIll Garden &Horticultural Society

  • September 02, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    It’s always nice to make a seasonal change for your gardens and front porch. Planters are a great choice.  Be sure to use a planter made from a modern substance such as fibreglass, fiberstone, or a non-porous plastic composite. These can remain safely outside over winter.  Note that terracotta or clay pots cannot be stored, nor left outdoors, for the winter.  Since they are porous and retain some moisture, they are prone to cracking because the moisture in them will freeze and expand throughout the winter  

    Many of us will simply add planters with chrysanthemums of various colours. These will look great; but, there are other choices to consider. Here are some ideas on how to make planters that will brighten those cooling fall days.

    • Fill planters with an assortment of faux pumpkins, gourds and dried fall foliage that will stay gorgeous all season long. For an extra cozy touch, nestle beautiful lanterns and faux-flame candles into the greenery, then arrange small mums and cabbage plants around the base.
    • For a different look, you can combine different plant textures in your planter. Flowers won’t last long so make your planters look great for the entire season by choosing fall container plants with foliage that looks lovely in autumn. Grasses, kale, Heuchera, and Heucherella are colourful, textural, and can take a little frost. These will make dependable anchors for fall pots. FYI: Heuchera is an evergreen perennial plant in the family Saxifragaceae, all native to North America. Common names include alumroot and coral bells. Heucherella is also an evergreen perennial flowering plant in the family Saxifragaceae. It is a cross between two distinct genera, Heuchera and Tiarella.

    • For fall containers, you could also try some of these cold-hardy perennials: Sedum, Grasses, Smokebush, Lamb's ear, Ivy, Creeping Jenny, or Hens and Chicks.
    • Of course, as the Holiday season gets closer you might consider starting a taller planter with birch bark limbs. Then add evergreen branches of various kinds to give different shades of green.  You could add a few ornamental grasses or simply a few long twigs from various plants – maybe a few pussy willow branches which you can usually find in a small grove or trees.  Of course, I’d be prone to add a red bow and a realistic-looking cardinal ornament.

    Have fun with this project; you’ll enjoy the results.  And if you don’t love what you make, then change, remove, or replace something in it. You can change it up as often as you wish!

    PS: I’ve added photos of some of these container plants that you may not know a lot about: Heuchera, Heucherella, Blue Sedum, Pussy Willows.

    Article by Doreen Coyne, a member of the Richmond Hill Garden & Horticultural Society.

  • August 26, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Have a large area with all the same flower? 
    You can simply work the ground around your favourite plant.  Then shake the plant so that the seeds fall down on the ground.  Mix them into the soil for the best start.  Either way, you’ll have some great plants the next spring.  I’d suggest this method if you have an area where you grow lots of the same plant each year.

    Want to control which flower and colour of flower grows where? 
    In this case, I’d suggest you harvest the seeds directly from each plant and plant colour.  I do this with nasturtiums and marigolds.  I love those 2 plants but I want to ensure that they have lots of room to grown and I like to grow them in a pattern at the edges of my garden.  Thinking of Marigolds, I simply gather up some dead heads in which the seeds appear ready.  I gather 1 colour group at a time.  Then I pull out the seeds or knock them out with my knuckle into a small paper bag or envelope.  At this point I label the bag stating the name of flower, its variety if applicable, colour of the flower, and that date/year the seeds were harvested.  Then I move to the next colour of that flower and repeat the process.  When done with all the colours of the flower, I move on to the next flower and each of its colours.  I then let them dry out in their open bags indoors and seal them once they are ready to store for the winter.

    Submitted by Doreen Coyne, a member of the Richmond Hill Garden & Horticultural Society

  • August 05, 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Making your own insecticide is less expensive and you can be sure you are not adding harmful chemicals to the environment.

    Insecticidal Soap. Easy and inexpensive to make.  Use ordinary all-soap dishwashing liquid.  Ivory is a good choice and many prefer Dawn.  Do not use detergents.  Check the label as many dish soaps now contain a lot of additives including Oxi-clean which is great on stains but not needed for an insecticide.

    Add 1 tablespoon  (15 ml) or soap to 1 gallon (4 litres) of water and spray everything.  It won’t hurt the lawns, the foliage, nor the flowers.  And it works.  I’ve used it to wipe out all sorts of bothersome pests.  This actually helps clean up your garden in more than one way.  The spray upsets the innards of the local insect population but it also cleans off pollutants from the surfaces of the plants.

    Other Insecticides

    • Used cooking water from asparagus kills bad nematodes and protects the roots and leaves of tomatoes. 
      Notes: Bad nematodes can cause issues with your vegetables and fruit trees. These include: Root knot nematode, Root lesion nematodes, Dagger nematodes, and Ring and spiral nematodes.  There are also beneficial nematodes which you should mix with water and spray into your lawn to kill off grubs! 
    • Antifungal garlic/onion spray will help control disease and insect pests. Try the following:  Add either 2 handfuls of chopped green onions or 4 cloves or garlics – smashed up a bit - to boiling water.  Do not put a lid on the water. Boil for 5 minutes the add ½ cup (125ml) of this onion/gardlic water to 5 gallons (*20litres) of a good fertilizer to make a “fertilizer tea” which can be sprayed on your plants.
    • Attract Beneficial Insects. Some insects are beneficial to the health of your plants. Examples include ladybugs, parasitic wasps, and lacewing flies.  You want to attract these insects to your garden so they can help control insects for you. They will be attracted to your garden if you spray your plants with the following. Mix 2 Tablespoons of brewer’s yeast, ¼ cup of sugar, 1 tsp of honey, and 1/3 cup of warm water. Mix the ingredients together.  To use, take 1 tablespoon of your mixture add it to 2 cups of water and use that to spray the plants in spring and early autumn to attract the beneficial bugs. 
    • Slugs. To kill slugs, you can also use the “attracting” spray mixture just mentioned. Set it out in small containers on the ground to attract slugs which will drink it then die.  
    Article by Doreen Coyne, a member of the Richmond Hill Garden & Horticultural Society.

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