Episode 17 – Garden Lessons Learned, Viburnum Pollination, New Year’s Traditions

Ground Breaking Banter

Happy New Year! Rick shares that if you’re going to a New Year’s Eve party this year, make sure you leave within an hour after the ball drops. A new survey looked at 2,000 adults’ plans’ for the special night and found the appropriate time to leave: within an hour after midnight, according to half of respondents (52%).

Stacey and Rick banter about the year in review. Stacey shares that personally in review, she planted way too many hot pepper plants this year!

In 2020 with Covid many people began journaling. It’s a habit they continue today. Weather often dominates or dictates a big share of a gardener’s year in review (GDD using 50 degrees as a base) In 2022 March and April were very cold. GDD accumulation was only 85 days by May 4 (week leading up to Mother’s day). In 2021 we had accumulated 201 days by that point and in the crazy year of 2012 we had accumulated 351 days by that point! (last year we didn’t get to 351 until May 27) It was a great year for fruit growers and plants in general as they had a slow and gradual awakening from dormancy this past year. It was a good year in the garden for Michigan/Midwest/Crops.

Drought was a big story worldwide!

When you visit this website you’re reminded how many invasive species we are dealing with both plants and insects, National Invasive Species Information Center.

Did you stay home more in 2022? (A benefit to the gardening industry) Check out this survey: More than two-thirds of Americans find themselves spending more time at home now than two years ago. And with all that time on their hands, respondents have been staying busy with upgrading their homes. Over the last year, respondents have prioritized maintaining their lawns and gardens (36%) the most, followed by their kitchens (30%) and living rooms (29%).

We talk about the 2022 Flowering Shrub of the year Double Play Doozie Spirea and Hydrangea of the year Little Quick Fire.

Amazing development of plants that perform better in the landscape continues. Incredible the advances in plant material like Roses or Petunias as examples in the past 20 to 30 years!

Why: Because it’s a night to sparkle! But also because this is a plant that absolutely deserves to be better known, and I’m happy to give it a moment in the spotlight. Glitters and Glows is a Viburnum dentatum var. deamii, or in other words, it’s a Southern variant of our fabulous native arrowwood viburnum. This Southern variant is a superior choice to the standard one, because it has much nicer foliage that’s broader, darker green, and very glossy. That’s where the name “Glitters and Glows” comes from. In addition, the white flower clusters are much more dense and showy, and the blue fruit that forms is bigger and showier too. You’ve really got to see its foliage to believe it – it almost looks fake, but it’s actually a very hardy plant, thriving even in zone 4.

And that brings us to another thing that makes Glitters and Glows viburnum special: you only need to plant this one plant to get fruit. Viburnums need cross-pollination in order to set fruit; it’s not a case of male and female flowers being on separate plants like with holly. The good part of this is that both viburnums you plant will develop fruit, but it means you need to find two totally different varieties of the same species of viburnum for that to happen, which is definitely a case of easier-said-than-done. At least, it was, until Glitters and Glows viburnum. What we did with this particular variety is put both varieties – All That Glitters viburnum and All That Glows viburnum – in the same pot. So you just buy one and fruiting takes care of itself! It’s a great space-saver, as well as a money-saver.

It’s also a good plant for winter interest, as its blue berries generally persist into winter, though it does depend on the tastes of local bird populations if they make it this long. Glitters and Glows viburnum is a larger shrub, reaching 4-6’ tall and wide and is perfect for hedging and for wildlife gardens.  

Who: Glitters and Glows viburnum was developed right here in West Michigan and selected for that exceptionally glossy foliage. It’s also a bit smaller than typical arrowwood viburnums, and has a lusher, more dense habit – conventional arrowwood viburnums can develop a very open and rangy habit that doesn’t provide good coverage. Like all Proven Winners ColorChoice Shrubs, we’re looking for new varieties that improve on the liabilities of their more conventional counterparts.

How to grow: Viburnums are well-known as one of the most shade tolerant flowering shrubs, but at least a little bit of sun won’t hurt. In fact, it help them have more flowers and better fruiting, as well as a better habit. While I wouldn’t recommend Glitters and Glows viburnum for wet soil, it’s not the most drought tolerant either, so this would be a good choice for yards with irrigation or a clay soil that holds on to moisture. It blooms in late spring/early summer, and the berries develop over summer, turning blue by early fall.


This is a plant that you should not prune – it blooms on old wood, and while normally you’d prune a shrub that blooms on old wood after it blooms, doing that on Glitters and Glows viburnum would also remove the fruit, so it’s best to avoid pruning altogether.

Finally, a little note about deer: viburnums are generally considered deer resistant, and that is true in terms of the plant itself. However, in my experience growing arrowwood viburnum, they love to eat the flowers, which not only eliminates bloom but also eliminates fruiting as well. So, if you have deer, be aware of that. It doesn’t mean it’s not a good choice for providing coverage and structure, but you will want to have reasonable expectations about which features you’ll actually get to enjoy if you have deer.

If you’re in the market for a beautiful native shrub that accentuates your home and supports wildlife, add Glitters & Glows viburnum to your spring planting list. 

Gardening Mail Bag

Do you have a garden question for us? We’d be glad to help! E-mail us, or click the “contact” tab above. 

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count is happening December 14-January 5 – click the link to find an event near you to participate in this important citizen science opportunity. And, Stacey was mistaken – she confused the Christmas Bird Count with the Great Backyard Bird Count, which happens in February. Whether you participate in one or both, you’ll be doing birds, and scientists, a huge favor!

Mary is wondering if big leaf hydrangeas can be planted in clay soil.

And the answer is yes! Big leaf hydrangeas actually thrive in soil that is consistently moist, as long as it’s not wet. What’s the difference? Well, a soil consists of 50% soil particles and 50% air spaces. When you water or it rains, the air spaces fill with water. In a well-drained soil, the water leaves those spaces fairly quickly, returning vital oxygen to the roots. That would be a moist, well-drained soil. Soggy conditions are where the water stays in those spaces for a prolonged period, effectively suffocating the roots. So, provided you have good drainage in your clay soil – and you do not add anything to the hole at planting time, which creates a non-draining “bathtub” – you should have good success with big leaf hydrangeas, even in clay soil. 

Debbie has a peace lily that isn’t doing well. She says there’s some green stem still left from the main plant and she waters it every week. It’s in a sunny window that gets southern light. The pot doesn’t have a drain hole, but there is a layer of rocks on the bottom of the pot. Can you help?

The answer is in your question here, Debbie, and it all goes back to the lack of drainage in the pot. Peace lilies are very tough and durable plants, but they can get root rot fairly easily. Adding rocks to the bottom of a container may seem like it “adds drainage” but in fact, it just creates a stagnant, swampy layer in the soil. The space between the rocks fills with water, and because there are no roots to absorb it nor any light or wind to dry it, it just stays wet and soggy. Peace lilies can deal with drier conditions much more easily than they can with wet ones, but we think there’s still hope for yours. Get it out of the pot and soil as soon as possible, and if the root ball is very wet, leave it sit exposed for a day or so to dry off. Then, repot into a new pot with plenty of drainage holes and fresh potting soil. Provided it doesn’t experience severe root rot again, it should be fine.

Rick suggests that your non-draining pot could be repurposed as a “cache pot” – a “hiding pot” that you can use to nest a plastic container in. That dresses up the plastic container, and gives you the ability to remove the plant to water it, so you get the good looks of the fancy pot and the ease of care of the plastic pot. 

Nancy asks if there’s any way to tell how old a jade plant is, and what to do when it gets leggy.

Even though jade plants can resemble trees, taking on the appearance of a trunk and branches, they are not woody plants and do not form rings. So, unfortunately, there’s really no way of telling a jade plant’s age just by looking at it or even cutting into it. If yours is leggy, that’s an easy fix: you can cut off the tops and let them root in the soil to start new plants, and new growth will sprout from whatever remains of the original plant, too. You can do this as often as needed to keep your jade plant looking great. 

Branching News

We have “grape expectations” for the New Year!

  • This from Spain: Instead of counting down to the new year and clinking Champagne flutes, Spaniards traditionally stuff 12 grapes into their mouths at the stroke of midnight. The 12 grapes represent the 12 months of the year, and the Spanish tradition is meant to bring good luck in the new year.
  • The heart of Maribor, SLOVENIA is home to the oldest vine in the world. At more than 450 years old it’s the only plant boasting its own museum – the Old Vine House. Maribor hosts a number of events celebrating the Old Vine, such as the Pruning of the Old Vine, St. Martin’s Day, and the Old Vine Festival. Believe it or not, the Old Vine even has its own anthem, and the locals are only too keen to let you hear it. https://www.slovenia.info/en/places-to-go/attractions/world-s-oldest-vine
  • Holiday Words of the Day:
    • Lucky-Bird: We’re more likely to call them a first-footer these days, but according to old Yorkshire folklore the first person across the threshold of your home on New Year’s morning is th Lucky Bird! Tradition dictates that the identity of the lucky-bird has an important bearing on the success of the year to come.

    • Crump: That crunching sound you make walking on partially frozen snow is called crumping.

    • Crapulence: Once all the festive dust and New Year confetti has settled, here’s a word for the morning after the night before. As the Oxford English Dictionary puts it, is an 18th-century word for “sickness or indisposition resulting from excess in drinking or eating.” https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/567390/obsolete-christmas-words

  • A good reminder that 4th of July sparklers and Christmas trees don’t mix! A BLAZE at a swanky Mayfair restaurant erupted after a sparkler in a cocktail set a Christmas tree alight. 

  • Where was the partridge in a pear tree? In a Milwaukee a home was raided and in it officers said they found 25 dogs, 23 birds 14 rats, eight hamsters, seven hedgehogs, six lizards, six rabbits, five guinea pigs, four cats, four chinchillas, three tortoises, two alligators, two snakes, a goat, a ferret and a raccoon inside the house. 

  • Even though we are experts in “unidentified flowering objects”, this story was interesting from Wisconsin this past week. Onlookers reportedly witnessed bright unexplained lights darting across skies in rural Wisconsin — leaving some to question whether the illuminations were unidentified flying objects. 

    Wherever you are this New Year’s eve, be safe, be well and we’ll see you next year on the Gardening Simplified Show!