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Listed below are a few of our commonly asked questions.  Rarely is there one specific answer to help with everyone's gardening challenges. If you can't find the answers here, please stop in and we will help you find a solution.

This page will be updated throughout the seasons


  • When can I safely start planting?

We will have pansies ready for your enjoyment by mid-March,  you may want to wait to plant them outdoors until the end of March. Cold crops such as lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower and parsley can also be planted at this time.

We know how eager everyone gets to put a little color into their yards, but we do not recommend that you start planting your annual bedding flowers, in our unpredictable Northeastern climate, until after May 15th. This assures that we will most likely, not have a freeze, but remember, there is still a possibility of frost until after the new moon. 

  • Should I change my soil every year?

Soil conditions are one of the most important factors to a healthy garden.  How well you prepare your soil before you begin planting this years crops will reflect in everything you grow. Different soil types, PH balance and nutrient levels all play an important role in optimizing your growing conditions. Soil type can have a major impact on how well your plants perform.

Soil types: There are basically three types of soil: Clay/silt, sandy and loam. The types are determined by the size of the soil particles and these, in turn, affect how the soil functions. Determine your soil type and this will tell you much about your watering, aeration and amendment needs. Most yards contain more than one type of soil, therefore it is important that you take more than one sample from different areas to determine your individual needs. Understanding your soil helps you decide on the correct choices of amendments and fertilizers.

A basic and economical soil test can be obtained through the UCONN Home & Garden Center.

The level of acidity or alkalinity also greatly affects which nutrients will prosper in the soil.  An improper PH level can rob your plant of essential nutrients.

  • Acidic soils have a PH level ranging from 1-3
  • Neutral soils have a PH level ranging from 4-7
  • Alkaline soils have a PH level of 7 and above.

 Sandy soils require more irrigation, and more nutrient enriched organic matter additives such as compost, composted top soil or dehydrated/composted manure. 

Sandy soils can become too acidic. This may, or may not, be an issue depending on what type of plants you are planning on growing. If you need to raise the PH level of your soil (acidic soils tend to range 1-3 PH) you can add ground limestone. The amount and type of soil amendment will depend on your soil analysis.

Clay soils, while normally already rich in nutrients, are too solid to allow new root growth to occur on your plants. In addition, clay soil because of its high-density, tends to take longer to soak-up water, and subsequently, takes longer to release it as well. Additionally, its density also leads to poor aeration and may require a good aerating once (or twice) a year to increase air in the soil. Consider how well your soil drains. Take a handful of your soil and squeeze it together. Once squeezed, open your fingers and see if the soil remains in a ball, clay soil will hold together.  Adding proper amendments will lighten up a clay soil.

Before you plant you should turn your soil over and apply an organic, or inorganic additive to loosen it up. You can use: potting soil, lime, gypsum, sand, vermiculite, seasoned/dehydrated/composted manure, compost, leaves, sawdust, bark mulch, coffee grounds, grass clippings, straw, leaves, or even pine needles.  What you add should be determined upon receiving the results of your soil analysis.

 Loam is a combination of sandy and clay soils, and is the most common general type of soil found in lawns and gardens. When applying the squeeze test, loam will be somewhere between the solid ball of clay and the brittle mass of sand. A properly balanced soil will support deep, extensive root systems, allowing plants to assimilate all available food and moisture. If it is any consolation to those of us with sandy or clay soil, even a combination soil such as this requires support. An annual soil analysis will help you determine your soil requirements for this seasons gardening.  You may need to add lime if the PH is too low, or sulpher if the PH is too high. You may have decided to raise a plant in a specific site in your garden that has new requirements, such as an azalea which likes a higher PH. For this reason, it's wise to group plants according to their soil, moisture and other cultural needs. We will attempt to put the approximate PH requirements for our plants in this website, this will help you when you are designing your garden beds.


  • What type of flowers are best for my yard?

Right behind soil preparation is picking out the right type of annual for your garden space.  This is an essential step which is very important to creating a successful and enjoyable gardening experience.  Always remember the Real Estate rule of thumb when planning your garden plants:  "LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION". Simply because you don't have a lot of sunlight does not mean you cannot have a colorful garden. With the right plant choices you can add color, texture, and interest to a very dark corner. You may even create a refuge for our feathered friends.

Think about where your garden is with respect to sunlight. Does your garden receive a North, South, East, or Western sunlight exposure?  If you are not home much during daylight hours it is still relatively easy to find out what your gardens sunlight exposure is: 

Think about your garden in relation to your bedroom window.  When you get up in the morning is the sun shining in your window? Is this window the one you will look out of when you see your garden, or is your garden on the opposite side of the house?  Remember, "the sun rises in the east"  If the sun is coming in your window in the morning, and you are planting your garden under your bedroom window, you will have an eastern exposure.  If your garden is on the opposite side of the house you have a western exposure.  Now that you know where east and west are-determine north and south from there. (Think of your compass, and remember north is always to the left of east.)  N ↑, E→, S↓,  W←

How much attention are you able to give to your flower bed? Do you want a plant that is drought tolerant, or a plant that likes wet feet?

What look are you trying to achieve? Lots of color, or maybe just livening up an empty spot? Is it going to be formal-such as a foundation planting, or a wildflower garden designed to attract birds and butterflies. Do you have a large sunny spot you are trying to fill, or is space an issue.

When you shop at Botticello's our experienced sales staff will  help you pick out flowers that exceed your wishes, and that are suitable for your lifestyle and landscaping needs.

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