Keeping it local: Test your green thumb this spring with plants from Nana’s Bloomers

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Photos And Story By Jaci Webb Assistant Editor Laurel Outlook
Thursday, May 5, 2022
Diane Engel (left) and Diane Erhart are two plant experts at Nana’s Bloomers. Nana’s Bloomers has 5,000 flower baskets ready for sale.

Diane Engel (left) and Diane Erhart are two plant experts at Nana’s Bloomers. Nana’s Bloomers has 5,000 flower baskets ready for sale.

Hands down, Nana’s Bloomers is the most colorful place in Laurel.

Named for the mother of owner B.J. Miller’s sister-in-law Kim, the bustling plant nursery on East Railroad Street keeps growing, just like the 500,000 plants inside. But you’ve got to get them before mid-July as the nursery begins shutting down for another year.

During the winter months when the greenhouse isn’t open to the public, co-owner B.J. Martin expanded concrete walkways, re-skinned the greenhouse covers, and rebuilt many of the plant tables. There is always something to do in the nursery business, he said.

The Millers purchased the business in 2015, and are the 4th owners of the nursery, which was originally opened in 1984, and is the largest greenhouse and nursery in the area.

Flowers are the biggest sellers at Nana’s, especially the week before Mother’s Day. It’s nice just to stroll through the 13 greenhouses to look at the colorful blossoms. That’s also the best part of the job.

“I get to look at 500,000 plants every day,” B.J. said. “This is my garden. My favorite plant is the one that is blooming.”

During the busy spring and summer months, Nana’s will employ 40 to 45 people. One of the most knowledgeable among the hired hands is Diane Erhart, who has worked at Nana’s for five years. B.J. complimented her, saying, “Diane is always making it look better.”

Five thousand flower baskets were filled in April and are ready to spruce up your mom’s patio. Erhart said she is partial to bright yellow flowers, and plants that attract pollinators.

“Other people have a theme -- say red, white and blue. Some people just want color,” Erhart said.

The flowers are arranged by perennial and annual varieties, and also by how much sun the plant can tolerate. One side has plants that like it hot and dry with full sun, and the other side has those plants that prefer shade and more water. The last frost date in this area is June 13, and for many plants, they can’t tolerate overnight lows below 50 degrees, Erhart said. Some of the hardy varieties that can handle cooler temperatures are pansies and geraniums.

For vegetable gardeners, Nana’s has a whopping 57 varieties of tomato plants, including some heirloom plants and others that produce different colored tomatoes, including a chocolate cherry tomato.

One long aisle has nothing but herb plants, including one of Erhart’s favorites, the pineapple sage, which really does smell like a pineapple and makes great tea, she said.

“Most herbs love the sun and the hot weather, and they take a lot of water. A lot of the herbs are from the Mediterranean or the Middle East,” Erhart said.

Drought resistant plants, such as succulents, are good for this area. Many customers are looking for plants to attract butterflies, and Erhart suggests violets, dill, milkweed, aster and goldenrod. And don’t forget the potting soil for your pots.

“Most plants need potting soil, not the heavy stuff that you dig out of your yard,” Erhart said.

One new garden item is the flower pouch that sells for just 25 cents. It is a plastic bag you fill with dirt and plants and hang it on the patio.

Erhart said there are many first-time gardeners interested in growing their own food to combat high prices or just looking for a new hobby. She works with them to decide how much sun the garden spot will get and what kind of soil it has. Nana’s sells a variety of fertilizers to fix poor soil. She also suggested using the Yellowstone County Extension office for information. You can contact them at 406-256-2828 or at yellowstone.msuextension.org.

Nana’s Bloomers is open seven days a week through the end of June. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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