So far, we’ve been blessed with a wonderful spring. OK, so we had that 24-hour period when the temperatures dipped below freezing, but other than that, it’s been great for our gardens. If your plant dropped leaves or has singed leaves as a result of that cold snap, don’t panic. Most plants will try to push out new leaves, causing the damaged leaves to drop.
I’m still fielding questions about the Cicadas, with concerns about protecting plants. My view is that the holes in the ground are great for deep root irrigation, and the branchlet breakage is nature’s way of pruning. The Cicadas are looking for pencil size branchlets to lay their eggs. Unfortunately, the majority of branches on a very, very, very young tree could fall into this category. In that case, covering the tree with a fine mesh netting will offer some protection. Valley View Farm is selling this product – 9’x9’sheet for $14.99, and they say they have plenty in stock. Having said this, I have yet to lose a tree due to the Cicadas, so if you are unable to net your tree, I don’t think you should panic.
KEEP TRACK OF TEMPERATURES
Enjoy the warm summer days that often surprise us in May, but also try to remember how difficult this is for our plants. If the weather suddenly turns warm, the plants will be experiencing stress and will need more water. A good rule of thumb is a 20 degree change in temperature is significant enough to cause stress. During the growing season, try to give your plants water 3x/week if at all possible. Just do the best you can. Remember a long, slow, steady soak is much better than a quick burst.
PEONIES AND ANTS
Have you seen ants swarming around your peonies? This is actually a good sign. The ants are the only insect capable of eating the thin protective layer surrounding the flower bud. Only after this job is complete will your beautiful peonies be able to bloom.
TIME TO DIVIDE PERENNIALS
Now, is the perfect time to divide and spread out many of the perennials. Frequently, it’s as easy as placing the shovel where you want to cut the plant, and dig straight down. The mother plant stays put, and the baby plant will be given a new home. Rule of Thumb…do not change the depth of the root mass, and soak immediately after planting to remove the unwanted air pockets.
DO…spread Holly-Tone within the drip edge of all your BROADLEAF EVERGREENS, and other acid-loving plants. It’s not too late.
DO…spread Plant-Tone within the drip edge of all other plants, but I usually limit myself to a liberal broadcast among all of my PERENNIALS. It’s not too late.
DO… lay out protective rings of DIATOMACEOUS EARTH to protect large leaved perennials from slugs. Hopefully, I’ll get around to these chores soon.
ANNUALS…Now you can buy your annuals. Try something different this year. Experiment. You can always change it later. Feeding your plants once a week can make a huge difference in the performance. Miracle Gro, Peter’s Plant Food or Jack’s Classic Plant Food are options. If you use a slow release fertilizer such as Osmocote, then you may only need to apply 1x/month or less.
SPRING FLOWERING PLANTS…Your Helleborus should be dead headed to minimize the number of volunteer seedlings. Many of their seed pods are plump and ready to explode. Spring flowering bulbs will benefit if you remove the spent flowers and allow the foliage to remain until it turns brown.
GARDEN TOURS…Do you enjoy visiting private gardens? May and June is the best time to see most Maryland gardens. The Horticultural Society of Maryland is hosting its annual tour, but the format is very different. The tour takes place over several days, and you must register in advance for a timed entry. Go to www.mdhorticulture.org for further information. This event is a fundraiser for the Horticultural Society of Maryland.
POISON IVY…Poison Ivy will be leafing out momentarily. At least now we have a fighting chance to avoid it. Please take precautions when in the vicinity of this irritating plant. Feel free to refer to the Poison Ivy Primer, now resident on my website.