Sorry folks. I guess I’ll have to start calling this the ‘Not So Timely Tips’. It seems as though my entire garden has come alive overnight. Even the tree canopy is looking green. Those pesky weeds have already been on the move for a few weeks. Ranunculus, a/k/a Lesser Celandine and Chickweed are already making a nuisance of themselves. I know I’ll have trouble keeping up. For those of you who are interested, the botanical name for Lesser Celandine has recently changed to Ficaria verna. It’s tough enough learning the names of the plants the first time around.
The weather lately has been absolutely beautiful. Here’s hoping it sticks around for a few weeks.
Want to quickly clean your outdoor furniture? I now have the information on Mildew and Stain Removal resident on my website under Timely Tips. The formula is…
- 1 qt. liquid bleach;
- ½ c. powdered, all-purpose detergent, compatible with chlorine bleach;
- 3 qts warm water.
Be on the lookout for the fiddleheads from your ferns. If you have Ostrich Ferns to spare, these fiddleheads are edible, especially when sautéed in a little butter. I’m looking forward to a beautiful spring, and the promise of a new year.
DO…spread Holly-Tone within the drip edge of all your BROADLEAF EVERGREENS, and other acid-loving plants.
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.
DO YOU HAVE HOSTAS OR OTHER LARGE LEAF PLANTS?….If you have ever noticed holes in the leaves, this is usually caused by slugs. Ortho makes a product called Slug Bait which you broadcast over the area, and is effective for several weeks before reapplication is necessary. Another good option is to create a continuous ring around the base of the plant with DIATOMACEOUS EARTH. This fine white or off-white powder is the ground fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. It causes the slugs to dehydrate and die. I generally find that one application in the beginning of the season is all that is needed. After 1 or 2 rains, the white ring is no longer visible. Be sure to use gloves when handling this substance.
HELLEBORUS…DO remove foliage from last season. This winter it took a beating, and the foliage is already in bad shape.
HYDRANGEAS…Folks are always asking when to cut back the Hydrangeas. First, it’s important to know which ones you have. The Annabelle Hydrangea/Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’, blooms in late spring on new wood. This should be cut back to 12-18” HT now in order to encourage the really large flower heads you love. If you forget to cut them back, the plant will be fine, but the flower heads will be a bit smaller.
The Oakleaf Hydrangea / Hydrangea quercifolia blooms in the spring, and pruning should wait until after flowering. The Bigleaf Hydrangea/ Hydrangea macrophylla tends to be the most popular since it blooms in the summer and appears to stay in bloom all summer long. The older varieties bloom on second year wood, and I normally prune these in August/September in order to give the plant time to set new flower buds before winter hits. There is an exception to this rule. Wait until the buds start to break in the spring, and then cut back to just before a healthy bud break. A few seasoned gardeners have enjoyed success with this method.
The H. macrophylla that blooms on first and second year wood such as the ‘Endless Summer’ cultivars can be pruned now or August/September. PeeGee type Hydrangea/ Hydrangea paniculata is a late summer/early fall bloomer, and is best hard pruned in the early spring. These flower on new wood.
SPRING CLEANUP….A thorough spring cleanup now will greatly reduce the maintenance all summer long. Freshen up the bed edge, rake, weed and apply 3 inches of SHREDDED BARK MULCH. Resist the urge to buy the dye-colored mulch. You want the mulch to decompose over time, and the additional chemicals can’t be good for the plants or the environment.
SPRING FLOWERING BULBS….When the flowers start to fade, remove the flower stem close to the base (a form of DEAD HEADING). This prevents the plant from spending a lot of energy on the development of seeds. DO allow the foliage to remain for as long as you can stand it so that the plant will be able to manufacture food that will be sent down to feed the bulb for next year. Some people have hundreds or thousands of daffodils and other bulbs which makes it impractical to dead head. In this case, it’s best just to leave the entire plant alone until the foliage starts to turn yellow, and then cut it back to the ground.
POISON IVY…The foliage has yet to appear, but you can get the rash from the root system or vine stems. It’s easy to identify the large, hairy vine climbing up a tree. It’s much harder to identify the small fibrous root system lying dormant just beneath the surface. A good rule of thumb is to assume that some of the roots encountered are Poison Ivy, and act accordingly.
A Poison Ivy Primer is now resident on my website as a sub-heading under Timely Tips. Please consult this for more detailed information.