» Archive for August, 2016

Choosing Bamboo

Monday, August 22nd, 2016 by Jenny Watts
    • Mottled leaves are often a sign of spider mites. Check for them with a hand lens or bring a leaf in to your nursery, in a plastic bag, for identification and treatment options.
    • Japanese maples may be pruned now in order to shape them.
    • Sow lettuce seeds now for a fall crop. Set out broccoli and cabbage plants too.
    • Trim grapevines to allow more sun to reach the fruit and sweeten the grapes, if they are being shaded heavily by the foliage.
    • First-year fruit trees need to be well-watered through the dry weather. If they are neglected the first year, they may never be strong, productive trees.

Choosing Bamboo for your Landscape

Bamboos are evergreen members of the grass family and they range from petite miniatures to massive giants with heights ranging from 2 to 100 feet tall. The beautiful canes can be a slender 1/8-inch or as large as 12 inches across. There are over 100 species of bamboo, found from the tropics to the mountaintops. While most bamboos are tropical or subtropical, there are hardy bamboos that can survive temperatures of –10° to –20°F.

When used properly, few plants are more effective in creating a subtropical mood in the landscape. All species of bamboo are superb soil stabilizers, and the medium or large-sized species can make a durable, fast-growing hedge in places where few other plants would thrive.

Bamboo “canes,” known as culms, grow from a branching underground root structure called a rhizome. The branching habit of the rhizome determines the growth habit of the bamboo.

There are two main types of bamboo: running and clumping. Running types send out spreading rhizomes and can colonize large areas. Clumping types stay in tight clumps that slowly increase in size. Running bamboos are hardy to frost while clumping types are not as hardy.

As they grow, bamboos store food and energy in their roots and rhizomes. When growth begins in the spring, the canes shoot out of the ground and reach their maximum height within a month. Young bamboos are usually slow to establish, but established plants grow very quickly.

Bamboos like full sun or partial shade. They tolerate a wide range of soil conditions as long as moisture is present. They will grow faster and taller with frequent watering and fertilizing. To control their growth, water and feed less.

Golden bamboo, black bamboo and giant timber bamboo are all running types. Golden bamboo makes a good screen or hedge and does well in containers. The canes of black bamboo turn black their second year and are very attractive against the green leaves. Give them some afternoon shade. Timber bamboo makes huge canes 6 inches in diameter. They make beautiful groves if the lowest branches are trimmed off.

Golden Goddess bamboo is a clumping type with graceful, arching growth. It makes a good container or screening plant. Dwarf white pinstripe bamboo makes a fine groundcover, growing 1-3 feet tall. Is is a running bamboo that is a fast spreader. The light colored leaves are attractive in light shade.

Giant Leaf bamboo has the largest leaves of any bamboo, up to 24 inches long by 4 inches wide. It adapts easily to growing in pots and does best in a shady location out of the wind.

Choose bamboo carefully and you will find that it can be a beautiful addition to any garden.

Summer Houseplant Care

Saturday, August 6th, 2016 by Jenny Watts
    • Replace codling moth pheromones now to make your apples as worm-free as possible. Replace the sticky papers at the same time.
    • Set out starts of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and lettuce for a fall harvest. Spray weekly with BT to keep the cabbage worms at bay.
    • Roses have more flowers all summer long than any other shrub. Plant them in a sunny location and feed monthly for continuous blooms.
    • Cut back leggy annuals by half and feed to encourage a longer bloom season.
    • Impatiens will give you instant color in shady areas and continue blooming right through the fall.

Summer Houseplant Care

Houseplants love summertime. During the summer months, the light is strong, the days are long, the air is warm and plants are eager to show new growth. But sometimes they need your help to do their best.

Summer is the best time to fertilize your houseplants. If you have never fertilized your houseplants, then summer is a great time to start. Look for a general, well-balanced fertilizer and follow the directions for mixing and frequency of application. Proper fertilization will help give your plants the nutrients they need for proper growth during the summertime.

Summer is a good time to go through your houseplant collection, and re-pot any houseplants which are root-bound. Choose a container that is only slightly larger than the one it is in and use a good quality potting soil. Firm the soil gently around the root ball, but do not press so hard that the soil becomes compacted.

Give shiny-leaved plants a good cleaning. If you can, take your plants outside in a shady place and hose them off. Then take a soft cloth and wipe down the leaves to leave them clean and shiny again. Take this time to trim off brown leaves and look for pests. Treat for insects as soon as you see them, as they multiply rapidly during the warm summer months.

Often during the summer, plants will dry out faster, and need to be watered more frequently than at other times of the year. Be sure to keep an eye on your plants’ watering needs (especially during very hot days), and be prepared to water more frequently if need be.

Summer is also a great time to propagate new houseplants. Cuttings taken during this time will root and become established quickly. Root them in water and as soon as they have sufficient roots, plant them into a container with good, fresh potting soil.

If you have a shaded porch or a safe place under a large tree, most houseplants will benefit from spending part of the summer outdoors. Remember that most houseplants are shade-loving, low-light plants, and they should not be placed in direct sunlight. Many houseplants can be revitalized by growing them outside during the summer. Plants with large leaves should be placed where they get good wind protection, since their leaves are easily torn.

Plants summering outdoors are exposed to summer heat, and brighter light, so they will dry out faster than if they were indoors. Be sure to keep plants properly watered while they are outdoors. Plants receive more light when they are outdoors which stimulates growth and sometimes stimulates plants to bloom. Houseplants should be brought back indoors by mid-September, before the weather turns cold.

Houseplants add so much to our indoor environment. Take this time to give yours a summer vacation, or to add to your collection with a new plant.

Summer Fruit Tree Care

Saturday, August 6th, 2016 by Jenny Watts
    • Take care of your roses: feed, water, weed, mulch and remove faded blooms regularly. Spray if necessary at first sign of insect or disease problems.
    • After the June crop of raspberries is finished, remove canes that produced fruit leaving new green canes, which can then be trained on trellises.
    • Keep flowers and vegetables in peak condition by giving them a midsummer feeding with a fertilizer that is higher in phosphorus than in nitrogen.
    • Budworms eat the petals of geraniums and petunias, leaving you with no flowers. Spray plants weekly with BT for complete control.
    • Birdbaths will attract our feathered friends to your backyard so you can enjoy them close-up. Place them a few feet from a bushy shrub to give the birds protection.

Summer Fruit Tree Care

Summer is the time when fruit trees grace us with their abundance of sweet, juicy fruit. It is also the time when fruit trees need your care and attention. They must be kept healthy and strong so they will produce well for you for many years to come.

Young fruit trees need particular attention. The most important cultural practice during the first year is watering. No other single element of plant care causes more problems or failures than over or under-watering. Water supply must be consistent. Drought followed by flooding can cause trees to stop growing due to the shock of these extremes conditions.

Check the soil weekly. A new tree needs approximately 10 gallons a week during the hot summer months. A tree two years old may need 20 gallons a week. A mature fruit tree can use 50 gallons a week or more. Fruit trees need water to size up their fruit properly. It’s best to water deeply and infrequently rather than shallowly and frequently. Water trees on clay soils every 2 to 3 weeks as clay holds moisture for a long time. For young trees, make a moat around the base of the tree so the water stays in the root zone. On older trees, water at the drip line of the tree.

Keep the base of your fruit trees weed free. Spread a 2- to 3-inch thick layer of organic mulch, such as pine straw or bark mulch, over the root zone but keep it a few inches away from the trunk. Organic mulch also breaks down gradually, providing organic matter to the soil.

Pick up fallen fruit as soon as possible after it drops, and destroy it. Fruit that drops to the ground can contain insect larvae, which burrow into the soil where they overwinter, to reemerge in the spring. A clean orchard is a healthy orchard.

Inspect your fruit tree bark, branches, leaves, and developing fruits often. Look for signs of insects and diseases and apply the appropriate organic controls. It’s usually easier to control pests if you act before or just as they are getting established, than to control them after they have caused lots of damage.

Paint trunks of young trees with white latex paint or Tree Trunk White to prevent sunburn which causes the bark to crack. This leaves openings for boring insects to enter. They can cause serious damage and even death in young trees.

While most pruning of fruit trees is done in the late winter, some can be done in the summer as well. Summer pruning can eliminate any dead, diseased, or broken branches. Prune off any new branches that are growing from the base of the tree (suckers) or straight up from horizontal branches (water sprouts).

Summer pruning uses thinning cuts (where the branch is cut off at its point of attachment, instead of part way along the branch) to train young fruit trees to the desired tree limb structure. If you want to keep your mature fruit trees at an easy-to-harvest height, summer pruning is essential.

Keep your fruit trees healthy and they will give you many years of abundant harvests.