Keep ‘em Blooming!

Friday, August 15th, 2014 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.
    • Japanese maples may be pruned now in order to shape them.
    • 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.
    • Dig and divide crowded spring-flowering bulbs and tubers including daffodils, scillas, muscari, and bearded iris.

Keep ‘em Blooming!

As the hot days of summer wear on, some of the garden favorites seem to lose their punch and produce fewer flowers on leggy plants. This doesn’t have to be the case. With some grooming and fertilizing, you can keep most of them blooming all summer.

When petunias start to stretch out with that end-of-the-season look, cut them back halfway with pruning shears to encourage fresh growth. Remove any dead flowers and seed pods. Fertilize the plants with Miracle Gro, and in about two weeks, you will be rewarded with bushy green plants full of flowers and buds.

If your petunias seem to have just quit blooming, they may have been attacked by the geranium budworm, which feeds on the buds and petals of the flowers. If you look carefully, you will see green caterpillars on the plant that are doing the damage. They attack geraniums the same way. Spray plants with BT to stop these hungry critters.

Fuchsias need to have their seed pods removed to keep them blooming. The seed develops on the flower stem after the flower falls off. If left to grow, they make large purple fruits. When the plant finds itself producing seeds, it stops making flowers. So, remove the seed pods and fertilize and get ready for more beautiful blooms. Fuchsias sometimes get spider mites in the summertime. These tiny creatures cause the leaves to turn yellow and drop off. Control them with a superfine oil spray.

To keep zinnias branching and blooming all summer, cut the flowers often. Water them deeply and feed every two or three weeks.

Annual dianthus or pinks need to have faded blooms removed frequently to keep plants blooming. A good shearing, if you haven’t kept up with removing faded blooms, will give them a chance to put forth more flowers.

Hardy geraniums and catmint also respond well to shearing. Cut all of the foliage and flowering stalks right down to the ground after the plant blooms. Mulch around the plants and water well and they will quickly produce compact mounds of lush new foliage and possibly more flowers in a few weeks.

Some perennials will rebloom if you snip off the individual spent flowers. Use this method on yarrow, baby’s breath, feverfew, Shasta daisy, garden phlox, and tall Verbena bonariensis.

Roses require special care to keep them healthy and blooming through the summer. Fertilize plants every 6 weeks and spray every 10 days with Neem oil if you are still having trouble with black spot. If thrips attack the flowers causing them to have brown edges on the petals and look deformed, spray with Spinosad, a bacterium that is classified as organic.

Roses require at least an inch of water a week (about 5 gallons per plant) for continuous blooming. Mulch will help to conserve water and cool the soil. Prune off faded blooms down to just above a 5-leaflet leaf, or a vigorous new shoot.

Give your flowers a little attention now and they will repay you with plenty of blossoms right on through the summer.

Sunflower Time

Friday, April 24th, 2009 by Jenny Watts
    • Begin spraying roses now for insect and disease problems. Neem oil is a good product for a less toxic solution.
    • “Topsy Turvy”®Tomato and Pepper Planters are a fun and convenient way to enjoy these popular vegetables hanging right outside your kitchen door.
    • Put up hummingbird feeders this month and enjoy these colorful and entertaining birds.
    • Turn in cover crops now and you will be ready to plant your summer garden in two or three weeks.
    • Plant summer-flowering bulbs now. Glads, dahlias, begonias and lilies will bloom this summer if planted soon.

Enjoy radiant Sunflowers this summer

Sunflowers, with their warm yellows and spicy reds, add a touch of sunshine to any flower bed. With a variety of sunflowers in your garden, you can enjoy their colorful blooms from mid-summer until frost.

The common sunflower is native to North America and grows 6 to 8 feet tall. But there are many varieties that have been developed from it ranging in height from 18-inch-tall dwarfs to 5-foot-tall multi-flowered varieties to the 12-foot giants.

It used to be that “sunflower” meant the Mammoth sunflower. This plant grows 7 to 12 feet tall and each plant produces one flower up to 20 inches across that hangs its heads with the weight of its seeds.

The bountiful crop of edible seeds, high in healthy fats, protein, fiber, minerals, and vitamins, are loved by people, birds and animals. You can begin to harvest sunflower seeds as soon as the center flowers turn brown or the backs of the heads turn yellow.

You can start sunflowers indoors right now, and plant them out when danger of frost has passed. Or they can be seeded directly in the ground next month. They are simple to grow in ordinary garden soil. They grow quickly and are fun for children to watch.

Sunflowers love the sun. The faces of the flowers follow the sun, from east to west, each day. So plant them where you can enjoy their colorful flower heads. Remember that they will grow very tall, so don’t put them where they will shade other sun loving plants. Be prepared to stake them if necessary.

‘Sunspot’ is a dwarf sunflower with a large, 10-inch, nodding heads of seeds on bushes only 2 feet tall. Bright, golden yellow petals surround brown centers which are filled with tasty seeds. ‘Teddy Bear’ makes big, rounded, fluffy, golden yellow sunflowers, 5 inches across, on sturdy 3-foot stems.

Another group of sunflowers make 5- to 6-foot-tall, branching plants. ‘Autumn Beauty’ has 5- to 8-inch flowers in deep yellow, gold, brick-red, burgundy and bicolored flowers. It has multiple flowering branches that bloom over a long period. ‘Evening Sun’ has multicolored blooms in yellow and gold with bands of mahogany and red.

Other similar varieties include such intriguing names as ‘Tiger’s Eye’, ‘Moulin Rouge’, and ‘Velvet Queen’, to name a few of the varieties available on local seed racks. They offer all possible combinations of reds, yellows and browns and make stunning bouquets of 4-6 inch flowers.

Besides a bounty of blooms, the ripening heads of sunflowers draw lively goldfinches, colorful towhees and friendly blue jays as long as the stalks stand. So light up your summer beds with colorful sunflowers.