Category Archives: Spring

IS IT POSSIBLE TO KEEP YOUR GARDEN FREE FROM WEEDS?

Hmm. That’s a tall order. Weeds common to your garden are naturally suited to the sun, soil, and water conditions of this area. That’s why it’s so hard to get rid of weeds after they’ve taken root.

But if you prevent weed seeds from germinating, your garden can be weed-free. Here are some tips to keep weeds from growing in the first place.

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Keep Coleus Looking its Best All Summer?

Coleus is probably one of the easiest plants to grow and propagate. In fact, the plants root so easily that you can even start cuttings in a glass of water. They can also be propagated by seed indoors about 8-10 weeks prior to the last expected spring frost.

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WHAT THE HECK IS A BUG HOTEL? (A Tutorial)

Nature does a lot to help our fruits and vegetables along, especially by providing a bunch of beneficial insects to pollinate our crops and prey on pests. It’s impossible to say just how valuable these creepy crawlies are in keeping the cycle of garden life going, but we are very indebted to them!

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WHO KNEW? EPSOM SALTS FOR YOUR GARDEN?

epsom salts

Most people have heard of Epsom salts and they typically associate it with baths, as this natural salt from Epsom, England is probably best known as a way to help relieve your body’s aches and pains. Or perhaps you’ve even been one of the unfortunate ones who’ve had to use Epsom salts as a laxative. But did you know that Epsom salt can also be an effective gardening tool? Really?

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What is Companion Planting?

Companion gardening is the planting together of plants that have similar growing needs,  to maximize the production of both plants. It is still an experimental field with more research needed, but there are some things we do know and can pass along.

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Tips to Caring for Outdoor Tropicals

By following these simple tips, you can grow the perfect tropical plants for your patio or garden.

TROPICALS

Water

— Plants should be watered to the point that water is running out the bottom of the pot. Shallow watering will cause poor root growth and weak stems.

— Soil must be allowed to dry out between watering. Overwatering kills roots and therefore plants.

— Do not allow tropical houseplants to accumulate water in trays while growing inside.

— Increase humidity by using a water bottle to spritz plants, clustering plants together or using a humidifier.

— Use distilled water rather than tap water. Tap water contains fluoride and causes leaf tip burn on many plants. Peace lily and spider plants are among the most vulnerable houseplants.

Fertilizer

— Fertilize most tropical plants two to three times during the growing season with diluted fertilizer. Diluted fertilizer means to use half the amount indicated on the fertilizer package. Orchids will benefit from more frequent fertilizer applications.

— Fertilize tropical flowering plants when flower buds appear for better floral display.

— Do not fertilize dry plants. Fertilizer treatment will burn the roots.

— Unless plants are placed under lights during winter months, do not fertilize.

Temperature

— Most tropical plants will not withstand temperatures below 55 degrees. Higher temperatures are required for active growth.

Insects

— Regularly look — including under the leaves — for plant damage.

— A water bottle with a soapy mixture will deter/kill most houseplant insects like aphids and spider mites.

— Use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to remove and kill mealy bugs or scale.

Giordano’s carries a full line of safe, organic products that can be sprayed for increased effectiveness against the “usual suspects.”

Care

— Many tropical houseplants may require pinching to maintain tidy appearance. Pinching back to the node (leaf attaches to stem) will encourage branching and maintain a more tidy appearance. Pinch in the spring before active growth occurs.

How and Why to Divide Perennials

Why Divide Perennials?

There are three primary reasons for dividing perennials: to control the size of the plants; to help rejuvenate your plants; and to increase the number of plants you have. This is an inexpensive way to gain additional plants for your garden (or to share with others).

When Should You Divide Perennials?

This depends on whether your plants bloom in the spring or the fall. It is best to divide your fall-blooming plants in the spring, and vice-versa for those that bloom in the spring.

If you do this in the spring, it should be done as soon as the growing tips emerge in early spring. You need to allow enough time for the roots to develop before the hot weather of summer arrives.

Most perennials should be divided every three to five years. Some such as chrysanthemums and asters may need to be done every one to two years or they will crowd themselves into non- flowering clumps of leaves and roots.  Unless you want to increase your numbers, bleeding hearts and peonies don’t need dividing at all.

Don’t wait until a plant has become decrepit or monstrous to divide it. The rule of thumb is when it looks its best, divide it at the end of that year. Watch for the early signs of trouble: when the center of the plant has smaller leaves, fewer flowers, and weaker blooming stalks than the outer edges like this Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, or when the plant runs out of growing room on its edges and has nowhere to go but into neighboring plants.

perennial div.

How to Divide Perennials

Use a sharp pointed trowel or shovel (or spading fork) to dig down deep on all four sides of the plant, about 4 to 6 inches away from the plant. Pry underneath  with your tool and lift the whole clump to be divided.

Depending on the the root system, there are different ways to separate:

  • Spreading root system-This is most common for such plants as asters, lamb’s ear, and cornflowers. They can usually be pulled apart by hand, or cut with a knife, but may need more forceful separation using digging forks to pry the roots apart.
  • Clumping root system-This group includes astilbes, hostas, daylillies, and ornamental grasses. It is often necessary to cut through the fleshy crowns with a heavy sharp knife. Keep at least one or more developing eye or bud with each division. If you want bigger plants, keep several eyes.
  • Rhizomes- These are stems that grow horizontally near the surface. Bearded irises are the most common with this type of system. Divide these any time from a month after flowering until the fall.
  • Tuberous Roots-Dahlias are this type of perennial.  The tubers should be cut apart with a knife. Every piece must have a piece of the original stem and a growth bud attached. Replant after dividing. Never allow the divisions to dry out.

For more information about specific plants and when and how to divide, go to https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheets/hgic1150.htm

 

The Challenge of Controlling Weeds in April

01-lawn-weeds

Dandelion, clover, plantain and other broadleaf weeds are among the most common and troublesome pest problems in lawns.

Even though most broadleaf weeds can be easily controlled with herbicides, a completely weed-free lawn is neither practical nor environmentally sensible. A safe and sound approach to lawn weed control is to grow healthy turf, spot-treat weeds with the correct weed control product as they appear, and avoid the temptation to guarantee (or attempt to achieve) 100% weed-free turf.

Controlling weeds in April is often more challenging than other times of the year due to the fact that most weed killers do not work in colder weather. But in fact, controlling them early is the best way to keep them from getting out of control later on in the year when sunlight is more abundant and temperatures are warmer.

An organic and natural product is Bonide’s Maize Weed Preventer. This can be used in and around flower and vegetable gardens, lawns, trees and ornamentals, and won’t harm desirable plants. A liquid form of corn gluten meal, it can be easily applied with a hose-end sprayer. Another product that controls weed growth for up to 4 months can be spread by shaking on the lawn or around ornamentals. This is Bonide’s Crabgrass and Weed Preventer.

If weeds insist on appearing despite your efforts at prevention, we recommend other Bonide products such as Weed Beater Ultra: Check out this great videoWeed beater Ultra is the ultimate systemic broadleaf weed killer for lawn and turf. It uses new chemistry that’s especially effective on over 200 hard-to-kill weeds, right to the roots. You will have visible results in just 24 hours, and once it dries, it is rain-proof, and you can reseed in just 2 weeks! Weeds are most susceptible in early spring and late fall, so this is the ideal product for cool weather down to 45°F.

The number of turfgrass herbicides is too numerous to mention here. It should be noted that combination (2 to 4 herbicides) products provide broader spectrum control of weeds than single herbicides.

Additionally, you can help discourage weed growth by not mowing the lawn too short or too often; not fertilizing too much, or at the wrong time of the year; and not over- or under-watering.