Good Gardening in 2017 

HomeGood Gardening StrollLive and LivelyTip of the TrowelMy Friends

As Always -Enjoy


Black-eyed Susan


Wonderful Gifts-All Unique One of a Kind!!! designed and made by Tracy

@ Tracy’s E-Store - Full of Creative Re-Purposed Jewelry-

go to then type in TracysTimeWarp 


AUGUST-each year this mid-summer month never knows what it will inherit from July as calendar page is turned. July 2016 was one of the wettest on record and now 2017 July is one of the driest. Activity level is accelerating even though temperatures and humidity are some of the years highest, options include: cutting back elongated annuals to stimulate thicker growth and more robust flowering for remainder of ’17 growing season, realistic evaluation of over-all landscape plants and design are changes needed, deciding on pruning, shaping, transplanting that could make a difference for this gardening season. Hummingbirds and butterflies will be passing through on their way to warmer climate, squirrels make improvements to nesting creating a mess with dropped twigs, cicadas sing while voles, robins, cardinals, hawks, blue jays, moles, starlings and chipmunks born this year begin to look and act mature. It can be said that August is august as preparation for launching anew while appreciating memories in rear view mirror. Blooming now purple coneflower, abelia, lotus, mimosa, ornamental grass, crape myrtle, butterfly bush, silver lace vine, rose of Sharon, sweet autumn clematis, black-eyed Susan, butterfly weed, hardy hibiscus, water lily, plus annuals and tropicals.

Don’t forget Check with Brightside St. Louis-about annual spring bulb sale, go to

Are You Web Siting? (not internet)-large (multiple inches across) seen in various locations are beneficial spiders that catch many troublesome bugs, not to be confused with small (1” across) damaging spider mite-control hose off with steam of water or apply miticide

Prevent Dehydration-Water-1” every 7 days-all plants lawns, perennials, ground covers, vines, roses, shrubs, trees, edibles, etc. reminder longer time periods, less often drives moisture deeper and can help plant / root system health-ideal time is morning but anytime works exception being evening-could trigger an explosion of disease/virus/ bacteria problems

Pruning-any spring flowering tree or shrub-can reduce next year’s flowering but doesn’t harm overall health, if more than 25% is cut off there is a greater chance of weather related damage

Herbs-morning harvest peak time for aroma and flavor, minimize fertilizer and watering

Purchasing Instant Color-Flats or Potted Plants (keep watered and fertilize)-mums-once blooming begins flowering period is 2-3 weeks, pansy-flowering until frost, deadheading will help aesthetically

Keep Visual Heat Turned On-Annuals, Tropicals, Summer Bulbs-(containerized or in ground) if kept fertilized, watered, can provide 3 more months of great color, revive worn out plants with deadheading and or cutting back 

Feeling Energetic-Adding or Changing a Space-outline area (flags, hose, or landscape paint), remove existing plants (kill, discard or hold in protected location, keep watered), rototill or spade area, weed control for 2 weeks, then purchase 1.5 -2 cu. yds. compost or compost blend mix per each 100 sq. of bed area to create raised planting area (elevating plant crowns above surroundings for better acclimation), how to-spread 2-3" of amendment across bed, blend into existing soil, continue layering / blending until all amendment added, cover area with 1-2" mulch, continue weed control, until new plant installation-September is ideal

Beyond Annuals Eye Catching Summer / Fall Bloomers-toad lily, anemones, asters, sweet autumn clematis, roses, butterfly bush are examples-fertilize using lower (i.e. 5-10-5) nitrogen type

Sharing with Others-(having had great success)-divide spring flowering sun or shade perennial varieties, foliage is likely yellowing make it perfect time to transplant or give away, allowing plenty of time to acclimate to new location   

Stop Guessing-determine source of trouble in this region can be one or all of the following; weeds, bugs, soil, disease, physical, wildlife, bad plant selection and or siting, lack of proper care / maintenance-first correct diagnosis of situation essential, second realize some troubles can take extended periods (maybe years to eradicate complete) of timely and correct treatment / action to eliminate-choosing to make application yourself, allows read / follow label instructions precisely-REMEMBER Professional Help is an e-mail, phone call or garden center visit away

Most Expensive Part in Most Landscapes-Lawns-get soil tested especially for cool season lawns before fall fertilizing begins realize fescue / bluegrass types go dormant in high summer temperatures but turnaround could begin by months end (if lawn was healthy going into summer), as nighttime temperatures cool begin cool season care / maintenance (core aerating / top dressing ½” compost), overseeding, weed control (pre and post emergent as needed), watch for insect, virus, bacteria, fungus damage treat immediately, all sod types can be installed-water daily first 2 weeks for establishment, for any lawn keep mower blade height (3.5-4.5”) longer blades offer shadowing to reduce sunburn damage, properly cared for warm season (zoysia) will look great, near months end fertilize for last time-REMEMBER tree roots can have a huge impact on lawn success, and no lawn in this region will be picture perfect can’t happen!

Two Possible Headaches-Summary-moles-surface tunneling (seeking earthworms-main diet, eat little plant material-do consume any type of insect grubs, centipedes…found while tunneling seeking earthworms) exposes and dries root systems-action flatten tunnels most active areas will pop up within day-control place several traps along active tunnel-realize abandoned can be used by other damaging rodents (voles…) to enter and eat / damage plant root system, additional information there can be several moles within a landscape, better yard more earthworms = more moles, 2 tunnel system with surface for seeking food, lower tunnel (1’ deep) is fast access to sleeping den, general habit eat for few hours then nap, other control options flooding tunnels, using in ground sound vibrators to repel newcomers, digging or stabbing at suspected mole locations…white grubs-(beetle larva)-5 different types in region-annual, May, green June, and Japanese)-damage ranging from root system to foliage and flowers may consume root systems located just below soil surface-description body curled in ‘U’ shape, head brown, three pairs of legs, abdomen shiny / transparent, high concentrations (6+ per sq. ft.) can do severe damage to cool season lawn, if browned areas are easily lifted (root system cut off) and grubs observed apply grub control, in browned will not lift easily then problem is not grubs but could be older, un-properly cared for lawn, disease problem, female dog urine, most damaging adult grub is Japanese beetle (shiny bluish green) spray insecticide directly on bug, use systemic insecticide, or knock off into cup of soapy water to kill-REMEMBER keep an eye out, take action at earliest signs to minimize damage  

Be Careful-Don’t Swing or Swat-yellow jacket / ground hornet (bite / sting both) activity becomes more up close and personal as day length shortens and workers fatten queen for winter hibernation, if high number become apparent look for nest area there will be a steady stream of ‘bees’ flying to / from same location usually under shrubs / vegetation, look closely for entrance / exit holes ½” in ground-REMEMBER very aggressive-consider contacting professional service

Unexpected Growth and or Discoloration on Trees / Shrubs / Roses-galls-lumps on tree branches especially oak, cause small wasps eggs hatching-treatment ineffective, fire blight-brown branch tips on apple family members both ornamental (including pears) or fruiting, rose rosette-maroon canes large number of thorns and or distorted flowering-remove plants immediately disease transmitted by variety of spider mites, fungus / mushroom-growth on dead plant parts (roots, trunks, branches, twigs) or surface of mulch -no treatment, if observed in lawn-lawn needs dethatching if cool season next month, warm season wait until green-up occurs next spring-REMEMBER some infected plants are best removed

July first 10 days have been without rainfall, none is being forecast in near future, air temperatures and wind are typical making it extremely stressful for most plants being grown. This weather can have an echoing impact on plant material of all types, especially less than healthy, those marginally hardy, flowering or producing fruits / vegetables. Irrigation / watering certainly will buffer and help keep an element of stability but rainfall clears the air, cleans foliage, and hydrates ground more thoroughly. Acutely important during dry spells to extend watering period to drive moisture deeper into the ground and minimize amount of feeder root die back, never is 15 minutes every morning any good, best policy is to water for minimum of 30 minutes every other day or often enough to insure 1" of water is soaking into the ground. Correct mulch depth in bed areas and proper care / maintenance i.e. fertilizing, dethatching / core aeration in lawn will help keep plant root systems as healthy as possible.    

Quick Note-Foliage Wilting at Midday (plant closes pores to reduce evaporation) does not automatically call for water-wait until after sundown or the next morning if wilting is still prevalent water, plants need 1" per week


Watch for Trouble = make or get (from professional) proper diagnosis, take action ASAP

Wildlife-chipmunks, moles, rabbits, deer, squirrel, skunks, voles...can damage destroy or ruin aesthetically plants in numerous ways from eating, scarring, soil dehydration with tunnels / ruts...determine cause take action from physical barriers, traps, repellents and or physical barriers

Weeds-(broad spectrum herbicides may kill or adversely impact untargeted plant-so apply with caution; if spraying prevent drift / damage-create physical barrier between targeted weed and ‘good plant(s), option to apply directly on ‘weed' with brush or sponge applicator-understanding 3 major types-broadleaf-wide multi-branched veins annual or perennial-spread with underground off shots and seed dispersal-examples: dandelions, violets, chickweed, purge--grass-pointed blade parallel vein, annual or perennial, spread modified roots (tillers) or seed-examples: crabgrass, wild onions, garlic, goose grass--sedge-narrow grass like blade, forms triangle at ground, perennial spreads with seed and root system, examples: nutgrass / nutsedge-depending upon problem area / size, multiple applications over extended period may be required-Remember best control use product formulated for specific weed type / group

Diseases (virus, fungus, bacteria)-can happen to any living plant, some plants are susceptible to many problems at various times of the year with damage ranging from aesthetic to deadly, appearance from small spots to large browned areas to big lumps) weather plays a huge role related to problems but never stop looking and making proper diagnosis followed with appropriate action if needed to control damage  

Bugs-from tiny no-see-ums to burly cicadas-possible damage ranging from extreme to none other than requiring brushing away to major problems-check foliage top and underside, stems, twigs, branches-all plant parts for anything previously unseen-chewing / sucking can transmit virus and diseases anywhere from below ground to tree tops, insects can be bright and shiny or camouflaged, may but not always hide during heat of day and eat / do damage at night examples; lawn patches browning (web worm, grubs), perennial / woodie foliage / flowers skeletonized  (Japanese beetles), leaves lacking / losing color (mites, thrips), edges chewed (grasshoppers, tomato horn worm), sticky surface (aphids, mealy bugs), sawdust material base of wood (borers, carpenter bees), brown bags dangling with evergreens (bagworms), fallen green branch tips (twig girdling beetle), slits underside small branches (cicada), in shade garden holes / slimy trails (slugs snails), gall lumps on leaf or branches (small wasps) CONTROL determine what bug, damage level, still present many insecticides are contact killers and some kill only very specific ‘bugs' i.e. insecticides won't kill mites and vice versa, consider using injection or a systemic absorbed by plant roots, then translocated throughout plant-kill as insect feeds-Manage with Environmentally Friendly Solutions-Good Bugs-Predatory Insects-most effective in sunny locations and sun plants potentially have more pests, predatory insects food source is pests only if none are present predatory insect will migrate, Overall Optimal Approach is integrated pest management; combination of good cultural practices, using lowest impact chemical, with predatory insects



Sensual Herbs-sage, rosemary, thyme, basil... aroma and taste increases with temperature, minimize watering and with little or no fertilizing for best results

Everyone Loves Tomatoes-2 major types (determinant fruit once then die i.e. Roma, indeterminate fruiting all season i.e. Grape, Better Boy) keep well water (2 signs of bad water practice-flower drop and blossom end rot), get correct nutrients use tomato food

Perennials-(toadflax, balloon flower, hosta, astilbe...), ferns (Japanese painted, ostrich, Christmas...) and bulbs (lilies, hardy cyclamen, autumn crocus / saffron...)-fertilize flowering and or active growers removing spent flowers for aesthetic and cultural reasons

Roses From Shrub, Hybrid Tea, Miniature...-remove discolored or spotted leaves preventing spread of foliar disease, prune encouraging next flush, fertilize (rose food), don't water in evening could cause fungus problems

Relaxing Water Feature-evaporation is accelerated by temperatures (day and night) refill frequently to reduce chance of algae bloom

Explosive Texture, Form and Color (in beds, window boxes, containers / pots)-Annuals (portulaca, coleus, marigolds, petunias, begonias...), Tropicals / Houseplants (spider plant, wandering Jew, mother-in-law tongue, rubber tree...), Bulbs (elephant ears cannas, caladiums, gladiolas...), Vines (morning glory, hyacinth bean, cardinal climber, moon flower...) fertilize every other week and keep watered

Lawns-mower blade height 4-5" for blue grass, fescues, and zoysia longer grass blade length shades plant crown and root systems helping reduce summer stresses, feed zoysia (ratio 2-1-1 i.e. 20-10-10) any granular type must be watered in immediately to avoid grass blade burn spot, dire circumstances to pep up blue grass or fescue application of chelated iron may help spread at ½ bag / label rate and water in, lay sod only if soil is well prepared soil, water daily for 2 weeks no seeding 


Wonderful Gifts-All Unique One of a Kind!!! designed and made by Tracy

@ Tracy’s E-Store - Full of Creative Re-Purposed Jewelry-

go to then type in TracysTimeWarp


JUNE says so long SPRINGTIME it was fantastic and launches GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME later in the month, making for greenest month. Mother Nature has been gracious weather wise from temperature to rainfall but don’t just sit back in your patio easy chair to often there’s always work to be done to keep GOOD GARDENING TIMES ROLLING. It will take proper ‘formulas-from feeding, eradicating, to controlling’, procedural action at correct time, always with a realistic eye to not only your landscape but surroundings as well. Fragrant Linden trees fill early June air with happiness, pansy’s and spring perennials wave good-bye as breezes get warmer, triggering purple cone flowers and cannas to skyrocket upward, morning glory, sweet pea and moonflower vines embrace dawn to dawn with color, hummingbird feeders and bird baths get frequent visitors, butterfly bush, crape myrtle and rose of Sharon shake rattle and roll, edibles and herbs fill eyes and taste buds with great anticipation-LET SUMMER GARDENING OLYMPIC GAMES BEGIN!!!-      

Unexpectedly Making Things Worse-without routine cleaning, care / maintenance of any landscape equipment whether saws, pruners, shovels, sprayers, rakes, mowers, edgers…you may be spreading problems, especially when working in an area / situation where a plant / soil problem exists from weed seeds, diseased soil tools being used can be contaminated and if not cleaned trouble can be spread to healthy soil or plants, dull blades can shred / fragment anything from grass blades to twigs / branches so periodically re-sharpen blades, check fertilizer spreaders / chemical sprayers related to correct application rate adjust if needed-

Essential Moisture Orchestration-Water Timing and Amounts-can be so varied within a single garden bed (mixed perennials, annuals, small shrubs) or similar across vast expanses (sunny lawn),  moisture levels can depend upon rainfall, humidity, exposure, proximity to structures / hardscapes, soil quality along with just about anything in the out of doors, vital for healthy plant performance whether a pot of begonias on front steps, hanging basket Boston fern swinging from a tree or an tri color beech ornamental tree, cut flower perennials, edibles, trellised vines, roses, shrubs screening a view…crucial to success is healthy vigorous roots, root care mistakes range from de-hydration to  drowning, number type and complexity of water delivery systems is unbelievable from stemmed globes filled with water and pushed into potting mix, leaky, sweaty, drippy pipes, in ground pop-up heads, hoe and nozzle, buckets to name more common ones all designed to keep roots healthy which will equate to Grand Symphony of sights, sounds, and aromas-    

Pre-Purchase Activity for any Chemical-(inorganic or organic)-Read and Understand Label even if used previously there may have been some changes made related to application rate, reaction time of target, timing of other activities this applies to fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides algaecides anything foreign introduced into a landscape, if confused asked for help before buying-

Here There Everywhere (tree tops to below ground) Bugs, Mites, Slugs Oh My-check underside of foliage-spider mites (have 8 legs use miticide insecticides won’t work) damage discoloration speckling of foliage, cicada-females slitting bark to deposit eggs-can cause twigs to die and drop to ground-no effective control, white grub adults are June bug, May beetle, most damaging Japanese beetle (metallic green and docile)-consume petals / foliage of numerous plants, slugs / snails-eat slits in leaves, grasshoppers-eat leaf edge, aphids-suck making leaf shiny / sticky, thrips-suck making leaf blotchy loses true color, bagworms-watch for new hatchings (miniature crawlers) especially juniper, arborvitae, conifers-control with insecticide-

Heat and Humidity-Accelerant for Disease, Virus, Bacteria-damage can range from cosmetic to deadly-Reminder-fungicide applications after visible presence or damage will only slow potential spread will not eradicate, whether in lawn, roses, trees, shrubs, etc. note of problem and start applications next year before visible sign

Most Challenging, Expensive, and Difficult Part of Landscapes-Lawn-warm season zoysia begins to roar while cool season fescue and blue grass could really loose pizzazz-all grasses watch for the unexpected: weed invasions, brown or dark green spots / rings, mushrooms, grass blade discoloration, yellowing, lack of or uneven growth, seed head formation etc. pursue / determine cause  take corrective action immediately (get professional help if needed)-mowing frequency to keep clippings 1” or less, set mower blade height 3-3.5“ (blue grass / fescue) and 2.5-3” (zoysia), bagging is of no benefit if frequency and blade height are followed, core aeration or dethatching not recommended can reduce expose root systems to high night time temperatures and humidity = potential disease problems-

Get Viral Color from Annuals-start making an impact-remove / replace any underperformers, fertilize (every 2 weeks) frequency of watering determined plant type, growing location and medium (in ground vs. pots / containers) be smart monitor moisture for best results-versatile pots, containers, hanging baskets (do require closer attention-potting mix dehydration and fertilizer / nutrients leaching out drainage holes with each watering-some varieties must have spent flowers removed to trigger re-bloom i.e. marigolds, some petunias-if time is limited consider varieties that self-shatter (no dead flower removal) i.e. begonias, alyssum-

Aesthetic and Problem Solving Ground Cover-(ivy, sedum, ajuga, phlox, pachysandra, moneywort, etc.) fertilize (lower analysis) and control weeds (herbicide-control grassy and broadleaf weeds use caution if spraying to minimize drift, hand dig, or paint herbicide on weed foliage)- 

Best Aroma and Flavor from Herbs-these sun lovers, want minimal fertilizing (1/2 label rate every 6-8 weeks) and allow soil to become ‘arid a few inches deep’ before re-watering- 

Pruning, Cutting Back / Down-Spring Bloomers-bulbs (daffodils, tulips, etc.), perennials (peonies, dianthus, breeding heart, columbine, etc.) shrubs (forsythia, lilac, etc.) and trees (dogwood, crabapple, magnolia, etc.) can be cut back / pruned for any reason from aesthetic and size control-bulbs, perennials cut browning foliage to ground-trees / shrubs prune to shape or reduce size-maximum amount 1/3 of current size- 

Feed-summer and fall bloomers (herbaceous and woody)-hydrangea, rose of Sharon, kerria, crape myrtle, edibles, morning glory, coreopsis, hardy begonia…apply type formulated for a specific plant group, i.e. acid base fertilizer likely have sulfur and iron essential for many shade lovers, conifers, and broadleaf evergreens, tomato food contains essential calcium-reminder any granular fertilizer needs to be watered in, exception don’t feed larger trees of any type-

Strawberry June Bearing-if finished fruiting remove 25% of plants, weed, fertilize and add 1-2” mulch between plants, Ever Bearing varieties-control weeds, water and fertilize regularly

Adding Mulch-use caution as air temperatures rise, anticipate heat damage to stems, twigs, bark-maximum 2” against bark / twigs around trees and shrubs, herbaceous plants annuals, perennials, ground covers 1”-

Fruit Trees Reduce Quantity of Fruit by 1/3-to minimize chances of tree damage-mild winter great spring = great fruit production but weight could cause limb damage-

Best Production Potential with Edibles-requires critical and crucial CONSISTENCY this applies to watering, fertilization, pruning, seasonal clean up, ebb and flow care either because of weather or waning interest, may lead to crop failure, if adding mulch 1” only-

Everyone’s Favorite-Tomato-all varieties fertilize and water (keep soil slightly damp) for best production, flowers dropping prior to fruit set can be caused by excessive daytime temperatures-harvest time (flowering to picking) variety dependent ranging from 45 to 60 days- 

What Trees Can Be Pruned?-maples (sugar, silver Japanese, red, amur, etc.) birches (river, whitespire, etc.) or beech trees (purple, tri-color, etc.), if removing longer branches cut off in 1/3 length sections with final cut leave 1/2” stub, pruning sealer does nothing-

Exotic Paradise at Home-Houseplant / Tropicals-surge of growth is fascinate, but also means watch out for insect invasion (look at leaf underside, stem, basically everywhere) determine intruder-apply correct insecticide control if needed, fertilize every few weeks and keep potting mix moist (unless cacti / succulent), cut back (to shape, control size), divide, repot, transplant (into pot 1-2” larger than existing container), avoid afternoon sun, may scorch even sun lovers especially recent purchases or if just brought outdoors from inside-

Twinning Vines-fertilize all annuals / perennial, prevent drought stress, prune if needed -

Summer Exploders-Bulbs / Tubers / Roots-cannas, gladiolas, dahlias, caladiums, elephant ears-will amaze when fertilized and watered-

Stormy Weather-Damage from Wind, Hail, Rain-check ASAP for cracks or broken branches, contact arborist if suspect any damage-problem not only branches falling open wounds are opening for insects and diseases, shrubs-inspect perennials, annuals, vegetables, etc., remove bent stems, allow foliage to remain until browns-2 reasons buffers new growth from sun, can continue to photosynthesize until brown-helps roots-signs of recovery visible within 7-10 days if not replace plant- 

Falling Ahead-plant kale, lettuce, pumpkins, broccoli, or gourd seeds, take mum cuttings, remember always use potting mix for starting plants, great time to evaluate, redesign and consider options for plant bed satisfaction, establishing a new, renovating an old, or complete removal-



MAY following an AAA act, April was fantastic and maybe its best performance ever, temperatures were ideal bringing plants into flower then extending bloom period well beyond what would be expected. Then as the old saying goes April showers bring May flowers and WOW Aprils last few days were over the top rainfall wise. May's is truly mid spring month making it a totally transitional time period earlier spring bulbs and trees are now memories while iris, peonies, linden trees and many others are showing their best. May is likely second busiest month of the gardening season only September is more loaded. This is evaluation time, decisions can involve reducing, adding or getting rid of bed areas, trees, shrubs or pots / containers, correcting problems, insuring status quo or giving up and let Mother Nature have her way. Should you decided to stay active with your landscape, garden, take time out to stop and enjoy while staying on top of things because falling behind going into June could mean a summer of disappointment.   

Reminders-always read / understand label(s) before using equipment or making chemical application (whether organic or inorganic), there is no advantage (maybe damage) to upping douse beyond label instructions, and when using new chemical for first time cut label rate in ½ and observe results re-treat again at ½ label rate with 2-3 days, if satisfied use chemical at full label rate and remember rainfall within 24 hours of application rain can diminish or eliminate desired results, monitor rainfall amounts (too much or not enough) either can lead to root system / plant trouble and recovery may very slow-if at all if less than 1" every 7 days, irrigate as needed with sprinklers, hand watering, or irrigation system especially true for plants less than 2 years in landscape and plants growing in full sun or under large shade trees 

Plant Care-Fertilizing-all plants (exception large trees-conifers, deciduous, or broadleaf)-spring flowering bulbs, shrubs, and plants with that continue to push new growth stems, leaves, branches 

Mowing or Pruning-sharpened blades and tools invaluable to prevent tip or end fraying (better chance for disease / insect / health problem), do not routinely prune new plants-except broken or damaged sections-do remove flowers-helps acclimation 

New Plantings-watch closely for 14-21 days (early root establishment period)-do not allow any drought stress-wilting during heat of day can be natural reaction to conserve moisture within plant by closing breathing pores, check on any plants wilting after sunset if still wilted, watering is needed 

Spring Bloomers Must, Should and Can Do's-bulbs allow foliage to remain until 50% brown to increase chances of getting flowers next year, azaleas, holly and other broadleaf evergreens fertilize after flowering get best results by using a formula specific formulated for acid loving plants transplant now   

‘Headaches'-pay extra attention to any plant with a history of problems (unsure of cause get professional help-don't guess) whether insect or disease be attentive and determine if any treatment is truly worth time, money effort or is it time for removal and or replacement 

‘Lawn Job(s)'-Keep close eye in all lawns for any broadleaf weeds, take immediate action whether spot treatment or wider range, Adjust mower blade height according to lawn type; bluegrass and zoysia 2.5", fescue 3.5", mowing frequency to insure clippings are 1" or less, bagging not necessary, fertilize zoysia lawns fertilize but use caution when considering feeding fescue or bluegrass could cause problems for these two cool season lawns as temperatures continue to rise 

‘Buggers'-there are many options for insect control, determine specific bug, amount of potential damage when making decision on action and what if any product should be used watch lawn areas as sod webworms may be emerging, Scale insect are hatching (crawler stage-mobile, adults are stationary appearing as small lumps) is best time to apply summer weight horticultural oil which will suffocate, several types of scale can be found on conifers, evergreen euonymus, and some deciduous trees and shrubs 

‘Plant Additions, New Ideas and Info'-summer annuals, edibles, bulbs keeps watered during dry periods to avoid decline / collapse, first fertilizing after strong signs of stabilizing, continue routine feeding-herbs are lower care grow well in well-drained soil or in pots filled with potting mixes, have little need for fertilizing and over fertilizing could impair taste and fragrance, consider growing water lilies in larger tubs or pots without drainage holes    

‘Good Neighbors or Visitors'-butterfly eating habits-small amounts of nectar in multiple locations on same cluster when possible, no flying on cloudy / rainy day, some live up to 5 years, migration from Canadian alpine forest to Mexico City 2000 miles each year), adult weight 1/2 gram, wing roof shingle like, pigmented with reds, oranges, grays, whites, blues, shiny metallic look is due to prism-like membrane on wing that bend / refract light, caterpillars-mouth has sensitive hairs (maxillae) for taste testing, adults-nectar sipping thru drinking straw like tongue, knob-like antennae extensions smell, touch, and orientation, protection-swallowtail caterpillar can repel by exuding a yellow anise scented liquid from antennae-birds can consume some insect pests, so provide water and good habitats for resting / nesting, lightning bugs will begin showing up on warm nights, reminder both larvae and adults are predators of some damaging insects  

Shaping, Pinching and Pruning-remove unwanted new shoots off woody plants, 1/3 of mum stem length to increase branching which will add to fall flower count and fertilize monthly, option to cut spring blooming woody plants-recommend never removing more than 25-30% of present size or summer sun may burn remaining foliage or newly exposed stems   

Public Enemies #1 (weeds, diseases, critters or who knows what)-before taking action get proper identification (get professional advice if needed) pest / diseases check  bark, twig, stem, leaf for discoloration, holes, curling, gnawing, stickiness, bugs, worms, spots, bruises, plants with Fungus history whether lawn, roses, trees shrubs, perennials make first fungicide application prior to visual sighting.  Weeds some self-seeding spring bloomers going dormant, as perennial and summer weeds are going at hyper speed, more on Weeds-many early spring bloomers (purple henbit, chick weed, annual bluegrass) are going dormant / disappearing (but have been producing and dropping seed for past several months) perennial and summer weeds are roaring due to milder April temperatures-keep a close eye hand dig or herbicide application (make positive identification before application), Moles-actual damage is related to tunnels which eliminate insulating qualities of soil causing dehydration to root system potential leading to numerous other plant problems, understanding moles they eat very little underground plant material their main diet is earthworms and will eat any insect discovered while tunneling, secondary impact is other rodents i.e. voles that eat plant roots / bulbs using abandoned tunnels for easy access to underground plant material-options for control are numerous starting with locating area within landscape with greatest tunneling activity then tamp, trample, and flatten tunnels, check next day any tunnels popped up are currently active as mole search for food is reoccurring every few hours, actions to control / kill / repel include; placement of traps, inserting poisonous chemicals into tunnel, flooding tunnels with water, standing watching for tunnel movement sneaking over with shovel anticipating mole location and trying to dig it up, hiring professional service, using repellents, having success in the mole war each season you could have greater success than others if your landscape backs up to common ground, woodlands, undeveloped property moles will continue to be problematic as ones are killed, driven off new ones will venture in, better healthier your landscape increases chance of mole ‘invasion' because there will be more earthworms and it is the sound of earthworms moving through soil determines which direction moles will tunnel travel

APRIL-ing=Appealing, Planning, Remembering, Involving, Loving It 

Rising average air temperatures plus increasing amount of daylight brings out the best in the out of doors; from maple squirts, green surges in lawn growth, conifer candles enlightening, awakening stretch by perennials and ground covers, houseplants crying to get outside, there is so much to see and do, the right blend of work and enjoyment time. New garden center arrivals from dry goods, flats, potted, balled in burlap plants to chemicals and tools, take inventory and make sure you are ready as spring games begin. Soil temperatures rise daily triggering dogwood and crabapples to show their best colors, creating fields of weedy purple henbit and chickweed, emergence of insects, moles activity increases as witch hazel, crocus, winter aconite, forsythia and magnolias fade into history. Whether making use of organic or inorganic chemical treatments any place in your landscape-Read, Understand Labels (fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides)-learn who, what, when, where, and how i.e. dilution rate, companion mixes, temperature / environmental factors, safety equipment and or use frequency, etc. before any application.

Annuals / Vegetables-cool season types (pansies, lettuce, cauliflower) install into prepared bed space or containers with potting mix, fertilize and water-warm season (basil, periwinkle, begonia, tomato, pepper) may be available at garden centers but remember these plants can be damaged if temperatures or wind chills drop into mid 30's, if making purchase be prepared with an idea on protection i.e. covering overnight with upside down pot, landscape fabric / burlap-no plastic sheeting

Be Generous-extra plants (existing or new purchases)-contact Gateway Greening, Brightside St. Louis related to making donation of plants for community gardens

Bulbs-spring bloomers-fertilize at ½  label rate, cut off declining flowers, allowing foliage to remain as long as green to build bulb strength for next year once leaves turn brown cut off at ground level, do not bend / rubber band green leaves, summer bulbs (elephant ears, canna, caladiums) can be planted into ground or containers, once new growth is obvious fertilize at ½  label rate, keep watered  

Container Planting-cover drainage holes (with pieces of broken pots...-minimizing potting mix outflow) fill bottom ¼ with pea gravel, smaller pieces of rock for drainage, fill with potting mix within 1-2" top edge, water to check drainage and settling, dig hole into potting mix slightly wider than plant being installed, remove plant from existing pot by placing stem(s) between fingers, turn container upside down, shake causing plant to slide out, larger plants lay pot on its side roll and pull plant to remove or gently lift plant out of pot-when any plant is remove shake to loosen root system if root bound untangle roots somewhat, sit plant into hole, backfill with potting mix to top of root ball and  water, if potting mix settles backfill again, advisable to pinch flowers / fruit off to quicken establishment process, cover surface with mulch is optional

Correct Chemical Control Timing for Diseases (fungus, bacteria) and Insects (aphids, tent caterpillars, bagworms, white flies, etc.) related to weather / air temperatures which triggers eruptions of disease and insect activity-keep a close eye on any planting(s0 with a history of problems and take action at first signs of ‘trouble' by doing so you will minimize potential season long impact whether health or aesthetic wise-WALK AROUND AND LOOK CAREFULLY

Important Water / Rainfall Required Amount-1" every 7 days, preventing drought stress    

Fertilize-determine which fertilizer is best according to type of plant, ask at your favorite garden center if unsure, i.e. rose food will have nutrient levels and specific micro-nutrients for roses, same true for acid loving (evergreens among others) plants contain sulfur / iron, tomato food to not feed trees both deciduous and evergreen until fal

Houseplants / Tropicals-either over-wintered indoors or new purchase-initially place out of direct sunlight minimizing chance of sun burning foliage for first 7-14 days, then sun lovers should be ready to get full bright light of the sun, but keep an eye on them any signs of leaf burn move out of sunlight

Lawn-cool season varieties (fescue / bluegrass) can be core aerated and or power raked followed by spreading ½" of compost, areas can be seeded or sodded as well, if seeding use seed starter fertilizer and water daily for 2 weeks afterwards water to insure 1" per week, mower blade height 3-3 1/2", fertilize established lawn, best to use type determined by soil test nutrient analysis-zoysia initial mowing set blade low-1-1 1/2", next cutting and throughout spring, mower blade height 3-3 1/2", first fertilizing when lawn is fully greened, mowing frequency for any lawn keep clippings less than 1"

Love Your Dog(s)-so don't try and grow lawn, ground cover...along a fence or any place where dogs walk / run around a lot, their paws have a great deal of compaction / compression and this make it impossible for almost any plant to survive, think like this if weeds can't grow nothing else will either 

Moles-better (more earthworms) landscapes and or edged by undeveloped (wild habitat) properties all contribute to mole presence, add warm ground accelerating earthworm (mole tunnels follow sounds of earthworm burrowing) movement and excites hungry moles to go out for their favorite food, yes they will consume almost any ‘bug / grub' but earthworms are main source of nutrition, notice tunneling tamp and flatten, check area next day if tunnels are popped up this is an active ‘food search area', place several traps then flatten tunnels (read instructions on safety and setting traps), check daily to see if a trap(s) is triggered should mean you got one, use a shovel and lift trap up to surface, discard dead mole, flatten tunnels and re-set traps, realize female gave birth in February increasing number of moles, so catching a few doesn't stop looking as new moles likely will migrate in

Mulch-add only to maintain proper depth 3-4" around trees and shrubs, 1 to 2" perennials (around emerging or evergreen and over bed space where dormant perennials are), ground covers, and bulbs, Do NOT BURY actively growing plants, do it right or don't bother

Ornamental Grasses-cut off any remaining blades, option to divide or relocate

Pest, Disease, Wildlife-unsure of problem don't guess and react could be more problematic, check plant(s) and neighboring plants over-all health, take sample to garden center, ask if cause is mutli-facetted, or single source, what (physical, chemical) options, whether ‘damager' is already gone and or better / routine maintenance, repellents could prevent future problem

Prune-(if needed-leave stub ½ - ¾")-evergreen and deciduous ornamental trees, shrubs-after flowering-45 degree cut speeds healing, remove any broken, dead (non-leafed) stems, branches, for longer branches cut off in sections to prevent tearing bark

Re-cycle-old or new plastic containers, flats, check for info  

Reminder-Be Patient with your landscape, routinely check results of an type of an application, new or established plants, and Thank your favorite garden center staff for making your visit worthwhile

Roses-some foliage was damaged by late cold snap prune off, remove 1/2 of mulch, set up sequential fungicide / insecticide programs for aphids, black spot, mildew, etc. control may not start yet but keep an eye on new foliage for anything suspicious-unsure seek professional help 

Spring Blooming Trees, Shrubs-prune after flowering, fertilize use low analysis tree and shrub food

Transplanting and Dividing-anything ASAP allowing root systems to get established before summer have new location ready, water plants night before, dig as much of rooting system as possible, dig hole 3X diameter of root ball, hole depth only 80% as thick as rootball allowing for settling and keeping crown above surrounding ground, after installation water and mulch, if there is a delay in planting place plant in plastic container, sit out of direct sun, water and make installation ASAP

Water / Bog / Rain Garden-remove excessive debris clear clean surroundings, depending upon specific site-empty basin, clean waterfalls, check potted plants, change out water if needed, if fish present monitor overall health related to swimming activity   

Weed Control-determine problem, use post emergent (after sprouted) herbicides, most prominent weeds; violets (clumped shiny leaves bluish flower), dandelion (rosette leaf yellow flower), wild onions and garlic (straight up leaf smells like onion if crushed), crabgrass (flat grass whitish center), clover (3 leaf shamrock white flower)-options include organic (horticultural vinegar) or inorganic (Weed B Gon, Round-Up) step on damage foliage plant opening wounds for quicker access inside wed leaves just prior to spraying, if weeds are located among desirable plants place a barrier (i.e. cardboard) to isolate weed and preventing herbicide drift onto ‘good plants'

Coloring Beyond Coloring Books-(summer bulbs, shrubs, roses, perennials, vines, annuals, trees, ground covers, edibles...)-in new or re-habbed bed space, containers / pots / hanging baskets / window boxes and or..

a). Evaluate Planned Location-check amount of sunlight-when and how long, if bed space underground utilities, access by pets or wildlife, closeness of kids play area       

b). Remove / Control unwanted vegetation-relocate or kill

c). Create Raised Bed Space-measure square footage, purchase soil (1-2 cubic yards per 100 sq. ft.) amendment to elevate bed area 2-4" depending upon designated planting for area

d). Work / Turn Over Bed Space-spread 2" of amendment on surface and blend with existing soil, continue adding and blending until all purchased amendments have been added, rake soil to level and create a slight slope away from any building or hardscape insuring correct water flow

e). Plant Purchasing-(only purchase plants that can be installed within 1 week)-give plant a careful once over, select most healthy strong appearing plants, sale plants will likely require more effort, prior to installation set plants in protected spot to minimize cold wind or sun burn, keep soil damp not soggy (potential root system damage) 

f). Plant Installation-lightly water area day before (if dry), dig hole 3 times root diameter-depth 2/3 root depth, containerized-tip pot upside down-with stem / cluster between fingers, shake until plant slide out, shake gently to free some potting mix, check for healthy white roots, if roots overly tangled gently loosen, keep plant upright and spread roots out in bottom of hole, then backfill soil, before tamping make sure 10-20% of root ball is above surrounding ground, water if soil settles creating depression add more soil, mulch according to plant type (see mulch) faster acclimation by plant if flowers or fruit is removed

g). Establishment Period (ask garden center staff for recommendations)-watering and fertilizing (initially ½ label rate) according to plant type and size, morning wilting indicates water is needed, larger plants may need stabilizing / staking, routinely remove dying flowers or broken branches, leaves or stems, after 30 days plants should be well established and normal care and maintenance schedule initiated






Good Gardening--To each and everyone that stops by-I say to you the world of life and gardening is simply wonderfully wild and crazy

Paint and Brush