Good Gardening in 2017 

HomeGood Gardening StrollLive and LivelyTip of the TrowelMy Friends

As Always -Enjoy


Purple flower



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



March into Spring with a great hand-off from February (exception being lack of rainfall) which offered up not only historic early bloomers (i.e. yellow witchhazel, yellow cornelian cherry, yellow forsythia, multi-colored crocus) but popping out of nowhere were white star and purplish saucer magnolias, red flowered quince, pink Kwansan cherry all showing their best and refused to fade even in a brutal wild chill day / night near February's end. We can only hope that everything continues like this 2017 opening scene to provide everyone with a great late winter spring opening. Daylight savings arrives before winter's official end, spend these expanded daytime hours keeping an eye open and staying up with routine tasks to save work later on and prevent catch-up sequence. Be critical of yourself / landscape and eliminate plants annually troublesome plants (i.e. defoliation by cedar apple rust) requiring a great deal of maintenance (i.e. multiple pruning), those unhealthy (i.e. discolored foliage), misplaced (i.e. overgrowing gutter) or physically damaged plants (i.e. lower broken branches) any of these among other factors give consideration to every scenario prior to taking action. If course of action is agreed upon do a complete thorough job whether removal, transplanting, pruning to get desired results.     


Overview Thoughts-take time to think, know and understand how nature works, it is very systemically (here in our region it may not seem that way), everything is triggered air and ground temperatures which are accentuated by exposure, soil quality and plant types, be systematic in all your actions and reactions involving plant material indoors and out. Reminder your soil is alive (full of essential macro / microorganisms) along with inorganic qualities and everything alive it needs moisture to keep ‘viable / running' which is a benefit to plant material, potting mixes are not exactly the same but have many of the same traits.  So keep water flowing whether rainfall from faucets, wells, rain barrels, in ground irrigation system, surface soaker hoses during this very plant active month (both above and below ground) 1" of rain / water every 7 days is required. Additionally, be realistic and if your ‘garden, bed, lawn ground is just DIRT, raise attributes by blending with the DIRT 1-2 cu. yds. of compost into the garden / bed space, or top dress after core aeration in lawn area to create better growing environment (sun or shade) for annuals, edibles, ground cover, tree, shrubs, vines perennials and other plantings. Soil is in good shape now think above ground meaning correct use of mulch (benefits can include maintaining more consistent moisture levels, reducing erosion, modifying soil temperature fluctuations, weed suppression...). Just because its March don't think of existing mulch as a faded area rug, require another layer to brighten and define a space, instead only add when depth is > 3" surrounding tree / shrub (max. 3-4") and >1" in herbaceous plant beds (max. 2") over mulching (depth wise) can create problems for plant root systems, and any type of bark by accelerating potential fungus / virus / moisture / wildlife / insect troubles, if adequate depth of mulch exists rake to refresh the visuals.


Still Time to be Creative, Capture a New Attitude / Look-start with acquiring information by attending seminars / classes, attending plant society meeting, asking at a trusted garden center or landscape contractor nothing wrong with getting a few opinions before project initiation whether a doing it yourself or using professional services. This includes any and everything outdoors from new or reconfiguring hardscapes (walk, patios, decks...) to offering more plants for bees / butterflies, eliminating or increasing bed area, growing herbs, aquatics, replacing lawn with ground cover, ornamental tree installation or conifer removal, establish or removal of screening plants, are just a few examples and these things can occur in pots / containers or ground. Keep in mind during ‘planning process' existing weed situation, topography, new plant rate of growth, form / texture, mature size, thorns, skin sensitivities, seasonal impact, root system growth habit, planning site soil chemistry (acidic vs. alkaline), moisture competition with existing plants or run-off from hard surfaces, history of disease / insect problems and required routine care / maintenance beyond establishment period...


Tripping Out at the Garden Center-how about getting some pansies (flats, 4 or 6" pots) and planting them among spring flowering bulbs extending area pizzazz or filling containers and or window boxes with these durable cool weather annuals which should provide great color until mid-late May especially if you fertilize monthly and water during dry spells. Wandering around will reveal plants being available in many ways-balled in burlap (usually larger), most common with largest variance in size and plant type are container (individual plastic pot or small attached 6-packs) and bare root (basically in a bag with no soil or pot)-have pots / in ground location prepared before making purchase or mail order arrival to minimize disappointments, install ASAP, if installation is delayed place plants in protected location (out of direct sun), mulch over roots  and keep watered, some facts to consider bare root plants available in late winter early spring-need immediate attention, balled and burlap-physical weight, containers-versatile most ‘user' friendly


Mowing-Lawn-cool season (bluegrass, fescue) make first cut of 2017 low (but don't scalp soil surface-damaging to crowns) about 2" (bag during or rake afterward) to help control (not eliminate) potential fungus scenarios, wait until zoysia begins greening up then follow above lawn notations, mowing after initial cutting set mower blade 3-4" through springtime-over Ground Covers-(liriope, ivy, remove winter damaged foliage, fallen leaf debris, giving a uniform appearance, expose weeds for easier control, and reveals physical changes in soil surface (i.e. erosion) that may need attention)-set mower blade high and cut before or just as new growth becomes obvious-


Hardy Bulb Foliage (especially daffodils)-though flowering may be finished, green foliage continues to absorb nutrients, moisture combining with sun to build bulb strength for next spring, Bending / Folding Over and Rubber Banding can reduce this strengthening process adversely impact next year


Tropicals / Houseplants-aesthetically and health wise will perform better if pot bound, so don't routinely repot wait until larger quantities of roots are pushing out of drainage holes then two options: 1). re-pot (upsizing container no more than 2" bigger than existing pot insuring smoother healthier transition) use potting mix (not potting soil) or 2). remove plant / entire root system included from existing pot gently shake and wash roots to remove most of existing potting mix, prune up to 25% of root mass, fill bottom of same pot with new potting mix, place plant into pot and backfill, as active growth begins, keep potting mix evenly damp (not swampy with few exceptions), fertilize ½ label rate


Indoor / Tropical Bulb (amaryllis, cyclamen, etc.) even after flowering has finished can be a plus to indoor views with unique foliage color and shape, care same as tropical houseplant, if foliage declines allow to brown completely then cut off leaves and let plants go dormant, in May consider moving outdoors in shady location you might get a surprise


Cutting Back Perennials-cut off and dispose of any stems, blades, leaves remaining from last year to help with disease and insect control, pay attention when doing so and check at ground level for signs of new growth on spring, summer and fall bloomers, if not noticeable now check periodically-     


Pruning Woodies-(cut off any cracked / broken branches ASAP)-if shaping, size reduction (25-30% maximum recommended) if this action has become an annual or more often event give consideration to changing existing plants with varieties not requiring pruning time and spend this newly found free period to enjoy and or prune spring bloomers as they finish flowering (holly, star magnolia, quince, etc.) and finish pruning summer bloomers before new growth begins (mimosa, roses, butterfly bush, crape myrtle, rose of Sharon, etc.)-Reminder keep any pruning tool sharp and if removing diseased plants clean tools (with bleach / water) before moving on


Perfect Time to Relocate-whether moving herbaceous or woody plants have new locations soil prepared correctly for plant being moved dig hole approximately 3X diameter of projected root ball size, water plant(s) that are to be moved night before (makes digging easier), have digging (square bottom spade is best) tool sharp, for woodies start digging ½ distance from main stem / trunk to branch extension best to push / step on tool until top is near soil surface, pry gently each time tool is pushed into ground encircle entire plant then begin going around again prying more underneath to cut lower roots, continue until plant / root system is completely loose then lift from hole and move to new location and install (minimize time newly dug plant sits above ground-if situation requires extended period before replanting, sit plant in shady spot cover root ball with mulch and water) when installing make sure 15-20% of root ball sits above surrounding ground allowing for settling-perennials-start digging few inches beyond stem / stubs push spade or hand tool in soil, encircle entire plant prying until crown / root ball is free and able to removed


Common Sense Related to any Chemical (fertilizer, fungicide, insecticide, miticide, herbicide)- reading and understanding chemical label which informs of all pertinent factors to get desired impact i.e. having properly calibrated application equipment (i.e. sprayer, spreader), rainfall / watering grace period after application, outdoor temperature window, proper storage of existing product (i.e. freeze / thaw, wet bag), follow dilution rate (higher dosage isn't better), possible chemicals to add in mixes, environmental factors (i.e. wind, proximity to untargeted plants), proper equipment (rubber gloves, goggles), Safety Factors related to pets, people, birds, wildlife...   


2 Main Chemical Herbicide Categories (each with designated usage effective control may require multiple applications within one season or over years depending upon designated plant)-pre-emergent control seeds as they germinate, meaning application prior to seeds sprouting, will kill most seeds whether weed, lawn, annual, perennial plant-post-emergent applied to growing (best results early during plant growth cycle) plant parts (leaf, stem, branch...) to kill selected problematic plant-many formulas and application techniques exist for both pre and post emergent herbicides-liquid, granular, injectable, powder-concentrate and ready to use best results correct identification of target plant, purchasing herbicide designated for scenario / plant being controlled


Insect Headaches Random Thoughts (numerous appearances from lumps on branches to dangling bags and categories from borers, mites, slugs, leaf miners, scale, gnats, to aphids and many more each capable of doing damage to plants same target very specific varieties while others can impact numerous plants, from tree tops to root systems, and realize insecticides don't distinguish between good bugs (bees, lady bugs), bad bugs (emerald ash borer, thrips) and some depending upon life stage can be both (caterpillar-bad, butterfly-good) yes there are many more good, bad or both bugs types these are just examples)-versatility of bugs / insects is part of problem everything from overwintering capabilities as adults, pupa, larva or eggs in very diverse settings from stuck outside basement wall, inside garage / shed, in plant root system, on leaves, hanging from twigs, in ground, wood piles, tree bark cracks, underside of containers, depending upon type can damage ranges from defoliation of  plant, transmission of deadly diseases, causing individual branches to die / drop...minimizing headaches starts with correct bug identification and determination if damager is still around if so course(s) of action range from: chemical, cultural, physical, and natural bacteria, predators, or parasites-all have pluses and minuses-be sure to read any all information before doing anything to get best results and avoid worsening plant damage              


Fungus / Diseases / Bacteria in both Warm and Cool Season Lawn (depending upon setting even within same landscape, year's weather, proper care and maintenance, age of lawn does have influence on long and short term effects potentially different every growing season ranging from thinning / declining to total devastation with one year)-diverse causative factors include but not limited to fertilization (timing and type) no having soil tested, puddling water / low spots, poor drainage / soil compaction, incorrect mower blade height and frequency, watering frequency and amount, no core aeration, soil chemistry and macro / micro-nutrient levels, sun vs. shade, topography, presence of large trees, weather (moisture) patterns, weed control, matted grass, fallen leaf build-up, animals (pets / wildlife) can create single or numerous problems with distinctive physical traits at first signs of suspected trouble take sample to garden center and or contact lawn professional for correct diagnosis and treatment-Ignoring problem can lead to further decline becoming more costly reminder with a single growing season fungus / disease / bacteria can be spread by equipment-wheels and blades, storm water flow, shoe bottom and paws, and contaminated soil amendments are examples    


Understanding Weed Types (is essential for any chance of control, and with many it is an annual battle)-these plants can be found in lush wonderful soils to growing very successfully in a small crack in an asphalt road, where ground is swampy or desert like acidic or alkaline, sun to shade and many varieties can be found in all these places as well as many others-Nature's Breakdown-annual (entire growth cycle within one year) with two distinctive groups-cool season (i.e. chickweed, speedwell annual bluegrass, henbit-germinate in mid late August-pre-emergent application for control) grow and flower, dropping seed all winter early spring declining / dying as temperatures rise in late spring / early summer and warm season (foxtail, crabgrass, spurge-germinate later winter early spring as soil temperatures stay above 55 degrees indicator is yellow forsythia in full bloom make-pre-emergent application) grow thru summer flower and dropping seed before declining / dying early-mid fall)- biennial (2 year lifecycle sprout grow foliage overwinter first year, following year foliage, flowering / dropping viable seed) before dying-perennial (unlimited lifespan returning from roots and or crown, can colonize area with spreading stem, root growth and or seed production)-within these major categories are more defining characteristics related to blade or leaf stem shape (does influence some herbicide effectiveness-broadleaf-wide surface with branched veins (dandelions, violets, chickweed, spurge, etc.), grass-slender pointed blades veins running parallel to edge (crabgrass, wild onions or garlic, goose grass, etc.), sedges-grassy greenish yellow narrow blades, forming triangular stem at ground level (nutgrass or yellow water grass)-option for control beyond chemical is physical meaning hand digging with removal of all above and below ground growth    

Signs You've Had Intruders (sizes and weights from several feet and 100+lbs to few inches and ounces above and below ground some spending time both places with minimal to problematic damage)-rabbit, mice, rodents gnaw / cutting off (cut at almost perfect 45 degree angle) lower twigs / small branches then leaving them laying near-by and or strip bark near ground usually on smaller / smooth bark woodies, control-set traps, use repellents if considering poison think about pets, young kids, or...male deer use antlers to fray branch or trunk bark to mark territory-cut off loose bark with sharp knife control apply repellents-mole small mounds piles of dirt and or uplifted soil surface meandering tunnels-activity increases as soil warms triggering earthworm (main food source) movement surface tunneling follows noise generated by earthworm movement-control flatten tunnels check next day if tunnels popped up meaning moles still active in area-control set several traps (spear or choker-proven most effective) along tunnel, check daily to see if sprung meaning mole killed, relocate traps routinely-other damaging visitors include; voles, chipmunks, feral cats, skunks, raccoons, opossums...  



WELCOME FEBRUARY-as it takes January’s baton for second lap of winters 3, expect to see signs of hope, meaning some hints of color will be showing up at Missouri Botanical Garden, favorite garden center, in nature and of course on the internet keep your eyes open or research; Cornus (cornelian cherry) 100’s of small yellow blooms exploding open almost overnight, Hamamelis (Ozark witch hazel and cousins) larger multi-stemmed shrub with small fragrant yellow / orange flowers, Claytonia (spring beauty) multiple white / pinkish flower clusters, Galanthus (spring beauty) white dangling flowers, Eranthis (winter aconite) yellow blooms, Hellebores (Lenten rose and others) variety of colors masked by evergreen foliage, Crocus (Dutch crocus) variety of colors usually with streaking in petals all offering visual relief outdoors. While indoors enjoy great diversity of options of colorful spectrum, extremely unique to traditional flower shapes, fragrance or not, tiny almost invisible to 6”+ across inflorescences, let your imagination fly. While buds begin swelling on numerous trees and shrubs, bulb and perennial foliage pushes upwards, cool season lawns awaken-all depending upon weather, plant siting, proper installation blended with care and maintenance.            

Very Rewarding-a visit to your favorite garden center or one you never stopped wander through pansy 6 packs, seed potatoes, onion sets, asparagus, new seed racks, bare root plants, herbs, rhubarb, cool season veggies, instant impact or great gift pots of blooming / budded hardy bulbs, and tropical ferns, amaryllis, kaffir lily, cyclamen, bright foliaged yellow pothos or subtle snake plant…

Embrace Your Houseplants-check for insects, as new growth begins or when flowering, fertilize at ½ label rate, considering re-potting (either in same pot-helps maintain current size or one slightly larger) as daytime length increases great time to take action, water plant, remove from existing pot, shake to remove existing potting mix, place back in same or new pot, backfill with potting mix and water, also good time to shape and prune

Getting Naked Hardy Plants-(bare exposed roots wrapped in paper / plastic-no pot or soil)-options include;  fruiting berry canes, smaller trees, grape vines, some deciduous shrubs, roses-before purchasing fully understand planting procedure (whether in pot or ground) i.e. soil prep, overnight soaking, root stimulator-donations to Audubon Society can mean a thank-you gift of bird attracting bare root plant to enjoy growing

Adding Compost makes Soil Healthy and Healthier Plants (from large mature trees to seasonal planting beds, lawn, display gardens…)-enabling plants to better withstand attacks from trouble makers (disease, insects, man’s physical damage…)-do so every few years-under canopy of any trees (evergreen-conifer or broadleaf, ornamental, shade, deciduous) starting halfway out from trunk to drip line encircle with auguring holes 1-2’ apart, move outward 1-2’ augur another series continue with final circle just beyond dripline then backfill holes with compost, cool season lawns (core aerate or auger holes) top dress with ½-1” compost spread over surface, perennial beds and garden areas minimize damage herbaceous plants wait to augur holes / compost until emerging growth is visible, unplanted areas rototill or shovel compost into ground-light watering areas ‘augured / compost’ is recommended / advisable

Warmer Temperatures Outside-will launch numerous damaging insects, maddening diseases, hassling weeds and bothersome wildlife triggering germination or spread; fungus / bacteria, scale (black, brown, white small immobile bumps), mites (numerous colors-almost microscopic-spider family member) along with other bugs overwintering eggs hatching, anything suspect and if unsure what if any action is needed check favorite garden center for identification and control recommendations-i.e. dormant oils (scale), miticides (mites, insecticides-not effective), Eastern tent caterpillars (webs in branches)-use broom handle or pole and physically destroy protective web exposing caterpillars to be consumed by birds-before applying any chemical READ or REREAD and UNDERSTAND LABEL to get best results and lessen chances of damage-(continue to monitor tropical / houseplants for problems-too early for moving outdoors)-depending upon where you live everything wildlife from squirrels digging that exposes roots, crowns, bulbs to cold damage-lay physical barrier / screen over important spots, skunks rutting lawn for grubs-apply grub killer-moles damage landscapes as surface food seeking tunnel exposes plant root system to dehydration and cold damage-main food source earthworms will become more active creating underground sounds with moles listen for and burrow towards, eating most insects (milli / centipedes, grubs or larva of any type, crickets, spiders…) found during earthworms search-control university studies indicate traps (choker loop or spear traps to be most effective), if there is history of mole damage check routinely for new activity-reminder February is birthing month so population / tunneling damage could increase-other rodents voles, mice and chipmunks eat some bulbs, bark, bird seed, roots, bugs while using abandoned mole tunnels for easy access to food, while living under porches, patios, steps-control baited mice / rat traps-deer do realize home landscape are easily accessible food source vs. agricultural fields, open areas or woodlands, eating any fresh / newly growth foliage / vegetation-control-wildlife repellents, bars Irish Spring soap, physical barriers effectiveness iffy-weed(y) population eruption monitor bare, lower, wet, unstable spots and be prepared to be surprised to see unexpected numbers of unwelcomed guests, all deep rooted, wide adaptability, tough durability in well prepared soil or unbelievably bad growing environments, save yourself grief make proper identification before any treatment other than hand digging or results could be counter-productive control options; organic or inorganic, pre-emergent (kills seeds at germination), post emergent (kills actively growing) or hand digging, weeds lifespan vary from annual, biennial to perennial with basic categories broadleaf-leaf wide veins branched-i.e.-dandelions, violets, chickweed, spurge, grasses-slender blades veins running parallel to edge-i.e.-crabgrass, wild onions or garlic, goose grass, sedge-greenish yellow grass-like triangular stem at ground surface-i.e.-nut or water grass-Rule 1-before acting correct identification is first step towards best control or could waste time / money- FINAL NOTE-use caution as any control whether chemical or physical could cause problems for pets, children, people or other plants…

Creating New, Renovating or Eliminating Garden Space-have soil tested determining what is present (make adjustments according to plans for area), remove unwanted (digging / herbicide) plants including root systems, for new or areas being renovated purchase 2 cu. yds. compost / each 100 sq. ft., wait until ground is dry then turn / rototill space, spread 2-3” compost over surface, work into existing soil, repeat until all compost is added, before final turning rototilling add necessary nutrients indicted by soil test results, next rake to smooth surface (slope away from structures), converting garden space into lawn if location was productive simply remove existing plantings turn soil, rake smooth (if sodding-lay as soon as available at garden center, if seeding wait period is advised) underperforming areas follow steps above but spread only 1-2” of compost and work into existing soil before sodding or seeding

Better Clean / Sharpen-anything previously used in landscape could be carrying last year’s headaches from hand to power tools, rakes, shovels, pots, containers, mower or rototiller blade and any mobile equipment’s underside…taking time to inspect before using, save some possible grief

Getting Things into Shape-prune to control size (reminder cutting back spring bloomers will reduce flower count for this year) always remove winter storm damage, get rid of last year’s stems, stalks and blades to reduce harboring insects and diseases, can help to improve air flow and provide a brand new look  



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