Good Gardening in 2018 

 
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June-opens doorway to summer, with some of longest daylight hours of the year allowing for time to work, play and enjoy the outdoors. June's transition from spring to summer means cleaning / clearing past plant performers to set stage / basic platform can insure aesthetically and culturally healthy plantings through summer. We know there will be potentially stressful temperatures and humidity so stay smart make wise care / maintenance decisions related to your potted aloe, hanging basket with rabbit foot fern, mature maple tree, boxwood hedge, window box of herbs, lawn, rose of Sharon screening, fragrant roses, vibrant gold thread branch cypress, canna / elephant ear bed, cherry tomato patch, yellow moneywort or whatever. Every day will offer something new / exciting during this vibrant month like watching  blue jays, cardinals, finches, robins, doves, hovering hummingbirds, hawks, crows each providing flying fun / antics and or clouds moving across the sky. Critical for any plant health is correct watering amounts and frequency, know pots, in ground, new installation, shade / sun, soil type, specific plant variety etc. will dictate parameters, research if unsure, stay consistent. 

Action for Specific Plant Groups-

Pruning Trees-best time for maples (Japanese, red, amur, etc.) birches (river, whitespire, etc.), beech tree (purple, tricolor, etc.), there is less sap flow, make sure stub is ¼ to ½" to trigger proper healing, apply no sealer

Tropical / Houseplants-can be cut back if needed, fertilize, make cuttings to give as gifts

Annuals-from window boxes, small to large pots, hanging baskets, in ground almost anywhere to provide maximum color from white to deep purple, if purchasing new type read tags to make best choice, all need routine watering and fertilizing to provide fantastic aesthetic rewards

Lawns (cool and warm season varieties)-should be a peak appearance, cool season types will decline later in month and all shaded areas will thin as well, set blade height to cut bluegrass at 3" (helps shade roots), fescues 3" and zoysia 3", water twice weekly to insure 1" water every 7 days, do not water daily for short periods, fertilize zoysia but not bluegrass or fescue

Perennials-fertilize and control weeds-dig or apply herbicide

Roses-hybrid teas, grandifloras cut spent flowers back to first or second 5 leaflet below spent flower, shrub or bush types don't require but can be pruned, fertilize, continue insect / disease control

Shrubs-spring bloomers can be pruned, do not cut back summer flowering types (removes flower buds) or coniferous evergreens (may cause sunburn to newly exposed needles), fertilize using type formulated for specific needs of particular shrub i.e. acid loving

Trees-best time of the year for pruning maples (Japanese, red, amur, etc.) birches (river, whitespire, etc.) or beech trees (purple, etc.). Less sap flow, leave only 1 / 4-1 / 2" stub only. No pruning sealer 

Vines-fertilize both annual / perennial varieties, minimize pruning to maximize flowering

Tomato-flowering to fruit set to harvest minimum 45 days depending upon variety keep watered and fertilize with tomato food, potential for flowers dropping no matter amount of care given

Herbs-best aroma/flavor when planted in full sun-DO NOT over fertilize or water-less is better

Bulbs-summer varieties-elephant ears, cannas, caladiums, gladiolas, dahlias, etc. fertilize can use all-purpose type-liquid, granular...spring varieties can be cut to ground  

Newly Installed Plants-all types-lawn-(sod or seed), annuals, trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, edibles, etc.-monitor closely for any unusual occurrence i.e. wilting, to holes in foliage, leaf color...

Pruning Spring Blooming Woodies (crabapple, quince, forsythia, redbud, lilac, etc.)-to shape or reduce size

June Bearing Strawberries-when finished fruit production - thin colony, remove any weeds, fertilize and mulch between rows

Plant Seed Now (for fall harvest)-pumpkin, broccoli, gourd...

Ground Cover (ivy, sedum, ajuga, phlox, pachysandra, moneywort, etc.)-fertilize, weed control (herbicide-control grassy weeds, hand dig broadleaf weed or paint herbicide on foliage)

Aquatics-(lotus, water lilies, water hyacinth, etc.) growth accelerates as water temperatures rise, fountains keep water aerated (reducing algae bloom)

Over-all Diseases and Pests-examine plants prone to or with a history of insect and disease problems-proper diagnosis with appropriate fast action can make a huge difference

Insects-Watch Out For

Mealy Bugs, Aphids, Thrips, Mites, Red Clover Mites, Slugs, Japanese Beetle, Bagworms, White Fly, Scale, Grasshoppers, Cucumber Beetle, Leaf Miner-are examples of potential insect problems in your landscape (some very damaging)-check plants in early morning, underside of foliage, along stems make positive identification before application of insecticide / miticides to save time / money while insuring best results

White Grubs (larval stage / baby beetles that feed on plant roots)-five varieties found in region; May, annual, green June, and Japanese, characteristics whitish curled body, brown head, three pairs of legs, some specifics annual grub found only in bluegrass lawn causing damage from summer into fall, 4 other types can be found anywhere in landscape from lawns to garden / bed space, June grubs push / stirs small amounts of dirt to surface while feeding-Grub Control-does not rid yard of moles-earthworms are moles main diet, located by moles as they hear earthworms tunneling through soil--grubs move very little making almost no sound so moles don't hear their location-grubs simply found by accident then eaten by moles as they move through soil seeking earthworms

Cicadas (locusts / re re's)-emergence / presence obvious by ‘screaming sound' and exoskeletons found attached to trunks, limbs, branches, major damage done as females slit underside of twigs to deposit eggs, causing twigs to die and drop-no effective control

Disease, Virus, Bacteria Problems-

earliest detection equals best results but reminder applications after visible signs slow / minimize damage, generally won't eradicate, whether in lawn, roses, trees, shrubs, etc.-make note of problem date, start applications next year before visual signs show up

Abnormal Physical (not insect or disease relate) Happenings

Wilting-many plant can during heat of day, check next morning if wilted water plant material, if remains wilted after watering likely root rot / poorly drained soil and or overwatering-discard plant

Discolored / Undersized Foliage, Lack of Flowering or Fruit Set-can be nutrient / moisture deficiency or abundance, incorrect timing, before taking action determine cause

General Care and Maintenance

Product Labels (read / re-read and understand) before any application-whether fertilizer, or any chemical to your landscape-do not mix at higher concentration rate than stated - can burn plant roots and or damage soils (living micro-organisms) causing plants to decline / struggle or die

Adding New Mulch-raises soil temperature, watering first to reduce damage potential, make light application of granular fertilizer, then add if needed (or rake lightly to refresh)--total depth (existing + new) herbaceous (between not over plants)-1-2", woodies 3-4" (keep away from bark)

Fertilizing (all plant material except trees)-use type formulated for plant type i.e. tomato fertilizer, rose fertilizer, bloom booster for annuals, application tip mulched area best results using powder water mixture-water carries nutrients through mulch and into the soil for plant use, granular types can be held in suspension by mulch, granular or liquid in lawns, pots, un-mulched garden spaces

Equipment-keep blades sharp, if removing diseased plant material before using on healthy plants dip tool / wipe mower blade with bleach / water mix to de-contaminate, make sure spreaders and sprayers are working properly before each application

 

MAY-opening ceremonies for summer games, April’s cool grayness extended blooming period once flora buds finally opened, having said good-bye to crocus, snowdrops, later flowering witchhazel, and daffodils, tulips are on cusp bloom time ending. While dogwoods say hooray along with crabapples, quince, lilacs alongside maples, willows, hawthorns companioned with boxwood, kerria, sweet mock orange as purple palace coral bells, Japanese painted fern and peonies erupt to delight, zoysia greening up says remember me as bluegrass and fescues keep humming a great tune. Much to see and do many things done in MAY can have a huge impact on everything from problem solving / preventing and aesthetics not only in this month but further into summer. Best result happen when using correct fertilizer i.e. for acid loving plants, tomato food, rose food…       

 

Looking for Impact

Summer (perennial and not hardy) Bulbs

Common Name (Impact / Color)                  Botanical Name            Location / Usage

Earlier Summer

Giant Flowering Onion (pale purple)        Allium giganteum*             Sun-in ground

King’s Spear / Fox Tail (yellow)               Eremurus spectablis*        Sun-in ground

Caladiums (various)                                 Caladium X hortulanum    Partial or Shade-in ground / pot

Kaffir Lily (orange)                                    Clivia minata                    Shady-in pot / houseplant

Mid Summer

Agapanthus (blue)                                   Agapanthus africanus        Partial or Shade-in pot

Canna (various)                                       Canna X generalis             Sun-in ground or pot

Elephant Ears (white)                              Colocasia esculeria            Sun-Shade-in ground or pot

Gladiola (various)                                    Gladiolus X hortulanum      Sun-in ground or pot

True Lilies (various)                                 Lilium sp.*                          Sun-Shade-in ground or pot

Red Spider Lily (red)                                Lycoris radiata*                  Sun-in ground

Pineapple lily (yellow)                              Eucomis comosa                Sun-in pot

Late Summer

Dahlia (various)                                       Dahlia hybrids                    Sun-in ground or pot

Fire of Eden (bright red)                          Crocosmia masonorum      Partial or Shade-in pot

Fall Crocus / Saffron (various)                Colchicum autumnal*         Sun-Part Shade-in ground

Surprise Lily (pink)                                  Lycoris squamigera*          Sun-Shade-in ground

 

*perennials stay in ground, not hardy varieties dig in fall, store indoors for replanting next May

 

Summer Color

Annuals (great in pot or ground-Check Label-for best growing location)

Common Name                                       Botanical Name                              Best / Biggest Impact

Persian Shield                                         Strobilanthes dyeranus                 Foliage          

Ageratum (floss flower)                         Ageratum houstonianum               Constant Flowering               

Sweet Alyssum                                       Alyssum maritime                          Flowering Carpet

Balsam                                                     Impatiens balsamisa                      Height, Flower / Foliage

Begonia                                                   Begonia (numerous varieties)      Size, Color, Foliage, Flora         

Blue Sage                                                Salvia farinacea                              Flower Shape

Cosmos                                                   Cosmos sulpherus                         Very Tall, Fine Texture

French Marigold                                     Tagetes patula                                Shorter, Thick Dense        

Globe Amaranth                                     Gomphrena globosa                      Flower Dry Easily

Impatiens                                                Impatiens (numerous varieties)    Great Flowering in Shade

Periwinkle                                               Catharanthus roseus                     Loves Heat, Humidity

Hyacinth Bean Vine                               Dolichos lablab                               Pea-Like Flowers, Pods

Summer Bulbs and Annuals-perform best with routine fertilizing / watering


Keep an Eye Open-for butterflies these graceful flyers, gliders, likely will be paying a visit-getting to know about them-no flying on cloudy day-sun used for orientation, eating-adult’s tongue is 2 parallel linked tubes (drinking straw-like) for nectar sipping usually multiple locations on same flower cluster, larva / caterpillar-mouth parts have very sensitive hairs (maxillae) which are used for tasting and testing possible food whether floral or foliage-adult weight 1 / 2 of a gram-identification is by wing coloration which is a structurally a series of shingles (overlapping roof-like), pigmentation ranging from reds, oranges, grays, whites, blues which can have an iridescent metallic appearance this is created by a prism like scale attached on a shingle that bend and refract light

 

Equipment-before first use and then each month take time to check-sprayers to sprinklers, mowers to pruners, hoses to shovels, spreaders…clean, oil, sharpen, check, calibrate for correct application rate, replace as needed, invaluable to prevent tip or end fraying (better chance for disease / insect / health problem) don't take chances spreading diseases or physically damaging plants

 

Reminders-always read / understand / follow label(s) prior to 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 at full label rate for future applications, rainfall within 24 hours of application rain may diminish or eliminate desired results

 

New Plant Installations-check closely before buying for insects / diseases once planted water daily for 7-14 days, then monitor closely through summer (root establishment period)-wilting during heat of day can be natural reaction to conserve moisture by plant closing breathing pores, check wilted plants after sunset or early morning if still wilted, watering is needed-woody plants no pruning first year except dead or damage parts, herbaceous plants remove damaged foliage / spent flowers

 

Fungus-any plant with history of problems, whether lawn, roses, lilac, hawthorn, crabapple, phlox, start application of fungicide before problem is obvious / visible to minimizes potential damage-check with favorite garden center if unsure what’s happening and for best product for specific situation

 

Insects / Bugs-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- most chemical insect controls / sprays must hit ‘bug’ directly or it is a waste of time, energy and money-tent caterpillars-destroy web / nests, red clover mites (scampering tiny dots-when squashed smear red) minimal plant damage for any type of mite (have eight legs vs. six)-apply ‘miticide’ not insecticide-bagworms-easiest killed when young / small in crawler phase movement along branch / twig-proper diagnosis is followed with appropriate action to minimize damage-watch lawn areas for sod webworms emerging-scale 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-Scotch and Mugho Pines-watch for sawfly larva (black caterpillar) eating needles-squash to kill or apply insecticide


Weeds (cool season annual types) i.e. henbit, speedwell, chickweed…disappear as temperatures rise after dropping tons of seed (germination next mid/late August-apply pre-emergent at that time to control)-warm season perennial (thistle, clover, dandelions, violets…) and annual (spurge, nutgrass, plantain, crabgrass…) weeds development accelerated with higher temperatures-control hand dig or herbicide (with positive identification) before application, many perennial types will take repeated applications and possibly over several years to entirely eradicate

 

Lawns-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 but use caution when considering feeding fescue or bluegrass could cause problems for cool season types as temperatures rise

 

Quickies-Reminder-this is busiest month for garden centers / staff, when in need of help-be patient

Cut Down Spring Flowering Bulb Foliage-when it’s ½ brown-Ground Covers-fertilize ½ label rate-Ornamental Grasses-existing-cut and discard brown blades, can divided or relocated-Roses-carefully remove any remaining mulch, fertilize and begin insect and disease control-Ornamental Trees-watch for disease and insects, anticipate final petal drop and foliage emergence-Shrubs-no pruning on summer blooming varieties (except stem, branches showing no signs of new growth) prune spring (after flowering), and evergreen types to control growth and habit, fertilize with granular or water soluble, monitor insect and disease problems-Perennials-fertilize actively growing plants, with granular or water soluble-Trees-keep an eye out and look for any unusual growth identify the problem take action if needed-Vines-no pruning on summer bloomers, remove dead stems- Broadleaf Evergreens-fertilize after flowering get best results by using a formula specific formulated for acid loving plants, transplant now and or install new plant material-Tropical Houseplants-whether indoors and out fertilize monthly, water to keep potting mix damp not soggy-Herbs-low care grow in full sun, well-drained soil or in pots with potting mixes, no need to fertilize, over fertilizing impairs taste / fragrance-Birds-can consume some insect pests, so provide water and good habitats for resting / nesting-Lightning Bugs-begin showing up on warm nights, reminder both larvae and adults are predators of several damaging insects / bugs-Mums-cut 1/3 stem length to increase branching, adding to fall flower count and fertilize

 

EXPECT APRIL AESTHETICS to be FANTASTIC ala roller coaster ride-whether enjoying status quo and or adding to current landscape characteristics while MARCH'S wet / coolish hangover and APRIL FOOLS DAY sleet / rain / snow, unexpected low temps during April first week should soon be forgotten, marvel as Spring Explodes with brand new 2018 happenings-APRIL equals unbelievable

Flight-ed Happenings-Hummingbirds heading north from winter home in Central America, wasp and hornet queens begin nesting, bees of all sorts will be out and about-be(e) conscious of their presence along with other pollinating insects, please don't spray insecticides on blooming fruit trees or flowering shrubs

Making Best Bed Space, then Picking Out / Purchasing Plants-a)-check everything where water sits / runs, underground utility lines / wires, near-by plantings-b). new garden, additions to existing one-delineate area, control / remove unwanted vegetation-c). measure square footage of space, purchase or have on hand amendments (compost), 2 cubic yards per 100 square feet of garden-d). work / turn over ground, layer 2" of amendments mix with existing, continue adding 2" at a time and blending, this will raise planting area 6", rake surface to insure slope away from any building-e). purchasing plants-spend time checking leaves / stems-consistency of size, color, rigidity, is plant leaning, thin or stretched out, feel potting mix for moisture (not soggy-or moldy smelling), any insects present on plant, soil surface, pot bottom, purchase only healthiest plants-now at home place plants out of direct sun and water-keep damp until planting time-best if not held more than 7 days

Down and Dirty-Plant Installation / Transplanting-day before installation / transplanting water designated area planting area, plant material schedule for relocation and keep all newly purchased plants (pre-installation) well-watered-Containerized Plant Installation-many plants decline and or are very slow to establish due to improper planting follow these steps dig hole 3 times root diameter-depth 2/3 root length so top of root ball is above surrounding ground / bed space, potted plant removal-tip container upside down-with stem cluster between fingers, jiggle until plant slips out, shake free some potting mix look check for white (healthy) roots, overly tangled roots gently loosen, and spread, root check hole depth-if okay hold plant upright, backfill soil and tamp, check depth again top of roots above surrounding surface, water immediately-if soil sinks around plant add more backfill, suggest pinching off flowers / fruit to reduce stress on newly installed plants, spread mulch over crown, watering is last step before walking away, reducing chance of root dehydration, do not allow wilting for at least first 2 weeks after installation check daily and water if needed, but don't over water this can cause root rot which will give a wilted appearance

Finished Planting now What About Now Empty Plastic Containers, Pots, Flats, Cell Packs-consider recycling, ask at favorite garden center or check MO. Botanical Garden to see if they collect / recycle clean plastic containers / flats info www.mobot.org/plasticpotrecycling/ Pots / Containers Part 2-any that contained diseased plants last year-empty and discard potting mix, wash pot inside and out with dish washing soap and water before re-using, refill with new potting mix

Be Colorful and Generous-did you happen to buy more plants then you need or when making purchases why not pick up a few extra plants, or if plant divisions provided some overflow-contact Gateway Greening, Brightside St. Louis and make a donation of these plants for community gardens and public spaces-

Bulbs, Bulbs and more Bulbs-fertilize all spring (crocus, snowdrops, daffodils...) bloomers at label rate, remove shriveled flowers, don't rubber band leaves (reduces food production capabilities) increasing chance of disappoint for spring '19-summer / tropical (elephant ears, canna, caladiums...) types pot up and place in warm locations to break dormancy and stimulate growth, locate bulbs or pots in permanent location mid or late month or early, Easter lilies-are hardy, plant outdoors post blooming, dig hole 5-6" deep in well drained area, allow foliage to remain to build bulb strength for next year

Instant Impact - Tropicals / Houseplants-over-wintered or new purchase-even sun tolerant varieties need to acclimate to direct sunlight after 11:00a.m.-initially place in part shade location for 2-4 weeks so they can adjust and minimize leaf sun burn, after that sun loving plants should be ready for afternoon or all day sun bathing, but always be conscious of leaf burn / scorch, all plants need to be fertilized / kept watered routinely 

Be Pro-Active-Catch Troubles Early-control is easiest during early stages of any problems-Insects (mites, tent caterpillars, bagworms, white flies, etc.) have wintered over in various stages from eggs, larva, or adults hidden in natural splits of tree bark, in last year's fallen vegetation, underside of boards (slugs / snails) rockery crevices, downspout piping, stacks of wood, virtually everywhere - remember some even tried to come inside your home (box elder bugs or lady bugs) to wait the winter out, 1). Realize soil and air temperatures that trigger grand showings by plant material do the same thing for head and heartaches-examples as maple trees finish flowering look out for-tent caterpillar (thick webbing in branches), pine sawflies (worms on candles of pines), spider mites (on houseplants just brought outdoors), other insects eating and or laying eggs-Correctly identify insects in area of concern (many aren't problematic) look at options in relationship to potential damage-chemical, cultural, physical, and natural bacteria, predators / parasites each with pluses and minuses- regardless of choice always read and follow label before applying / releasing anything to best results-Diseases (fungus, bacteria) and keep an eye for spring lawn fungus especially if there is a history of trouble, watch for orange, jelly-like galls / blobs on cedars / junipers, this is cedar apple rust can impact apples, crabapples and hawthorns foliage, new growth, overall health Weeds-very diverse group-control is very type specific, vary adaptable to almost everywhere either annual, biennial or perennial life cycle, spread with underground growth and or seed dispersal-broadleaf wide with branched veins-examples; dandelions, violets, chickweed, and spurge-grass slender reeds with veins running parallel to margin-examples; crabgrass, wild onions / garlic, goose grass-sedges / nutgrass-narrow greenish yellow grass-like blades forming a triangle at ground-Control-first correct identification apply labeled herbicide--other control options digging, landscape fabric, mulch remember total eradication can take several years of battling, no matter course of action taken

Fertilize-many cases if is best to apply fertilizer formulated for special group / type (i.e. acid loving, annuals, vegetables) of plant, begin at first signs of active growth plants, amount and frequency according to label

Lawns-sharpen mower blades (reduce disease potential) blade height 2.5-3.0", core aerate / compost spreading, or power rake cool season (blue grass / fescues) varieties, can be seeded or sodded, zoysia action weather dependent when greening starts make first mowing blade height 1-1.5" if possible bag or mulch clippings to reduce thatch, for additional mowing blade height 2-2.5"

Roses-reduce mulch leave 1-2" over crown, set fungicide (read label) program for black spot, mildew, etc. spray every other week (weather dependent), make first application of rose fertilizer 

Water Bog Garden-clear / clean surroundings, basin, waterfalls, pots of debris, change out water if needed, check survival of hardy plant, discard any showing soft bruised areas, check fish
 
 
  

 


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


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