Good Gardening in 2018 

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Roaring Colorful Growing Games is what APRIL means, yes there were hints of more to come (winter aconite, witch hazel…) in February / March but now plant’s rocket is lifting off launching pad to orbit and excite for next several months

Every Product-Even Organic-Read and Reread all Labels (fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides)-prior to application whether you’ve used a product for many years or this is first time find out by reading, understanding and following the who, what, when, where, and how i.e. dilution rate, companion mixes, temperature / environmental factors, safety equipment and or use frequency, etc. information on labels result from extensive testing by manufacturer and other agencies

Something Flew By-could be blue jays reinforcing / building a nest with twigs from your maple tree, maybe doves switching places sitting on eggs, robins are all over, cardinals, juncos, sparrows, grackos, turkeys, cooper hawks among others are out, later in month possibility of catching sight of hummingbirds heading northward after Central American winter vacation

Canine Lovers-forget about growing anything where dogs routinely walk / run paws compact / compress soil insuring plant / lawn death if weeds can’t grow nothing will-consider paw friendly mulch 

Eruption of Troublemakers-realize soil and air temperatures that trigger grand showings by plant material do the same thing for troublemakers who 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, stacks of wood, in soil (grubs) virtually everywhere, remember last fall some box elder adults tried to come indoors-watch out as maple trees finish flowering-tent caterpillars build thick webbing in branches, pine sawflies worms eating candles / needles of pines, red spider mites webs appear so quickly, more bad bug wise is happening, bagworms hatching / crawling, white flies hovering, leaf miner scribbling, etc.) Prior To Taking Action-correctly identify suspected troublemaker (many aren’t problematic to plants) for any needing control look at options-chemical, cultural, physical, and natural bacteria, predators / parasites each with pluses / minuses- regardless of choice always read and follow label before applying / releasing anything to get best results-

Honey be(e) and pollinators consciousness-are out so avoid spraying any insecticide on plants in flower also early morning or late in day application would help  

Good Plant Growth Starts in the Soil-from chemistry / nutrient availability (soil testing reveals) to drainage it starts underground-expanding or creating new bed space unsure of underground utilities, companies will flag / paint location, be aware of anything overhead and existing plant material next measure square footage of space, new area needs 2 cubic yards per 100 square feet that is worked into ground, improving bed area blend 3-4” around existing plants, final step leveling surface and insure 1” every 10’ of slope away from structures to aid drainage  

Insure Plant Quality-pre-purchase-spend time check foliage / stems / branching / trunk-size, color, rigidity, rigor, damage, weak / thin appearance, check growing medium related to moisture, look for  insects or foliar discoloration select only healthiest plants-once before installation sit plants out of direct sun, keep growing medium damp not wet, best to plant within a week of purchase

Relocating / Installing New Plants (site and plant material day before)-planting hole width 3 times root ball-depth 2/3 of root insuring (crown-stem trunk root system intersection) when placed into hole will be above surrounding ground / bed space, containerized-tip upside down-with stem / trunk cluster between fingers, jiggle until plant slips out, shake freeing some growing medium check for white (healthy) roots, overly tangled roots gently loosen, and spread roots, check hole depth-if okay hold plant upright, backfill (compost can be added but no fertilizer) and tamp, make sure top of root ball remains above surroundings, water immediately-if soil sinks around plant add more backfill, then cover exposed root ball with 1” of soil / compost, remove flowers / fruit reducing acclimation stress, cover top of root ball with mulch then water again to minimize root dehydration, check closely for next month water if foliage wilting is observed Notes-paint tree trunks with white interior latex paint to prevent sunburn, will gradually weather off--butterfly bush, dogwood, rose of Sharon, black (not sweet) gum, vitex, red bud, magnolia, tulip poplar, birch, ginkgo, hawthorn and most oaks are best installed / transplanted in spring vs. fall 

Being Thoughtful-Recycle Empty Plastic Containers, Pots, Flats, Cell Packs-consider asking at favorite garden center or check MO. Botanical Garden website ( for collection sites

Overbought or Over Buy on Purpose-contact Gateway Greening, Brightside St. Louis or local community gardens / public spaces and donate-

Clicking Bulbs-increase wattage for next year by fertilizing monthly until foliage begins to yellow for spring (tulips, crocus, snowdrops, daffodils…) enlighteners, apply at label rate, remove shriveled flowers, don’t rubber band leaves (reduces food production capabilities), bulbous lilies are making presence known by pushing up and out of the ground meaning fertilize them, next get moving on bringing the tropics into your landscape (dahlias, gladiolas, elephant ears, canna, caladiums…) pot up or plant in bed spaces, reminder received or purchase Easter lilies when finished enjoying indoors this hardy bulb can be planted outdoors in well drained sunny location place in hole 5-6” deep, keep foliage until tan, then cut off stem

Unwelcomed Guests-Cool / Warm Season Annual and Perennial Weeds-April’s temperature just right for triggering cool season flowering and germination of warm season seeds, and awakens perennial weeds-maybe all over due to adaptability, thought you were rid of them at end of last year well SURPRISE check closely lawn and bed spaces-for broad categories broadleaf-examples; henbit, thistle, dandelion, violet, plantain, chickweed, spurge…-narrow bladed foliage-examples; annual blue grass, foxtail, crabgrass, wild onions / garlic, goose grass…-sedges / nutgrass-narrow greenish yellow blades emerge from ground in triangular shape-Control-make correct identification to determine what product will be most effective whether selecting organic or inorganic herbicides-mix and apply according to label-non-chemical options hand digging, landscape fabric, mulch…

Wanting Fresh Air-overwintered or newly purchased taste of the tropics houseplants regardless of variety DON’T place direct sun for 2-4 week acclimation period to prevent leaf scorch / sun burning-fertilize every few weeks and water to prevent drought stress

Higher Humidity Warmer Temperatures-can trigger fungus, disease, bacteria problems watch everything (lawn, ground covers to vines, shrubs, trees)-catching trouble early make control easier-just like with weeds-identify what is happening prior to making any application to have best luck eradicating, could take multiple applications-READ LABEL

Getting Things in Good Shape-remove all dead (non-budding) broken or cracked branches, limbs, prune summer bloomers before new growth begins and spring bloomers after flowering is finished, minimize pruning of broadleaf evergreens until mid-month to prevent damage if there is a late freeze-longer limbs / branches cut off in sections to prevent bark tearing, make final cut leaving ¼” stub and final cut at 45 degree angle to stimulate healing         

Green Green Grass of Home-Lawns-cool season (fescue, bluegrass) loving it while zoysia is just waking up-all varieties can be core aerated, then spread compost to benefit soil (drops into aeration hole), cool season types seed or lay sod (not if pre-emergent has or will be applied-final date for application is April 15 for effectiveness), mow with blade height 2.5”-first zoysia cutting blade height 1-2” to clear thatch (bag during or rake afterwards to clear debris)-fertilize using soil test results to determine best fertilizer  

Climbers, Shrubs, Miniatures, Floribunda, Hybrid Tea-Roses are Waking Up-getting them ready for the big show-remove mulches, complete pruning (especially any stems not pushing out new growth), add compost to soil to enliven, make application of rose food, set fungicide (read label) program for black spot, mildew, etc. spray every other week (weather dependent) as preventive vs. post emergent

Wonderful Sounds, Great Reflectivity, Uniqueness Unmatched in Water Features-remove plant debris from bottom, test pump / fountain / waterfall for proper working-flush if needed, if new water is added there could be algae growth, if algaecide is necessary and fish are present don’t treat entire volume at once       




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