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In This Issue
~ Are Your Roses OK? ~ Healthy Houseplants, Healthy Home ~ More Growin', More Mowin'
~ Hydrangea Helper ~ Do Not Disturb ~ This Week's Photos
~ Showers For Flowers ~ Precipitation Estimation ~ Inspiration
 
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Shrub Pruning Calendar
~ Pruning Clematis 
~ Gardening in the Shade
~ Summer-Flowering Bulb Care
~ Drought-Tolerant Flowers for KC
~ Preparing for a Soil Test
~ Changing the pH of Your Soil
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~ Cold Frames & Hot Beds
~ When to Divide Perennials
~ Dividing Spring Blooming Perennials
~ Forcing Bulbs Indoors
~ Overseeding A Lawn
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~ Trees that Survived the Storm
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This Week's Photos

~ April 23, 2008 ~

Good Lessons...
I spent a full day Monday with my youngest son Jake and his fourth grade class at the Ernie Miller Nature Center. What a great place to teach children about so many important things. We learned about consumers, producers and de-composers. The program allows the children to wonder around the grounds searching for clues. Once they solve the clue they receive a puzzle piece. The end result was a large puzzle with all pieces intact explaining what we need to have on earth to survive. It was a great field trip and the weather was warm and dry. Who could ask for a better day?

Here's a big welcome to Johnson Farms, a new Savvygardener supporter. The Johnson Farm is located in Belton, Missouri. Jeanne and Tom Johnson have been in the farming business for over thirty years, and enjoy sharing the beauty of their 140 acre farm. They are in their fifth season of offering "more flowers for less dollars" to the Kansas City-area, and look forward to seeing you and your neighbors this spring for your garden and landscape needs. Johnson Farms is full service nursery with many beautiful plants to choose from. Sounds like a place I need to visit. Won't you join me?

As you can see we are riding the spring roller coaster. Rainy one day, sunny, warm, and humid the next. How about that storm we had early Tuesday morning? The thunder was on top of our house and the hail pelted our windows. I love sleeping when it storms but must admit this one was noisy. We seemed to get a good dose of rain which is fine by me. The less I have to water the happier my wallet is. We are headed into a week of unstable weather. Hopefully we will have a few days to plant. Remember, do not work the soil if it is wet. The soil needs to crumble in your hands like chocolate cake (video). Working wet soil will only set you and your plants up for failure. Be savvy!

~ Shelly   

Are Your Roses OK?
This is a good time to check your hybrid tea roses for any damage they might have sufferered over our long winter. The extent of damage, if any at all, will vary based on where your roses are growing and what protection they were provided during the freeze periods.  Take a look at the canes to inspect for damage:

  • If the ends of canes are mushy cut them back to more normal growth.
  • Brown canes should be scraped to determine whether the cambium is alive. If not, simply cut back the canes to live growth.
  • Green canes are probably healthy and can be left alone.

Most hybrid teas are propagated by budding. If all the growth above the bud union is dead, the plant should be dug up and discarded. Plants grown on their own roots can be allowed to sprout from the base.

Source

Hydrangea Helper...
Hydrangeas are wonderful.  Especially when they bloom.  You're not alone if you are sometimes (or often) frustrated by otherwise beautiful and healthy-looking hydrangeas that just won't bloom.  There are reasons for this of course.  Here are the likely ones:

  • Improper Pruning
    Some bloom on old wood, some on new season's growth.  For example, the popular 'Annabelle' varieties bloom on new growth and are consequently best cut back hard in the early spring.  By contrast, the Bigleaf hydrangea will grow in Kansas City but will not usually flower because the flowers develop on old (last season's growth) wood.  Since flower buds lack the cold hardiness of the foliage buds, they are often killed by our cold winters.
  • Too Much Shade
    While they will do all right in partial shade or full sunlight, too much shade could keep them from flowering
  • Too Much Nitrogen
    Fertilizing with high nitrogen fertilizers will limit blooms.  Try using a fertilizer with less nitrogen "N" and more Phosphorous "P".    

Source

Showers For Flowers...
April is certainly living up to it's traditional billing by gracing us with much needed showers. Hopefully we will continue to get the inch of rain per week that our gardens need.  Unfortunately most years bring us long periods of dry, hot weather requiring diligent watering to keep our flowers looking their best.

If staying on top of watering isn't your idea of a good time you can always choose your flowers accordingly.  A drought-tolerant flower garden should include the following:

Annuals

Burning Bush, Kochia Gazania, Gazania
Creeping Zinnia, Sanvitalia Mexican Sunflower, Tithonia
Dusty Miller, Senecio Rose Moss, Portulaca
Four O'Clock, Mirabilis Salvia, Salvia farinacea

Perennials

Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia Iris, Iris
Blanket Flower, Gaillardia Sage, Salvia
Butterfly Flower, Asclepias Sedum
Gayfeather, Liatris Tickseed, Coreopsis

For a more complete list of drought-tolerant flowers that grow well in the Kansas City area click here.

Healthy Houseplants, Healthy Home...
Did you know that houseplants are making your home a healthier place? Over a decade ago NASA scientists discovered that plants are capable of removing volatile organic compounds (VOC's) from the air. The gases most often studied include formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, toluene, ammonia, acetone, methyl alcohol, ethyl acetate, and trichlorethylene. The plants listed below (in no particular order) are proven effective in this arena:

  • Palms (Chrysalidocarpus, Rhapis, Chamaedorea, and Phoenix)
  • Fern (Nephrolepis)
  • Corn Plant and Dragon Tree (Dracaena)
  • Rubber Plant and Weeping Fig (Ficus)
  • English Ivy (Hedera)
  • Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
  • Florist Mum (Dendranthemum)
  • Gerber Daisy (Gerbera)
  • Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia)
  • Schefflera (Brassaia)
  • Orchids (Dendrobium and Phalaenopsis)
  • Spider Plant (Chlorophytum)
  • Philodendron (Philodendron)
  • Arrowhead Plant (Syngonium)
  • Pothos (Epipremnum)
  • Dwarf Banana (Musa)
  • Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)

Source

Do Not Disturb...
If you plan on growing vining fruits and vegetables like cucumber, cantaloupe, summer squash, and watermelon make sure you start the seeds indoors in peat pots. These vining plants don't appreciate having their roots disturbed and the peat pots make it possible to effectively transplant them.

Precipitation Estimation...
Here's a fact that's easy to remember: Most plants need 1 inch of water per week. But how can you be sure? The precipitation figures you hear on the local weather broadcasts may have little in common with what actually falls in your garden. A simple rain gauge is the answer. They are available for a couple of dollars at most hardware and garden stores and are perfectly adequate for the job. Placement is critical - make sure the rain gauge has an unobstructed "view" to the sky. For example, you don't want it under awnings or tree limbs.

More Growin', More Mowin'...
Most of us think of mowing the lawn as a weekly task.  This time of year however the grass is growing so fast that you probably need to mow it a bit more often.  Remember that you don't want to cut off more than 1/3 of the height of the grass in any single mowing.  In our yard that means mowing twice per week.  It won't last long and the extra investment in time will yield a healthier more durable lawn when the summer heat sets in.

Finally...
"I would not enter on my list of friends the man who needlessly sets foot upon a worm. "

~ William Cowper

 

 


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