This Week's Gardening Tips from the Savvygardener
Missouri Organic Mulch, Compost, Bulk Soil
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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Feature Articles

~ All About Composting
~ All About Mulch
~ Worm Composting
~ Houseplant Care
~ When to Start
Seeds Indoors
~ Seed Starting Indoors
~ Vegetable Garden Calendar
~ Seed Starting Tomatoes


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
~ Growing Herbs
~ When to Harvest Vegetables
~ Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
~ Organic Pesticides & Biopesticides
~ Cold Frames & Hot Beds
~ When to Divide Perennials
~ Dividing Spring Blooming Perennials
~ Forcing Bulbs Indoors
~ Overseeding A Lawn
~ Pruning Trees
~ Pruning Shrubs
~ Planting Trees
~ Deer Resistant Plants
~ Trees that Survived the Storm
~ Stump Removal Options for the Homeowner
~ More...
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This Week's Photos

~ April 21, 2010 ~

Want the Rain, Need the Rain...
For those of you who have already started planting, good for you. That means you have a jump on the growing season. It looks like that we are close to being done with the temperatures dipping down into the low 40's. The 10 day forecast shows the lows in the low to middle 50's. I feel as if all my plants are on steroids. They are so much bigger and healthier than last year. This is my third gardening season at this house and the landscape is slowly coming together. Time - it is not for those of us who need and want instant gratification, but time is what it takes when you start from scratch and plant everything new. The third season has paid off. The choices I've made have been good ones and I may have to re-locate a few plants due to unexpected growth. That is something which always seems to happen. A problem, if you choose to look at it that way, is one that all of us gardeners learn to deal with.

My allergies are still keeping me inside for now. I am hoping that the rain we are suppose to get between now and Saturday will settle the pollens. I hate being inside knowing there is so much to be done outside. Not only do I want the rain but we need the rain. It has been a couple of weeks since we have had any and our gardens have been growing quickly so we are now at the point where an inch of water a week is needed. I'm going to keep my umbrella handy just in case.

~ Shelly   

Are Your Roses OK?
This is a good time to check your hybrid tea roses for any damage they might have suffered 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.


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".


Showers For Flowers...
April hasn't yet lived up to it's traditional billing of gracing us with much needed showers. Hopefully we will soon start to get the inch of rain per week that our gardens need. Unfortunately most years we can count on 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:


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


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 follow this link.

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)


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.

"The ivy falls with the Bacchanal's hair
Over her eyebrows hiding her eyes;
The wild vine slipping down leaves bare
Her bright breast shortening into sights;
The wild vine slips with the weight of its leaves,
But the berried ivy catches and cleaves..."

~ Algernon Charles Swinburne, from "Atlanta" (1866)



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