~ 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.
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.
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:
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.
While they will do all right in partial shade or full
sunlight, too much shade could keep them from flowering
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
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)
Plant and Dragon Tree (Dracaena)
Plant and Weeping Fig (Ficus)
(Dendrobium and Phalaenopsis)
- Pothos (Epipremnum)
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.
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)