SPRING GARDENING TIPS
Which is the correct way to apply Mulch?
Mulch should be applied in a “doughnut” shape in the drip zone of trees and shrubs, not a “volcano”. Excessive mulching wastes money and eventually leads to distress of trees, encouraging surface roots to grow into the mulch as well as rot organisms and insects to invade the soften bark tissue covered by mulch.
The worst material you can use is fresh grass clippings, peat moss, sawdust, mulch that smells bad, ground up rubber, stones, pavers or black plastic. The best mulch choices include shredded hardwood mulch, organic mulch, recycled pallets, ground red pine bark and pine straw.
You should always be able to see the flare of the tree trunk. Our IPM (Integrated Pest Management) Certified Technicians at Exterior Image are here to visit your site and provide an analysis of symptoms/signs to give you the best recommendations. Please contact us at 410-956-1344 for more information.
Spring Pruning of Roses for Health and Beauty
As buds swell and growth begins in April here in Maryland, you should have a good idea of what tissue is dead and what is alive. Begin by pruning dead canes from a result of winter damage or fungal causing cankers. This wood will be white or tan and may have cankers with raised pimple like fungal spore structures present. Stems may be girdled and should be pruned well below the visible symptoms. Do not compost or chip these canes. Darker canes killed by cold temperatures are usually dark and can be pruned with debris composted or chipped.
Depending on the kind of rose, many species such as climbers and older hybrid roses bloom off side buds from the previous year’s growth. Pruning can significantly reduce flower, so it is better to wait till the first flush of bloom to prune. Roses that have not been pruned regularly may need up to 20% of the oldest cane removed near the base of the plants. Ever-blooming roses which bloom on new basal canes can be pruned severely, thinned out to open up center and promote symmetry.
All pruning cuts should be above a swelling bud and at a 45 degree angle with the high side of the cut right above the bud. When possible, prune the can so the outward facing bud will direct new growth outward from the center of the plant. This allows for faster drying of canopy to reduce and discourage black spot and powdery mildew foliar diseases.
Perennial Plant of the Year – Baptisia Australis
Blue false indigo grows three to four feet tall and three to four feet wide in an upright habit. This exceptional perennial grows across a wide range of zones and is one of the most adaptable native species.
Newly emerging shoots produce violet-blue, lupine-like flowers in erect 10- to 12-inch racemes atop flower stems extending well above the foliage mound of clover-like, trifoliate, bluish-green leaves. The spring flowers are present for three to four weeks. The flowers give way to inflated seed pods which turn charcoal black when ripe and which flower arrangers consider to be ornamental. The common name, blue false indigo, refers to the use of this perennial by early Americans as a dye.
Baptisia Australis is an excellent plant to anchor the back of the border. It is also valuable for cottage gardens, native plant gardens, and native area of prairies and meadows. It is best as a specimen or planted in small groups. Blue false indigo can be used with bulbs and other spring flowering perennials to make interesting combinations.
- Light – Plants thrive in full sun. Plants grown in partial shade may require staking.
- Soil – This North American native is easily grown in well-drained soil and is drought tolerant after establishment.
- Uses – This spring flowering shrub-like perennial may be used to fill the back of the border or in the wild garden.
- Unique Qualities – The combination of flower and leaf color is dramatic in the early blooming season. Flowers are followed by inflated seed pods that are useful for dried flower arrangements.
- Hardiness – USDA zones 3-9
(sited from Perennial Plant Association – http://www.perennialplant.org/.
SUMMER GARDENING TIPS
By providing an environment that optimizes growth of beneficial organisms and to discourage insect and disease infections by increasing healthy plant growth, build up your garden soil with composted leaf grow or yard waste. The different types of mulch available can impact microorganisms and nitrogen availability. Hardwood mulch often hardens and forms a barrier to moisture which lessens the break down of these materials that provide nutrient availability. Nitrogen is more readily available when composted material is used. Additional fertilizer may be required when using hardwood mulches over compost mulch.
Be on the lookout a week or two before, during and after the July fourth weekend for young bagworms to emerge from the eggs wintered over in last year’s cases that look like pine cones to the untrained eye. As these larvae feed, they build a new silken case around them and feed on bits of leaves as they grow and the case enlarges. They are especially problematic on evergreens such as Leyland Cypress, Pines, and Spruces but will feed on many deciduous plants. They produce silken threads that will balloon them to different trees, so don’t forget to inspect your neighbor’s plants as a potential source of entry to your property. If noticed, the first choice of defense is to handpick the cases. Next use of a B.t. (Bacillus thuringiensis) product like Dipel is very effective and is very user friendly. If allowed to grow larger, an insecticide like Orthene, Tempo or Talstar must be used.
Deer repellents should be part of your gardening arsenal and must be applied frequently especially after rainfall or extended sunny days. Products such as coyote, bobcat or wolf urine have anecdotally been promoted for use around ornamentals to repel deer. They are applied onto cotton balls and placed in dispensers that can be hung near or on specimen plants. Other anecdotal products to suggest using to deter deer browsing plants include placing old panty hose or knee highs filled with human hair, milorganite (sludge bi-product), blood meal and/or bars of highly scented soap like Irish Spring or Dial. Hanging aluminum pie plates or old CD’s from nylon fishing line on plant materials that reflect in the sun and wind is another possibility to try. A pulsating sprinkler that can be timed to turn on in the early evening and morning areas when deer are most apt to be out foraging for food can scare them for a time. Replacement and alternating products is the key. There is no such thing as deer resistant plant material and the best we can do is to find a balance that doesn’t drive us crazy. If at all possible, consider the use of invisible deer fencing at least 10′ high to keep them out of your yard.
FALL GARDENING TIPS
Our Chesapeake Bay area continues to deal with deer that feed on garden bulbs. Considered planting Daffodils, Alliums and Lycoris bulbs, hardy in our planting Zone 6B. There are many varieties to choose from to naturalize in your landscape. When massed, these bulbs are impressive and produce a burst of color and fragrance that can wake up your gardens. Planting groups of each of these bulbs offer blossoms through our growing season. Daffodils bloom first in April/May, Alliums in June/July and Lycoris in July/August.
Fall Perennials and Shrubs
Fall offers an opportunity to plant perennials and shrubs that bloom during this final season of the year. Asters, Anemones, Chrysanthemums, Sedum, Colchium, Itea (Virginia Sweetspire), and Oak Leaf Hydrangeas are just a few landscape choice plants that offer continued bloom from late August through October. Many of these shrubs are native to our area.
Fall is the best time to be dividing perennials such as Shasta daisy, Coreopsis, Rudbeckia (Black Eyed Susan), Penstemon, Hosta’s and Ornamental grasses such as Pennisetum and Miscanthus. Every 5 years it is recommend that you divide these plants to maintain the longevity that they provide. Division is usually started when growth resumes in the Spring.
The process starts by digging around the plant and then lifting the entire clump out of the ground. Then, using a spade or sharp knife, start to cut the clump up so that each clump is the size of a quart or gallon-sized perennial.
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