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Prepare For Fall September 17th, 2018

PREPARE FOR FALL

It’s time to start thinking about bringing in your houseplants that have been outside for the summer.  Once the temperature starts to dip in the mid to low 50’s at night most houseplants should be inside.

A couple of exceptions would be Christmas cactus and geraniums.  Cool weather and some sunshine will usually cause cactus to develop flower buds.  Geraniums while they won’t survive freezing will hold up under a light frost.

Before I bring in my houseplants there are some things I like to do to prevent bringing in unwanted pests and disease.  First, I like to prune pretty hard.  Any plants that need repotting before coming inside I repot and root prune.  Second, I wash the plants well.  I take the garden hose and wash them standing up and then lay them on the side and try to wash the bottom of the leaf.  If they are in pots small enough to handle easily I fill a tub with water and set them in the tub and leave them until they stop bubbling.  This eliminates soil insects.  As soon as they stop bubbling I bring them out and let them drain and leave them to dry.  The last thing I do is spray them with a house plant insecticide.  As soon as all this is done inside they come.

The cactus and geraniums mentioned above will need to be brought in or protected from freezing weather or hard frost. Geraniums I toss.  If you want to over winter them I would cut them back by two thirds or more.

Tropical plants such as hibiscus or a non-frost hardy gardenia I treat a little differently. I leave them out until nights start to dip into the 40’s.  I then do what I recommended for my houseplants except I prune a little harder.  I don’t worry about where I put them when I bring them inside.  No matter where I put them the leaves seem all fall off over the winter.  If you have a bright sun porch they might keep most of their leaves over the winter but dropping their leaves does not seem to hurt the plants.  I cut back on watering while they are inside.  I water, maybe, every two or three weeks while they are inside.

In the Spring when I set them outside I fertilize heavily, water thoroughly and new growth starts in a few days and soon they burst into bloom.

The houseplants come back outside soon after the tropical plants.  I follow the same fertilizer and watering routine for them.

We are now ready for another summer.

 
The Ways Of Nature August 29th, 2018

THE WAYS OF NATURE

I guess it’s only natural having been involved in some form of agriculture most of my life but I find the ways of nature fascinating.  I grew up on a tobacco farm, I sold fertilizer and agricultural chemicals for 11 years owned a fertilizer blending plant and farm supply store, landscaped for 15 years and owned a retail nursery and garden center for almost thirty years.  All of this and I am only 39 years old. Believe that and I have some Arizona beach front property for sale.

After all of that I still find the ways of Mother Nature interesting.  I see things in nature daily that raise questions in my mind.  I have a sun coleus in a large pot at the end of my driveway slightly shaded on one side and in bright sun on the other.  The shaded side is very dark in color, the side in sun is light and faded in color.  Did you know the sun will fade a plant just like it will fade a piece of clothing hung out on a clothes line to dry. I can turn that plant around and in a weeks time, the colors will reverse.

That beautiful purple Japanese maple planted as an understory will retain its color almost all summer.  Planted out in full sun, by early summer it will be a dirty looking orange color.  Put some shade over it and it will turn back to the pretty purple it is supposed to be.

As many of you may know some of the blue hydrangeas can be changed to pink or vice versa.  Low ph and the bloom is blue, add lime and raise the ph and the bloom is pink.  Not all hydrangeas change color.  With the way hydrangeas are bred today most of the colors are firm.  Even many of the pinks and blues are firm today.

Why do some plants do much better when planted and then transplanted, while others do much better when seeded directly where they are intended to be grown. Tobacco, tomatoes, peppers, to name a few do much better when transplanted.  Farmers have tried for years to direct seed them but have never had much success.  Corn, beans, melons, seem to prefer direct seeding.  With some crops it doesn’t seem to matter.

Shrubs and trees do strange things also.  A red delicious apple is a freak of nature.  An orchid grower in Oregon some years back noticed the apples on a limb of a tree in his orchard were different. He took some cuttings and grafted them and over time they have come to be what we now know as a red delicious.  By the way, most fruit trees have to be grafted on special rootstock. Plant the seed and the fruit you get will be nothing like what you see in the orchard.

Pink, red and various varieties of dogwood are freaks of nature.  Plant a seed off a pink dogwood and you get a white native dogwood.  All of the colored dogwoods and improved whites are grown by taking cuttings and grafting them to white rootstock.  When you see a dogwood with pink and white on the same tree, usually if you look you can find where a sprout came out below the graft and was allowed to grow.

This is just a few examples of Mother Nature and her tricks.  If you look around you will see examples of things nature does that are hard to explain.

 

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Plant of the Week - Mums

Mums 

Chrysanthemum

*Often called Mums or Chrysanths

*Bloom early September-late October

*Full Sun

*Plant in slightly acidic garden soil

*Height 4-36 in. & Width 12-36 in.

*A wide variety of Bloom Colors

 

 

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