Saturday, November 15, 2008

May in the Garden

We finally got the rain we needed, and the warm weather is returning. Keep an eye on any plants, which may have started to show signs of drought stress in late April before the rain. They may need a little TLC this year to fully recover, supplemental watering and fertilizer, keep in mind that drought stress can appear months after the drought occurred. Overall you should be able to determine how your plants fared this winter. Even the late to leaf plants should be waking by now, (Clethra, Itea and Hostas to name a few) what I call the teenagers of the plant world – those that stay up late in the fall and sleep late in the spring. There was a lot of deer grazing this past winter, and they seem to be sampling items not typically on their menu. I suspect it is due to a combination of factors – increasing deer population; homeowners are better protecting their favorite plants and reduced woodland grazing areas. But aside from the deer, I have seen a lot less plant death this year than I have in the past, which is great news!
Because of the crazy weather garden tasks may be slightly off our calendar, for instance those things we would ordinarily do in April we will attend to in May we can take these cues from Mother Nature also called phenology.

To help your lawn look its best, apply preemergence herbicides for crabgrass and annual grasses now. Remember to rake, de-thatch and clean out turf areas before applying these herbicides. If you have large areas of thatch consider reseeding areas instead of applying preemergent. Treating broadleaf weeds should wait another 2 weeks.

Weed, weed, weed your garden – ‘one year of weed equals seven of seed’ if you let those annual weeds grow and set seeds you will be haunted by their offspring for years to come.
Prune rose canes; you should be able to determine the ‘dead areas’ now, start by cutting back to a live bud on the green area (live cane) on Shrub and climbing roses. Floribundas and Hybrid Tea roses should have their canes cut back to 18” tall. Apply 10-10-10 fertilizers.

Be careful to dump out rainwater collecting in accidental places, remember that mosquitoes can develop in standing water that remains for more than 3 days.

Remove stakes, tree wraps and guy wires from trees planted last fall. They can pose long-term problems for trees if left on too long.

To help in your selection of a new or replacement tree, visit the Arnold Arboretum or Mt. Auburn Cemetery. Both locations accurately label their plant material and seeing trees, as mature specimens and seeing them ‘off-season’ will help you make an informed decision.

Thank you to everyone who has sent in ‘Questions for Cory’, keep those great questions coming. I will try my best to answer those questions here.

Q. I would love to be able to take some cuttings from one of my Forsythia and start new bushes in another area. Would this be possible and if so how? 

A. What a great question! Forsythia is actually quite easy to root from soft woodcuttings; softwood is the softwood is the newer growth (typically more yellow than brown) and more flexible, hence soft. You will want to cut several branches off your Forsythia about 1' long, again you want to find the youngest, softest for this process. Prepare some small pots for rooting 4" pots are great or whatever you have handy, add a light potting soil and make small holes (pencil sized) and put 2 or 3 stems in each pot with the fresh cut end down in the soil. Rooting powder is great but not necessary for Forsythia. Trim back the stems if needed, pinch off any leaves, which may touch the soil, or any new buds. You want the energy to go into root development not leaf production. Then moisten the soil thoroughly. Place the plants in an area, which gets morning sun (but shaded from the hot afternoon sun) and sprits daily like you would seedlings. You can also use large clear plastic bags as makeshift ‘terrariums’ just be sure to use stakes to keep the bag away from the stems and leaves and check moisture level periodically – as with all non-aquatic potted plants moist but not wet is best.

Questions for Cory?
Send to: Cory Landscape
PO Box 1059
Dedham, MA 02027

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