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  • Upcoming Garden Events

    Sept. 30: The Nashville Herb Society presents Through the Garden Gate: A Glimpse of Edwardian England, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Cheekwood Botanic Hall. Celebrate the gardens, foods and flowers that delighted Downton Abby family and friends at the turn of the 20th century. The event begins with a hearty Edwardian breakfast, followed by three speakers: Marta McDowell on Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life; Geraldine A. Laufer on Tussie Mussie – Victorian art of expressing yourself in the language of flowers; and Terry White, The English Garden event florist . Registration includes breakfast, box lunch in the garden with music, English tea and cookies. To learn more or to register, visit www.herbsocietynashvlle.org.

    Tips & tasks – September

    Cut the dead tops of coneflowers, but leave enough for goldfinches to enjoy the seeds.

    Plant cool-weather vegetables for a fall crop: spinach, mustard and turnip greens, radishes, leaf lettuce.

    Start a new lawn of cool-season grass, such as fescue, or refurbish or repair establish lawns.

    Don’t let the soil of newly planted grass dry out. New grass needs about an inch of water per week.

    It’s still warm, so continue to water and weed garden beds as needed.

    Remove dead foliage, spent flowers and other garden debris; replenish mulch as needed.

    Continue to harvest produce, which may be getting a boost now from slightly cooler weather. Keep watering sage, rosemary and other perennial herbs so they’ll be in good shape to get through winter.

    Prepare to bring houseplants back indoors: remove dead leaves, scrub soil from the sides of the pots, treat for insects. Bring tropical plants in before nighttime temperatures dip to 55 degrees.

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Flowers are a no-show

Our dogwood tree has not flowered the past 2 years.  Do we need to feed it or treat the soil?  Otherwise, it is alive and well.  

Flowering dogwood. Photo by Jeff McMillian @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

This question came to The Garden Bench early last week, and I have a couple of follow-up questions: How old is the tree? Has it bloomed before? Is it planted in sun or shade?

IMHO, flowering dogwoods are one of the best things about spring. But you plant a young one hoping for a big display of blooms, then you wait, and wait until – nothing. What a disappointment.  

Here are some things you should know about dogwoods that may help answer the question. The North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension offers a list of Top Five Reasons That Dogwoods Don’t Bloom:

  • It’s not old enough. It may take a dogwood up to six years to bloom. This could be a source of disappointment in a tree that started out as a seedling in another part of the yard, for instance.
  • It’s not getting enough sun. Dogwoods grow well in the partial shade at the edges of forests and woodlands, but they need some sunlight to produce flowers. In heavy shade, they don’t flower as well, or maybe not at all.
  • It’s affected by drought.  Dogwood trees need water, about an inch a week from rain or other irrigation sources. If it was too dry last year, no flowers this year.
  • It’s been pruned. Dogwoods set their buds on the previous year’s growth, so if you prune heavily in fall or winter, you have probably cut off a lot of the flowers for this year.
  • It’s been extremely cold. That’s usually not a problem in this area. All else being okay, dogwoods here seem to bloom no matter how cold it got in the winter.

There are more things to consider: If the tree is growing in a lawn, and you’ve fertilized the lawn with a high-nitrogen fertilizer, that could be part of the problem. Nitrogen encourages growth of foliage at the expense of flowers.

In general, here’s what a dogwood needs to grow and thrive, and eventually bloom: Light shade or full sun, and moist, acid, well-drained soil with a lot of organic matter. Remember how well they grow in a forest? Use mulch under the tree to help keep moisture in the soil – but don’t pile the mulch up around the trunk. The roots are shallow, so they are susceptible to drought in summer. Water deeply during summer dry spells.

Flowering dogwoodCornus florida

Have a garden question? Send me an e-mail.

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