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  • May garden tips & tasks

    GARDEN EVENTS IN MIDDLE TENNESSEE

    May 20: Master Gardeners of Davidson County Urban Gardening Festival, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., Ellington Agricultural Center Demonstration Garden. Free admission. www.mgofdc.org; on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mgofdc.

    June 10: Middle Tennessee Daylily Society show and sale, Ellington Agricultural Center’s Ed Jones Auditorium, 440 Hogan Rd. in Nashville. Sale open at 10 a.m.; show opens to the public at 1 p.m. To learn more about the Middle Tennessee Daylily Society, visit www.middletndaylilysociety.org.

    It’s time to plant those tender herbs and vegetable transplants, such as basil, dill, tomatoes, green peppers, hot peppers, eggplant.

    If tomato transplants are already too tall and leggy, you can plant them on their sides and cover the long stems with soil. The stem tips will turn upward, and the buried stems will sprout roots.

    Sow seeds of bush beans and pole beans, cucumbers, sweet corn, melons, okra, field peas, pumpkin, squash and zucchini. Follow the directions on the seed package for planting depth and spacing. Vegetables grow best in full sun.

    Cut the faded blossoms of peonies. Fertilize the plants lightly in late spring or early summer.

    Remember the basics of watering: morning is best, so plants’ leaves have time to dry before evening. Lawns, perennial borders and annuals like to have 1 – 1½ inches of water per week.

    Many indoor plants enjoy a summer vacation outdoors. Give them a cool, shady spot in the yard, and don’t forget to water them.

    Prune thyme frequently so it will stay full and green in the center.

    Weeding is easiest after a rain. If the ground is too dry and you need to weed, soak the bed first with a hose or sprinkler.

    Whether they’re growing in the ground or in pots on the porch, pinch the tips of geraniums from time to time to encourage them to branch out and to produce more flowers. Geraniums in pots benefit from regular feeding with a water-soluble fertilizer.

    Remember that mulch can be a gardener’s best friend. Pine straw or composted leaves are good alternatives to hardwood mulch.

    Harvest herbs as they reach their peak. Dry small leaves on a screen, hang small bunches of long-stemmed herbs in a warm, dry room out of the sunlight.

    Plants growing outdoors in containers dry out quickly when it’s hot. Check them daily, and water as needed.

    Don’t go near hydrangeas with the pruning shears unless all you’re cutting is dead branches. If the bigleaf hydrangeas look like they’re not going to bloom, it could be that the buds were nipped in a late cold snap, or the plant was pruned too late last year.

    As the flowers of Shasta daisies begin to open and then to fade, keep them clipped off. This prolongs the blooming season of daisies (and most other annuals and perennials), and keeps the plants looking better, as well.

    Watch for aphids on shrubs and perennials. A strong blast of water from a hose will remove many of them, or spray with insecticidal soap.

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Dividing daylilies

When is the best time to separate Stella De Oro daylilies?

‘Rosy Returns’ is a good choice for a repeat blooming daylily.

Early spring and fall are good times to separate and replant all types of daylilies, including Stella De Oro and other repeat-blooming varieties.

Daylilies (the botanical name is Hemerocallis) are blooming beautifully in gardens in Middle Tennessee. The ‘Stella De Oro’ variety, which is what you usually see growing in sweeping yellow masses around office buildings and in grocery store parking lots, seems to be the most common, but there are other wonderful repeat bloomers to consider. (By the way, you may see this variety spelled ‘Stella d’Oro’ elsewhere. I’m using the same spelling as the American Hemerocallis Society.) ‘Happy Returns’ is also yellow, but a softer, creamier shade than the brassy ‘Stella de Oro.’ ‘Rosy Returns’ has dramatic rose-pink flowers. There are several more.

The repeat bloomers are great because, unlike most other daylilies that bloom for a few weeks and are gone, repeaters will come back throughout the summer — though never as lovely as this first flush of blooms.

Experts at the National Arboretum say that most varieties can go for four or five years before they need to be divided. Others also note that repeat bloomers may tend to form bigger clumps, and may need to be divided more often.

When the time comes to divide them, use a garden fork to loosen the soil around the clump, and pry the clump of roots out of the ground. Divide it by pushing two garden forks back to back down into the center of the clump and push the handles apart to separate the roots.

To replant divisions, dig a wide, shallow hole and place the rootball into the hole. Backfill with soil and tamp it into place, then cover the soil with an inch of mulch. Water thoroughly. You can cut the foliage back to about 12 inches.

 

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