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  • March garden tips & tasks

    If your fescue lawn looks a little skimpy, overseed early this month. Fescue grows best when the weather is still cool.

    Clip dead stems from perennial herbs – thyme, sage, lavender, rosemary. Pruning encourages vigorous new growth.

    Prune nandinas, flowering quince and other airy shrubs by reaching in and removing about a third of the branches at ground level.

    Remove mulch or leaves that may be covering perennials in garden beds.

    Prepare a new garden bed: Have the soil tested (check with your county’s Extension service). Remove grass and dig or till soil 8 to 10 inches deep and mix with soil amendments and organic matter to improve drainage.

    Add fertilizer lightly to perennials as soon as you see new growth. Too much fertilizer may result in lanky growth.

    Herb transplants that don’t mind cool weather -- parsley, cilantro, sage, oregano – can go in the ground now.

    When you cut daffodils to bring inside, cut the stems at an angle and place them in water right away. Change the water in the vase daily to keep them fresh longer.

    Save the date - Middle Tennessee garden events

    The Perennial Plant Society's annual Plant Sale will be April 8, opening at 9 a.m. at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The sale offers newly released and hard-to-find perennials from top local nurseries -- more than 450 varieties of perennials, vines, grasses, shrubs and annuals. The event supports local scholarships for Tennessee horticulture students and monthly gardening programs, open to the public, at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. For information visit www.ppsmtn.org.

    The Herb Society of Nashville's annual Herb Sale will be April 29, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The sale will offer heirloom vegetables, rare varieties of perennial and annual herbs, handmade pottery herb markers and more. To learn more, visit herbsocietynashville.org.

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Just water, please

Last summer, when it was very hot, I ran my dehumidifer upstairs when it was impossible to cool and used the water to water my indoor plants. Within a week or so they perked up like they were new plants, so I’m wondering how to duplicate that water, or what do you suggest? I have tried plant food, tea water, etc. and nothing works like the water from my dehumidfier. -S.W.

Houseplants may benefit from water that is free of added chemicals.

A likely explanation might be that since the water in a dehumidifier is “collected” from the air, nothing has been added — no chlorine or fluoride, such as we have in tap water. A lot of houseplants are sensitive to the additives in tap water, especially fluoride, according to my favorite source on caring for houseplants, author Barbara Pleasant’s Compete Houseplant Survival Manual.

You may be able to duplicate that unadulterated water by letting tap water sit out overnight before watering plants with it; supposedly that allows the chlorine and other chemicals in the water to escape. Or you could try using distilled water, or collect rainwater to use on your plants.

The author goes on to suggest using water that is at room temperature when you give it to the plants. “Giving cold water to tropical plants chills their roots, which can cause them to rot,” she writes.”

 

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