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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 – August

    Water lawns and garden beds early in the morning to allow foliage plenty of time to dry before nightfall.

    Container gardens will benefit from a light application of all-purpose fertilizer.

    If petunias have grown long and shaggy, cut them back and give them a dose of fertilizer. They should bloom again quickly.

    If squirrels and birds go after your ripe tomatoes, pick them while they are still green and allow them to turn red indoors. For best quality, don’t store fresh tomatoes in the refrigerator.

    Make sure spring-planted trees and shrubs get plenty of water during hot weather.

    Keep cutting the spent flowers of annuals so they will continue to bloom into the fall.

    To conserve soil moisture during hot weather, replenish mulch in annual and perennial beds as necessary.

    Begin planning a fall garden. Spinach, lettuces, radishes and other fall crops will mature when the weather turns cool.

    Begin clean-up of summer vegetable beds. Remove any decayed or dying foliage to prevent diseases from taking hold.

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Rubber tree can bounce back

QUESTION: I have a huge rubber plant that is very old. I’ve had to tie it to stakes in the pot to keep it from growing in all directions and out of control. Can I prune it?

A rubber plant, or rubber tree (Ficus elastica) can be transformed from an unmanageable mess into a more dignified plant. It takes a little planning and observation, but the results can be worthwhile, and can provide more plants in the process.

Before you make the first cut, look at the plant to determine how it might look after it’s pruned. New leaves will grow where you cut it, so keep that in mind as you remove the branches. The cuttings you remove can be placed in water, where they will often form new roots. After they grow a good system of roots, they can be potted in soil.

Houseplant experts also suggest a process called air-layering to prune old plants and grow new ones. This is accomplished by cutting into the plant’s stem where you want to prune it. The cut is then wrapped in moss and plastic wrap, and new roots grow from the cut area. After new roots form, cut off the new plant and pot it separately. Early spring, when the plant is entering a period of active growth, is a good time to try to trim it into shape.

Here are general guidelines for keeping a rubber plant alive and well: bright to moderate light (no direct sun) and average room temperature. Keep the soil evenly moist. A rubber plant probably does not need as much water during the winter. It can spend summer outdoors in a protected location, but be sure to bring it in before temperatures begin to drop in the fall.

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