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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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Good luck with ‘bamboo’

QUESTION: I have a “lucky bamboo” plant in a pot of water with pebbles that looked great for awhile, but now it has grown big shoots out of each of the stalks. Can I cut off these shoots and re-pot them?

The first thing you need to know about lucky bamboo that it’s not bamboo at all, but a plant in the genus Dracaena (specifically, D. Sanderiana). Its close kin includes two other popular houseplants: corn plant andMadagascar dragon tree.

Growers of this easy-care plant suggest not cutting it from the top, but you can remove the extra shoots from the stalk with a sharp knife. Cut it flush with the stalk if you don’t want another shoot to grow in the same place. If you do want a shoot to re-emerge, cut it about 1/8-inch out from the stalk. You can try to root the cut-off shoots in water: Dip the ends in rooting hormone powder and let them dry overnight, then place the shoots in water. Eventually, new roots may grow. You can grow lucky bamboo in water or in soil.

These are relatively low-maintenance plants, but you do need to pay attention to the water they’re in, and add water as it evaporates so the roots don’t dry out. Every week or so, pour out the old water and add fresh, preferably filtered water, or tap water that you have allowed to sit out overnight.

Keep lucky bamboo out of direct light and away from extreme heat or cold, and feed it every couple of months with a very dilute solution of plant food (about 1/10 the recommended strength, plant care specialists suggest).

 

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