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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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Moving a camellia

QUESTION: I planted a camellia more than ten years ago. Apparently it’s in the wrong place because it has never bloomed; it hasn’t even grown much, though it hasn’t died. It’s in a spot that I now realize is in shade most of the time, and maybe it doesn’t get enough water, so I’m considering moving it. When is the best time to do that? And what’s the best way to do it?

CamelliaThe general consensus among camellia experts seems to be that camellias don’t take well to being moved. That said, it sounds like your shrub is already unhappy, so why not try moving it to a better spot? Now, while the plant is dormant, is a good time to do the job.

First, a short lesson on what camellias need:  well-drained, slightly acidic soil rich with organic matter, light shade, and regular water (as long as it drains well). It should be protected from strong sun and punishing winds.

The challenge in moving the camellia will be in preserving as much of the root structure as possible.  For large, established camellias, experts suggest root-pruning a year in advance of the move, but for a shrub that’s still small, that probably won’t be necessary.

Begin by carefully digging a trench around the plant at the drip line, working your way around and down and under to lift as much of the soil and roots as possible. Camellias have a shallow root system, but it’s still best to try to keep as much of it intact as you can. Transfer the root ball to a tarp or a sheet and move it to the new location, where you will have dug a hole about twice as wide but not as deep as the root ball you lifted out.

When you transfer the root ball to the new hole, make sure it is not planted deeper than it had been in the original location. Cover the exposed roots, but don’t pile soil up around the trunk. Water it thoroughly, and keep it well watered (but not soggy) during the first growing season. Consider providing protection from very cold weather; camellias can be sensitive to extreme temperatures, and in this climate (Zone 7a) some varieties tolerate cold better than others.

 

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