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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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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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