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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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Plant your Easter lily

QUESTION: Can I plant my potted Easter lilies outside? When? What is a good location?
Easter lilyYes, you can plant Lilium longiforum (the botanical name for the Easter lily) outdoors for it to bloom again next year – and the next and the next. You shouldn’t put it in the ground until after the chance of frost has passed, but care of the bulb should begin while you still have it in the house.
Indoors, keep the plant in bright, indirect light and away from cold drafts and heat sources. Water it when the soil feels dry, but don’t overwater. The blooms will last longer if you remove the yellow anthers – the pollen pods – in the center of each flower. Remove the blooms as they wither.
When it’s time to plant, cut off any old flowers that remain but leave the stem and leaves. Select a sunny location with good drainage, plant the bulb (stem and leaves attached) at the same depth it grew in the pot and water it well. The stem and leaves will die back in the fall, and at that time you can cut it at soil level and cover with mulch. It should come back next year, so remove the mulch when it begins to grow next spring.
Remember, too, that the lilies available at Easter were forced into bloom at that time; the lily’s normal bloom time is not until summer, so don’t expect your lily in the garden to bloom before then.
By the way, some experts recommend not planting Lilium longiforum in the same bed with other lilies, as Easter lilies may be susceptible to a variety of diseases that may be transmitted to other varieties.
This lily, with it’s large trumpet-shaped flowers, is also known as Bermuda lily. The cultivar most commonly grown for markets in the U.S. is ‘Nellie White,’ named for a lily grower’s wife.

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