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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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Cannas multiply, time to divide

Question: I planted cannas several years ago and they have multiplied. I’d like to move some of them to a different location. When is the best time to transplant them?

CannasIn the University of Tennessee Extension Master Gardener Handbook, cannas are listed among the “tender bulbs and bulblike plants” along with caladiums, dahlias and gladiolus. At one time, it was recommended that these tubers be dug up and stored to protect them from the cold, but most gardeners in Middle Tennessee (Zone 7a) now find that they make it through winter just fine, especially if they spend winter under a blanket of mulch.

If you want to move them, an opportunity for doing so is coming up. According to the handbook, cannas can be dug in the fall after the foliage has been killed by frost. Allow the tubers to dry for a couple of days, then store them in a cool location (50 degrees or so – a garage or basement, perhaps) where they won’t dry out completely. The Old Farmer’s Almanac suggests storing them in peat moss or wrapping them in newspaper, and sprinkling them with a bit of water every now and then during the winter. Next spring, plant the tubers in a sunny spot when the soil has warmed to 65 degrees.

You may also wait until spring to divide the tubers. Mark their location now, and in the spring, use a garden fork to dig carefully and lift the tubers from the ground. Separate them, cut off any rotten or diseased bits, and replant them. Cannas do best in a location where they receive full sun.

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2 Responses

  1. Gloria, I have two questions. One, when is the best time to divide and replant Black-eyed Susans and Shasta Daisies, in the fall or spring.

    Two, when I made a contribution to the Arbor Foundation I received some baby flowering trees. I kept the Crapapple and gave the others away. The tree has grown and flourished, but has never produced blooms. Nothing was said about its needing an opposite sex tree in order to bloom. Can you tell me what the problem is and how to rectify it?

    Thanks so much, Linda

  2. Linda, both black eyed Susans and shasta daisies can be divided and replanted now. Prepare the new bed before you dig them up and divide them and replant them right away. Planting now gives the root systems a chance to get established before next spring.
    As for the flowering crabapple: How old is it? I read everywhere that sometimes it takes flowering crabs three or four years to begin to bloom. It also needs about six hours of full sun each day. Could either youth or shade be the problem?

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