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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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Azaleas thrive when conditions are right

Question: Our azaleas on the eastern side of the house have never been very showy. The flowers are always puny and short-lived. This year one plant’s leaves are quite yellow. Is this is sign of disease or need for fertilizer? Any advice on helping the plants do better?

AzaleaFirst, consider what azaleas need to grow well, and you may find that one or more of these conditions (outlined by the Azalea Society of America) is not being met:

-Slightly acid soil (pH 5.5 – 6; a soil test can provide that information about the soil in your azalea bed).

-Enough sunlight. Less than 3 hours of sun reduces the number of buds.

-Adequate moisture. Like many other shrubs and perennials in the garden, azaleas need about an inch of water (rainfall or watering) per week. Mulch around the shrubs can help the soil retain moisture.

There are several factors that affect the number of blooms — including the fact that some are just “shy bloomers,” according to the Azalea Society. Lack of moisture during late spring and summer also affect bud formation, or there may be a phosphorous deficiency (again, the soil test can determine if that’s the case).

As for those yellow leaves: If the yellowing is between dark green veins, the condition is called chlorosis, which is usually caused by an iron deficiency, alkalinity of the soil, potassium, calcium or magnesium deficiency, or too much phosphorous. Iron sulfate or sulfur can acidify the soil.

Leaves that are uniformly a yellow – green color may just need more nitrogen. That soil test should be your first step to determine what the problem may be.

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2 Responses

  1. Great Info. I’m sharing…. 🙂 Happy Spring

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