• Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Upcoming events in Middle Tennessee

     

    Save the Date: Perennial Plant Society’s 30th Plant Sale is April 4, 2020, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the new Expo 3 Building at The Fairgrounds Nashville. Here’s where you can find the newest varieties of perennials, shrubs, vines and annuals from local growers, along with long-time, never-fail favorites, ready for spring planting. Learn more at the PPS website.

     

  • Categories

  • Archives

Best time to transplant hydrangeas

We have hydrangeas we’d like to move to another location in the yard, where they can get more sun in the morning. When is the best time to move them?
Hydrangea vertHydrangea experts say that the best time to transplant the shrubs is when they are dormant (after most of the leaves have fallen off). Information at the Web site Hydrangeas! Hydrangeas! suggests waiting until November or December, but anytime after the weather cools should be fine.
Prepare the new site before you dig up the shrub. Hydrangeas are generally happy in a site that gets morning sun and afternoon shade, and in soil that drains well. When you begin the move, dig up as much of the root ball as possible and move it to the new site, setting it at the same depth it had been growing. Fill the hole with soil and water deeply. Be extra attentive to the newly transplanted shrub during the first growing season, making sure it gets enough moisture as it adjusts to its new site.

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.

Moving day for monkey grass

QUESTION: Monkey grass from a border is growing up into some of my perennial beds. How can I get rid of it? If I want to transplant some of it, when and how should I do that?

Monkey grass 1Monkey grass (some call it liriope, or lily turf) is a tough plant that can tolerate a lot of conditions – clay soil, dense shade, drought – and still send it roots out to grow more and more thick clumps of foliage. This time of year, it sends up narrow stalks of tiny flowers that provide a lovely late-summer show, followed by dark blue or black berries that stay on the plants into the fall.

If monkey grass is creeping into a bed where it’s not wanted, the best way to get rid of it is to dig it up when you find it sprouting. Keep in mind that the roots spread horizontally, and that pieces left in the ground will sprout new growth, so remove as much of the root as possible.

Because it is so tough, transplanting monkey grass is easy, and you can accomplish the task any time. In the book Tough Plants for Southern Gardens, garden expert Felder Rushing suggests cutting straight down into mature clumps and separating individual crowns. Replant them where you want them. Transplanted pieces take hold quickly, and begin to fill out with new growth in the spring. Rushing says plants can be divided every two or three years and still grow in clumps.

Enjoying your kitchen garden?

Find ideas for all that zucchini, that basket full of okra, all those tomates, plus summer garden tips and tasks in the August Garden Calendar at Tennessean.com.

Garden events in Middle Tennessee

August 15: Lunch and Lecture at Cheekwood: “Beyond Green: Colorful Foliage in the Garden.” Sue Hamilton, director of the UT Gardens, shows how to use plants with colorful foliage to provide year-round impact in your garden. Noon – 1 p.m.; $25 for non-members. www.cheekwood.org/Education  to register.

August 16:  Make a batch of fresh salsa to enjoy at Summer Salsa Creations at WarnerParkNatureCenter, 5:30 – 7 p.m. Naturalist Melissa Donahue leads this all-ages workshop, starting with fresh tomatoes from the NatureCenter garden – or bring your own. Call 352-6299 to register. Registration opens Aug. 2.

August 20: Julie Berbiglia of NPT’s Volunteer Gardener is the speaker at this month’s Perennial Plant Society of Middle Tennessee meeting at Cheekwood’s Botanic Hall. Her topic: “Water Conservation.” Refreshments at 6:30, meeting at 7 p.m. The public is invited. www.ppsmt.org.

August 22: Hosta hybridizer Bob Solburg of Green Hill Farm in Franklinton, N.C. is the speaker at this month’s meeting of the Middle Tennessee Hosta Society at Cheekwood. The meet-and-greet begins at 6:30, meeting at 7 p.m., and Solburg will have plants for sale. www.mths-hosta.com.

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.

 

Transplant azaleas in early fall

I have an azalea I’d like to move to a different location in the yard. Can I dig it up and move it now?

Now is not the best time to transplant azaleas, but start planning to make the move, because you can do it soon. The U.S. National Arboretum Web site and the Azalea Society of America both suggest early fall, after the weather has cooled a bit, as a good time to transplant an azalea.

When the time comes, start by preparing the new planting site (azaleas need good drainage, partial sun, and slightly acid soil). Dig a wide hole, but not a deep one because azaleas have fairly shallow roots. Dig the azalea with as big a root ball as you can manage, then lift the plant by the root ball, not by the trunk, and move it to its new location. If it’s a very large plant, you may want to work a tarp or a big square of burlap under the root ball, then tie it up and lift it using the tarp (probably not a one-person job).

When you place the root ball in its new hole, make sure it’s at the same level as it had been growing. Fill the hole with soil and water thoroughly, and add a couple of inches of pine straw mulch. Water it again the next day, and at least once a week for several weeks, the Azalea Society suggests. Water deeply if the plant begins to look wilted.