Friday, August 31, 2007

Great Garden Summer Questions!

Hello again,

The following is a copy of a question and answer that I thought contained some great garden questions for this time of year:

Hi Mike -

I have several gardening questions.

1. I planted lots of new things this year, but also have a lot of established plants. I fertilized with Pro-Grow in the Spring, but things aren't looking quite as healthy now - greenery isn't quite as green and blooms aren't as vibrant. I'm assuming they need some fertilizer - especially the blooming ones? Am I right? What would you recommend? Do I put Pro-Grow down again in the Fall?

I love Pro Gro fertilizer and I have used that this summer in combination with some frequent feedings using Neptune’s Harvest Fish and Seaweed fertilizer. I have probably fertilized more this season than any season in the last few seasons and I am pleased with the results.

So, I do recommend twice to three time feedings of established plants with Pro Gro or Plant Tone by Espoma. I really think given the extreme growing conditions our plants have to deal with (COLD winters, hot summers, dry and wet) the constant source of natural nutrients these products provide is essential. ALSO, I decided to “ramp up” the food supply in some containers that I planted with annuals and give them frequent feedings of the Neptune’s Harvest as well. One reason is because I did not plant many of these containers until July 3 (no exaggeration there; I was late!) and I wanted to really give my plants a good natural jump.

So, yes I would recommend another application of Pro Gro and also consider picking up some Fish and Seaweed fertilizer by Neptune’s Harvest (sold right here at Skillin’s) for some great liquid feeding. The roots of your plants will get some good natural nutrients fast and then watch out!

When should I prune my Endless Summer Hydrangeas? What about my Annabelles?
I prune my Endless Summer flower stems right after the flower starts to decline. I prune the stem all the way back to the main part of the plant. This really encourages new growth. If you have not given your Endless Summer a feeding of Holly Tone lately I urge you to do that. Also it has been dry lately so I have been giving my Endless Summer some nice deep slow waterings and the plant seems to appreciate it.

Annabelle hydrangeas blossom on new growth so your pruning effort should be much the same as the Endless Summer. Prune those flower stems back to the main plant. Such pruning does encourage new growth and more flowers!

My blanket flower and a few Asters got long and leggy this year - what can I do to prevent this next year?

Blanket flower stems should be cut back right after the plant stops flowering. This will encourage more root growth and more new growth that should be better balanced. Also with any of your perennials if you have not applied lime for awhile go ahead and do that. Lime helps to maintain a correct PH. Also feed three times yearly with Pro Gro by North Country Organics or Plant Tone by Espoma. Soil with a better PH will more accurately process the nutrients in these fertilizers and that should result in more balanced growth.

Have your asters flowered yet? Probably not. Fall flowering perennials can generally be pruned in mid June or so and that will help give more compact growth.

My phlox has horrible powdery mildew - beyond saving this year. It's up against the vinyl sided house and happens every year. Anything I can do to prevent it next year or should I just move it?

Phlox and powdery mildew. Salt and pepper. Chowder and crackers. Some things just go together. But powdery mildew can and should be controlled. I have had great success applying Messenger in the early and middle part of the season. Messenger is a natural product that activates the growth and defense capabilities of plants. It is great to use on so many plants in our area: tomatoes, roses, phlox, lilacs, and many more. Messenger helps the plant mount a great defense against disease like mildew. Then when a little mildew does straggle in I nail it with a great natural fungicide called Serenade.

In your case, I would hit your phlox with Serenade and blast a good amount of that mildew away. Mildew will weaken a plant over time. Not too late to apply Messenger either.

One of my Bleeding Hearts has leaves that are yellow and green - is that because it's getting too much sun?

Bleeding Heart does like shade, not a lot of sun. Just as importantly bleeding heart is one of the first perennials to perform in the Spring but it does “peter” out in late summer. That may be going on for your plant now.
Hello again,

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Mike Skillin