July is the time for layering for new plants
by Ronella Stager, Columnist
Jul 06, 2011 | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This week a reader called to ask about transplanting iris which had almost quit blooming from being crowded. At the risk of being redundant, here is a refresher course. Dig up the iris bed, throwing away all the oldest of the rhizomes, or roots, saving only the firm newer ones. Plant at least three roots in a clump. Iris do not need very rich soil but do need a little sand if the soil is packed clay. Some compost dug into the new home for the iris helps. Use no chemical fertilizer and do not mulch. Some growers like to use a bit of wood ashes and some bone meal. When digging up the rhizomes, check to see if any of them are mushy and if so, you have a diseased root which must be either burned or put in the garbage, not on your compost heap. Iris thrive on a hillside or a bank and in raised beds. After transplanting, cut the tops back to about one half but not at any other time. As for the best time to transplant, it is right after they finish blooming but this time of year is not too late for them to settle in a new place. This dividing should last for three to five years before having to do it again.

The above directions are for the bearded iris only. Other kinds of iris need different methods. Many of us have had about enough of cicadas and will be so glad to hear the last of them. But this writer had one to fly up under her gown when putting the two little dogs out for the last trip to the doggie bathroom. I didn’t realize it until I got inside and sat down in my recliner and heard that horrible screeching. Never did anyone do a faster strip-down. It took me several years to begin to observe birds in my flower garden. Then I began to put up bird houses appropriate to the different birds, feeders and bird baths. Not only do birds give so much pleasure but they eat an enormous amount of insects.

The humming-birds are continually eating insects, going into a torpor at nigh when they are not flying. To encourage them, put up several feeders for them and place their feeders near a shrub or small tree so they have a place to nest and rest in hiding. Another thing that encourages hummers is to plant flowers they like for the nectar. Some of them include bee-balm, red hollyhocks, red salvia and trumpetvine.

I also learned to tie a big red rag on their feeders. They always choose a trumpet shaped flower and like the red ones best. I also have watched robins swoop down and go under leaves of a flower looking for snails and insects. Now is a good time to propagate Oriental poppies and bleeding hearts. Though the foliage has vanished, dig down until you find the fleshy roots. Cut a section of root into inch long pieces and plant them where the soil is a rich loam with a little sand added. By next spring the new plants will be ready to move to a permanent place. Easy way to get new plants.

July is the time to start new plants by layering. Some plants that are easy to start that way are verbenas, pinks, pachysandra, ivy, climbing roses and many flowering shrubs. Any plant with reaching runners can be started that way. Fasten down the runners to bare soil (with grass removed) with some wire, put some dirt on a place that has some leaf buds, put a brick or stone on top of the dirt and wait.

Maybe you should alert your lawn mowing person that that rock and the piece of limb on the ground are not to be messed with. Being an avid reader of Western lore, I love to read about the pioneer women who took with them starters of fruit trees, vines and roses. They kept them moist by wetting them down at every watering hole.

Many of them were able to take few reminders of the land they were leaving but the plants were precious to them. Some were even able to carry quilt patterns and fabrics. A culprit that shows up about now is the azalea lace bug. They can really do some damage to azalea and rhododendron leaves. They cut pretty big holes in the leaves.

The leaves will be spotted with specks on the underside. I had used Seven when they attacked my azaleas but now there are other sprays that probably are better. I would suggest that you contact your garden center for the best treatment.

Thinking of all the insects and sprays available, I am reminded of my dear Ma who had nothing with which to fight insects in her flowers, her garden and hen houses and nests. I remember when DDT became available and was touted as the most wonderful stuff in the world.

Finally Ma could get rid of wasps in the attic, mights in the nests and on the roost poles. She sprayed everything she could reach. I often wonder how much damage that old sprayer did to the environment. However, she was rid of wasps in the attic and flies in the kitchen. Happy was Ma.

Please feel free to call me with questions and/or suggestions at 270-522-3632.
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