Everything from tiny seedlings to young trees, must have its roots protected against drying while out of the ground. Unless this is done, these highly sensitive roots and tops can be killed. Always, when possible, transplant on a cloudy day. Cover with a layer of newspaper held down with rocks for a few days while they get started.
All this beauty you have created can be marred by some pests if you aren’t vigilant. The leaf-eating insects chew up your plants in a hurry so at the first sign, get out your trusty sprayer. Be sure to spray the underside of leaves. A real pest is the slug which seems to like hostas best. They hang around damp places which hostas also thrive in and chew on the leaves. They can be hard to spot if you don’t know what you are looking for. Fortunately there is a pellet which your garden center will have that gets rid of them. Place some pellets under a board which has a little rock underneath so the slugs can get to the pellets. If you have a spot that pets and birds can’t get to, then sprinkle a few pellets. They like to hide under steps, under patios and in cellars and basements.
Mealy bugs are a scourge of house plants and sometimes are found in the garden. They especially like soft-stemmed plants such as Coleus, Begonias, Ferns, Gardenias and succulents. They can be controlled with a special soap or special sprays.
Red spiders are another pest which gets on evergreens and perennials. They can be killed with sprays also.
After May 15, set your lawn mower at three inches. It makes a better appearance, shades the crab grass seed and keeps it from germinating, retards evaporation of moisture and nitrates by keeping the surface of soil cool during hot weather and as a bonus, crowds out weeds.
The importance of labeling is very often felt in the spring. The areas in the beds where there are late maturing plants are often dug up. The Bell-flowers, Hostas, Bleeding-hearts and some of the tiny bulbs are easily killed by a little raking around in the beds. I know because I have done it often. The areas of such plants should be labeled with permanent markers and while you are at it, start permanent markings for the other plants while they are in bloom and easily identified. You will enjoy proper marking and so will your visitors. It’s very embarrassing to have a visitor to your garden ask what the name of a plant is and you can only stammer and try to think.
Continue to sow Alyssum and Candytuft for edging. Seeds of all the tender annuals can be sown now - Impatiens, Amaranth, Celosia, Petunias, Torenia and Zinnias.
Most gardeners like to have a little fun with some plants that they haven’t grown before. Gourds come in all shapes and sizes and are always a surprise. You can sow them in late May or early June in the sun and in light loam, enriched with some old stable manure. Ten seeds to the hill, where they are to grow, because they aren’t easy to transplant. They need good support such as a wire fence.
Dahlias can be planted as soon as the weather is settled. Don’t forget to put a stake in the ground with them when you plant. You can’t add the stake later for damaging the plant.
Start May 15 and plant Gladiolus every two weeks until mid-July to get blooms through to October.
Get the summer flowering bulbs into the ground before the end of the month. Cannas, Begonia, Tuberoses, etc. are very good to include in your flower beds.
When you are transplanting those seedlings from flats into open ground, loosen carefully the rootless which have made a tight wad so they can take up water and food. Dig the hole, fill it with water, and place some Osmacote in the hole; then place the seedlings in position and fill up with dry soil and water no more. There won’t be any moisture on the surface of the soil for the sun to bake or steam.
(You can contact me with questions or suggestions at 270-522-3632 or Ronella Stagner, 137 Main St., Cadiz, KY 42211. As my spouse says, “If she knows the answer, she will tell you and if she doesn’t, she’ll tell you anyway.”)