Did you know? Some garderners learn the hard way
by Ronella Stagner, Gardening Columnist
May 27, 2009 | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Successful gardeners who are serious about growing perennials, annuals and flowering shrubs often learn basic rules the hard way. This gardener certainly is one of those. In thinking back on some mistakes I have made in my many years of gardening, it seems a good idea to pass on some not-so-well-known gardening facts.

Did you know that you must only prune rhododendrons AFTER they finish blooming? Remove the old flowers at their base. You want to pinch them off just above a cluster of tiny leaves. If you want to change the shape of the plant, cut just above such a cluster of leaves. Don’t leave a long stem all by itself. If you do the drastic pruning to get a bush down to size, it may not bloom well the next season but will have many more flowers the following season.

Did you know that you can ruin your houseplants by placing them outside in the sun. They do like to be outside in the rain and warmth but should be placed under a tree or in a sheltered corner where they get the warmth and rain but not the sunburn. Clay pots dry out more quickly so will need more watering. Also, place the pots so they get good air circulation.

Did you know that the leaves of some holly trees will turn yellow and fall off in My. Never fear. They will put out new leaves immediately. If there is no sign of disease in the fallen leaves, it’s a natural process.

Did you know that there are many perennials and annuals that thrive in hot, dry summer weather. Some of them are Butterfly Weeds, one of my favorites. It makes a great cut flower and rarely if ever needs watering and as the name implies, butterflies love it. Necotiana, especially the tall white one, is a favorite of mine and looks good in any mixed garden. They are hard to find in nurseries but if you find one, save the seeds and sprinkle over the ground in fall to get seedlings next spring. There are now Petunias which do not need to have the blooms pinched as with the old ones. Once started, they thrive in drought. The Salvia is almost indestructible. The blue ones suit me better but both the blue and the red are attractive and tough. Sunflowers no longer look like the ones of many years ago. They come in beautiful shades of bronze, cream and yellow in differing heights and are really tough. The perennial Yarrow is so tough and grows so well anywhere in the driest places, that you may have to pull them out like weeds. They dry well and make nice arrangements. The Zinnia, a native Mexican flower, is about the toughest plant I know. The newer varieties have less mildew, come in varying heights, sizes of blooms and colors. They just are a winner. Cleome or spider plant, will grow anywhere in unbelievable conditions and can reach up to 6 feet tall. There are many more flowers that love hot, dry conditions.

Did you know that your sweet corn will never amount to anything in a row but must be planted in a square. Did you know that each little silk is attached to an kernel on the cobb and must be pollinated by the pollen on the tassels at the top of the silk This pollen must blow in the wind onto another ear of corn.

Did you know that you must remove all faded flowers from peonies? If left to go to seed, this saps the strength from next year’s crop. NEVER divide or replant peonies or even try to establish new varieties until October.

Did you know that after the Irises have finished blooming, usually by the end of May, is the time to dig and divide them? When you dig up a clump, you will find little new plants off to the side of the original rhizome. Remove the new plants and replant. Remember, when replanting, you should leave the very top of the roots sticking out of the soil. Don’t trim off the leaves! No matter what the neighbor does, those leaves provide nourishment.

Did you know that your rose can have some long stems that seem to go “wild”. Those are coming from beneath the bud union or from the roots and you don’t want this on a hybrid. The wild growth happens when the bud union freezes or dies and sometimes if the plant root dries out. The wild one will never have a flower like it should and if you have a guarantee on the rose, get your money back.

Did you know that, if you are a real cucumber lover, you can get twice the crop by growing the vine on a trellis or fence? They have bigger leaves and get more sun and the cucumber rot is less. You may have to help the little tendrils get started on the wire. After they start blooming, give them 1?2 cup of 10-10-10 fertilizer and again in two weeks or so. You are going to grow some very fine cukes! I have run out of space for “Did you knows.”

You can reach me at 270-522-3632 or write Ronella Stagner, 137 Main St., Cadiz, KY 42211. To order a book, send $12.
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