A friend just asked me if she could move some daffodil (narcissus) bulbs now and I suggested that she wait until after they are finished blooming and the tops ripen and fall over. She needed to move them now in order to be able to find them in her vacant lot which will soon be all weeds. What I failed to suggest is that, in a case of necessity, you can dig up a whole clump, being careful to dig far enough down to get all the bulbs and roots and then move that clump to a previously dug hole to let them stay there until they ripen, and then dig up all the bulbs to plant each bulb a few inches apart in a permanent place. As I suggested in a previous column, it would be good to add some bulb fertilizer to each planting hole. You always should plant them three times the depth of the bulb and the best time to plant daffodils is about the middle of October.
That same friend was delighted to find wild raspberries growing at the spot where they have recently built a new home. She is gradually clearing the lots of weeds and came across these delightful wild berries. She had picked some of the raspberries last year when they were building and found them perfect for cobbler pies. She wanted to know how to plant the canes and when and I am totally stumped. I never heard of wild raspberries and couldn’t help her at all. If you have experience in wild raspberries, I would appreciate a call and I will relay any information to her.
While she was having lunch with me today she asked if she could have some starts of English ivy which I stupidly planted along the foundation of my house twenty years ago. I gave her permission to dig up ALL of it since the battle has been on between the ivy and me for many years and the ivy seems to be winning. I keep it in some kind of control with weed and grass killer. It has even grown through the foundation into the basement and even through the wall of the house in one place. Two plants that I have regretted are that ivy and yucca which is planted at the end of my back yard so I just ignore it. But she wants the ivy for a bare hillside to keep it from washing away and will use ivy instead of grass which is a good idea.
If you have looked at your lawn and wished that you had sowed some seeds last fall, don’t give up. A good time to sow grass seeds is about the middle of March so the seeds will have a month of rains which they must have. If you wait till later to sow, just forget it. When buying grass seeds, money is the object! The better seeds are more expensive and they must be certified to be weed free. The best seeds will have a guarantee that the seeds are 98% weed free. If you don’t get regular rains, get out the sprinkler.
If you have bought some caladiums to plant this spring, get them into small pots now to get them started. Put them in a sunny window and keep well watered. When the outside temperature gets up to about sixty degrees, you can safely take them outside to plant.
Some gardeners have asked what should be planted in shady spots in their yards. The beautiful hostas now come in several shades of green, blue and yellow and some are a little of both. They also come in many sizes. They are a good base for a bed that gets mostly shade. By the way, now is a good time to separate and transplant hostas while they are just a few inches tall. One holly that is great in shade and is a lovely plant is the Oregon grape holly. Another old standby for shade is perennial ferns. They take full shade or just a little sun and thrive as long as you remember that they need acid fertilizer. I have often made up a bucket of tea to give them a “spot of tea” about every two weeks. Just buy the cheapest tea leaves and put a double handful in a bucket of water. Let set for a day or so and give the ferns a treat. Both hostas and ferns need regular watering.
For trees in shady spots, try the dogwood, redbud and Canadian hemlock. There is a new weeping redbud on the market now. I have not seen it but according to my catalogs they are a pink rather than the rose colored blooms on the old variety of redbud trees.
It’s time to start feeding your indoor plants about every two weeks to get them ready to move outside. When buying fertilizer for houseplants, check to be sure it is for use on the blooming plants or the ones which are all green. Do not use the fertilizer which you bought for use outside on perennials.
Please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632 with questions, suggestions or comments.