Trees, not flowers, to blame for pollen count
by Ronella Stager, Columnist
Apr 04, 2012 | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Every person I meet lately is complaining of the pollen count being so high and they are reaching for a Kleenex or sneezing.

Some flowers are blooming but they are not the culprit. It’s the trees that are blooming now that are causing the pollen count to go up. All trees have blooms of some kind even thought some are so tiny you can’t see them. So just grin and bear it because when the trees fully leaf out, the pollen count will go down and you will feel better.

Some gardeners have complained to me lately that there are some perennials that they just can’t grow. When questioned it’s usually something simple that the gardener didn’t know. It has happened to me so I can sympathize. The answer usually lies in a lack of knowledge of that plant’s needs. My advice is to always read carefully the tag that comes on the plant and keep it with your flower books. Use all the information that’s available to you from the Web, from books, from flower catalogs and best advice of all is to ask other gardeners. Many times the answer is as simple as over or under watering. There are some errors in my past years which might surprise you. For instance, I could never grow Oriental Poppies. I planted them, watched them bloom and watched them die. I would dig them up then would plant something in their place. Little did I know that they bloom and naturally die back after blooming and then revive in late summer. Somehow I missed that bit of information. I had trouble getting the hang of growing delphiniums until I finally read the right information.

If you buy some trees or shrubs that come bare-rooted, be sure to soak the roots in a bucket of cool water for 24 hours or longer before planting and it goes without saying that when you dig a hole for a plant, pour a bucket of water in the hole and let it leak out before planting. That goes for bare-root roses also. You get better results by buying roses which come in a bucket of dirt but they are more expensive, too.

Many gardeners plant early plants such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower in April to get off to an early start. However, many times we get a cold spell in April in Kentucky so it’s a good idea to have a cover handy for these plants on cold days and nights. A gallon-sized milk jug is just the thing. They double also as a cover to keep out rabbits and birds. The first time I saw this milk jug cover was in Minnesota where a neighbor was out covering all his early crop. He had cut the bottom out and left the cap still screwed on the top. Funniest looking garden I had ever seen. But it works. The same gardener came to our house after we had bought an old farm house and six acres out in the country. He was such a good guy that he fertilized my black-eyed peas and lima beans, plants that he knew nothing about. The soil was already too rich for those vegetables and with heavy fertilizer, we had some wild green plants and no beans or peas. Lesson learned was that none of us knows everything.

April is a good time to fertilize evergreens which usually need an acid-type fertilizer. The exception is the yew or taxus. Did you know that you should never plant a yew near rhododendrons or azaleas because they love acid and the yew won’t tolerate it?

Sometimes I see a home owner making a big mistake and I really want to stop and say that they are killing their plants. Sometimes I see shallow rooted plants with way too much mulch. Those plants are azaleas, rhododendrons, boxwoods, dogwoods, and a few others. If you keep adding mulch each year, it suffocates the plant and causes disease. Two or three inches is enough. If you want to see that fresh black look, take off the old mulch and add a couple of inches of new mulch.

Lucky you if you receive a lily for Easter. When the flower fades, don’t throw it out but plant it in your garden where it will flourish and multiply for years. While it’s in the pot, don’t keep the plant too wet. Punch a hole in the foil around the plant. After the flowers fade, set the pot outside in the sun. After a week or so, remove the plant from the pot and plant it in a sunny spot in rich soil. I planted some that my church was throwing away and they lived for many years and the bed of lilies got bigger and bigger.

I remember so well where Ma had her Easter lilies planted in her back garden by the fence. I knew they were special to Ma but I never knew where they came from. I imagine they were planted by her mother-in-law because the bed of them was large.

A gardener who lives in Trigg County told me that if any new gardener is interested in getting perennials, she would happily share and she has lots and lots. Call me if you are interested.

You can call me at 270-522-3632 with questions and suggestions.
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