Time is running out for planting

Published 1:03 am Sunday, May 24, 2009

We are getting to the point where many of our local nurseries are running out of quality and quantity in selections for spring flowers. If you have not planted for the warm season ahead finding the flowers and shrubs you desire may take a little more effort.

Once we start to approach the end of the season you may have to do more searching to find the sizes, varieties and healthy plants for which you are searching for. However, May is the time to add some instant color to the home but the time is running out, so I would recommend you hurry up and make changes in your landscape if you desire to do so. Now is also the time to check the shrubs in the yard and inspect the vegetable garden for future problems.

Q: What are some flowers I can use to increase the exterior of my home and patio?

Email newsletter signup

A: Always buy an extra flat of plants for those flowerbeds that make the most impact in your yard. The instant effect is more satisfying than waiting for the plants to fill in over the next 60 days. If the flowerbed is not irrigated, try more drought tolerant plants such as Pacifica periwinkle or Madagascar periwinkle (Vinca rosea), dusty miller (Cineraria sp.), Mexican sunflower, (Tithonia rotundifolia) zinnia, cleome and verbena in sunny locations.

Balsam and impatiens are still the best annuals for shade beds. Brighten up patios by hanging bougainvillea in the sun and ferns in the shade. Use decorative containers filled with geranium, begonia, salvia or caladiums on decks. Don’t forget to give them plenty of water. A drink with a liquid fertilizer every month will keep them growing and blooming all summer long.

Q.: What can I do to help boost my shrubs around the house?

A: Now is the time to prune the branches of spring flowering shrubs. Try not to prune at the same spot on a plant every year. Stagger your cuts if possible, but try not to destroy the natural form of the plant.

If you have not fertilized your shrubs yet, go ahead and provide them with a slow release fertilizers to help boost growth. Apply a specialty fertilizer with iron to acid-loving evergreens such as azalea, camellia, gardenia and banana shrub. After shrubs have reached the desired size, then be stingy with the fertilizer. One application annually should be sufficient.

Q: What do I need to be watching in the vegetable garden right now?

A: Tomato, peppers, squash and melons are beginning to bloom.

If you lost some of your fruit to blossom end rot last year, then you need to add lime to the soil now. Liming will make calcium, which is the lacking nutrient, available to the plant. The rot also occurs when the soil moisture fluctuates too much.

Use stakes or wire cages to support tomato plants, so none of the fruit touches the ground. Also adding a layer of organic mulch such as pine needles or partially decomposed leaves helps prevent losses due to fruit rot diseases as well as keep the plant roots cool and conserve moisture.

Start spraying with a foliar fungicide on a weekly basis to prevent the development of blight and leaf spot.

David Carter is the director of the Adams County Extensions Service. He can be reached at 601-445-8201.