Horticulture Report – May 2017

May is the perfect time to divide perennials. There are lots of reasons to divide perennials in your garden. Among them are:
• Keep them Healthy. Many perennials grow quickly, forming large clumps. If you don’t divide them every three to four years, these clumps can die out in the middle, leaving a bare hole
• Protect plants for fungal diseases and insect infestation
• Keep them beautiful. Overcrowded perennials often have fewer and/or smaller flowers than their well-spaced and divided counterparts. If your perennials are drastically in need of division, they may even appear stunted.
• Keep them in bounds. Some perennials are especially vigorous or eve aggressive. Dividing these plants will keep them form overwhelming their neighbors.
• Make more plants. Dividing perennials leaves you with more plants of the same variety-perfect for adding to other places in the garden or trading with friends, family or neighbors.

While you can divide most perennials any time from spring to fall, those two seasons are the best. This is because dividing your perennials can be stressful to the plants—and they’ll recover better from the shock in cool, moist conditions. That said, if you want to divide your favorite perennials in summer, be sure to keep them well water afterward.

Here is an example of dividing a “clump” plant:
• Dig up the clump of perennials to be divided by inserting the shovel deep into the soil around the perimeter to loosen roots and isolate the clump. Here is a hint: Watering the perennial a couple of days before you dig will soften the soil and maybe save some effort.
• Once you dig the plant out of the ground, shake, wash, or brush any excess soil form around the root ball. This make it easier to pull the clump apart.
• Pry or cut apart individual crowns. Each clump needs to have sets of leaves and roots in order to grow.
• Then replant the divisions promptly so the roots don’t dry out. Plant as the same depth as before and water well. Cover the soil with mulch to help conserve moisture while your new divisions become established.
While most perennials benefit from being divided every few years, there are a few that don’t. Avoid dividing these varieties:
Baptisia, Bleeding Heart, Butterfly Weed, Christmas Rose, Lavender, Oriental Poppy
Divide every 3-4 Years:
Black-eyed Susans, Daylilly, Hosta, Peony, Phlox, Purple Coneflower
Divide every 2-3 years:
Aster, Blanket Flower, Campanula, Coreopsis, Lamb’s Ear, Yarrow

Cheryl’s Tip of the Month – April 2017

How to Dye Eggs Naturally

Add separately to 2 quarts water any of the following natural items:
3 cut up beets—makes brownish eggs
Onion skins from 6 yellow onions—makes orange eggs
1 large or 2 small red cabbages—makes green eggs
4 Tablespoons ground Tumeric—makes yellow eggs
One small bag of frozen blueberries—makes blueish eggs

In separate pots, bring water and “natural item” to boil. Boil for several minutes. Take off heat and cool completely. Add 2 tablespoons white vinegar to pot(s). Add previously hard boiled eggs to dye mixtures. Let sit for several hours or overnight depending on how deep you want the color to dye the eggs. Remove eggs and dry off before storing in cool place until ready to use.
To add a pattern to the eggs, you can wrap rubber bands or string around the eggs prior to dropping in the dye mixes.
Try experimenting with other “natural items”. The rule of thumb is: if it can leave a stain, you can use it as a dye. Enjoy!

Horticulture Report – April 2017

“In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.”
– Mark Twain
• Apply organic matter, compost, and manure to soil.
• Seed cool-season vegetables outside, such as peas, lettuce, carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprout, Swiss chard, kale, onions, parsley and spinach.
• Cover tender plants if late frost is in the forecast.
• Plants started indoors should be hardened off outdoors in cold frames.
• Begin fertilizing houseplants again.
• Clean up your garden. Rake up any leaves, remove winter mulch, remove any dead plants, and mix in compost in your garden soil.
• As long as the ground in workable and not too wet, you can apply spring grass seed. You can also begin to fertilize the lawn.
• Fertilize roses, raspberries, and woody plants.
• Mow your ground covers to remove any winter damage. Fertilize and water the ground covers to encourage growth.
• Finish pruning.
• Apply horticultural oil to trees and shrubs that had insect issues last year.
• Prune spring-blooming shrubs, such as forsythia, after they have finished flowering.
• Divide perennials that are overcrowded.

March Tip of the Month

HOW TO OFFER BIRD-NESTING MATERIALS IN YOUR GARDEN
Spring is here, and birds around the world—and in your backyard—are turning into construction crews. It’s nesting time!
Many songbirds are master builders, putting together intricately made weavings of twig and leaf, stem and fluff, hair and moss. Some nests, like the Baltimore oriole’s, will hang from a tree branch like a small tote bag. Others, like the robin’s, are cups bristling with twigs painstakingly collected one or a few at a time. Even if you provide birdhouses in your garden, the birds that occupy them will build nests in them.

So, what can you do about it? Well, you can provide nesting material of a wide variety of types that appeal to a wide variety birds. Continue reading “March Tip of the Month”

Horticulture Report – March 2017

 

“Spring is the time of year when it is summer in the sun and winter in the shade.”
Charles Dickens-Great Expectations
It’s not hard to see the signs of Spring all around. I’ve seen my first Robin. There are buds on the trees and tulip, sedum and daffodil greens are poking through the dirt. Your Hellebores might even be in bloom. But March is a guessing game in the Midwest garden. It’s warm one day and snowing the next. About the only thing we can count on is unpredictability of March. So go ahead-get outside and check out what is happening in the garden!
• Everyone should have their seeds started!
• Everyone should be getting your tools ready to go. Continue reading “Horticulture Report – March 2017”

Horticulture Report – February 2017

If you can’t beat them, might as well enjoy them

There really is a National Squirrel Appreciation Day every January 21st.
Appreciating these adorable mammals that scamper around cities, suburbs, parks, and forests may need an attitude adjustment especially if you’re plagued by squirrels squatting in your attic or squirrels totally unbaffled by the baffle of your backyard bird feeder. But these animals definitely have a good side
Amazing Facts About the Squirrel
• There are over 265 species of squirrel worldwide. The smallest is the African pygmy squirrel which is tiny at around 10 cm long, whereas the largest, the Indian giant squirrel is a massive three feet long. Continue reading “Horticulture Report – February 2017”

Horticulture Report – January 2017

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Houseplants have been going in and out of vogue ever since the early Greeks and Romans starting bringing their plants in from the outdoors. The Victorians loved their potted palms and the 70s wouldn’t have been the same without ferns and spider plants … everywhere. Current style dictates a lighter hand with the green things – sculptural stems and succulents rule the roost – but the truth is this: Houseplants should transcend trends. If you need convincing, here are some of the ways that bringing plants inside helps us out. Continue reading “Horticulture Report – January 2017”

Horticulture Report – October 2016

Illinois doesn’t have oceans. Illinois doesn’t have mountains. But one thing Illinois does have is PUMPKINS!
When it comes to pumpkin production, Illinois smashes the completion! Prairie State farmers grow more ornamental and canning-type pumpkins than any other state. In fact, Illinois produces more than twice as many pumpkins as second ranked California! Continue reading “Horticulture Report – October 2016”

September Horticulture Tip of the Month

img_1398What is 3-4 mm in length, has red eyes, tan thorax, black abdomen, goes from egg to adulthood in 8-10 days and reproduces at a ridiculously fast rate, with females laying up to 500 eggs!  If you guessed Fruit Fly-you are correct!  Fruit flies are common house flies that get their name because of their strong attraction to ripening or rotting fruit, which serves as a food source as well as a place to lay their eggs.  Fruit flies became the bane of our existence this summer when, unbeknownst to us, we had brought in the little buggers (we think on some flowers) and then left for a long weekend only to come home to a full blown fruit fly infestation!  Continue reading “September Horticulture Tip of the Month”

Horticulture Report – September 2016

Think about Planting
In all but the coldest regions (Zones 5 and colder), early fall is an excellent time to plant perennials, container trees, shrubs, and roses. This month, however, it can still be hot. Do the planting on a cool, overcast, or rainy day to prevent heat stress.

Keep Your Lawn Looking Good
September also is an excellent month to reseed and repair lawns. You’ll need to water daily until the seed has sprouted and established. If the daily highs are still well into the 80s F, wait to plant grass seed until October. Continue reading “Horticulture Report – September 2016”