Gardening Daily Tips July 1

Friday July 1, 2011

Zinnia (Zinnia x)

Today’s Featured Plant
Zinnia (Zinnia x)

Read the full profile of this plant at

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Q&A: Browning Peace Lily leaves

Question: The tips of the leaves of my peace lily are turning brown. How can I prevent this?

Answer: Browning of the tips of the leaves of peace lily (Spathiphyllum) can be the result of a number of factors. High salts accumulating in the soil from too much fertilizer, underwatering or overwatering are possibilities. A couple times a year, flush salts from the soil by flooding it with water a few times, then discarding the water that has run through the soil. Cut back or eliminate fertilization in the winter when plants are growing slowly. Water lightly, but regularly, so the soil is consistently moist but never soggy or bone dry. Sometimes tip browning is a response to salts in the water with which the plant is irrigated. If you water and fertilize properly and leaf tips still brown, try watering with distilled water. Give peace lilies moderate to bright light (although they’ll tolerate low light, especially in winter), feed monthly from spring to fall with a balanced houseplant fertilizer at half-strength, keep the soil evenly moist, and repot annually in the spring. If you don’t want to move to a bigger pot, peace lilies divide easily.

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Q&A: Protecting Sunflower Heads from Birds

Question: My sunflowers have buds and will be flowering soon. I believe in sharing some seeds with the birds, but I want to save some seeds for the humans, too. What’s the easiest way to put a barrier between the seeds and the birds?

Answer: As soon as the flower/seed heads are mature enough to be attractive to the birds (the birds will let you know), cover those you want to save with light-colored paper bags tied at the stem.

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Q&A: Creating a Knot Garden

Question: How do I plan for and plant a knot garden? What are the best types of plants to use for a two color pattern? How far apart should the plants be?

Answer: Knot gardens are most effective on a flat site in full sun. Prepare your plan to scale on paper first using crayons or markers, then carefully transfer it to the planting area. (You can use flour or a bit of horticultural lime to mark out your planting locations.) The plants you use will be dictated by the site (is it sunny or shady, hot and dry or damp and soggy, rich soil or poor) but some effective combinations might be: uniform annuals such as two (or three) colors of begonia; small shrubs such as dwarf red barberry and gold barberry or gray-leafed santolina; or clipped germander or boxwood infilled with colored gravel or low growing groundcover such as a small ajuga underplanted with bulbs. Planting distances will be determined by the actual plant selection. Plant them on center at roughly two thirds the distance of the their mature width so that they will meld together nicely. Be sure to allow time in your schedule for frequent clipping if using shrubs–nothing spoils the appearance of a knot garden faster than stray tips on what should be a clipped line of plants.

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Tip: Grow Cool Container Plants

Ever notice how hot that stone patio gets in summer? Hint: Try walking on it barefoot in the middle of the day. Think about what that heat does to the plant roots in a container sitting on that patio. Stone, gravel, asphalt, and concrete are the worst culprits, but even on a wood deck, your container plantings will grow better if you raise them above the surface with “pot feet” or a pot tray on casters.

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Tip: Add an Island Bed

If your landscape feels flat and needs livening up, consider adding an island bed filled with perennial and annual flowers and perhaps a small tree or a few shrubs for height and year-round interest.

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80 Comic Strips Now Available by Email!

ArcaMax has added dozens of new comic strips to its Comics page, including Archie, Hi and Lois, and 77 others. Subscribe to as many as you like via email, and start your day with a laugh!

Visit the Comics page and subscribe or read online right away.

— From the ArcaMax editors

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