Gardening Daily Tips July 15

Friday July 15, 2011

Iris, Bearded (Iris germanica)

Today’s Featured Plant
Iris, Bearded (Iris germanica)

Read the full profile of this plant at

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Q&A: Cucumber Plant

Question: My cucumber plant leaves are beginning to yellow around the edges. It’s only middle of July so I’m worried that it might not make it through August. What should I be doing? I’m watering it every morning and evening.

Answer: It’s possible you are overwatering. Generally, vegetable plants need about an inch of water a week. The best time to water your garden is in the morning. If you water at night when the day is cooling off, the water is likely to stay on the foliage, increasing the danger of disease. When watering your vegetable garden, there is one rule you should follow: Always soak the soil thoroughly. A light sprinkling can often do more harm than no water at all: It stimulates the roots to come to the surface, where they are killed by exposure to the sun. One way to determine when to irrigate is to take a soil core sample from the plant root zone and squeeze it into a ball. If the ball holds together in the palm of your hand, the soil has sufficient water. If it crumbles, apply water. At the crumble-stage, the average soil will hold 1 inch of water per foot. If this water is applied with a sprinkler, determine its delivery by placing three or four cans under the sprinkler pattern to see how long it takes to accumulate an inch of water. Best wishes with your cucumbers.

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Q&A: Flowers for Dried Arrangements

Question: I’d like to plant some flowers that I can cut and dry, then use to make wreaths, gifts, etc. What are some good choices for my area?

Answer: Many plants have flowerheads, seedpods, stems, or leaves that have potential for dried flower arrangements. The best dried flowers are the everlastings–flowers that open fairly stiff and papery to the touch and without much moisture content. Those include strawflower (Helichrysum), yarrow (Achillea), pearly everlasting (Anaphalis), wormwood (Artemisia), globe thistle (Echinops exalatus), sea holly (Eryngium), baby’s breath (Gypsophila), lavender, oregano (Origanum laevigatum ‘Herrenhausen’) and sea lavender (Limonium). You can also experiment with ornamental grasses.

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Q&A: Understanding Fertilizer Labels

Question: What do the three numbers on fertilizer packages mean? For example, 10-10-10.

Answer: The three numbers refer to the percentage of nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K) in the fertilizer. These 3 elements are referred to as macronutrients because plants need them in fairly large (i.e., macro) amounts to thrive. Plants also need many micronutrients, but in much smaller quantities. While synthetic fertilizers often contain just N, P, and K, organic ones, such as fish emulsions and seaweed extracts, contain numerous micronutrients, too.

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Tip: Rejuvenate Container Plantings

Container plantings often begin to look a little “peaked” by midsummer. If blossoming is getting sparse on trailing plants like petunias, cut them back to stimulate a new flush of growth and flowers. If your pot or hanging basket contains several plants, trim back any that have grown so vigorously they are over-running their neighbors. Some plants, lobelia for example, may take a break from blooming in the summer heat. Trim them back and you’ll get a new flush of blossoms as the weather cools in late summer.

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Tip: Check Sprinkler Heads

Check sprinkler heads and prune away any plant growth that blocks the water spray. Make sure the water is aimed toward plants rather than driveways.

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