Gardening Daily Tips 101

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Plant type: Herb, Interior Plant, Shrub

USDA Hardiness Zones: 6a to 9a

Height: 24″ to 48″

Spread: 12″ to 24″

Exposure: partial shade partial sun to full sun

Bloom Color: Blue

Bloom Time: Early summer, Late summer, Late spring, Late winter, Mid summer, Mid spring

Leaf Color: Green, Silvery

Growth Rate: average

Moisture: dry to moist

Soil Condition: Adaptable, Loamy, Sandy, Well drained

Form: Rounded

Landscape Uses:

Border, Container, Ground cover, Seashore

Special Features:

Edible, Fragrant foliage, Not North American native, Attracts butterflies, Suitable for dried flowers, Fragrant flowers

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Q&A: Pruning Sweet Autmun Clematis

Question: I have a sweet autumn clematis that is about two years old and about 6 feet tall. I have not pruned it the last two years. Should I prune this back and if so, how far back to the ground should I prune it. I noticed today it already has some new growth coming out at the top of the vine.

Answer: This vine can be cut back as hard as needed in very early spring. It blooms on the new growth of the season, so pruning it in spring is the best time. This vine tends to establish slowly and then kick into much faster growth about the third year, so be prepared for a large vine by the end of the season — it can reach 20 feet over the summer.

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Q&A: Improving Clay Soil

Question: What is the best way to improve my heavy clay soil? I don’t make my own compost but I do have access to several garden centers and a tiller.

Answer: Begin by spreading 4-6 inches of organic matter over your garden site and tilling it in. You can use aged manure, leaf mold, peat moss, or compost. After your crops are finished in the fall, plant the area with a green manure cover crop such as hairy vetch or winter rye. Then turn the crop over in the spring, before it sets seed. You’ll be adding organic matter while you’re protecting your soil from erosion. You might also want to start a compost pile so you’ll have a convenient source of organic matter to add to your garden each spring. It will take a couple of years, but you’ll eventually have terrific garden soil!

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Q&A: Bark Mulch Vs. Stone Mulch

Question: I am trying to plan a garden for the front of my house. I am not crazy about the look of bark mulch and prefer the look of stone. I already have azalea bushes and some roses growing in the area. I also plan on planting some annuals. Is bark mulch better, if so why?

Answer: An organic mulch such as shredded bark or chopped rotted leaves or cocoa bean shells, etc. is preferred for one primary reason: an organic mulch will eventually break down and help feed the soil, an important ongoing benefit that rocks do not offer. A rock mulch will also reflect heat, and in a warm climate this can be harmful to the shrubs during midsummer, while an organic mulch is cooler. Rocks will work down into the soil during seasonal freeze thaw cycles so it is a good idea to use an air and water permeable weed fabric type barrier beneath the rocks. This will keep them from disappearing into the soil and will make it easier to remove them if anyone ever wants to. It will also go a long way toward preventing weed growth — the rocks are a perfect weed seed bed. For this reason it should be raked and weeded occasionally. An organic mulch can also be raked occasionally and will need to be replenished from time to time.

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Tip: Be Gentle with Seedlings

Be gentle with all seedlings. Handle the little plants by their root clumps or leaves rather than stems, and never squeeze them tightly. They will grow new leaves and roots, but can’t develop new stems.

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Tip: Check Soil pH

Test soil pH in lawns and gardens; most plants prefer a pH of 6.5 to 6.8, with notable exceptions such as rhododendrons. Modify pH with lime or sulfur.

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