Gardening Daily Tips 103

Holly (Ilex x meserveae)

Plant type: Shrub

USDA Hardiness Zones: 6a to 8a

Height: 60″ to 144″

Spread: 48″ to 96″

Exposure: partial shade partial sun to full sun

Bloom Color: White

Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring

Leaf Color: Green

Growth Rate: uknown

Moisture: dry to moist

Soil Condition: Acidic, Clay, Loamy, Neutral, Sandy, Well drained

Form: Oval, Pyramidal

Landscape Uses:

Border, Erosion control, Hedge, Massing, Screen

Special Features:

Attractive foliage, Not North American native, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms

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Q&A: When to plant Strawberries

Question: I recently purchased a strawberry pot and some plants.The plants will be sitting on my back deck in full sun.Is it safe to put them out yet?

Answer: They should be conditioned gradually to the outdoors if they are very tender and have just come out of a greenhouse. Strawberry plants are very cold tolerant, so they can go outdoors in very early spring. The blossoms however should be protected from frost by covering them or bringing the pot inside on cold nights. An unglazed clay pot may also need protection from frost since the frost can cause it to crack or chip.

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Q&A: Raised Beds Over Poor Soil

Question: My soil is 6″ of sand overlaying a hard clay. How deep should I build raised beds for a variety of perennials, annuals, bulbs, and maybe a shrub or two? Should I mix purchased topsoil with the native soil to build the new beds?

Answer: It is a good idea to “transition” soil from one type to another. Plant roots will cross over into another soil type better if the interface is not so sudden. I would place about 4″ of new topsoil in the bed area, rototill or spade it into the native soil to mix them a bit, and then add another 4-6″ and repeat the mixing of the surface 8″ or so. Mix some well decomposed compost (or composted bark) into the new topsoil you are adding if it doesn’t already have some included. Your beds can be about 10-12″ high for most annuals and perennials. If the lower clay layers are truly impervious, I would suggest 12-16″ for the shrubs.

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Q&A: Cutting Back Holly Bushes

Question: There are three huge holly bushes in front of my house and I want to cut them down to a height were I can trim them without getting on a ladder. When is the best time to do this and can it be done without destroying the bushes?

Answer: You can renovate hollies but it’s best to do it gradually, over a 2-3 year period, rather than hacking them back all at once. If you remove more than 1/3 of the healthy stems, branches and leaves, you’ll stress the plant, making it susceptible to insect and disease problems. The best time to prune is early spring, before new growth begins. If you prune later, you may be pruning off the flowers, which will reduce or eliminate berry development. If berries aren’t a special concern, go ahead and prune in summer.

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Tip: Get Mower in Top Condition

Mowing season is about to be upon us. This is a good time to have your mower tuned up by a good small engine repair shop. The blade should be sharpened for easier operation and a cleaner cut. Replace plugs and check filters. If your mower is not a mulching model inquire as to what accessories may be available to convert it over.

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Tip: Divide Ornamental Grasses

If the growth on your ornamental grass is concentrated on the perimeter, with little growth in the center, the plant probably needs dividing. Dig up the clump, separate it into sections, and replant.

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