Gardening Daily Tips 104

Lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus)

Plant type: Herb, Perennial

USDA Hardiness Zones: 5a to 9a

Height: 24″ to 60″

Spread: 24″ to 36″

Exposure: partial shade partial sun to full sun

Bloom Color: Blue, Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, White, Yellow

Bloom Time: Early summer, Late spring

Leaf Color: Green

Growth Rate: average

Moisture: moist

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

Form: Upright or erect

Landscape Uses:

Border, Container, Ground cover, Massing, Specimen, Woodland garden

Special Features:

Attracts birds, Attractive foliage, North American native, Naturalizing, All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Attracts butterflies, Suitable for cut flowers, Suitable for dried flowers

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Q&A: Soil Preparation

Question: I am planning to till my soil this weekend and wanted to know what I need to do to prepare the soil for planting a flower garden? Do I need to add extras like manure or compost or soil from the Home Improvement/Garden stores? I am a first time gardener.

Answer: Welcome to the team! I’m glad you asked about soil preparation. You know how they say the three important things in buying a house are location, location, and location? Well, the three most important parts of a successful garden are preparation, preparation and preparation! Let me ask you this first, have you had a soil test done? Since this is your first endeavor it is a good idea to have one performed to head off any problems you may have. Contact your local County Extension Office for details. Tests are usually offered for free or at a reasonable cost. When the results come back you will also receive suggestions on correcting any problems you may have. OK, now for the preparation. It is an absolutely great, terrific, wonderful plan to work in lots of organic matter into your planting area when you till this weekend. Things such as compost, leaf mold, or composted cow manure are perfect. This will not only improve your soil’s composition, it will gently nourish the new plants you will install in the spring. Organic matter rules! You will be rewarded for the extra work in the great plants you grow. Feel free to post any questions you may have via the website, we love to “cultivate” new gardeners!

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Q&A: Recycling Starting Mix

Question: I have old, hard, used seed-starter mix in seed-starter trays. The seeds never germinated. Can this stuff be used again or should I throw it out?

Answer: To be on the safe side, why not add the mix to your compost pile, or sprinkle it around the plants in your yard? When you start seeds, the trays should be sterilized and the mix should be new. That way you won’t accidentally introduce diseases to your brand new seedlings. You can use a mixture of one part chlorine bleach and nine parts water to wash your seed starting trays before using them again.

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Q&A: Renovating Overgrown Shrubs

Question: I have several overgrown deciduous shrubs. Can I cut the plants right back to the ground and let them regrow, or would that kill them?

Answer: The general rule of thumb is to prune no more than one-third of a plant at any time to reduce shock. If you’re not sure what types of shrubs you have, follow this guideline. However, some shrubs are so vigorous that you can cut them right back to the ground and they’ll readily resprout. These vigorous growers include spirea, blue-mist shrub, butterfly bush, and forsythia.

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Tip: Choosing Healthy Bedding Plants

Many annuals are easy to grow from seed, and some can even be started outdoors right in the garden, but if you plan to buy stock from a nursery, choose your plants carefully. Look for deep green, healthy plants that are neither too compact nor too spindly. They will do better if they are not yet in bloom when planted. If you can’t plant them right away, keep them in a lightly shaded spot and water carefully so the soil doesn’t dry out.

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Tip: Be Ready to Protect Tender Plants

Have protective plant coverings at the ready in case a late frost threatens. Apply coverings the afternoon before a frost is predicted to help retain the heat in the ground.

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