Gardening Daily Tips 102

Primrose, Evening (Oenothera caespitosa)

Plant type: Biennual, Perennial

USDA Hardiness Zones: 4a to 7b

Height: 6″ to 10″

Spread: 0″

Exposure: full sun

Bloom Color: Pink

Bloom Time: Early summer, Mid summer

Leaf Color: Green

Growth Rate: average

Moisture: moist

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

Form: Irregular or sprawling

Landscape Uses:

Ground cover, Rock garden, Seashore

Special Features:

North American native, Invasive, Naturalizing, Fragrant flowers

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Q&A: Zinnias from Seed

Question: I’m a first time grower of Zinnias. Can you provide tips on starting Zinnias from Seed? Are there special problems with Zinnias?

Answer: Zinnia’s are easy to grow from seed. Prepare your seedbed by removing any weeds, then cultivating the soil to loosen it. Sow the seeds on the surface of the soil and barely cover them with peat moss. Keep the seedbed moist but not soggy wet. Seeds will germinate in 5-24 days, depending upon temperature (70F-80F is ideal). Thin the seedlings from 6″-9″ for dwarf species, 10″-12″ for medium height species and 15″-18″ for large species. Zinnia’s grow best in full sun, with some afternood shade in very hot climates. When plants are young, pinch tips to stimulate bushy growth. Water regularly, keeping leaves dry, and deadhead frequently to keep plants looking neat. Avoid overcrowding your plants and you’ll avoid powdery mildew disease. Enjoy your zinnias!

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Q&A: Calla Lily Care

Question: I received a potted calla lily for Easter. How do I care for it? How much sun and how much water? Should I repot it from the store bought pot it came in?

Answer: It’s not necessary to repot your plant at this time. Callas prefer shady conditions and rich, moist soil. For now, keep the soil moist, but not soggy wet, and feed weekly with a 1/4 strength dilution of liquid fertilizer. When the flowers are spent, cut the flowering stems down to the level of the foliage. Callas need a rest in order to grow and bloom properly. There is a natural resting period that callas go through during the fall, when the leaves should wither and dry up. At that point, gradually slack off watering, and allow it to rest for 3-4 months. Repot it in fresh, rich potting soil (make sure to place the rhizomes 4-6″ deep), and resume feeding and watering. You can keep your calla indoors, but you’ll need to stop watering in the fall so the leaves will wither and die. At this point I’d keep it going through the spring and summer, then force it into dormancy in the fall. After it has rested, it should bloom again for you.

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Q&A: Estimating Soil Quantity

Question: I need about 2,000 cubic feet of soil to fill in an area behind a retaining wall. Most of the landscape suppliers sell it by the ton. What is the conversion factor I should use to determine the number of tons I need from cubic feet for topsoil? gravel? sand?

Answer: The weight of soils vary considerably. Clay soils are heavier than sandy ones, and moist ones are heavier than dry ones. But typical soils weigh about 100 pounds per cubic foot. So your calculation is pretty easy if you’re considering an average topsoil: You’ll need about 100 tons. But in our experience, bulk materials are more often sold by the cubic yard. You might want to double check with your suppliers. In other words, they may charge by the ton but measure by the cubic yard. There are 27 cubic feet in one cubic yard meaning you need about 75 yards of backfill material. And considering that you know the volume of material you need–2,000 cubic yards–it might make more sense to order whatever material, topsoil, gravel, or sand, by volume, not weight.

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Tip: Get Early Start On Cucumbers & Squash

Cucumbers and squash like warm temperatures, so it is still too early to plant them outdoors. However you can start your own transplants in 4″ pots indoors. In a few weeks they’ll be ready to move outside to the garden. Don’t leave them too long in the pots or they will not transplant well.

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Tip: Add Plants To Attract Birds

Add plants for birds. Consider planting trees and shrubs that provide natural food for birds, such as crabapple, native viburnum, dogwood, holly, serviceberry, Virginia creeper, tulip poplar, sycamore, persimmon, beech, and buckeye.

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