Grumpy’s making a little change is order to provide you with even more timely gardening info. Every Thursday, I will open my voluminous emailbag and answer vital gardening questions that are preying on people’s minds right now. Let’s get to it.
Q: Is it too late to plant a laceleaf Japanese maple? Virginia
A: No. It is an excellent time. A wide selection of these beautiful, small trees is just now hitting the garden centers. Treat yourself. As a Grumpy reader, you deserve it.
Q: I love hydrangeas and would like to know how to best prepare the soil for them. Can you help? Susana
A: Of course, but first I will require your credit card information. (Nah, just kidding. I’d rather have your SSN.) Anyhoo, hydrangeas like moist, fertile, well-drained soil that contains a lot of organic matter, such as sphagnum peat moss, composted cow manure, chopped leaves, ground bark, and kitchen compost. If you’re growing the French or bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla), add a cup of garden sulfur to the soil to get blue flowers or a cup of lime to get pink ones.
Q: How can I propagate a crepe myrtle? Ann
A: Crepe myrtles are easy to grow from seed. You can also root cuttings taken in June. Just dip the cut ends in rooting powder and stick them in moist potting soil. One difference between the two methods is that the latter is guaranteed to produce a perfect copy of the mother plant, while the former is not.
Q: Last year my roses bloomed beautifully, but soon two of the three bushes were covered with what looked like tiny spider webs which resulted in the leaves dying and the blooms being stunted. Can you help? Joan
A: I always do. It sounds like your roses had spider mites. I suggest you treat your plants according to label directions with Bayer Advanced All-in-One Rose & Flower Care. This product controls mites, insects, and diseases.
Plants For Shade
Q: We have a raised bed courtyard that is shaded by crepe myrtles. We are looking for shade loving plants to plant in it. We’ve tried impatiens but they tend to not bloom much. Any suggestions? Dianne
A: I would try ferns, heucheras, hostas, hellebores, caladiums, variegated Solomon’s seal, and lily-of-the-valley. Most of them bloom, all but the caladiums are perennial, and they all have attractive foliage. Most garden centers will have them this spring.
That’s it until next Throw-Down Thursday (or Throw-Up Thursday, depending on how you’re feeling.) Keep those gardening emails coming!