Missouri Organic

This Week's Timely Tips from the Savvygardener

April 13, 2011

In This Issue
Bulb Boosters
Improving Groundcover
A Clean Break
Clematis Wilt
Rejuvenate Forsythia, Lilac
Dealing With Dandelions
Lawn Mower Safety

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Shrub Pruning Calendar
~Pruning Clematis 
~Gardening in the Shade
~Summer-Flowering Bulb Care
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~Cold Frames & Hot Beds
~When to Divide Perennials
~Dividing Spring Blooming Perennials
~Forcing Bulbs Indoors
~Overseeding A Lawn
~Pruning Trees
~Pruning Shrubs
~Planting Trees
~Deer Resistant Plants
~Trees that Survived the Storm
~Stump Removal Options for the Homeowner
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This Week's Phots


What a week it has been!  The hot weather that scorched us this past weekend has subsided leaving in its wake a true taste of spring. The weather we are experiencing now is reminiscent of past year's May-like weather. Warm, not too hot, not too wet, just perfect for gardening.  Is it too much to ask for this weather to stick around for awhile?  With so much in bloom right now, I feel as if spring is blowing past us. At the rate things are going most all spring bloomers will be done by early May. The lilacs, the dogwoods, the viburnums, plants I consider late April to early May bloomers are in full bloom now. I'm a little distressed, as you can probably tell. I do love this time of year and I'm afraid to see it go by so quickly. It looks as if this weekend the weather will take a swing in the opposite direction. Much cooler with showers expected. There's even a chance for a light frost on Saturday and Sunday morning. Time to pull out the sheets and blankets. Tender plants may need to be covered.   
If your forsythia is done blooming, now is the perfect time to prune it. Spring blooming shrubs and trees will benefit from a good prune after the blooms have faded. And if your daffodils are spent, cut them back as well. Remember that when cutting back daffodils or tulips remove the flower stem and leave the rest of the foliage to die on its own. Not always pretty to look at but better for the daffodil and the tulip.
I would like to take a minute to talk a bit about one of our many Savvygardener sponsors.  Missouri Organic Recycling has been as sponsor and a huge supporter of ours since inception.  Their owner Kevin Anderson has put his faith in Savvygardener to help grow his business. I hope you will all continue to order topsoil, compost and mulch from this great source. And don't forget to tell them that you are a Savvygardener fan!
~ Shelly
Bulb Boosters...

This current round of warm weather will certainly accelerate most of the area's flowering spring bulbs. Some daffodils and tulips are hanging in there but, like most others in Kansas City, will soon be gone and won't be seen again until next spring. If you want to get the most out of them next spring you need to help them a little right now.  

Bulbs use their foliage to acquire and transport nutrients necessary for future growth. If you cut or remove the foliage too early you will starve the bulb and consequently reduce its chances for strong growth next spring. Cut the stems back as you would if you were cutting them for a vase. Leave the foliage alone until it has withered on its own. Only then should you clear it from the garden. 

Improving Groundcover...
You can trim pachysandra and other low groundcovers by mowing them with your lawnmower (video). Set the mowing height at around three to four inches. This will thicken the groundcover and help prevent weeds. Be sure to remove the clippings by gently raking. Boston ivy, English ivy, purple winter creeper, and cranberry cotoneaster all benefit from springtime trimming.
A Clean Break...

shovel When transplanting flowers and veggies to the garden make sure you break off the rims of your peat pots just below ground level. Any portion of the peat pot sticking up above the soil surface will wick away moisture and deprive your plants of much needed water. That would be a shame considering how hard you worked getting them this far!

Clematis Wilt...

gloveThe most serious disease of clematis is commonly called clematis wilt- a stem rot/leaf spot disease caused by the fungus, Ascochyta clematidina, which mainly affects large-flowered clematis hybrids. The symptoms are very defining and include sudden stem collapse, often just as the flower buds are about to open. Within just a few days the stems and its leaves turn black. Leaf veins often develop a purple coloration. One or more stems of the diseased plant may be affected or all aboveground parts of the plant can be killed down to just below the soil level.


Often, an affected plant will recover after a year or two. Of course, prevention is the best medicine. Here's how:

  1. Choose a favorable planting site with 6 or more hours of sun daily, rich, well-drained soil with pH about 7.0, and be relatively open to ensure good air circulation.
  2. Select the most resistant plants. Species clematis and/or small-flowered hybrids seem to be more resistant than large-flowered forms.
  3. Keep the clematis area free of plant debris on a year-round basis. Take special care to avoid injury to stem and roots since the wilt fungus requires a wound to begin its deadly work.
  4. Avoid damaging the roots. Do not cultivate the soil around clematis plants and maintain good mulch.
  5. Give good culture. Maintain good growing conditions to keep all clematis plants as stress-free as possible.
  6. In the event that plants become infected, cut diseased stems just below ground level and destroy them. Spray any remaining, healthy parts of the plant and surrounding soil with a protective fungicide such as myclobutanil.


Rejuvenate Forsythia, Lilac...

shearsThis time of year we are asked by many gardeners why their forsythia or lilacs look so bad. Many claim that some of their flowering branches look great while other branches of the same plant have virtually no flowers at all. This is actually a very common problem with forsythia, lilacs and other flowering shrubs. Basically they have become too "woody" and need rejuvenation. Simply cut the tired branches to a point just above ground level.  Next year's growth will include many more flowers.

To stay on top of this process Savvygardeners will rejuvenate one-third of the flowering shrub every year. That way none of the branches are ever any older than three years.
Dealing With Dandelions...

good ideaWe're getting lots of e-mail asking about weeds (especially dandelions) in lawns. Keep in mind two things:

  1. Dense healthy turf is the most effective weed control. Proper mowing, fertilization, and irrigation will go a long way toward controlling weeds.
  2. Fall is the best time to control weeds.

That being said, you can spot-apply broad spectrum herbicides to lawn weeds. Just be careful where you spray. Drifting herbicides are going to damage or kill all the plants they touch.

Lawn Mower Safety...


mowerGas-powered lawn mowers may be the most dangerous tool regularly used around the home. They create hot exhaust fumes. Their blades spin 2,000 to 4,000 times per minute and can turn small toys and garden debris into deadly missiles. According to K-State University Research and Extension, U.S. safety experts estimate lawn mower accidents severely injure 75,000 people every year. The minor accidents could easily number in the millions.


Here are two very good safety tips to follow:

  • Before mowing, search the yard - every time. Look for small objects that may be hidden from obvious view. Most lawn mower blades run at 100 to 200 miles per hour. So, if one hits a rock, wire, acorn or stick, that object can become deadly: both airborne and fast as the wink of an eye.
  • Do not mow when anyone else is in the vicinity of the mower itself and any projectiles it may create.

More lawn mower safety tips can be found here...


"Here the tulips bloom as they are told."

Rupert Brooke

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