Missouri Organic

This Week's Timely Tips from the Savvygardener

April 20, 2011

In This Issue
Are Your Roses OK?
Hydrangea Helper
Showers For Flowers
Healthy Houseplants
Do Not Disturb
Precipitation Estimation
More Growin', More Mowin'

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Feature Articles
~All About Composting
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~When to Start
Seeds Indoors
~Seed Starting Indoors
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Shrub Pruning Calendar
~Pruning Clematis 
~Gardening in the Shade
~Summer-Flowering Bulb Care
~Drought-Tolerant Flowers for KC
~Preparing for a Soil Test
~ Changing the pH of Your Soil
~Growing Herbs
~When to Harvest Vegetables
~ Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
~Organic Pesticides & Biopesticides
~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


Where is the sun and those warm, almost summer-like days? Just a couple of weeks ago milder than normal temperatures lured us outside, giving us a false sense that spring was here to stay. The last few days have felt more like early March - cold, damp and miserable. I'm not too happy about this change but it seems every year around Easter, Mother Nature feels she has to remind us who is in control. Cooler temperatures are fine and actually quite good for everything in bloom. All I'm asking for is occasional sunshine. As long as temperatures stay above freezing and we have a few sun-filled days, I'm good. Looks like we should brace ourselves for some wet days ahead. The long range forecast shows a chance of rain for the next eight days. UGH! I guess the phrase "April showers bring May flowers" is appropriate. 
This time of year is difficult for many allergy sufferers. The oak and maple pollen is a killer. The nasty, green film covers everything. It makes my eyes itch, my nose run and conjures up a cough that everyone in the house gets pretty sick of quickly. I have suffered from seasonal allergies for as long as I can remember. I am always affected for about a month in the spring and a month in the fall. I really should choose to stay inside on days when the pollen count is high but what fun is that? I'm a gardener, just happy to be in my garden. Runny nose and all! 
Have you had the opportunity to visit Johnson Farms? Located in Belton, Missouri, the Johnson family has been farming for more than 30 years. Their farms sits on 140 acres and produces flowers in the springtime, produce in the summer and pumpkins in the fall. Their selection of hanging baskets is unbelievable! Plant selection, prices and service make Johnson Farms an ideal place for a Savvygardener!
~ Shelly
Are Your Roses OK?

This is a good time to check your hybrid tea roses for any damage they might have suffered over our long winter. The extent of damage, if any at all, will vary based on where your roses are growing and what protection they were provided during the freeze periods. Take a look at the canes to inspect for damage:

  • If the ends of canes are mushy cut them back to more normal growth.
  • Brown canes should be scraped to determine whether the cambium is alive. If not, simply cut back the canes to live growth.
  • Green canes are probably healthy and can be left alone.

Most hybrid teas are propagated by budding. If all the growth above the bud union is dead, the plant should be dug up and discarded. Plants grown on their own roots can be allowed to sprout from the base.



Hydrangea Helper...

Hydrangeas are wonderful. Especially when they bloom. You're not alone if you are sometimes (or often) frustrated by otherwise beautiful and healthy-looking hydrangeas that just won't bloom. There are reasons for this of course. Here are the likely ones:

  • Improper Pruning
    Some bloom on old wood, some on new season's growth. For example, the popular 'Annabelle' varieties bloom on new growth and are consequently best cut back hard in the early spring. By contrast, the Bigleaf hydrangea will grow in Kansas City but will not usually flower because the flowers develop on old (last season's growth) wood. Since flower buds lack the cold hardiness of the foliage buds, they are often killed by our cold winters.
  • Too Much Shade  While they will do all right in partial shade or full sunlight, too much shade could keep them from flowering
  • Too Much Nitrogen
    Fertilizing with high nitrogen fertilizers will limit blooms. Try using a fertilizer with less nitrogen "N" and more Phosphorous "P".


Showers For Flowers...


So far April is living up to it's traditional billing of gracing us with much needed showers. 

Unfortunately most years we can also count on long periods of dry, hot weather requiring diligent watering to keep our flowers looking their best.  


If staying on top of watering isn't your idea of a good time you can always choose your flowers accordingly. A drought-tolerant flower garden should include the following:   



Burning Bush, KochiaGazania, Gazania
Creeping Zinnia, SanvitaliaMexican Sunflower, Tithonia
Dusty Miller, SenecioRose Moss, Portulaca
Four O'Clock, MirabilisSalvia, Salvia farinacea


Black-eyed Susan, RudbeckiaIris, Iris
Blanket Flower, GaillardiaSage, Salvia
Butterfly Flower, AsclepiasSedum
Gayfeather, LiatrisTickseed, Coreopsis

For a more complete list of drought-tolerant flowers that grow well in the Kansas City area follow this link.

Healthy Houseplants, Healthy Home...

good idea

Did you know that houseplants are making your home a healthier place? Over a decade ago NASA scientists discovered that plants are capable of removing volatile organic compounds (VOC's) from the air. The gases most often studied include formaldehyde, benzene, xylene,toluene, ammonia, acetone, methyl alcohol, ethyl acetate, and trichlorethylene. The plants listed below (in no particular order) are proven effective in this arena:

  • Palms (Chrysalidocarpus, Rhapis, Chamaedorea, and Phoenix)
  • Fern (Nephrolepis)
  • Corn Plant and Dragon Tree (Dracaena)
  • Rubber Plant and Weeping Fig (Ficus)
  • English Ivy (Hedera)
  • Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
  • Florist Mum (Dendranthemum)
  • Gerber Daisy (Gerbera)
  • Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia)
  • Schefflera (Brassaia)
  • Orchids (Dendrobium and Phalaenopsis)
  • Spider Plant (Chlorophytum)
  • Philodendron (Philodendron)
  • Arrowhead Plant (Syngonium)
  • Pothos (Epipremnum)
  • Dwarf Banana (Musa)
  • Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)



Do Not Disturb...

seedlingsIf you plan on growing vining fruits and vegetables like cucumber, cantaloupe, summer squash, and watermelon make sure you start the seeds indoors in peat pots. These vining plants don't appreciate having their roots disturbed and the peat pots make it possible to effectively transplant them. 

Precipitation Estimation...



Here's a fact that's easy to remember: Most plants need 1 inch of water per week. But how can you be sure? The precipitation figures you hear on the local weather broadcasts may have little in common with what actually falls in your garden. A simple rain gauge is the answer. They are available for a couple of dollars at most hardware and garden stores and are perfectly adequate for the job. Placement is critical - make sure the rain gauge has an unobstructed "view" to the sky. For example, you don't want it under awnings or tree limbs. 


More Growin', More Mowin'...


mowerMost of us think of mowing the lawn as a weekly task. This time of year however the grass is growing so fast that you probably need to mow it a bit more often. Remember that you don't want to cut off more than 1/3 of the height of the grass in any single mowing. In our yard that means mowing twice per week. It won't last long and the extra investment in time will yield a healthier more durable lawn when the summer heat sets in. 



"Flowers always make people better,

happier, and more helpful; 

they are sunshine, food and medicine 

to the soul."  

~ Luther Burbank

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