Monthly Archives: April 2024

Late Spring Gardener’s Calendar

Turn over your vegetable garden and add humus, mushroom compost or manure to enrich the soil.  Apply Bonide Fruit Tree Spray as buds swell and again at petal drop to all fruit trees.

Fertilize perennials with Dr. Earth Rose & Flower Fertilizer.

Continue spring cleanup.  Completely remove winter mulch.  Cultivate to remove winter weeds and debris from the planting beds, then edge.  Prepare your annual beds, and mulch landscape beds with shredded mulch, bark chips or gravel.   Apply Preen or Corn Gluten and scratch it in to prevent future weeds, or try the new Preen Mulch Plus which combines mulch and Preen and prevents weeds for up to 6 months.

Plant and transplant trees and shrubs, including roses, ground covers, and perennials (including hardy lilies and lily-of-the-valley).

Seed or sod new lawns.  Reseed bare spots in established lawns.  Keep the area moist until seedlings appear, then mow when the new grass is 3” high.

Put down a second application of Team or Tupersan (newly seeded lawns) for pre-emergent goosegrass control and control of crabgrass the rest of the year.

Transplant cool-season seedlings into the garden.  When the soil temperature reaches 60 degrees, sow warm- and cool-season vegetable and herb seeds.

Dig and divide crowded spring bulbs after they have finished blooming. Enrich the soil with compost, manure or Espoma Bulb-Tone.

Prune forsythia and other spring-flowering trees and shrubs after the flowers fall.

Place gro-thru sets and link stakes over or around peonies, grasses or any other perennials in need of support.

Check arborvitae, cedar, juniper spruce and pine for bagworms.  Hand-pick bags from the host and spray with Ortho Systemic Insecticide.

Begin summer rose care program of deadheading, spraying and watering.

Fertilize roses with Bayer All In One Rose and Flower Care or Dr Earth Rose and Flower Fertilizer, azaleas with Espoma Holly-Tone or Dr Earth Azalea/Camelia Fertilizer, and fruit trees with Dr Earth Tomato and Vegetable Fertilizer.

Deadhead bulbs, but leave foliage to mature and yellow before removing.  This will help nourish the bulb for next year’s flowering. Fertilize with Dr Earth Bulb Fertilizer.

Prune new growth on needled evergreens.

Dig and divide early blooming perennials after flowering.

Apply Encap Fast Acting Iron Plus or Bonide Liquid Iron Plus to azaleas, hollies, junipers, laurel, pines, rhododendron and spruce to provide iron for chlorophyll production by foliage.

Fertilize container plants and window boxes weekly with a Master Nursery Bud and Bloom Plant Food, or use Dynamite All Purpose Plant Food for season-long feeding, to promote healthy, vigorous plants all summer.

Pay close attention to the watering needs of these plants as well as hanging baskets, because they tend to dry out quickly on hot summer days.

Check plants for spider mite damage and treat with Bayer 3 in 1 Insect, Disease and Mite Control then alternate every 7-10 days with Bonide All-Season Oil Spray.

Attracting Ladybugs to the Garden

Ladybugs are arguably one of the most beneficial insects in a garden. They help plants stay healthy by controlling detrimental pests like aphids and mites without having to resort to chemical pesticides.

Food is what attracts ladybugs and keeps them in the garden. Insects and pollen are their preferred cuisine. Ladybugs will make your garden their home if you have a constant supply of both.

Protect Pests
First and foremost, eliminate the use of pesticides to reduce the population of destructive insects. Pesticides will eradicate both ladybugs and their food source. Instead, invite pest insects with a trap crop. A trap crop is a plant that attracts garden pests away from more desirable plants. Effective trap crops for aphids, a ladybug’s favorite food, include calendula, nasturtium, and sunflowers. Trap crops assist in creating a more balanced backyard habitat where ladybugs and other beneficial insects can thrive.

Provide Plants
Certain types of flowers are more likely to draw ladybugs than others. Planting a wide variety of blooms rich in pollen, especially flat-topped flowers in white and yellow, will provide a suitable and inviting environment for ladybugs. Some great choices are:

Sweet Alyssum
Bachelor’s Button
Butterfly Weed

Also, it is important to incorporate other plants like grasses, shrubs, and trees into your garden to offer a place for ladybugs to lay their eggs, provide shelter as they rest in the heat of the day, protect them as they search for food, and create a safe environment in which to hibernate during the winter months. To maintain hospitable hibernation conditions, delay cutting back perennials in the fall until springtime.

Make sure that you recognize the larval stage of the ladybug. This orange-and-black, spiky, alligator-like creature has a voracious appetite and can devour as many as 50 aphids and other insects daily.

It’s not difficult to create a welcoming ladybug habitat in your backyard.

  • eliminate pesticides,
  • provide food,
  • and establish places of shelter.

Follow this simple advice, and you are sure to be successful!

Bridal Wreath Spirea: Here Comes the Bride

In spring, adorned with clusters of small, white flowers that cascade along its gently arching branches, Spirea prunifolia, commonly known as Bridal Wreath Spirea, bursts into bloom, creating a stunning display of floral finery unmatched by any other spring-flowering shrub. No other holds the timeless charm and delicate allure of the Bridal Wreath. This classic plant has adorned gardens for generations, gracing landscapes with its timeless beauty, and will continue to carry its legacy far into the future.

Reasons for Bridal Wreath’s enduring popularity:

  • Perfect for Floral Arrangements
    Bridal Wreath’s abundant white blossoms make it a prized addition to floral arrangements, particularly for weddings and special occasions. The delicate clusters of flowers lend a romantic and ethereal touch to bouquets and centerpieces, complementing a variety of other blooms with its timeless elegance.
  • Old-Fashioned Plant with Modern Appeal
    While Bridal Wreath may evoke nostalgia for bygone eras with its old-fashioned charm, it remains a beloved choice in contemporary landscapes. Its deciduous nature, vase-shaped habit, graceful arching branches and profusion of flowers bring a touch of classic beauty to gardens, whether as a standalone specimen, a focal point in mixed borders, or as a backdrop for other flowering shrubs.
  • Multiple Design Opportunities
    In landscape design, Bridal Wreath offers versatility and aesthetic appeal. There are countless ways to incorporate this enchanting shrub into your outdoor space:

    • Hedge and Border Planting:
      Plant Bridal Wreath in a row to create a stunning flowering hedge or border along pathways or property lines. Its cascading branches will form a picturesque backdrop for the rest of your garden.
    • Mixed Garden Beds:
      Pair Bridal Wreath with other spring-flowering shrubs and perennials to create dynamic mixed garden beds. Combine it with plants like lilacs, azaleas, and tulips for a vibrant spring display.
    • Focal Point:
      Some Bridal Wreath Spirea cultivars can reach an impressive 8 feet high. Plant a single specimen in a prominent location, such as the center of a circular garden bed or at the end of a pathway, to serve as a focal point and draw the eye with its graceful form and abundant blooms.
    • Understory Tree Companion:
      Use Bridal Wreath as an understory plant beneath taller trees, where it will thrive in dappled sunlight and add a layer of interest and texture to the woodland garden.
    • Container Planting:
      Grow Bridal Wreath in containers on patios or balconies for a burst of spring color and fragrance. Pair it with trailing vines or annual flowers for a whimsical and romantic display.
  • Pollinator Magnet
    Bridal Wreath Spirea attracts all sorts of pollinators in abundance. All types of pollinating bees, from honey to mason, love Spirea. It attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, as well as many lesser-known, yet equally as important, pollinators.
  • Deer Resistant
    Resistant to deer nibbling, Bridal Wreath Spirea is an excellent choice for landscapes that deer frequent.

Bridal Wreath Care

If you are considering adding Bridal Wreath Spirea to your landscape, it’s an easy decision as it is so very simple to plant, care for, and maintain. Please note that this plant is best suited for growing in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 through 8.

  • Site – Plant your spirea in a location that receives full sun to partial shade. These plants flower best in full sun.
  • Soil – Spirea prefers moist, fertile soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH. Before planting, incorporating organic matter like compost into the soil helps to improve drainage and soil nutrition.
  • Water – Be sure to water newly planted spirea regularly to help establish their root systems. Once established, they are relatively drought-tolerant but benefit from consistent moisture, especially during hot and dry periods.
  • Mulch – Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the plant to conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. Keep the mulch a few inches away from the stems to prevent rot.
  • Pruning – Pruning is essential for maintaining the shape and vigor of bridal wreath spirea. Prune immediately after flowering to avoid sacrificing next year’s flowers. Remove dead or damaged branches, as well as any overcrowded or awkwardly tall stems.
  • Fertilize – Apply a balanced fertilizer in early spring before new growth emerges to provide nutrients for healthy foliage and abundant blooms. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for application rates.
  • Ongoing Care – Keep an eye out for common pests such as aphids, spider mites, and scale insects. Treat infestations promptly with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Additionally, ensure good air circulation around the plant to reduce the risk of fungal diseases like powdery mildew.

Top Bridal Wreath Spirea Varieties

  • Plena‘:
    This double-flowered variety features densely packed clusters of white blooms, creating a fuller and more opulent appearance compared to the single-flowered species. This shrub can grow up to 9 feet tall.
  • Renaissance‘:
    One of the standout qualities of ‘Renaissance’ is its compact growth habit. While still maintaining the elegant arching form characteristic of bridal wreath spirea, ‘Renaissance’ tends to be more restrained in size, about 5 feet tall, making it well-suited for smaller gardens or tight spaces.
  • Snowmound‘:
    True to its name, ‘Snowmound’ produces cascades of pure white flowers that cover the branches in spring, resembling a blanket of snow. Its compact habit, 2 to 4 feet high, makes it ideal for smaller gardens and containers.
  • Bridal Veil‘:
    A true classic with its long, arching branches adorned with single white blossoms, ‘Bridal Veil’ creates a stunning cascading effect that adds drama and elegance to any landscape. It ultimately grows to about 8 feet tall.

Consider planting Bridal Wreath this season. With its timeless beauty, versatility in the landscape, and enchanting floral displays, it continues to captivate gardeners and florists alike. Whether used as a focal point in the garden or as a cherished addition to floral arrangements, this classic shrub never fails to invoke nostalgia and awe. With proper planting and care, it will reward you year after year with its graceful form and abundant blooms, making it a must-have for any gardener seeking to cultivate beauty and romance in their outdoor space.

Bridal Wreath Spirea

Bridal Wreath Spirea

Bridal Wreath Spirea

Basil: King of the Herbs

It’s edible, a member of the mint family and ornamental. Grown for over 5,000 years, it flavors foods around the world and is well-known in many household kitchens… Have you guessed yet?

Of course, it’s BASIL!

A flavorful ingredient of foods from Italy to India and Thailand and America, basil adds flavor and flair to any recipe. Add fresh or dried basil just before serving for the most intense flavor. However, the kitchen isn’t the only place it reigns as king… Give it a throne in your garden, too!

Growing Basil

Like other mints, basil is easy to grow. Choose young, bushy, compact plants that show no signs of diseases or pests. Plant in full or partial sun, in well-draining soil and provide adequate moisture. As an annual, it’s also easy to grow from seed, just follow the package instructions.

The most difficult decision about basil is deciding which basil you want to grow and eat. The basil family, Basilicum, has a natural variety of colors, growth shapes and fragrances. Plant breeders complicated the decision by creating over 30 hybrids commonly used today.

For ornamental gardening use, four “shapes” are commonly available. All are deliciously edible.

  • Sweet Green Basil: 2′ tall, with large leaves and white flower spikes. The clove/anise taste is typical of many types of basil. Others in this group include lettuce-leaf, Genovese, Thai (spicy) and the intensely fragrant and flavored Siam queen.
  • Dwarf Basil: Up to 12″ tall, small leaves, white flowers. This group includes well known Spicy Globe and Boxwood basil (perfect edging plants due to rounded growth) and Green Bouquet.
  • Purple-Leafed Basil: Favorite varieties include Dark Opal, Purple Ruffle and Red Rubin, all with “fancy” leaves, very aromatic, with pink to lavender-purple flowers.
  • Scented-Leaf Basils: This group includes varieties of stronger aromas. Lemon basil (gray green leaves, white flowers) is aptly named as are cinnamon basil (dark pink flowers), and anise basil (blue purple flowers).

Basil, especially the purple-leafed, is wonderful in containers. Design as you would with any ornamental. Don’t overlook the value of placing a container near the BBQ and kitchen for easy use while cooking. It’s said that planting basil, especially aromatic varieties, around the patio or deck will deter flies… It certainly can’t hurt!

Enjoying Basil

Used throughout the world with different regional foods, basil truly reigns in many different cultures and cuisines. Although pesto is probably one of the best-known uses here in the United States, basil is great in soups, sauces, pastas or in salads, vegetables and martinis. Remember to harvest before flowering for the best flavor. This also keeps the plant bushy and compact. Simply cut the entire stem just above a pair of leaves to promote new shoots. If you plan to use some leaves as garnish, cut with scissors to reduce bruising. Store unused basil in the refrigerator to retain its flavor and freshness.

Extra basil can easily be dried for future use. Cut the plant at ground level, hang upside down in an airy room and let dry. After it’s fully dry, remove the leaves from stems and store in airtight jars away from direct light.

Benefits of Basil

Did you know using basil is also very good for you? For many reasons basil is called the “holy herb” in other cultures. Research now shows it has strong anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial qualities. Additionally, it is rich in essential nutrients, minerals and vitamins including beta-carotene, vitamins A and K and iron. Need we say more? Add basil to your healthy, delicious diet today!