I know, I know. People are tired of this weather and want to get active in the garden. So I guess we just suck it up and get going.
I would imagine a lot of people are going to be out in the garden and visiting gardening centers over Mother’s Day weekend. So here are a few thoughts for your Mother’s Day weekend in the garden.
If you’re one who would rather enjoy Mother’s day weekend doing something other than mowing your lawn you might like this; I wonder how many of you have heard about “No mow May."
I’m not going to weigh in with my opinion on this, but I will explain what it is. I’m told this is becoming popular on the Front Range, especially in the Fort Collins and the Boulder area. The idea is that you don’t mow your grass during the month of May.
Now settle down. This is to give spring flowers such as dandelions, clover, and black medic that are growing in the lawn a chance to bloom. Yep, that’s what I said. The goal behind this is to provide flower resources for pollinators at a time when flowers may be limited.
It’s said this will benefit the bees and increase arthropod diversity. The promoters of this idea encourage people to mow less frequently all season long.
If you decide to try this, keep in mind that removing more than one-third of the height of the grass blades will stress the turf which can lead to disease problems in the grass. You’ll need to adjust your lawn mower blades to accommodate this one-third rule. So if you really don’t want to mow this month why not just say you’re helping the pollinators and take advantage of the new trend.
In an effort to protect the bees, Gov. Jared Polis was expected to sign a bill that limits sale of pesticides based on chemicals called neonicotinoids. This will mean homeowners would no longer be able to buy products such as Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub. Some of the big box retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s have already announced plans to phase out products with “neonics”.
Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub is a product frequently recommended to homeowners with aphid or scale problems on trees and shrubs. It can be mixed in a bucket of water and poured around the base of the plant where the plant absorbs the product which in turn kills the insects that were feeding on it. Earthworms are not affected by the product and soil drenches eliminate the need for sprays being released into the air.
If the tree or shrub wasn’t flowering at the time of the application, bees should not have been adversely affected. You might want to do a little research into the list of products that would be banned if this goes into effect.
If you’re out and about buying bedding plants, just be forewarned, our last average frost date for the Montrose area is May 12, but take that with a grain of salt. It’s interesting how different each spring can be.
A few years ago, June 22 brought a hard frost that damaged a lot of trees and flowers. Last spring we experienced such gale force winds that we just kind of waved at each other as we blew by.
This year has people wondering if the cold winter is ever going to end. Because the weather can change overnight you may want to be prepared to cover your tender annual plants or bring them indoors if need be.
If you’re buying bedding plants and vegetables from inside the warmth and protection of a greenhouse, they will most likely need to be “hardened off” before you plant them.
Taking your tender, new plants home and planting them directly into the garden on a hot, sunny, windy day can quickly spell doom for your plant. These tender new plants need to become a bit accustomed to being out in the elements, or “hardened off” before you plant them.
Setting the new bedding plants in a shaded, protected area and gradually exposing them to sunlight and winds will help them adjust. After a few days you can finally plant them in their new home.
If you haven’t pruned your roses yet it’s time to do so. I think pruning roses is kind of fun. That is if you wear some good rose pruning gloves. Maybe I like it because it’s so rewarding. If you’re unsure of what you’re doing, simply begin by removing any weak, crossed, dead, and discolored diseased canes.
Hybrid Tea roses should ideally be pruned into a waffle ice cream cone shape, with an open center leaving the strongest, healthiest canes. The canes can be pruned to a height of about eight to ten inches tall. Make your cuts with a slight 45-degree angle. The cut should be about a-quarter inch above a healthy, outside-facing bud or clump of leaves.
Pruning cuts that are larger than about three-quarters inch diameter should be sealed with a drop of Elmer’s glue or carpenters glue to prevent cane borers (larvae of Sawflies) from entering the stems which causes hollow canes.
Shrub roses, grandiflora roses, miniature roses and climbing should not be pruned this severely. Oh, and this is also a good time to fertilize your roses with a rose food labeled for roses.
Don’t get too carried away with spring cleanup and remove all the foliage from your spring flowering bulbs. Only remove the faded flowers from tulips, daffodils and other spring flowering bulbs. Don’t remove the foliage until it’s turned yellow and has died down naturally. I know it’s kind of ugly but this will help the energy from the plant go to the bulb which will in turn lead to better flowers next spring.
Along those same lines, don’t prune the buds off of your spring flowering shrubs. You can prune the older canes at ground level to rejuvenate a lilac bush, but don’t prune the little buds if it still hasn’t bloomed or you’ll cut the flowers off.
As I said earlier, Sunday is Mother’s Day. If you’re panicking because you haven’t bought a present yet, a trip to the garden center may be just the answer. A plant or gift card could earn you a lot of favor with mom. Enjoy the day!
Linda Corwine McIntosh is an ISA certified arborist, licensed commercial pesticide applicator, and advanced master gardener.
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