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Top 10 Questions About Water Gardening

Many people enjoy the serenity that a backyard
garden pond
provides. And while these garden areas offer peaceful
sanctuaries to those that have them, they can also create frustration when
gardeners come across issues with which they’re unfamiliar. And that’s where Gardening Know
How
can help. We get lots of questions about gardening and strive
hard to provide answers to the best of our knowledge. Here are some answers to
the 10 most commonly asked questions about water
gardening
.

1. What is the best way to clean pond?

It’s important to clean
a garden pond
in a way that is safe for plants and fish. The easiest
way to keep it clean is to install a filter and pump. You’ll only need to change
the filter medium once in a while.  Just
be sure there is an intake screen to protect fish. Without a filter system,
cleaning the pond by hand once a year should be adequate. Remove debris by hand
or with a net. If the water is still pretty dirty, drain the pond and give it a
good scrubbing. You’ll have to move any fish and plants briefly to do this.
Keep fish in water and plants moist.

2. How to grow water lilies in a container?

First, choose the appropriate plants. Hardy water lilies are
best for colder climates and tropical varieties for warmer garden ponds.
Prepare plastic pots for water lilies by poking holes in the bottom and sides
and filling within a few inches of the top with soil and aquatic fertilizer. Plant
the water lily
rhizome in the pot with its eye upward and cover it
with pea gravel to keep soil in place. Place pots in a pond to a depth of about
six to 18 inches (15 to 45 cm.), depending on the variety.

3. How do I care for my garden pond plants over the winter?

Winterizing
your pond plants
depends on where you live. If you have cold
winters, your pond plants will need to come out for the season. Remove them and
keep them in a plastic tub or aquarium of water indoors with adequate lighting
and warmth. Let the roots stay bare in the water and when the plants begin to
sprout again, replant them in pots and set them back in the garden pond.

4. What should I do to winterize my pond?

For colder climates, some winterizing
is important for a healthy garden pond
. Plants should come out and
stay in water indoors for the winter with adequate light and warm temperatures.
If you don’t get hard freezes and have hardy pond plants, they can stay in the
water for winter. Give the pond a good cleaning by removing debris. Unless it’s
really dirty, changing out the water isn’t necessary. For fish, start
decreasing their feeding as temperatures get down to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10
Celsius). If a hard freeze is a risk, use a water pump to keep part of the pond
ice-free so fish will survive.

5. Are there any water container shade plants?

Water plants that tolerate some shade include hardy water
lilies, arrowhead, bog lily, cardinal flower, parrot’s feather, pennywort,
primrose creeper, water clover, and watercress. All plants need some sunlight,
so if you have deep shade, keep a shade-tolerant plant in a container and move
it to get some occasional light.

6. What plants will survive flooded areas?

Bog
plants
are great options for areas of gardens that are vulnerable to
flooding, as they can grow in wet and dry conditions. Examples include water
iris, Siberian iris, cardinal flower, pitcher plant, rose mallow, astilbe, blue
vervain, sweet woodruff, daylily, monkey flower, Indian grass, northern sea
oats, cattail, elephant’s ear, and water hyssop.

7. What types of plants grow well in ponds?

Plants
that grow in ponds
are those that thrive in water. Try the classic
water lilies, which come in both hardy and tropical varieties. Other popular
choices are common waterweed, various types of iris, water hyacinth, marsh
marigold, sweet flag, parrot’s feather, water hibiscus, pickerelweed,
elephant’s ear, swamp sunflower, and water hyssop.

8. How to install a garden pond?

Installing
a garden pond
can be a big job. First select a location with four to
six hours of sunlight and that will fit the size you want for a pond. Dig out
the pond to a depth of about two feet, leaving a shelf of only one-foot depth
around the edge for plants. Line the pond with waterproof plastic or pond
liner. If using a filter, install it before adding water. Fill the pond with
water and check the function of the filter. Let the water sit for about a week
before adding plants and fish. Landscape the edges, add in appropriate fish and
plants, and enjoy your work.

9. Should you remove cattails and, if so, how?

Cattails
in ponds or drainage areas can be a nice landscaping element, but they can also
grow out of control. In a drainage area, they may get so thick as to impede
water flow, while in a pond they can crowd out other plants. Where they are
native, cattails improve the health of these areas. If you do need to thin
them, though, you can dig them up by the root. This is physically demanding and
may not be possible for a large area. Another option is to drown cattails by
cutting them back until they are submerged.

10. Is duckweed invasive in ponds?

Duckweed
grows on the surface of ponds and can quickly become invasive and detrimental
to the health of the pond. It grows rapidly, covering the surface and blocking
necessary light and oxygen, which can result in the deaths of other plants and
fish. Prevent duckweed growth by regularly removing organic material, like
leaves, from the bottom of the pond. Duckweed thrives in nutrient-rich water.
You can also use a net to physically remove duckweed.

We all have questions now and then, whether long-time
gardeners or those just starting out. So if you have a gardening question, get a
gardening answer
. We’re always here to help.

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Top 10 Questions About Orchids

Here at Gardening Know
How
we get lots of questions, and our goal is to provide answers to
those inquiries to the best of our knowledge. Orchids
are popular flowers, but for newcomers, growing them can be intimidating. The
following information includes the 10 most commonly asked questions
about growing orchids
.

1. How to care for orchids?

Orchids
are not as difficult to care for as some people fear; they are just different
from other houseplants. As epiphytes,
their roots need air circulation and moisture. Use an orchid growing medium
instead of soil and replant with new medium as needed. The medium will break
down with time, so keep an eye on it. Water your orchid plant about once a week
by soaking the roots in the sink. Use a fertilizer once weekly as well. Place
an orchid in a sunny spot and keep the air around it humid by setting the pot
on a tray of pebbles filled with water.

2. How much do I water an orchid?

Most orchid
plants need to be watered
once a week. When the growing medium is
dry for about an inch down or lower, the plant needs watering. When watering,
really soak the roots. Put the container in the sink and let water run over and
soak the roots several times.

3. What type of pot or container should you plant an orchid in?

The most important factor in choosing
a container for orchids
is drainage. The roots need to be wet most
of the time but not sitting in water, so a pot with drainage holes is an
absolute must. Any kind of material is fine, but the best type of pot for an
orchid is clear or translucent plastic. In the wild, orchids grow with their
roots exposed to air and light, so this allows some light to get through to
them.

4. How to fertilize my orchid?

Orchids
need water soluble fertilizer

because they don’t grow in soil. A balanced fertilizer or one designed
specifically for orchids will work. Use fertilizer at least once a month but up
to once weekly. Mix the fertilizer with water as described on the package
instructions and use it to water the plant by soaking the roots.

5. Should you cut the stem off the plant when it’s done blooming?

When
cutting back orchids
, it really depends on the type, as they have
various needs. For Phalaenopsis
orchids
, trim off flowers as they begin to fade using sharp shears.
Cut back to the main branch. When it is completely done blooming, typically in
the fall, trim back the stem that held the flowers to about an inch from the
main stem. With a Dendrobium
orchid
, you can cut back flowers as they fade, but leave the
flowering stem in place. New flowers will bloom on it later.

6. Why do the buds form but then fall without opening, and how can I get my orchid to bloom?

When an orchid drops its buds before blooming, it is called bud
blast
. Buds are very sensitive and if you experience this, it is
likely the environmental conditions are not right and are impacting them. Some
causes include: too little light or too much direct light; dry air; extreme
temperatures, such as cold drafts from a window; over- or under-watering; air
pollutants; insect infestations; and too much fertilizer. Check your conditions
and make adjustments to get
the orchid to bloom
.

7. My orchid has mealybugs. How do I get rid of them?

Pests
on orchid plants
can be frustrating but easily remedied in most
cases. Mealybugs
are immobile and will grow covers over themselves on the leaves of orchids.
Gently scrape these off to begin, and then use a gentle pesticide to treat your
plant until the pest is completely gone. Use neem oil in warm water or an
insecticidal soap once a week.

8. Should you trim the orchid roots that are growing out of the pot?

Orchids
often grow new roots
that emerge from the container; these are
called tendrils or air roots. As epiphytes, it is natural for orchids to have
roots exposed to the air. They absorb moisture and nutrients from the air.
Healthy tendrils are firm and whitish in color. These should not be removed.
They are healthy and normal. Dry, dead, or diseased tendrils can be removed
with a clean, sharp tool.

9. What type of soil or growing medium is good for an orchid?

Orchids should never be planted in soil. They are epiphytes,
which means they grow with their roots exposed and attached to trees. The roots
absorb nutrients from the air and from decaying matter on the trees. In
containers they should be grown in specialized medium
or mix made just for orchids
. There are different types of mix
depending on the variety of orchid. Common materials in mixes include tree
bark, peat moss, perlite, lava rock, tree fern, and sphagnum moss.

10. When and how to repot orchids?

There are two reasons to repot
an orchid
: when the roots start growing outside the container and
when the growing medium has broken down too much. The latter causes the medium
to become denser, preventing roots from getting needed airflow. Depending on
the orchid and its growing conditions, it may need to be repotted as often as
every six months or as little as every three years. Use a slightly larger pot,
brand new medium, and move the orchid when it is not flowering. Clean and soak
the roots before putting in the new pot.

We all have questions now and then, whether long-time
gardeners or those just starting out. So if you have a gardening question, get a
gardening answer
. We’re always here to help.

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Top 10 Questions About Soil

Here at Gardening Know How we get lots of questions. Our goal is to provide answers with good advice based on experience. Of course, most gardeners know that the key to successful gardens normally begins with healthy soil. Here we have collected the ten most common questions we get asked about garden soil.

1. Did leaves in soil harm my plants?

Leaves can be a good addition to soil as part of balanced nutrient enrichment, but any infected or diseased leaves could also introduce pathogens into the soil. These could potentially harm plants you then put in the ground. Any leaves that appear diseased should be collected and disposed of rather than tilled into the soil. If you are unsure what is in your soil that may be harming plants, contact your county’s extension office to ask about a soil test.

2. Is it possible to grow vegetables in containers with soilless mix?

Yes, it is possible to grow plants, including vegetables,without soil. You will need to introduce nutrients through a fertilizer, though. Hydroponics is one option, which involves growing plants with the roots in water and with a liquid fertilizer or nutrient mix added. You can also use a soilless mix to start seedlings that will eventually planted in soil.

3. How to decrease soil pH?

You can lower the pH of soil by adding certain materials that are more alkaline,like coffee grounds. Try using an acidic fertilizer, like one with sulfur-coated urea. You can add sphagnum peat or sulfur to the top of the soil. Over time, these will decrease the pH. For a quick change in pH, use a little bit of diluted vinegar (about two tablespoons in one gallon of water) to water plants that need more alkaline soil.

4. How do you sterilize soil?

Heat is the best way to sterilize soil, but there are different ways to go about it. You can bake soil in an oven. Set it to 180 to 200 degrees (82 to 93 Celsius) and let it bake for about 30 minutes. Just make sure the soil is no more than four inches (10 cm.) deep to ensure it heats through. Alternatively, try microwaving moist soil for 90 seconds for every couple of pounds. Steaming soil is also an option, and as with baking you need the soil to get close to 200 degrees for about 30 minutes. Use a pressure cooker or trays of soil over boiling water to steam sterilize.

5. I have heavy clay soil. Can I till it over?

It’s best to amend heavy clay soil rather than just tilling it. Work in organic material, like compost, into the top four to six inches (10 to 15 cm.) of soil.The soil will still be heavy, but if you also add organic material that decays more slowly as a top layer, over time this will lighten the soil. Try bark or wood chips for this layer.

6. What is best (and easiest) method for tilling the soil of a small vegetable garden?

The simplest way to till soil in a small plot is to do it by hand. Try double digging for an easy method. Spread compost on the area first. Then dig a ditch along one edge of the garden, to a depth of about ten inches (25 cm.). Dig another ditch alongside it and fill in the first ditch with the soil from the second. Continue this across the width of your vegetable patch.

7. How to know if soil is contaminated?

Clues that your soil may be contaminated with something include difficulty growing any plants or getting stunted or diseased plants. The best way to know for sure is to have a soil test performed. You can do this by contacting your county’s extension office.

8. Why are there holes in my soil?

There could be a number of reasons for holes, but the most likely is that birds are making them. Crows and jays are well known to poke holes in turf or soil to hide food. They then cover that hole up again with soil, grass, or other materials on hand. If it looks like holes about the sizeof a bird’s beak were made and then covered again, birds are probably the culprits. Insects and small wildlife are also known to create holes in the lawn or garden soil.

9. How to remove fungus from seed starting soil?

Seed starting soil infected with fungus will harm your seedlings, potentially even before the seeds germinate. You can treat the soil with heat, baking it in the oven at 200 degrees for about 30 minutes. Remove any seeds or seedlings first, of course. Or you can start over with pre-treated soil. Just be sure you sterilize the container first. Starting seeds indoors with a sterilized soil mix will help you avoid fungal infections that may affect them outdoors in beds.

10. What to do for soil that stays too wet?

Correcting soil that stays soggy can be very labor and time intensive. It involves improving drainage by elevating a bed or adding a layer of gravel underneath. Either way, it is easier to not plant in these areas or to choose plants that tolerate wet soil. Bog plants are great choices, and include iris, marsh marigold, giant rhubarb, Joe-pye weed, pitcher plants, and Jack-in-the-pulpit. Trees that may work include bald cypress, river birch, cottonwood, willow, green or black ash, and pin oak.

We all have questions now and then, whether long-time gardeners or those just starting out. So if you have a gardening question, get a gardening answer. We’re always here to help.

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Top 10 Questions About Shade Gardening

Here at Gardening Know
How
we get lots of questions, questions, and we hope to answer them
all to the best of our abilities. A lot of gardeners struggle with shade
and how to grow plants with less sun. The following information includes the 10
most commonly asked questions about
shade gardening
.

1. What plants do well partial sun?

Plants that do well with some shade, or partial
sun
, include tropical rainforest plants, which grow well in hot,
humid climates. In more temperate locations, woodland plants and shade-tolerant
groundcovers are best. Some examples of tropical
shade plants
include elephant ears, asparagus fern, bird of
paradise, gardenia, and star jasmine. Woodland
shade plants
include azalea, flowering dogwood, bleeding heart,
columbine, and ferns. Groundcovers
for shady areas
include periwinkle, pachysandra, and
lily-of-the-valley.

2. What perennials grow best in the shade?

Shade
perennials
to consider include ferns, elephant ear, and hostas for
spectacular greenery. For more flowers, try calla lily, campanula, bleeding
heart, anemone, blood root, bee balm, forget-me-not, hydrangea, primrose,
Siberian iris, and violets. Perennial groundcovers that do well with shade
include ivy, lily-of-the-valley, periwinkle, pachysandra, Virginia creeper,
carpet bugleweed, and sweet woodruff. 

3. What shrubs can I plant that will grow in shade?

Shrubs
that tolerate shade are typically woodland plants. Those that will do well in
light shade include hazelnut, mock orange, summersweet, dwarf fothergilla, and
cornelian cherry dogwood. For moderate shade try daphne, witch hazel, holly, or
Virginia sweetspire. For the deepest shade, try Japanese Kerria, which will
bleach when exposed to too much sunlight. Some other woodland shrubs to
consider include flowering dogwood, hydrangea, azalea, and rhododendron.
Evergreen shade-tolerant shrubs include Indian hawthorn, boxwood, hemlock, and
yew.

4. Can you recommend any shade container plants?

Yes, there are actually many shade
tolerant plants for containers
. To
add spectacular and varied color foliage to a shady area, try different types
of coleus, which grow well in containers. Other annuals to try in containers
and that will tolerate shade include fuchsia, begonia, impatiens, and
caladiums. Perennial plants that grow well in containers and with some shade
are ferns, hostas, forget-me-not, bleeding heart, and hardy geraniums.

5. Can evergreens grow in a shade garden?

Evergreen trees are not shade plants, and generally don’t
need to be as they tower over others. But there are several varieties of evergreen
shrubs that will grow in partial shade
. Shrubs to try in shady areas
include honeysuckle, witch hazel, viburnum, yew, Juneberry, goat’s beard,
boxwood, holly, azalea, and rhododendron.

6. Can I grow any vegetables in shade?

Most vegetables require full sun to grow and produce, but there
are some vegetable
varieties that will tolerate shade
. These are generally the more
cold-weather plants and include a lot of greens: lettuces, arugula, endive,
spinach, Swiss chard, cabbage, mustard greens, and kale. Also, try broccoli and
turnips in shadier spots. All of these will need some sun but will tolerate a
little shade.

7. What can I plant under a tree?

The dark area under trees makes growing difficult, but there
are some shade-tolerant plants that can fill up that space. When planting
under trees
, groundcovers often thrive in the shade and make a good
alternative for grass. Try ivy, lily-of-the-valley, vinca, pachysandra,
periwinkle, Virginia creeper, sweet woodruff, and carpet bugleweed. Woodland
shrubs will also grow under trees, including azalea, rhododendron, holly, and
flowering dogwood.

8. What are good ground covers for shade areas?

Groundcovers
are often well suited to growing in shade
and are good options for
filling space under trees and in other shady spots where grass struggles to
grow. Try perennial groundcovers like lily-of-the-valley, ajuga, or carpet
bugleweed, periwinkle, pachysandra, deadnettle, vinca, ivy, Virginia creeper,
and sweet woodruff.  Some ideas for
warmer climates include yellow star jasmine, Algerian ivy, liriope, or monkey grass,
mondo grass, and autumn fern.

9. Are there any herbs that I can plant in my shade garden?

A lot of herbs need full sun but many will tolerate
some shade
. Those that are best to try in a shady patch are chives,
mint, catnip, parsley, angelica, ginger, sweet woodruff, and lemon balm. These
plants need rich soil, so add compost or fertilizer as needed. And living in
the shade they will not need to be watered as often. Just be sure the soil
drains well.

10. How can I get color in a shade garden?

There are plenty of flowering
plants that tolerate shade
, and some with colorful foliage. For
containers and borders, try coleus with foliage that comes in a wide range of
colors and patterns. Annual flowers for shade that do well in beds and
containers are impatiens, begonias, alyssum, pansy, snapdragon, and calendula.
Shade-tolerant perennials that will add colorful flowers include bellflowers,
bleeding heart, foxglove, hydrangea, primrose, violets, hellebore,
forget-me-not, and astilbe.

We all have questions now and then, whether long-time
gardeners or those just starting out. So if you have a gardening question, get a
gardening answer
. We’re always here to help.

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Top 10 Questions About Garden Design

Here at Gardening Know How we get lots of questions, and our goal is to provide answers to those inquiries to the best of our knowledge. In this do-it-yourself era, we are often flooded with questions about garden design and layout. As a landscape designer, I have designed gardens and landscapes intended to serve all sorts of purposes, from purely aesthetic gardens to fully functional edible gardens to problem solving gardens, such as rain gardens. The following information includes the 10 most commonly asked questions relating to garden design.

1. How do you design a year-round garden?

The key to designing a garden that can be enjoyed all year is selecting a combination of plants with year-round interest. This does not necessarily mean plants that bloom throughout each season. While in southern climates, it may be possible to have blooms in the garden year round, in cool northern climates, gardeners have learned to appreciate other attributes to create spectacular four-season gardens. Think about adding plants specifically for their colorful leaf displays; seasonal color changes may also include twigs and branches, such as the bright red or yellow winter color of certain dogwoods. Choose plants that add unique textures, such as ornamental grasses, and/or trees and shrubs with peeling or interesting bark. Plant shape can also add interest to the garden.Gnarly, contorted and twisted trees, like contorted hazelnut, can actually look more interesting after losing their foliage, while weeping, pendulous plants also provide year-round interest. Lastly, consider plants with colorful early blooms, late season berries and fruit, or attractive catkins or seed pods for spring and fall interest.

2. How do you plan a large garden layout?

Perhaps, the easiest way to plan a garden layout is to measure out the area and then sketch it out to scale. Most people use graft paper and pencil to do this. Your sketch does not have to be a masterpiece or award-winning design; it need only make sense to you. However, drawing it to scale will help you best utilize the space. With large garden spaces, it can also help to break the area down into smaller gardens, divided by paths and walkways to make them easily accessible. Again,these smaller gardens should be designed specifically for your gardening style or needs. For example, if you’re a heavy tea drinker, layout a space for growing your favorite herbs and perennials for tea. If garden layout is truly not your cup of tea, there are also many books, magazines and websites full of garden designs you can use for inspiration and, of course, you can hire landscape designers or architects to design your garden.

3. Do raised container beds need drainage holes?

Traditionally, a raised bed is constructed as wood, brick or stone boxes filled with soil to raise the garden above ground level for easier accessibility and/or drainage.Typically, the bottom of these boxes is left open to the bare ground, or constructed with a permeable material in the bottom such as stone or landscape fabric. The purpose of an open or permeable bottom is to allow for adequate drainage. As raised bed gardening has gained popularity, there are many new ways to enjoy this gardening trend, from buying pre-made raised garden tables to repurposing old livestock water troughs, pools or tubs.Whatever a raised container garden bed is made from, it will need to have drainage. The only exception to this rule is if you are actually growing water plants in it. In some cases, you may need to remove the bottom of a vessel or drill adequate holes in it to allow a raised container garden bed to drain properly.

4. How do I start a garden in a freshly cleared wooded area?

When planning a garden in a freshly cleared wooded area, you should begin by investigating and testing the soil in the garden. It is much easier to create proper soil conditions before a garden is planted than to try to correct soil problems in an existing garden. Besides having the soil tested for nutrient levels, you should also test the site’s drainage and map the sunlight in the area. Starting a garden journal at this point can help you keep track of your findings, log your progress, as well as note your successes and failures.Before planting the garden, make any necessary soil amendments. Then plan out the garden based on plant sun or shade needs, plant heights and widths, and, of course, plant texture and color.

5. What is distance apart for bedding plants?

How far apart to plant bedding plants depends on the plants and the look you desire. Before planting, determine each plant’s mature width. This information can usually be found on seed packets or plant tags, but if not,you can always Google this information. Next, decide if you want the plants to touch and form a mass or of you want formal spaces between plants. If you’d prefer each plant to have space around them, take the plant’s mature width and multiple it by 1.5 or even 2 and space them that far apart. For example, a plant with a mature width of 12 inches (30 cm.) will have nice spaces between them if you plant them 18 to 24 inches (46-61 cm.) apart. On the other hand, if you want the mass planted look, where the plants touch and grow together with no gaps, then plant them closer than their expected mature width. For example, if the plants mature to a width of 10 inches (25 cm.), planting them 8 inches (20 cm.) apart will ensure that they grow together. Plants can also be staggered for a fuller look. You can also calculate spacing using the square foot method of planting.

6. How much separation should there be between a septic tank and a vegetable garden?

Generally, plants with shallow roots can be placed around or even over a septic tank with no worries of the roots damaging the tank or its function. Most perennials, annuals and vegetable plants have shallow roots and will be fine with little to no space between them and the septic tank. You should, however, avoid planting trees, shrubs and other plants with larger,woody root structures. When planting around or over septic tanks, bear in mind that you or septic tank servicemen may still need access to certain parts of the septic tank, and if the septic tank ever needs to be replaced, so will your garden.

7. Are the cement cinder blocks okay to use for raised beds?

Cinder blocks are a common material used for building raised beds. They are generally considered safe for use in gardens and around plants. However, there is some concern that cinder blocks may contain fly ash, a byproduct of burning coal. The concern is that fly ash can leach heavy metals into the soil. Sadly, not much research has been done on the subject. It may be wise to take caution or thoroughly research the composition of the exact blocks you have before using them to create raised beds for edibles. There are also many other materials out there to make raised beds.

8. Which way to plant vegetable garden?

There is no right or wrong way to plant a vegetable garden. Where you plant your vegetable garden will depend on your site. Most vegetables require full sun, but those that prefer light shade can be planted so that taller plants provide a relief from the sweltering sun. The days of traditional rectangular plots with perfect tidy rows are long gone. Today, garden space is utilized to its fullest potential by using techniques such as companion planting and succession planting. In both cases, plants are fairly close together to help each other grow or to take over once the original plant has run its course.

9. Can you lay plastic in the garden?

There are many good reasons to lay plastic in the garden.Most commonly plastic is laid as a weed block, like landscape fabric. Some argue that plastic weed block is more harmful than helpful as it does not allow for the proper exchange of gases and may hinder the penetration of nutrients into the soil. Without the proper exchange of gases, earthworms and microorganisms in the soil may die out.Another reason for laying plastic in the garden may be to kill off grasses or weeds by solarization– for this, thick clear plastic is usually used to intensify the sun’s rays,essentially cooking the vegetation beneath the plastic. Black plastic, on the other hand, can also kill unwanted vegetation by blocking out the sun, not allowing weeds and grasses to photosynthesize.

10. How to create privacy screening in the landscape?

Privacy screening can be created using plants in several ways. Naturally, you can just plant a row of tall arborvitae or other evergreens and enjoy your privacy behind them year round. Other tall plants can also create privacy screens or hedges, whether they lose their leaves or not, the privacy may not be as dense in the winter months, but many of us aren’t out in the garden a lot in winter. Tall or wide trellis, or fences covered in climbing vines can also create a beautiful privacy screen, as can bermed up lushly planted beds or swales. Many garden retailers also sell decorative garden screens, and Pinterest is full of unique ideas for creating privacy in the garden, such as spacing unique old doors or other repurposed items in the garden.

We all have questions now and then, whether long-time gardeners or those just starting out. So if you have a gardening question, get a gardening answer. We’re always here to help.

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Top 10 Questions About Flower Bulbs

Here at Gardening Know How we get lots of questions, and our goal is to provide answers to those inquiries to the best of our knowledge. Growing flower bulbs can be a fun and easy way to incorporate color into spring and summer gardens. The following information includes the 10 most commonly asked questions we receive about flowering bulb plants.

1. What is the best way to transplant bulbs?

The best time to transplant already established bulbs is when the plants are dormant. Spring flowering bulbs are commonly moved in late summer or early fall after the foliage has died back. This is especially important, as many bulbs require the foliage to be allowed to die back naturally. Summer blooming bulbs can be moved after the foliage has been killed by fall frost. These bulbs can also be moved in the early spring before any growth has started. It is possible to move bulbs that are already growing, however, although it is not always ideal.

2. How deep do I plant my flower bulbs?

The depth at which bulbs should be planted will vary greatly depending upon the type being planted. The most reliable information regarding planting can usually be found on the plant supplier packaging label. If there is not a label, a good rule of thumb is to plant the bulbs about twice the depth of the height of the bulbs. This is especially true when planting perennial bulbs that will overwinter in the garden and return. Planting at the appropriate depth will ensure that the bulbs are not damaged by harsh winter conditions.

3. Why aren’t my bulbs flowering this year?

There are many reasons why bulbs may not bloom. While some issues are related directly to disease, lack of bloom is most commonly caused by insufficient growing conditions. If plants are not blooming, consider researching the specific needs of that flower. Both an excess and lack of direct sunlight may inhibit bloom. Additionally, the use of fertilizers high in nitrogen may promote the growth of lush foliage, yet impede the bloom of the plants. Bone meal can usually help offset this. Frequent and consistent irrigation will also assist growers hoping to produce high quality blooms.

4. How do you force flower bulbs?

Several flower bulbs can be forced to bloom both indoors and in heated greenhouses.Spring blooming flowers such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocus, and more are ideal candidates for forcing. To do so, simply plant the bulbs in a well-draining container filled with potting soil. Place the container in a cold, frost- free place for several weeks. This chill period is required for many bulbs to bloom. The length of chill time varies depending upon the type of bulb; however, most require at least 12 weeks. Afterward, move the container into a warm and bright location. If providing a period of chill is not an option, bulbs such as paperwhites and amaryllis may also be forced. Since these bulbs do not require cold, they are excellent options for those living in warm winter climate or growers wishing to give forced bulbs as gifts.

5. What is the best way to store bulbs?

Many gardeners choose to store flower bulbs. Tubers and bulbs, such as dahlias, are an excellent example of plants which thrive when grown as an annual but may not over winter in all growing zones. To store flower bulbs, remove the bulbs from the soil after the foliage has died back following the first frost of the season. After digging the dormant bulbs, allow them to dry a few days. Store in a cool, dark frost-free location. Storing bulbs in mediums such as sawdust or peat will ensure the bulbs do not dry out before next planting season. Check bulbs frequently for mold or signs of rot. Remove any damaged bulbs from storage and discard them.

6. How to plant my bulbs and which end is up?

The answer to this question will vary depending upon what type of flower bulb is planted. However, in most cases, growers are able to determine which end is up by carefully examining the bulb. While some bulbs are shaped rather oddly, many have a prominent tip. A pointed end will often signal the top of the bulb, and an obvious ring of dried roots will often denote the bottom of the bulb. If you’re still uncertain which part of the bulb is up, there is no need to become too distressed. Many bulbs are able to correctly position themselves within the soil as they begin to grow.

7. Do I have to lift bulbs for overwintering?

The need to lift flower bulbs from the garden will greatly depend upon your growing zone and the cold tolerance of the flowers. Gardeners who grow flower bulbs as annuals in harsh winter climates will likely need to remove bulbs and store them indoors over winter. Growers living in warmer winter growing zones may be able to successfully over winter flowering bulbs in their position in the ground. For an easy growing and maintenance free garden, choose varieties that are hardy to your USDA growing zone.

8. What do I do with bulbs that have already sprouted?

Whether bought when on sale or at the last minute, receiving flower bulbs that have already started to sprout is a very common occurrence. In most cases, the best course of action is to plant the bulbs as soon as possible. Hardy perennial flower bulbs can be planted at any time, while frost tender bulbs will need to wait until all chance of frost has passed. If planting outdoors is not possible, growers can plant the bulbs into containers indoors until the appropriate time to plant into the garden. Spring-blooming bulbs can be planted any time in the fall before the soil freezes. Since many spring blooming bulbs do require a period of cold, late planting will offer the best chance of bloom in the spring.

9. What is the chilling time for flowering bulbs?

Many spring and early summer blooming flower bulbs require a period of chill in order to bloom. Without this chill time, plants may struggle to grow. Flower bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, crocus, muscari, hyacinth, and snowdrops all require a period of cold to produce flowers. Each type of flower requires a varying amount of cold, most often reaching in length from 8-15 weeks.

10. How can I keep squirrels and other critters from digging up my bulbs?

Squirrelsrodentsdeer and other animals can be a major nuisance when it comes to planting flower bulbs. Many bulbs, like tulips, become a prime target for deer as they bloom in the spring. There are many measures which growers can take to help prevent this. One of the most effective methods is to create a small bulb crate surrounding the bulbs when planted. In addition to the implementation of bulb crates, organic animal repellents may offer some results. Perhaps, however, the most effective method to prevent losses from animals is to choose flower bulbs that are resistant. Bulbs, such as daffodils, are seldom eaten by deer and other pests.

We all have questions now and then, whether long-time gardeners or those just starting out. So if you have a gardening question, get a gardening answer. We’re always here to help.

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Top 10 Questions About African Violets

Here at Gardening Know How we get lots of questions, and our goal is to provide answers to those inquiries to the best of our knowledge, and this includes commonly grown houseplants like the African violet. Below are the 10 most commonly asked questions about African violet plants. We hope you find the answers you are seeking here to help keep your African violet beautiful and healthy.

1. How do I fix limp, droopy African violets?

Limp, droopy African violets are the result of overwatering.
In fact, soil that is too wet can lead to crown
rot
. You’ll want to act quickly to save the plants. Remove the plants from
their soil and rinse off the roots to get rid of fungal spores, then dust with
fungicide. Repot the plant in a container that absorbs extra water, like a
terra cotta pot. Change the growing medium to a grittier mix to give the plant
better drainage. Be sure that the drainage holes are open. Keep the African
violet in the shade for a few weeks and reduce the water you give it.

2. Why doesn’t my African violet bloom?

Is your plant getting enough sunlight? An African
violet plants
require lots of filtered bright light to flower. If your
plant is not getting this kind of sunlight, move it to a location where it can.
If you aren’t feeding the plant, give it some special African violet
fertilizer. Alternatively, give the plant a little extra phosphorus by adding
bone meal to the soil to support flowering.

3. How to treat powdery mildew on African violets?

Powdery mildew is caused by a fungus. You’ll want to use a
non-toxic fungicide to treat
powdery mildew on African violets
. Alternatively, neem oil also does a good
job of getting rid of powdery mildew in plants.

4. Why are leaves curling on African violet?

African violets curl their leaves
when something isn’t to their liking. If you irrigate them with water that is
too cold, you’ll see their leaves curling. Too much or too little water also
causes curling. Another reason for curling leaves is the presence of mites on
the plant, but it can also be inadequate light.

5. How to deadhead the flowers on an African violet?

Deadheading
African violets can’t be a quick and dirty operation since these plants are
extremely sensitive to change. Take your time and plan on snipping a little
every day. The first day, cut the flower off at the point where it joins the
stem. Over the next few days, cut the stem back a little each day as it dies.
That gives the plant the chance to take back the nutrients in the stem.

6. What type of light does the African violet need?

Your African
violet
needs plenty of filtered light, but never direct sunlight. Be sure
your plant is getting bright to medium intensity light. For example, you can
place your plant 3 feet (1 m.) from a south-facing or west-facing window to get
the violet appropriate light. If your plant has dark green foliage, give it
higher light levels than pale green foliage. Use fluorescent lights if
necessary.

7. Can African violets get aphids?

Like so many plants, African violets can get aphids. Look
for them on the underside of the leaves. They’ll be in clusters, usually green
or black. Treat your infected plant with neem oil to get
rid of the aphids
. It also works for spider mites.

8. Should I repot my African violet?

If your African
violet is leggy
and growing out of the pot, you can repot it in a slightly
largely container. You can also use the leaves of the plant to start growing
new plants.

9. How to propagate an African violet plant?

You can start growing
a new African violet plant
by putting an old leaf in a new pot. Be sure the
leaf node is touching the soil. You can also find a “pup” (or small
plant) growing at the stem of the plant. These pups can also be transplanted to
form new plants.

10. Can you divide an African violet plant?

Yes, you can divide
an African violet plant
when it gets large. To divide it, first cut away
the crown from the plant. You want each divided portion to retain a piece of
the root system. Transplant each rooted division into small pots filled with
African violet potting mix.

We all have questions now and then, whether long-time
gardeners or those just starting out. So if you have a gardening question, get a
gardening answer
. We’re always here to help.

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Top 10 Questions About Plant Propagation

Here at Gardening Know
How
we get lots of questions, and our goal is to provide answers to
those inquiries to the best of our knowledge, especially when it comes to plant
propagation
. The following information includes the 10 most commonly
asked questions about we receive about propagating
plants
. We’ll answer when, how and what regarding all your propagation
needs. Whether you have seed or cuttings, many of your queries will be
answered.

1. How to save seeds from plants?

Depending upon the type of plant, saving seed is often as easy as allowing the seed head
to ripen and dry and then removing seeds from chaff and placing them in a
container. Other seeds, such as those from fruit, need to be soaked and have
the flesh pared away prior to storage. As a rule, most seeds need to be stored in a cool, dry,
dark location
.

2. How do you take cuttings from plants?

Timing for cuttings varies by species but most should be
taken from young, still growing material as with softwood or semi-hardwood
cuttings
. Always sterilize your cutting implement and cut just above
a growth node to prevent unsightly dead twigs on your plant.

3. How and when to start seeds indoors?

Seeds that will be planted outdoors need
to be started
at least 6 to 8 weeks prior to the date of the last
frost. A good purchased seed starting mixture is useful, as well as small
container or flats. You can also make your own planting blend. For veggies and
most perennials, a mix of 1/3 each garden soil, peat and compost will work
perfectly. For cacti, succulents and xeriscape plants, mix half soil with half
gritty material such as horticultural sand.

4. What is rooting hormone?

Rooting
hormone
is a plant auxin or growth hormone. They may come purchased
in a powder or liquid form. These products help cuttings root faster and
easier. Homemade rooting hormones can be made from willow
tea
, honey
and cinnamon.

5. What is soilless mix?

Soilless
mixes
are good media to reduce the chance of fungal growth. They do
not contain soil and, therefore, reduce the chances of disease, insects and
bacteria transferring to your little plants. Examples are sphagnum moss,
perlite, vermiculite and horticultural sand. Often, the items are blended for
specific types of plants. You can also make
your own soilless mix
.

6. How do you graft a tree and what types can be grown together?

Grafting
is the best way to preserve a plant’s characteristics. The process unites a scion
(top part of plant) with a rootstock
(rooted base). There are five common ways to graft, but the easiest is to take
a cutting of your desired plant and then select an appropriate rootstock. Bind
the cut ends of both together with plant tape. Over time, the two pieces will
grow together.

7. Can I root plants in water and which ones?

Many of our favorite houseplants,
herbs
and even garden ornamentals can be rooted in water. A switch of willow
is a classic example of an ornamental tree which will produce roots quickly in
water. Other examples of plants that root easily are spider plants, pothos,
hibiscus, sage, mint, and ivy. Soft stemmed plants with bumps on the stems work
best, like tomatoes.
It doesn’t cost a thing to just try a cutting and the results may be amazing.

8. Why are my seedlings leggy?

If your seedlings
are becoming leggy
, a lack of light is the most likely cause. Plants
stretch out to receive maximum light. Try pinching the plant back and situating
it in a higher sunlight situation.

9. When should you divide bulbs and perennials?

Dividing
plants
is an easy process that can result in more of your favorite
plants. Wait until the plant has died back. Let foliage turn yellow on bulbs
and then dig up the cluster and separate, planting each bulb individually. For
perennials, wait until early spring and dig them up. Cut the root mass into 2
or 3 pieces and bury individually. Use good sharp, clean implements to avoid
transferring disease or damaging the pieces.

10. How to propagate succulent cuttings?

Succulents are one of the easiest forms of plant to propagate.
Many can be started from a leaf or piece of stem simply laid upon a nice,
lightly moist, soilless medium or cactus mix. Many succulents form pups that
you can divide from the parent plant and individually pot up. Keep starts a bit
on the dry side as they root.

We all have questions now and then, whether long-time
gardeners or those just starting out. So if you have a gardening question, get a
gardening answer
. We’re always here to help.

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Top 10 Questions About Greenhouses

Here at Gardening Know How we get
lots of questions, and this includes greenhouses.
Our goal is to provide answers to these inquiries to the best of our knowledge.
The following information includes the 10 most commonly asked questions relating
to greenhouse
gardening
.

1. How do you get rid of bugs in a greenhouse?

Surprisingly, even in a greenhouse environment, insect pests
are inevitable. These greenhouse
pests
may range from aphids and mealybugs to mites, whiteflies and
more. One of the easiest ways to monitor them is by using sticky pads, which
keep many insects under control or at least signal you when their numbers are
growing for further control. The use of insecticidal soap and neem oil are
additional methods of control and normally safe to use on edibles.

2. What is the ideal humidity for starting seedlings in a greenhouse?

Most plants prefer humidity between 50 and 80 percent.
Foliage loses water and wilts rapidly when levels are below 50 percent, but
high humidity can cause fungal diseases such as damping
off
, which causes tiny stems to rot at the base. If high humidity is
a problem, you can provide a drier environment by watering plants from the
bottom, and by providing adequate heat
and ventilation.
If humidity is too low, improve conditions by misting plants, with cool mist
vaporizers or small humidifiers, or by placing pots on trays of wet pebbles.

3. How to get rid of mushrooms in greenhouse soil?

Mushrooms
often pop up in potting mix
, which indicates the substance is high
in organic material. Although the fungi are harmless, they tend to be
unsightly. If you notice tiny mushrooms, pull them up by their base and discard
them to prevent development of spores. Water plants from the bottom and be
careful not to water excessively. Provide proper ventilation to keep the air
moving. If air circulation is limited, a small rotating fan will help.

4. Why is soil turning green on my starter seed trays?

Green
stuff on the surface of potting mix is probably algae or moss
. While
the substance is generally harmless, a thick layer can prevent proper
absorption of moisture and nutrients. Often, you can remove the green by
breaking up the surface of the soil with a pencil or toothpick. Always start
seeds in fresh, good quality seed starting mix. Allow the surface of the
potting mix to dry slightly, and don’t water to the point of sogginess. Be sure
your greenhouse is properly ventilated to prevent excess humidity.

5. Should cloches have an air gap top prevent over heating?

A greenhouse provides sunlight that warms the soil and
protects plants from frost. However, an air gap is essential, as too much heat
in an airtight greenhouse can quickly cook tender greenhouse plants. Be sure to
close vents at the end of the day when cool temperatures are expected, then
open them in the morning while the air is still cool. Automatic vent systems
are available. The same applies when using
cloches in the garden
, either by tilting it to allow for some air to
enter or removing altogether when warmer day temps are expected. Just remember
to reposition the cloche in the evening.

6. Do you have instructions on attaching shade cloth on the inside of a greenhouse?

Greenhouse experts recommend that exterior shade is more
effective than interior screen systems because light is blocked before it
enters the greenhouse. Once light is trapped inside, it becomes difficult to
remove the excess heat. However, if you want to install interior shade
cloth
, it’s best to invest in a retractable system that allows
sunlight to enter on cloudy days. Mechanized systems, consisting of support
cables, motor and shade, can be opened and closed as needed. You can also
install a less expensive indoor system consisting of ropes and pulleys.

7. Can I grow herbs in my greenhouse in the winter without a heating system?

If you live in a cool northern climate, it will be difficult
to grow
herbs in a greenhouse
. Most herbs will struggle when temps drop below
40 to 50 F. (4.5-10 C.), while many prefer consistently warm temperatures of 65
to 70 F. (18-21 C.) during the day and 55 to 60 F. (13-16 F.) at night. You
can, however, get a jump on spring growing by starting many herb seeds in an
unheated greenhouse, but you may need a heat mat for germination. Herbs that
tend to be cold hardy include lavender, garlic, rosemary, winter savory, catnip
and oregano.

8. How to choose the best greenhouse?

If you want to grow tropical plants, you’ll need a
greenhouse capable of maintaining steady temperatures of 65 to 70 F. (18-21 C.)
or higher. Most flowers, vegetables and herbs need temps of around 55 F. (13
C.), while a “cool” greenhouse is suitable for germinating seeds and raising
starter plants in spring. A greenhouse with clear panels provides warmth and
light for sprouting seeds, while a diffused or glazed covering provides
balanced levels of light heat for growing plants to maturity. Additionally, look
for a greenhouse
that is adequately ventilated and insulated to prevent plants from excess heat
and cold.

9. How to keep greenhouse cool in hot weather?

A shade
cloth
, either internal or external, will help block the intense rays
of summer sunlight. Make sure shade is in place before the heat of the day,
then remove the cloth on cooler days. Ventilation,
in the form of roof or side vents, keeps air moving and prevents buildup of
heat. If ventilation is limited, you may need to run a fan (or two) to
circulate the air. Be sure to
keep greenhouse plants well watered
during hot weather. A light
misting can cool plants on hot days, but mist judiciously, as too much moisture
can promote disease.

10. What plants/vegetables grow in a greenhouse?

You
can grow nearly any plant in a greenhouse
, but it’s all about
determining the needs of particular plants. For instance, you can germinate
seeds and grow starter plants in an unheated greenhouse, while tropical plants
need consistently warm temperatures year round. You can easily start most
flower seeds and cool season vegetables such as peas, broccoli and lettuce in
an unheated greenhouse, but tomatoes and peppers need plenty of sunlight and
warm temperatures between 55 and 85 F. (12-29 C.).  Some flowers, such as impatiens and ferns,
thrive in shade, while geraniums and daisies need bright sunlight.

We all have questions now and then, whether long-time
gardeners or those just starting out. So if you have a gardening question, get a
gardening answer
. We’re always here to help.

The post Top 10 Questions About Greenhouses appeared first on Gardening Know How’s Blog.