Tuesday, Apr 24, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Kelly Heidbreder

Plants can tell you want they need to flourish

Now that the weather is warmer, let's push the throttle wide open and get planting! But lay the groundwork for success first.

Get your soil tested and go around your raised beds with a sharp spade to clean up the edging. Pull on your gloves and yank out as many weeds as you can. Grab the rake and drag all of the sticks and old leaves out of your flowerbeds and out from behind the shrubs.

Your plants are trying to tell you what they need to help them flourish. Here are some of the big signs that they need some help. If you see wilting foliage, they usually need water. This can also point to problems in the soil, so keep your eye on wilting foliage if watering doesn't perk them up.

Foliage with holes means your plants are the insect's smorgasbord, so you might need to hit them with an insecticide. Do some investigating to see what kind of bug is feasting before applying anything because one chemical doesn't fend off all of them. You might be able to avoid chemicals if you only have a few bugs that can be picked off by hand.

Blotches on the stems and leaves could mean you have disease problems. Take a sample to a home and garden center or your local extension office for a diagnosis. Black spots on roses can be beat back with a powder made for black spot. Look at the labels for application instructions.

If you see dark specks or tiny white spots, you might have more insects hanging around. Peek under the leaves and you might see them hiding.

Plants that are leggy mean they need some light. In general, long and stringy stems are not what you want around your garden. You want their stems to be strong and stocky to help feed the roots and flowers of your plant.

If they are thin and spindly, they are reaching for light. Clear out some limbs to bring in more light. Move plants to a sunny spot in the yard and replace them with more shade-loving plants that will thrive in the shade, such as hosta and ferns.

My daughter and I were hard at work on Mother's Day weekend mulching the garden. Having a helper to do the work is my favorite gift, as long as they don't complain the whole time. We also divided two huge hosta plants into 27 smaller ones around the yard. Love that!

My husband thought we had been to the garden center and bought more plants. My daughter proudly revealed our plan of spreading the gigantic mounds around the rest of the landscape. It was time to move them or lose them because they were starting to decline because they were packed into one spot without any room to spread out.

If you are moving other plants or shrubs this spring, dig the new hole before you dig up the rootball of that plant. Make sure the new hole isn't too deep and is wider than the rootball you will dig up. This will give the roots more room to spread out.

After the new hole is dug, go to the plant you want to move and dig it out, making sure you dig wide enough not to sever the roots underground. You want to get the soil around the plant and keep the roots where they are to avoid stressing the plant in its new location.

If you happen to cut a few roots, you might see your plant produce less blooms or shoots this season. Keep it watered and fertilized this season and it will bounce back by next summer.

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