Monthly Gardening with Jennifer Brennan

August 31, 2010 5:08:08 AM PDT
Our gardening expert Jennifer Brennan answers viewer questions.TIP: Our lawns have been the biggest casualties of the summer of 2010, due to the extreme heat and the heavy rains. September is THE BEST TIME of the ENTIRE year to repair and rejuvenate them. First step; fertilize with an organically based lawn fertilizer. Second step; kill all the weeds - the weed killers are actually plant hormones that will get absorbed faster when the weeds' metabolism have been fired up with fertilizer. Finally, wait 2 weeks and re-seed with a good quality disease resistant grass seed. By mid-October the lawn will look brand new and healthy!

Q&A

Kim Hallas: I have basil growing in a pot; what do I have to do to bring it inside for the winter?

ANSWER: Since it is an edible, spray with a sulfur and pyrethrin (both earth-friendly naturals) based disease and insect controlling product, Earth-Tone 3 N 1 Disease & Insect Control (it is safe to wash the leaves and eat them within one hour of direct sunlight). Just bring the pot indoors to a sunny (at least 6 hours of direct sun) window. Basil loves full sun and warm temperatures.

Jennifer Holloway: I've got basil and chives growing.

ANSWER: Chives also like full sun and frequent watering.

Pat Molitor Arbuthnot: I'm having a lot of problems growing anything in my current place, and I never had a problem before-I have always put them in a west window, and still have a west window to put them in but nothing will grow. I also need to know what will grow indoors without a lot of sun. Thanks

ANSWER: I am assuming that this is an indoor growing situation, so I need to know how much sun is coming into the west window in the new "place" (apartment or home). If there is shade from trees or buildings blocking the light from coming into the west window, the best plants will be shade tolerant varieties. In lower light conditions, foliage plants (those that do not flower) are the most successful. My favorites for shade are the Chinese Evergreen, the Peace Lily and the Pathos.

Sandy Engstrom Ores: I have put my houseplants outside for the summer. How do I prepare them for coming back in so they don't stress out and so I don't bring any bugs in also. Thank you!

ANSWER: (Excellent question!!) The best time to treat the houseplants before they come back inside after their "summer vacation" outdoors is in early September. My favorite product is the Bayer Rose and Flower systemic insecticide that is approved for houseplants. You spray the leaves and it stays in them for 30 days. It will kill most insects on contact, and also any insects that hatch from eggs for the entire month. (Eggs hatch every 7-10 days.) I like to spray at the beginning of September and again at the end of the month before moving the plants inside. The best time to move them is when the night temperatures begin to drop into the 60's. If you let the plants get exposed to colder night temperatures, the move into a warm house causes too much stress for acclimation.

Fran Stetina: Can you take cuttings from a Rose of Sharon and plant them? If so is it better in the Fall or Spring?

ANSWER: The best time to take cuttings of Rose of Sharon is in June or July. Soft-wood cuttings are the most successful when a rooting hormone (I.B.A.) is used at that time. (Rooting hormone - Bontone Rooting Powder)

Kim Serzynski: I have a Rose of Sharon tree which is at least 12 feet tall. It needs to be pruned/cut back - when is the best time to do so? It's still in bloom.

ANSWER: Since Rose of Sharon plants flower on new stems (also called "current season's wood") it is best to prune them anytime after they drop their leaves in the fall and before they begin their new growth the following spring (usually before the end of March). Follow the rule of 3, cutting 1/3 of the height and removing 1/3 of the thickest branches. This maintenance pruning can be done every 3 years.

Priscilla Ross-Fox: I'm currently in the Keweenaw Peninsula of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. A few years ago I transplanted 3 of my dayllilies from home...one is Prairie Blue Eyes but I don't recall the other names. All were doing fine and have bloomed in the past. This year only 2 bloomed. What could be the problem?

ANSWER: The first question that I always need to ask is how much sunlight the non-flowering plant is getting? If the plants have been in the area for more than 5 years ("a few years ago"), they may need to be divided. Most daylilies need regular fertilizer applications, so plan to fertilize with a good organically based fertilizer (like Espoma Flower-Tone) next spring. I am not familiar with the soils or the hardiness zone, so I would advise checking with the local Extension advisor for specifics for that region.

Jeannie Coe: I have small black flies on my squash this year. And every flower on the zuch is dying before it has fruit. I've sprayed for aphids - any advice?

ANSWER: The heat was a big problem for squash and zucchini plants this summer, causing the flower buds to abort. Any spray that would control aphids would also control flies.

Chalet Nursery
3132 Lake Ave.
Wilmette
chaletnursery.com


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