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THE MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED EARLY SUMMER GARDENING QUESTIONS,
COURTESY OF WHITE FLOWER FARM'S CUSTOMER SERVICE DEPARTMENT
Got a gardening question? White Flower Farm's customers ask its staff for answers, or they'll check out the detailed gardening information on White Flower Farm's Web site (http://www.whiteflowerfarm.com/gardening-help.html). And with the addition of White Flower Farm's Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/White-Flower-Farm/86550408163), customers and fans can get answers to all sorts of gardening questions there as well as post photos of favorite plants, or share experiences and tips.
Here is a selection of often-asked questions for June and July:
** Can I grow shrubs and/or perennials in a container?
Certainly – just keep in mind that perennials may not bloom the first year, and shrubs may take two or three years to start flowering. Also, if they are being grown in an area where temperatures dip below freezing for extended periods, the pots will have to be moved under cover for the winter; we recommend storing them in a cold but frost free area, in dim light; with occasional attention to watering. Annuals will provide almost instant color, and there is no need to worry about over wintering them, so they are usually a better choice for a container in colder climates.
** How do I care for my reblooming Iris?
The trick to getting them to rebloom is to fertilize right after June bloom and to water during the summer dry spells. Also, see the Growing Guide on our Web site at http://www.whiteflowerfarm.com/planting-growing-bearded-iris-reblooming-iris.html.
**Why hasn’t my Tree Wisteria leafed out yet?
Tree wisteria can take a very long time to leaf out the first spring after planting. While some may begin growing almost at once, we do hear of some that don’t sprout until June or even late July. Do not apply any kind of fertilizer, growth booster, or stimulants, and water only when the soil is dry two to three inches down from the surface, and then give a good soaking. Once they have gotten their roots established, newly planted Tree Wisteria will start to produce foliage.
** When do I prune my Clematis?
Clematis are divided into 3 pruning groups as follows:
Group I plants bloom on old wood and require no pruning except to control size, in which case prune lightly after flowering, cutting back to a pair of healthy buds.
Group II plants bloom first on old wood and then again on new growth; prune lightly in early spring to shape and remove weak growth and then prune after bloom if desired.
Group III plants all flower on new growth and can be cut back to 12 inches in early spring. This group is ideal for growing through shrubs as all old growth is removed annually. We provide pruning instructions for every Clematis we sell on our Web site at http://www.whiteflowerfarm.com/growing-clematis-vines.html, and this information is also in the Instruction booklet we send with each order.
** When should tulip and daffodil leaves be cut back?
Wait until most of the foliage has turned yellow. Do not braid daffodil leaves or fold them under for a neat appearance; this will deprive the bulbs of energy they need to rebuild for bloom next year. Planting perennials such as Hemerocallis or ferns among the bulbs can hide dying foliage. Their growth will still be quite short when the bulbs are blooming, and once the bulbs have finished, they will be large enough to camouflage the maturing leaves.
**Why is my Hydrangea looking so wilted, when the soil is still moist around it?
Hydrangea leaves and blossoms may look very stressed and limp during the heat of the day; if the soil is moist, and they recover by early next morning, they are simply responding to high temperatures or hot sun.
** How can I get colorful flowers all summer in shade?
Most perennials that grow in shade flower in spring when the shade is still not too heavy. For color from June onward, the choices are fewer. Some of the bleeding hearts, such as Dicentra eximia ‘Snowdrift’, ‘Burning Hearts’, ‘Candy Hearts’, and ‘Ivory Hearts’ will continue to produce flowers through the summer. Annuals such as Impatiens and Begonias are reliable stand-bys for flowers, and Coleus provide brightly patterned leaves until frost. Hostas with blue, green, or variegated foliage are the mainstay of most full shade gardens, while selections of Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium niponicum pictum) and Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra) bring silver and yellow foliage to shade. Astilbes will flower in early summer in part shade (four to six hours a day of direct sun).
**What perennials or shrubs can I plant that will flower this year?
The most reliable perennials for bloom the same season as they are planted are the daisy-types. Shasta Daisies (Leucanthemum), Asters, Gaillardia, Perennial Sunflower (Helianthus), and False Sunflower (Heliopsis), as well as Echinacea and Rudbeckia can all be counted on to blossom their first summer in the ground. Geranium ‘Rozanne’ and Veronica spicata ‘Purpleicious’ also flower quite promptly in our gardens. Shrubs often take longer to flower, but Buddleia and some of the newer Hydrangea, such as Endless Summer™, will usually flower the summer after they are planted.
** When do I cut back my perennials?
Spent flowers can be cut off as soon as flowering has finished, to prevent the plant from expending energy forming seed instead of growing more roots or stems. Cutting off spent flowers is called deadheading, and it also helps keep the garden looking neat and trim, and may encourage rebloom in some varieties. The plant itself should be allowed to grow until most of the stems and leaves have yellowed, usually after a hard frost in fall. Cut the plant down close to the ground; if there is a small mound of foliage at the base of the plant, allow that to remain.
**What is a biennial?
A biennial is a plant that takes two years to complete its life cycle. The first year it is planted, it will produce only leaves, waiting until the next year to blossom. Once it has flowered, it usually dies off after producing seed to continue the cycle. Alcea (Hollyhock) and Digitalis (Foxglove) are often biennial, although they also have some perennial varieties.
White Flower Farm welcomes gardening questions and suggestions for video topics – we constantly learn from our customers and want all of them to be successful. If you have questions not covered here, please browse the library of articles, tips, and videos at Gardening Help (http://www.whiteflowerfarm.com/gardening-help.html).
Barb Pierson, the nursery manager at White Flower Farm, is available for interviews upon request, as are other experts.
Please contact: Deborah Broide,
Deborah Broide Publicity,
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White Flower Farm is a family-owned nursery located in northwest Connecticut. Since 1950, they have been gathering, evaluating, growing, and selling a wide range of annuals, perennials, shrubs, vines, bulbs, and houseplants representing the very best varieties from around the world. Plants shipped are true to name, free of disease, and in prime condition for growing. While in the area, stop by White Flower Farm with its five acres of display gardens, or visit www.whiteflowerfarm.com, where you will also find helpful gardening information including a how-to video library. Join our E-mail list for gardening advice and tips, From the Farm monthly newsletter, announcement of events at the White Flower Farm Store, and special offers not in our catalogues or on our Web site. White Flower Farm -- we make your garden grow.