Are you ready to ‘spring’ forward? I’m not just talking about the time change happening this weekend. I’m talking about the start of spring! This weekend is giving us a nice taste for the upcoming season and it feels great! It is a good time to get some things done around the garden, but understand that the cold and frosty days could return again in the coming weeks. Still, I’m just going to enjoy what we have, while we have it!
This week we featured...
Spring Indoor Plant Care
The winter may be on its last legs, but that doesn’t mean that you should ignore your indoor plants. In fact, those plants may be suffering a little neglect because we are being drawn outside during those warmer days of late winter and early spring. William and Judy had a few tips for people on keeping their indoor plants healthy until they can make the trip outside for summer. First Judy started by using some ‘leaf shine’ to clean the leaves on a plant. This cleaning allowed her to inspect the plant to see if there were any problems with insects or diseases. If you do notice a problem with your plants there are a few different ways of dealing with them. A couple of natural products are from Bonide. One is an insecticidal soap. This will coat the pest on your plant and smother them and their eggs. Another product was Mite X. This is a natural product that helps control mites and other small pests including aphids. The third product was a synthetic, systemic insect control. Systemic means that the plant takes the product up through its ‘system’ of capillaries and so when the bug sucks on your plant they ingest the control and die. This product has to be used carefully and according to the label instructions. Judy also told us that now is a good time to consider using a fertilizer for those indoor jewels. Be sure to pick out a fertilizer that will work specifically for indoor plants so you don’t damage them by over-fertilizing them.
Just because spring is right around the corner doesn’t mean that you should shy away from indoor plants. In fact indoor plants will help you transition from a colorful indoor environment to a colorful outdoor environment! William and Judy talked about a few plants that you should consider adding to your collection. The first one that William had was the Pothos ‘Anjou’ with striking leaves. There were also guzmania and anthuriums. The final plant that Judy had was the kalanchoe. These have a burst of color when they bloom, usually around late winter and early spring.
So take care of those wonderful indoor plants and they will help brighten those cold and dreary winter days for years to come.
Seed Starting Supplies
Now is the time to start planting your summer garden, indoors! You can get a jump on the growing season by starting your plants now and it is easy to do if you have the right supplies! Michelle from the Greenhouse Catalog (800-825-1925) walked us through the materials you will need to be successful. First we started with a seed tray. They have lots of different ones to choose from. They have the standard ones that are plastic and you can reuse them over and over again each season. Next she added a growing medium. She recommended a CocoLite Brick. The brick breaks up into a highly water absorbent potting type soil. Michelle told us to remember to transplant the seedlings or fertilize them once they start growing since the coco contains no nutrients. Next was heat. A seedling heat mat will help keep them warm and cozy. Then you will possibly need a heater if you move them to a greenhouse, they have you covered there too. Then the final touch, lights. Some seeds may require additional lighting to be successful; check the variety to see if you are using one that does. One additional piece of equipment is a fan to help circulate the air to prevent molds and mildew on your new plants. No matter where you live you can get everything you need at www.GreenHouseCatalog.com. That includes the wonderful Solexx Greenhouse so you can garden year-round!
Pruning Climbing Roses
Climbing roses are unique and can be the best bloomer in your summer garden. But to get the most out of your plant you need to prune it correctly. They are different than your standard hybrid teas. Rachel from the International Rose Test Garden at Washington Park walked us through some of the rules for pruning them correctly. What you can do now is to thin them out. Pick the oldest canes and take them out at the base of the plant. This will promote new cane growth and better plant health. This is the time you start planning for the future by establishing new canes for better blooms in the future. Next you will want to train the longer newer canes on a horizontal fence, wall or trellis. This causes the plant to send flowers up from the entire length of the cane. If you train it vertically it will send all the flower growth to the top of the cane and it won’t be as attractive. You are focusing on the lateral branches off the main cane. These are the ones that will produce the blooms for your rose this year. If you would like to see how the professionals do it, you can drop by the Rose Garden at Washington Park or stop by Pittock Mansion where we did our pruning this week.
Planting a Fruit Tree
Growing your own fruits and vegetables is the hot topic this spring. Vegetables are generally pretty easy, but planting and growing fruit is a long term commitment. To learn how to get your fruit production off the ground we stopped by Tsugawa Nursery (360-225-8750) in Woodland Washington to talk to Brian. Judy had a few questions on bare-root versus a tree in a container. Brian said it was a tradeoff. A container tree will have all of its roots attached including the small fibrous roots that will help it avoid transplant shock. The bare root plant has been harvested by a machine and its roots will be a little banged up by the harvesting. The benefit of these bare root trees is that they are cheaper! Planting a tree is simple. First, prepare a hole that was almost twice as wide as the root ball of the tree. He then scored the roots. That means cut them along the sides so they will promote growth into the new soil. Then add a root stimulator and a transplant fertilizer to help get the plant off to a good start. A lot of fruit trees are grafted on semi-dwarfing root stock. That means it will stay shorter than a normal fruit tree. We also saw where the graft was on the trunk. You have to remember not to bury this graft. It will cause the root stock to grow and that will weaken the tree. Once planted it will take a tree a year or two to produce fruit, so don’t be in a hurry to collect those cherry pie recipes just yet… If you are looking to add a fruit tree or a fruiting bush to your garden, stop by Tsugawas and let them walk you through the process.
Plant Pick – Manzanita
Our ‘Little Prince of Oregon’ plant pick for this week took us to a great little nursery in NW Portland, Pomarius Nursery (503-490-6866). There we found a great selection of Manzanita (arctostaphylos). Pomarius is known for great architectural plants and unique varieties and this plant falls into both categories. Both Wes, a designer at Pomarius, and Mark from Little Prince, told us that this plant is great for many reasons. These are tough evergreen plants and are really drought tolerant when they become established. They also don’t mind poor soils and cold temperatures. They are blooming right now with tiny colorful blooms that will become fruit in early summer. You will find them under the names of arbutus or madrone on some tags, but they are a great plant no matter what you call them! You can find them at most garden centers or wherever Little Prince plants are sold.