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Is it summer yet? We just finished one of the wettest Junes in the last 20 years and then we moved into a stretch of cooler and damp weather. The plants are noticing and suffering. A lot of problems with droopy plants and curled leaves could be from the current conditions. There is hope that the warmer days to come will help these plants recover. If you think you have some bug or disease problems, then check out our story with Jan McNeilan this week. For more gardening information, be sure to check out the OSU Extension website.
This week we featured...
Jan’s July Tips
This month we started our visit with Jan by her famous lemon, and it had fruit! Ok, so a lot of insect and disease issues have been dealt with, but it had lost a lot of the young fruit we saw earlier and was down to just 2 lemons and one of those had been munched on by slugs. The second one was hanging on and we’re not giving up on it yet.
We then moved to the back garden beds to talk about a lot of the problems that gardeners may be seeing in their own garden right now. We found our first problem with a plant that was near Judy’s arm, a hollyhock. These plants had a bunch of colorful flowers on long stalks, but the leaves were covered in rust. Hollyhocks are known to get rust, but it is a tradeoff with those wonderful blooms that some gardeners are willing to take. Jan just takes off the infected leaves from the bottom of the plant up and just enjoys the blooms! The next plant we looked at was a gladiolus leaf that had brown strips running lengthwise down the leaf between the veins. This was caused by thrips. These tiny guys are a sucking insect. You can find these guys on crocosmia and iris as well. You can try and treat for it, but it doesn’t affect the flower so, unless there is a large problem, you can just enjoy the flowers and ignore the leaves. Jan also showed us her green beans and the slug damage on the older leaves. Once the slugs were taken care of, the new growth of leaves were fine. That can happen with a lot of plants, if you take care of the problem, the plant can recover with new growth. That was true with the potato vines that Jan had next. These were covered in holes from the flea beetle, but once that was taken care of, once again the new growth was looking good.
Jan then had a blossom to share with us. It was from her zucchini plant in her garden. People are always wondering why they have blooms on their zucchini and no fruit. Jan told us that these first blooms were male blooms which show up first on the plant. You can tell the male blooms by the long stem that they grow from. Female blooms show up a little later on the same plant, but near the ground with no long stem. Don’t worry this is normal and soon you will have more than enough zucchini to share with the rest of the world! Judy also held up some hydrangea leaves that we found in the garden. These had burned edges to them. This was sunburn on the leaves and it happened when we had the hot streak a couple weeks ago. It can happen if your hydrangea gets too much afternoon sun or if it gets a little dry. Once again the new growth was looking great and the blooms were coming on strong. Something else that you may be noticing on your leaves, is powdery mildew. Jan is noticing it on a ninebark that she has. Some plants like ninebarks can be susceptible to this problem. You can try to help the plant by applying a fungicide, but Jan told us it is a result of poor air circulation and the moist conditions, so instead of spraying she is removing one and pruning the other a little to allow for better air circulation. Speaking of the cooler conditions, Jan pointed out her cucumbers were still a little small and were growing slowly. This is because of the cooler evening and morning temperatures. Once the weather warms up they will be taking off again.
Now if you are looking for some more gardening tips you can always go to the OSU Extension website, but you can also check out Jan’s new Facebook page. She will be updating this page with her observations and more tips as they pop up in her garden and what she is hearing from friends and fans. Check it out!
Color Foliage Plants
If you are looking for color in your garden, don’t just focus on blooms, look for those interesting colored foliage plants! We stopped by Out in the Garden Nursery (503-829-4141) and chatted with Carol about some that she loves in her garden. As she told us, blooms don’t last but the plant needs foliage to survive, and the color can last a lot longer than those seasonal blooms.
She started with some sun loving plants Including a Physocarpus (ninebark) called Red Baron. This one had a wonderful deep red stem with a little lighter leaf. It also gets a white flower and a berry for the local birds to enjoy. The next plant was Weigela ‘Minor Black’. This variety gets nice big trumpet flowers that are a hummingbird favorite, but the dark foliage with green veins really stands out. We then moved to the Sambucus also called elderberries, where she had 4 for us to look at. The first two were a contrast in colors, with that great lacey foliage. ‘Lemony Lace’ gets about 6 feet tall and has the chartreuse foliage with white flowers, that starts out almost yellow on the new growth and behind that was the ‘Black Lace’ which can get even taller at 8-10 feet, with pink clusters of flowers! These make a great backdrop plant at the back of your garden beds. The next 2 Sambucus were on the shorter side, if you can call 6 feet tall, shorter. ‘Laced Up’ was a tighter form of the plant with the same great dark foliage, and ‘Black Tower’ with the broader leaves in that wonderful dark foliage. We went to variegation for our next plant, Osmanthus ‘Goshiki’. This looks like a holly with the pointy leaves, but the green and white variegation makes this one really stand out. The new growth can even have a pinkish tint to it. It also produces a fragrant flower in the fall on mature plants. It was time to bring some red into the picture and that was easily accomplished with Nandina ‘Bonfire’. Carol told us that this one is great because it changes all season. New growth is bright red, then it turns green, fall and winter it goes to red again and then back to green in the early spring. It also stays compact so it can fit in any garden!
We then looked at some shade plants. ‘Mr. Goldstrike’ an Aucuba was stunning with green leaves and yellow polka dots. This one gets big at 6 feet high and 6 feet across. It is evergreen and drought tolerant. The final 2 were a couple of Carol’s favorites. Aralia ‘Sun King’ with its bright green foliage and Ligularia ‘BBQ Banana’ with the rich dark foliage and large leaves.
The blessing of living in the Pacific Northwest is that we are surrounded by wonderful specialty nurseries and wholesale growers like Out in the Garden. A group of those growers and nurseries have joined forces and are known as the Cascade Nursery Trail. This group of 7 nurseries coordinates a schedule of shows and this weekend is one of their best, the Midsummer Madness Sale. Stop by and see what each has to offer and bring a few plants home for your garden.
Tsugawa’s Beginner Indoor Plants
Indoor plants have become pretty popular recently. There are now websites, YouTube videos and blogs all over the internet talking about them. Still, getting started if you are a beginner can be intimidating! To find out about a few easy plants that people start with we traveled up to Tsugawa Nursery in Woodland. Ryan met with Karlene and she had pulled out a few plants to talk about. The easiest plant to start with was a Snake Plant (Sansevieria). This is a plant that can survive just about anything. We’ve seen it in a classroom that had no windows and it was growing well with just a little watering and artificial light. Karlene had the snake plant in a container with a couple small cactus and a few small succulents. The cactus and succulents will need more light than the snake plant, but not much more water. The problem that a lot of beginners do to their indoor plants is love them to death. Too much water, too much fertilizer, too much direct sunlight, etc. These plants can handle a little dry soil every once in a while and indirect sunlight. The cactus for example, they get only 2-3 inches of rain a year! So they can handle watering once every 2-3 months. Karlene also had a few of the cactus and succulents in smaller, individual containers so you can control the watering even more. To help with the watering and drainage, these plants should also be planted in a quick draining, cactus type of soil mix. They don’t like standing water.
Another couple of plants that are good for beginners are the Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) and the Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema) ‘Hot Pink Valentine’. The peace lily does like a little more light and a little more water, but not too much. When it needs more water it will let you know because the leaves start to droop. The lily will also give you some beautiful white flower stalks with their unique white center. The Chinese Evergreen has the wonderful pink polka dot foliage that will brighten any spot in your home. It likes to dry out between watering, so don’t be afraid if it gets a little dry, you can give it a drink and it should return to normal. The Hot Pink Valentine can also handle a little more sun too. More morning sun and those pink spots will become more prominent.
If you are a little scared about house plants, or you want to add a few more to your collection, stop by Tsugawa’s. They have a huge selection and a great staff to help you!
Have you ever been in your garden and noticed that a variegated plant is growing a branch that is a different color? A lot of times a variegated plant will ‘revert’ back to the original parent plant’s solid color.
Growers will sometimes notice that a favorite plant is growing a different color of leaves on a branch. This is called a ‘sport’ and it is a genetic mutation that naturally occurs in some plants. These ‘sports’ are then propagated and, if they can hold true to their new colors, are sold in garden centers as new varieties. When we get them home and plant them, sometimes they want to go back to the original parent. This is not a big deal. If you notice this on any of your plants you will want to cut off the solid color branch. This original plant color is the dominate color and the entire plant will revert back to it unless you cut it off. If you want to keep your variegated plant you will want to remove the solid color branch from the plant. So if you see a reversion, just know that your plant is still healthy and that you may have to do a little bit of pruning.
Grimm New Facility
Compost is the cornerstone of the Northwest garden. A quality compost is the key to healthy and thriving plants. Grimm’s Fuel (503-636-3623) has always been the source of great composts and mulches for decades! Now they are taking the next step that will make a great product even better! Jeff Grimm took us on a tour of their new compost facility. This state of the art facility will not only speed up the process of making compost, but it will create a better atmosphere for beneficial bugs to break down the yard debris that they recycle. This system will control air and temperature so that the microbes that control decomposition will work more efficiently. That means better compost, quicker, with less smell! They are currently converting about 50,000 tons of yard debris into garden compost and are currently working on a second phase that will double their production. That’s a lot of quality compost!!
So if you are looking for a great compost, you already know the place to call, Grimm’s!
TOW – Raking Needles
The summer means bare feet in the grass, unless you have fir trees in your backyard! Our tip this week will help make your lawn more bare-foot friendly! After you mow your lawn, simply give your lawn a quick rake and then mow again. The quick raking will draw some of those pesky needles to the surface and they will be picked up by the second pass with a mower. Once we get into the middle of summer you will not have to do it quite as often, since the trees will drop fewer needles then.