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Baltimore City Community Garden
Why do my peonies get a mildew look after blooming? Friends of mine say their peony plants keep looking good until frost. What do I do to eliminate this problem next year?
Cooler nighttime temperatures and rain have contributed to powdery mildew being a problem on many plants, including peonies and monarda. This late in the season I would just cut off the foliage and cleanup any leaf litter. Should it happen earlier in the season, use a fungicide like Daconil to stop its spread.
Have a great fall gardening season.
As days start to lengthen, keep providing humidity for houseplants by using a humidifier or placing plants on a large saucer atop moist pebbles. Continue to water plants when soil surface is dry. Empty saucers of standing water. Monitor and treat for insects by removing affected leaves or sparing with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.
Buy seeds now to get the selection available. Cold crops and early spring crops like broccoli, cabbage, kale and perennial herbs can be started now. Wait until next month to start warm weather crops like tomatoes and peppers from seed.
As Amaryllis finish blooming, cut off the large flower stalk. Leaves will grow now. Place the plant outside after frost free date (May 1-15).
Enjoy classes held around our region on gardening. Many venues offer gardening talks including Cylburn Arboretum, The Baltimore County Agricultural Center in Cockeysville and Valley View Farms. Take advantage of these and other classes offered in our area.
Be careful not to get ice melt on lawns or planting beds.
Do not walk or drive on frozen lawns as leaves and crowns may be destroyed.
Watch for voles, especially around trees and shrubs planted last year. Stomp snow around plants to keep voles from easily tunneling through to feed on plant material.
Deer are feeding now too. Use deer repellents or fences to avoid damage to trees and shrubs.
Feed the birds. Suet and black oil sunflowers are favored by many winter birds.
Prune trees and shrubs that have been damaged by winter storms. Do not use pruning paint as trees will heal a properly pruned cut fine.
As the extremely cold temperatures of this winter fade away, many other gardening tasks should be performed. We can readdress other gardening tasks as we get milder weather.
I have three big Loropetalum shrubs that were hit hard this winter. The beautiful burgundy leaves have all turned brown and curled. They come off easily in my hands. The branches are still flexible so I think they are still alive but ALL THOSE BROWN LEAVES!! Do I cut the shrubs down and if so how far?
My Nandina look worse with barely any leaves at all. Should I chop them down?
Your plants look a lot like mine and many others in our area. Those Polar Vortex blasts did a number to some of our plants as they brought the low temperatures usually reserved for colder hardiness zones. In the case of both your Nandinas and Loropetalum, i would wait a bit until they start to push out new growth. Then, it should be OK to cut back to wherever you seen green growth. Give the plants until mid-May to decide whether or not they’ll make it.
The deer completely devoured the bottoms of my beautiful holly bushes this winter. What should I do if anything?
Deer have had a tough time this winter with all of the snow accumulation we have received this year. Prune the top of the holly back a bit to allow light to shine on the bottom branches. Give your holly some fertilizer this spring; Hollytone is a good choice. Feed it this spring and again in late summer. Next year, use some deer repellant. I like to use the deer tape from Messina Wildlife. It has kept deer from getting in to my garden regularly.
Hope this helps. Good luck.
Solutions for Common Problems
I purchased a Coonara Pygmy Japanese Maple Topiary this spring and had one of the community’s landscaping guys plant it.
I was disturbed when I saw that he had emptied one-third bag of Hollytone into the planting. The leaves never turned red. It gets a sufficient amount of sunlight so I don’t think that’s the problem. Could too much acidity be the problem? If so, how do I correct this?
The Coonara Pygmy Japanese Maple usually starts off in spring with a pale pink to green leaf. By summer the leaves should be green. With the cooler temperatures of fall, the leaves will feature orange, yellow and a splash of red here and there.
Hollytone is a good fertilizer, and, while used primarily for acid-loving plants, should not be harmful to the maple. The iron in it should not change the soil pH by much, if at all. If you get a chance, bring us a soil sample and we’ll check the pH for acidity/alkalinity while you wait for no charge. As you come into the store, head back to our greenhouse. It will take us about 5 minutes.