Dogwoods, ferns and potting soil


Ray Baird



RECYCLING POTTING SOIL FOR HANGING BASKETS AND CONTAINERS

It’s time to plant summer annual flowers in containers and hanging baskets. You can recycle the potting soil from fall and winter flowers such as pansies, mums, and ornamental cabbage. Just remove old plants and roots, empty out the old soil in a five gallon bucket and then add the same amount of new potting soil in with the old soil and then add several handfuls of peat moss. You can purchase potting mix in one cubic foot bags and get more for your money. Before planting flowers, use a sprinkler can of water to soak the recycled mix, wait five minutes or longer before setting out plants in the baskets or containers. If you want to start your flowers with new potting medium, you can recycle the old potting medium to the garden plot and plow it into the soil or beds.

STARTING CONTAINERS OF COLORFUL DESERT ROSE

This unusual flower also known as portaluca or rose moss is a long-lasting summer annual that produces new blooms in many colors every day of the summer. The foliage looks like miniature cactus. They come in colors of rose, red, orange, pink, yellow, white and coral. They can be planted in containers or hanging baskets and enjoy full sunshine. They can be purchased in four-packs and nine-packs. One advantage is they are in bloom when you buy them so you can choose the combinations that you desire.

PURCHASING THE RIGHT POTTING SOIL WITH TEXTURE AND QUALITY MIXTURE

When purchasing potting medium for containers, flowers, and hanging baskets, always buy one cubic foot bags for better value. Make sure to buy a trustworthy brand. Feel the material in the bag and make sure it doesn’t have a lumpy texture or dry feeling. Many low-grade potting mixes contain chips, bark, and fillers that make the soil not retain moisture during the summer months. Always remember to not plant vegetable seed such as peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, etc. in potting medium. Use a seed starting medium especially designed and formulated for young seedling. This mixture will have vermiculite in it to retain moisture for seedlings.

INVESTING IN THE FERN FAMILY FOR COOL, GREEN, SUMMER BEAUTY

Ferns in summer are virtually carefree and certainly make the environment on porches and decks seem a bit cooler on summer days. Ferns have several great advantages that make them a cool delight. They can be trimmed or shaped to add form to them and heat does not seem to affect them. Another plus is they can be moved inside the home in winter and thrive there as well. You can purchase ferns in all sizes, and they can be transplanted to larger containers as they grow. There are many types of ferns, and best choices are Panda, Asparagus, and Boston. When moved inside the house in winter, they certainly make any room they are placed in look very much alive in dead of winter. Ferns cost between three and nine dollars or less depending on their sizes and variety. If you purchase smaller ferns, you may want to go ahead and replant them in a larger container to start them off.

THE SEASON TO START A FEW PACKETS OF FOUR O’CLOCKS

Four o’clocks are colorful flowers that make summers colorful and bright. These old-fashioned flower favorites of my grandma in Northampton County were planted as borders in her huge flower garden. They actually formed a “hedge” around her entire flower garden on the sunny side of her home. Four o’clocks come in a spectrum of colors including red, yellow, white, pink, purple, and rose. The foliage is dark green with large tear-shaped leaves that make the flowers look like Christmas lights. These flowers will grow and thrive in all types of soil including red clay. A packet of these seeds costs less than two dollars and they also come in speckled varieties as well as two-tone shaded varieties. They can be ordered from seed catalogs or purchased at Lowes, Home Depot, Walmart, or local hardware stores and seed shops.

THE SPRING BEAUTY OF THE WHITE AND PINK DOGWOOD

The green of the woodlands of Carolina are enhanced by the linen-white blooms of the dogwoods sparkling in the background. We are glad this is or state flower because it thrives from the coast to the mountains and all area in between. The pink variety also adorns lawns across the area adding color and beauty to the landscape of spring. They still have a few more days to show off their majestic beauty.

ENJOYING THE COLORS OF THE CREEPING VERBENA

The flowers of the verbena are delicate and colorful and long lasting. Verbena comes in colors of white, purple, pink, and red with clusters of mini blooms on each flower adorned with dark green foliage that creeps over the container and outside the edges. It thrives in hot weather and blooms all summer long. The verbena performs well in hanging baskets. The verbena comes in four-packs and six-packs. Plant only two or three in a container or basket. When investing in summer annuals, it’s better to plant those like verbena, vinca, rose moss that will perform continually all summer instead of annuals that bloom in “spurts” and play out before summer ends.

THE CHRISTMAS CATUS IN THE MONTH OF MAY

Several of these plants are ten years old and thrive all summer on the porch and all winter in the sunny living room. As they move to the porch each spring, we add extra cactus medium to the containers, give them a drink of liquid fertilizer once each month and a drink of water every week.

THE SWEET SCENT OF HONEYSUCKLES ON SPRING TWILIGHT EVENINGS

The essence of the wild honeysuckle wafts across the back deck and to the front porch. These beautiful and aromatic flowers will be with us for the next six weeks or so. Their fragrance is a pleasure to inhale. Pick an arrangement of them and place in a vase of water for a fragrance inside the house that no air-freshener can measure up to!

THE COOL BLUE FLOWERS OF FORET-ME-NOTS AND PERIWINKLES

There are not many flowers that are blue but these two perennials put on a show every spring with tiny blue flowers. Another plus is their deep green foliage that spread over their containers in all seasons. We have several containers that we transplanted from the original container.

A NEW NECTAR PRODUCT FOR FEEDING HUMMERS

As we move into the middle of May, humming birds are part of the landscape. A new type of nectar is in hardware and seed shops and its name is “Electonectar” by Kaytee. This product is unique because it is clear white and comes in a two quart plastic bottle. It is not sticky or sugary and it contains electrolytes which makes it more like the natural nectar of flowers. It does not attract ants or bees which is one of its attributes. It is a bit more costly than the premixed red varieties at around 5.95 per bottle but it does seem to attract more hummers and its wide lid makes it easier to pour into the feeders.

Ray Baird has been providing gardening tips to the community for years and can be reached at 336-969-9350 or at BSylvia1946@gmail.com.

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Ray Baird

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