Saturday, September 30, 2023

The 'ping pong' weather continues

by ELAINE CERNY/Special to The Press
| August 7, 2022 1:00 AM

I hope your plants are getting used to the “ping pong” weather we've had all summer. Bouncing back and forth from the low 80s to the highs of over 100 is just hard on everything, including us. This weather is very unusual for our neck of the woods. We continue to set high records.

If you haven't done so, now is a good time to cut those petunias back as most of them have developed long branches which only have blooms at the end. Cut these a third to a half off, then give each plant a good dose of “bloom” fertilizer. That means any with a high middle number. The plants should get a new lease on life for the remainder of the season.

Other “bloomers,” especially those in pots, definitely need to be fed too. Roses need a good dose of fertilizer about once a month.

Did you lose any perennials over winter? I did and wasn't happy about it as they were some of my favorites. The culprit… early very cold temperatures that hit before things had “hardened” off. That, combined with no snow cover did the deed. Heavily mulched plants fared the best.

Check with your local water department if you have questions about when to water. Some places have implemented what they call a “common sense” watering plan. This means that homes with odd numbered addresses may water on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Even numbered addresses may water on Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays. No watering is allowed on Sundays. There is to be NO watering from noon until 6 p.m. on any day.

If you enjoy growing tuberous begonias, you may have noticed a big difference in blossom size. This is probably because you have purchased “Non-stop Begonias.” These are grown from seeds, not tubers and have much smaller flowers than those grown from tubers.

I've been asked why it is so difficult to keep lobelias alive through the summer. The problem is almost always the same: lack of water. Lobelias have very thin stems and will die if the plant is not kept damp at all times. This makes them a poor choice for hanging baskets as those are notoriously difficult to keep from drying out.

Vegetable gardens have been producing like mad. Be sure to use those zucchinis while they are small. Once they get big, the insides get tough and they're almost inedible. I have a friend who plans to slip them into unoccupied parked cars when they get too large. Be sure to keep your doors locked!

The perennials continue to start blooming many weeks earlier than they normally do. My asters and and chrysanthemums are budding up and will soon be ready to open.

Gardening can be a lot of work, but hey, it's great exercise and much cheaper than a shrink!

• • •

Elaine Cerny has gardened most of her life, starting in 4-H. She has belonged to garden clubs in three states and is currently serving as secretary for the River City Gardeners Club in Post Falls. Her column has appeared in The Press every other Sunday from early March until late October for 14 years.


Elaine Cerny

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