Monday, July 15, 2024

Is it mid-May already?

by ELAINE CERNY/My Garden Path
| May 14, 2023 1:00 AM

Our weather lately has been like riding a roller coaster as it jumps from high 80s way down to the 40s, from hot sun to chilly rain. If you feel confident that you know what's coming, you're ahead of most of us.

To be on the safe side, hold off on most planting. Either keep those plants next to an indoor window or haul them outside for a few hours daily and then back inside. That's what I've been doing and it is really getting old. It's better than frozen plants though.

The “average killing frost” date for our area is May 15. I sure hope it holds true this year. To be on the safe side, watch those weather forecasts. Nobody wants to see their tomato plants turn black.

On the “fun” side, have the hummingbirds found your feeder? I'm seeing some every day. Most of them are the Calliope type. These are identified by the vertical purple chest stripes. The colors are faint on the females but brightly colored on the males.

Calliope hummers are the smallest U.S. hummers. It's amazing to think that these little guys manage to fly between here and Mexico not once but twice each year. Be sure to clean your feeders often while adding fresh sugar water. That will keep them coming all summer.

I hope all of you moms are enjoying Mother's Day. Let your family spoil you. Remember, it only comes around once a year.

If you're going to plant a container, be sure to keep the “rules” in mind. These will greatly increase your chance of success. First, decide on the “thriller.” This is a tall plant and should go in the back of your container. Second, pick out the “filler” to go in the center. Last, choose the spiller, which is a plant that will hang over the side, near the front.

Be sure to choose plants that do best in similar conditions, such as all sun lovers, etc. Give your newly planted pot a few days in the shade and then put them in their summer location. Don't forget to sprinkle some fertilizer into the soil at planting time.

Prune those roses, if you haven't done so already. Then give them a dose of fertilizer. A good “rule of thumb” to keep in mind is to never prune more than one-third of any plant at one time. This holds true for anything from a big tree to a small marigold.

When planting a hybrid tea rose in our area, you'll need to dig a hole deep enough that the “graft” is 4 inches below soil level. This is an important step as that graft can easily freeze if too shallow. When that happens, the top of the plant will die and the only blooms will come from the rootstock. These are usually small, dark red flowers. Nothing special.

If you haven't already done so, be sure to fertilize your lawn. Also, dig or spray those dandelions … please.

When it was finally time to turn the calendar to May, I got so excited I wet my plants!

• • •

Elaine Cerny has gardened most of her life, starting in 4-H. She has belonged to garden clubs in three states and is an active member of the River City Gardeners Club in Post Falls. Her column has appeared in The Press every other Sunday from early March to late October for the past 15 years.


Elaine Cerny