Saturday, April 8, 2017

FAQs for Early Spring

Frequently asked questions by our customers come to us via phone and email all the time. All of us at Valley View Farms love to talk to customers who ask questions about everything from plant availability to day to day care of plants. Here are some of the questions that we are hearing a lot this year.

I planted a crepe myrtle last year and it hasn't started to leaf out yet. Should I be worried?
Crepe myrtles are slow to leaf out in early spring

No. Crepe myrtles are late bloomers and often will start to leaf out in later April into early May. People occasionally wish to prune crepe myrtles, maybe to force new growth, but we find that they do best growing in their natural state. They may certainly be pruned to remove dead branches or  any that may get in the way of a walkway or driveway.

Speaking of plants that are slow to emerge in the spring, hardy hibiscus also show growth later than many other perennials. Be patient; the new stems and leaves will be up later this spring.

When should I cut my mums back to encourage blooms in the fall?
 Mums should be cut back a few times to promote good branching and blooming. Easy to remember holidays, St. Patrick's Day, Mother's Day and the 4th of July, are ideal times to cut mums back to about 8 inches. Depending on the varieties planted, and, of course the weather, mums will bloom for 6-8weeks from September until November.

My hydrangeas have not bloomed well for the last few years. What can I do to encourage better bloom?
Look closely and you'll notice a few dead stems above the blue hydrangeas. Simply prune them off as leaves and blooms emerge.

 Hydrangeas do well in morning sun with some protection from the hot afternoon sun. There are several varieties that bloom on old wood and others that bloom on new wood. Pruning at the wrong time could impact the blooms on some varieties. Cold weather, especially late freezes for the last couple of years, may have hurt early blooms; plants will generally leaf out and bloom later in the season.

All sorts of weeds have emerged in and around my lawn this year. What is the best way to identify them and get them out of my lawn?
Mouse Ear Chickweed
Hairy Wintercress
Ground Ivy

Identifying the weeds is a good first step. University of Maryland Extension is a great resource for identification. Better yet, bring your problem weed to us to look at and we can discuss options for eliminating them using synthetic or natural controls. Bring a large coffee cup-sized soil sample as well. Simply correcting the pH of the soil is one way to help create a healthy lawn. Valley View Farms offers these services free of charge.

Several of my broadleaved evergreen shrubs have sections of browning and yellowing. What might be causing this damage?

It is hard to say without taking a closer look. Yellowing and browning can be caused by winter windburn, late season disease or insects, a dog doing his thing, and all sorts of other reasons. Bring in a large sample of the damage; we can put the branch under a microscope to look for pests and ask some questions to try to narrow down the problem and suggest a solution.

Is it safe, temperature wise, to plant my vegetable garden?

Hold off on planting tomatoes until all danger of frost is gone, usually about May 10 here in Cockeysville. Look for our Tomato Tornado on the last weekend of April for a selection of 70 varieties. Before and after the "tornado" lands, we will have 40 varieties available.

Cole crops, like broccoli, cabbage, collards and Brussels sprouts are ready to go out in the garden. Ours have been hardened off to withstand colder temperatures. Peas, onions, carrots and other cold hardy plants can be planted now as well. Wait until later in April or May, depending on where you live, to plant tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squashes and cucumbers.

We will continue to add questions and answers to this blog for the next week or two.  Feel free to leave a question in the comments. For the quickest reply, call our garden center at 410-527-0700. Our receptionist will get you to the right person to check on availability or answer your question.