Pacific Northwest

April, 2004
Regional Report

Deadhead Rhododendrons

Prune rhododendrons immediately after flowering. Snap off old flower clusters (trusses) once they are partially dry. Remove them carefully so newly developing buds beneath the trusses aren't damaged. They provide next year's blooms.

Fertilize Annuals

Annual flowers need loving care during their early weeks of growth in the garden. If you pamper them now, you'll be rewarded with beautiful blooms during midsummer. Sprinkle a 10-10-10 fertilizer at a rate of 1 pound per 100-foot row. Apply it evenly around the plants and scratch it into the soil. Water regularly and thoroughly if spring rains are sparse.

Move Houseplants Outdoors

Move your houseplants outdoors when the night temperatures stay above 50 degrees F. Avoid burning the foliage in the bright sun by moving plants gradually, starting with a well-shaded location, and progressing to increasingly bright areas.

Discourage Aphids

When you see ants crawling on garden plants, look for aphids as well. Some ant species protect aphids, moving them from plant to plant and even taking them underground into the anthill for overnight safety. The ants do this to ensure a supply of honeydew, a sugary substance secreted by aphids, on which the ants feed. Discourage aphids by hosing them off your plants with a strong stream of water.

Store Extra Seed

Leftover vegetable and flower seeds can be stored in a cool, dry location for planting next year. One method is to place seed packets in a jar or plastic bag and store them in a cool, dark closet. Another way to keep them fresh is to store jars in the refrigerator.

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