Pacific Northwest

May, 2001
Regional Report

Choose Easy Care Annuals

If you don't have much time to devote to gardening, choose easy to maintain plants. Flowers that don't need deadheading include salvia, coleus, impatiens, vinca, lobelia, alyssum, ageratum, and the new 'Wave' petunias.

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 bloom.

Try Colored Mulches

Research shows that many plants respond favorable to specific wavelengths of reflected sunlight. Colored mulches reflect different wavelengths of light, producing noticeably higher yields. Tomato harvests increase in both size and quality when plants are grown over red plastic. Potatoes and green peppers produce best when the plastic is white.

Move Houseplants Outdoors

Move your houseplants outdoors when the night temperatures stay above 50oF. 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.

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