Mid-Atlantic

May, 2007
Regional Report

Plant Cannas

When danger of frost is past and the soil's warm, it's time to plant canna rhizomes in the garden. If you've started them indoors, they're likely leafing out and can be moved outdoors. As their bright flower colors and leaf designs attest, these are tropical plants that thrive in the sun and in moist soil.

Prune and Fertilize Your Forsythia

To rejuvenate your forsythia after blooming, prune by selectively removing old and dead branches from the base. Forsythia blooms on old wood, which means that pruning in summer or later will remove branches that hold flower buds. Keep the plant's natural shape in mind -- long, arching branches that hold a fountain of yellow spring flowers. Best to "go with the flow" and not shear these shrubs into formal shapes. Feed with a slow-release, granular fertilizer spread about a foot beyond the farthest branch tips.

Sow Cool-Weather Veggies Successively

For extended harvest, sow seeds for lettuce, spring greens mix, Swiss chard, spinach, kale, collards, coriander, bok choy, beets, carrots, onions, and broad beans now. Then sow another batch in two weeks, and another in four weeks. These cool-weather veggies won't perform well once July's heat kicks in, so enjoy them while they last. Plant them again in late summer to take advantage of crisp fall weather.

Divide Hosta and Spring-Blooming Perennials After Flowering

When a clump of a perennial or ornamental grass gets large and the plant's center develops a hole or the flowers get smaller or fewer or the plant becomes less vigorous, or when your neighbor wants a section -- these are good reasons to divide. Golden star (Chrysogonum virginianum), maiden pink (Dianthus deltoides), sunrose (Helianthemum nummularium), coral bells (Heuchera sanguinea), dead nettle (Lamium maculatum), bugleweed (Ajuga reptans), woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata), and creeping phlox (Phlox stolonifera) are spring bloomers that can be divided after flowering.

Stake Perennials Before They Need It

Though they're short sprouts now, tallish perennials can quickly grow out of bounds before the busy gardener realizes what's happened. So stake peonies, amsonia, baptisia, caryopteris, border phlox (Phlox paniculata), delphinium, verbascum, culver's root (Veronicastrum virginicum), boltonia (Boltonia asteroides), and blackberry lily (Belamcanda chinensis) now while they'll easily fit within wire supports.

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