New England

May, 2008
Regional Report

Support Peonies

Now's the time to set up supports for peonies so their large flower heads don't bend to the ground after a heavy rain. Circular flower rings with legs that stick into the soil are one option. Stakes set in a circle around a plant and encircled with twine is another option. The best support is afforded by wire mesh such as chicken wire with large holes. Spread it horizontally over the tops of the plants and attach it to some type of stakes at the sides. Believe it or not, the flower heads and foliage will grow up through the mesh and hide it.

Attract Birds With Moving Water

Birds are drawn to the sound of water, and with so many migrating birds arriving these days, it's worth making an effort to welcome them. Some birdbaths come with built-in fountains or drippers. You can make your own dripper by recycling a plastic gallon milk jug. Poke a tiny hole in the bottom, remove the cap, and hang it by the handle from a tree limb or shepherd's crook above the birdbath so the water slowly drips out. You can likely find more attractive containers around the house to use as well.

Relocate Bulbs After Flowering

Daffodils and other spring-blooming bulbs need their foliage to replenish the bulbs for next year's flowers, but sometimes you might want to relocate them after they flower but before the foliage yellows and dies. You can move them after blooming to a new spot, just keep the foliage, bulb, and roots intact. Keep watering and give them a dose of fertilizer. Next year they should bloom normally in their new location.

Pinching for More Flowers

It's a good idea to pinch many annuals, such as pansies, snapdragons, zinnias, impatiens, and salvia, early in the season and again whenever they start getting leggy. Pinching encourages the side buds to grow so you'll get more flowers. Pinch just above a node on the stem. The lower you pinch on the plant, the bushier it will become but a low pinch will often reduce the ultimate height of the plant. If you buy transplants already in flower, it's a good idea to pick off the flowers so they will put their energy first into developing a good root system.

Multiply Ground Covers

Ground covers such as vinca, ajuga, pachysandra, and ivy can be divided and transplanted now to create new beds or enlarge existing ones. On a cloudy, cool day, use a sharp shovel or trowel to separate offshoots from mother plants and transplant them into a shady new location. Keep them well watered.

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