May, 2012
Regional Report

Feed Roses

Roses got a very early start this spring. They're likely in full bloom now. For continued bloom, fertilize them with an organic, slow-release fertilizer according to package directions. Watering them with an alfalfa meal and water mixture will give them an even better boost through the summer.

Shear Off Dead Dianthus and Candytuft Flowers

For a tidy look and to promote rebloom later, shear off the dead flowers above dianthus and candytuft foliage. Narrow, long-bladed shears make quick work of this garden task. Prune to make an attractive mound.

Clip off Dead Iris Flowers and Fertilize

When all the buds on the iris stem have flowered and the flowers are dead, clip the stem just above the first leaf. Removing dead flowers allows the plant's energy to rejuvenate the plant rather than make seed. Fertilize now with next year's blooms in mind.

Sharpen Pruner, Lopper, and Shears Blades

I'm finding that we're doing more cutback sooner than usual. So pruning blades are getting duller sooner than usual. Sharpening blades makes for easier, safer gardening. Locally-owned garden centers often have one staff person who regularly sharpens tools at very reasonable cost. Or you can do it yourself with proper instruction, a vise, a screw driver, and a sharpening stone with oil.

Sterilize All Pruning Blades Between Uses

The blades of loppers, saws, secateurs, pruners, and shears should be sterilized with alcohol or bleach before going from one plant to the next. Why? Plant diseases and small insects can hitchhike on the blades from one plant to the next. I wipe off handles as well.

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