July 2010
How's Your Garden?

How's Your Garden?

 

Night-blooming daylilies can make a lovely addition beside a porch or patio. (Photo © G.A. Cooper.  USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database. Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution, Department of  Systematic Biology-Botany. United States, MD, Belmont Estate.

Night-blooming Daylilies?

I just learned about a couple of daylilies that bloom at night, which makes me wonder, "Where have I been?" A gardening friend, Marty Ross, who writes for various publications, posted a blog about Hemerocallis citrina and Hemerocallis lilioasphodelis. These are tall, night-blooming daylilies with lemony-yellow flowers.

Here is what she said, "The charming blooms are smaller than big hybrid daylilies, with something of the delicacy of wildflowers, and they tend not to open very wide. I believe they are mixed up in the trade, so it’s hard to tell which of the two you are buying — but they both have tall flower scapes (40 to 60 inches) and thrive in full sun or light shade. My pretty Hemerocallis citrina ‘Yao Ming’ came from Tony Avent’s Plant Delights Nursery (in the Raleigh, NC, area). After a couple of years in my garden, it has grown to a handsome clump blooming for weeks. Plant them by a porch or patio where you are most likely to enjoy their flowers and their soft, sweet fragrance. The flowers stay open until mid-morning. So if you miss them in the evening, you can catch them on your way to work."

These daylilies are hardy from zones 3 to 9, so we should be fine. Daylilies are really tough, but if you should decide to order any of these to plant now, be sure to water them until they are established.

Snip the tips of Joseph’s coat to encourage it to branch and fill out.

 

Baking the Ground on Purpose

Use the sun to help you rid a garden spot of nematodes and disease by baking them out under a sheet of clear plastic. The process traps heat from the sun to kill the pests. Soil solarization depends on sunny weather, so a stretch of cloudy or rainy days could decrease its effects. However, it’s worth a try since the process is simple and chemical-free. To solarize the soil, first be sure to clear the ground of all plants and weeds, because nematodes may live in their roots. Then cover the area with clear plastic, weighing it down with bricks or boards along all sides so it doesn’t fly up. Leave the plastic in place until it’s time to plant again in fall.

Leggy, Leafy Annuals

Sometimes leafy annuals we grow for their beautiful leaves, like coleus, Joseph’s coat stretch up and get leggy, especially as it tries to bloom. You can snip back the tips of the plants to encourage them to branch and fill out through summer. Be sure to water the plants during dry weather and a little liquid plant food to encourage new growth, too.

Be a Butterfly "Investigator"

Recruit the children in your family ages nine to 13 to sign up for WINGS (Winning Investigative Network for Great Science), a partnership between 4-H and scientists to monitor butterflies. They don’t have to be member of 4-H to participate. What they find can help scientists determine the presence or absence of butterfly species by state and county throughout the country to help butterfly scientists better understand their populations. Adults or 4-H leaders can register students at the WINGS website, http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/wings. There is a small cost for a leader’s guide and student guides. This sounds like a great project for family, group of friends or home-schoolers.

Fix Those Yellowing Leaves

 

Crotons (shown), hibiscus and palms can dress up your patio for a summer event.

Azalea, camellia, gardenia, pyracantha and holly are prone to yellowing leaves for lack of iron in sandy soil and alkaline-limestone soil. Typical signs are leaves with a faded-yellow color while the veins in the leaf remain green. In severe cases, new growth is stunted and almost white. To correct the yellowing, scratch a little chelated iron product like Ironite to the soil around the roots at the rate recommended on the label. You may need to do it again before the end of the growing season. Don’t be tempted to use an iron spray in the heat of summer or it might scorch the leaves. Beware, iron products stain surfaces, so be careful where it falls.

Last Minute Color

Keep tomatoes evenly moist. Drying encourages blossom-end rot.

   

If you want to dress up your patio for a Fourth of July party or other event quickly, look to tropical plants. By now these plants are big and at their best. Look for crotons, hibiscus and palms in garden centers. You can also look through the houseplant section of your favorite greenhouse garden center because many of these pants will do well in shaded spots outdoors in pots, too.

Keep Tomatoes From Drying Out

Keep the soil around tomatoes evenly moist. If the soil goes from dry to saturated, the skins may crack, which ruins their keeping quality. Drying also encourages blossom-end rot, the condition where the end of the tomato turns soft and brown with rot. If you can put soaker hoses around your tomatoes to get them through dry spells that is ideal. If not, water them using a sprinkler, but do it at sun-up so any foliage already wet from dew will dry out as normal. Water thoroughly so the water soaks down deeply.

Lois Trigg Chaplin is author of The Southern Garderner’s Book of Lists and former Garden Editor of Southern Living Magazine.