“Which mint should I grow to make mint juleps?” – From what I understand, either spearmint or peppermint can be used, but southern traditions, especially in Kentucky call for spearmint. ‘Kentucky Colonel’ spearmint makes a great mint julep! I think figures show they use over 1,000 pounds of spearmint leaves during the Kentucky Derby! Ps- Remember that mint was meant to be grown in containers.
“We have a trellis in a mostly sunny location, and would love something on it that flowers all summer. Any suggestions?” -Yes! Look at annual or tropical vines. Cardinal Flower, Hyacinth Bean, Mandevilla / Diplandenia vines, vining Jasmine, etc. These are all one season vines, but cover quickly, flower all summer, and create one fantastic show on that trellis!
“We seem to be spending more and more time watering each summer, as we grow more and more container plantings. Any suggestions to help cut down on the watering?” -Sure! Adding Soil Moist to your potting mix would be a first step. These small polymers absorb water, and then release it back into the soil when the soil dries. Look at soils that contain ‘coir’. Coir helps hold moisture (coir is ground up coconut coir). Using larger containers helps hold more moisture and dry out slower. If using clay pots, seal the inside of the pot with a silicone sealer to keep the soil moisture from escaping thru the clay walls and drying out quicker. And each time you do water, soil the soil thoroughly! Ps…look at the Dramm Watering Wands if you do a lot of container watering. They have the One Touch off and on, and the nozzle at the end is the best! Creates a soft yet full stream of water that doesn’t beat up your plants, wash out the soil, etc. Dramm watering equipment is good stuff!
“I think we’re late getting our fruit trees and berries planted. Do you have much left?” -Of course! As of answering this question, we have a complete line of apple, pear, peach, cherry, and plum trees, including the very cool Urban Apples, 3 selections of figs, blueberries galore (including the Brazelberry series and TopHat), brambles galore including Raspberry Shortcake, grapes, goji berries, strawberries, currants, and much more! Come see!
“We’re starting to see a small assortment of weeds popping up here and there in the lawn. Which weed killer would you suggest we use?” -Remember your number one defense is a thick lawn, so keep working on getting the lawn thicker. We’d also suggest you get away from using ‘weed and feeds’, and feed when needed and spot treat the weeds when needed. And to spot treat most weeds you’ll see in the lawns, we recommend Bonide’s Weed Beater Ultra. Covers a ton of weed varieties, works in lower temps, and you can reseed 2 weeks after using it.
“What’s the name of the reblooming lilac?” -Bloomerang, and it flowers in the spring, then flowers again (lighter than the spring bloom) about 12 weeks or so later (later summer). Hey, don’t forget those reblooming azaleas ‘Bloomathon’ – reds and pinks and rebloom off and on spring thru early fall!
““Did I hear you say mow the grass at 3-4 inches tall? Are you serious?” -Yes I am! (Although 4 inches is pretty high for turf) Research has proven that mowing your lawn at a higher level rather than lower level is very beneficial. Low mowing heights can stress many of the grass types, causing thinning and then more disease and weed problems. But mowing at a higher level reduces turf stress, helps create deeper rooting, thicker lawns, and we all know a thicker lawn means fewer weeds and diseases. Now you’ll find varying opinions on these mowing heights, but consider 2.5 to 3.5 inches for most cool season grasses, and if you’d like, as much as 3.5 – 4 inches for the tall fescues – although 4 inches is a bit too tall for me! But 2.5 to 3.5 inches is a good general range of mowing heights for most cool season grasses.
“My new tomato and pepper plants already have tomatoes forming on them. Do I leave those on?” -If they’re smaller plants, I will usually pinch them off. That way the plant is giving its energy to the plant and getting rooted and growing, rather than already trying to produce fruit. With larger more mature plants (already growing in large tubs) those could be left on – dwarf or patio tomatoes can be left on if desired. I’m old school and will even pinch flowers off newly planted annuals flowers to get them a little better start. By the way, be sure to plant those tomato plants deeper than what they growing in those pots!
“Tell me about plants for butterflies and hummingbirds.” Gardening for Butterflies: -Get to know your butterflies at www.gardenswithwings.com.
-Butterflies love the sun but like to be sheltered from winds. -Add stones and stone walls to rest and enjoy the sun. –Plant evergreens and surrounding vegetation to reduce winds. -Provide a source of water (mud puddles or shallow source of water with stones or sand bars to sit on while drinking). -Grow host plants for butterflies, both for nectar and larvae to feed on. -Hang butterfly feeders/offer sliced fresh fruits. -And by all means, reduce the use of pesticides in your gardens. Host Plants for Butterfly Nectar: -Butterfly Bush, Joe Pye Weed, Goldenrod, Coneflower, Viola, Black-eyed Susan, Shasta Daisy, Milkweed, Blanket Flower, Butterfly weed, Aster, Coreopsis, Daylily, Hibiscus, Iris, Lavender, Gay Feather, Bee Balm, Catmint, Dianthus, Salvia, Sedum, Veronica, Agastache, Yarrow, Privet, Dogwood, Viburnum, Blackberry, Summersweet, Cherry, Blueberry, Marigold, Zinnia, Cosmos, Dandelion, Sunflower, Verbena, Thistle, Lantana, plus many more! Host Plants for Butterfly Larvae: -Parsley, Dill, Fennel, Snapdragons, Daisies, Queen Anne’s Lace, Hollyhock, Peas, Sunflower, Hibiscus, Viola, Pentas, Milkweed, Willow, Elm, Hackberry, Black Cherry, Pawpaw, Passion-vine, some Spirea, plus many more!
Gardening for Hummingbirds – Try www.hummingbirds.net to learn more and watch their migration. -Hummers seem to always be looking for food, but they do rest, perch, and build nests. Plant and create a nice environment close by for resting and nesting.
-Use hummingbird feeders. -Garden for hummers when trying to attract and keep them in your yard. No sense of smell, so plant flowers having nectar and great visibility. The red and orange flowers get the most attention. Just like with the butterflies, reduce the use of pesticides in your garden. Host Plants for Hummingbirds: -Morning Glory, Scarlet Runners, Trumpet vine, Honeysuckle vine, Butterfly bush, Azalea, Bee Balm, Butterfly Weed, Delphinium, Garden Lilies, Hosta, Hibiscus, Salvia, Penstemon, Catmint, Lobelia, Daylily, Coral Bells, Coneflower, Campanula, Columbine, Agastache, Canna, Cardinal Flower, Hollyhock, Foxglove, Pentas, Fuchsia, Impatiens, Petunias, Yucca, Four O’Clocks, Phlox, plus many more!