How to Winterize Your Dahlias by RGC Blogger Donna Feit

 How to Winterize Your Dahlias by RGC Blogger Donna Feit

I love my dahlias. I bought some tubers from Zulily a few years ago, planted them as soon as they arrived, and several weeks later was delighted with beautiful pink and sunset-orange blossoms. They bloomed throughout the latter part of summer right up until the first frost. I left them in the ground for the winter and they returned the following year.

After that, I wanted to learn more and started to research growing dahlias on Pinterest. I was surprised to learn that they don’t “winter” well and are often killed by freezing cold weather…I was fortunate in that the first winter was an especially mild one and my tubers survived.

I don’t want to run the risk of losing my beautiful dahlias, so this year, I’m going to dig up the tubers and store them properly over the winter. Since we’ve already had a couple of frosts, now is the time! Cut off the stems and leaves. It’s a good idea to let the tubers cure (dry out a little), especially the larger ones. Shake the dirt off, but it’s not necessary to completely clean them. They may be okay wrapped in newspaper, and/or stored in a paper bag. But, it’s even better to store them in dry-to-slightly-moist packing material such as peat moss, coco coir, wood chips, pet bedding, or sawdust. You could also use a mixture of vermiculite and perlite. Use whatever you have on hand.

Line the bottom of a box with newspaper to keep any packing material from falling through the cracks. Layer the packing material on top of that. Lay the tubers in the box so they will be surrounded by the packing material. You can store several clumps in the same box as long as they are not touching. Fill the box with packing material so the tubers are completely covered. Close the box and put on a shelf. It’s important that your dahlia storage space is cool and dry. A basement or the inside wall of your garage should work. If it is too warm, the tubers could rot.

You’re all set! After the last frost next spring, you’ll be able to replant your tubers and enjoy beautiful dahlias from late summer through fall.

 

 

 

Baby It’s Cold Outside: Show Your Plants Some Love by RGC Blogger Lisa Ethridge

Baby It’s Cold Outside: Show Your Plants Some Love by RGC Blogger Lisa Ethridge

Cooler temperatures and fewer hours of sunlight throughout the fall initiate the cold-acclimation process which enables plants to withstand winter temperatures. The best way to prevent cold damage is to select plants that can tolerate temperatures where you live. Georgia has different climatic zones, so it’s important to select plants that meet the minimum cold-hardy requirements for our area. For North Fulton that’s zone 7B.

Cold temperatures and wind can damage all parts of the plant including fruit, stems, leaves, trunk, and roots. Carefully selected plants can survive a freeze but may not survive a prolonged period of below-freezing temperatures.

Healthy plants have a better chance of surviving cold weather. A soil sample is the best method to determine what nutrients plants need. Contact the UGA extension agent to get information about soil testing. Pruning and/or fertilizing in late summer or early fall encourages tender new growth which leaves plants vulnerable to freezing temps. Check publications B961 and B1065 for information about feeding and pruning ornamental plants. Mulch is important too. It reduces heat loss of the soil, retains moisture, and protects the plant roots which also can be damaged by a freeze.

Covering plants with sheets, blankets, or cardboard boxes helps protect them from low-temperature injury. Plastic sheeting is not recommended; temperatures under the plastic rise quickly which can result in burned leaves or worse. Remove the cover during daylight hours to provide ventilation and allow the release of the trapped heat.

Plants have water requirements during the winter months. Make sure plants get at least 1” of water per week which is essential for a healthy, cold-hardy plant. If a cold snap is predicted, water the plants. Moist soil absorbs more heat and helps maintain an elevated temperature around the plants.

GA Extension offers more than 600 free, research-based publications to help you learn about everything from planting the perfect vegetable garden to raising a backyard chicken flock, and from identifying stinging and biting pests to determining if your agribusiness is feasible. For more information, go to http://www.caes.uga.edu/publications.

National Garden Week: A Look at Some of our Favorite Gardens by RGC Members

National Garden Week: A Look at Some of our Favorite Gardens by RGC Members

We are closing out our National Garden Week posts with a look at favorite gardens members have visited, pictures from Lisa’s recent visit to Gibbs Garden, and pics from a few members’ gardens–the feature image for this post is from Mary Ann Booth Cabot’s backyard. We hope you are as inspired by these gardens as we are. Thanks for celebrating National Garden Week with us.

Debbie V suggests we add visiting these gardens on our bucket lists:

Image from https://www.lewisginter.org/aloverofroses/rose-garden-2/

 

 

 

Gretchen C’s 3 favorite gardens to visit in the United States are:

Image from longwoodgardens.org

1. Longwood Gardens in Kennet Square, PA. These gardens are located just 30 minutes from where I lived the first 30 years of my life, so I have been there innumerable times. The gardens are known for their fountains, architecture, and green houses. In 1798 an arboretum was planted at this location. In 1906, Pierre S. DuPont really developed the garden with structures and more plantings. It was opened to the public in 1921. There are over 1,077 acres with 4.5 acres of greenhouses and a 5 acre fountain area. In addition, there are buildings enclosing a theater and world class organ as well as an outdoor theater where one can see a play or musical in the summer.

The Philadelphia area’s climate is a zone that encourages many types of horticulture and for this reason there is much to see in the extensive outdoor gardens. The Christmas Decorations in the large conservatories are magnificent.

I first visited as a child but remember most vividly taking my own children there in strollers. At that time there was no admission charge and a friend and I would go frequently with our young children. A favorite spot was an outdoor water feature that flowed down a large stone stairway. After moving north to New Jersey and then Connecticut, I would visit my parents in December, take them to see the Christmas Decorations, and have dinner in the restaurant.

2. Portland, Oregon Japanese Garden. There are many Japanese Gardens in the world. This one is situated on 12 acres on a wooded hillside west of the city. It is a tranquil spot with 8 separate different styles of Japanese Gardens. Water runs through the gardens as falls and pools, adding to the enchantment. In addition to the tea house there are other small Japanese style buildings. There is a Koi Pond and many moss coated structures. The numerous Japanese Maples are not to be missed. If you have visited Portland, you know that horticulture in that area is more abundant than many other places. This is due to ample moisture and moderate temperatures.

3. Of the gardens I have visited, our Atlanta Botanical Garden is my other favorite. No need to tell you as I know you all must love it too!

 

Lisa E shared these beautiful pictures from her recent visit to Gibbs Gardens, a world-class garden in Ball Ground, GA, a few miles north of Roswell.

         

 

Linda Lee P shared these gorgeous pictures from Miramar Beach.

   

 

Carolyn H shared images of her remarkable daylilies.

       

                   

           

 

Mary Ann Booth Cabot shared glorious pictures from her garden.

     

 

National Garden Week: Add Color in June by RGC Blogger Lisa Ethridge

National Garden Week: Add Color in June by RGC Blogger Lisa Ethridge

If a quick survey of your yard in June reveals a mostly green palette, it’s time to add some color. June is the perfect time to make attractive and family-friendly additions to the greenspace and outdoor living areas of your home.

The addition of blooming plants can really be eye catching. Pick an area of the yard that needs brightening and add a spot of color. Borders, pots, hanging baskets, and trellises are popular. When you go to the nursery or garden department, look for vital, green specimens that are in bloom and ready to set out in the garden. Choose plants that meet your sun/shade needs and select different sizes, varieties, and textures. For baskets and pots, make sure to buy some trailing plants to make your arrangement more flowing and artistic.

Remember, it’s all about the soil; before planting, be sure to recharge the soil in the pot or bed with compost. Water the new specimen while it’s still in its pot.Then plant at the recommended depth and space according to instructions on the tag. Once your bed or pot is planted, water thoroughly.  To maintain the beautiful color throughout the season, water regularly, deadhead if needed, and fertilize monthly.

Think outside of the pot when it comes to color. Paint is cheap and easy to apply. Spray paint is now specially formulated to adhere to plastic and other materials. Tasteful colors abound, and some paints simulate beautiful textures. Think about painting pots and grouping them in harmonious vignettes. Vary the pot sizes and shapes to make things more interesting and stick with odd numbered arrangements.

Accessories can add color without taxing the budget. Big box nurseries and stores with garden centers have a great deal of space devoted to yard art. Some well-chosen pieces can add interest and color to the landscape—just don’t overdo it.  If you don’t feel comfortable making selections, take a friend whose garden you admire.

The featured image for this post is one of Dorothy J’s stay-at-home projects. She painted a red pot that didn’t work in her color palette and turned it into a brilliant spot of color in her yard.

For help with all aspects of planting annuals, download brochure B954: Flowering Annuals for Georgia Gardens at extension.uga.edu/publications.

National Garden Week: Inspired by Chelsea…Ideas & Comments from the Virtual Chelsea Flower Show by RGC Blogger Suzy Crowe

National Garden Week: Inspired by Chelsea…Ideas & Comments from the Virtual Chelsea Flower Show by RGC Blogger Suzy Crowe

For the first time ever, the Chelsea Flower Show was virtual instead of in-person. I took advantage of that and spent hours being inspired & educated. There were fantastic walking tours of famous horticulturalists’ (think Adam Frost, Kazuyuki Ishihara, James Alexander Sinclair, Tom Massey, Andy Sturgeon) home gardens. I perused floral design demonstrations, how-to videos on growing specific plants, cooking demonstrations using home-grown veg and herbs, and suggestions for gardening with kids.

I loved the daily Ask a Gardening Advisor sessions which were primed by write-in-questions on given topics. Panels of experts on each given topic answered the questions. These sessions ranged from establishing a wildflower garden/lawn to everything related to houseplants; from how to get rid of pests to how to care for ponds.

My friend Mary & I loved Tips for Summer Design with gold-medal-winning garden designer Sarah Eberle–the session is inspirational and informative.

Now that Chelsea is over, I have notes on *and have started* propagating succulents; I’ve moved the baker’s rack from my patio to my carport to create a potting station. I’ve given my bulbs haircuts so that they can absorb necessary nutrients without looking like a total mess in my gardens. I’ve converted my grandfather’s cast iron scalding pot into a pond with a solar fountain–you’ll hear more about this in another post. I’m researching turning my front yard into a wildflower yard. I have found where east is in relation to my yard, and this fall I’ll be turning my iris so their rhizomes all face east. I’m sitting in my yard, looking & dreaming. And every morning, I’m walking the grounds with a cup of coffee.

Want to see what you missed? You’ll find all 53 sessions on the Royal Horticultural Society’s YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/RoyalHorticulturalSo . I hope you’ll be amazed and inspired. When you get to the YouTube channel, you’ll see that the image for this post is the opening screen for the Virtual Chelsea Flower Show 2020. As such it is copyrighted by the Royal Horticultural Society. Let me know if you, too, are inspired by Chelsea. Cheers!

National Garden Week: Why Isn’t My Annual Blooming? by RGC blogger Lisa Ethridge

National Garden Week: Why Isn’t My Annual Blooming? by RGC blogger Lisa Ethridge

In the spring, Roswell gardeners flocked to nurseries and big box stores to purchase colorful annual plants for containers and beds. If the honeymoon is over and your annual plants are dormant and stressed, they can be revitalized. With the right care and maintenance, annuals will brighten the landscape from spring through fall.

Annual plants need water to thrive and bloom. Drought conditions prevail in Georgia during the summer months. Most annuals require at least 1-1½” of water per week. Containers require daily or twice-daily watering during the summer and into October, Georgia’s driest month. Smaller pots require more hydration because they dry out quickly.

“Deadhead” or prune to encourage new blooms and growth. An annual completes its entire life cycle in a single growing season. It grows from seed and works to produce more seeds with every bloom. Gardeners must remove dead blooms to discourage the plant from putting all its effort into seed production. Not all annuals require “deadheading.” Some, such as petunias, benefit from heavy pruning. Cutting them back in July will encourage profuse blooming.

Lack of nutrients causes poor performance in annuals. For the best results, annuals must be fertilized. General purpose fertilizers such as 10-10-10 must be reapplied every 6 weeks throughout the growing season. Use slow-release fertilizers to reduce the number of applications. Water soluble fertilizers are particularly good for container plants because the nutrients are leached from pots due to frequent watering.

Monitor your annuals throughout the summer and make notes. At season’s end, do some reading and formulate a plan for increased success next year. Get a soil test and amend the soil in planting beds according to the results. For more vibrant containers, consider using special nutrient-rich potting soil mixes which are widely available. Plant selection is key; know your property’s mix of sun and shade to make an informed decision.

If you want to know more about how to select and grow annuals successfully, go to extension.uga.edu/publications and read Flowering Annuals for Georgia Gardens, Bulletin B954.