1 HENRY COUNTY/MARTINSVILLE MASTER GARDENERS NEWSLETTER Volume 11 Issue 2 MASTER GARDENER VOLUNTEERS by louis judson master gardener Your area MASTER GARDENERS help you with info on GARDENING, FLOWERS, FERTILIZERS, PESTICIDES and much more. We will be in the EXTENSION OFFICE on Mondays and Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. until noon and 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. DIAL and ask for a MASTER GARDENER! The Master Gardeners are a volunteer branch of Virginia Tech. ~~~~~~~~~ THANKSGIVING CACTUS by nancy bradshaw master gardener Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergea truncata) is an easy-to-grow- houseplant that blooms dependably and lavishly every fall. Most plants will vary its schedule from year to year, sometimes starting to bloom in summer and sometimes waiting until December. It will bloom for about a month and will sometimes send out a few surprise flowers in the spring. For some reason, the salmon and pink ones do the best for me.. The plants grow slowly, and it takes a few years to branch and droop. The Thanksgiving cactus is an epiphyte, its roots are wiry and thin and grow best in a light, well-drained potting mix. A blend of one part potting soil, two parts peat moss and one part perlite or builders sand will serve nicely. The cactus likes a warm room (around 70 degrees F) and thrives in either eastern or western windows. I have heard dismal warnings about plants having to have cool nights and exactly the right day lengths to set buds but I have found that the ones I leave alone on the plant shelf in the sun room bloom just as well as those I drag out on the patio and bring in about Halloween. Since that is one of my favorite rooms, the lights get turned on at night and have never disturbed the plant s bud setting or blooming. Individual flowers last only a few days, but the plant sets many buds and continues to set more buds after the flowers wilt. I always pick off the wilted flowers from all my plants. After the plant finishes blooming, it grows new leaves. Throughout this time a weekly watering and an occasional dose of all purpose plant food. In the spring, the plant rests, it gets watered only every three or four weeks when the leaves look a little shriveled. ~~~~~~~~ DID YOU KNOW THAT: Each year, insects eat 1/3 of the earth s food crop. 1 FALL 2007 How to become a Master Gardener by aleen wilson master gardener coordinator The qualifications are easy. If you can t imagine being without houseplants in the winter, or pouring over those seed catalogs that start coming in about Christmas, or going to a friends house and stooping down to pull weeds from the flower bed, or sticking your finger in the potted plant in the restaurant to see if it needs water, then you may be a candidate for Master Gardener. Master Gardeners receive 50 hours of horticultural training. In exchange for this training they contribute time as volunteers, working through the Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension Service of Henry county/martinsville. Some of the things you might be involved in are staffing plant clinics, manning the help line to answer questions from other gardeners, diagnosing horticulture problems, working on demonstration gardens, talking to clubs and senior citizen groups; working in the greenhouse and continuing to learn from every activity. If accepted into the Master Gardener program you will attend a training course taught by Extension Staff, local experts and Master Gardeners. The program offers 50 hours of instruction on topics including lawns; ornamental trees and shrubs: insect, disease and weed management: soils and plant nutrition; vegetable gardening; fruit production, pruning: and garden flowers. Once you have completed the training and passed the exam (open book), you ll begin your volunteer internship. This is rewarding and fun. You learn a lot and you meet people with the same interest. Some of the things the Master Gardeners did in the past year: establish a demonstration garden at Mt Olivet School to teach the children about all kinds of plants including herbs and vegetables; maintain a demonstration garden at the Henry County Administration Building: fund raising by selling Strawberries ; maintain a greenhouse to grow plants for fundraising and to provide flowers to hospice and nursing homes. ~~~~~~~~~ DID YOU KNOW THAT: Plants that need to attract moths for pollination are generally white of pale yellow, to be better seen when the light is dim. Moths usually fly at night. Plants that depend on butterflies, such as the poppy or hibiscus, have more deeper colored flowers such as reds and oranges. Butterflies usually fly during the day. The worlds tallest grass that sometimes grows 130 feet or more is bamboo.
2 2007 MASTER GARDENERS OFFICERS PRESIDENT: VICE PRESIDENT: SECRETARY: TREASURER: UNIT COORDINATOR: NEWSLETTER EDITOR: NANCY BRADSHAW LYNN BERRY JUNE LEFTWICH JIM BAKER MELANIE BARROW LOUIS JUDSON ENSURING A SUPPLY OF HERBS FOR WINTER by nancy philpott master gardener Now is the time to begin preserving your herbs for winter by either air-drying, freezing in ice cubes trays, or infused in oil or vinegar for use in cooking and salad dressings. Basil made into Pesto and frozen in ice cube trays, then popped out and put in Ziploc bags, makes a wonderful addition to canned tomato soup, spaghetti sauce or any number of recipes calling for basil and garlic. Another idea for basil is to pack it in jars of light olive oil making sure the leaves are completely covered. Seal and refrigerate. Use the oil for cooking or in salad dressings and the leaves in sauces. Some herbs can be taken from the yard and brought indoors to over winter on a bright window ledge, in a greenhouse, or enclosed porch. Herbaceous perennials, such as mint, which would be cut back by frost can be lifted as rooted clumps in early autumn and planted to provide a fresh supply for winter. Chives and garlic chives may be treated similarly and will shoot up again from the bulbs given the right conditions of good light and sufficient water. Sprigs of evergreen herbs, such as sage, rosemary, thyme, and winter savory, may also be harvested in winter, but limit your pickings to odd sprigs and leaves. If you cut back stems excessively this may stimulate growth of new shoots in mild spells, which would then be vulnerable to cold damage. A number of herbs may be easily increased by means of division or mound-layering. These simple methods are ideal if you want new plants of a specific form. Shrubby plants such as sage, rosemary, thyme and lavender, which tend to become woody and less vigorous in the center as they age, can be stimulated to produce fresh shoots with new roots by mound layering. In spring, mound some soil mixed with coarse sand and compost all around the base of the plant, so that only the shoot tips are showing. Replenish the mix after heavy rain. In late summer or early autumn next year, detach any rooted stems from around the edge of the plant and pot them up or replant them. Rampant spreaders such as mint and tansy are best planted in a container. If you want to grow them in your border, use a pot or plastic bucket sunk into the ground with the bottom cut out or holes punched out at the base. You should lift the plant and replace its soil mix each spring. Rejuvenate the plant by dividing it and replanting young, vigorous pieces. Herbs are quite easy to grow and it is very rewarding to be able to step out your door and pick mint for your tea or basil for the sauce you are cooking up. If you haven t grown them this year, do pick up some seeds or plants in the spring and try growing a couple of different ones. You ll be a pro in no time!~~~~~ 2 4 H TREE SEEDLINGS by cliff rood master gardener Each spring, Brian Hairston, the 4-H Extension Agent, starts planning for the 4-H clubs to receive pine tree seedlings. He plans to make the deliveries one school at a time. Brian prepares a schedule giving the date the plants need to be ready and the date the plants need to be delivered. We had 86 bags of trees this year to be delivered to 13 schools. Each bag had 25 tree seedlings wrapped in individual bags. Donna Draper prepared the gum backed labels. Brian had to have an order of the required number of plants and made the phone call to VA Forestry Department. Brian ordered about 2,250 Loblolly pine seedlings. Now I go to work, getting the volunteers to help me prepare the seedlings for the school children to take home and plant. In 2007, we had 12 Master Gardeners and 1 trainee give of their time to come to the Administration Building of Henry County. Last spring we worked every day of the week, but during different weeks. We began wrapping on March 29th and ended on April 23rd. We averaged about 1-1/2 hours a session from start to finish. The seedling's roots were carefully rolled inside the sheets of paper towels. They were then dipped in the warm water. The roots would then be squeezed by hand and placed into clear leak proof plastic bag which had the printed label on them The tops of the bags were then tied with a twist tie around the stem of the seedling. There was a counting of wrapped seedlings, 25 each put into a 1-1/2 gallon plastic bags. The number of bags of 25 seedlings would vary from four to sixteen depending on the schedule that Brian Hairston had worked out for various schools that had 4-H students. Brian, personally made the delivery to the schools so that each child would receive their wrapped tree with the planting instructions, just as they would board their school bus to go home. Yes, it was work, but a good time was had by all for being a part of a very good cause. We certainly appreciated all who helped with this project. ~~~~~~~~~~~ HAVE YOU HEARD? Have you heard the expression as scarce as hens teeth? Worm of course do not have teeth either. They grind their food in their gizzard the same as chickens. They also swallow rocks as do chickens to help grind their food. (of course the rocks are much smaller.) Earthworms also store their food in their crop as do chickens until such a time that they are ready to digest their food. Earthworm castings can also be called worm poop which helps to fertilizer the soil. Earthworms may live years. Earthworms may be used to recycle waste organic materials. There are about 4,400 species of earthworms. Earthworms have 5 hearts.
3 LAWN AERATION by angela bourland honorary master gardener What is aeration and how can it help my lawn? Lawn aeration involves the removal of soil plugs out of the lawn or the creation of spiked holes with the intention of allowing freer movement of air into the soil, especially when the soil is compact. When your lawn is compacted, it reduces the pore space within the soil that usually holds air and can be a physical barrier to root growth. Air is vital to good lawn care and maintenance because grass roots absorb nutrients and require water and oxygen to grow. If your lawn soil is heavy clay or your grass roots are less than 2 inches or your lawn is heavily used, regular and intensive lawn aeration is often required. A newly established lawn or seeded lawns should not be aerated in their first year. There are two main methods of aeration, spiking and coring, which are similar but not equal. Spike aerators can be the spiked lawn sandals that work when you walk on the grass, equipment pushed by hand or towed with a lawn tractor. These aerators sometimes contribute to rather than help prevent soil compaction. Most golf courses and athletic fields use core aerators that have hollow tines or spoons, which extract up to ¾ inch diameter cores of soil and deposit them on the surface of your lawn. The purpose of aeration is to provide a better air supply for grass roots, allow water to enter the soil readily with little waste or loss of water and allow pesticides, fertilizers, lime and phosphorus to contact the roots right away. Aeration will increase the activity of soil microorganisms that decompose thatch and produce a greener and thicker lawn by helping the roots grow more deeply. Aeration also provides a better environment for over seeding. The next four weeks, when grass is actively growing, is the best time to aerate to ensure rapid recovery. Aeration is best preformed soon after a rain or irrigation, because dry clay is too hard for penetration by aeration equipment. Lawn aeration is not a routine practice like mowing, but should be done in the spring and/or fall. If you have an automatic sprinkler system, be sure to avoid sprinkler heads and shallow irrigation lines. Cable TV lines and other power lines should also be avoided. To give your lawn the full benefit of aeration, it is best to go over it several times so the holes are two to four inches apart. Finely manicured golf courses remove the cores after core aerating, but you can simple leave the cores and they will disappear after a couple of weeks. You can hire a lawn care company or landscaper to aerate your lawn or you can rent or buy the equipment. The equipment may be available at equipment rental companies, certain lawnmower dealerships or hardware stores. No matter what your choice, aeration is good for your lawn and is the first step before fertilizing and planting our grass seed. Happy Gardening! ~~~~~~~ DID YOU KNOW THAT: The plant life in the oceans make up about 85% all of the greenery on the earth. The egg plant is a member of the thistle family. Banana oil never saw a banana, it is made from petroleum. WHEW! WHAT A SUMMER by Melanie barrow unit coordinator Between the excessive high temperatures and the lack of rain, we have seen some major stresses to our lawns, trees, shrubs, and flowers. One common complaint the Extension Office has heard is, My yard is all brown and crunches under my feet when I walk on it. What can I do to fix it? Well, there is good news and bad news. The good news first: As temperatures start to become cooler, the cool season grasses (fescue, rye, bluegrass, etc.) most commonly grown in Henry County and Martinsville gardens will start to recover. The bad news: You may still find your self having to lightly overseed your yard in October to bring it back to its original full stand. If this becomes your solution, make sure not to mow the new grass until it is a least 3 ½ inches tall. Then, wait until it has been mowed at least twice before applying fertilizer ( at 10 pounds per 1,000 square feet). Try to avoid fertilizing with high nitrogen fertilizers, such as a turf builder type. Because the lawn has been stressed all summer, using low amounts of fertilizer will help the lawn to stabilize itself without it burning. Fertilizer should only be applied to cool season grasses in our area in the fall (late-september until no later than December 15 th ). Not to worry, your yard will be lush and green in the spring just like you remember it! A second concern that has filtered through the grapevine, and Helpline, here in the office is, These web things on the trees are the worst I ve ever seen. What are they, how do I get rid of them, and is it killing my tree? First thing first, the webs have been built by web worms. We are seeing what we think as an abundance of the little creatures and their hideous nests because we did not have an average winter to kill out populations that would bring them into the normal range this year. The caterpillars are the juvenile larvae of a species of moth. The webs are built around their food supply, meaning they never leave the nest to feed. Therefore, one set of caterpillars may make two or three web nests in the same tree once the food supply has diminished. Secondly, it is almost impossible to control web worms with pesticides because the nests are not easily penetrated with sprayers. Thus, it is best to take a long stick or pole and wrap the web around and pull it down and destroy it. Another, more practical and less labor intensive method is to leave it be. This leads me into the answer of, Are they killing the tree? The answer is NO! The tree has, for the most part, completed its growing cycle for the season and is beginning it descent into dormancy. Meaning the web worms are not harming the tree, it will come back in full force next spring, and the little creatures are just unsightly. Therefore, leave it be. Good luck and happy gardening. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ DID YOU KNOW THAT: Willow bark, which provides the salicylic acid from which aspirin was originally synthesized has been used as a pain remedy ever since the Greeks discovered its therapeutic power nearly 2,500 years ago. Worker ants may live 7 years and the queen maybe 15 years. An average ear of corn has 800 kernels, arranged in 16 rows. 3
4 THINGS TO DO by cara riggles, master gardener OCTOBER Mild weather makes this a great month for yard chores. However, to take advantage of the mildest weather conditions, outdoor chores are best done in early to mid-october Frost will appear soonest in low -lying areas. This is the ideal month to plant spring-blooming bulbs, such as crocus, daffodil, hyacinth, grape hyacinth, majestic crown imperial, and tulip. If you plan to divide your perennials this year, wait until they have finished blooming. To divide, dig up a mature plant and cut it into several sections with a spade or other sharp instrument. If you do not wish to divide the entire mature plant, leave it in the ground and dig out only a small portion of the mature plants. Make sure the part of the plant removed has some roots attached. This month is a good time to divide perennials that finished blooming during the summer, such as daylily, dianthus, hosta, iris, peony, and yarrow. Perennials that have not finished blooming, such as asters and mums, should not be divided now. Now is a good time to plant garlic, lettuce, onion, radish, and spinach. If you planted in August, you may will now have broccoli, cabbage, greens, and lettuce to harvest. The cooler weather in October and November is ideal for transplanting shrubbery such as boxwood. Boxwood should be transplanted when it is young and, since it often suffers from moisture stress, be sure to dig up a large root ball and try not to cut into dense masses of roots. Keep the transplanted boxwood moist by watering regularly, at least once a week. You will know the transplanted boxwood is stressed if its leaves turn reddish-orange. In this case, the roots may have been damaged during the transplanting or it has not been watered properly--it may have had too much water, or too little. Lawns should be seeded by mid-october. However, if the weather is warmer than average, the lawn seeding "season" may extend even into November. Lawns may be fertilized this month as long as the weather hasn't been too dry. Otherwise, fertilize only in October or November, as long as there is some rainfall to keep the ground from being too dry. October is generally the ideal month to fertilize bluegrass, fescue, and rye. NOVEMBER If you have a compost pile, this is an excellent month to add to it. Because compost piles can reach temperatures of 140 degrees, composting is a suitable method for recycling any dead plant that has been killed by frost, drought, insects, or disease. However, never place any live, invasive, perennial weeds that could survive in the future in the compost pile, as 140 degrees is NOT hot enough to kill seeds from such weeds. Debris from dead plants; last summer's tomato plants or annuals; and fallen leaves can be added to the compost pile, or buried in soil and allowed to rot. Tree leaves can be chopped into fragments with a mulching mower or an ordinary rotary mower and left as mulch directly on the 4 yard. These leaves can also be used as mulch under shrubs and trees. After their leaves and stalks turn brown, Peonies, Daisies, and similar perennial flowers are cut back to the ground. The debris can be added to the compost pile, or buried in the soil. This is an excellent time to set out new shrubs and trees, as they will need little or not watering (assuming normal rainfall) and their roots will have plenty of time to establish before the hot summer begins. Spring-flowering bulbs may also be planted now; but, when they are planted, always fertilize them with a fertilizer suitable for bulbs. If you have trouble with deer, plant daffodils since they are not appealing to wildlife of any kind. It is not too late to plant garlic and onion, if you have not already done so. The onion sets can be harvested as scallions in the spring and the garlic will be mature in July. Wood chips can be used to mulch almost anything that you grow. It does not matter if they are fresh or aged. However, if they are fresh, do not mix them into the soil. Mixing fresh wood chips into the soil can cause it to have nitrogen deficiency. DECEMBER If you did not do so in November, you may still prune shrubs such as arborvitae, boxwood, butterfly bush, deciduous and evergreen cotoneaster, deciduous and evergreen euonymus, gardenia, juniper, deciduous and evergreen privet, and sumac. The following trees may also be pruned in December: alder, birch, elm, atlas and deodar cedar, fir, evergreen holly, red cedar juniper, Leyland cypress, southern magnolia, oak, maple, and poplar. Boxwoods benefit from a little extra attention this month. They will turn reddish or bronze in winter when their leaves are low on moisture, which can occur even when the soil is moist if the roots are being attacked by nematodes or fungus. To assist boxwoods in retaining moisture, add up to one inch of mulch on the ground around them, preferably with pine needles, pine bark, hardwood bark, or wood chips. Boxwoods may also be fertilized at this time. Fertilizer should be added before any mulch is laid down. If Boxwood is planted in a sunny location, it will benefit from some thinning (clipping or breaking of a few stems) to open up its dense canopy of leaves, which allows light and air to penetrate into the interior of the plant. If the old layer of mulch in your flower and shrub beds is wearing thin, now is a good time to add new mulch. Additional mulch added now will help to smother winter weeds. Cannas, dahlias, and elephant ears will also benefit from added mulch to help insulate them from the cold winter weather. For maximum benefit, add a full six inches of mulch to these plants. If you have not already done so, it is not too late to plant bulbs such as crocus, daffodil, hyacinth, and tulip. For a harvest in April, you may plant onion, garlic, and shallot. Plant the sets a few inches deep and space them about 1 inch apart.
5 If you would like to decorate with fresh greenery for the holidays, December is an ideal time for light pruning of evergreens such as boxwood, cedar, fir, holly, Leyland cypress, pine, and spruce. JANUARY It is not too late to plant bulbs this month, such as tulips, hyacinths, onion sets, or garlic bulbs. Likewise, hardy vegetables such as asparagus, garlic, and onion may be planted outdoors this month. In addition, many seeds may be sown indoors at this time. Herbs such as basil, chives, cilantro, oregano, and parsley may be started indoors. Likewise, flowers such as begonia, Oriental poppy, pansy, snapdragon, and viola may now be seeded indoors. In order to facilitate starting plants from seed indoors, you may want to purchase a shop light (around $20). Instead of a regular fluorescent bulb, purchase a bulb designed for plant growth. Hang the lamp with the plant growth bulb about 3 inches above the seeded plants. Be sure to raise the lamp as the plants grow in order to maintain a 3 inch distance between the top of the plants and the bottom of the lamp. For maximum effect, the lamp should be left on about 16 hours a day. Do be sure to turn it off, though, as too much light will not be beneficial to the tender plants. This month is ideal for spreading lime on lawns and around boxwoods, lilacs, spinach, and other plants that prefer sweet soil. Many shrubs and trees can still be pruned this month. The Cooperative Extension Service provides excellent pruning guides to help you determine the most appropriate time to prune your shrubs and trees. These may be picked up at any time from the shelves in the hallway in front of the Cooperative Extension office. FEBRUARY This is an ideal time for pruning shrubbery such as boxwood, cedar, holly, juniper, nandina, and yew. In addition, you should now prune fruit trees and grapevines. Don t wait too long! You will want to prune them before new spring growth begins. Begin watching for signs of growth in your early spring bulbs. When foliage is 1 inch high, you may gradually begin removing mulch. It is best to first expose the leaves on a cloudy day, as strong sunlight may burn tender foliage. If you wish to start geraniums to transplant outdoors in May, now is the time to start the seeds indoors. Plant the seeds in sterilized potting soil and cover them with about 1/4 an inch of soil. Celery may be seeded indoors in late February in order to be transplanted into the garden in June. However, if transplanted before June, the celery may bolt and go to seed. It is beneficial to water acid-loving plants (such as gardenia and citrus) once a month with a solution of 1 tea- 5 spoon of vinegar to 1 quart of water. Would you enjoy a few early-blooming crocuses indoors? If so, pot up a few clumps from the garden as they emerge and then put them in a sunny spot inside the house. They will bloom before the ones outside. MARCH With the onset of spring and new growth, now is a good time to begin watering houseplants more frequently. Also, fertilize them now for good growth. Any houseplants that have become root bound should be repotted. Your houseplants may have a buildup of salt in the soil. Houseplants in clay pots are particularly susceptible to salt buildup. To remove excess salt, put houseplants in the shower and water them thoroughly, allowing excess water to runoff through the bottom of each pot. Houseplants will benefit from this at least once each winter, but they may be leached more often if salt buildup is present. This process will also remove any dust and cobwebs that have collected on the leaves. Before moving potted plants back outdoors, be sure that all danger of frost has passed. Once you do move the plants outside, they will need to be slowly acclimated to the varying temperatures and light levels. If necessary, repot the plants and/or fertilize them. This is an excellent month for planting pansy, snapdragon, calendula, bachelors button, primrose, and larkspur. Many vegetables, such as onion, radish, turnip, lettuce, spinach, collard, and potatoes, may also be planted this month. Now is a good time to start seeds indoors, or in a cold frame, for cold-weather crops such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and turnips. Warm-weather vegetables, however, need a minimum of 70 degrees F in the daytime in order to germinate. ~~~~~~~ EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES OF MASTER GARDENERS by louis Judson master gardeners The following are some of the educational activities of your Master Gardeners endeavoring to keep themselves up-to-date: Guilford Horticultural Symposium in Greensboro, NC February 24, people from our area attended. Many workshops and discussions were attended. 6 hour of CEU s were granted towards our yearly educational requirements. Gethsemane Gardens, a Hellebore Nursery was visited by 14 people. Thankfully they had a roaring fire going in their gift shop. The day was cold and disagreeable. We toured their nursery under the trees, hearing about Hellebore propagation, growing and marketing. After eating a box lunch we departed for the A&A Greenhouse Nursery a few miles east. Those attending were granted 3 hours of CEU s. On June 7, 2007, many Master Gardeners attended our Master Gardener Annual Picnic at Nancy Bradshaw s residence in Horse Pasture VA. The day was beautiful. ~~~~~~~
6 THE AMARYLLIS, A REAL SHOW STOPPER by libby ayers master gardener One of my favorite indoor plants is the big, bold, gaudy amaryllis (Hippeastrum). It s just what s needed to brighten a bleak January day or any day for that matter. With a little preparation you can have gorgeous flowers in a month to 6 weeks. Fall is a wonderful time to browse the catalogs and place your order for amaryllis bulbs, though they are available at other times. I ve found that purchasing or ordering large size premium bulbs produces more flowers than discount bulbs, and a better chance of reblooming the next year. They come in a wide variety of colors including reds, pinks, white, stripes and even green. I especially enjoy the ones that produce multiple smaller size flowers. The bulbs are large in size, about 4 inches in diameter; and need pots just about 2 inches larger than the bulbs. They grow best when pot bound. Plastic pots retain moisture best, but clay pots are more stable and less likely to tip over with heavy blooms. Planted from October to March, they bloom from December to April. They make a beautiful Christmas plant. To start the bulbs, soak the roots in warm water for about 1 hour. Clean the pot with a mild water and bleach solution, rinse well and cover the drainage hole with a piece of clay pot. Fill to within 1 inch of the rim with a good sterile potting mix. Plant the bulb so that half is above the mix and the roots are covered. Firm the soil and drench it. Do not water again until the bulb has sprouted, which may take several weeks. Then move the plant into the sunniest indoor location available; and begin regular watering moist to the touch. When the plant blooms, move it out of the direct sun to preserve the blossoms. The stems may need staking; the flowers are very heavy. I ve found that they do well as cut flowers in a tall vase or arrangement. When the flowers fade, cut the stems back. The bulb can be tossed on the compost pile, or you can try to persuade it to rebloom. To do this put the plant in a sunny window and feed monthly with houseplant fertilizer, as long as the foliage is green. Give the bulb a summer vacation outside in bright sun, plenty of moisture and the monthly fertilizer. In the fall withhold water, allow the bulb to go dormant and the foliage to die back, and begin the cycle again. Amaryllis don t seem to bloom as vigorously the second season, but it is worth a try. Enjoy these bright beauties in your indoor garden. ~~~~~~~~~ DID YOU KNOW THAT: In the Netherlands, in 1634, a collector paid 1,000 pounds of cheese, four oxen, eight pigs, 12 sheep, a bed, and a suit of clothes for a single bulb of the Viceroy tulip. The rose family of plants, in addition to flowers, gives us apples, pears, plums, cherries, almonds, peaches and apricots. 6 COLCHICUM by nancy bradshaw master gardener A new discovery that is deer resistant, hardy in cold weather, blooms in autumn and is beautiful, Colchiums. It has chalice-shaped flowers and comes in shades of pink, rose, lilac and white and bloom with autumn crocuses. They are beautiful naturalized or you can plant them in beds or borders and are perfect for rock gardens. Colchicums are the source of colchicines, a chemical that was introduced as a drug in the 1920s but has found its greatest use among plant breeders. Colchicine effects the number of chromosomes in plant cells and breeders have used it for years to produce bigger, hardier plants with larger flowers. Colchicum plants grow from corms that are planted in late summer and burst into bloom just a few weeks later on leafless stems and the foliage down not appear until the following spring. The leaves grow about a foot high and die back in late spring or early summer along with the foliage of spring bulbs. The corms are shipped from mailorder nurseries in July or August when they are dormant and should be planted as soon as they are received. Any well drained soil of average fertility will suit them. Set the corms so their tops are 3 to 4 inches below the soil surface. The most beautiful of the colchicums is the hybrid called Water-lily. Its large double flowers have pointed petals that, when fully open, look incredibly like water-lilies. This plant grows about 6 inches tall, the color is a warm rosy pink, an outstanding addition to your flower garden. ~~~~ MASTER GARDENERS HELP 4H by brian hairston 4H coordinator Our local 4-H Junior Camp is supported in various ways by the Henry County/ Martinsville Master Gardener Association. The Master Gardeners have instituted an annual project of selling strawberry plants and other garden goodies in the spring. Upon completion of this endeavor, a portion of their profit is donated to 4-H for camp scholarships. In addition, some of our Master Gardeners attend 4-H Camp and teach or assist in the classes there. This takes a great personal commitment as camp is held for five days at Smith Mountain Lake. This year, four of our MG s volunteered their time and talents at 4-H camp: Lynn Berry, Aileen Bourne, Dee Dee Mullins and Cliff Rood. They worked in the Flower Power classes and Birdhouse Building classes. The Master Gardeners are a great asset in helping accomplish goals that 4-H has established. Our thanks to them and their support of the 4-H! ~~~~~~~~
7 DID YOU TAKE YOUR HOUSEPLANTS OUTSIDE FOR THE SUMMER? CAN THEY BE SAVED? YES! by angela bourland honorary master gardener If you pay close attention to the weather and consider these suggestions: The Martinsville-Henry County area is blessed with a growing season of 178 days, with frost-free days normally occurring between the dates of April 21 and October 16th. If the night temperature drops below 60 degrees it may damage your tropicals; such as spider plants, palm, dracaenas, snake plants, schefflera, Philodendron, hibiscus and weeping fig. Frost could arrive by the end of September and could be lethal to the majority of houseplants. Geraniums, gardenia, Boston fern, asparagus fern and Christmas cactus can be left out through October if protected from frost by an overhanging roof or canopy; but should be brought inside if there is sign of frost. For those with hibiscus, a move indoors may be traumatic. The leaves may turn yellow and drop, but if you give them enough sun and warmth, it may flower on and off through winter. For your Christmas cactus leave the plant outside during the fall, exposing it to cool temperatures and it may well bloom. The cactus must be protected from frost and should be fertilized through the autumn. Give the cactus less water as the nights turn cooler and allow the soil to dry before watering again - this should produce blooms for the holiday season. Mandevilla, lantana, and flowering maples are not hardy enough to survive winter, but if you would like to grow them next year, you can pot them before the frost and keep them in a cool sunny room. I water these plants every 2 weeks and had great success. Other plants that did well were potted elephant ears, dahlias and canna lilies. To add beauty to your home; coleus, wax begonia and impatient remaining in your flowerbed may be potted up or place the leafy stem in a glass of water on a windowsill. Lilies and other fall flowering plants can also be cut and brought in, as they may not survive the first frost they will appreciate your attention! Prepare houseplants for the move indoors by removing dead, damaged or yellow leaves. If the plants have become too tall or wide for their indoor location, a light trim can be administered. Severe pruning could be traumatic and is best performed in spring. Pots can get dirty during the heat of the summer. Spray the pots with a hose to loosen the soil and remove any possible spiders or bugs from the outside. Warm soapy water, a brush and a cloth should be used to clean the outside. Plants that are too big for their pots may be repotted now, but spring may produce better results. While outside, your houseplants may have acquired mites, scales, aphids or mealy bugs and should be sprayed with insecticidal soap. Springtails, Millipedes, crickets, ants, sow 7 bugs, slugs, earwigs, spiders or snakes may have taken refuge in your outside plants. They can be encouraged to leave by submerging the pots in water. All potted plants should be leached once or twice a year due to the buildup of salt. Salt can come from ordinary tap water and from fertilizers. To leach a houseplant, water it thoroughly till water flows out of the bottom, which should dissolve the salt. Repeat the process again after a couple of hours and most of the salt will be gone. These simple suggestions can help your houseplants survive the winter and add beauty to your home With the return of spring - you and your plants can enjoy the warmer weather. ~~~~ POLIANTHES/TUBEROSES by nancy bradshaw Tuberoses (Polianthes tuberose) are among the most fragrant flowers on earth and have been an important ingredient in perfume formulas for generations. They are not hard to grow and if you love intoxicating scents, this flower is for you. The plants bloom from late summer into autumn when most other fragrant flowers are gone. Tuberoses grow from rhizomes that are not hardy, but can be grown in cold climates if you store them indoors over the winter along with your dahlias and tuberous begonias. In fact, containers is where tuberoses belong, because they can perfume a patio or terrace close by the house where you can enjoy them the most. The flowers area waxy, white and borne in clusters near the tops of the 3 ft stems. The leaves are long and grassy and appear before the flowers. The plants need a long, warm growing season to produce flowers. I plant mine in late April and if we have a late frost, I cover the containers with an old sheet. Tuberoses grow best in rich, well-drained soil that contains plenty of organic matter. Set the rhizomes 2 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches apart. They grow best in an acid soil so I feed them with the same fertilizer that I use for my camellias and azaleas. In the fall, when the leaves start to turn yellow, I stop watering the plants and let the soil dry out. When the leaves are dead, I dig up the plants, cut off the dead leaves and let the rhizomes dry for two weeks in a dry, airy place then store them with the other tender bulbs in the plant shed where they will not freeze. ~~~~~~~~~ DID YOU KNOW THAT: There are more than 700 species of plants grown in the United States that have been identified as dangerous if eaten. Among them are some that are commonly favored by gardeners: buttercups, daffodils, lily of the valley, oleander, azalea, bleeding heart, delphinium and rhododendron. Fortunately most or all of these taste bad. A nail driven into a tree will remain at the same distance from the ground as the tree grows taller.
8 GOING ON VACATION!!! WHAT DO I DO WITH MY PLANTS? by jean williams master gardener Having a large number of outdoor container plants, I have a dilemma when I want to go out of town for several days. Not wanting to inconvenience friends to water my plants frequently, I thoroughly water my container plants late in the afternoon or early evening the day before I leave. The plants will drink up their fill during the night. Then, the morning before I head out of town I give my plants an additional drink of water so they have a reserve from which to draw. My plants that are mostly in the shade (which are most of them) will last several days by using this method depending on the temperatures. When I am gone a week or a little more, they will probably need watering only once (or not at all if it does rain). This method also works for houseplants and plants on porches. Moving my sun loving plants (I only have a few) into areas where they receive just early morning sun or even into light shade instead of full or afternoon sun also helps to conserve moisture and thus require less frequent watering. These plants are returned to their normal locations when I return to town. As a convenience to my designated plant caretaker I fill gallon plastic milk bottles with water and set them by groups of plants so all the person has to do is pick up the bottle and pour it on the plants (no hoses to deal with or watering cans to fill). This system also helps prevent any plants from being overlooked. Filling the bottles with water for use later also allows the chlorine to dissipate before being used on the plants. I actually use this method for watering all my container plants by refilling the bottles after I have watered the plants and setting the bottles in inconspicuous places for use the next time I water. ~~~~~~~~ DID YOU KNOW THAT: One tree can remove 26 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year. PRUNING? by angela bourland honorary master gardener Some perennial plants should be cut after the first frost or before. Frost kills the plant making it unattractive. Pests and diseases may live in the plants fallen foliage and surface in the spring. Crown rot and borers may also be another problem. Trimming these plants may also provide more energy toward the roots versus the decaying plant. If your plants have disease or pests, cut back the foliage and discard. If neither one of these exist, the foliage may be disposed on the compost pile. Some of the more popular perennials to cut back during autumn are the bearded iris, bee balm, blanket flower, catmint, daylily, hardy begonia, phlox, salvia and yarrow. Plants like purple cone flower, black-eyed Susan, sedum, butterfly weed, chrysanthemums, aster, astilbe, balloon flower, dianthus, hosta, lamb s ear, lavender, lupine, red-hot poker, tickseed and coral bells provide crown protection with their foliage and are best cut back in the spring. For a more complete list, visit the website which provides listings of what plants to cut, when and why. Also stop in at the Extension office an pick up publications : Deciduous Tree Pruning Calendar ( ), Evergreen Tree Pruning Calendar ( ) and Shrub Pruning Calendar ( ). When and how to prune perennial plants is a popular topic among many gardeners and is labor intensive but a pleasure for most gardeners and plants! ~~~~~~~~~~ DID YOU KNOW THAT: Cranberries, Blue Berries and Concord Grapes are native to North America. A snail can sleep for 3 years. Wood frogs freeze in the winter and thaw again in the spring. Henry County/Martinsville Master Gardeners Virginia Cooperative Extension Henry County Administration Building Kings Mountain Road P.O. Box 7 Collinsville, VA