Growing hostas can be very satisfying for a gardener – they’re beautiful, hardy, and grow in a variety of climates. But sometimes, these perennials can grow enormously large, which is when you start thinking, “Maybe I could split this plant to fill in a different spot!” This, of course, is called “dividing”, and it’s a relatively simple task for any gardener and one that I have done countless times in my own garden, over the years.
Hostas are tough and will survive division just about any time you do it, often without much wilting at all. However, hostas divided in the spring or summer often fail to make handsome garden plants until the next year. They’ll show signs of the inevitable damage to buds or leaves all season, which is why the end of summer (at least a month before your first frost) is the ideal time to do this job. The plants will have ample time to develop new roots before winter and will unfurl unblemished leaves in the spring.
To divide a hosta clump, begin with a shovel or spade, cutting all around the clump then prying it from the ground with a digging fork. Shake off as much soil as you can, then move the clump where you can rinse all the soil from the roots with a hose. Removing the soil makes it much easier to see where you could make your divisions with minimal damage to leaves and roots.
Start by dividing the clump in half. If the hosta is a spreading variety, it should be fairly easy to pull apart by hand or to pry apart using two digging forks back to back. If it’s the sort that makes a tight crown, use a knife to cut down into the crown from the top. Be sure to steer clear of the large stems and don’t cut so far that you slice off roots beneath. Once you’re nearly through the crown, you’ll be able to pull it apart.
If you want more divisions, rinse away the soil in the exposed center of the plant, and divide the pieces in half. Proceed in this way until you have the number of pieces you want, right down to single shoots. As you work, cover the divisions with a damp cloth to keep the roots and leaves from drying. Replant the divisions immediately.
How many divisions should you make? Well, hostas are among the few perennials that are happiest and look best if never divided. So if you’re dividing the hostas to develop a new planting scheme, divide the clumps into just two or four pieces so the garden will have a finished look in a year or two. Single-shoot divisions can take several years to regrow leaves of full size. I have a five-year old clump grown from a small piece whose leaves are only half the size of a mature specimen planted next to it at around the same time. Your smallest divisions, especially the really tiny ones that inevitably break away are best planted in a nursery bed to grow on to full size.
If you take care to do the work carefully, dividing a hostas plant can help you spread the beauty of this hardy beauty to other corners of your garden. And if you need further help doing this work without damaging the plant, check out this Youtube video that features the entire process from beginning to end.
There are a number of indoor plant problems that can plague your garden. Bugs, fungus, and mold are the most common issues that develop in an indoor garden. These indoor plant problems often go unnoticed because of today’s efficient hydroponic setups. It is not necessary to hand-water and inspect your plants as much if you have the right timers and pumps. Checking your crops periodically for the following indoor plant problems will help prevent a major infestation in your garden.
Why they occur
Growing conditions for indoor gardens are quite different than those found outside. Outdoor crops must face a variety of weather conditions, from gusting wind to extreme heat. The challenging environment makes outdoor plants stronger as they go through the various seasons. Indoor plants do not get the benefit of these environmental stressors, which makes them more vulnerable to damage. Compounding the problem is the controlled, warm environment of most indoor gardens, which is perfect for fungi and bugs.
Inspect the leaves
Check your plants’ leaves first as this is the most obvious place to find indoor plant problems. Dirt or other debris on the surface of the leaves can interfere with the plant’s ability to receive sunlight for photosynthesis. If you are able to remove individual plants from your indoor garden, it is best to wash off any dirt or dust in the sink. Use a slow stream, so you do not blast the plant’s leaves with water. A watering can with a sprinkler-type faucet also works well for cleaning off your plant’s leaves, especially if you cannot easily take the plants out of your indoor garden setup. Make sure to wash the underside of the leaves as well, since many insects lay their eggs there.
If you have seen signs of bugs or damage on your plants, you need to figure out what type of insects you are dealing with. Different insects require different types of removal or insecticide. Removal by hand and a thorough cleansing will be safer for your plants than using chemical-based pesticides, but this is very time-consuming and may not keep insects from returning if you have a major infestation. After picking or scraping off the insects by hand, rinse the underside of the leaves with a moderately forceful stream of water to remove any eggs. Scrape off any eggs that remain on the leaves, if you can see them. Some insects lay eggs that are too small to see with the naked eye. You can use a magnifying glass to
The soil itself may be the source of your indoor plant problems. Some types of infestations work their way up from the soil into the plant’s roots. Flushing out the soil is the only way to get rid of these infestations without transplanting the entire plant. Thoroughly drench the soil with water and let it seep out the bottom. If your plant needs nutrition, this is a good time to add a bit of diluted liquid fertilizer.
Plants with fragrant leaves will add a lot to your garden scene. Ornamentals that have a rich perfume such as stocks, narcissus, carnations and comparable subjects, are of course, well-known. Creating the same kind of an environment but with foliage plants will prove an interesting gardening adventure.
One of the most delightful fragrances in the plant kingdom emanates from the leaves of the diosma, often called coleonema by nurserymen. This ornamental is more familiarly known as “breath of heaven” which is an apt description. Two varieties are available: Alba, which produces white toned flowers and Purpurea which develops blooms of a purple-pink tinge. The plant has somewhat the appearance of a heath and demands a spot out in the sun. Rubbing the leaves together causes the fragrance to be more pronounced.
For a clean fragrance that will remind you of the great outdoors, choose Libocedrus decurrens. This is a California native and as such is sure to succeed in your garden. It has what is known as a “woodsy” smell; it is like bringing the mountains to your garden. This incense cedar is well adapted for the average landscape, being neither too large nor too small . At maturity, the tree should approximate a height of from 40 to 50 feet.
Libocedrus decurrens is somewhat on the formal side and this characteristic should be kept in mind relative to its surroundings. The tree has a stately shape and is well proportioned. The foliage is dense, the tree being quite full in the center. It assumes a pyramidal type of growth. The aromatic smell should aid in wiping out gasoline fumes that may blow into your garden from the street.
A somewhat taller tree is eucalyptus citriodora, so named because of its lemon-like scent. This specimen grows to around 70 feet high and gets there rather rapidly. One distinguishing mark of the eucalyptus citriodora is its white trunk that, because of the smoothness of the surface, appears to be polished. The leaves which are slender in shape have the exact pungency of a lemon.
Myrtus communis, the myrtle of Roman times and well known throughout the pages of history, is one of Southern California’s most popular hedge plants; and deservedly so. The foliage is shiny in appearance and highly aromatic in fragrance, the small white flowers give way in early spring to blackberries.
For hedge purposes you have a choice of two excellent myrtles: The common type is the large-growing specimen, going from four to eight feet. Variety compacta, which in late years has become increasingly more popular, ranges from three to six feet. Both varieties are hardy down to 15 degrees temperature and tolerate a great deal of pruning. This allows shaping the plants as wished. These myrtles also perform well as specimen plants. They require very little care.
Salvia officinalis, the green sage of the culinary arts, is as important in the kitchen, as an herb, as it is in the garden as an ornamental. Housewives who take their cooking, or seasoning, seriously are well acquainted with the magic powers of the leaves of a sage plant. It is a perennial and will continue on in your garden for many years. The blooms which appear in racemes are purple, blue and white.
We prune trees for their health and for our aesthetic pleasure. While major tree pruning is a dangerous job best left to professionals, pruning small trees is a job that can be handled by any gardener. Any job that can be managed with large secateurs or a pruning saw and does not require the use of a tall ladder or climbing equipment is suitable for the amateur.
Late winter and very early spring is the best time to prune trees. This is just before their growth period begins. All the tree’s stored energy is available to heal the wound made by pruning. If you prune later in the year, it is harder for the tree to recover. Of course, if a branch is damaged, it can be pruned in any season, the clean cut from a pruning saw will heal better than the splintered ends left by wind damage or an accident. Quick healing is desirable because open wood is an invitation to infestation and infection.
Pruning is desirable for the tree’s health. Cut out dead wood and diseased branches. Also, remove any branches that rub against each other. Constant rubbing will wear the bark away, leaving a raw spot that is vulnerable to infection and to insects. If two branches are crossed, cut out one of them before they begin rubbing against each other. When you have accomplished this, you will have a far healthier tree.
Pruning can also increase the gardener’s comfort in the garden and the pleasure he finds there. Any tree branch that crosses a path and constantly annoys walkers should be removed. If a tree casts heavy shade and you want to grow flowers beneath it, you can increase available sunlight dramatically by removing the lower limbs.
A tree can also be pruned to make it more beautiful. You can remove a misshapen growth that resulted from earlier damage (or someone else’s inept pruning). You can thin out the branches to make the tree appear more graceful. You can remove some top growth to encourage blossoms and fruit on the lower branches. Follow the natural growth pattern to enhance the tree’s shape, and see how beautiful it can be!
Where to cut the branch? Never, never cut half-way down the limb. The branch will die back to its base anyway, and the dying wood will invite pests and disease. Always cut at the base of the branch. If you look closely, you will see a bulge at the spot where a twig meets a branch, or a branch meets the trunk of the tree. This is called the branch collar. Cut just outside the branch collar, and the wound will heal very quickly.
Twigs and small branches can be removed with secateurs. Larger branches require the use of a pruning saw. Don’t try to use a carpenter’s saw for this job. The large, deeply-cut teeth of a pruning sew are especially designed to cut cleanly through green wood. If you are pruning a large branch, start by cutting from upward on the bottom of the branch, just past the branch collar. Then cut down from the top until the branch is sawn through. If you don’t make the bottom cut first, the weight of the falling branch is likely to tear a large strip of bark from the tree, leaving a wound that is difficult for the tree to heal.
Gardeners were once advised to paint or otherwise seal the stump. This isn’t really necessary if you’ve cut just beyond the branch collar. The tree can heal an incision at that spot very quickly, and paint will only delay healing.
So go ahead and cut out any dead or diseased wood. Cut out crossed and rubbing branches. Cut out unsightly growth. Arrange a junk removal service if you can’t handle it, then walk away. Remember, you can always prune more branches later, but you can’t replace the ones you cut by mistake!
Prune properly, and enjoy the healthy trees in your beautiful garden!
When it’s bitter cold outside and there’s a foot of snow on the ground, it’s difficult for most of us to think much about our backyard vegetable gardens. But to the true garden enthusiast, sitting next to the fireplace with the new seed catalog that just arrived in the mail is a great way to spend a blustery winter evening, and the thoughts of what and when to plant are a source of pure enjoyment.
Even the novice gardener may be aware of the fact, however, that in many parts of the country, the garden soil can be worked as early as late February and certainly by mid-March. If they get that “green-thumb fever,” they may be curious to know what types of plants can be started early, even if they have to wait until after the last frost before setting out most of the regular crops.
Here’s the good news…
The good news for those who just can’t wait to have something to tend is that there are some cool weather plants that actually do quite well in late winter and early spring. In fact, some of these need to be both planted and harvested before warm weather comes around. Obviously, setting plants out and burying seeds will always be subject to the complete thawing of your topsoil. Where the ground in the garden can be worked in early March, however, here are a few ideas that might work to satisfy those eager gardeners who can’t wait to get started:
1. Onion Sets. Most types of onions do quite well when they are planted directly in the garden as onion sets in mid-March. At the garden shop, the small, partially grown bulbs are usually packaged as bundles. For most backyard vegetable gardens, one or two bundles of each onion color will be plenty.
2. Radishes. Radishes can be a great fix for the gardener who is so anxious to get the season started. Planted as seeds in a shallow furrow, radishes love the cool weather, and are good selections for March gardening. Both the round red varieties (like the Cherry Belle) and the long white root types (like the Icicle) radishes can be purchased in seed packets at the store.
The gardener will want to watch these closely, however, because these guys will germinate, grow, and be ready to harvest in a short time, often as quickly as three weeks. But that’s another great advantage. Plant as many as you like without worrying about garden space. Radishes are harvested so soon after they’re planted, they will be out of the way before it’s time to work with the warm weather plants.
3. Lettuce. Leaf lettuce is a wonderful cool weather garden crop that can be seed-planted in March. The garden shop will probably have several varieties to select from, but Black-seeded Simpson is probably the most popular. Lettuce won’t be ready as quickly as the radishes were, and may take around 45 days before the gardener can begin to rob the plants for a fresh salad. You may want to consider staggering the planting of the leaf lettuce rows by several days, so the entire crop doesn’t mature on the same weekend.
4. Spinach. Another garden crop that can be planted from seeds, spinach grows well in the cool weather. A fresh salad with a mixture of spinach leaves and some of that leaf lettuce from the next row can be a real treat when those early garden crops are ready to harvest. The garden store will likely have several varieties to choose from, but Olympia and Bloomsdale are two of the more popular types, and will be ready to eat in about 48 days.
5. Carrots. Gardeners may want to wait until the latter part of March for planting carrots, but direct seeding about three to four weeks before the last frost will provide a wonderful homegrown treat in about 80 days after planting.
6. Peas. The list of crops that can be planted directly into the garden in late winter or early spring should always include peas. Peas are tolerant of the occasional frost and extended periods of cooler weather that are typical for the season. Assuming that the seeds will reach maturity after about 60 days of growth, the gardener may wish to set out several sections of peas, a week or so apart, in order to have more than one harvest when the time comes.
7. Others. While the short menu of plants mentioned here are varieties that can be placed directly into the garden in March, a great many others can be started indoors under a grow light, and then set out when the danger of frost is nearly gone. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, beets, and even some early-maturing tomatoes can be transplanted to the backyard garden bed when the weather is more favorable.
This is so true…
Regardless of where one lives, gardening can be a year-round project. Even in the colder months, planning and preparation for the busier season can keep the enthusiast occupied. For many, however, seeing something green pop out of the ground in those early months is the only absolute cure for garden fever. That is why a mini greenhouse investment in your front or backyard will definitely give you all possibilities without compromising losing any of your crops.
One of the best parts of gardening is being able to share what you know and grow with other gardeners or people you meet. Tips and tricks you have used in your own garden just might be the information another gardener needs to get their trouble plant flourishing, and a plant you noticed in a neighbors garden might be ready to divide and shared.
These are all good reasons to organize a plant swap among your friends or in your own neighborhood. At a plant swap you can share information on the plants that you have had success with or those plants that do not do well in the area with newbie gardeners. A swap takes place among gardeners who have divided up plants in their garden that have become to big for the space they are growing in or need to be transplanted.
The first thing you are going to need in order to have a successful plant swap are other gardeners to swap with. Talk to your gardening pals in the neighborhood, you know, the folks that you stop and talk to on walks through the neighborhood to admire their garden. Next, talk to the gardeners in your neighborhood that you haven’t yet met but noticed that they have some plants that need dividing. Finally, stop at your local public places to see about posting flyers for a plant swap, depending on the size of the swap you want to have.
When to Swap
Deciding when to host a plant swap is not hard, the growth of your plants and when they are ready to divide pretty much dictate the schedule. The best time of year to host plant swaps are going to be in the spring and again in the fall. Spring bloomers should be divided and swapped in the fall and summer bloomers divided and swapped in the spring.
What to Swap
Popular plants to swap include those that can always be used in the garden to create borders, fill shade and add color. Perennial favorites like Hostas, Purple Coneflowers, Asters, and Lilies are always wanted by gardeners. Other plants to include in the swap are any new varieties you have introduced to your own garden that have performed well.
Besides plants that you divide in your garden you can swap any leftover seedlings you grew for your own garden and seeds that you have collected. Make sure you include any information about planting and care that you have for all of the plants that you swap.
How to Swap
There are several ways to go about swapping your plants. You can swap using a lottery system or let members exchange among themselves. I prefer a lottery system because that way every member gets an equal chance at bringing home some of their favorites. Make sure that all gardeners involved are comfortable with whatever swap method is used before you begin.
Things to Remember
Remind all gardeners involved that the plants they bring to swap should be healthy and disease free, no one wants to introduce an unhealthy plant into their otherwise disease free garden. Include details about your plant to potential gardeners, like if you have used chemical fertilizers or if all gardening was done organically. And finally, have fun and take the time to glean as many tips and tricks from other gardeners to use in your own garden.
Hi, my name is Angela and I’m a proclaimed garden enthusiast. I do talks in our small community on all the things I learned and get to learn about gardening and beautifying my garden for years. It has been my passion ever since I discovered my ‘power’ to bring life to plants and even to those that are dying. I inherited this ‘green thumb’ from my granny who became the main reason why I fell in love with this craft.