Our newest issue of Garden Ideas & Outdoor Living hit the newsstand March 16 (I argued for St. Patrick’s Day, but there apparently wasn’t enough green on the cover!).
One of the articles that is sure to pique readers’ interest is 25 Secrets Every Gardener Should Know. Here is one tip from the story:
Get new shrubs for free. Take 6-inch cuttings from easy-to-root plants, such as willow, poplar, privet, rose, redtwig dogwood, ivy, forsythia, arborvitae and creeping juniper. Dip the cut end into a rooting hormone (found at garden centers) and push it into a pot of moist potting mix. Cover with a plastic bag punched with holes that allow the plant to breathe. Place the container in an area where it receives light but no direct sun. Keep the soil moist but not drenched. Plants should root in about 6 weeks, after which time you can gradually acclimate them to the outdoors. Part shade is preferred till plants fully establish their roots several months from now.
It looks like hydrangeas are going to be hot again this year! I’ve been getting a lot of feedback from readers about hydrangeas, we’ve been getting lots of questions about them in our Garden Doctor application, and we even have a brand-new downloadable booklet online on growing and caring for the plants.
If you have hydrangeas, here’s some information that’s handy to have now:
- If you buy a florist hydrangea and would like to plant it outdoors, harden it off first by leaving it in a shady spot for a couple of hours a day. Then a few days later, leave it out for a few more hours. A few days after that, the plant will have toughened up and shouldn’t be too badly shocked when you plant it outside.
- If you have the blue- or pink-flowering mophead or lacecap hydrangeas, don’t prune them now. They’ve already made this year’s flowers, so cutting them back could mean sacrificing the 2010 floral display. (The exception to this is reblooming hydrangeas like Endless Summer; they made some of their flowers last year, but will also make a lot more flowers on new stems this year.)
- If you’re thinking about purchasing a hydrangea, be sure you select the right type for your conditions. The easiest way to have a terrible hydrangea experience is to pick the wrong variety for your spot.
Looking for more info? Check out our Plant Encyclopedia, hydrangea slideshow, and be sure to check out the new issue of Garden Ideas and Outdoor Living magazine, where my colleague Luke Miller produced a fun piece on hydrangeas that highlights some of the amazing variety this group of plants offers.
Outside at dusk last evening with my good dogs Scout and Finch, I could still find substantial piles of snow that had not yet been melted by our recent sunny skies and 50° F. temperatures. The branches of the neighborhood bur oaks stood out like dark skeletons against the fading sky. From a tree branch, a dark form glided silently away. All three of us stopped and looked and listened.
Here in Iowa we’re in prime “owl prowl” season. Great-horned owls are soon-to-be or already sitting on their nests. But the much more common barred owls are about to start laying eggs right about now, at least the mature ones. Youngsters are still going through their initial courtship phase—much like local teens preening for the prom—defending their territories and delivering their rolling “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you-all?” call.
At least for a while now, the barred owls should answer your call—depending upon your vocal abilities to produce a reasonable facsimile of their distinctive call. You may even get the male to come closer to investigate the perceived intruder to his territory. Give it a try. You never know, someone might answer you.
Here’s what happens when you leave terra cotta outside all winter in cold climates. This one actually lasted quite a few years, so it was well made. But moisture inevitably penetrates unglazed clay and sooner or later freezing and thawing will cause it to disintegrate. The solution is pretty simple — just take clay pots to a shed or garage where they’ll stay dry for the winter. I kept this one outside all winter because we liked to put Christmas decorations in it, figuring this would happen sooner or later. Hard-fired, glazed pots fare better through harsh weather, I’m told. Ironically, I make sure to protect these pots by bringing them inside for the winter, because they cost so much more!