A Gallery of Garden Shed Ideas

Add storage to your garden with personalized style. Our gallery of garden shed ideas shows you how.

View Slideshow

Gardening Tips for Renters

Want to bring more green to your house or apartment? Using a few easy, inexpensive techniques, <a href="http://www.thehorticult.com/">The Horticult</a> shows how you can garden like you own the place -- without risking your security deposit. You don't have to own your home to create a garden that reflects your personal style. Grow your favorite plants and create an inspired landscape -- or patio, interior, or balcony -- using these fun, low-commitment methods. (Although you might want to check with your landlord about the larger projects!) And if you move, you can take it all with you. These 10 tips for renters will give your garden a new lease on life.

View Slideshow

Editors' Picks: Top Rabbit-Resistant Plants

We've pulled together a gallery of some of our favorite plants that rabbits avoid in our gardens.

View Slideshow

Summer Garden Maintenance Checklist

Summer is a gardener¿s busiest season. If you¿re short on time or not sure what to do, follow this easy summer gardening checklist to keep your lawn and garden in great shape all season long.

View Video

Throw a Garden Party

Greet the season with friends, flowers, and ice cream floats! Featuring pretty paper blooms and a blushing peach punch, this lovely garden gathering will have you celebrating summer in style.

View Slideshow

Add Interest to Your Yard with a Pergola

Create a landscape that looks good all year long with these creative ideas for incorporating a pergola into your yard.

View Slideshow

Make a Succulent Wreath

Succulent wreaths made from succulent plants require little water and are a great way to decorate your outdoor spaces.

View Slideshow
Popular in Gardening

Your Top Garden Questions -- Answered!

Get expert answers to common garden problems.

December 24: Removing Snow from Evergreens

Question: My evergreens are covered with snow and ice. Should I knock off the snow so the branches don't break?

Answer: Evergreen boughs can break under the weight of heavy snow and ice, but use caution in removing it. Gently brush off accumulated snow to avoid damaging the limbs. If ice accumulation is involved, it's usually better to allow it to melt off naturally. Attempts to break off the ice often result in broken branches at the same time.

It's not too late to take preventive action. If you have narrow evergreens with multiple, upright shoots, such as arborvitae or some junipers, loosely tie the stems together with old nylon stockings or other soft cloths to prevent them from splitting open if weighted down by snow.

December 18: Pruning Evergreens

Question: Can I prune my evergreens now and use the trimmings for Christmas decorations?

Answer: You can give broadleaf evergreens (such as holly and boxwood) a light pruning right now. But try to limit your pruning to just removing the branch tips. Avoid cutting into old wood that has no green leaves emerging from it.

You can also harvest clippings from most needle-bearing evergreens, such as spruce, fir, yew, and cedar.

Pines (Pinus spp.) are exceptions, however. They form new buds only at growing tips, so pruning them in winter means cutting off next year's new shoots. Prune pines only early in the growing season while their new growth is soft and needles are not yet fully expanded.

That said, if you want to completely remove a lower branch or two, cut the branch off at the main trunk, and use the trimmings to create your holiday wreaths and garlands.

See top evergreens for your yard.

December 11: Starting New African Violets

Question: My friend has admired my African violet with speckled leaves and flowers. How can I start a new plant to share with her?

Answer: If your African violet has more than one shoot, you may be able to divide it to share with your friend. Carefully remove the plant from the pot and make certain that it has several main stems with roots. If so, take a sharp knife and slice between stems, keeping a clump of roots with each division. Pot up the divisions. Keep them moist and in filtered light for several weeks until new roots form.

It's also easy to start new plants from leaf cuttings. Cut off a healthy leaf , along with an inch or so of leaf stem. Insert the leaf stem in potting mix or in a glass of water. As soon as roots develop on the leaf cutting in water, repot it in potting soil. If you start a cutting in potting soil, wait until new leaves form to pot it up. Then be patient; it can take several months before your cutting grows large enough to bloom.

Learn more about growing African violets.

Get tips on making more of any of your favorite indoor plants.

December 4: Keeping Poinsettias Looking Good

Question: What should I do to keep my poinsettia looking good through the holidays?

Answer: Give your poinsettia plenty of light to keep it going strong. Poinsettias do best in bright indirect light such as an east-facing window.

These holiday plants prefer normal room temperature. Keep them from getting too warm -- they age quickly above 80F. Poinsettias are also sensitive to cold. Keep them away from drafts, and wrap them up in plastic when transporting them outdoors if temperatures are below 50F.

Water when the potting soil feels dry to the touch, but before the plant wilts. Avoid allowing the plant to sit in water for more than 30 minutes, otherwise the roots will die and rot. Watch the decorative foil wraps or plastic pot covers that come with many poinsettias -- these wraps often trap excess water. Drain out the excess after watering or poke a hole in the cover and place the pot on a plate or saucer to catch the draining water.

See more tips for growing poinsettias here.

We've pulled these questions from our question-and-answer database. Find solutions for the issues in your yard or garden in our database.

Do you subscribe to Garden Notes, our free weekly e-mail newsletter?

Click here to get your questions answered: Garden Q&A

Click here to learn more about Garden Notes or sign up!

November 26: Non-Blooming Christmas Cactus

Question: I see blooming Christmas cactuses for sale at all the garden centers, but mine isn't blooming yet. What am I doing wrong?

Answer: Christmas cactus blooms best with a combination of long nights and cool temperatures. To trigger bloom, keep your plant on the dry side. Give it at least 12 hours of darkness daily beginning about Oct. 1, and keep the temperature below 55F. A cool windowsill or unheated bedroom is often a good location provided the plant gets bright light during the day. If your plant has formed flower buds, but they are dropping off, the humidity may be too low. And if your plant has large, healthy buds, but they haven't begun to open, you may just need patience.

Learn more about growing Christmas cactus.

November 20: Pruning Spirea

Question: Can I cut back my spirea bush this fall?

Answer: The dormant season, after your shrubs have dropped their leaves, is generally a good time to prune.

However, by pruning during the dormant season, you remove the flower buds of early spring bloomers. This includes most white-flowered spireas, such as:

  • Bridalwreath (Spiraea prunifolia)
  • Snowmound spirea (S. nipponica 'Snowmound')
  • Vanhoutte spirea (S. Xvanhouttei)

Instead, prune them right after they finish blooming in the spring.

Japanese spirea (S. japonica), which has pink flowers and blooms later, is safe to prune now. This includes varieties such as 'Anthony Waterer', 'Goldflame', and 'Little Princess'.

Learn more about vanhoutte spirea.

Check out our pruning tips!

November 13: Growing Amaryllis

Question: How do I get my amaryllis bulb to bloom in time for the holidays?

Answer: If the foliage on your amaryllis has died back and is dormant, now is the time to move the potted bulb to a warm (70F) location and to begin watering it. New leaves and a flower stalk usually appear within 5 or 6 weeks -- just in time for the holidays.

If your amaryllis is still actively growing, it might send up a flower stalk even without a rest period, but it will do so on its own timetable.

You could also make your amaryllis go dormant by withholding water and placing it in a cool (50F), dark closet or basement for a month or more. After this brief rest period, it will be ready to begin a new growth cycle when it is watered and moved to a warm, sunny window.

See some of the most beautiful amaryllis varieties you can grow!

November 6: Planting Spring Bulbs

Question: Is it too late to plant tulips and daffodils?

Answer: You can plant spring flowering bulbs as long as the soil in your yard is not frozen too hard to dig. But don't delay planting if you don't have to. In order to bloom on time next spring, bulbs must develop their roots this fall. If you are unable to plant your bulbs right away, place several inches of fallen leaves or other mulch over the planting area to prevent it from freezing before you find the time to plant.

Don't miss our bulb-planting tips!

Check out our Bulb Guide

We've pulled these questions from our question-and-answer database. Find solutions for the issues in your yard or garden in our database.

Do you subscribe to Garden Notes, our free weekly e-mail newsletter?

Click here to get your questions answered: Garden Q&A

Click here to learn more about Garden Notes or sign up!

October 30: Forcing Bulbs

Question: Which fall bulbs will work well for forcing into bloom indoors this winter?

Answer: Small, early-blooming bulbs are among the best bets. Crocuses, grape hyacinths, snowdrops, early daffodils, dwarf irises, and tulips bloom well in containers after they have been given a chilling treatment. Hyacinths are also easy to force into bloom indoors. They'll even bloom without soil!

Learn more about forcing bulbs!

Make it easy: Check out our bulb-forcing timetable.

October 23: Pruning Lilacs

Question: Can I prune my lilac this fall to get better blooms next spring?

Answer: Lilacs form flower buds for the next year during the summer. If you prune now, you'll remove at least some of next year's blooms. If the plant needs just a little shaping or thinning to remove a few stems, it's best to do it right after it finishes blooming in the spring. You can also cut lilacs entirely to the ground to rejuvenate the whole shrub, but do it in mid- to late winter. It will likely take several years for the lilac to rebloom after such a severe pruning.

Check out our pruning tips

Learn about top lilacs in Plant Finder!

October 16: Growing Mums

Question: I planted some mums and they've finished flowering. When do I cut them back?

Answer: Cut your mums back to the ground anytime after frost kills the foliage. I'd wait to trim them, though, until frost hits. That said, you can certainly cut off the faded flowers; doing so will help your plants look better between now and frost.

Learn more about mums.

See other great fall bloomers.

October 9: Pruning Butterfly Bush

Question: When's the best time to cut back my butterfly bush?

Answer: Trim your butterfly bush anytime after it goes dormant --- so from winter to early spring.

Because butterfly bush blooms on new, current-year's growth, you can cut it back as far as you wish. In fact, many gardeners in Zones 4 and 5 cut their plants all the way to the ground; new stems grow from the roots each spring.

Learn more about growing butterfly bush.

Discover other great summer-blooming shrubs.

October 2: Fragrant Shrubs

Question: Are there any shrubs I can plant that have fragrant flowers?

Answer: Good news: There's a plethora of fragrant-blooming shrubs for spring and summer.

In spring, look for Korean spice viburnum (Viburnum carlesii), lilacs (Syringa selections), and various types of Daphne.

In summer, try Abelia, butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii), Carolina allspice (Calycanthus floridus), and summersweet (Clethra alnifolia).

Learn more about fragrant shrubs in Plant Finder.

Discover fragrant spring-flowering bulbs you can plant now.

We've pulled these questions from our question-and-answer database. Find solutions for the issues in your yard or garden in our database.

Do you subscribe to Garden Notes, our free weekly e-mail newsletter?

Click here to get your questions answered: Garden Q&A

Click here to learn more about Garden Notes or sign up!

September 25: Pruning Hydrangeas

Question: Should I cut back my blue hydrangeas this fall?

Answer: No --- it's best to prune the blue- and pink-flowering hydrangeas right after they finish blooming.

Cutting back hydrangeas in fall, winter, or spring is actually one of the most common reasons for hydrangeas to fail to bloom. These plants produce their flowers on last year's stems --- so if you cut the plants back, you're also cutting off the branches with the flowers.

The exception to this is the new breed of hydrangeas that can flower on both current and last year's branches. Endless Summer is the most famous of these; there are other varieties (such as those in the Forever and Ever series), too. Because they can bloom on current-season's growth, you'll get flowers if you cut them back in fall or winter. But you'll get more if you leave the stems standing.

Learn more about growing hydrangeas.

Get more pruning tips here!

September 18: Blooming Daffodils

Question: My favorite daffodils haven't bloomed in two years. What can I do for flowers?

Answer: Long-lived daffodils are typically trouble-free. But there are a couple of reasons why they may not bloom.

First, be sure that your daffodils aren't too crowded. Like many other perennials, they do best when divided every few years. Otherwise, the bulbs start to crowd each other out. If you think this may be the cause of the problem, now's a great time to dig out your daffodil bulbs and replant them farther apart.

Also: Be sure they're not getting too much shade. Daffodils bloom best when their leaves get full sun. It may be that evergreen trees have grown to cast shade on an area where they hadn't previously? Or perhaps you or your neighbors have built a new garage or shed that casts shade where there used to be sun?

Learn more about growing daffodils.

Learn about the top daffodil varieties.

September 11: Planting Bulbs

Question: Should I plant tulips and daffodils in fall or wait until spring?

Answer: You should definitely plant your spring-blooming bulbs now. Tulips, daffodils, alliums, crocus, hyacinths, and the other spring bulbs all need a period of winter cold in order to bloom and do well.

Gardeners in warm-climate areas that don't see enough cold temperatures in winter should look for pre-chilled bulbs to plant.

Learn more about planting spring bulbs.

September 4: Overwintering Perennials

Question: I'm growing perennials in pots on my deck. Can I overwinter them in the pots?

Answer: You probably can, though it does depend on where you live, how big the pots are, and how hardy your perennials are.

The colder it gets in your area, the more precautions you'll have to take. If you live in Zone 7 or 8, you may have no problem overwintering your favorite plants in pots, for example. But if you live in Zone 4 or 5, it's not as easy.

The colder your Zone, the bigger the pot you'll need to keep your plants. In Zone 4, for example, you'll want pots that are at least 36 to 48 inches in diameter. In warmer Zones, a 24-inch-wide container may be just fine.

The hardiest plants will have the best chance of surviving in containers. So Zone 3 or Zone 4 plants will be better bets, no matter where you live, but they're must-picks if you live in Zones 3, 4, or 5.

You can also increase your chances by moving the pots to a sheltered spot, such as a garage or shed, over winter. That may provide an extra Zone or two of protection.

Use our Plant Finder to learn about hardy perennials in your area.

Learn more about container gardening.

We've pulled these questions from our question-and-answer database. Find solutions for the issues in your yard or garden in our database.

Do you subscribe to Garden Notes, our free weekly e-mail newsletter?

Click here to get your questions answered: Garden Q&A

Click here to learn more about Garden Notes or sign up!

August 28: Year-Round Plants

Question: I'd like small trees or big shrubs on both sides of my driveway. I want something beautiful all year. Any suggestions?

Answer: For year-round color, it's tough to beat kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa) says Eric Liskey, garden editor of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. This lovely small tree bears beautiful spring flowers, great fall color, and red fruits that can persist into winter.

Jane McKeon of BHG's Country Gardens magazine suggests another dogwood -- the red-twig type (Cornus sericea). This shrub offers clusters of white flowers in spring, blue-black fruits in summer, nice fall color, and bright red stems that really stand out in winter. Some varieties have foliage variegated with white or cream, adding even more interest.

Justin W. Hancock, garden editor of BHG.com, recommends serviceberry (Amelanchier), a large shrub or small tree that has white springtime flowers, edible fruits (that attract birds), fantastic fall color, and gray bark that has a nice texture.

Learn more about kousa dogwood.

Learn more about red-twig dogwood.

Learn more about serviceberry.

Learn about other great small trees.

August 21: Black Spots on Tomatoes

Question: Some of my tomatoes have horrible black spots on the bottom. What can be the problem?

Answer: It sounds like blossom-end rot. The good news is that while it looks like a disease, it's not. Instead, it happens when your tomato plants don't absorb enough calcium from the soil.

But feeding your plants more calcium isn't usually the solution to the problem. Most of the time, the soil has enough of this nutrient, but conditions such as drought keep the plants from absorbing the calcium they needs.

Prevent blossom-end rot by keeping your tomatoes watered consistently. Also avoid feeding them too much; excessive nitrogen can also cause the spots.

Learn more about growing tomatoes.

August 14: Landscaping from Scratch

Question: I'm building a new home and would like a nice landscape. What does a good landscape need to have?

Answer: That's a really subjective question; there's no one best landscape plan because everyone has different lifestyles -- and thus, different landscape needs. But here's what some of the garden editors at Better Homes and Gardens have to say.

Luke Miller, editor of BHG's Garden Ideas & Outdoor Living magazine says, "Shade is a must-have in most areas, so make sure you include a shade tree in your yard." Luke also recommends using plantings to help hide the foundation of your home to blend it into the landscape.

Doug Hall, editor of BHG's Garden, Deck & Landscape magazine suggests thinking beyond just curb appeal. "It seems a waste to design a landscape that's just for other people to look at." Be sure to pick some of your favorite plants and personalize your yard.

Justin W. Hancock, garden editor of BHG.com suggests thinking about privacy. "Most people want their yard to be a getaway, so look for ways to screen views into your yard from the street or from your neighbors' yards."

Learn more about great trees for your yard.

Check out more on the basics of landscaping.

Click here for more on creating privacy.

August 7: Wilty Trees

Question: Because it's been so hot and dry, I've been watering my trees every day. They're still wilting. How can I save my trees?

Answer: During periods of hot, dry weather, it's important to be sure your plants get enough water. But be careful not to give them too much.

I'm wondering if what's happening is that your trees are actually drowning, and that's why you're still seeing the wilt. If this is the case, then cutting back on the water should help.

As a general rule, most garden plants like about an inch of water a week during the summer season. Newly planted varieties will appreciate a little more, of course, to help them get established.

Learn more about how to keep your trees healthy.

We've pulled these questions from our question-and-answer database. Find solutions for the issues in your yard or garden in our database.

Do you subscribe to Garden Notes, our free weekly e-mail newsletter?

Click here to learn more about Garden Notes or sign up!

July 31: Drought-Tolerant Perennials

Question: What perennials have pretty blooms but don't need much water?

Answer: There are lots of drought-tolerant perennials -- more than you might think! Some of our favorites include:

Baptisia selections

Catmint (Nepeta selections)

Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Bearded iris (Iris selections)

Wine cups (Callirhoe involucrata)

One note about drought-tolerant perennials: Most need to become established before they're truly drought tolerant. That means regular watering the first year or so in the ground -- after that, the plants usually get settled and require little to no extra water.

Coneflowers are popular drought-tolerant plants. Click here for a slideshow of some of the best varieties.

Sedum varieties are also a very good bet for drought. Click here for a slideshow of common sedums.

Click here for a slideshow of more top drought-tolerant favorites.

July 24: Deck Privacy

Question: I'd like to block my neighbors from viewing my deck. Any inexpensive and eye-catching ideas?

Answer: There are several things you can do. One is to put up lattice panels in strategic positions; grow vines up on the lattice to help soften the look.

Likewise, you could also plant columnar shrubs, such as 'Skyrocket' juniper, which only get about 3 feet wide but up to 15 feet tall.

Or, grow tall, fast-growing annuals in big containers on your deck. Some, such as castor beans, sunflowers, or kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate, can grow 15 feet tall or more in a single season and cost only a couple of dollars if grown from seed.

Learn more about adding privacy to your deck.

Use our Plant Finder to select other great screening plants for your deck.

July 10: Growing a Lawn in Shade?

Question: I just moved into a home and the entire yard is in deep shade. Is there anything I can do to get grass to grow?

Answer: That's a great question -- but unfortunately, there may not be a good answer. Lawn grasses are sun-loving plants. At best, the types you see sold for shade are shade tolerant, not shade loving.

You can try a shade mix of lawn grass or sod -- if you keep it well watered, fertilized, and avoid too much traffic on it, it may take hold. Otherwise, I think your best bet is to select shade-loving groundcovers. (They're a lot less work anyway as they don't require frequent mowing, watering, or fertilizing to keep them happy in the shade.)

Click here for more on shade-loving groundcovers.

July 3: Knowing Lilies

An orange Asiatic lily

Question: I love lilies but don't know the difference between Asiatic and Oriental lilies. Which are best?

Answer: The differences are subtle, but they can be important. Asiatic lilies tend to bloom in early to midsummer and flower in a wider range of colors. A few are fragrant, but most are not. Asiatic lilies are easier to grow -- especially in Northern climates.

Oriental lilies, on the other hand, usually bloom in late summer. Most have large, fragrant flowers in shades of red, pink, and white. 'Stargazer' is probably the best known Oriental lily around.

Which are best? It really depends on your preferences and where you live. Many gardeners think Asiatics are the best because they're easier; other gardeners like Orientals better because they're showier and more fragrant.

Learn more about Asiatic lilies

Learn more about Oriental lilies

We've pulled these questions from our question-and-answer database. Find solutions for the issues in your yard or garden in our database.

Do you subscribe to Garden Notes, our free weekly e-mail newsletter?

Click here to get your questions answered: Garden Q&A

Click here to learn more about Garden Notes or sign up!

June 26: What's the Best Grass?

Question: I bought a new house and need to create a lawn. What's the best grass?

Answer: The quick answer is that it depends.

There are several factors you'll need to take into account, including where you live, how much foot traffic your yard gets, and how much sun you have.

In the northern half of North America, you'll want cool-season grasses such as:

  • Tall fescue, which tolerates light shade and a little foot traffic, and has good drought resistance.
  • Fine-leaf fescue, which tolerates shade and drought, but doesn't like being walked on much.
  • Perennial ryegrass, which holds up well to foot traffic, but doesn't like drought or shade.
  • Kentucky bluegrass, which also holds up well to foot traffic because it grows fast, but it doesn't hold up well to shade or drought.

In the southern half of North America, you'll want warm-season grasses, such as:

  • Centipedegrass, which spreads fast and takes foot traffic well but doesn't like shade or drought.
  • Bermuda grass, which also takes foot traffic well and tolerates drought and salt, but not shade.
  • St. Augustine grass, which grows fast and holds up well to being walked on and tolerates a little shade. It's not very drought tolerant, though.
  • Zoysia, which is drought tolerant and holds up to being walked on, but doesn't like shade.

Click here for more information on these grasses

June 19: Can I Plant Daylily Seeds?

Question: Some of my daylilies have set seed. Would planting them be a waste of time?

Answer: Not necessarily. But keep in mind that hybrid plants, such as named varieties of daylilies, rarely come true from seed (meaning the seeds don't usually grow into plants that look like their parents).

If you want more of the same variety that you're growing, you're best off dividing the plants. If you don't mind getting surprise plants, then plant the seeds and see what comes. Be ready to be patient, though: It can take up to four years before your daylily seedlings bloom for the first time.

Click here to see a gallery of beautiful, easy-to-grow daylily varieties

Click here to learn more about dividing perennials.

June 12: What Can I Plant in Soggy Soil?

Question: I just moved into a house with a spring-fed pond in the backyard. The soil around it is soggy -- what plants will do well in wet soil?

Answer: Some great plants for moist, boggy conditions include:



Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

Perennial hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos)

Red-twig dogwood (Cornus sericea)

Visit our Plant Finder to learn more about growing these plants

Click here for more ideas

June 5: How Do I Get My Hydrangea to Bloom?

Question: I have two hydrangeas that will not flower. I've had them for five years. Why won't they bloom?

Answer: First off, check to make sure you're growing the right hydrangea for your climate. The pink- and blue-flowering Hydrangea macrophylla types don't always bloom well in areas that are colder than Zone 6.

Also be sure you're growing the right hydrangea for your spot. The pink and blue types like a spot in morning sun and afternoon shade; if they're in too much shade, they may not bloom well.

Another common problem is pruning: Don't prune your hydrangea in fall, winter, or early spring. The plant makes its flowers the year before you see them, so if you prune at the wrong time of the year, you could actually stop them from blooming.

Click here for more on hydrangeas

Click here to learn about other great summer-blooming shrubs

May 29: What Can I Plant in Shade?

Question: I have a second-story deck with a waterfall underneath. I want plantings around the pond to soften the area. Is there anything I can plant in these conditions?

Answer: Happily, there are lots of great shade plants you can try. If you want low-care perennials, select varieties such as lily-of-the-valley or perennial geranium.

You can also grow your favorite annuals (such as impatiens or tuberous begonias) or perennials in planters --- that way you can change out the plants for a different look every year.

Editor's Picks: Top Perennials for Shade

27 Beautiful Container Gardens for Shade

May 15: What Are the Best-Smelling Herbs?

Question: I want to grow herbs that smell wonderful. What are the top fragrant herbs I can grow?

Answer: Fragrance is subjective, so experiment with herbs to find the ones you like. Basil is one of our favorites; it smells as good as it tastes. Grow several plants, and run your hand through the leaves to release their aroma. Do the same with rosemary, which is an evergreen shrub in Zones 7-10. In colder climates, grow it in a pot and take it indoors over the winter.

Lemon verbena is another fine candidate with a sweet citrus-y scent. Grow it in a roomy pot that you can move into a garage or other protected place during hard freezes. Try a few scented geraniums too; they come in scents from citrus to rose and make attractive houseplants.

English lavender smells great, too, but it doesn't like areas with high humidity. If your climate is damp, try Spanish lavender instead.

Learn more: Growing basil

Learn more: Growing rosemary

Learn more: Growing scented geraniums

Learn more: Growing lavender

May 8: What Can I Grow in Containers for Hot Spots?

Question: I've tried container gardening on my sunny front porch, but plantings have done poorly in the past. What can I plant in a container that will look great all summer and survive the scorching sun?

Answer: Before picking plants, make sure you have a good-quality planting mix and an appropriate-size container. (Containers that are too small dry out fast.) Then select the best plants for your spot. For your location, it sounds as if sun-loving annuals are your best bet.

Top-performing types include sweet potato vine, verbena, annual geranium, petunia, fan flower, moss rose, annual salvia, and herbs such as rosemary, lavender, sage, and thyme.

Learn more: Discover more annuals with Plant Finder

Learn more: Heat-loving tropicals for containers

May 1: What's Eating My Broccoli?

Question: My broccoli plants are being eaten by little green worms. What are they and how do I get rid of them?

Answer: The worm-like insects (caterpillars) sound like cabbage loopers, or cabbageworms. They are voracious eaters and will chomp their way through the broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and brussels sprouts in your garden. The most effective and safest treatment is Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a natural bacteria that attacks the caterpillars. It is inexpensive, safe, and available in garden centers.

Learn more: Grow an organic vegetable garden

April 24: How Do I Keep Birds out of My Berries?

Question: I like having birds in my garden, but what can I do to keep them out of my strawberries?

Answer: The best solution is to buy lightweight netting and drape it over your plants. Make sure that the netting is rests on top of stakes so that it doesn't sit on the plants -- if that happens, birds just eat your strawberries through the holes.

Learn more: Growing strawberries

April 17: How Do I Separate Snapdragon Seedlings?

Question: I planted snapdragon seeds in a large container. They sprouted and are 3 inches tall. I'm ready to transplant them. The roots are tiny and close together. How do I separate them? Can I put them directly in the garden now?

Answer: Pop the entire mass of plants out of the seed-starting tray and gently tease apart the roots with a pencil once your plants have at least four sets of leaves. Handle the tender seedlings by their leaves rather than grabbing the delicate stems, which crush easily.

Rather than transplanting these little seedlings directly into the garden, you'll have better luck potting them up into individual pots. Grow the separated seedlings in the individual containers for several weeks to reestablish a healthy root system, then transplant them into the garden.

Learn more: Seed-starting basics

Learn more: Growing snapdragons

Learn more: The easiest annuals to grow from seed

April 10: When Do I Plant My Vegetable Garden?

Question: Does it matter how early I plant my vegetable garden? We've had a lot of rain, and it doesn't seem like a good idea to plant while the soil is wet. But my neighbor says I should be planting now.

Answer: You are absolutely right. Unless your soil is mostly sand, tilling or working it when it is wet turns it into a sticky mess. In any season, wait until the soil dries enough to pass the squeeze test: Take up a handful and squeeze it. If the soil forms a tight ball, it's too wet. Ideally, it should be slightly more crumbly than cookie dough.

It's usually okay to delay planting of tomatoes, peppers, beans, and other plants that like warm weather. However, if you wait until days become long and warm to plant cool-season crops such as lettuce, spinach, or peas, their flavor suffers and they quickly go to seed.

Here's a solution for next year: Prepare the soil in raised beds in fall and cover them with plastic film over the winter. The film will keep excess moisture off the soil as well as warm the bed earlier in spring so you can get an early start on the spring planting season.

Learn more: Planning a vegetable garden

Learn more: Frost-tolerant vegetables


Loading... Please wait...