Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to common gardening questions provided by nationally recognized gardening expert, Melinda Myers. With more than 30 years of horticulture experience, she is wealth of knowledge and we are pleased to share her frequently asked questions with you here. Come back each month for answers to a new set of questions that will help you in the garden.
How can I force forsythia, pussy willows and other spring flowering branches into bloom?
This is a great way to add color to your indoor décor while pruning trees and shrubs. You can start collecting stems after they have received at least 8 weeks of 40 degree or cooler temperatures. Follow good pruning practices when collecting stems from spring flowering trees and shrubs. Cut the stems on an angle and place them in a container with a couple inches of warm water for 30 minutes. Place the containers in a cool (60 to 65 degree) shaded location. Keep the bottom few inches of the container filled with water. Use a floral preservative to extend the life and beauty of your cuttings. As the buds swell move the flowering stems in arrangements.
I planted several ornamental grasses in my garden last year. Do I cut them back to the ground? If so, when?
Prune tall ornamental grasses back to just above the crown in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. A hand pruner works fine for a couple of plants, the hand scythe available at Pasquesi works well for small and larger plantings. Use a weed whip or hedge shear will speed up spring clean up in larger plantings. Shorter grasses like blue fescue, Hakonechloa, and sedges can also be cut back when pruning the taller plants. Or just allow the new growth to push through the old leaves. Then use your fingers like a comb to remove the dead grass blades in late spring or early summer.
My snapdragons produce beautiful flowers and then stop. Can I get them to bloom again?
Yes, with a little help from you. A plant's goal is to reproduce. So once it is done flowering, been pollinated and fertilized, it starts to set seed. All the energy goes into producing the seeds to grow the next generation of plants. Keep the plants blooming by removing the faded flowers. Some plants are self-cleaning and don't need deadheading. This is not the case with snapdragons. The little balls forming on the old flower stems of the snapdragons are seed-pods not flower buds. Prune faded flowers back to the first set of leaves. This will encourage branching and new blossoms. Be patient it takes about two weeks for the next flush of flowers. Keep deadheading throughout the season to keep your plants blooming. Snapdragons also produce fewer if any blossoms during hot weather. But once the weather cools the flowers return in greater numbers.
I just purchased a new home complete with an asparagus patch. I am a new gardener and need some harvesting advice. How and when can I harvest asparagus?
Established plants (three to four years old) can be harvested in spring as the tender spears emerge. Cut or snap off the shoots just below the ground when they are 5 to 8 inches long. Cut carefully to avoid damaging the tips of nearby spears that have not yet emerged from the ground. Or snap off the spear by bending the stem towards the ground. Regular picking will give you fresh better tasting spears. Stop picking after 6 to 8 weeks. The stems will develop into a large airy plant. Leave the leaves intact throughout the season to produce needed energy for next year's harvest. The yellowed foliage can be cut back to the ground in fall or allowed to stand for winter to capture snow for added insulation.