Overgrown gardenias benefit from pruning


Q: My gardenias once had large flowers. They have declined and now have small leaves, small flowers, and lichens on the stems. Should I prune and fertilize them now to help them regain their beauty? Ruth Green, email

A: My feeling is you should wait until mid-February and prune them severely then, perhaps as low as 18 inches high. In April, fertilize with Ferti-lome or Holly-tone. You’re probably not going to have very many flowers next year but in my experience overgrown gardenias respond very well to severe pruning. In years to come, prune your gardenias after the heaviest flowering is over.

Q: My landscaper is installing some Green Giant arborvitae. Is it safe to plant them now? Brad Brown, Roswell

A: I think they would be fine to plant now through December. Quiz the installer to make sure he is giving the Green Giants a wide area in which to spread their roots, not a small hole slightly bigger than the root ball. I have seen many arborvitae shrubs suffering from drought this year. My preference would be to loosen an area eight inches deep and six feet in diameter for each one and put the shrub in the center. If your arborvitae have been growing in pots, it is imperative that the roots be untangled before planting so they spread out in all directions. None should be allowed to circle close to the trunk. It would be best if you were present for the entire process to make sure things are done correctly. After planting, watering regularly is paramount. It is hard to guess what the weather will be but my recommendation is to give each shrub 5-10 gallons of water every week for the next six months. Your goal should be to keep the soil moist, not soggy nor dry.

Q: I have a well established bermuda lawn and am thinking of overseeding with rye. Do I plant rye every year or is it a one time deal? David Scheller, Ball Ground.

A: You’ll have to plant the ryegrass every year, usually in September. Make sure your lawn is in good health first. The ryegrass will look great in the winter but will die when hot weather comes. I have more details at bit.ly/GAoverseed.

Q: I hired a company to install fescue sod. I asked them to mix soil conditioner into the soil as they prepared. They raked the soil conditioner over the soil but didn’t really mix it in. Is the sod going to root through the layer of soil conditioner? Mike Haremski, Tucker

A: In general, plant roots find it hard to penetrate successive layers of different soil types. The goal of soil preparation for sodding is to make a homogeneous six-inch strata in which grass roots can grow without stress. If the soil conditioner layer is just an inch thick, I don’t think there will be a problem. If it’s thicker than that, grass roots will tend to grow there exclusively, leading to problems with drought and heat stress.

If your company is a member of the Urban Ag Council (www.georgiaurbanagcouncil.com) you could get the association to help rectify the situation.

Listen to Walter Reeves Saturday mornings on News 95.5 FM and AM750 WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook Fan Page at bit.ly/georgiagardener for more garden tips.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Living

Interior designers won’t be decorating with these trends in 2018
Interior designers won’t be decorating with these trends in 2018

A new year is not only a chance to reflect on our accomplishments, but also an opportunity to look forward and set new goals for our health, career, relationships and home, too. While we don’t subscribe to the “new year, new you” tropes, we do believe in the power of intention setting. By clearly articulating your thoughts and desires...
Golden Berry hollies, dazzling in the winter landscape
Golden Berry hollies, dazzling in the winter landscape

Here at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens, we are like the holly headquarters for the Low Country. We’ve got the imports, the hybrids, and fantastic natives that most have never seen. Two of my favorites are outstanding deciduous natives, the possumhaw (Ilex decidua) and the winterberry (Ilex verticillata). The possumhaw is native to 19 states...
Check snapdragons, replace if necessary
Check snapdragons, replace if necessary

Q: My snapdragons look really damaged from cold. Do you think they will come back? Is there anything I can do to help them survive? Jenelle Hickman, email A: I have seen snapdragons suffer a beating from winter cold and still look very nice in April. Gently finger-squeeze the stems of your plants. If they are firm, the snapdragons may recover...
Help make a difference in a healthier food system with seed catalogs
Help make a difference in a healthier food system with seed catalogs

“I believe that the positive power of seeds is the best way to accelerate our transition to a healthier food system,” says Tom Stearns, owner and founder of High Mowing Organic Seeds. He wants to help us all make a difference in the world with the great new 2018 catalog. A whopping 112 pages of full color veggies and flowers means the resource...
Naval architect designs his own otherworldly lunar lander
Naval architect designs his own otherworldly lunar lander

BEVERLY, Wash. — Houston, we have a project. Technically, it is not a starship, but it certainly has proved quite the enterprise. Our DIY commander, Kurt Hughes, has systematically designed and built his very own livable, lovable lunar lander, securely perched on an acre of peaceful Central Washington terrain. It is out-of-this-world spectacular...
More Stories