Q: Geraniums seem to always be grown in pots. Can you plant them in the ground in Atlanta, or will they do better in pots? Mary Dill, email
A: Geraniums grow fine in flower beds. I think they look best when placed to get morning sun and afternoon shade. Remove spent flowers regularly and fertilize every four weeks. You’ll have bright flowers until frost. At that time you can dig the plants and put them in a pot for indoor growing until next spring. I have tips on how to overwinter geraniums at bit.ly/wintergeranium
Q: Can I use Milorganite in the place of 10-10-10 on vegetables? We have a good sized garden and I lightly strowed Milorganite last year to keep deer away. Tony Phillips, email
A: Yes, Milorganite (www.milorganite.com) can be used to supply nutrients to vegetable plants with two cautions: 1. Milorganite (5-2-0) has only half of the nitrogen content as 10-10-10. That means you’ll need to apply it at a rate of 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet or 5 pounds per 100 feet of row. 2. The nutrients in Milorganite are released slowly, unlike 10-10-10. That means Milorganite won’t burn plant roots but you likely won’t see the immediate growth spurt that 10-10-10 provides.
Q: How do I keep a fescue lawn alive during the summer if I seeded in April? I tilled the soil beforehand and added topsoil, lime, starter fertilizer. Terrill Wilson, email
A: You’re off to a good start by having tilled before planting. In my experience, fescue that has a 6” deep root system can survive summer pretty well if it is watered a few times in July and August. Planting seed on untilled clay soil in April is an exercise in futility. Keep an eye on rainfall amounts and give your lawn 1” of water per week when Nature doesn’t provide equivalent rainfall. Don’t be tempted to fertilize in summer: it only increases disease risk. If the grass looks yellow in July, apply Ironite Plus to give it an iron/nitrogen tonic.
Q: I bought several pots of Mexican heather but I’m afraid the soil may not drain well enough where I plan to put them. I read on your website to add “organic soil conditioner” but I don’t know what that is. Lori Gunn, Clay County AK
A: You’re right to be concerned about soil drainage for Mexican heather. It originated in Guatemala and Mexico, so it loves summer heat and sandy soil. Soil conditioner is simply shredded and composted organic matter, like landscape trimmings and wood fiber. You should be able to walk into any independent nursery and find their bags of soil conditioner with little help. To make a bed of fast-draining soil, I place a 3-inch layer of soil conditioner 8 inches deep and follow that with an inch of gritty sand (not play sand) mixed thoroughly with everything else. Mix some slow-release fertilizer (Osmocote, Dynamite, etc.) into the planting hole, water occasionally, and you’ll have summer-long, flower-producing, butterfly-attracting machines!
Listen to Walter Reeves Saturday mornings on AM 750 and 95.5 FM News-Talk WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, or join his Facebook Fan Page at bit.ly/georgiagardener for more garden tips.