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

‘Kodachrome’ flattens colorful source material
‘Kodachrome’ flattens colorful source material

It’s fairly common for nonfiction articles to be adapted for the screen, particularly when they detail events of extreme daring or heroism. But “Kodachrome,” adapted by Jonathan Tropper, directed by Mark Raso, takes for its source material a short, poignant 2010 profile by A.G. Sulzberger in the New York Times about the people flocking...
Comedy sequel stalls at the side of the road
Comedy sequel stalls at the side of the road

From the beginning, the makers of “Super Troopers” and “Beerfest” have built these politically incorrect odes to nonsense practically daring you to disapprove. The Broken Lizard comedy group embraces the lowbrow to predictable extremes. This approach is not aging well in “Super Troopers 2,” a film that looks way...
‘I Feel Pretty’ is bold take on self-love
‘I Feel Pretty’ is bold take on self-love

The Amy Schumer vehicle “I Feel Pretty” tackles a very real epidemic — the crisis of confidence. Low self-esteem is part of the human condition for people of any age, gender or race, but it’s particularly virulent and destructive in the young female population, resulting in eating disorders, imposter syndrome, plastic surgery...
‘Little Pink House’ explores real-life eminent domain case
‘Little Pink House’ explores real-life eminent domain case

“Little Pink House” deals with a legal case that has implications for everyone who owns their own home, or hopes to, or just aspires to having a precious, inviolate space where the world can’t get at you. It tells the true story of Susettle Kelo, a paramedic who decided she wanted to live in a quiet place, so she bought a house in...
A special relationship between a Georgia butterfly and an azalea
A special relationship between a Georgia butterfly and an azalea

Hundred of spring wildflower species are sporting bright blooms and producing copious amounts of nectar now to entice pollinators — bees, flies, wasps, butterflies, moths, beetles, hummingbirds, bats — to visit them. The insects and creatures are vital to scores of native Georgia plants for pollination, which is necessary for plant fertilization...
More Stories