Spring is a great time to repot Christmas cactus


Q: How do I know when it is time to repot a Christmas cactus into a larger pot?Mary Wilson, email

A: I have a Christmas cactus in a 12-inch-wide clay pot where it has lived for 10 years. Every spring, I think to myself, “I should repot that Christmas cactus,” but I’ve never gotten around to it. In spring, I put it outdoors under the umbrella that is over my patio table. I bring it indoors in October. It has bloomed wonderfully every year. That said, my plant, and possibly your plant, should be repotted every two to three years, or whenever it looks crowded, for maximum good health.

Q: Autumn ferns are blocking my sprinkler heads. When is the best time to transplant them?Dick Kretzmer, Marietta

A: Autumn ferns can be transplanted any time of the year except during the hottest months of summer. Midspring is the best time to move them because you can see the new fronds unfurling and can divide plants accordingly. Ferns are not deeply rooted, so it’s easy to use a shovel or spading fork to go under a clump, lift it out of the ground, and shake dirt loose from the rhizomes. Autumn ferns grow best in light shade or in places where they get lots of morning sun but shade after 3 p.m.

Q: Where do I find triple ground mulch like I used in Pennsylvania? It looks great and it works wonders under shrubs.Carole Lauchner, Cumming

A: Due to shipping costs, mulch is usually generated from local sources. Triple ground bark mulch might be common up North for the same reason that pine straw and pine bark chips are readily available here. Some of the local bulk landscape supply places sell a double ground bark material that could be workable for you, but it might be a bit too coarse. Almost all of these companies stock a product called aged pine fines. It’s pine bark that’s been ground and screened to have particle sizes less than 1/4 inch. I’ve seen the same ground pine bark sold as “bark mulch” in bags at local nurseries. Look around for split bags to see if what’s inside will work for you.

Q: For many years, I planted impatiens in my shaded areas. I read that they have developed some kind of disease and weren’t available at nurseries anymore. I saw a packet of impatiens seeds, so I bought them. Now I’m wondering if they are safe to plant and if the disease has been eradicated.Jackie Stewart, Cobb County

A: The disease that has affected impatiens so rampantly is called downy mildew. Your information is correct that once established in a bed, the disease stays there for years. It’s possible for downy mildew to be transmitted by seed, but I doubt very much that seed companies are selling a contaminated product. When you plant, remember that impatiens seeds should not be covered with soil, just gently patted into the soil surface so light hits them and initiates germination.

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.

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