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The Garden Mix




Nationally renowned garden expert Melinda Myers helps everyday gardeners find success and ease in the garden through her Melinda’s Garden Moments radio segments. Melinda shares “must have” tips that hold the key to gardening success, learned through her more than 30 years of horticulture experience. Listeners from across the country find her gardener friendly, practical approach to gardening both refreshing and informative! On this page, Melinda shares some more extensive garden tips, which expand on the information provided in her one-minute radio segments.

New tips are added throughout each month, providing timely step-by-step tips on what you need to do next in your garden! Visit Melinda’s website www.melindamyers.com for more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and answers to your questions.


Managing Invasive Plants



Buckthorn, honeysuckle and Tree of Heaven are just a few of the landscape plants that have left the garden and invaded our natural spaces.
These aggressive plants outcompete and crowd out our native plants, destroying the food and habitat needed by wildlife. They also invade our gardens, crowding out desirable plants.

Many gardeners are reluctant to remove them as they provide privacy or screen a bad view. Plant a garden or hedge to take its place and get busy removing these invaders.

Pull or dig small seedlings as soon as they appear. Or remove a 6 inch strip of bark around the base of the plant.
You can also cut the plant to the ground in fall and treat the stump with a brush killer recommended for this purpose. Or paint the bottom 12 inches of the trunk with a brush killer. This prevents the roots from re-sprouting.
As always read and follow label directions carefully.

A bit more information: Aggressive plants, unlike invasive plants, crowd out their neighboring plants, but do not leave the bounds of the landscape. Avoid aggressive plants, if space and time are limited. Or limit aggressive plants spread by growing them in small contained beds or containers. And do not plant invasive plants that will take you years to eliminate in your yard and nearby natural areas. For a list of the more common invasive plants, click here.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Mexican Mint or Cuban Oregano (Plectranthus amboinicus)

Add some fragrance to your indoor and outdoor gardens with Mexican mint also known as menthol plant or Cuban oregano.

This fast grower quickly reaches a height of 6 to 18 inches and a width of three feet. Grow it in containers, as a groundcover or in the herb or flower garden.

This member of the mint family thrives indoors in bright light with a bit of afternoon shade in hot sunny windows. Outdoors grow it in dappled shade with fertile well-drained soil.

The aromatic foliage provides a nice backdrop for the lilac-pink, mauve or white flowers that appear in summer.

Start new plants by dividing mature plants into smaller pieces or from stem cuttings. This is a great way to enjoy the plant indoors and out. Start cuttings several weeks before its time to move them outdoors. This plant is hardy in zones 9 to 11 and thrives in warm air and soil.

A bit more information: The fragrant menthol mint plant is a cousin to the long time favorite Swedish ivy (Plectranthus australis). This trailing houseplant is grown for its foliage. It also makes an attractive spiller (trailing plant) in container gardens.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

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Mexican Mint or Cuban Oregano (Plectranthus amboinicus)

Add some fragrance to your indoor and outdoor gardens with Mexican mint also known as menthol plant or Cuban oregano.

This fast grower quickly reaches a height of 6 to 18 inches and a width of three feet. Grow it in containers, as a groundcover or in the herb or flower garden.

This member of the mint family thrives indoors in bright light with a bit of afternoon shade in hot sunny windows. Outdoors grow it in dappled shade with fertile well-drained soil.

The aromatic foliage provides a nice backdrop for the lilac-pink, mauve or white flowers that appear in summer.

Start new plants by dividing mature plants into smaller pieces or from stem cuttings. This is a great way to enjoy the plant indoors and out. Start cuttings several weeks before its time to move them outdoors. This plant is hardy in zones 9 to 11 and thrives in warm air and soil.

A bit more information: The fragrant menthol mint plant is a cousin to the long time favorite Swedish ivy (Plectranthus australis). This trailing houseplant is grown for its foliage. It also makes an attractive spiller (trailing plant) in container gardens.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

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Attract Beneficial Insects with Spotted Bee Balm (Monarda punctata)

Many gardeners know and grow bee balm (Monarda dydima), but its beautiful mildew resistant cousin spotted bee balm is often overlooked.

You'll know it's a bee balm by its unique, almost Dr. Seuss-like flowers. The small creamy yellow flowers appear between layers of white to lavender leaf bracts. The flowers appear throughout the summer and even longer with a bit of deadheading.

You'll also find various bees, butterflies and beneficial insects visiting this native plant. The beneficial insects feed on or parasitize aphids, whiteflies and mealybugs helping to minimize the damage done by these garden pests.

Grow spotted bee balm in full sun or partial shade and well- drained soil. It is drought tolerant once established, resistant to powdery mildew and the deer tend to leave it be.

Use this zone 3 to 8 hardy perennial in wildflower or perennial gardens or to naturalize a sunny, fast draining slope.

A bit more information: Reduce mildew problems on Monarda dydima with proper siting and care. Grow it in full sun with good air circulation. Thin the plantings in spring to increase light and air penetration. Then mask infested leaves with slightly shorter nearby plantings.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

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Dry Bottle Garden (Plant Cacti and Succulents in a Wine Bottle)

Put those empty wine bottles to work as containers for cacti and succulents.

All you need is an empty bottle, a well-drained potting mix and a few small succulents. Cut an opening into the side of the bottle or purchase a precut bottle.

Place gravel on the bottom for added interest. Keep in mind that once excess water fills the gravel base the soil can become water logged and lead to root rot. So water carefully.

Fill with a well drained potting or cacti and succulent mix. My friends and authors of Planting Designs for Cactus and Succulents recommend mixing dark horticulture sand for drainage into a potting mix without perlite. You'll have a more aesthetically pleasing display.

Plant your wine bottle garden and place on a support to prevent your garden from rolling off the table. One simple method uses two corks and strong wire to create a cradle for your bottle garden.

A bit more information: For more ideas on displaying cacti and succulents see Planting Designs for Cactus and Succulents by Sharon Asakawa and John Bagnasco with Shaun Buchanan and Robyn Foreman.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

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Gardener’s Tool Kit; Pruning Tools

Before you head out to the garden to do a bit of pruning, make sure you have the right tool for the job.

Use a bypass hand pruner for deadheading and pruning woody stems up to ¾ of an inch in diameter. These pruners have two sharp blades like scissors, resulting in a clean cut that closes quickly. Look for a quality pruner with replaceable blades.
Employ a bypass lopper to extend your reach when pruning small trees, shrubs and roses. Most loppers cut branches up to 2 inches in diameter. Those with longer handles give you greater leverage. And some have ratcheting devices to increase the cutting power with less effort on your part.
Invest in a small pruning saw for larger stems and branches. Foldable pruning saws have short blades to reach into tight places. The blade tucks into the handle for safekeeping and to reduce storage space.
A bit more information: A cordless reciprocating saw with the thin pruning blade allows great access and increased power. This is helpful when pruning suckering shrubs and other narrowly spaced stems and branches.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

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Burgundy Shamrock for St Patrick’s Day & Beyond



Add a little purple to your green this St Patrick's Day by planting a burgundy shamrock plant, botanically known as Oxalis 'Triangularis'.
This beauty makes a great indoor plant or addition to the woodland garden, container plantings and flower border outdoors. Burgundy shamrock plant grows 6 to 12 inches tall and wide. The burgundy leaves are topped by dainty pale pink flowers, adding to its ornamental appeal.

Grow it indoors in a cool brightly lit location. Keep the soil slightly moist. As the leaves begin to wither and die, stop watering and allow the plant to go dormant. Begin watering and fertilizing once new growth appears in about 2 to 4 weeks.

Outdoors grow it in full sun for best color and bloom or partial shade with moist but well-drained soil. It's hardy outdoors in zones 6 to 12 and can be grown as an annual in other areas.

A bit more information: Nastic movements in plants are a response to some environmental stimulus. Oxalis is a photonastic response plant. This means the leaves open when light is present during the day and close at night.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

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Preparing Dormant Annuals for the Growing Season

Clear a spot on the windowsill and make room for geraniums, fuchsias, lantanas and any other plants that were stored in a cool dark location indoors for winter.

Plant any bareroot plants in a container large enough to accommodate the roots. Move potbound plants into a slightly larger container as needed. Use a quality well-drained potting mix and set the plants at the same depth they were growing before.

Prune stems back to 4 to 6 inches above the soil surface. Only prune the upper branches on tree forms of these plants. This encourages thicker stems and more compact growth.

Move the plants to a sunny window or under artificial light and begin watering. Water thoroughly whenever the top few inches of soil are crumbly and moist.

Once the plants start to grow, you can fertilize with a dilute solution of any flowering houseplant fertilizer.

A bit more information: Geraniums and other annuals grown as houseplants for winter will also benefit from a spring trim. Pruning plants back to 4-6 inches will encourage thicker more compact growth. Fertilize these plants once the new growth begins. Your plants will be full and ready to bloom in time for the growing season.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

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Preventing Girdling Roots

Increase the health and longevity of your trees by reducing the risk of girdling roots.

These roots encircle the trunk and interfere with the flow of water, nutrients and food reserves between the roots and the leaves.

Always check for and loosen circling roots and remove girdling roots at planting. Take extra time when examining the roots of lindens, maples, magnolias and pines that are more prone to developing girdling roots.

Dig the planting hole 2 to 5 times wider than the rootball. Roughen the sides of the planting hole to allow the trees roots easy access to the surrounding soil

Plant trees with the rootflare, the place where the tree roots flare away from the trunk, at or slightly above the soil surface.

Don't pile mulch over the trunk of the tree. This encourages adventitious roots to form on the mulch covered trunk and develop into girdling roots.

A bit more information: Girdling roots on established trees may be visible or occur several inches below the soil surface. Trees with girdling roots can have a flattened crown, shorter branches or flatter trunk on the girdled side of the tree or show signs of general decline. Certified professional arborists have had some success managing girdling roots on established trees.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

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Sweet Peas; Fragrant Cool Weather Annuals

Add some color and fragrance to your cool weather garden with annual sweet peas.

This old time favorite thrives in cooler temperatures. Extend your enjoyment by starting seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last spring frost. Gardeners in mild climates can plant seeds outdoors in fall for winter or early spring bloom. Soak seeds overnight or scratch the hard seed coat with a nail file to increase sprouting success.

Grow sweet peas in a sunny location or area with light shade in the afternoon. Water the soil thoroughly when the top few inches are crumbly and moist.

Remove the flowers as they fade to keep the plant looking its best and producing more fragrant blooms. Plants decline in hot humid weather, so have a heat tolerant replacement ready as needed. Avoid problems by planting sweet peas in a different location the following year.

A bit more information: Perennial sweet peas (Lathyrus latifolius) are hardy in zones 3 or 4 to 8. They grow into 4 to 8 feet tall vines and thrive in full sun to light shade and well-drained soil. The flowers are beautiful, but not fragrant. It has been found to be invasive in some areas of North America.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

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Transplanting Seedlings

Move overcrowded seedlings to larger containers once they have two sets of true leaves.

The first leaves that appear are rather indistinct and are called seed leaves. The next set of leaves look more like the mature plant's leaves and are called true leaves. Once the next set of true leaves forms, it is time to transplant overcrowded seedlings.

Use a fork or spoon to carefully lift out the seedling. Clusters of seedlings can be dug and carefully teased apart before planting into individual pots. Be careful not to pinch or damage the young tender stems.

Place seedlings in their own clean container filled with moist sterile potting mix. Plant the young plants at the same depth they were growing in the original container.

Continue to grow them in a sunny window or under artificial lights and water thoroughly and often enough to keep the soil slightly moist.

A bit more information: Thin seedlings started in individual containers as needed. If you planted several seeds in each small container, remove all but the healthiest one. Prune the weaker seedlings to ground level, so the remaining seedling can develop into a strong transplant for the garden.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

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Avoid Planting Invasive Vines

Avoid future problems by keeping invasive beauties out of your landscape.

Several common garden vines have escaped the boundaries of our gardens and moved into the surrounding natural spaces. These invaders crowd out native plants, disrupting the ecosystems needed by the birds, bees and other wildlife.

English ivy has long been used as a groundcover or trained on stone fences and buildings. This vigorous plant crawls over the ground or up and over trees and shrubs, leading to the death of these plants.

Japanese honeysuckle is adaptable, allowing it to invade the forest floor, roadside green spaces and wetlands. It girdles small trees by twining around their trunks.

Oriental bittersweet looks similar to the American bittersweet, but should not be planted. This vigorous vine engulfs and can eventually kill nearby plants.

A bit more information: Porcelain vine and Chinese wisteria are two more of the vigorous vines that are crowding out native plants in parts of North America. The porcelain vine's colorful fall fruit and the large purple spring flowers of Chinese wisteria reveal their destructive path into our native spaces. Find out more about these and other invasive plants at: http://www.invasiveplantatlas.org/subject.html?sub=3039 and
http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/plants/main.shtml

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

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Growing Scented Geraniums Indoors and Out

Add a bit of aromatherapy to your indoors with scented geraniums.

Give the leaves a gentle pet and enjoy the lemon, rose, apple, peppermint or pine fragrance. Place the plants in areas where you brush by the leaves or can easily give them a pat to release and enjoy the fragrance.

Though grown for the fragrant leaves, these plants will produce attractive, but less showy flowers than the popular bedding geranium. Both are truly Pelargoniums, but most gardeners know them by their common name of geranium.

Grow these as houseplants in a sunny window or a sunny location outdoors during frost-free weather. Scented geraniums are hardy in zones 10 and 11 and must be moved indoors for the winter in most areas.

Use a quality potting mix for indoor plantings or grow them outdoors in well-drained soil for best results. Remove the faded flowers and pinch back the stems as needed.

A bit more information: Start new plants from cuttings taken from healthy plants. Take a 4-inch piece of the stem with leaves, remove any flowers, and root. Or use trimmings made when pruning back your plant. For more details, listen to my audio tip on Starting New Plants from Cuttings.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

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Good Marketing? That Depends...
You've got to check out this Facebook ad campaign. The folks at Depends want you to "Drop Your Pants for Underwareness." Yeah, that's what they want you to do. So they posted a picture of what appears to be a youngish tattooed guy wearing a Depends undergarment, and let the world of social media drink it in. Half the fun is reading the responses by the Depends people to the posts people are putting up. This is going viral... Oh, and if you really feel like it, you can sign up for a free sample.   (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.0"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); Post by Depend.
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Mom & Pole & Baby Make 3
Ashley Wright is an attaching parent. I guess that means she attaches her child to herself as she goes about her daily business. She even blogs about it, using the pen name Ms. Wright. Earlier this month, she posted a video, showing herself pole-dancing with her two-year-old daughter strapped securely to her back. We're not talking about stripper pole dancing, but the kind that a lot of women are using for core training. And not the kind of thing you should be doing, I'm thinking, with a baby strapped to your back. Check out the video, see what you think...  
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