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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.


Forcing Bulbs


Try forcing a few spring flowering bulbs for indoor enjoyment or added beauty on your patio and deck.
Use a container with drainage holes and deep enough to accommodate your largest bulbs. Fill the bottom of the container with a well-drained potting mix. Place larger bulbs like tulips, daffodils and hyacinths in the lower level. The tallest bulbs should go in the center surrounded by shorter varieties. Place tulips with the flat side of the bulb facing the pot for a better display.
Cover these bulbs with soil and add the smaller bulbs like squills, grape hyacinths and crocus to the next level. Plant the bulbs close to each other, covering the surface for greater impact. Cover this layer with soil.
The next step is to water and then move the pot to a cool location, about 35 to 45 degrees, for at least 12 to 15 weeks. When ready bring indoors or place in your landscape for added spring color.
A bit more information: Chill the bulbs in a refrigerator or unheated garage. Water the containers whenever the soil is thawed and dry. Or sink the container into a vacant garden space in your landscape. Mulch the soil once the ground starts to freeze with evergreen boughs. This will make it easier to remove the pot in early spring.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Transporting and Care of Holiday Gift Plants

Potted plants make the perfect hostess or holiday gift. Make sure this present arrives safely so it can be enjoyed throughout the season.

Wrap your plants in paper or plastic to protect them from the often harsh outdoor conditions and jostling that occurs during transport. Remove the wrap as soon as the plants arrive indoors.

Never leave plants in an extremely hot or cold car while running errands. Though the plant may look fine when presented to your friend, the damaged leaves often turn off color and drop in a day or two.

Remove the foil wrap or bend down the sides so light can reach all the leaves and punch holes in the bottom so water can drain. Or place pebbles in the bottom of the decorative wrap. This elevates the pot above the standing water while maintaining the watertight benefits.

And always include a tag with the plant name and directions for care.

A bit more information: And give the recipient permission to enjoy and recycle it in the compost pile if and when it dies. This will remove the stress that some feel when they receive the gift of a living plant. And for those very nervous types; consider a gift of cut flowers instead. That's what I do for my mother.

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

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From the Landscape to Holiday Decorations


Add a personal touch to your holidays by creating decorations from evergreens, berries, cones and seedpods harvested from your landscape.

Balsam firs, yews, holly, boxwoods and junipers are a few evergreens to consider. Hemlocks and spruce are good for the outdoors, but quickly shed their needles inside. And though pines are attractive, this is not the best time to prune them. So selectively remove branches or purchase a few pine boughs.

Place the stems in a bucket of water as soon as they are harvested to extend their life.

Collect berries such as rose hips, winterberry and crabapples for added color. And don't overlook cones and seedpods from perennials that provide interesting form and texture.

Consider making an arrangement in a water filled vase so the evergreens will stay fresh throughout the season. Or harvest extra greens to replace those in garland and wreaths that are subject to drying indoors.

A bit more information: Antidessicants are available from craft stores and garden centers to slow drying and keep greens looking their best. Always keep greens away from open flames and discard those that become dry and brittle. For more ideas on creating holiday decorations from landscape greens visit http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-22.pdf

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



Tiny plantlets along the edge of the leaves give rise to this plant's common name. Consider adding the Mother of Thousands kalanchoe to your indoor garden.

This succulent has large blue-green leaves that cover the stem from top to bottom. Small plantlets form along the leaves and eventually drop to the ground and form roots. These small plants can be transplanted into a container of their own.

Grow the Mother of Thousands kalanchoe in a brightly lit location in a well-drained potting mix. A terra cotta pot with drainage holes filled with a cacti and succulent potting mix will insure good drainage. Water thoroughly whenever the top few inches of soil starts to dry.

Fertilize as needed when plants are actively growing in spring and early summer. Use a dilute solution of houseplant fertilizer.

Move to a cool location and allow the soil to go a bit drier during the winter months.

A bit more information: You may find Mother-of-Thousands listed as Bryophyllum daigremontianum, or Kalanchoe daigremontiana. It may take a bit of effort to locate a plant or two. Start with a visit to your local garden center or succulent nursery. They may sell the plant or know of a local source. Otherwise look on-line for a reputable source.

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

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Peeling and Cracking Bark on Trees


Cracks on tree trunks and peeling bark may indicate there are problems with your tree's health.

Start by examining the base of the plant. Trees with straight trunks, like a telephone pole, entering the ground are planted too deep. Trees planted too deep and pruned with flush cuts are more subject to frost crack and sunscald.

Deeply planted trees are also more prone to girdling roots. These circling roots place pressure on the expanding trunk and stop the flow of water and nutrients between the roots and leaves. The offending roots can be at the soil surface or several inches below ground. Look for a flattened side of the trunk, smaller leaves and earlier fall color.

Physical injury to the trunk or improper pruning cuts can also lead to frost cracks.

Contact a certified arborist in your area to make sure your tree is sound and does not create a hazard in your landscape.

A bit more information: Proper care is the best way to care for stressed trees. Make sure they are watered thoroughly as needed. Mulch the soil to suppress weeds, conserve moisture and improve the soil. Consult a certified tree care professional to evaluate the condition, and possible treatment or removal of struggling and potentially hazardous trees. Visit www.treesaregood.com for a list of certified arborist in your area.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Are Ornamental Sweet Potato Vines Edible?


Pretty to look at, safe to eat, but not real tasty! This describes the ornamental sweet potato vine. You may know it as Marguerite, Sweet Caroline, Blackie or one of the other popular cultivars of this plant.

Garden varieties of the edible sweet potato have been selected for their flavor while the ornamental varieties were selected for their colorful foliage and trailing nature.

Like the edible varieties the ornamental sweet potato vine will produce tuberous roots. The purple tuberous roots are edible but gardeners who have tried them, say they're not tasty.

Some gardeners try saving the tuberous roots overwinter much like dahlias. They store them in a cool dark location. Most gardeners report having limited success and poor growth on the second year plants.

You may want to start new plants from cuttings. Those in cold climates will need to move these in for winter and grow them as houseplants in a sunny window.

A bit more information: Start new plants from 4 to 6 inch cuttings. Remove the lowest leaf and stick the cut end in a container filled with vermiculite or moist well-drained soil. Keep the rooting medium moist. Or just buy new plants each year.

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

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Plant Morphing – Why Flowers Change Color and More



Our gardens are filled with surprises; a yellow flowering perennial that suddenly produces purple blooms, a variegated branch that suddenly appears on a green leafed shrub or different shaped squash growing in your compost pile. The science behind these transformations has allowed plant breeders to propagate and develop many of the flowers, fruit, and vegetables we grow in our landscapes today.

Man-made or nature's hybrids occur when two plants with distinct characteristics share some of these features through cross pollination. Saving and planting the seed from a hybrid's offspring usually results in plants that look much different than their parent.

Mutations occur when there is a change in the genetic makeup of the plant. This can happen naturally or be induced by breeders.

Viruses can also impact a plant's appearance. Tulip break virus causes streaking in the flower petals that led to Tulip mania.

A bit more information: Tulip mania (Tulipomania) was at its peak in the 1630s. Investors spent as much as ten times a skilled craftman's annual wage for one bulb. Those with streaked petals caused increased activity in the bulb trading market.

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Veteran’s Honor Rose



When you think of flowers that honor veterans you probably picture the red poppy featured in the poem "In Flanders Fields." But other plants, including the Veteran's Day rose have been introduced to honor our veterans.

This hybrid tea rose has bright red flowers with a light fruity fragrance. It blooms early in the season and sporadically until frost.

Veteran's Honor rose is hardy in zones 5 to 9 and grows 5 feet tall. Grow this hybrid tea like others in full sun with moist well-drained soils. Leave plenty of space for air circulation that encourages vigorous growth and discourages disease problems. Proper siting and care will help minimize insect and disease problems common to hybrid tea roses.

Use this as a specimen plant, informal hedge, in a memorial garden or near your house. Place it in an area where you can enjoy the flowers and the butterflies that come to visit.

A bit more information: The Flander, or corn poppy, is a close relative of the popular oriental. Listen to my radio tip for more on this symbol of the American Legion.

For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Needle Cast on Spruce

Purple needles turning brown and branches dying on spruce may mean the tree is infected with needle cast fungal disease.

This disease is usually not deadly, but it certainly ruins the beauty and the screening value the trees provide. Contact a certified arborist or your local extension service for a definitive diagnosis before treating. Several diseases can cause these same symptoms.

Make sure your trees receive sufficient water during dry periods, mulch the soil and give them plenty of room for light and air to reach all parts of the plant.

Promptly remove and destroy infected branches to help slow the spread of this disease. Disinfect your tools with a one part bleach and nine parts water solution or 70% alcohol between cuts.

Organic fungicides labeled for controlling this disease can be applied when new needles are about half expanded and again 3 weeks later.

A bit more information: Use needlecast resistant evergreens like arborvitae, junipers and pines to replace any diseased spruce you decide to remove. Provide sufficient space for these plants to grow to full size. Temporarily fill in voids with ornamental grasses and perennials. Remove these as the maturing evergreens need more space.

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Increase Flowering on Hydrangeas

No flowers on your pink or blue hydrangea? The key to consistent flowering is proper selection, pruning and care.

The bigleaf or mop head hydrangeas, those with pink or blue flowers, only produce blooms on the previous season's growth.

Severe pruning at the wrong time and cold winters that kill the stems back to the ground can reduce or eliminate bloom. Only prune dead and damaged stems to the ground in early spring. Wait and prune flowering stems back to a set of healthy buds right after flowering.

Endless Summer and other repeat blooming bigleaf hydrangeas are supposed to bloom on new and old growth. Moisture and proper fertilization are keys to success with these.

Or try one of the Annabelle cultivars, like Invincibelle Spirit or Bella Anna, that are hardier and produce pink flowers on new growth.

A bit more information: Make sure the soil is moist, not wet from spring through summer to encourage flowering on the repeat blooming hydrangeas. Apply an organic fertilizer, like Milorganite once in spring. Research found that when the microorganisms work on releasing the nutrients from Milorganite, they also make some of the soil bound phosphorous available to the plants. This helps promote flowering.

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Fall Color and Care of Bald Cypress

Add some airy texture and fall color to the landscape with a bald cypress. The ferny leaves turn a beautiful coppery bronze before dropping to the ground in fall.

Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), larches including tamarack and dawn redwoods are all deciduous conifers. This means they produce cones like pines and spruces, but lose their needles each fall. New needles will appear in spring.

Fall color and needle drop at other times can be caused by transplant shock, extended drought and other environmental stressors.

Proper watering, mulching and care especially in the first few years will improve the health and longevity of all your trees.

Bald cypress grows best in moist sandy loam soil, but I have seen them grown successfully in clay soils and as street trees. The trees may suffer chlorosis, yellowing of needles, in high pH soils.

A bit more information: Don't worry about knees popping up in the lawn. These oxygen fixing knobby root growths that we call knees appear when a tree is grown in water.

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Insensitive or Sincere?
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Bye Bye Clydesdales?
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"I See a Darkness in You"
Forcing Bulbs
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