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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.


Extend the Vase Life of Daffodils

Daffodils are a cheerful addition to the garden and your spring flower bouquets.

Extend your enjoyment to a week or more by conditioning your daffodils before adding them to your spring arrangements.

This also protects the other cut flowers in your bouquet from the stem clogging sap the daffodils release into the water. Professional florists do this for you; if in doubt, do it yourself.

In the garden you'll need to start with proper harvesting. Pick daffodils early in the morning. Harvest single flowered varieties when the stem below the flower bud is at a 90 degree angle. Wait for one bud to be fully opened before harvesting varieties with several flowers on each stem.

Recut the stem to the desired length and place in 3 inches of water. Move to a cool dark location for 12 hours. Rinse, do not recut the stems, and add to your arrangement with other flowers.

A bit more information: Follow the same steps to condition all the flowers you harvest from your garden. But be sure to always condition daffodils in a separate vase to prevent its sap from damaging the other flowers. Investing a bit of extra time will result in many more days you'll be enjoying your flowers.

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

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Diagnosing Tree Problems

We've all seen seemingly healthy trees fail. Once the tree is removed, a hollow center reveals the cause of this tree failure.
Arborists now have a minimally invasive tool that helps them diagnose the soundness of a tree. This information can help them diagnose tree problems and reduce the risk of unexpected tree failures that create a hazard for people and property.
An electronic high-resolution needle drill makes a fine hole in the tree. As it travels through the trunk it measures the resistance encountered. A print out is produced, mapping out the internal structure of the tree.
The graph line aligns with the decay pattern inside the trunk.
Arborists use the results of this measuring tool to get a look inside sick and declining trees. These test results can help them determine if a tree is a hazard and should be removed or one that can be saved.
A bit more information: A hazardous tree is one that can cause damage to people or property when it fails. Though not always easy to detect, see the Friends of Tree City USA bulletin #15 for tips on spotting and avoiding hazardous trees. And consider working with a certified arborist to keep your trees healthy, detect and manage or remove hazardous conditions.
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

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Renovating Overgrown Shrubs

Quickly tame overgrown shrubs with renovation pruning in late winter or early spring.

This drastic approach to managing shrubs is not for the timid pruner or for all plants. Many shrubs like potentilla, spirea, privet, butterflybush, beauty bush and abelia can be pruned back to 6 to 12 inches above the ground.

Wait for new shoots to emerge. As these stems develop pinch out the tips of the new growth to control the size. Then thin out a few of the stems to ground level to make room for those that remain.

Use a ratcheting lopper or reciprocating saw to extend your reach and increase your cutting power when pruning back large or hard to reach stems. Hand pruners work well for cutting smaller stems and stem tips.

Wait until after flowering to renovate forsythia, spring blooming spirea and other spring flowering shrubs.

A bit more information: A less stressful way to manage overgrown shrubs is with rejuvenation pruning. One fourth to one third of the older stems are cut back to ground level each year. The height of the remaining stems can be reduced by about one fourth as well. In three or four years you have reduced the size and improved the beauty of the shrub. For more on pruning, planting and care of trees and shrubs see my Great Courses DVD, How to Grow Anything: Make Your Trees and Shrubs Thrive.

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

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The National Garden Bureau Names 2015 The Year of the Coleus



Colorful foliage and shade tolerance gained this plant favor in gardens for many decades. But the increase in varieties, sun tolerance and our love of foliage plants resulted in 2015 being named the year of the coleus.

You'll find coleus in a wide variety of colors resulting in its other common name, painted nettle.

Grow coleus in containers or in the garden. Use en masse or mixed with other flowering and foliage plants.

But wait for the danger of frost to pass and temperatures to warm before planting coleus outdoors. They thrive in warm temperatures and struggle as temperatures linger below 55 degrees F.

Grow coleus in shade or morning sun. Or use Sun coleus for those sunnier spots in the garden. Avoid over and under watering that can lead to decline.

And remove the small flowers as soon as they appear to encourage more compact and vigorous growth.

A bit more information: Coleus has gone through several name changes in the past few decades. For many years it was botanically known as Coleus blumei and Coleus hybridus. In 2006 they were grouped together under the name Solenostemon scutellarioides. And then in 2012 the taxonomists declared Plectranthus scutellariodes was the correct name. Fortunately, gardeners know what you mean when you say coleus. For a colorful slide show of a few of the many varieties, visit the National Garden Bureau website.

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

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Indoor Plants with Fragrant Flowers

Add a little homegrown aromatherapy to your home with fragrant flowered indoor plants.

Gardenias may be the first plant that comes to mind. They can be challenging, but worth the effort. Grow gardenias in moist acidic soil, bright light and surrounded by other plants or on a gravel tray to increase the humidity.

Jasmines are known for their sweetly fragrant flowers. The Arabian jasmine (Jasmine sambac) will flower indoors for most of the year, if it receives sufficient light.

Citrus are valued for their fruit, but also produce fragrant flowers. Give them bright light and keep the soil slightly moist for best results.

Plumeria are the fragrant flowers often used in Hawaiian leis. Grow in a warm location with moist soil. Allow the soil to go a bit drier during winter. The plants usually go dormant and drop their leaves. Don't panic; new leaves will appear as temperatures warm.

A bit more information: Some orchids, hoyas and even begonias can be fragrant. Do a nose test before investing. For more on these and other fragrant houseplants, click here.

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

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Heart Shaped Plants to Give for Valentine’s Day

Looking for something different to give your Valentine this year? How about an indoor plant with heart shaped leaves or flowers.

Anthuriums are an easy-to-grow long blooming indoor plant. The red or pink heart shaped flowers rise above glossy green leaves.

Pothos and philodendron are easy-to-grow and long time favorites. Select one of the newer variegated varieties like Brazil philodendron or Neon pothos with bright lime green leaves for an updated look.

Caladiums and Elephant ears are popular in the garden, but also make great houseplants.

Or maybe it is a living heart sculpture your Valentine would prefer. Stems of lucky bamboo are often trained into heart shapes or maybe it's a topiary of English ivy trained into a heart.

Or add a few cut flowers placed in water picks to any pot of indoor plants.

A bit more information: Enjoy a Valentine's Day celebration with a friend or family member that is sure to refresh your spirit without adding calories. Join the Feb 13-16 Great Backyard Bird Count. You and thousands of others from around the world will help researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society learn more about the health and population of the birds. Beginner and experienced birders are welcome. All you need is 15 minutes or more on one or two of this three-day event. Click here to join the fun!

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Dahlias – A Traditional Favorite Perfect for Today’s Gardens

Add some elegance, color or fun to the garden with dahlias. These traditional plants come in a variety of sizes, shapes and color, making them a great choice for any garden.

You can find dahlias as short as 12 inches and as tall as five feet. Flowers can be two to ten inches in diameter, depending on the variety.

And then there are the unique flower shapes. The cactus types with curved petals that resemble spines. The fringed flowers of laciniated provide interesting texture while the ball types form balls of neatly arranged petals. And then there are the orchids, anemone, decorative, waterlily and more.

Start the tuberous roots indoors for earlier bloom in the garden. Or plant them directly in the garden or container for an added late season bloom.

Grow in a sunny location with moist well-drained soil. And add a decorative stake to support the large flowered and taller varieties.

A bit more information: Visit your favorite garden center or check bulb catalogues and online sources for an even greater selection of dahlia varieties. For tips on starting these bulbs indoors, watch my Melinda's Garden Moment video on starting cannas, dahlias and other non-hardy bulbs indoors.
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For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Moonlight (Night) Garden

Create a beautiful garden that reaches its peak once the sun sets.

A moon or night garden extends your outdoor enjoyment with white and light colored flowers that just seem to glow in the dark. They even appear to float in the air as the green leaves disappear in the dark.

Add some vertical interest with white flowered vines like moonflower vine (Ipomoea alba), clematis or climbing roses trained on a trellis. White flowered roses and hydrangeas or Angel's Trumpet (Brugmansia arborea) brighten the background. Then look for white flowered perennials for seasonal interest. And don't forget to add some white flowered annuals for season long color.

Add a few bright highlights with variegated folaige and splashes of light with silver leafed plants.

Then finish off your garden with a bit of nighttime fragrance. Include a few four o' clocks, flowering tobacco and evening stock. As always, match the flowers to the growing conditions as well as your design scheme.

A bit more information: Light up the garden and pathways with candles or landscape lighting. And increase your landscape's nighttime beauty by up lighting a few trees and shrubs with interesting form or bark.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Ketchup ‘n Fries Tomato-Potato Plant for the Garden

Grow your own 'Ketchup 'n Fries' this season. This tomato grafted onto a potato plant is sure to be a hit in your garden.

Growers have been working on grafting the closely related potato and tomato for more than 15 years. A successful graft was accomplished in the UK and is now available for home gardeners in America. Each plant will produce about 500 cherry tomatoes and 4 and a half pounds of white potatoes.

The sweet cherry tomatoes are great for snacks, salads, drying and even making ketchup. As the plants stop producing or season is drawing to an end, dig up the plant and harvest the potatoes. You can bake, mash or roast the white potatoes or make them into fries.

Grow your ketchup 'n fries plant in a sunny location with moist well-drained soil. And those with limited space may want to grow their plants in a large container or potato grow bag.

A bit more information: Grafted vegetable plants are becoming more popular. The desired vegetable variety is grafted onto a hardier rootstock. The result is a more vigorous plant with better disease resistance and greater productivity.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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How to Grow and Propagate Papyrus (Umbrella Plant) Indoors

It grows in water or soil, indoors or out. The Papyrus (Cyperus) is a versatile plant that is easy to grow and fun to propagate.

The Papyrus has long leafless stems topped by a cluster of fine leafy bracts that resemble an umbrella. Heights vary from 18 inches to 4 feet or more.

Grow papyrus indoors in a bright location and a container filled with a quality potting mix. Keep the soil moist or set the pot in a shallow dish filled with water.

Start new plants from the tip of the stem. Cut off the top few inches of the stem and place it upside down in a glass of water or well drained potting mix. The leafy stem tip will be in the water or potting mix while the leafless stem points upward toward the ceiling.

Roots and new shoots will form over the next few weeks. Soon you will have a new plant to share or add to your indoor garden.

A bit more information: There are over 500 related species and most of the Papyrus (Cyperus) plants are native to marshes, ponds and streams. The paper plant is Cyperus papyrus. The stems of this papyrus were and are still used to make paper in the Middle East.


For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Celebrate National Bird Feeding Month; Grow a Garden for the Birds

Celebrate National Bird Feeding Month by planning then planting a few bird friendly additions to your garden.

Landscape plants that provide berries, seeds and shelter make beautiful additions to the landscape while providing food and habitat for the birds.

Look for plants suited to your growing conditions that also have fruit or seeds the birds like to eat. Include native plants whenever possible. These plants also attract insects that most birds also need to eat to thrive.

Every fruit gardener knows blueberries, raspberries and elderberries are bird favorites. But so are ornamental plants like serviceberry, dogwood, spicebush and fringetree. Be sure to include a few like chokeberry, hawthorn and crabapples that provide fruit in the winter.

And even small space gardeners can make a difference. Grow a few small scale shrubs and perennials in the garden, container or even your window box.

A bit more information: And consider planting a few trees and shrubs that may take a few years to mature, but provide years of beauty and food for the birds. Sassafras, oak, hickories and persimmon are large scale plants that provide year round beauty and food for the birds.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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"It's Your Show!"
W.C. Fields was once quoted as saying one should never work with children or animals. The problem, he believed, was that children and animals would always upstage the adult performer, and what adult performer wants that, right? Recently on Conan, host Conan O'Brien probably wanted to add puppets to that list. Triumph the Insult Comic Dog was visiting to promote its new show on Adult Swim, and Conan couldn't get a word in. Triumph's show co-star Jack McBrayer just sat there and smiled. Check it out. See if you agree with Conan's assessment of Triumph's puppeteer.  
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