7/13/2012 10:00:00 PM Column: No weeds, no bugs and plenty of blooms
Courtesy Heatwave hyssop has a spicy licorice-scented foliage that attracts humans and hummers.
Ken Lain The Mountain Gardener
Summer brings Russian sage in all its glory. However, it is so happy in mountain landscapes that this stunningly dramatic plant can get out of control or become difficult to maintain. That violet color also can seem overdone and overbearing in a neighborhood. Don't get me wrong, I love the easy care and bright look of Russian sage, but there are some new choices that combine well as companion plants, and a plant that serves as an outright replacement. All these choices come without the suckers and sage seed volunteers popping up where they're not wanted. The new Heatwave hyssop is an excellent alternative.
The spicy, licorice-scented foliage of Heatwave hyssop attracts humans and hummingbirds alike. This hardy option to Russian sage has eye-catching lavender-pink flowers that hover over its aromatic green foliage. A knee-high showoff, it is perfect for landscape hotspots where it will provide summer-long color for years to come. It is one of those heat-loving perennials you will find at garden centers only when the temperature hits the 90-degree mark. Hyssop loves being planted in the summer.
With the start of the rainy season, weeds have begun their summer migration into our yards. Unlike glyphosates such as KleenUp, Roundup and Weed Beater Ultra, weed preventers keep seeds from ever emerging. These products dramatically cut back on weeds without affecting the desired plants in a landscape. However, timing is everything when using weed preventers as they must be applied before weeds start to grow.
Weed Beater Complete is one of those magic new products that accomplish several laborious gardening tasks in one application. This unique product provides both pre-emergent and post-emergent control of both grassy and broadleaf weeds, and works amazingly well on our native weeds. Administered through a hand spreader like any granular fertilizer, the systemic action is absorbed through the leaves and carried down to the roots where it inhibits cell division and disrupts photosynthesis. Amazingly, it also prevents future weed seeds from emerging! It definitely is a time saver if you have weeds already up in the landscape and want to dramatically reduce weeds that will come up in the yard later.
The average yard will use about two or three bags of weed preventer, with each bag worth its cost. Spend the energy and money now to eliminate present weeds and those that usually appear as the season progresses. You will be able to sit back and relax while thinking to yourself: "That mountain gardener's advice is near genius, and I was utterly brilliant to follow it!"
If your summer plants have not bloomed yet, or their growth seems slow and their colors pale, or if you just want bigger shade trees and healthier natives, this is the time for a summer feeding. Apply plant food in the landscape within the next two to three weeks. I fertilized my own landscape just as this week's rain hit. Talk about perfect timing! Many ask, "What did you use to feed your landscape, Ken?"
I used a special formula created just for our mountain landscape. It was three years in the making, and WOW, do plants love the taste! I developed it and appropriately named it All Purpose Plant Food. This all-natural food is perfect on anything in every yard. Lawns, trees, shrubs, flowers, container gardens and roses thrive on it. All Purpose is specific to our region, easy to use, difficult to make a mistake with, and a must for all our summer bloomers to look their best.
Some bits of advice when using fertilizer, whether synthetic or all natural: Don't allow plant foods to rest on the foliage because the leaves can become spotted. Shake the leaves or hose off any excess that may settle on them. After applying this summer meal on lawns and flowers, be sure to run the irrigation. Do not let granular foods remain in the hearts of agaves and yuccas, as this can cause serious damage to the plants.
The best placement of plant food is always at the outer edge of a plant's drip line. If you're not sure where to put your food, imagine that you are a tree, then fully extend your arms, and envision placing most of the plant food in the area from your elbow out to your fingertips. This comparable area under a plant is the location of most of the feeder roots, those fine root hairs designed to pick up food and water. Roots directly under the trunk of a plant are simply there to hold up the plant and support it and are unable to absorb plant food. With properly placed and thoroughly watered-in plant food, it won't be long 'til our gardens are filled with blossoms!
You are invited to this morning's free gardening class. It begins at 9:30 and is titled "No Weeds, No Bugs, No Problems." We will take a deep plunge into the subjects of pesky weeds and bugs. July 21 our topic will be "Vibrant Green Lawns to Life," held right here on the garden center grounds. Classes held in the middle of a greenhouse are inspirational and lots of fun, so we hope you will join us.
Until next week, I'll see you at the garden center.
Throughout the week, Ken Lain is at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Road, Prescott, and can be contacted through his web site at www.wattersonline.com. Ken says, "My personal mission is to help local homeowners garden better in our mountain landscapes."