Don’t worry about your lawn, think of the rhodies | THE COMPLEAT HOME GARDENER

If the soil is dry in August you’ll have fewer rhododendron blooms in May.

The second week of August is a time not to worry about the lawn but do think about your thirsty rhododendrons and azaleas. Late summer is when these spring blooming shrubs are deciding how many flowers they should produce next spring.

If the soil is dry in August you’ll have fewer rhododendron blooms in May. It is easy to hand water the shallow roots of rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias this month and hand watering plants with a hose is a great excuse to wander outdoors and enjoy a summer evening.

Provide your thirsty shrubs with at least one inch of water a week to keep them forming flower buds.

Q. My front lawn is turning brown but my back lawn is still green in places where the shade keeps it cool on hot summer days. I want to save money on my water bill – how often must I water my lawn to keep it from dying?   R.T., Tacoma

A. Most lawns need one inch of water a week to stay green but during hot dry weather the grass in Western Washington will naturally turn brown and go dormant. No worries as your brown lawn will green up again in the fall when the rain returns. To keep your water bill low and your lawn green all summer, work on a grass-roots campaign. Aerate the soil in the fall, add topsoil and improve the soil below the roots by amending with organic based topsoil that will hold moisture. In Tacoma you can use a product called TAGRO made from municipal bio solids to improve the water holding capacity of your soil. For more information go online and check out Tagro/city of Tacoma.

Q. I have a hanging basket of mixed flowers. The petunias and geraniums look fine but the blue lobelia is brown and looks almost dead. What could have killed the lobelia but not the other flowers? P.T., Maple Valley

A. Lobelia is a lovely plant but also a lush with a drinking problem. This trailing annual loves cool, moist weather and throws a fit if the roots dry out even once. New growth can occur if you keep your lobelia roots moist so cut back up to half of the damaged lobelia plant and add some fertilizer when you water.  If you don’t want to wait for new growth and an encore performance of your thirsty lobelia, you can get rid of the entire lobelia plant by cutting off the top of the plant  at soil level. Then the more heat-tolerant petunias, zinnias and geraniums will take over your mixed basket. These colorful characters can control their drinking and still be the life of the summer patio parties.

Q. My tomato plant has yellow leaves. I do see small green tomatoes. Why are the leaves yellow? P.P., Renton

A. Foliage will turn yellow if a plant has too much water, too little water, lack of nitrogen, damage from pests like mites and various disease and weather conditions. If the plant looks wilted or limp you can suspect root damage from poor drainage, dry soil or even a mole or vole. If the yellow leaves have brown tips, then too much fertilizer or sun may be the cause. Webbing on the foliage is a sign of spider mites turning the leaves yellow and yellow leaves with green veins is often a sign that a plant is lacking in iron.  Feel the soil for moisture, check for mites, fertilize and hope for the best.

More in Life

Elementary students learn financial literacy skills

Financial literacy: it’s something even older adults can struggle with. Credit, taxes,… Continue reading

Renton parkrun celebrates its first birthday with a free 5k

The following an invitation from Renton Parkrun: If you haven’t heard yet,… Continue reading

Illustrations by Rob McClurkan
Dr. Universe explains what makes a pepper hot

Ask Dr. Universe is a science-education column from Washington State University.

There’s still time to celebrate fall color by adding a maple

November is a great time to celebrate fall color— not too late to move a tree or plant a new one.

Local Allstate agencies collect donations for military families and veterans, and give $30,000 to the USO Northwest

The following from the Allstate Foundation: To celebrate Veterans Day, Allstate agencies… Continue reading

Photos, maps, fun facts make this book addicting

You know? Of course you do, because you’re no dummy. You’re on… Continue reading

Photo courtesy of Kelsie Gardner
                                Kelsie and her mom participating in a previous Teal and Toe walk.
Girl Scout raises ovarian cancer awareness and receives Gold Award

The Renton local received her Gold Award last year for her efforts

Summer bloomers can’t handle our winter weather

Cut back your summer-blooming annuals or just pull them and toss into the compost pile

Illustrations by Rob McClurkan
Dr. Universe explains wasabi

Ask Dr. Universe is a science-education column from Washington State University.

Most Read