Early spring to do list starts with getting outside

On your to do list this week should be to bait for slugs, plant dahlias, cabbage, radish, spinach, potatoes and other cool season crops, feed asparagus and rhubarb, weed and mulch around shrubs and keep mowing so the dandelion seeds don’t blow about the neighborhood. If a neighbor looks like they need help keeping the lawn maintained ask permission to get more outdoor exercise by practicing your mowing technique on their lawn.

The third week of April and color is bursting out all over – unless it isn’t. Here are the most asked gardening questions about a lack of flowers:

Q. Why is my lilac not blooming? I planted it two years ago and still no flowers.

A. Lilac shrubs may take as long as five years to be mature enough to flower. They also need a sunny site and a cold winter. This is one shrub that does well in an open, windy location. Add a mulch of compost this spring and fertilize when you see the lilac blooms fading in your neighbor’s garden. If your lack luster lilac isn’t flowering next spring, try moving it to a new location or threaten it with the shovel solution. Life is too short to put up with disappointing plants. Use a shovel to dig up the plant and you’ll have room to try something new.

Q. My rose plant has a long branch that looks nice and healthy but this rose was once yellow with big blooms and last summer it flowered very little and only produced a few small red blooms. Why did the rose change color?

A. A hostile takeover has occurred. Your original yellow rose was grafted onto a hardier root stalk and over time the hardy roots can become brazen and bold and send up their own robust branches. This is called a sucker, most likely because one can be suckered into thinking the new branch is going to be a nice addition to the plant. If you don’t dig down and cut the invading rose cane out at the underground source it will win the battle and dominate the entire plant. If little of the original yellow rose remains, it may be time for the shovel solution. Dig it out.

Q. We have a wisteria that has been growing over an arbor for 8 years. We planted it because we admire the hanging and fragrant wisteria blossoms that bloom in our neighbor’s garden. Problem is our wisteria has never bloomed! We have fertilized, watered and have lots of healthy new growth every summer – actually too much new growth that requires us to prune off the longest branches in the summer. Are we pruning too much perhaps? T. Email

A. No, do not blame summer pruning. Wisteria should still flower if you shorten the longest branches each summer. You may be giving your wisteria too much plant food. Wisteria vines flower best when slightly stressed out. Try damaging half the root system by plunging a shovel into the root zone a few feet from the trunk. Do not feed or water your wisteria this summer. Add to its stress level by yelling a few threats as you pass by. If your wisteria isn’t ’t singing “this bud’s for you” by next May, then it may be time for the shovel solution. Cut it down and dig it up. Some wisteria are just born sterile. This is one plant I recommend purchasing at a nursery with flowers already dangling from the vine. This will insure you have a wisteria mature enough and capable of flowering.

Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of “Easy Answers for Great Gardens” and several other books. For book requests or answers to gardening questions, write to her at: P.O. Box 872, Enumclaw, 98022. Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a personal reply.

For more gardening information, she can be reached at her Web site, www.binettigarden.com.

Copyright for this column owned by Marianne Binetti.

More in Life

Photo courtesy of Carol Kaelson. Christel Tucker, a Renton resident and flight attendant, stands at the wheel at Wheel of Fortune. Her episode airs Monday, Jan. 20.
Rentonite spins the wheel of her dreams

Local finds herself winning thousands on Wheel of Fortune

Photo courtesy of Patrick Dodd
                                Patrick Dodd and his father, Stan Dodd, at Hannegan Pass, Cooper Lake Trail. After Stan Dodd died in 2019, Patrick decided to dedicate 2020 to hiking and raising money to Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center.
He lost his dad, now he hikes for him

Local man turns to nature, blogging to fund cancer research

January’s Rotary Youth of the Month

Rotary members recognize three Renton School District high school students each month… Continue reading

Photo by Haley Ausbun. Have you visited the Highlands new brewhouse? The new Bickersons Brewhouse opened on Nov. 9. Two months later, Jan. 9, business leaders and the Renton Chamber of Commerce celebrated its opening with a ribbon cutting, featuring owners Frank Castro and Shaunn Siekawitch. Go bicker with the “Bickersons” at 4710 NE Fourth St., Renton.
Ribbon cut for new Renton brewhouse

Photo by Haley Ausbun. Have you visited the Highlands new brewhouse? The… Continue reading

Council gives Persson long, duly earned goodbye

Don Persson retires long Renton career

Photo courtesy of Handsome Devil Ink. Owners Maggie and Ryan Hammond with Bad Santa (center) at their annual Bad Santa Food Drive.
Bad Santa’s good charity

Local tattoo shop collects 800 pounds of food

Renton lights up for the holidays

A guided map to some of the best holiday lights in the city

Jewish students learn how to make menorahs

Home Depot partners with Renton Jewish Center for holiday projects

On Saturday, Dec. 14, 15 students were paired with Renton Police Department officers who volunteered their mornings to each kid’s family wish list at 2019 Shop with a Cop.
Renton kids get to holiday shop thanks to local police

The large police presence at The Landing Target was no crime response,… Continue reading

Photo by Haley Ausbun. Evergreen City Ballet dancers rehearsing at the Meydenbauer Center Theatre in Bellevue, Dec. 4.
From Evergreen’s Cavalier to Broadway and back home again

Artistic Director Bennyroyce Royon introduces himself with “The Nutcracker”

Luck be Renton’s lady

Chamber of commerce ends the year in style

Firefighters ring the bell for donations

Photo by Haley Ausbun. Renton Regional Fire Authority Firefighters volunteered to ring… Continue reading