Get the garden ready for longer, hotter days

The longer days mean plants are having a growth spurt, so be sure to feed and water to keep up with rapid growth. Roses love a feeding in early June just after the first flush of blooms. Anything growing ina container will need more plant food.The ground is still cool and moist so continue to add trees, shrubs and perennials to your landscape. Flowering annuals can be added to the garden all summer long.

Adding more flowers to your life is not just good for you, it is good for the birds, bees and tiny insect pollinators that are trying to survive as native woodlands shrink.

Your questions

Q. We have moved to a smaller home with just a patio for outdoor space. I hate to leave my beautiful star magnolia behind. Can I dig up this flowering shrub and grow it in a container on my new patio? — P.P., Puyallup.

A. Yes, it is possible to successfully transplant a young magnolia to a large container (I did it once. Lots of digging.) The best time to move any woody plant is when the plant is dormant or leafless or in very early spring. Plants feel less pain during the transplant operation when they are under the anesthetic of dormancy. You did not mention the age or size of your star magnolia. It may be best to purchase a new young plant from the nursery that is already growing in a container. Then you can transplant the youngster into a larger patio pot without damaging so many roots. A gift certificate to a nursery makes a lovely housewarming gift, even to yourself.

Q. I bagged up fallen leaves in the autumn and stored them over the winter to make leaf mold as you suggested in a fall column. Now I am wondering which plants in my garden will most benefit from these moldy leaves as a mulch. The hydrangea, hardy fuchsia, salvias or rhododendrons? — L.M.

A. All the lovely bacteria in the rotting leaves will improve the soil around many plants but woodland plants love leaf mold the most. Your hydrangeas, fuchsias and rhododendrons will thank you for this water saving mulch. Salvias, sedums and other heat lovers will not.

Q. Can you please recommend a groundcover for dry shade? We have mature cedar and maple trees.

Thank you. — B. C., Maple Valley.

A. Look to lamiums, vinca, euphorbias and hardy cranesbill geranium for the difficult growing conditions under mature trees. These evergreen groundcovers may not have a drinking problem but they still need to be welcomed into the new growing environment and offered many a drink the first summer as they establish a root system. You can spread a few inches of mulch such as leaf mold under the trees and poke in starts of groundcovers then use wood chips on top of the new planting to seal in some moisture.

Next, make sure you water the roots of the new plantings once a week until the fall rains return. By next year your groundcovers should be off and running on their own.


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