Moving houseplants out — I won't hold my breath after assuming this for the past few weeks, but the forecast does lack a mention of any temperatures below 55. That means the houseplants should be able to safely come out.
"Choose a spot that has dappled shade, is protected from the wind and is close to water," advises Ward Upham of K-State. "A porch or a spot that receives shade from trees or buildings will work well.
"Putting houseplants in full sun will cause the leaves to photo-oxidize or sunburn because the leaves have become adapted to low light levels inside the house. Where possible, sink the pots into the ground to help moderate root temperatures and reduce watering frequency.
"If you have a number of plants, dig a trench 6 to 8 inches deep (or deeper if you have larger pots) and long enough to accommodate all of your plants without crowding. Place peat moss under and around the pots. Peat moss holds water, helps keep the pots cool and reduces evaporation from clay pots. About every two weeks, rotate the pots a quarter turn to break off any roots that have penetrated the peat moss surrounding the pot and to equalize the light received on all sides of the pot. Water as needed. If the potting soil is dry a half-inch deep in the pot, it is time to water."
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Planting calendar _ Plant plants of sweet potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and basil. Seed directly in the ground cucumbers and summer squash including zucchini, okra and melons.
Going anti-rabbit _ Rabbits and other critters are causing damage in some gardens. If you need to fence some things in, you need a mesh fence that need not be any taller than 2 feet, Upham says. The mesh should be 1 inch or less to keep out young rabbits. You can support the mesh any number of ways, but electric fence posts work well, Upham says.
Repellents are another option but have to be reapplied often. Also, many are poisonous and cannot be used on plants or plant parts that will be eaten, Upham says. Live traps can be used to collect and move rabbits to a rural area several miles from where they were trapped, Upham says. Among possible baits: a tightly rolled cabbage leaf held together with a toothpick. "Shooting is another possibility when it is safe and legal to do so," Upham says.
Storm damage _ Upham gives these tips for recovering from storm damage:
* Heavy rain: The force of rainfall on soil can result in a thick crust that prevents seed emergence and partially blocks oxygen from reaching roots. Do a light scraping after the soil surface has dried.
* Standing water: Standing water cuts off oxygen to the roots, which can result in plant damage if it doesn't drain quickly enough. Most plants can withstand 24 hours of standing water. Hot, sunny weather can make a bad situation worse by the water becoming hot enough to "cook" the plants. There isn't much that can be done about this unless a channel can be cut to allow the water to drain.
* Hail damage: Plants should recover quickly as long as only the leaves were damaged, as leaves regenerate quickly. The situation becomes much more serious if the stems and fruit were damaged. The plant can recover from a few bruises, but if it looks like the plants were mowed down by a weed whip, replanting is in order.
* Leaning plants: Wind or water can cause plants to lean. They should start to straighten after a few days. Don't try to bend them back, as that could easily break them.
"Plants of the Past" talk _ Joyce Suellentrop will be at Botanica on Wednesday to talk about the pleasures of an old-fashioned garden and about the plant material, social climate and environmental conditions that shaped gardens between 1870 and 1940. The lunchtime lecture is from 12:15 to 1 p.m. and is included in garden admission or membership. Syl's Catering will serve lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for $7.
Birding at Botanica _ Botanica's monthly bird walk will be at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Bring your binoculars for the guided walk through the gardens to find their spring winged residents. It's included in Botanica admission.
Shrub rose open house _ Roses are among the beautiful bloomers in Wichita this spring, and the master gardeners are inviting the public to enjoy their shrub roses at the Extension Center and learn about their care. From 9:30 a.m. to noon May 22, people are invited to the shrub rose garden in the gravel parking lot in the southeast corner of the center at 21st and Ridge Road. (The farmers market also will be taking place in the parking lot.) Master gardeners will answer questions about the low-maintenance roses. The event is free.