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Wichita gardener’s almanac for June 6

Warm-season grasses that have more than 3/4 inch of thatch should be power raked.
Warm-season grasses that have more than 3/4 inch of thatch should be power raked. File photo

Check for water — We learned pretty fast this week to get back into some kind of watering schedule. And apart from the obvious pots, some things may require water sooner than you think, Ward Upham of K-State says. That’s because all the rain we had could have damaged plant roots, making them more susceptible to a lack of water. So check plants for signs of wilting or leaf scorching, Upham says, and water deeply and infrequently when needed. “Usually once per week is sufficient depending on the weather,” Upham writes in this week’s Horticulture 2015 newsletter. “Soil should be moist but not waterlogged.”

Fertilizing flowers — It’s hard to fertilize plants when it’s raining every day. If you haven’t been fertilizing, you may want to hit flowers and veggies with some now. A high-nitrogen side-dressing on annual flowers is beneficial every three to four weeks in a rainy summer or in irrigated borders, Ward Upham of K-State says. Otherwise every four to six weeks is fine.

Pinch mums — Many varieties of mums benefit from pinching once they reach 6 inches tall, Upham says, resulting in sturdier and fuller plants. Remove the top inch of growth by pinching between your thumbnail and forefinger to just above where a leaf is attached. Pinch again when new growth from the previous pinch reaches 6 to 8 inches. Be sure not to pinch after July 15.

Willow cankers — People are reporting that sections of their willow trees are dying out in the Wichita area, and it’s caused by canker diseases, extension agent Bob Neier says. It’s probably one more result of the rapid and dramatic drop in temperature that happened last Nov. 10-11, he says. It shows up as a dead spot on the stem or trunk. Neier recommends removing the canker by cutting below it. If it goes all the way around a trunk, cut it off below that point. “I recommend that you keep cutting it out until you no longer like the shape of the plant,” he says. Then it’s time to remove the tree. It can die over a period of years. Willows are fast-growing and short-lived anyway, he points out.

17-year cicadas — Things are noisy in Derby and Augusta and El Dorado, where 17-year cicadas have emerged according to their 17-year clocks, Neier says. The cicadas are found mainly in eastern Kansas and are not active in Wichita. Their egg-laying can kill tips of branches but they do no harm to trees, entomologist Bob Bauernfeind of K-State says in the Horticulture 2015 newsletter. Neier expects them to be around until mid- to late June.

Thatch — Warm-season grasses that have more than 3/4 inch of thatch should have it removed now by power raking, Ward Upham of K-State says. Set the blades to go just deep enough to pull out the thatch or the lawn can be damaged, he says. If thatch is between 1/2 inch and 3/4 inch, core aerating is a better idea, he says. Be sure the soil is neither too dry or too wet but can crumble easily; go over the lawn until the cored holes are about 2 inches apart, he says. Half-inch or less of thatch is fine and can be left alone.

To prevent excessive thatch, water deeply and infrequently, trying to wet the entire root zone of the turf with each irrigation, and not to overfertilize with nitrogen, Upham says.

Fertilizing warm-season grasses — Speaking of fertilizing warm-season grasses, many of them should be fertilized in June. Bermuda should receive two to four applications a season and zoysia and buffalo one to two applications. If you make one application, do so in June. Two applications: mid-May and July for Bermuda and zoysia, June and July for buffalo. Three applications: mid-May, June and early August. Four applications: mid-May, June, July and early August.

Plant — Beans, sweet potatoes, sweet corn, winter squash, tomatoes, pumpkins. (wait until later in June to July 4 for a Halloween-timed harvest) — and whatever else you couldn’t get in the ground when it was raining.

Beautifying Wichita — Project Beauty annually gives monetary awards to continue its mission of beautifying Wichita. This year the awards are being given to the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum for permanent planters in Heritage Park, to Botanica for the completion of the new kitchen in Lotus Hall and the Chinese Garden, and to College Hill Elementary School for its community garden, fence and metal gates.

Garden events

Eight Days of Wonder at Botanica — Botanica is celebrating the opening of its new Chinese Garden of Friendship this week. The first of eight days of activities started Friday. Here is the lineup for the rest of the week:

▪ Chinese arts and crafts for children: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Included in admission.

▪ Tai Chi & Tea: Grace Wu will give a lesson in tai chi in the Lotus Hall followed by tea from the Spice Merchant, 1:30 to 3 p.m. Sunday. Included in admission.

▪ Chinese painting tutorial: Paint the Towne will lead participants in painting a plum blossom; those 21 and older can bring libations. 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday. Free.

▪ Tuesday on the Terrace: The weekly summer event on Botanica’s terrace will feature music by Uche and a Chinese meal; 5:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday. $7 admission; dinner $8, plus drinks for sale.

▪ Lunchtime art lecture: Artists Jennie Becker and Chiaw-Weai Loo will talk about their styles; 12:15 p.m. Wednesday. Included in admission; $8 lunch available from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

▪ Sisters Cities Celebration: Chinese beer tasting, Ping-Pong exhibition by the Wichita Table Tennis Association, learn more about Kaifeng and the Qingming scroll. 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. Included in admission.

▪ Family Game Night: Kids can play with giant lawn-game pieces starting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Grace Wu will teach kung fu at 6:30 p.m., and “Karate Kid” will be shown at sunset. Admission $3 (free with membership).

▪ Chinese tea tasting, koi kites and scarf-making crafts: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday; reservations required; call 316-264-0448, ext. 107. Free; $10 to make a scarf.

Daylily meeting — The Wichita Daylily Club will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at Botanica. It’s free and open to the public.

Annie Calovich