Home & Garden

Wichita gardener’s almanac for March 5, 2016

Paul James will give two presentations Saturday at the Outdoor Living & Landscape Show.
Paul James will give two presentations Saturday at the Outdoor Living & Landscape Show. Courtesy photo

Eau de spring — The march of warm weather continues into March, with plants growing ahead of schedule and gardeners hoping temperatures don’t dive at just the wrong moment. Also in the air: the smell of lawn chemicals, being sprayed even in the heavy wind this week. Be sure to avoid chances of drift when using pesticides. Calm days seem to be the exception rather than the rule lately.

Avoid bolting and buttoning — Keep broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower growing actively so that they don’t bolt (go to seed) or button (produce a tiny head), Ward Upham of K-State writes in this week’s Horticulture 2016 newsletter. If you’re starting plants from seeds, that means keeping them fertilized and in plenty of light. Natural sunlight often isn’t enough when they’re started indoors, and they need a grow light.

If you are buying plants from a garden center, look for small, stocky, dark green plants, Upham writes. Fertilize them with a starter solution at planting time, then fertilize every two to three weeks until harvest. Once crops button or bolt, there’s no reversing the process, Upham says.

Cut back ornamental grass — Ornamental grasses are starting to grow through last year’s dried foliage, so it’s time to remove the dead stuff. You can use hand clippers, weed whips or even a chain saw depending on how wide the shaft of foliage is, Upham says. If you use a chain saw, use the top of the chain saw bar so the saw doesn’t pull in debris and clog, he says. It also can be helpful to tie the foliage together before cutting. If the center of the clump doesn’t show much growth, you can divide the clump by digging it up and separating out the vigorous growth on the edge of the clump and replanting it, Upham says.

Pruning shrubs — Some shrubs that bloom on a current season’s growth or that do not produce ornamental flowers can be pruned now, including Rose-of-Sharon, pyracantha, Bumald spirea and Japanese spirea, Upham writes. There is no need to use any paint or sealer to treat the cuts. Wait until after flowering to prune shrubs such as forsythia, lilac, flowering quince, Vanhoutte spirea, bridal wreath spirea and sweet mockorange.

Upham gives these ways of pruning:

▪ You can thin branches from a shrub that is too dense, removing most of the inward-growing twigs by cutting them back to a larger branch or just above an outward-facing bud. On multi-stemmed shrubs, the oldest canes may be completely removed.

▪ To reduce height or keep a bush compact, remove the end of a branch by cutting it back to a bud. Don’t make all the branches a uniform height, or you’ll have a witches-broom effect.

▪ Certain multi-stem shrubs that have become too large, with many old branches, can be cut down to 3 to 5 inches. These include spirea, forsythia, pyracantha, ninebark, Russian almond, little leaf mock orange, shrub roses and flowering quince.

Repotting houseplants — When outdoor plants are putting on growth, indoor plants usually follow suit, Upham says. You may want to check them now to see if they need to be repotted. First, work the plant out of the pot. If you see a clear network of roots, it’s time to repot. This happens once a year for most plants, though some vigorous growers need it more often, and some less, he says. If the original pot is less than 10 inches across, move up an inch in size; if it’s 10 inches or larger, look for a pot 2 inches wider. Be sure the plant sits at the same level in the new pot that it did in the old, placing enough soil in the bottom and firming the plant in place to be sure it doesn’t settle. Water the plant thoroughly in the new pot, but be careful not to overwater the first two weeks, Upham says. Until the roots penetrate into the soil, it tends to stay wet, which can lead to rot.

Garden events

Outdoor Living & Landscape Show — The Outdoor Living & Landscape Show continues this weekend at Century II. Eight display gardens, 150 vendors and several garden seminars are part of the show. “The Gardener Guy” Paul James, formerly of HGTV, will make two appearances, at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday.

Show hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $9, $7 for seniors, and $4 for ages 5 to 12; children 4 and under get in free. Free parking is available at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, 300 S. Sycamore, with free shuttle service to Century II. More information: www.outdoorlivingandlandscapeshow.com.

Irish concert at arboretum — Matt and Shannon Heaton will play traditional and updated Irish music on Sunday at Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Hesston. Food from Morning Harvest Farm will be available for purchase during intermission. The concert starts at 4 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children. Call 316-327-8127 for reservations.

“Growing Roses With Great Success” — Master gardener Cindy Vadakin will give a presentation on “Growing Roses in the Home Garden With Great Success” at a meeting of the Wichita Rose Society on Tuesday evening at Botanica. Refreshments and visiting begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by the program. It is free and open to the public.

Talk on vegetable varieties for your space — Extension agent Rebecca McMahon will be at Botanica on Wednesday to talk about choosing the right vegetable varieties for your garden space. She will also talk about what varieties have done well in the master gardeners’ demonstration garden. The lunchtime lecture, at 12:15, is included in Botanica admission. Syl’s will have lunch for sale for $8 from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Wes Jackson to speak at Sierra Club — Wes Jackson, founder of the Land Institute, will be the keynote speaker at the annual Fragile Earth Banquet & Bucket Auction, a fundraiser for the Southwind Group Sierra Club. The banquet will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at Unity Church, 2160 N. Oliver. Earth-themed items will be up for bucket and silent auction. Tickets are $25. RSVP by e-mailing yvonne.cather@kansas.sierraclub.org.

Crash course on vegetable gardening — People who haven’t had a lot of success with vegetable gardening or who feel like they’re missing some essentials can get help at a Food Gardening Crash Course on March 12 at the Extension Center, 21st and Ridge Road. The three-hour course will cover soil preparation, planning your garden, basic vegetable gardening and maximizing your space. It will be from 9 a.m. to noon, and the cost is $10. Register by Thursday at sedgwick.ksu.edu.

Grow Good Food Gardening Classes — The Extension will also offer a a series of eight weeknight classes over the spring and summer called Grow Good Food Gardening, covering topics from strawberries to tomatoes to pests to weeds. Each class will cost $5, or you can subscribe to the series for $35. The first one will be March 21, on indoor seed starting for vegetable gardening. Hours are 6 to 8 p.m. More information: sedgwick.ksu.edu.

Gathering for Gardeners — The Hutchinson Horticulture Club will have a day of seminars called Gathering for Gardeners on March 12 in Hutchinson. Doors open at 8:30 a.m. for the come-and-go event at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, 407 E. 12th, just west of the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson. Here is the schedule of speakers:

9 a.m., growing and using herbs, by Kay Neff of Neff Family Farm outside Sedgwick; 10 a.m., common garden mistakes, by Ward Upham of K-State; 11 a.m., adding color to the landscape with annuals, perennials and shrubs, by Alan Stevens, retired director of K-State’s Olathe station; 1 p.m., great native plants for your garden, by Scott Vogt of Dyck Arboretum of the Plains; 2 p.m., gardening for butterflies, by Elsie Neumann, retired Botanica staff member; 3 p.m., weed-control options, by James Taylor, retired Hutchinson Community College instructor.

Annie Calovich