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Wednesday, July 17, 2024
HomeHomes & GardensDear Garden Problem Lady

Dear Garden Problem Lady

Could you please suggest some ferns to plant?

Ferns thrive in shade and need plenty of water. Some names include Boston Fern, Cinnamon Fern, Christmas Fern, Japanese Painted Fern, Ostrich Fern, Maidenhair Fern, Royal Fern, Sensitive Fern – and hundreds more. Local plant stores will have a small selection.

 When – and how – would be the best time to divide my beautiful Azalea shrub? It finished blooming in early June, and I know Azaleas set their buds for next year’s flowers by the end of August. If I move some parts of the shrub and transplant them this fall to places where they have more room to grow, do you think a move now will interfere with next year’s blooming?

In our DC climate, hot summers are harder on tender evergreen perennials than our often mild winters – so now, in the fall, is a better time for transplanting Azaleas than spring. You won’t be interfering with the formation of blooms as long as you keep your plants well hydrated throughout the process. In cold climates early spring transplanting is recommended. In hot climates very late summer to late fall transplanting is preferred, to give the root system a chance to become established during the fall before an Azalea’s most stressful season — summer.

I’ll be planting Asiatic Lily bulbs this fall. Where in the garden are they happiest?

Gorgeous Asiatic Lilies can take part sun, but at least six hours of sunlight a day is best. They like rich, organic soil, so add compost and manure. The soil must drain well. Bulbs will rot in soggy soil. Before planting Asiatic lilies you can improve drainage and loosen tight compacted soil by adding peat moss, sand, or straw into the flowerbeds too.

Planting in the fall is ideal, giving a month of temperate days left in which roots can develop. Plant the bulbs three times as deep as the bulb’s height, with the flat end down. Mulch the soil surface lightly to retain moisture. These bulbs need winter chill to produce big blooms.

After a lovely day of weeding, digging, planting work that transports me and makes me lose all sense of time, my poor fingernails are filthy. I don’t need long nails – just clean ones that aren’t all busted.

Yes indeed. Try keeping a box of disposable vinyl one-size-fits-all work gloves near the garden door. For nail protection use supple but strong pigskin or cowhide work gloves sold in hardware stores.

The Capitol Hill Garden Club will resume in-person meetings on Tuesday, September 12, 2023 with an evening tour of the Peabody Garden Pollinator Habitat at 425 C Street NE. For more information visit the club’s website at capitolhillgardenclub.org.

Feeling beset by gardening problems? Send them to the Problem Lady c/o the Editor, Hill Garden News. Your problems might even prove instructive to others and help them feel superior to you.  Complete anonymity is assured.

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