Heed Pesticide Recalls
Scotts Miracle-Gro is recalling several weed and feed products: 1) Garden Weed Preventer + Plant Food, also called Miracle-Gro Shake 'n' Feed All Purpose Plant Food Plus Weed Preventer; 2) Turf Builder Pre/Post 2, also called Scotts Turf Builder Max Plus 2 Weed & Feed And Crabgrass Preventer; and 3) SouthernMax, also called Scotts Bonus S Max Southern Weed & Feed and Fire Ant Killer. The recall also affects an herbicide in a combination fertilizer-weed control product used by its lawn care company, Scotts Lawn Service. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered the company to stop selling the products because they contain unregistered products and/or the labels are false or misleading. Consumers can contact the manufacturer at (888) 295-0671 for instructions on safely disposing of these products and to receive a coupon for credit towards a subsequent purchase. Or visit the Scotts Miracle-Gro Web site at: http://www.scottsmiraclegro.com.
Remove Dead Dianthus Flowers
Cheddar pinks (Dianthus gratianopolitanus) and maiden pinks (Dianthus deltoides) are lovely early bloomers that will likely flower again if you deadhead. Prune off the dead flower heads and enjoy these fragrant, heat- and drought-tolerant perennials for their bright blooms and lush foliage all summer.
Pull Back Mulch
Periodically pulling away the mulch will save many a perennial. Give your coral bells, Amsonia, coneflowers, candytuft, daylilies -- every perennial, even liliums -- room to grow. Every three or four weeks after mulching, take a few minutes and gently pull mulch out about 4 to 6 inches from the base of the plants. Moist mulch against stems, leaves, and branches encourages rot. Move it away and listen closely; your plants will thank you.
Hydrate Water-Absorbing Crystals in Containers
I usually mix water-absorbing crystals with potting soil for container plantings, especially in hay racks, stone, terra cotta, brick, and styrofoam pots. Also known as hydrogel or water gel, these super absorbent polymers absorb and hold water -- from one hundred to several hundred times their weight, depending on brand. Think of them as reservoirs that fill and empty as the soil dries out. So plump them up on first use by watering the soil mix four to five times more than you normally would. The crystals will expand as you add more water. Throughout the season, water extra generously, though less frequently, to rehydrate those crystals as well as plant roots.
Stake Tall Plants
One day the baptisia, pole beans, peonies, and Asiatic lilies are ankle high. The next time you look, they reach your knees. If you haven't already done so, stake perennials and vegetables before they topple, bend, or get overgrown. Plastic-covered metal plant grids come in several widths; plant stakes in many heights. You can cut bamboo stakes to any height needed, then wrap and run string from stake to stake.