Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Northern & Central Midwest

May, 2012
Regional Report

Watch Orchids Water Needs

Epiphytic orchids can tell you when they need water. The outer layer of the aerial roots, called velamen, will be white or silvery when it is dry. When the plant has plenty of water, the velamen will take on a greenish cast. Listen to your orchids and water when they need it.

Eliminate Canada Thistles

Canada thistles are showing their ugly heads this time of year. They are tenacious and respond to digging by sending out side shoots. Cut off the top just below the crown and do this every time it sends out new shoots until the plant is exhausted. It should take about a month to eliminate the plant.

Prepare for Japanese Beetles

Treatment for Japanese beetle grubs is not effective this time of year. The best thing you can do to control grubs is to reduce irrigation in your lawn. Grub populations are considerably reduced in dry conditions. Otherwise, simply wait for the adults to appear later in summer, then hand-pick or use traps. The best time to treat for grubs is in mid to late summer, when grubs are small and most susceptible to insecticides. Check with your local Extension Service for information on the best timing for your area.

Rejuvenate Hybrid Roses

Prune dead stems off hybrid roses and pull away mounded winter mulch. A strong spray from the hose is a great way to finish the mulch clean-up since it will avoid damaging stems. Trim plants back to about a foot, and side-dress with compost or rose fertilizer. Plan to fertilize again around June 15.

Plant Strawberries in Pots

If you don't have enough room in the ground, try strawberries in pots. You can use the traditional strawberry jar or simply any hanging basket, window box, or patio pot. Make sure to give the plants full sun and monitor watering very carefully. Fertilize every two weeks with dilute fertilizer.


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