Imagine it is late fall with longer nights and temperatures dropping, giving you a hint of winter to come. These are ideal conditions to bring out the most in chrysanthemums when they burst into bloom. In your mind’s eye, you drive by a yard ablaze with powerful autumn colors, and chances are you are seeing bloomin’ chrysanthemums.
Let this imaginary scene become a reality in your yard this fall. However, you need to plant your mums now. So come to the Las Vegas Chrysanthemum Society annual plant sale from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. (or until sold out) Saturday. The plant sale is at the Nevada Garden Club Center, 3333 W. Washington Ave. at the northwest corner of Lorenzi Park.
Like everything else, the society has increased prices, but the flowers are sold in a baker’s dozen (13 plants). The society also is including other plants, such as herbs, at this sale.
You can buy mums in white, yellow bronzes, orange, pink, red, purple and almost every color except blue. You’ll also be able to purchase the large exhibition mums always featured at the fall show. Members will be on hand to answer your mum questions.
Mums grow into wonderful mounds of flowers ideal for planting in urns, barrels and other attractive containers for display on patios, decks, front doorsteps, window boxes or by the pool. Or plant a large mass of them in beds or grouped in plantings of three or five for colorful and dramatic focal points in the landscape. They are so easy to care for. Here are some hot weather hints to help your mums survive the summer:
• Mums you purchase are ready to plant, so get them in early for best development.
• Carefully pick where you’ll plant them, because they prefer morning sun for as much as six hours.
• Check street and patio lighting in your mum area, because they require dark nights to bloom. A light left on all night will delay or stop them from blooming.
• Mums must have well-drained soil, because soggy soils quickly kill the plants.
• Work an abundance of organic matter into your soil.
• To get mums off to a rapid start, place in planting holes a tablespoon each of super phosphate and a slow-release fertilizer, and a teaspoon of soil sulfur.
• Water plants with a root stimulant for more roots.
• Provide shade for a few days to assist mums during establishment, but do not use black plastic.
• Mums can grow tall, so provide staking if necessary.
• Remove any spring buds so all energy focuses on your fall blaze of color. Next spring, you can enjoy those spring blooms and later enjoy your fall flowers.
• Mist mums to cool the environment around them and to wash off spider mites.
The Las Vegas Farmers Market is something new at the Springs Preserve, and it has been fun to attend. It features fresh-grown produce, such as oranges, asparagus, beets, avocados, squash, beans, corn and strawberries. Now tree-ripened peaches are showing up, and there will be more variety as we progress through the season. There is an emphasis to have all organically grown products that come from within 500 miles of Las Vegas. It is taking place each Thursday into the summer from 4 to 8 p.m. If you want to become a vendor at this market, visit www.las vegasfarmersmarket.com or call 562-2676.
Questions continue to come in to Dr. Green Thumb at the Springs Preserve. Here are a sampling of a few.
Q: How do you know when to harvest globe artichokes?
A: When the buds reach baseball to softball size, and are still tightly enclosed and soft to the touch, it is time to feast on them. Harvest them before the buds begin opening. If the buds open and show the flower inside, the plant will quit producing. As the weather warms, the flowers open faster. If they are let go, they will become very tough and inedible.
If the buds open, use the flowers in dried arrangements. When this happens, the plant will die down. When that happens, chop the plant back, leaving a couple of stubs at ground level. Use the leaves as mulch. This plant makes a magnificent addition to landscapes.
Q: Our rosemary plants have a white, pea-shaped substance that is like shaving cream. What is it and how do we control it?
A: Your plants have spittlebugs on them. They cover themselves in a white, frothy substance for protection from predators. If you remove the spittle, you’ll expose a small green larva. It doesn’t do any damage to the plant. If you don’t want them on your plants, wash them off with a strong jet of water. Healthy plants have minimal pest problems.
Q: Why are my tomatoes stunted with droopy, curled leaves? It seems as though the roots are not providing enough water or nourishment. I have enclosed pictures.
A: First, thank you for pictures, they make diagnosing problems so much easier. You have described all the symptoms of salt buildup in the soil. In addition, the brownish soil found at the outer ring of your dripper soakers indicates a buildup of salt. Heavily soak the area under the plants two or three times to flush away the salts.
Q: We are from Maine and want to know when to plant potatoes in Las Vegas.
A: You need to plant potatoes from mid-February to mid-March. Planting later becomes too hot, and you end up with fewer potatoes.
Water and fertilizer becomes very critical as potatoes grow. During the initial stages of growth, fertilize to get larger plants. When they start blooming, water becomes the key item to get potatoes to swell. Plant seed potatoes shallow and then pull the surrounding soil up around the plants as they grow. It is within this loose soil your potatoes grow.
Q: We planted hybrid Bermuda last year and are wondering why it won’t green up this spring.
A: Feed your lawn nitrogen and it will snap out of it in a hurry. Follow each feeding with a good irrigation to move nutrients into the rooted area of the turf.
Q: How can we stabilize the decomposed granite we just put down?
A: Level the granite out with a rake, said Pete Duncombe at the preserve. Roll it with a lawn roller to compact it and sprinkle with water and then repeat.
Linn Mills writes a gardening column each Sunday. You can reach him at linn.mills@ springspreserve.org or call him at 822-7754.