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What’s the Best Potting Medium for Orchids?


“Which is the best medium for potting orchids – orchid bark or sphagnum peat moss?” Question from Susan from Pembroke Pines, Florida.
Answer: Good question! It depends on the type of orchid that you are growing and how it naturally grows in the wild.
Epiphytic orchids grow in trees in the tropics and subtropics. Their large roots cling to bark and tree crevices, so these orchids […]

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Why Won’t My Red Spider Lilies Bloom?


“I have red spider lilies that have never bloomed.  How can I get them to bloom?” Question from Teresa of Rincon, Georgia
Answer: Late-summer-blooming red spider lilies (Lycoris radiata) are really lovely with their bare scapes of spidery red flowers. Do yours produce nice, lush foliage early in the season, and have they been in the ground for long? Either way, there are several reasons […]

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What are the Best Perennials for Clay Soils?

Coneflowers of all types grow well in clay soils and look beautiful in summer. (Image by Jessie Keith)
“What are the best perennials for clay-based soils? Thanks!” Question from Trish of Newton, New Jersey
Answer: There are lots of exceptional perennials adapted to clay soils, and many of the best are regional natives. Here are nine perennials that are beautiful, native, and well-adapted to clay soils in […]

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Do Pansies Have Seedlings that Overwinter?

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“Do pansies have seedlings that you can save for the next year?” Question from April of Dresden, Tennessee
Answer: Yes! Pansies (Viola x wittrockiana, USDA Hardiness Zones 7-10) often self sow in the garden, and their seedlings always produce pretty flowers. At least that has been my experience. Down in Tennessee, your pansy seedlings should overwinter in your garden. I live in USDA Hardiness Zone […]

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How Do You Manage Japanese Beetles?

 “How do you recommend dealing with Japanese beetles?” Question from Debbie of Lapeer, Michigan
Answer: I know that Japanese beetles are a chronic seasonal problem in Michigan, laying in wait to devastate roses, hibiscus, and many other ornamentals in the summer months. These voracious eaters are known to feed on over 300 plant species. They skeletonize leaves and flowers, weakening plants and making beautiful specimens […]

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How Do You Plant Cyclamen?


What is the best way to plant Cyclamen? Question from Melba of Texas
Answer: It depends on whether you are planting tender, greenhouse-grown Cyclamen in pots or hardy Cyclamen in the ground. I’ll cover the planting details for both and how to get them to bloom beautifully.
Potted Cyclamen
Cyclamen grow best in well-drained potting mix that is kept just moist, never wet. Water them just from […]

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How Do I Protect My Potted Hydrangea in Winter?


“What am I supposed to do with my potted hydrangea in the winter? It’s too big to move around. I did cover it with leaves and pine needles. It lost all its leaves. Is that normal?” Question from Kriss of Steilacoom, Washington.
Answer: Most hydrangeas are deciduous, which means they drop their leaves in winter. Potted specimens are most often big leaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla), particularly […]

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How Do You Keep Spring Bulbs from Rotting?


“How do you keep spring bulbs from rotting?” Question from Pam of Fort Worth, Texas
Answer: There are several reasons your spring bulbs could be rotting. Here are a few possibilities and solutions.
Warm Zone Spring Bulbs
Your USDA Hardiness Zone 8 location is just on the edge of spring bulb-growing country. Most old-fashioned, cherished spring bulbs, like standard crocus, daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips, won’t survive in zones […]

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When Do I Start My Garden Seeds?


“How early can I start seeds in lower Michigan? Question from William of Southgate, Michigan
Answer: It depends on whether you are growing, annuals, perennials, summer vegetables or spring vegetables. Here’s what I suggest for your USDA Hardiness Zone 6 planting area. (These suggestions may also apply to other gardeners, based on their own specific seasonal planting windows.)
Spring Vegetables: I recommend starting cool-season broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, […]

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When is the Best Time to Plant Roses Up North?


“When is the best time to plant bare root roses and potted roses?” Question from Deb of Lynbrook, New York.
Answer: In northern climates like yours, the best time to plant roses, bare root or potted, is in the spring. This allows new roses time to become fully established over a season. By the following winter, they will have set good root systems to help them […]

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