What Is the Best Time of Day to Water Plants?

“What time of day should I water my plants?” question from Courtney of Roebling, New Jersey

Answer: It really depends on where you live and what your soil and climate are like. In a very dry region, I’d suggest watering in the evening and possibly again in the morning, depending on the time of year and the severity of drought. But, where you live in the Mid-Atlantic, rainfall is ample, so watering plants in the evening can encourage fungal and bacterial diseases.

My horticultural colleague, Russell Stafford, says, “Water in the morning before the heat of the day, or at daytime hours on cloudy days. Use a hose with a watering wand or watering can to directly irrigate recently installed plants. Soaker hoses, drip systems, and other irrigation methods that directly contact the soil are ideal for established plantings.  (Sprinklers waste water.)” I have to agree, and might also add that I like to water the base of plants, at the root zone, rather than spraying foliage unnecessarily. Of course, if you miss watering in the morning, it does not hurt to water midday or even in the mid-afternoon. It’s just nice for plants to dry out a bit before the evening. Click here for more excellent watering tips from Russell.

Happy gardening,

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist

When and How Should I Move My Peonies?

“When is the best time to move Peony plants?” Question from Carin of Fall Creek, Wisconsin

Answer: Because peonies are extraordinarily hardy, I prefer moving them in the fall, but you can also moving them after they bloom in the spring. But, there are six things that you should know before moving peonies.

Six Things to Know Before Moving Peonies

  1. Peonies have very large taproots, so you need to dig deep to capture them all.
  2. I recommend digging around the clump to maintain as much soil around the roots as possible. The less you disturb the clump, the better.
  3. Peony buds like to rest just an inch or two below the soil surface. If you cover them with too much soil, they may not bloom.
  4. Peonies should be fed with an all-purpose 10-10-10 granular fertilizer once a year. Surprisingly, overfertilizing peonies can reduce flowering.
  5. Use a long, sharp shade to dig them up and divide the clump, if needed.
  6. Small peony divisions may not have enough energy to bloom for a few years.

Peony Moving Steps

  1. Dig around the clump.
  2. Wrap the rootball with burlap to keep it intact.
  3. Place the peony in a wheelbarrow or Tubtrug to transport it to its new location.
  4. Dig a hole a bit larger than the rootball, place the backfill on a tarp or in a wheelbarrow, and mix the backfill with Black Gold Garden Compost Blend.
  5. Sprinkle some bulb fertilizer into the hole and backfill.
  6. Place the peony in the hole, and make sure the top of the plant is flush with the soil surface.
  7. Fill in the sides with backfill, and make sure that there are no air holes.
  8. Water in your peony until the soil is saturated.

I hope that these tips help!

Happy gardening,

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist

When Is the Best Time to Plant Corn in Northwest Oregon?


Best Time to Plant Corn in Northwest Oregon

“What is the best time to plant corn in Northwest Oregon at Zone 8?” Question from Joseph of Milwaukie, Oregon

Answer: Your last frost date in Milwaukie, Oregon is March 31st, and your growing season is approximately 222 days long, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. Corn likes to germinate when the soil and growing conditions are warm, and most corn varieties take between 65 to 75 days to produce ears if there is enough sunlight, warmth, and moisture. So, I would recommend planting your corn as early as mid-April. With such a long growing season, you can also start a second planting in mid or even late May, if you have space. (Click here to learn more about successfully growing and selecting sweet corn.)

Planting Corn

Plant corn in the ground in late spring, once the soil is warm and frosty mornings are long gone. Seeds should be planted about 2 inches deep, 8-12 inches apart, and kept lightly moist for good germination. Plant them in no less than 3 rows of 6 to ensure even pollination and good harvest. Provide full sun and tilled soil that drains well and has average fertility and a neutral pH. Working Black Gold Compost Blend into the soil before planting will increase success. Once temperatures heat up, plants will take off. Keep them well irrigated but not wet. Ears will be ready when they are plump, the husks are green, and the tassels have turned brown at the tops.

Happy gardening,

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist

When is the Best Time to Prune Buddleia in California?

“When is the best time to prune Buddleia?” Question from Angie of Fort Bragg, California

Answer: In your coastal Mendocino County location, I would cut your butterfly bush (Buddleia spp.) back when your cool, wet winter hits. Butterfly bush does not look its best when chillier temperatures hit, even though it remains evergreen to semi-evergreen where you live, so prune it back by 1-2 feet once it stops blooming well, and its leaves start to flag. This will also make your garden look tidier during the chillier months and result in a more compact shrub. And, because it blooms on new wood and grows post-pruning quickly, you can feel confident that the shrub and flower buds will not be harmed.

Another factor is that butterfly bush self-sows prolifically and is considered invasive in your area. Pruning it back and removing its old buds before seedset will also reduce the chance of spread in your garden and beyond.

I hope that this information helps!

Happy gardening,

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist


When is the Best Time to Plant Spring Bulbs?

“When is the best time to plant spring bulbs?” Question from Donna of Smithfield, Pennsylvania

Answer: Fall is the best time to plant bulbs–starting in late September and ending in late November. This is the ideal window, but I have even planted bulbs in December when the soil could be worked, and the flowers appeared as expected in spring. Just don’t wait until the soil surface freezes over.

For best growth, amend your planting soil with compost and bonemeal. Both products will ensure that your bulbs will bloom and grow well. It is also essential to plant different bulbs at the correct recommended depths. If you plant bulbs too deeply or shallowly, they will not perform as well. Small bulbs may not even pop up at all if planted too deeply. Just follow the package instructions.

I hope that this information helps!

Happy bulb planting!

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist

When is the Best Time To Grow Vegetables in Florida?

“I live in SW, Florida – what is the best time of year for growing vegetables? Question from Colleen of Englewood, Florida

Answer: I see that your summers are sweltering, humid, long, and can be cloudy while your winters are short, cool, and sunnier. What you grow in these times depends on the crop and season.

In the “cooler” winter months, you can grow root and cole crops. Late winter and fall are good times to start many warm-season vegetables that don’t thrive in raging heat.  In high summer, grow super heat-loving vegetables, like Southeast Asian eggplant and okra.

Here are some crops that I would recommend for each season:

Winter: cole crops, greens, and root crops. (Click here to read more about the best vegetables for fall and winter gardens in the South. And, click here to learn more about root crop growing. )

Late-Winter and Spring: beans, cucumbers, early tomatoes,  and summer squash. (Watch the video below to learn more about growing cucumbers.)

Summer: okra, eggplant, peppers, and other heat-loving varieties and crops. (Click here to read more about heat-loving vegetables and here to read more about tomatoes for Florida.)

Fall: Plant as you would in spring.

Strawberries are also great for growing in Florida. To learn more about strawberries for Florida, read this article.

I hope that this information helps!

Happy gardening,


Best Time to Plant Fruits and Vegetables

“When is the best time to plant fruits and vegetables?” Question from Brittany or Pound, Virginia

Answer: It depends on the fruits or vegetables you are planting, their preferred weather, life cycle, and how long they take to bear harvestable produce. Overall, annual fruits and vegetables are divided into cool-season and warm-season categories.

Cool-season annual vegetables grow best in the spring and fall when growing conditions are mild. Vegetables in the category include lettuce, peas, radishes, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, and turnips, among others. All of these grow pretty quickly, meaning they grow from seed to harvest in as little as one to three months. Start them in either early spring, for spring harvest, or late summer, for fall harvest.

Warm-season annual fruits and vegetables require warm growing conditions to produce well and generally require more days before they bear produce. These need to be started in spring and planted after the threat of frost has passed and garden soils have warmed up. During the hot days of summer, they will start to produce. Vegetables in this category include corn, tomatoes, peppers, winter and summer squash, beans, melons, sweet potatoes and cucumbers. Keep in mind that some of these, like pumpkins, can take as many as 110 harvest days before bearing fruit.

Perennial fruits and veggies for the garden, like strawberries, rhubarb, and asparagus, can be planted in spring or fall.

To learn more, I recommend you read some of the following Black Gold articles and videos about growing fruits and vegetables!

Black Gold Fruit and Vegetable Gardening Videos

Tips for Growing Monster Tomatoes

Growing Fall Carrots, Beets, and Turnips

The Sweetest Sweet Corn

Growing Strawberries with Success