Garden Club prepares for winter
Meetings of the Bella Vista Garden Club always include a program which is often presented by someone outside the club. But with several members active in the Master Gardener program, it’s not always necessary to look outside the club for expert advice. At last week’s meeting, Garden Club member and master gardener Lou Jasper presented, “Answers to Your Gardening Questions.”
Members wanted to know about cutting back salvia, Jasper said, and her answer is “not now.” Salvia, she explained, is a woody plant. If the stem of any woody plant is cut, it’s hollow and water collects inside. The plant can die when the water freezes or when water causes the stem to rot. Let salvia die back on its own, she said.
Another member wanted to know about pruning hydrangeas and that answer depends on the type of hydrangea, she said. Some bloom on old growth and those should be pruned only after flowering. Other hydrangeas bloom on new growth and should be pruned as they are going dormant in fall or as they are “waking up” in spring. Oakleaf hydrangeas shouldn’t be pruned at all, although the dead blossoms should be removed.
She provided a handout titled, “Things to do in your garden in November.” Besides pruning, she recommended keeping leaves off the grass and keeping the grass about 2 inches tall for the winter.
November is a good month for planting trees, but not hydrangeas, Encore Azaleas or crepe myrtles. Those should wait for spring. Wildflower seeds can also be planted in November. Just spread them on a cleared spot and mix lightly with soil.
The other planting chore that can be done now is adding winter color to a garden with pansies, violas, flowering kale or snapdragons.
Shrubs can be sprayed if they have had scale or whitefly. Use dormant or horticulture oil and be sure to spray both sides of the leaves and stems, as well as the soil below the plant.
Anything that will be overwintered should be inside, she said. Plants coming in need to be sprayed with insecticidal soap.
Add organic matter to your vegetable beds to be ready for spring planting. Mulched leaves can be used in vegetable beds.
Jasper also had a warning for gardeners. Poison hemlock grows in this area and it looks like Queen Anne’s lace. It can kill livestock and pets and it’s difficult to get rid of. She recommended wearing gloves when working around the plant because some people can have a skin reaction if they touch it. Cut it down first, she said, and then consider spraying with herbicide.
Member Tony LiCausi, who is also a Master Gardener and a proponent of organic gardening, said poison hemlock can be killed by burning it with a propane torch.