Gardening Tips: Flowers & Weeds

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The daffodils are gone and the irises and peonies are in full bloom. These two plants come in glorious variety, and once you have either of them you can have them for years to come. The peony in the photo was rescued from my mother’s garden 10 years ago when she was no longer able to care for it. I remember it from my childhood. Peonies are hardy, gratifying plants. They never need dividing, and if they are planted in good soil, in the sun with good air circulation, they are trouble free. You may see ants on the flowers, but they are there for the nectar and do no harm. Two of my irises also came from my mother’s garden. Irises are also hardy and long-lasting, but they want to be dug and divided every few years. Otherwise the rhizomes (swollen roots) become crowded, and may be infested with iris borers. But if you dig and separate them in late summer or autumn now and then you will have irises to spare -- and share. Of course the weeds are starting thrive now too.

The main thing is to get them while they’re small and before they bloom and go to seed. Pull them out by the roots; otherwise they may just resprout. One weed plant can make thousands of seeds and it seems that all of them germinate. If you keep your garden weeded, as time goes by you’ll have fewer to deal with. Putting down an inch or two of mulch (no more!) before the weeds come up will deprive the seeds of light and make it harder for them to germinate. Besides, weed-pulling on a beautiful, not too hot, day in May isn’t nearly the chore that it will be a month from now.

by guest blogger, Jessica Milstead

Jessica has been a Charles County Master Gardener since 2002 and is certified to evaluate gardens and landscapes for their adherence to Bay-Wise principles.