• Jun 22

by Karen Weiland, Advanced Master Gardener

One of the duties of a Master Gardener is to volunteer to answer questions that are received by the Extension office during the absence of the Extension Educator.  I took on that challenge recently and received quite a few questions to answer.  One of the questions involved an issue with a shade tree.

According to an article written by R. J. Stipes, Professor of Plant Pathology at Virginia Tech and Mary Ann Hanson, Extension Plant Pathologist also at Virginia Tech, anthracnose is a name for a group of diseases caused by several closely related fungi that attack many of our finest shade trees.  It occurs most commonly and severely on sycamore, white oak, elm, dogwood and maple.  Each species of anthracnose fungus attacks only a limited number of tree species.  The fungus that causes sycamore anthracnose, for example, infects only sycamore and not other tree species.  Other anthracnose-causing fungi have similar life cycles, but require slightly different moisture and temperature conditions for infection.

Anthracnose fungi may cause defoliation of most maple, oak, elm, walnut, birch, sycamore and hickory species and, occasionally, of ash and linden trees.  Damage of this type usually occurs after unusually cool, wet weather during bud break.  Single attacks are seldom harmful to the tree, but yearly infections will cause reduced growth and may predispose the tree to other stresses.  Damage may be in the form of:

  • Killing of buds, which stimulates the development of may short twigs or “witches’ brooms”
  • Girdling and killing of small twigs, leaves and branches up to an inch in diameter
  • Repeated early loss of leaves, which over several successive years weakens the tree and predisposes it to borer attack and winter injury
  • Premature leaf drop, which lessens the shade and ornamental value of the tree

Specific symptoms of anthracnose vary somewhat depending on the tree species infected.  That information along with photos can be found by visiting  www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/450/450-604/450-604.html

Anthracnose fungi overwinter in infected leaves on the ground.  Some canker-causing anthracnose fungi, such as the sycamore anthracnose fungus, also overwinter in twigs on the ground or in cankered twigs that remain on the tree.  The spores are blown and splashed to the buds and young leaves and with favorable moisture condition, penetrate and infect the swelling buds and unfolding leaves.  Long rainy periods help the fungus to spread rapidly.

Disease control measures for different trees vary slightly because the period of infection is different depending on the fungal species involved.  If fungicides are used, sprays must be applied on a preventative bases, beginning before infection takes place.  Spraying large trees for many anthracnose diseases may be impractical and unnecessary, especially in dry springs.  Sanitation is important in reducing the amount of fungal inoculums available for new infections.

The article, which is associated with the Virginia Cooperative Extension and Virginia State University, states the following measures should be taken for effective anthracnose control of most anthracnose diseases:

  • Rake up and remove infected leaves in the fall.  Leaves may be shredded and composted or burned.
  • Prune out and burn or bury dead twigs and small branches.  Prune to thin the crown. Thinning will improve air movement and promote faster drying of the leaves.
  • If fertilizer is needed, fertilize in the fall about a month after the average date of the first frost or in early spring about a month before the date of the last frost to increase tree vigor.
  • If chemical control is desired, spray with a fungicide containing mancozeb (e.g. Manzate 200, Dithane M-45) at bud swell and twice again during leaf expansion following label rates.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects can be found online at www.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

Leave a comment

  • Jun 8

By Karen Weiland, Master Gardener

The Hollyhock (Alcea rosea) is truly an old fashioned garden plant I like to grow for their tall spikes with showy flowers.  They are the quintessential cottage garden flower and are great for filling in large areas like the back of a flower bed, along a fence or a wall.

Hollyhocks are biennial plants.  They spend the first year of their life building roots and storing energy, growing close to the ground in a circular rosette fashion.  After going dormant for the winter, they re-emerge, growing into a much taller flowering plant that will set seed and then die. Allowing the seed to fall to the ground will ensure more plants for following years.  This plant likes full sun and fertile, well drained soil.  Surround them with a 2 to 3 inch layer of mulch to keep weeds at bay, retain moisture and keep the soil cooler during the hottest days of the summer.

The major disease problem that hollyhocks face is rust, a fungal disease.  It starts as orange, powdery looking spots on the underside of leaves.  Swellings soon emerge within these spots.  As the swellings develop they release masses of reddish-brown spores covering a major portion of the underside of the leaf.   Leaves that are infected eventually turn gray or tan and die.  The reddish spores are easily spread by splashing water, rain and wind. Lower leaves will show the condition first and the disease will progress upward during the growing season.  The extent and severity will depend on weather conditions.  This fungus will overwinter in plant debris and if not disposed of, the symptoms will appear early the next spring in new growth when weather conditions are favorable.

You can help to prevent rust infection by giving the plants plenty of space and ventilation.  Place plants in a sunny, dry location so that moisture can quickly evaporate form the foliage.  Water the soil around the plants rather than the plants themselves as the rust spores will attach easier to wet foliage.  Remove infected leaves as soon as you have identified them and  do not use the infected leaves or plant parts in your compost pile.  Treatment would include use of a fungicide. As in any use of a chemical, read and follow all label directions.  Start spraying in the spring as new growth starts.  You may need to spray several times to protect the young plants.  At the end of the season, remove all infected hollyhock plant material down to the base and destroy it.

When it comes to pests, the hollyhock sawfly is quite common.  The larval form of the hollyhock sawfly is a leaf skeletonizer that eats it way through the leaves, leaving them looking like swiss cheese.  The little green worms are up to ½” long with a black spot on their head and full stomachs.  The plant should be treated as soon as the first holes are seen with Sevin or Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).  If you decide to forego treatment, the plant will still live, it just will not look very good. Hollyhock weevils are tiny insects that drill into the stem and flower buds for food.  Spider mites, caterpillars and slugs also plague hollyhocks.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs.  The Purdue Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

Leave a comment

  • Jun 1

by Karen Weiland, Master Gardener

Whether you are using perennials or annuals, choosing from all the different varieties can be a bit overwhelming.  I like to choose plant combinations in three’s. Begin by picking one plant as the foundation.  Then decide if you want to organize your threesome by texture, shape or color.  A combination of any of these design elements may be to your liking also.  Using a pot or container let’s say with a basket weave design can contribute to the texture of a whole planting.  A pot color should be taken into consideration so that it complements the colors of the flowers in the planting.  Another thing to consider is to keep the size of your plants in scale with the size of the pot and choose one large enough to give the roots some room to grow in.   Some plants may overtake others and then the balance of the planting will become out of proportion.  This can be remedied by giving the aggressor a little trim.

Filling your pot with a thriller, filler, spiller combination can give your container pizzazz.  Choose a thriller, or centerpiece plant that is bold and beautiful. Then add a filler, which can be a foliage or flowering plant that will complement the thriller.  Lastly add a spiller that will tumble out of the pot and again, will complement the thriller.

Combine plants that require the same growing conditions.  I like to use container plantings that can withstand a drier condition mostly because I tend to forget to water the poor things.  Heat and drought tolerant Rudbeckia, Pentas, ornamental pepper, begonia, sweet potato vine, Euphorbia and hens and chicks are some of my favorites.  A container planting that is a magnet for bees would include cornflowers, spanish lavender, tickseed, blanket flower and baby’s breath.  A hummingbird feast could be a vibrant mix of salvias and verbenas and a butterfly banquet could include delphinium, salvia, red verbena and coreopsis.

By using a combination of containers, you can fill a space with beautiful color and texture or use them to soften a hardscaped area.  Because pots are portable, they can be shifted around as the plants in them grow and bloom and can be changed through the seasons.  Consider elevating containers at varying heights in your garden area.  Plant stands, bricks, buckets and concrete blocks are a sampling of items that can be used to give your pots a boost.  Whatever you decide to use will need to be sturdy.  A pot filled with wet soil can be very heavy.

Remember, plants are living entities that react and grow differently under different conditions or circumstances.  What may work well for your friend may have you singing the blues.  Keep a garden journal to record the combinations you have tried over the years.  Being a very visual person, I like to take pictures of the combinations I use.  The hands-on experience you will gain over the years of gardening cannot be replaced.  Have patience, experiment with all kinds of different plants, enjoy what you are doing and remember that to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs.html The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in La Grange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

Leave a comment

  • May 11

by Karen Weiland, Advanced Master Gardener

What is a weed?  People have different views on what is and is not a weed.  I see mullien as a beautiful plant with its fuzzy, silvery leaves and tiny yellow flowers.  I like to use them in my landscape around my potting shed.   My farmer husband however, sees it as a weed growing along the edge of his corn field.  Basically, a weed is a plant that is growing where you don’t want it to grow.

Every square inch of your garden contains weed seeds.  They can remain dormant for a long time and each time you work the soil, that process brings those seeds to the surface where they can and will germinate.  According to the Purdue Extension website, one dandelion plant can produce 15,000 seeds in one year, and even worse, each seed is capable of surviving up to six years in the soil.

Using mulch around plants is very beneficial in your war against weeds.  Not only will it smother weed germination, it will also help the soil retain moisture and stay cooler during the hot summer months.  Two to four inches of straw, grass clippings or shredded bark can be used as mulch in the garden.   Layers of newspaper topped with a bit of straw has proven to be a very effective weed barrier in years past for me.    Grass that has been treated with a pesticide or herbicide should not be used.

A sheet of plastic is another mulching alternative.  Using plastic tends to warm the soil so it is best used around warm season vegetables such as tomatoes, squash, melons and peppers.  For larger areas, a shallow pass with the cultivator now and then will keep weeds at bay.  Lastly, there is the option of hand pulling the weeds.  I have read that this is easiest done while they are still small and pulled just after a rain.  I will confess that I detest the awful job of hand pulling weeds and will mulch the daylights out of my garden so those nasty seeds do not see a speck of sun.

Certain herbicides can be used to prevent germination of weed seeds, while another type can be applied to weeds while they are growing.   It is very important to read the product label when choosing an herbicide.  Some are labeled for use on certain vegetable crops, some are only for specific ornamental plants and others have a tendency to drift from what you want to target.  There is no “one size fits all” herbicide.  If you are used to using a certain product for a number of years, check the current label listing as plants can be added or deleted over time.

It is recommended to only use herbicides for spot treatment or for use on a specific crop.

The best and environmentally friendly control option is to use mulch and/or cultivation.

As always, Happy Gardening!!

More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

Leave a comment

  • May 4

by Karen Weiland, Purdue Master Gardener

I ran into a friend a few weeks ago while checking out the assortment of goodies on the shelves at a local store and right after our “hellos” he told me I needed to write about how to plant a tree and how some folks “are just doing it wrong”.  I always welcome topic ideas, so here you go Norm!

A few things to consider before actually planting the tree is location, season and type of tree.

Choose a tree that will fit your landscape and that will grow well in the type of soil that you have.  A tree planted in the heat of the summer will be stressed much more than one planted in the spring or fall.  And as I’m sure you all know, some trees can be a bit dirtier than others with their falling nuts and spent blooms. Consider how much work you want to put into cleaning up after what you plant.

Lay out a sheet of plastic or canvas or have a wheelbarrow nearby to throw dirt into.  Dig the hole two times as big around as the root spread.  Only dig as deep as the height of the root ball.  You will want solid, undisturbed soil under your tree so that it does not settle after the tree is planted.

I recently planted several 10-12 foot, containerized trees.  The roots were rather dense so I  loosened them by making several vertical cuts around the root ball and then gently pulled some of the roots away from the ball.  According to the University of Missouri Extension website, recent studies have shown that trees root much more slowly in high-density soil than in loosened soil and in most soils, 90 percent of the actively absorbing root tips are located in the upper 12 inches of the root ball.  Taking this information into account, I tapered the sides of my hole to give the upper root system some loose soil to grow into.

Mix the top and subsoil together, and if it is a light, droughty soil, mix in one part peat moss to two parts soil.  Backfill the hole to within one half to three quarters full and fill with water.  I mix a root stimulator product that I bought at a local nursery, with my water.  Once that has drained, finish filling with the remaining soil.  Water again and do not tamp the soil.  Finish with a 2-3 inch layer of mulch, keeping it away from the trunk of the tree.  Do not create a sloping mound of mulch around the trunk as this will lead to a slow death for your tree.  To keep weeds from growing through the mulch, lay down multiple layers of newspaper.   Mulching will also help keep the roots cooler in the summer and it will help retain moisture.  Depending on how much rainfall is had, you may need to water regularly during the first couple of years.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about tree planting and gardening subjects is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service

Leave a comment

  • Apr 27

by Karen Weiland, Purdue Master Gardener

Edible landscaping is the integration of edible plants into the ornamental landscape.  More people are looking toward growing their own nutritious produce at home, thus saving money and natural resources at the same time.  Think about incorporating  fruit trees and blueberry bushes into the planting scheme of your yard or lining  the side of your patio with some beautiful rhubarb, with its bold red stalks and crinkly leaves, being under planted with some creeping thyme.

Many vegetables lend themselves very well to being planted into containers.  I have an assortment of greens and lettuces growing in my rain barrel planter.  When planting vegetables keep their aesthetics and growing habits in mind as well as their taste.  Pretty purple cabbage would look very nice planted with some snowy white cauliflower.  If it’s bold color you’re looking for, Swiss chard comes in a rainbow of colors and sweet peppers sport a very bright yellow.  Some cherry tomatoes planted in a pot would make a tasty snack while lounging on the patio.

Don’t forget the edible flowers such as nasturtiums, chives, lavender and basil.  Use them as garnishes and in salads.  My favorite is nasturtium, with its zesty, peppery taste itcan be added to a sandwich in place of mustard or add it to pretty up a salad.

Edible plants, like ornamentals, require maintenance.  Just remember to “plant the right plant in the right place”.  In other words take into consideration the plants growing requirements and what condition your landscape area is in.  Most food producing plants need a sunny location and well drained soil along with some pruning, fertilizer and water.

Keep in mind that vegetables and herbs that are planted and harvested frequently will need to be kept in an area to themselves.  This will allow you to amend and cultivate the soil without disturbing the roots of the ornamentals.

Landscaping with edibles not only adds a twist to gardening, it enhances your health and well-being too.  Raspberries you pick yourself will taste so much better than the raspberries that have been trucked hundreds of miles to get to your local grocery store.  So the next time you decide to make a change to your landscape or yard, make it do double duty by using edible plants.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

Leave a comment

  • Apr 20

By Karen Weiland, Master Gardener

Spring is here and it’s time to get busy!

FLOWERS, VEGETABLES AND SMALL FRUIT

  • The weak, diseased or damaged canes from raspberry plants should be removed before new growth starts.  If you did not remove them last year, remove the old fruiting canes and shorten the remaining canes if they need it.
  • Grapes need to be pruned to remove dead or weak vines and check support trellises for repair.
  • The winter mulch on strawberry beds can be removed as the new growth starts, but keep it close by to protect the plants from frost and to help keep weeds under control.
  • Cool season vegetables can be planted as soon as the ground has drained and is dried enough to work.
  • Asparagus, rhubarb and small fruit plants can be planted.
  • Cut back the dead canes of roses until you reach healthy tissue.  Starting one quarter inch above an outward facing bud, make a downward slanting cut. This will direct the new growth to grow outward thus increasing airflow to the midst of the plant.
  • When filling large patio containers, save on soil by filling the bottom with packing peanuts, empty water bottles, upside down plastic flower pots and such.  Cover your filler with landscape fabric or cardboard to prevent the soil from filtering down through it.  It depends on the size of the plant, but most will grow very happily with about a foot of soil depth.
  • Are your daffodils not blooming as prolifically as they once did?  They may be overcrowded and need to be divided.  After they are finished flowering and the foliage has died back, dig them up, separate them and replant them immediately.

LAWN

  • The application of pre-emergence herbicides to control crabgrass is suggested between April 15 and May 10 for northern Indiana.
  • Seed bare spots.

WOODY LANDSCAPE PLANTS

  • Bare-root stock should be planted before the new top growth starts.
  • While trees are in bloom and to avoid injuring bees, use a pesticide containing fungicide only and no insecticide.  Always, be sure to read and follow all label directions.
  • Remove and destroy bagworms that have overwintered in landscape trees and shrubs.
  • Plant a tree to celebrate Arbor Day.

Branches from early spring flowering trees and shrubs can be cut and forced into bloom.

Pussy Willow branches can be cut to use in decorative spring arrangements.

Soil testing should be done at this time.

Be reminded that gardening is a great way to divert your mind from everyday work, conflicts or other issues.  It relieves stress and provides some mental relaxation.  Tending to a garden satisfies the human instinct to nurture and care, so not only is gardening good for the physical body it is also good for our spiritual and mental wellbeing as well.

As you all well know, gardening events and practices can change from year to year depending on what kind of weather we are having, so the information in this article is intended to be used as a general guide.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs.html The Purdue University Cooperative Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

Leave a comment

  • Apr 13

by Karen Weiland, Purdue Master Gardener

Rich in iron, calcium, vitamin C and B vitamins, asparagus is one of the first crops to be harvested in the spring and if given the proper planting and care, an asparagus bed can be productive for 15 years or more.

The asparagus bed should be located in a sunny area.  It can tolerate a little shade but the plants will not be as vigorous and full sun helps minimize the threat of disease.

The soil will need to have a pH of 6.5 to 7.5 and be well drained as soggy soil will cause root rot.

It is best to have the soil tested as asparagus will not grow well if the soil pH is less than 6.0 and  the levels of potassium and phosphorus are also important to the vigor of asparagus.

Bare root asparagus crowns can be planted mid-April thru late May after the soil has warmed up to about 50 degrees.  Dig a furrow about 10 to 12inches deep and wide enough to accommodate the spread of your asparagus root system.  Apply to the bottom of the furrow about 1 pound of 0-46-0 (triple superphosphate) or 0-20-0 (superphosphate) fertilizer for every 50 feet of row.  This will make phosphorus available right away to the newly planted crowns.  Planting 1 year old crowns will produce a quicker crop than sowing seeds.  Space the crowns about 1 ½ feet apart in the row.  The crowns need to be centered in an upright position in the furrow and the roots spread out.  If more than 1 row is planted, the rows should be spaced about 5 feet apart.  Wide spacing promotes the rapid drying of the fern tops to help prevent disease.  After the furrow is filled back in to its original soil level do not tamp it down as asparagus roots like loose soil.

Do not harvest the asparagus shoots during the year it was planted.  The ferns that emerge from the spears produce food for the plant and move it down to the crown for the next years spear production.

Asparagus is very drought tolerant and usually does not need any supplemental watering once the roots are established.   However, if rainfall is short, a little watering would be beneficial to the crowns.

Do not cut the fern growth at the end of the growing season.  Leaving it intact over the winter will catch snow for additional soil moisture and provides insulation for the crown.  Remove the old fern growth by cutting or mowing it off about the first week of April.

On a side note, a few of the first crops that can be sown in the ground once the soil dries out enough are radishes, spinach, swiss chard, carrots, lettuce and beets.  Plan to make successive sowings every few weeks so you can harvest over a prolonged period of time.

Also, this would be a good time to get your soil tested if you haven’t done so in a number of years.  Testing supplies with instructions can be obtained through your local Extension office.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

Karen Weiland, Purdue Master Gardener, Purdue Extension, LaGrange County

Leave a comment

  • Apr 6

by Karen Weiland, Purdue Master Gardener

Crabgrass, a summer annual, appears in the lawn as a light green, weedy plant and can be eliminated with or without chemicals.  One of the best non-chemical lawn care practices to prevent the invasion of crabgrass or any other weed is to mow at the correct height. Setting your mower to a height of 2 ½ “to 3” can have a big impact as it helps to create a dense, thick lawn.  Closely mowed grass leaves an open invitation for weed seeds to germinate as it “opens up” the lawn.  A thick stand of grass will shade the soil and therefore discourage crabgrass germination.

Adequate and timely fertilization can further reduce weed competition by increasing turf-grass vigor.  Open and weak turf-grass areas promote crabgrass infestations because of higher soil temperatures which promote germination and decrease competition from cool season grasses.  It is recommended to apply 2 to 4 pounds of nitrogen per 1000 ft squared each year.  Apply 60-100% of the nitrogen in two applications in the fall, one in September and one in November after the last mowing. A summer application of nitrogen will just feed and strengthen the crabgrass you have.

Crabgrass seeds germinate when soil temperatures are approximately 60 degrees F for 3-5 days at the ¼” level.  You may like to refer to the Growing Degree Days chart at www.gddtracker.net/?model=7&offset=0&zip=46746 (insert your zip code of different than 46746).  It will help you determine the best time to apply herbicides.

The ideal growing conditions for crabgrass are light, frequent watering and areas of bare, warm soil.  When irrigating, do so deeply to wet the soil to the depth of the roots.  Do not water again until you notice drought stress.  Apply grass seed to bare areas.

Weed killers, also known as herbicides, are available to manage those annual weeds that may plague your lawn.  There are pre-emergence herbicides that prevent the emergence of annual weeds such as crabgrass.  This product should be applied before the crabgrass emerges from the soil.  For our area it is recommended that this type of herbicide be applied between late April and early May.  It just depends on the type of weather we are having.  Herbicides may differ so always read, understand and follow the label for suggestions on when to apply and the application rate of what you have chosen to use.  Keep in mind when applying that some pre-emergence herbicides will also damage emerging desirable grass seed.

There are post-emergence herbicides available and need to be applied when the crabgrass plants are very small.  Usually by the time you notice the crabgrass it is too mature for the post-emergence herbicide to work.  There is more difficulty in using these products than in using the pre-emergence ones.  It is extremely important to follow the label instructions.  Consider herbicidal control only if necessary.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs.  The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

Leave a comment

  • Mar 30

by Karen Weiland, Purdue Master Gardener

Watering seems like such a simple task, however if it is not done correctly the plant will suffer.  Wick watering reduces the number of times a pot will need to be attended to each week and it provides vacationers with ease of mind when gone for a period of time.

Wick watering is done by simply running a length of rope from the soil down through a drainage hole and into a reservoir of water.  As the soil in the pot dries, the wick draws water from the reservoir and rehydrates the plant.

The best time to insert a water wick is when you are potting your plant.  Make sure you are using the correct type of pot and potting mix, or you may end up with rotted plants that were too wet.  Plastic or ceramic pots are recommended as they will slow the rate of evaporation from the soil.  The potting mix needs to be very porous so that there is plenty of oxygen around the roots even when the mix is wet.  A recommended mix is 1 part sphagnum peat moss, 1 part perlite and 1 part vermiculite.   The mix should be pre-moistened before potting your plant or the wicking process may not function properly. The wick should also be pre-moistened before pulling it through the soil.

After the pot has been filled with damp potting soil, pull the wick up through a drain hole and into the soil with a section of coat hanger that has one end bent into a hook shape.  This coat hanger method would also work for an already established potted plant.  The wick should dangle out the bottom of the pot and rest in the reservoir of water below.

How many wicks your pot may need partly depends on how much moisture your soil mix will hold and how thirsty your plant is.  A small 3 inch pot will only need one wick, a 6 inch pot may need two.  The wick should be a man-made fiber such as acrylic, rayon or nylon yarn or cording.  African violet growers use small strings as wicks, larger plants and pots will require larger wicks.  You will need enough wick length to keep about 2 inches in the soil and enough left over to reach the bottom of the reservoir.

You will need a “riser” to keep the pot sitting above the water in the tray.  The rim of a discarded plastic container can work quite well for a diy riser.  They are easily cut with scissors, but be sure that the pot will sit an inch or two above the bottom of the tray and not above the rim of the tray.  When cutting the edge of your riser, check that there is enough variation in the edge so that water can easily flow through.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects can be found online at www.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can

Leave a comment

« Older posts
  • Subscribe by RSS

    Or, subscribe by email...