Posts tagged bayberry

Attracting birds and other wintertime tips

The following Q&A is from Iowa State University Extension’s garden experts:

I recently purchased a Norfolk Island pine.  How do I care for it? 

 

The Norfolk Island pine is a popular houseplant. During the holiday season, many individuals turn their plants into living Christmas trees by decorating them with miniature lights, ribbons and ornaments. The Norfolk Island pine thrives indoors when given good, consistent care. Place the Norfolk Island pine in a brightly lit location near an east, west or south window. Rotate the plant weekly to prevent the plant from growing toward the light and becoming lopsided. 

 

Thoroughly water the Norfolk Island pine when the soil surface becomes dry to the touch. Discard the excess water, which drains out the bottom of the pot. From spring to early fall, fertilize the plant with a dilute fertilizer solution every 2 to 4 weeks. A temperature of 55 to 70  degrees F is suitable for the Norfolk Island pine. Winter is often a difficult time because of low relative humidity levels in most homes. Raise the humidity level around the Norfolk Island pine with a humidifier or place the plant on a pebble tray. Low relative humidity levels, insufficient light, or infrequent watering may induce browning of branch tips and lead to the loss of the lower branches. 

 

Which trees and shrubs provide food for birds during the winter months? 

 

When attempting to attract birds to the landscape, trees and shrubs that provide food during the winter months are extremely important as natural foods are most limited at this time of year. Trees that provide food for birds in winter include hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), hawthorn (Crataegus species), eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) and crabapple (Malus species). Shrubs that provide food for birds include red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia), northern bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica), sumac (Rhus species), roses (native species and Rosa rugosa), snowberry (Symphoricarpos species), nannyberry (Viburnum lentago) and American cranberrybush viburnum (Viburnum trilobum). 

 

Can I dispose of my wood ashes in the garden? 

 

Wood ashes contain small amounts of several plant nutrients. The nutrient content of wood ashes depends on the type of wood burned, the thoroughness of its burning, and other factors.  Generally, wood ashes contain 5 to 7 percent potash, 1 percent phosphate, and small amounts of other elements. However, the largest component of wood ashes is calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is a liming material. Liming materials raise the soil pH. 

 

The soil pH is important because it affects the availability of essential nutrients. The pH scale runs from 0 to 14. Any pH below 7.0 is acidic and any pH above 7.0 is alkaline. A pH of 7.0 is neutral. Most vegetables and perennials grow best in slightly acidic soils with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Plants may not perform as well in soils with a pH above 7.0 because of the reduced availability of some essential nutrients. 

 

Avoid applying wood ashes to garden areas with a pH above 7.0. Applying wood ashes to alkaline soils may raise the soil pH and reduce the availability of some plant nutrients. An application of 10 to 20 pounds of wood ashes per 1,000 square feet should be safe if the soil pH is below 7.0. If the soil pH in your garden is unknown, conduct a soil test to determine the pH of your soil before applying wood ashes to flower or vegetable gardens. 

Advertisements

Leave a comment »

Lazy days of summer

The following is from Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith:

 

LUV having the windows open!  LUV keeping the air conditioner off!  LUV sitting on the deck without bugs!  LUV having to mow the lawn only once a week!  It’s August.  Summer is winding down.  The cicadas are singing.  The robins are readying for their southern migration.  Soon we’ll experience the vibrant burst of burgundys and yellows and oranges.  School starts in a couple of weeks.  Are you ready for some football? 

            How are you going to tend your garden and yard for the rest of the lazy hazy days of August? 

Now is a great time to tour your yard looking for bare spaces or…….a good excuse to

  • create a new bed or add plants. How about peonies?  Choose a spot with sun and drainage.  Plant the “eye” (bud) about two inches deep.
  •  Or dig and divide your (or your neighbor’s—with their permission, of course) overgrown iris, poppies and other spring blooming perennials.  A good rule of thumb is to move spring blooming flowers in the fall and fall blooming flowers in the spring. 
  • Plant a tree!  Fall planting takes advantage of favorable soil temperatures and moisture conditions that promote the root growth needed to sustain plants through their critical first year in the landscape. 
  • It’s best not to prune now.  Pruning will stimulate unwanted late season growth.
  • Think fall flower arrangements.  Invest in a Burning Bush, a Bayberry Bush or a Red-twigged Dogwood.  All have colored stems that will stand out in dreary winter landscape. And those reddish branches create an outstanding compliment to fall groupings of gourds, pumpkins and dried flowers.
  • Mid-August through mid-September is the best time to repair, replace or start a new lawn.  Lawns with fifty percent or more weeds should be replaced.  Always purchase quality lawn seed.  All grass seed mixes should contain several varieties of bluegrass, fescue and rye grass.

So, get up off that couch.  Get out in the yard.  Enjoy this great time of the year.

 

Leave a comment »