When weeds pop up among sensitive plants like roses and peonies, the safest solution is to hoe or hand-pull the invaders. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)
Weed killer unsafe for blooming flower beds
Q: I have these winter weeds in my flower beds [the reader sent a photo]. They are throughout the mulch. Is there anything that can be sprayed that will not hurt spring flowers, roses and peonies?
A: Anything that will kill the weeds would damage flowers, roses and peonies. Your best bet is a sharp hoe. The key is to prevent the weeds from blooming and setting seeds, which would give you more problems next season.
Targeted herbicide application advice
Q: I have a problem with nandinas coming up amongst the azaleas and assorted trees coming up in the nandinas. I’ve cut them out for several years but they are hearty. Would a drop of Roundup on the leaves be OK for the other plants around it? Thanks for your columns. Read them every week.
A: A drop of Roundup applied directly to the encroaching plants would not hurt plants nearby, but I doubt it would hurt the nandinas and trees either. Woody plants will take more than a drop to kill. One option is to cut the nandina or small tree seedlings and use a dropper to put Roundup directly on the cut edge. As long as you keep the herbicide off the neighboring plants, and you aren’t spraying, there should be no drift nor movement in the soil.
Paperwhite narcissus a good indoor choice
Q: Are paperwhite narcissus hardy to return in Arkansas? Are they really only good for forcing indoors? I have planted several times over the years, and they do not seem to repeat well.
A: Paperwhite narcissus actually did bloom outdoors in a few yards this past Christmas, but they are not reliable. Paperwhite narcissus are the only bulb in the narcissus (daffodil) family that don’t need chilling hours in order to grow. (If you put a regular daffodil in a pot and added water and it did not go through 12-16 weeks of 45-55 degrees temperatures, the daffodil would try to sprout but the leaves would barely top the bulbs.) Paperwhites start growing in the late fall and usually would not survive the cold. This year we had such a mild fall and December that they felt like they were in Florida and actually did bloom. I buy them for indoor enjoyment and then add them to the compost pile.
Transplants helpful to start veggie gardens
Q: I decided to try a vegetable garden for the first time. I went out and bought a whole bunch of seeds. I have broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes and peppers — all my favorites. Do I plant them all at the same time, or stagger the plantings? I seem to recall you talking about cool- and warm-season plants being different. Help!
A: Welcome to the world of vegetable gardening. Broccoli and lettuce are both cool-season plants that can still be planted until mid-April, while the tomatoes and peppers are warm-season vegetables and really shouldn’t go outside until mid- to late April at the earliest. Plant your lettuce seeds now. I think you might want to reconsider broccoli seeds this late. While you can grow broccoli from seeds, they take a long time. Most people start with small transplants, which are readily available. When using seeds, you normally start them 6-8 weeks indoors before you want to plant outside, to speed up the harvest. The same thing applies to tomatoes and peppers — most people buy plants; some people, who want very specific varieties, do grow their own transplants by starting seeds indoors. You also could start the tomato and pepper seeds indoors now, but provide some form of artificial light to prevent the seedlings from getting leggy. It might be easier for your first attempt to start with already potted transplants. Good luck and happy gardening!
Retired after 38 years with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, Janet Carson ranks among Arkansas’ best known horticulture experts. Her blog is at arkansasonline.complanitjanet. Write to her at P.O. Box 2221, Little Rock, AR 72203 or email [email protected]