Ask Monty’s: ”A girlfriend of mine gave me a package of peony roots to help ease the pain of two peony plants my husband relentlessly mowed over with the lawn mower because they were planted in the middle of the yard. My bad for not getting out and digging them up and moving them! When can I plant these bare rooted ones as I’ve only seen peonies that were already started in pots and ready for planting? I have no idea how to begin this process.”
Twila – Charlotte, NC
Twila: Well, you already know where a peony will best survive in your yard if it hadn’t fallen victim to being in the wrong place and the right time. They love the sun and a slightly acidic soil that drains well. The best time to plant bare root peony is in the fall just as the leaves are beginning to turn. By planting them in the fall they will actually have time to develop a strong root system which will give them more robust growth next spring.
Open the package your plants came in and make sure the plants are healthy. The tubers should be fleshy, firm and mold free. Sometimes these store bought plants dry out during transit, so it’s a good idea to soak them in a bucket of water for two to four hours to re-hydrate them before planting.
Peonies should be planted with the eyes pointing up and just below the surface of the soil. Peonies that are planted too deep will not bloom, so that is very important to remember. In your area tubers should be planted no deeper than two inches. In the mid-South, half-inch deep is sufficient. Then make sure you put mulch over the top of them and keep these plants well watered until the ground freezes.
Also, by soaking the bare-root stock in Monty’s 4-15-12 overnight before planting you can help stimulate root development. This formula is ideal for all of your transplanting and seeding needs. In fact, many of our growers have indicated that by soaking their bare-root plants and seeds they are nearing 100% emergence. Not only to the plants emerge better, they also tend to develop larger, healthier root systems and have the energy they need for success during that first year.
Ask Monty’s: “This the first year I planted sunflowers, so I planted a mammoth variety. They were growing great with big thick stalks and the heads were just starting to bloom. I look at their progress daily only to find one morning that an infestation of bugs were literally devouring the seeds that were trying to bloom on the flower. I sprayed them with an overall insecticide, but it isn’t slowing them down. What are these horrible bugs that are ruining these beautiful plants?”
Loyd – Greendale, IN
Loyd: Meet the red and gray sunflower seed weevil. Both are easily recognizable by their pronounced long “snouts.” What’s so horrible about them is that just as you’re getting ready to enjoy the huge flower heads, these pre-laid larvae that you are unaware of emerge from inside the forming seeds and start devouring their way out. There are specific products out on the market to control these pests, but note that they need to be applied in late June or early July just before the eggs are laid.
I’ve also heard from old sources that planting garlic around sunflowers keeps these pests at bay. It might be worth the try and you’ll also get a nice garlic production even if it doesn’t totally work.
In addition, experimentation is currently in progress regarding the development of hybrid sunflowers that are weevil resistant, so watch the market for those as well.
One last note, remember, Monty’s 2-15-15 is easy to mix with most herbicides and pesticides. So, in addition to getting the protection from insects that you are looking for as you treat your sunflower seeds, you can boost the appearance and production of your sunflowers. One other benefit, healthier plants tend to be naturally more insect and disease resistant, so the application of Monty’s may also help to boost the protection from these pests.
Ask Monty’s: “I was reading a landscaping magazine trying to get some ideas for next year’s improvement to our yard and the author kept referring from time to time about different kinds of garden layouts, especially the incorporating of achromatic schemes. Achromatic means “without color,” so I wasn’t sure what was being suggested. Can you elaborate more on this?”
Reese – Shoreview, MN
Reese: The author was probably suggesting an all white color scheme as an alternative to your usual, often colorful garden themes. If you have an interesting yard that is conducive to an all white color scheme believe it or not, the look can be quite dramatic, unique and truly beautiful. If you have backdrops of heavily wooded areas or rock or stone outcroppings, the results can be quite stunning if done correctly – which only comes with trial and error. Some white flowers to consider are carmellia, rose, Shasa daisies, peonies and white lilac, as well as some types of silver foliage like lambs’ ears. I hope I have our creative wheels spinning now!