Raising perennials to discourage garden bullies
by Nancy Hunt Green
March 07, 2013 11:22 PM | 1243 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
We love healthy companion plants. Like most inspiring endeavors, many begin with a spark in the heart. Billions of dollars are spent yearly on publications displaying photos of appointed landscapes dressed with perfectly arranged pine straw. While studying how to grow such gardens, we tend to lean on inspirations. But what about garden bullies rarely mentioned in glossy publications? These are not of the pesky, weedy mob types. Many pests and weeds are easy game when compared to being hit square on by bully challengers. You may even know their lot without saying. You’re faced with having to relocate, undergo surgery, can’t dig or trust your knees. Meanwhile, every tree, shrub and vine, including those coming from your neighbor’s yard, tunnel directly towards your carefully constructed beds, no matter how professionally designed. Just how skillful are you really when it comes to facing off bullies such as ivy, honeysuckle, or Bermuda grass? Bet that townhouse deal sounds pretty good by now. But wait, don’t throw in the towel just yet — you still have options. There are a few proactive solutions to minimize the impact of garden bullies. Depending on your situation, most of the above can be resolved. Many garden bullies can be a thing of the past. How? Temporary or not, through growing in containers. This can be achieved through use of complete container mix, aged pine bark, compost, perlite and timely applications of slow release fertilizer. With the application of gardening skills and know-how, it takes only a few additional steps to grow in containers. For the purpose of this article, I’m using daylilies as an example though this method works for many plants. As an avid gardening hobbyist for several decades, many of my seeds are typically started early indoors in tray cells and monitored to achieve the highest germination rate possible. Having lived in various states in several zones, and grown a variety of plants with particular growing requirements, experience has proven to be the best instructor. Stories of friends losing favorite plants to weather extremes break my heart. If you work with a tractor, compost hundreds or thousands of seedlings each year, and know everyone at your local nursery supply house by first name, this solution may not be useful to you. One of the reasons this method seems to work so well is that using large 3 gallon containers for double fans allows large root systems to stretch out. Container sizes are selected based on the size of the daylily root system. Once planted, they are grouped according to the size of the fans which typically are not large or heavy in the beginning. Some nurseries give away used, large containers that might otherwise be discarded. I purchase good quality containers which can be soaked (1 part bleach to 9 parts water), washed up and re-used over many years. Summers are so hot that daylilies usually go dormant by July though I never lose more than one or two. On another extreme, one winter was the coldest in 39 years and not a single daylily died. The key to success may be combining quality materials with tenting the growing area. Achieved by using a quality frost cloth product during extreme cold nights (below freezing), this light fabric was purchased in a large 100 foot roll for under $140. After April, the sheets are hosed off, folded and packed away for more years of use. During winter, plants can be left covered for several days and will not cook like they would under plastic. The fabric will not tear in ice or wind like plastic. On nicer days, the cloth can be folded back which exposes the containers to warmth.

Information about Extension Solutions for Homes and Gardens can be found on the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension website at www.caes.uga.edu/extension/cherokee or by contacting the Cherokee County Extension Office at 100 North St., Suite G21 in Canton at (770) 479-0418. The Georgia Extension Master Gardener Program is a volunteer training program offered through county offices of the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.
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