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Q & A

Areas of garden, harden off bedding plants, buying bedding plants, quack grass
by Jerry Filipski
by Jerry Filipski


Gerald (Jerry) Filipski is the gardening columnist for the Edmonton Journal, a position he has enjoyed as a freelance writer for the past 12 years. Jerry also writes for Canadian Gardening, the new Alberta Gardener as well as for the lifestyle magazine of P&O ferries. Jerry also does numerous public speaking engagements including some major gardening conferences and workshops as well as question and answer sessions for Wal-Mart and Rona.

April 22, 2009

Q.- I have 2 problem areas in my yard. One bed faces the south and is under a roof overhang making it very dry as well as hot. The other bed is at the bottom of a slope in my backyard and it is wet a lot of the time. I'd like to plant annuals in these beds. What types will do well in each bed?

A.- In the dry, hot area you can try cornflower (Centaurea), coreopsis, Californian poppy (Eschscholzia californica), portulaca, marigolds and creeping zinnia (Sanvitalia procumbens), ice plant (Mesembryanthemum), and phlox.

In the wet area that is north-facing try monkey flower (Mimulus), Impatiens walleriana, evening-scented stocks (Matthiola bicornis), primula and evening primrose (Oenothera).

Q.- How important is it to harden off bedding plants before planting? How does one go about doing this?

A.- If you have raised the plants from seed indoors or in a greenhouse or purchased them from a commercial greenhouse, bedding plants should always be hardened off prior to planting. Hardening off simply means acclimatizing the plants to outdoor conditions. This is important since plants that have been raised in greenhouse conditions will shock if planted directly outdoors from the greenhouse.

You should begin by placing the plants outdoors in a semi-shady spot at first. Placing plants directly into full sun outdoors can damage them. Bring the plants indoors at night if the nights are cold. After a few days place the plants into the sun and leave them outdoors unless the threat of frost is imminent.

Q.- My friend told me that when buying flowering bedding plants I should be buying the ones that are not yet blooming. This doesn't seem right to me. Is it true?

A.- It is true, but don't feel bad. It's in the gardener's nature to buy the best looking plant and one that is in bloom is always more attractive than those that are not.

Flowering bedding plants are often forced in greenhouses to bloom as early as possible in order to attract the attention of the purchaser. By purchasing ones that are not in bloom you will end up with a plant that will flower longer during the season. Many times all the plants on display are in bloom. If this is the case you will have to do one of the hardest things for a gardener to do, namely, pinch out the flowers and any buds that are present at planting time. This will encourage more profuse blooming.

Q.- I have some quack grass creeping into my lawn and was wondering if there is any way that I can kill it without affecting the lawn?

A.- Unfortunately, there are no chemical means available that will kill the quack and leave the lawn unaffected. My only suggestion is a labour intensive one.

You can dig up the affected area, removing all of the spreading rhizomes of the quack grass in the process and then resodding or re-seeding. You can install an edging along the border of your property to keep the unwanted quack from crossing over but the edging will have to be at least 25 cm (12 in) deep.

I'm sorry I can't offer more in the way of help but quack grass remains one of the banes to the gardener.

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