Happy Little Worms
Liam's grade 4 class was finished with their vermiculture project before Easter and we have re-homed the worms to the greenhouse. Gma has been feeding the worms and she is bringing them coffee grounds today as a treat. I think the worms are very happy in the greenhouse - they have lots of food to eat and they are enjoying a shady spot under a table in their bin.
Happy Little Worms
Quick Botany lesson for today, my sister was looking at a spring bulb catalogue and asked me about "pips".
Types of Bulbs:
True Bulbs: have a complete miniature plant encased in a fleshy set of modified leaves called "scales". These usually have a papery covering called a tunic (and easily seen on tulip bulbs). They have a basal plate where the bottoms of the scales join together, (that part of the onion you cut out). The roots grow from this basal plate. Tulips, daffodils, lilies and hyacinths are examples of true bulbs.
Corms: are the bases of stems that become swollen and solid. there are no scales. They are often covered by tunics like the true bulbs, and also have a basil plate. Corms completely expend themselves during the growth cycles, and a new one develops from buds that appear on top of or beside the old one. Freesia, gladiolas, crocus and acidanthera are examples of corms.
Tubers: have no tunic or basal plate, but do have a tough skin that generates roots from many parts of its surface. Corms usually have a knobby surface with the growth buds or eyes from which the shoots of the plants emerge. Some tubers grow larger each growing season (i.e. begonia), and others produce new ones from the sides of the original ones (i.e. caladium). Begonia, gloxinia, caladium and anemone are examples of tubers.
Tuberous Root: is a fleshy root. The food supply is in the root, not the stem or leaf as in other bulbs. The roots do not take up water themselves, they send up a system of fibrous roots that take in moisture and nutrients. They produce buds from which new plants grow, and most buds are restricted to the neck of the old stem. This area is called the crown. Ranunculus and daylilies are examples of tuberous roots.
Rhizome: is a thickened stem that grows horizontally along or below the surface of the soil, sending stems up at intervals. They contain buds with small scale-like leaves that appear on the top or sides of the rhizome. Some like lily of the valley send up small upright detachable growths called PIPS which have their own roots. Canna, lily of the valley and calla are examples of rhizomes.
I often get plant questions, and I had a very timely one this past week. Primulas are popping up all over the stores, and they are a welcome reminder that spring is indeed on it's way - despite the snow that Mother Nature keeps sending us. Here is a short bit on Primula care.
Primulas are grown for a bit of spring colour - much like a pan of tulips or daffodils and not to be a long term houseplant. Fortunately a lot of them are perennial in this are so once it is warm enough, you can plant outside in a sunny spot and you may be lucky enough to see it bloom again. In the meantime, they like bright - not direct - sun, to stay evenly moist - but not overwatered as the roots still need to breathe, and a cooler location. This should prolong the blooming period. When the blooms are done, gently remove spent blossoms. Wilting can be both a sign of over and under watering - so adjust accordingly. As with most houseplants, if using tap water, it is always a good idea to allow the water to sit overnight to allow chlorine and fluoride to dissipate before using on your plant as both can cause toxicity. Enjoy!
Help! Our new (to us) house has a lilac hedge around the yard. The previous owners did not do a lot of yard work and now we have an overgrown, sad looking Lilac hedge. How do I rejuvenate my hedges ? When can I start?
Let us start with the when - Lilacs should be pruned just after the flowers have finished, as they set bud immediately after they are finished flowering. If you prune before or after this period, you will have less blooms the following season. That being said, if your hedges are overgrown, it may be easier to start before they leaf out in the spring so you can really see what you are dealing with.
As with any pruning, the general rule is to take out no more than 1/3 of the shrub each year - so to rejuvenate your hedge - you will be looking at a three year job. You can follow up with yearly maintenance pruning after that.
Start by taking out any dead or diseased branches first. (I don't personally consider "dead" to count towards the 1/3 of the plant.) Move on to taking the oldest and thickest branches, especially those larger than 2" in diameter (this will likely cut down on the height of your hedge.) Cut or saw them off as close to the ground as you can get. Move on to suckers that come from the base of the plant that are the same as or smaller than a pencil and finally any rubbing or crossing branches until you have removed approximately 1/3 of the plant. To encourage the shrub to "fill out", when making a cut, prune the remaining new stems to an outward facing bud.
Repeat this process for the next 2 years. With regular pruning and removal of the old stems you should be able to keep your hedge at a manageable height. Do not just take back the tops of the too-tall stems as this will not do anything to rejuvenate the Lilac and will leave it in an unnatural shape. It is better to fully remove the over-grown stem and allow for new growth to fill in. After the 3 years, the majority of the plant should be new growth - and you can begin a maintenance pruning schedule right after it has finished it's blooming cycle (Deadhead (if you wish), then follow with dead/diseased, branches larger than 2", suckers and crossing branches - keeping in mind that you will not always need to take out the full 1/3 of the plant. Use your best judgement.
Healthy, and happy plants will produce more flowers and live longer.