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Ed Hume Answers Your Gardening Questions

Ed Hume cannot answer all of the garden questions he receives, but questions of general interest will be answered here every month.  Email your questions to HumeSeeds@aol.com.  Please note: we do not accept attachments.

Before submitting a question, be sure to check the index of previous questions and answers or search our site using key words.  Many questions have already been answered here on the site.

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Fertilizing Rhodies and Roses

I am confused about which types of fertilizers to use for Rhodies, and for Roses. I know that one needs Boron, but which? What is the percentages of nitrogen, phosphate, and potash that I should look for when selecting a fertilizer? What trace elements should be included? Can I use Epson Salt for the Rhodies? Some are a little yellow.

Use a rhododendron fertilizer to feed the rhodies. A rose type fertilizer is used to feed the roses. Look on the label to make sure that the brand that you have chosen has trace elements in the mix. If you can, buy F.T.E. (fritted trace elements) and apply them according to label instructions. Boron is especially useful around fruit trees, but use it sparingly.

Don't worry about the percentages of nitrogen, phosphate and potash, as it depends upon slow release or fast release and the quality of the fertilizer used. Different formulaters use different ratios.

You can use Epsom Salts (Sulphate of Magnesium) on rhodies about mid April.

Transplanting Roses

We will be revamping our entire landscape which will involve moving some roses, when is the best time to do this and what is the best method.

Roses should be moved during their dormant season, November thru February. At that time, they can be transplanted bare-root (without soil attached to the roots).  Moving them at any other time is not advisable.  You would have about a 50% chance of losing them.

Roses need to be replanted into a bright, sunny part of the garden. Organic humus, like compost, peat moss and processed manure are excellent additions to the new planting holes as you prepare the new locations for them.

Salpiglosis in the South

I saw salpiglossis in Oregon last summer and thought it was spectacular. Do you think this annual could be grown in New Orleans as a fall/winter flower?

Yes, it should do alright during the cooler seasons in New Orleans. Salpiglosis is an old-time favorite that has been overlooked in recent years.

Needles in the Lawn

We have huge pines in our back yard. When the dead needles fall, does allowing them to lay there all winter (Michigan U.P.) change the acidity of the soil? The lawn doesn't grow well back there, should I apply lime or a general lawn fertilizer?

You might want to use the needles as a mulch in your flower and shrub beds, then compost them the following spring.

Is moss a problem in the lawn? That would indicate the need for lime. If there is no moss, there is probably no need to lime.

From your comments, it seems that your lawn is simply in need of feeding. It is very important to apply a spring type lawn fertilizer, then follow with a summer lawn fertilizer. In the fall, you should apply a fall and winter type fertilizer.

If the lawn is thin, you will find it beneficial to overseed with new lawn seed. This can be done any time from mid-April to mid-September.

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