July "In The Grow" - Indiana Yard and Garden - Purdue Consumer Horticulture

July “In The Grow”

Q: I would like to plant a red rose bush this year, but I don’t know where to start. There is lots of red clay at my house, yet I figure a few bags of topsoil will take care of that problem. When should I plant them? — Ray Padgett, via e-mail.

A: Bare-root roses must be planted in the spring, but container-grown roses can be planted any time during the growing season. Dig the hole at least 12 inches deep and 18 inches in diameter. Modify heavy clay soil with one part organic matter, such as peat moss, compost or dried manure, for every two parts garden soil. Good drainage is critical. If your yard doesn’t drain well, consider building some raised planters. Make sure you choose an area in full sun.

Many volumes have been written about roses and their care. Your local Extension office has a publication entitled Roses (HO-128) that sells for $1. It will cover all your basic questions. Check your local library, bookstore or rose society for more information, or go to the American Rose Society’s Web page at www.ars.org.

Q: I have butternuts. Last year, I planted them right away. Guess I will have to wait longer for them to come up. Now I have more. Should I wait for them to dry before planting? Also, is sawdust good on hydrangea? Lilac? Dogwood? Or all? — Catherine Frey, Batesville, Ind.

A: Fresh nuts of butternut germinate quite readily if planted outdoors approximately 1 inch deep. The alternating freezing and thawing splits their shells and allows the roots to emerge. Protect the nuts with a wire cage to keep squirrels from digging them up. If you’re growing the trees for fruit production, you’re better off purchasing grafted trees of superior varieties.

Sawdust mulch will almost certainly cause nitrogen deficiency if fertilizer is not applied regularly. As organic mulches such as crushed corncobs, sawdust, wood chips or straw decompose, microorganisms remove large amounts of nitrogen from the soil. This causes the plants to turn yellowish-green and grow slowly. Sawdust mulch should be used conservatively. Keep your eyes open for fading foliage, and have the nitrogen fertilizer ready.

Q: Last September I moved from Cincinnati to a home south of Batesville. Last fall I was overrun with ladybugs inside and outside my home. I understand that this insect is very valuable to the crops of farmers with regard to protecting their crops against harmful bugs. It is for this reason that I am not looking to kill the ladybugs, but I would like to know of some means of repelling the insects out of and away from my home. — Mark Urban, Batesville, Ind.

A: I’m glad to hear you understand the significance of those hungry, beneficial insects. We’ve had bumper crops of ladybugs for the last few years, especially the Asian variety with its russet coloration. Insect populations rise and fall in incredible numbers, and the ladybug population is expected to return to normal numbers soon. In the meantime, all you can do is exclude them from the inside of your house and cohabit with them outdoors. Check your screens, caulking and weather-stripping before the fall invasion begins. Then vacuum up any that come inside. Concentrate initial efforts on the south and west sides of infested structures. Each day, dispose of vacuumed-up beetles well away from the building, as these insects are strong fliers and will readily return. A wet-dry vacuum works quite well for this. Vacuuming the clusters from walls during fall may also offer some relief. Insecticides are not recommended because lady beetle carcasses will remain in wall voids, where other insect pests, such as carpet beetles, can be attracted. For more information, refer to Extension publication E-214 (Asian Lady Beetles), available online as well as from your county Extension office.

Spreading the word: Several readers wrote to ask about “spreader/stickers,” as referred to in a recent column. A spreader is added to a spray mixture to help the spray droplets spread more evenly on the leaf or fruit surface rather than bead up.

A sticker increases the adhesion of spray chemicals to a surface to reduce loss from weathering. Spreader/stickers are not the easiest thing to find, so you may want to call your local garden center before venturing out to purchase them. Many manufacturers produce spreader/stickers, however, including Ortho, which is probably the most readily available.

Most garden sprays already have the necessary chemicals added for proper adherence and sticking, so this additive is only necessary on limited occasions. In this instance, it was in reference to a deer deterrent you can whip up at home. In case you missed it, try mixing 2 eggs, 1 cup nonfat milk, 1 cup of water and 2 teaspoons of a spreader/sticker in your blender. Spray it on the plants and offend everyone (including deer) with a nose. One reader wrote to ask if some period of time needed to pass so the eggs would smell rotten. Any hot summer day should do the trick!

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