Horticultural Moment

Horticultural Moments from 2018 And 2019

September 2019

The Horticultural Moment for this month was about cleaning up the garden.

Elena said it is time to start especially if you have mildew on plants such as phlox.

Cut them down to the ground. If they are not infected leave them alone, for the

plant is still taking in chlorophyll.

She also spoke about milkweed and specifically about another type of caterpillar

that eats milkweed, the Milkweed Tussock Moth. This type has a very wooly appearance

and does not harm the milkweed or interfere with the Monarchs. If you don’t want your

milkweed to increase and take over your garden, cut off the pods. Highways used

to be full of milkweed which spread this way but now they are mowed which has

seriously decreased the amount of milkweed available to the Monarchs.

Monarchs also love a plant called Tithonia or Mexican Sunflower, a drought

tolerant annual that is easy to grow from seed .



The horticultural moment for this month was on pruning. Elena said this is the

time to prune your bushes, perennials and shrubs that bloom in the summer.

Spring blooming shrubs should be pruned in the summer right after blooming.

Lilacs – Prune right after they bloom by cutting out old growth stems,

suckers and spent flowers.

Butterfly Bush – Can be cut right to the ground and it will grow back and

bloom all in one season.

Forsythia – Prune right after blooms fade as it blooms next year on old wood.

Cut out all old stems and shorten ones that are too long.

Rose of Sharon – Can be pruned in late fall, late winter or very early spring

before buds form. Cut back to first node. Grows on new wood.

Hydrangeas – It depends on if the hydrangea blooms on old or new wood.

For those that bloom on new wood, they can be cut back to the first live bud

sometimes in April but be patient.

Roses – never prune in the fall, always wait until spring when you just barely

see new buds, then cut to the first live bud. Cut all old growth.

Fruit Trees – Apple trees can be pruned in late winter into early spring.

Elena recommended a book called Pruning Book by Lee Reich as a good

resource to have when deciding whether or when to prune.


This months topic was on planting early crops – specifically peas and lettuce.

Now is the time to plant.

Lettuce can be planted in containers as it loves the cool temperatures.

Leaf lettuce takes about 40 days so that if you plant by the 1st or 2nd of April

you should have your first crop by the 2nd week in May. You can start the plants

inside and then transplant to the outside when they are about 2” tall. Elena

suggests staggering your planting every two weeks so that you have a continuous

crop. She mentioned that lettuce can be planted alongside other plants that will

provide shade for the lettuce as they don’t like to be in full sun all day.

Peas can be planted in a pot as well as long as they are a short variety that

only grow to about 18”. Some pea varieties grow to as high as 6” and need to be

on a trellis. Peas can go into the ground now as long as the soil isn’t to wet. Peas

do better if an innoculant is added which add nitrogen fixing bacteria. This can

increase your yield up to 75%. Innoculant work on beans as well as peas.

Elena mentioned new varieties of peas that have yellow and purple pods.

Elena suggested putting brocolli in the place where you plant your peas this year

as they also like the nitrogen that the peas will add to the soil.


If you have fruit trees or berries, now is the time to spray with sulphur for

diseases or bugs. Sulphur is organic and will not hurt the plants and comes in

powder or liquid form. Your roses should be getting ready to bloom. Feed now

once a month until August. Just put a handful of Espoma (Rose Tone) around

each plant. The months to feed are May, June, July and August. Feeding should

stop after August so that the plants do not keep putting out new growth.


Elena’s topic for this month’s Horticultural Moment is Oakleaf Hydrangeas, in

particular one called “Ruby Slippers”. They start out white, go to pink and then

turns a ruby color in the fall. The leaves also go from dark green to burgundy.

It blooms on both old and new wood, and grows in sun or part shade. The

full height is between 4 and 5” high. Fall is the perfect time to plant them

along with almost all perennials. They can be found at Bluestone Perennials

or other online nurseries.


Elena’s reminder for this month is to make sure and water, especially with

the dry conditions we have had. Especially plants in containers. August is the

month to think about what plants you will be dividing so that in September

when the growing season is winding down you will be ready. The

plants need time to re-establish a root system before the weather gets cold.


Elena emphasized the need to water plants in pots or bags frequently especially

in this warm weather. The garden benefits most from soaker hoses. In either case

try to water early and try to not get water on the leaves as this can cause burning

of the leaves as well as fungus.


It is time to start putting your garden to bed. This includes cutting down plants,

maybe adding compost, having your soil tested if you question how well it is doing,

and adding mulch to protect your plants over the winter. Elena noted that adding pine

needles does not add to the acidity of the soil even though pine trees grow in acid soil.

The same goes for oak leaves used as mulch.