Many types of herbs, vegetables, and small fruits do very well in containers.
Container gardening — ideally done in the second week of May — helps to solve space problems, and proper locations can help to utilize light and temperatures.
Here are some suggested ideas:
• Low-growing herbs like parsley, arugula and other small vegetables do well in window boxes;
• Rosemary thrives in containers and being trained as a topiary ball or tree. They make wonderful gifts for the holidays;
• Squash, beans, and melons can be planted in containers with teepee, pyramids, or trellis and trained to grow up; and
• Tomato varieties do well in containers, small varieties like cherry tomatoes, can thrive in hanging baskets or small 8-inch pots.
Bigger varieties will need larger pots with cages or stakes to allow them to grow upwards.
• When sowing fine seeds, such as lettuce, broadcast the seeds over damp well-worked soil. Cover the seed mix with burlap to help maintain the moisture during germination.
• Prune back forsythia by taking older branches right back to the ground. If you leave a stump, new branches will develop there in a direction that crosses other branches.
As azaleas finish blooming, clip or prune two to three inches off the branch tips that have finished flowering.
To lower an azalea or rhododendron that is getting too tall, prune no more than a third of the total plant mass. To create a layered look, prune the bottom and side branches appropriately.
• To keep herbs and certain flowering annuals from becoming too leggy, pinch the tips back to keep them bushing out. Most herbs, snapdragons, basil, and cosmos respond well to this technique.
• Make sure roses and most other blooming plants receive 1½ inches of water every week to keep them healthy and blooming. Use a water-soluble fertilizer monthly if you are using organic blend fertilizers such as Rosetone by Espoma.
Rosetone feeds for about six weeks, so repeat during the growing season.
• If lawns need watering, it is recommended that early morning watering is best. It washes away early-morning dew from the grass blades, preventing outbreaks of many types of lawn diseases. One inch of rain or irrigation weekly is all that is needed for a healthy lawn.
•Rhododendrons should be pruned after the flowers have faded.
You will find a host of thin stalks on which seedheads are in the process of forming at the top.
Go below the seedheads an inch or so and you will see the new growth. Prune the stem a quarter-inch above the new growth, no matter how short or long it may be.
The new growth stays behind and everything above this is removed.
Check the pH which should be between 4.0 and 5.5.
Guide for Harvesting Roses
• Harvest roses early, before the sun bakes them. (Before 10 a.m.);
• Use 5-gallon bucket with floral preservative and clean, sharp shears;
• Choose stems whose buds have not fully opened;
• Make the cut just above the first five segment leaf set;
• Immediately place the stem in the water bucket, being sure to remove the foliage below the water line. Be sure buckets are cleaned with a half-teaspoon of bleach;
• If possible, condition the roses in fresh preservative water overnight in a refrigerator away from citrus; and
• Place stem in clean vase with floral preservative.
(Editor’s Note: Ken Morgan is owner of Robin’s Nest Floral and Garden Center in Easton, Md.)