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Edition 12.33 Paul Parent Garden Club News August 17, 2012

Featured Quote:

"Gardens are a form of autobiography."

~Sydney Eddison, Horticulture Magazine, August/September 1993

Product Spotlight

Scotts® Turf Builder® With SummerGuard®

  • Feeds and strengthens against heat and drought.
  • Kills and protects against bugs.
  • WaterSmart® improves lawn's ability to absorb water and nutrients.
  • How to Use: apply to a dry lawn, then water-in thoroughly to activate the product. For best results, use a Scotts® spreader.
  • When to Apply: in summer, June-August.
  • Where to Use: use on any grass type.
  • Controls Insects: ants, armyworms, billbugs, chiggers, chinch bugs, crickets, fleas, grasshoppers, mole crickets, mealy bugs, sod webworms (lawn moth larvae), spiders, ticks, weevils.
For more information, visit the Scotts website.

August is the time to divide
perennials and rebuild the garden soil for them

We are halfway through the month of August now and it is now time to divide our perennials that have finished flowering and have outgrown their place in your garden. Dividing perennials is not just a way of making new plants with our overgrown plants, it is a way to revive them, and a time to remove the older portions that have become weak or died back and could draw potential insect and disease problems to your garden. Plants like irises, daylilies, hostas, peonies, and more are best divided while the ground is still warm and we have good growing weather and time for them to get established before winter arrives.

Here is an example why you need to divide your plants. If 3 years ago you planted one German iris rhizome in your garden in the fall, it will have flowered the next spring and as the flowering faded, the mother plant will have made 2 new side shoots for the following year. This would double the amount of flowers but the mother plant gave all her energy to the new plants and died. The following spring you now have two plants that will flower and when they fade these two plants will repeat the process, making two new plants each, giving you four plants for the next spring and again more flowers. The two mother plants also die so you now have four new healthy plants in the spring with three dead plants attached to them.

Irises have a major pest called an iris borer; it is attracted to your garden to feed on your dead rhizomes. This pest can also feed on the healthy tissue of your new plants preventing flowering in the spring. During August dig up the plants, remove the dead portions, clean the remaining healthy rhizomes--and now you have 4 healthy plants that should be insect-free. This is also the time to condition the soil and rebuild the soil quality so the new plants can thrive in your garden. Products like compost, animal manure, kelp seaweed, and the new garden coir will provide improved growing conditions for the new plants.

If you have had problems with the iris borer, it is also time to treat the soil with Bonide Garden Eight granules which will kill and borers that remain in your soil. Fertilize them with Flower Tone or Dr. Earth Flower food with Pro Biotic and your plant are ready to thrive for the next 3 years without problems. Also when you plant, cover the rhizome with one inch of soil or less. Space iris plants on 18 in centers so they have room to grow. If you’re adding mulch over the planting bed add less over the iris plantings because they want to stay close to the surface of the soil.

Plants like daylilies and hostas should also be separated to make new plants to share with friends and family. These plants grow in the shape of a fan; when you separate them. try to create new plants that contain 3 to 5 fans of foliage for faster plant development and to keep from losing the flowering for a year or two because the new plants are too small. Condition the soil like the iris and keep well-watered until the fall arrives. Remove all faded or yellowing foliage and clean the new plants to keep them healthy. All three plants need to have half of the existing foliage removed when divided, as this will help establish the plants faster. Divide daylilies and hostas every 3 to 5 years, depending on their size. Space plants of daylilies every 2 feet and 3 feet between rows to allow room for future growth. Hostas will vary, depending on the variety--from 2 to 3 feet between plants. Mulch 2 inches deep helps protect plants during winters with little snow cover or with very cold weather.

Peonies grow from a swollen root or tuber underground and at this time they have pointed buds on them known as "eyes." These are next year’s foliage and flower buds. Remove all the foliage from the plant, dig up the entire plant, and clean the soil from the twisted looking roots. What you want to do is to cut them into pieces that contain 3 to 5 of these "eyes," so they will be strong enough to flower the following spring. Dust the cut you made with a general purpose garden dust or garden sulfur and allow to dry for an hour or two before planting. This will prevent rotting of the tuber when put back into the ground.

Condition the soil like the other perennials we have talked about and plant shallow, like the German iris. The pointed buds should have less than an inch of soil over them when placed in the ground or the plant will not flower when planted too deep--maybe that is why your plants are not flowering very well now in your garden. The tuber should be about the depth of your finger knuckle and when you dig into the soil you should be able to feel it easily. Space your new plants every 2 feet and 3 feet between rows to give them room to grow for the future. Peonies are divided every 5 years and should also be mulched lightly--about one inch thick--to protect the plant during the winter and help hold moisture in the soil during the hot days of summer.

Bleeding hearts can also be divided at this time, and--like the peony--the roots are covered with pointed buds for next year. Make you cuts with a sharp knife that has been dipped in a bit of bleach to sterilize it before cutting the plant and during each cut. Make sure each piece you cut has 3 to 5 buds so the plant can grow quickly and flower for you next spring. Condition the soil before planting and cover the new roots with 2 inches of soil and 1 to 2 inches of mulch them for winter protection and summer heat. Space plants 2 to 3 feet between plants as they will grow large when mature and divide them every 5 years. Fertilize in the spring with an organic flower food like Flower Tone or Dr. Earth Rose &Flower fertilizer with Pro Biotic to help get the plants off to a quick start.

When you divide in the late summer to early fall, you help to create a better plant, as it can establish itself in a warm soil before the cold weather arrives. Spring-divided perennials start up slower and if the weather is warm and early like it was this year, the plants begin to grow before you have time to divide them--possibly hurting them. Look over your garden; any perennial that has finished flowering can be divided at this time of the year. Always condition the soil and keep the plant well watered until October. Use the new “Plant Thrive” with Mycorrhizae in it to speed up the rooting process. It is well worth the small investment and most garden centers have it available right now. Plant Thrive is also great for all your Fall plantings of shrubs, trees, bulbs and hardy fall flowers like mums and fall flowering asters.

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Fuchsia: the champion of the partial shade garden

The fuchsia was found growing in the mountains of tropical Central and South America as a small shrub. It was so unusual that it was dug up and brought to plant collectors around the world--and today it is cherished for the unusual flowers the plant makes. The plant is known for its intricate branching structure and the arching shoots that develop all over the plant and are filled with flowers from spring to fall. This wonderful plant is grown worldwide and has been hybridized by gardeners so that today there are more than 10,000 fuchsia varieties. The plant belongs to the Evening Primrose family and has created so much interest that gardeners from around the world have started fuchsia plant societies to honor this plant. So let me tell you about this plant and how you can add it to your plant collection.

Some of the modern hybrids can be grown as a miniature tree form for containers; these plants can reach heights as tall as 6 feet, while spreading to 3 feet or more with proper care. This tree form will make a wonderful container plant for a part shade patio or garden deck and grace your special summer garden with an endless supply of flowers. The flowers appear in the early spring and will continue until late fall. The flowers are very distinctive; the plant is ornamental, and it produces pendulous flowers that are bell shaped. The flower is unusual, because it produces visible sepals, long stamens, and an extremely long style.

The flowers can be single, semi double, or double and come in almost every color except yellow. What gives this flower additional character is that the sepals can be one color and the flower petals another--or they can both be the same color. The flower buds develop along the tips of the cascading stems like Christmas ornaments on your tree. Each variety will have its unique shape--from a long and slender teardrop to a bright and colorful rounded ball-shaped flower bud. As the flower buds open the covering cracks open and quickly curl upright, creating an umbrella-looking covering to reveal the colorful flower petals. The flowers will range in size from 1/2 inch to as large as 3 inches in diameter. The flowers always hang down from the arching branches, so you're always looking at the side of the flowers--making its true character visible to you.

This wonderful plant comes in 3 types of shape or groups of plants: upright growing fuchsias, cascading growing fuchsias, and racemous growing fuchsias known as "triphylla" hybrids. The plants grow best in a partial shade to shade area during the summer months and should have some protection from the wind or the flowers will get knocked off by wind and heavy rains. Plants can be kept from year to year if you are able to keep the plant cool in north-facing window with temperatures between 40 and 50 degrees. These cool temperatures keep the plant dormant to prevent new growth forming on the plant.

You can also move your plant to a cool basement for the winter months, once the leaves begin to yellow and fall from the plant. The plant will remain alive and go dormant if you can keep it cool and frost free and the soil slightly moist--no food during this rest period. Plants should also be cut back by two-thirds when the plant stops flowering to prepare for overwintering in the house or dormant in your basement. Most gardeners do not know this and they dispose of the plant at the end of the growing season and start fresh next year.

In March, bring the plant out of dormancy and move it to a sunny and warm window with temperatures above 50 degrees, water as needed and begin to fertilize the plant every other week with a mild solution of liquid fertilizer to promote new growth where you cut back the plant last fall. As the foliage begins to develop, increase the fertilizer to full strength and keep the plant in a sunny window until late May to early June, when it will prefer a bit of shade outside in your garden or on your patio.

Plants should be repotted each spring with a rich soil like Black Gold Waterhold Cocoblend Potting Soil with coir to help hold moisture around the roots. The better the soil, the more it will grow and flower. Now--very important--increase the pot size by one inch each year. Only one inch, because if you repot the plan into large containers it will make more foliage than flowers on the plant, almost pot bound is best. As the plant begins to develop the long arching branches in the spring, let them grow to about 6 inches long and then pinch back the tip of the plant to stimulate many new side shoots that will thicken the plant and increase the amount of flowers made on the plant.

If you are growing fuchsia in a hanging basket and the branches begin to get real long as they cascade over the edge of the basket, it is important to pinch back the plant to keep the branches under control or the weight of the flowers on them will break the branches from the plant. Also, long-growing branches will only have flowers on the tips of the branches and the top of the plant above the container will produce only foliage. Pruning these long growing branches during July by 1/3 will stimulate numerous side branches to develop on the plant and keep it flowering until frost. A second very important tip for you is to remove any plum-colored fruit that forms on the plant. Look closely and you will notice that just above the flower an oval shape pod will develop and when the flower falls it will continue to grow change from green to a plum color and produce seeds. When this happens, the flowers STOP forming on the plant, so remove these pods from the plant every time you see them when you're watering or fertilizing the plant.

In the spring, when you begin to cut back the plant to stimulate new growth and make the plant bushy, is the best time to start new plants from these cuttings. Just dip the 2" to 3" shoots in rooting powder and in a couple of weeks you will have new plants. Keep cuttings warm and out of bright hot sun until rooted. Use a special seed starter soil as it is sterile and free from disease problems. These soils are also well drained and fertile for faster root development than traditional potting soil.

If you have a plant that seems to drop leaves prematurely, it is a sign that the location is too hot and air too dry. Move the plant to a cooler location and try to hose down the foliage every morning with water to increase the humidity. When you visit your local greenhouse, choose a plant with more buds than open flowers on it and the plant will adapt to your home more easily. If your foliage begins to develop brown spotting or yellow margins it is a sign of over watering. Allow the plant to dry out before watering again and fertilize to bring back the color of the foliage. I like Blooming and Rooting Fertilizer from Fertilome because it's a high phosphorous fertilizer that will encourage extra flowers on the plant.

Plants can have problems with aphids or whiteflies but the pests can be easily controlled with All Season Oil or a Systemic Insecticide applied to the soil when watering--each month. Butterflies and hummingbirds love this plant, especially the red or pink flowers, so place the plant where you can see it easily when you are enjoying your yard and garden.

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Impatiens disease hits the country hard this summer

Last February, I was in Florida visiting my son Matthew for a couple of weeks and noticed the lack of the common Impatiens growing all over the place like past years. Matthew told me his plants just fell apart and in just a couple of weeks everything was gone but when we went to Disney World, I saw that he was not the only one. No impatiens plants were in the entire park and that was unusual, so I began to ask questions. Friends from Boynton Beach told me that the entire state of Florida had a serious problem because of disease problems and that the state Department of Agriculture suggested not to plant impatiens this spring until they could figure out was happening.

This disease problem I soon found out has been a plague all over England, Europe, and Australia for the past several years. Last fall, the problem was found in the upper Midwest, the Northeast and costal California in commercial and residential planting beds. For the Northeast and upper Midwest it was fall and not a big deal because of the time of the year but it moved to Florida during the winter and infected everything all over Florida.

The problem was determined to be a fungus called "downy mildew," and it only affects the common types of impatiens, not the New Guinea varieties. This is what to look for: stunted growth when the weather gets hot and humid, light green leaves, leaf and flower drop, and eventual collapse of the stems and plant. This all begins with a white, downy growth on the underside of the foliage in mid-July here in the Northeast. This is not a new disease-- it's been around for 10 years--but never before was a big problem here in the States. Now it is a global problem and causing concern across the country.

After the disease started showing up in Florida and other regions last year "Ball Horticultural Company" one of the nation's largest producers of plants for the U.S. Horticultural trade issued a nationwide alert. Ball Seed Co. wanted to make landscapers aware of the problem and have them pull out all infected plants before they collapsed. When I called Ball Seed Co. last week because I am seeing it here on my plants and have had several emails about the problem from all over New England, I was told the following. The spores that cause the problem have jumped from state to state on the wind currents from infected plants. The spores can travel up to as much as 600 miles in just 48 hours if a storm is moving up the coast or across the country.

This fungus cannot infect other type of plants. The problem is that infected pants can produce survival spores that can live in your soil and infect future plantings. These spores fall to the ground from infected leaves and flowers--or when the plants collapse and die. So if you see signs of this happening to your plants it is important that you dig them up, clean the area and dispose of all plant parts from your garden bed... NOW. Experts who deal with plant disease problems have recommended that you do not plant impatiens in those infected flower beds, window boxes, or planters the following year. So if you're suspicious that your plants have this problem, plant something else next spring. Plant Pathologists have no idea how long these spores will last in your soil and studies have shown that the spores could last for 5 to 8 years.

Downy mildew does not like hot temperatures and dry growing conditions but loves when the temperatures drop off at night, loves excess moisture caused by rain or by you watering the plants frequently when it is hot out--especially if you water late in the day so the foliage stays wet all night long. High humidity is another trigger for this problem and just think how many days and evening this year we have had the humidity, in the Northeast double what we normally get over the average summer this year.

Here are a few things you can do to help control the problem. When you're-finished working in flower beds with impatiens in them, wash off the soil from your tools; sanitation is key. If you have a lot of impatiens in your yard, I would like to have you wash your tools whenever you use them around those plants so you do not spread the problem from flower bed to flower bed. If you have a problem, wash your tools with a solution of water and 10 % Clorox. If you're going to use the same containers next year and plan to plant impatiens again change the soil in the container, and wash it with the disinfecting solution of Clorox and water.

If you have infected plants dig them out of your garden now and clean the surface of the soil of all plant debris. Bag up the plants that are infected and place them in trash bags to dispose with your trash, get them off your property because the spores will become active again next year and move around your yard with the wind. DO NOT put plants and plant debris in your compost pile, as composting does not kill the spores. Don't even bother to try and save the plant with fungicides as this disease problem is very aggressive on impatiens--get rid of the plants, the sooner the better!

Also a problem this summer with impatiens is another disease called "Alternaria Leaf Spot" which produces brown spots and rings on the foliage. The problem is caused by high humidity, watering late in the day, and poor air circulation around the plants. Next year space plants further apart, mix impatiens with other types of plants in the same planting bed or skip a year and use other varieties of shade loving plants in your garden or containers.

Another problem has been with a fungus called "botrytis blight." The symptoms are brown spotted flowers and stem rot. Again caused by humidity, overwatering, watering late in the day so the foliage stays wet all night long. To avoid overcrowding of the flower bed, space plants further apart next year for better air circulation. Avoid sprinklers that run every day, such as lawn sprinkler systems for the lawn. Also, cleaning the faded flowers that fall on the foliage from above will help to prevent spreading the disease problem.

This has been a rough year for the number-one selling annual flower in the world. If you are not infected with this problem--GREAT--but if you are, next spring try something else in your garden or containers. Coleus, wax begonias, tuberous begonias, fuchsia, browellia, lobelia, iresine, and even dusty miller will do well in the shade. Until this problem has been resolved, choose your plants wisely and work on your care of the plants. Plant breeders are aware of the problem and they are already working on the problem for a disease resistant plant. I don't want you to panic but this is a growing problem with impatiens and you should be aware of it.

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Alaska trip
Paul Parent will be hosting a tour that includes:
  • Vancouver, BC
  • Butchart Gardens--55 acres of floral display!
  • Cruising the Inside Passage:
  • Ketchikan
  • Icy Strait Point
  • Juneau
  • Skagway
  • Hubbard Glacier Cruising
  • Seward
  • Scenic Drive to Anchorage
  • Denali National Park
  • Fairbanks City Tour, a tour of the Gold Dredge # 8 and a cruise down the Chena river on the Riverboat Discovery Sternwheeler.

Click here for more information.


This Week's Question
Various succulent plants can store water in various places. Which is not one of those places?

  1. flowers
  2. leaves
  3. roots
  4. stems
  5. trunk


This Week's Prize:
Liquid Plant THRIVE

Soil Conditioner & Mycorrhizal Root Stimulator--perfect for seedlings and growing plants of all types.

The hottest gardening product for 2012! From existing plants to seedlings--THRIVE helps plants get off on the right "root." The beginning is often the most important part of your plants' lives. Maintaining soil quality for them to grow is imperative. Liquid Plant THRIVE contains a concentrated dose of the microbes already found in nature that will ensure a strong root system, require less watering and help you do your part for the environment.

For more information, see the THRIVE website.

Last Week's Question:

This flower is named after a mythological Greek youth. The myth is that this youth was beloved by Apollo, who turned him into a flower when he died. This flower is available in several colours, has one of the sweetest scents around, and is most often grown as a potted plant.

  1. Hellebore
  2. Hyacinth
  3. Iris
  4. Narcissus
  5. Oleander

Last Week's Winner:
Heyward Whetsell

Last Week's Answer:
B. Hyacinth

Last Week's Prize:
Liquid Plant THRIVE

One winner per question - we choose winners from the list of those who answer correctly. Winners must be newsletter subscribers. We'll ship you your prize, so be sure to put your address in the form in case you win!

Garden Journal

Are you looking for a great gift for a gardener (or yourself)? This garden journal helps make planning and organizing easy. This journal, autographed personally by Paul, makes a perfect gift for gardeners. The cover holds a 5x7 or 4x6 photo and a heavy-duty D-ring binder.

Also included:

  • 8 tabbed sections
  • 5 garden details sections with pockets for seeds, tags...
  • Weather records page
  • 6 three year journal pages
  • Insect & diseases page - 3 project pages
  • 3 annual checklist pages
  • Plant wish list page
  • 2 large pocket pages
  • Sheet of garden labels
  • 5 garden detail sheets
  • 5 graph paper pages for layouts
  • 5 photo pages, each holding four 4x6 photos in landscape or portrait format

Click here to order online.

Cold Cucumber Soup

What You'll Need:

  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium cucumber, unpeeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1-1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 12 to 16 cucumber slices for garnish (optional)
  • 6 to 8 mint sprigs for garnish (optional)


  • Combine cucumbers, onion, sour cream, chicken broth, parsley, salt, white pepper and nutmeg in a blender.
  • Process mixture just until well blended. Pour cucumber soup into a large bowl.
  • Chill, covered for 2 hours or longer.
  • Ladle soup into individual soup bowls.
  • Garnish with cucumber slices and mint sprigs if desired.

Yield: 6-8 servings


Contact Information:

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(207) 985-6972
(800) 259-9231 (Sunday 6 AM to 10 AM)

(207) 985-6972

Paul Parent Garden Club
2 Blueberry Pines Dr
Kennebunk, ME 04043

Regular Phone Hours:
Mon.-Sat. 8 AM to 6 PM
Sunday: 10 AM to 6 PM

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