Beetles, Holly, Peonies

Garden Clock

By Pauline Keegan

Can I do anything this fall to prevent Japanese beetles from eating my plants?

There is no guessing where the Japanese beetles will attack next spring. Your best bet is to keep an eye out early in spring and spray with Sevin as soon as you see a beetle.

When is the right time to prune holly?

Holly and all of the Ilex family can be pruned any time. If you plan to do a major reshaping, late winter is probably the best time. Consider a light pruning in December and use the cuttings for Christmas decorating.

Is fall the best time to transplant peonies?

Fall is the best time to transplant peonies. Dig up the plant and divide carefully if you want to plant separate plants. The “crown” from which the red buds are visible in the fall, should not be more than 1 inch below the ground. This is important, as planting too deep results in failure to flower. Peonies prefer full sun, but will bloom with a small amount of shade. Once settled they do not like to be moved, so select the location carefully.

If I buy some bulbs and can’t plant them immediately, how long will they keep?

Bulbs are best planted in late October to early November when the soil temperature cools a bit. If the warm weather persists, store the bulbs in the crisper of your refrigerator. Be sure to keep the bulbs away from fruits, which emit a gas that is harmful to bulbs.

I have a large clump of Pampas grass I want to divide. Is fall the right time to do this?

Pampas grass (Cortaderia) is a hardy grass. It is best divided when it is still growing vigorously so that it can establish its roots before cold weather sets in. If you divide it now, there should be enough time for it to settle. The larger the clump after division, the better the chance for survival. The culms (stems) are usually left on the plant to give it winter interest. In late winter, ornamental grasses should be cut to the ground. If cutting is delayed too late in the spring, new growth can be damaged by cutting down the culms.

Send your gardening and landscaping questions and tips to Washington County Master Gardeners, 2536 N. McConnell Ave., Fayetteville, 72704 or call 444-1755.

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