Why Does My London Planetree Drop It’s Leaves In The Summer?

69747689.I2pKj23U Why Does My London Planetree Drop It’s Leaves In The Summer?

Photo Courtesy of: Hubert J. Steed

London Planetrees are the descendents of both European Sycamores and American Planetrees. They look much like Sycamores, with similar leaves, and showy peeling bark in brown, silver, and green hues.  London Planetrees are commonly planted as street trees currently due to their hearty disposition and disease resistance to anthracnose and some pests.  Ideally they should be planted in areas with plenty of moisture, but in many cases the roadside and “construction grade soil” that they are planted in can cause the tree problems initially, and lead to defoliation in the warm months.

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Container Garden Ideas: Hanging Basket For Full Sun (#003)

container garden 003 225x300 Container Garden Ideas: Hanging Basket For Full Sun (#003)Here is a bright idea for a full sun area that will assist you in cheerfully welcoming visitors to your home. This basket idea is simple, and only requires two varieties of plants!

Both considered annuals in areas with frost, African Daisies (Osteospermum), and Lantana (any variety) blend beautifully in this hanging basket, attracting butterflies, and comments galore.  I prefer this basket with only two main colors present, but both the African Daisy, and the Lantana come in several colors, which can be mixed, and matched for whatever look you want to achieve.  The African Daisy will bloom for approximately three months, and can be pruned to encourage re-blooming.  Lantana’s charm is in its tiny multi-colored blooms, which often darken with age, creating the effect of more colors present in one flower head.

Both of these plant will need to be watered on a daily basis until two weeks past the planting date, to help them establish well in the container. After that time, a regular watering schedule a few times per week will prevent the root systems from drying up.

Tip: Drier, hotter weather in the summer requires daily watering for hanging baskets, who’s root systems are not fully protected from the sun, or evaporation.  The drainage holes on a container, or the woven natural fiber lining of a cage basket, all contribute to a hanging baskets water loss, as they assist in the dehydration process.  Remember, a dry and stressed plant will first reduce the amount of blooms it produces, and a lack of watering can directly translate into a basket producing nothing but green leaves.

Your thoughts: Have you ever made a hanging basket for the summer?  What combinations of flowers did you use?  I’m always looking for new ideas!

Green Tips: Watering Your Lawn and Garden in the Summer

vstep background 300x167 Green Tips: Watering Your Lawn and Garden in the Summer

We all want a healthy lawn, but when the summer heat strikes, it may be hard to know how to achieve that end when it comes to proper watering.  We’ve all heard that ‘less can be more,’ but in lawn care, that adage has a different meaning.  Grass is, as a rule, a cool weather crop.  There are many varieties of grass that respond differently to heat, drought, and certain times of the year, and I will go into that at another time.  Today though I want to give you a few rules of thumb on how to assist your lawn through hot weather.

  1. Set your expectations realistically. Not every lawn can be a green carpet through the summer. There are varieties of grass that will go dormant in the summer sun (as part of their regular life cycle) no matter how often you water the area.  Most homeowners have lawns that were designed with a mixture of grass seeds in them, and none of these varieties of grass respond exactly the same as the others.  Often, when brown blades of grass are mixed in with green grassy areas it is simply what is known as “shedding.”  And as turf grass grows and spreads, it sheds it’s older blades. Decide for yourself whether the lawn is exhibiting signs of normal seasonal change, or if there is a greater problem in your lawn.
  2. Avoid watering your lawn in the summer between the hours of 10am and 5pm.  Each droplet of water on your lawn during peak sun hours can act like a magnifying glass on the grass, and fry the leaf tissue of the plant.  We all know what happens to ants under magnifying glasses, make sure you don’t do the same to your lawn.
  3. Remember that if you are running a sprinkler system, or an oscilating sprinkler from a hose, that much of the water you are applying will not make it into the soil, or stay there long, due to the evaporation effect present in hot weather.  Watering a section of lawn for anything less than 30 minutes of continuous spray, or sprinkling, is only hurting the grass, encouraging root systems to grow nearest the surface of the soil where they are the most vulnerable.  (In shady areas, grass will not need as much watering, so use your judgement when deciding if an area needs more water.)  Set a timer, to alert you as to when you will need to move your mobile sprinkler, if you need to water more than one section of grass.
  4. The ideal depth of saturation in soil for root growth is in the ballpark of 4-6 inches.  Generally speaking, this is a textbook recommended depth, but not a realistic number to keep in mind when watering your lawn with a goal of achieving it in one day, or even one week.  True moist soil will take a few weeks of repeated watering, although, as I hinted at one above, less can be more.  A few deep waterings, of 30 minutes per patch of grass, are better than daily sprinkles that do not penetrate the soil well, or daily waterings of one hour stretches at a time that create a runny soup of the soil, bogging the area down, or washing the soil’s nutrients down the road with the run-off water.
  5. For people with sprinkler systems, or those in the “Green business” I recommend tackling tough open areas (especially around new construction), exposed to a lot of sun with two waterings a day. One shift should be in the early morning, and one in the early evening (to allow for evaporation).  These shift waterings can both be about 30 minutes long, taking into account water loss from sprinkler heads, and the amount of ground each sprinkler head is covering.

Your thoughts:  Do you have any techniques you’ve successfully used to keep your lawn green and lush?

How To: Prune Geranium Flowers For The Summer

geraniums How To: Prune Geranium Flowers For The SummerThe smell of geraniums reminds me of my parents house when I was growing up.  The summer was always rung in with potted Geraniums on the front porch, and winter found those same plants waiting out the cold temperatures inside my parents bathroom, perching beside the soaking tub.

One of the great things about geraniums is that fact that they are constant bloomers when they receive enough water, and are pruned on a regular basis.  Having compound flower heads with multiple blooms on them, spent flowers can be pinched off singularly as they age, to keep a few flowers visible.  When an entire stem of blooms begins to look sparse, or is past it’s peak, the best thing to do to encourage more blooms is to remove the entire flower stem. With Geraniums, no tools are needed to efficiently remove dying flowers, and the method I suggest will also eliminate the unsightly dead, or dying stem left from using Pruning Shears.

geranium stem 002 225x300 How To: Prune Geranium Flowers For The SummerEvery Geranium flower stem has a large elbow at the base of it where it joins the main stem of the plant, on occasion, a flower stem will have an “elbow” half way up a flower stem as well (this usually happens in plants that have grown very tall, to maximize their exposure to the sun).  These elbows snap off easily with little pressure, to neatly and efficiently prune the plant in a way that the Geranium can heal from quicker than from pruning with shears.  Pruning entire stems at once encourages more vigorous growth of the plant, and cuts back the time between blooming flower heads.