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Why won't my Wisteria vine bloom?

This is one of the most common and pervasive of gardener problems. There are 3 or 4 main schools of thought on what to do.

First, if your Wisteria is growing in the shade, you're probably out of luck, Wisteria needs abundant sunshine in order to flower. That's not to say it won't grow/ thrive in the shade, but it probably won't flower much.

Second: Prune, prune, prune. This goes against the old medical adage of "do no harm"....with Wisteria, doing harm by pruning frequently spurs the plant on by creating the will to survive the pruning by blooming like crazy. Some old timers prune as much as every 2 weeks all summer long , with fantastic results the following year.

Third: Use high phosporous fertilizers like Super Phosphate or Espoma Triple Super Phosphate . Avoid use of high nitrogen fertilizers (nitrogen is the first number in any fertilizer's 3 number analysis on the package). Phosphate ( the 2nd number) helps promote bud formation, so this may help. Use in winter or dormant season for best results.

Four: Try root pruning your Wisteria. Root pruning is a truly old time technigue whereby the gardener cuts a few roots of the Wisteria (during dormant or winter off season) , which again causes the plant to react to the injury by putting out a beautiful spread of flowers the following spring. Root pruning should never be done any closer than 3 feet to the trunk of the vine or death of the plant could occur.

Finally understand that most Wisteria will not begin to bloom until at least the 6th or 7th year they are transplanted into your yard...until then they're just toddler / teenagers, not ready to produce 

What's the most effective way to get rid of or control Scale insects on my Euonymus shrubs ?

Euonymus scale  (or armored scale ) is a destructive , plant sucking pest that affects many shrubs, especially many types of green and variegated Euonymus. Male scale insects are white (and are most prevalent) and females are brown. There are multiple approaches to control, but one of the most time tested is the application of Horticultural Oil in either dormant season (most effective) or growing season . Bonide All Seasons Spray Oil is an excellent parafinic oil product for this purpose as well as Ortho's Volck Oil Spray. Oil sprays work by suffocating scale eggs and juveniles, and work best when they can be applied at heavier / thicker rates, which is during dormant season, usually early spring before bud / leaf break. Use a 2.5% rate during dormant season or a 1% rate during growing season applications. 
Another approach is the use of Bonide Systemic Insecticide Granules which work by having the shrub absorb the insecticide through the roots filling the plant with insecticide,  whereby any sucking or chewing insect will be killed upon ingestion. This is easier as well, as granules are simply deposited at the base of each plant a couple of times per year and watered in to dissolve them into the soil around the plant. Read all label directions before use. 

When is the best time to water my lawn?

Early mornings, between 4:30 and 9:00 AM is the best time to water your lawn. Watering at night induces fungus and lawn diseases to grow on the wet grass plants . Diseases are encouraged by moisture on the leaves for prolonged periods of time, so if you water at night, the lawn will stay wet making the problem worse. If you water during early morning, the plant has a chance to dry off by early afternoon, therefore reducing the problem. Contrary to popular belief, daytime watering will not burn your grass, in fact, it actually cools it.
Look for these lawn drought signs of stress: Grass turns a silvery blue color in areas and, if not watered , turns brown. Footprints in your lawn. Grass beginning to need water does not spring back after being walked on. Footprints remain prominently in the lawn, which indicates that watering is needed. Coping with watering / local restrictions Dry summers sometimes means local watering restrictions. But remember that a little water is better than none, so water whenever allowed. Following a good season long fertilizing program in conjunction with core aeration and dethatching (as needed) helps grass develop a strong root system, so the grass can take full advantage of whatever water is available.

When is the best time to prune / trim my hydrangeas?

It depends on the type of hydrangea. There's 2 main types

For mophead / macrophylla type (large flowering) hydrangeas, and oak leaf hydrangeas, the timing is important, as pruning too late in the year removes the following years blooms. These types of hydrangeas bloom on "old wood" (stems that are at least a year old ). This group of hydrangeas produce flower buds on their stems around August, September or October for the following summer's blooms. If those stems are removed (pruned) in the fall, winter, or spring, the bloom buds will be removed, and there may be few or no blooms the following summer (usually June/July for the northern hemisphere). So, the general rule of thumb on this type is to trim no later than late July each year so as not to remove next year's buds.

Remember that pruning is not the same thing as removing the dead blooms / dead heading. There are a small group of mophead hydrangea that will bloom no matter when they are pruned. ('Endless Summer' is this type of hydrangea). Your garden center or landscaper can tell you when you purchase a hydrangea if it is in this special category called "everbloomers." But for the vast majority of hydrangeas, pruning after July will likely result in fewer or no blooms the next summer.

For Paniculata type Hydrangeas (such as Limelight, or PeeGee) which bloom on new wood, pruning can be done almost anytime (except of course just before they are to bloom). They will bloom regardless of timing on their pruning, whether it be fall, winter or spring. Annabelle Hydrangeas can be cut almost to the ground each fall (if desired) and still come back the following year and bloom beautifully.

How do I turn my Hydrangeas color to Blue or Pink ?

To turn a hydrangea to blue, aluminum must be present in the soil around the plant. To ensure that aluminum is present, Aluminum Sulfate may be added to the soil around the hydrangeas.

Experts recommend that a solution of 1/2 oz (1 Tbsp) aluminum sulfate per gallon of water be applied to plants (which are at least 2-3 years old) throughout the season. Important: Water plants very well in advance of application and put solution on conservatively, as too much can burn the roots of hydrangeas.

To make the aluminum available to the plant, the pH of the soil should be low/ acidic (5.2-5.5). Adding aluminum sulfate will tend to lower the pH of the soil. Another method for lowering the pH is to add organic matter to the soil such as coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable peels, grass clippings, pine needles, sulphur etc.

If the soil naturally contains aluminum and is acid (low pH) the color of the hydrangea will naturally tend toward shades of blue and/or purple.

To change a hydrangeas color to pink, you must remove aluminum from the soil, or make it unavailable to the plant by raising the ph. Try using granular Dolomitic Limestone Pellets around the plant to "sweeten" soil and make aluminum less available. This should be done a couple of times per season. Ph levels should be in the 6.0 range. Using high phosporous fertilizers also help change the color into the pink range. Phosphorous is the middle number in the fertilizer analysis.

What is the best way to protect my grass seed from being eaten by birds or dried out too quickly from the sun?

There is a multitude of ways to protect pre-germinating and post -germinating grass seed from bird predation and drought caused by baking sun

First, always make sure your grass seed is sown in to loose , non hard packed soil. This allows you to rake the seed into the loose soil after application. Use a stiff tine bow style garden rake for best results. Rake seed so it ens up mixed with the top 1/2" layer of soil instead of sitting on top where it is easy prey for birds and hot sun.

Second , cover with a seed protecting product such as Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss , common bales of straw or a very light covering of top soil . Dewitt makes a roll of straw encased in mesh underlayment called Straw Guard ( SG200 ). This can be laid directly over straw to provide moisture, deter birds, and eliminate seed runoff on slopes or steep areas.

Finally, watering daily, and using Seed Starting / Starter Fertilizer to promote quick germination also helps deter birds as they wont eat grass seed once it's germinated. Use of artificial Owls, Hawks and Bird Scare / Flash Tape also helps to deter bird predation.