Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Time for Transition from Spring to Summer; Here's Some Guidance on Camellias, Tomatoes and What Else to Grow

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Time for Transition from Spring to Summer; Here's Some Guidance on Camellias, Tomatoes and What Else to Grow

Article excerpt

Byline: Amy E. Morie

With a cool and often cloudy spring, the rising temperatures that mark the beginning of summer can be an unwelcome shock for gardeners and plants alike.

For gardeners, keeping your cool will be essential as weather warms. Plan your chores so you follow the shade in your yard. Stay hydrated, take plenty of breaks and avoid working in the hottest part of the day.

Here is your May timetable.

SPREAD SPRING CHEER

May is a good time to propagate camellias in our area. If you're hankering for more of this plant after seeing it in a friend's yard or admiring a neighbor's blooms, ask if they mind sharing. Camellias propagate well through a technique called air layering. Bark on a semi-softwood area of a branch is carefully removed, then covered and wrapped to stay moist while still attached to the main plant. Roots should develop within the wrapping. Once roots form, the branch can be removed and will be ready for planting. In camellias, this takes about 16 weeks.

To get started, you'll need a sharp knife, spaghnum moss, aluminum foil and powdered rooting hormone (available from most nurseries or landscape supply companies).

First, carefully examine the plant for a good spot. Remember that the branch you select will ultimately be removed from the plant. Don't go for the front and center, as the empty space left behind will be an obvious hole in the plant's form when the branch is removed. Instead, look for a spot around the back or an inconspicuous side.

Select a healthy, vigorous branch. About 12 inches to 18 inches down from the branch tip, carefully cut through just the bark, circling around the entire diameter.aMake a similar cut just below the first, girdling the stem in two spots about 1 inch apart.

Scrape all the bark from the portion between the cuts. Next, wet a handful of the spaghnum moss and squeeze to remove excess water. It should be damp but not dripping. Lay it on a sheet of aluminum foil and shake a light sprinkle of the rooting powder over the moss.

Finally, wrap the branch so that the moss and hormone contact the scraped portion. Wrap it firmly, twisting the ends in opposite directions. Make sure the foil is sealed, then wait for your new camellia to form!

You can carefully unwrap to check the roots, and rewrap if needed. Plant in a container or directly in the ground and water until established. Air-layered cuttings done now should be ready in September or October.

TOMATO TROUBLES?

As weather warms, the home vegetable garden undergoes a shift. It's time to finish most cool-season crops and begin a summer planting or solarizing in the garden.

If your tomato plant production is declining, several factors may be to blame. Tomatoes are typically self-pollinated. Flowers contain both male and female parts, and wind helps shake the two to help the process along. …

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