April E-News from Viette's                                   Volume 12: No. 4

Lori Jones, Editor                                                                                                April/2016

Daffodils usher in the new spring season!


Colorful Daffodils

Usher in the New

Spring Season!


Let the "trumpets" sound  
their glorious fanfare!
"Spring is finally here!"


The Viette gardens are
bursting with the bright colors
of a fresh new season!
Quick Links
Plant of the Month 
More April Tips ...
Tent caterpillars
Tent caterpillar nest
  Get a Jump on
Insects and Disease
let spring insects and diseases ruin your gardens!
Insect Control
Tent Caterpillars:  
I have just started to notice the sticky white webs of tent caterpillars forming in the trees. The best time to control these destructive caterpillars is when they are very small. These young caterpillars can be controlled safely (without harming beneficial insects) by spraying Bonide BT Thuricide.
Read more about tent caterpillars 
Scale Insects:
April is a good time to spray hollies, euonymus, and other susceptible trees and shrubs with Bonide All Seasons Oil or Bonide Neem to control scale insects covering the branches.
Read more about scale
Disease Control 
Botrytis is a fungal disease that causes blackened spots on buds, leaves, and stems of many perennials including peonies. If you noticed this disease on your peonies last year, spray with a fungicide like Bonide Mancozeb, Liquid Copper, or Bonide Fung-onil.
Botrytis on a peony flower bud
Botrytis on a peony flower bud 
Black Spot on Roses:
If you had black spot on your rose foliage last year, begin spraying with a fungicide such as
Bonide Mancozeb, Liquid Copper, Fung-onil, or Bayer Advanced All-In-One Rose & Flower Care.

Always read and follow the label directions when applying any pesticides! 
Gardening Questions?
Andre  answers a listener's question during a broadcast of 'In the Garden'

Listen to Andre
on the radio every Saturday morning from 8:00-11:00 on 
"In the Garden  
with Andre Viette"
Click for a station list or  listen live from our flagship station WSVA.  
Listen to podcasts.  


Viette Discussion Board
Weekend Gardening Tip
Drifts of naturalized Narcissus provide a stunning show in March and April
Drifts of naturalized Narcissus provide a stunning show in March and April
Have Daffodils that Bloom for Years!
In the last week or so we have had many calls and e-mails about daffodils (Narcissus) not blooming well or even not blooming at all.
Narcissus _Ice Follies_ is a great naturalizing cultivar.
'Ice Follies' is a great
naturalizing cultivar.
There are several reasons why daffodils might not bloom well or may fail to bloom all together. Many times it has to do with the variety of daffodil that was planted. Some varieties are better "naturalizers" than others, meaning they will proliferate well and bloom for many years with very little care. For over 50 years Andre's father, Martin Viette, planted and tested tens of thousands of daffodils to develop a list of varieties that naturalize well.  
Other reasons why daffodils don't bloom:
  • Nutrition issues - Feeding your established bulb beds with Espoma Bulb-tone in the early spring, right after they finish blooming, and again in the fall is a good practice to follow. This will ensure that there is always a good supply of nutrients available to fortify the bulbs for producing more beautiful blooms the following season.
  • Avoid feeding bulbs with high nitrogen fertilizers! Lawn fertilizers are packed with nitrogen because they are designed to promote beautiful thick foliar growth at the expense of flower production. This is definitely not what you are going for in your bulb gardens! Feed with a fertilizer that is low in nitrogen (the first number) and higher in phosphorus (the second number) which promotes flower production. An organic bulb fertilizer such as Espoma Bulb-tone (3-5-3) is a great choice. If you use a broadcast spreader to fertilize your lawn, be careful that this high nitrogen fertilizer doesn't fly into your bulb and perennial beds.
  • Now it's ready!
    Once the foliage begins die back, you can cut it back
    Foliage was not allowed to "ripen" properly
    before it was cut off. Be sure to wait 6 weeks after flowering before cutting the foliage back. This gives the foliage enough time to "feed" the bulb for the following season's production of flowers.
  • Too much shade - Make sure your daffodils are getting enough sun. They should have at least a half day of full sun in order to produce flowers. Normally, they will flower under deciduous trees because, for the most part, flowering and foliage "ripening" occurs before most trees are fully covered with leaves. They will not grow well or flower under evergreen trees or shrubs because the shade is too dense.
  • Soggy Soil - Daffodils need well-drained soil to grow well and flower. Overly wet conditions can cause the bulbs to rot and eventually die. Be sure to amend the soil with organic matter before planting.
  • Bulbs may be too crowded - Sometimes if daffodil clumps are too compacted, they will cease to produce flowers or flower production will decline. If this is the case, the clumps should be divided.
    • Dividing daffodils - When the foliage has ripened, lift the clump and separate the individual bulbs.
    • These bulbs can be replanted right away.
    • If you don't replant them after dividing, they should be dried thoroughly in a shady location and stored in mesh onion or potato bags (or even panty hose!) in a cool location with good air circulation. Replant them in the fall in well prepared soil.
For more information on daffodils and their culture 
visit the American Daffodil Society website.

Beware of Late Spring Frosts!
Freeze damage to tender hosta foliage
Mid-April freeze damage to tender hosta foliage
Don't be fooled into thinking that cold weather is behind us!
The recent warm days can lure you into a false sense of security that no more cold weather is coming.
Don't believe it!
It's only the beginning of April and there is now a freeze watch in effect for us for Saturday night. It is supposed to be even colder (in the low 20's) early next week! In the Shenandoah Valley, our average last frost date is sometime around mid-May.
  • It's still to early to plant dahlias, gladiolus, and other summer flowering bulbs in the garden. Dormant bulbs with no top growth can be planted in mid-April. If you have started summer flowering bulbs indoors in pots and they have top growth, you must wait until after the danger of frost to put them outside. 
  • Don't be tempted to go out on these warm early spring days and buy a bunch of annuals for your hanging baskets and outdoor containers unless you are able to bring them inside or cover them well during cold weather. Many are grown in warmer climates or in hot greenhouses and may not be hardened off at all. They can be knocked back by cold temperatures that aren't even near freezing.
  • It's WAY to early to put out tomato plants in the garden. Wait until after your average last frost date to put them out. Be sure they are hardened off. As I mentioned above, even just cold air temperatures can set them back and stunt their growth.
  • These warm temperatures will fool many perennials into early growth. This tender new foliage will be susceptible to cold damage. Be prepared to cover them if a heavy frost is predicted.
Some things you may not know about frost:
  • Temperatures do not have to drop below freezing for frost to occur.
    • Frost can occur even at 38°F or 40°F if the night is clear and the winds are calm!
    • If there is cloud cover and the night is windy, frost will not usually settle on the ground or plants even when temperatures drop to 34°F.
  • White frost generally occurs when temperatures are above the 32 degree mark and is usually less damaging to plants than a black frost.
  • Black frost occurs when temperatures fall below 32°F - down to around 28°F or lower.
    • Black frost is always a killing frost because it damages plant tissue causing a blackened appearance to the foliage.
  • Certain perennials are more susceptible to frost and freeze damage once they begin growing. These include Hosta, Astilbe, Cimicifuga, Kirengeshoma, and Japanese anemones.
Watch the temperatures
Be prepared to cover tender new growth if a frost or freeze is forecast.
Covering for frost protection
Covering tender young hosta foliage for frost protection
  • Blankets, sheets, or cardboard boxes can be used to protect plants from frost or freeze damage.
    • These covers prevent the frost from settling on the foliage and physically causing damage.
    • In addition, covering preserves ground heat and keeps the temperature warmer under the cover.
  • Keep the plants covered until the temperature rises above 38°F or 40°F or the frost melts off.
  • Be careful not to leave the covers over the plants in the sun or they will cook!
If frost or freeze damage does occur on the above listed perennials, they can be sheared back and will flush out with fresh new growth.
From the Viette's Views Blog ...
Grass invading iris 03-25-2016 14:23:51 PM

Grass is nice. Most homeowners crave a beautifully manicured, lush carpet of turfgrass. The sea of thick, green grass surrounding the Viette home is the envy of visitors who come to wander through the extensive gardens surrounding their home. Yes, grass is nice - when it is growing in your lawn. It's not so nice [...]...»

Crocus blooms in spring 03-16-2016 12:14:00 PM

The other night as I drove past a small pond on my way home, the chirping of the spring peepers was deafening! But I was happy to hear them! Spring is near! The peepers are singing, the crocus are blooming, and the daffodils are beginning to open! It seems that spring is slowly creeping into [...]...»

Did You Know?
A drift of naturalized crocus
A drift of naturalized crocus is a colorful sight in early spring.
Many Other Spring Bulbs Naturalize Well    
Spring bulbs give the garden a "natural" look when planted en masse under trees and shrubs or even in the grass.  They are especially beautiful when planted in great drifts in a woodland setting!
following is a list of Andre's favorite spring bulbs for naturalizing.
Crocus - brightly colored little cup-shaped flowers 2"-6" tall that thrive and naturalize in lawns. Plant in the fall in full sun to partial shade 3"-4" deep, 2" apart in a light, well-drained soil.
Giant Leucojum
Giant Leucojum
Leucojum aestivum 'Gravetye Giant' (Giant Snowflake)
Large, long-lasting lily-of-the-valley type flowers, white with green markings with 2 to 8 on each 18" stem. They flower in late spring. Set bulbs out in fall in full sun or partial shade 5"-6" deep, 4-6" apart in well-drained, rich soil.
Muscari (Grape Hyacinth)
Thickly flowered stems with flowers in blues and purples, 6"-8" high. Underplant around shrubs and small trees, at the border's edge and with larger Narcissus. Plant in early autumn in full sun or partial shade, 5" deep, 1"-3" apart, in well-drained, rich soil.
Galanthus Snowdrops

Galanthus (Snowdrops)
Usually the first bulbs to flower, sometimes as the snow is on the ground. It has one delicate, bell-like white flower 4"-6" high. Naturalizes well in the lawn or on slopes. Plant in early fall 4" deep, 1"-2" apart in moist, well-drained soil in sun o r partial shade.
Drifts of white scilla
Small drifts of white scilla
Scilla spp - many gentian blue, white or pink flowers appear on 12"-14" stems in mid spring. Naturalizes under shrubs or in the garden. Plant in early fall in sun to partial shade 4" deep and 4" apart in well-worked, well-drained, slightly moist enriched soil.
Other Bulbs for Naturalizing
  • Chionodoxa - Glory-of-the-Snow
  • Darwin Hybrid Tulips
  • Eranthis - Winter Aconite
  • Erythronium - Dog Tooth Violet
  • Puschkinia - Striped Squill
  • Tulipa - Species Tulips
If you enjoy our newsletter, please pass it along to your gardening friends!


One More April Tip!
"Cut Down" the Bagworms!
bagworm case
A bagworm case hangs
from a cedar tree
Bagworms are destructive insects that attack many deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs. They can be recognized by the characteristic case or "bag" that they construct around themselves as they grow and feed. The bag is made from silk and plant material from the plants they are feeding on. Bags which were constructed by the females can contain up to 1,000 eggs. These eggs usually hatch in late May through early June from bags that were constructed during the previous season.
Right now you can take some sharp scissors or shears and cut the bags off your trees and shrubs.
This is an environmentally friendly way to "cut down" the bagworm populations without using chemical controls. Just snip what you can reach from the ground. We don't recommend climbing a ladder to do this.
Read more about controlling bagworms.
Travel with Andre and Claire Viette in 2016!  
Budapest on the banks of the Danube
Budapest on the banks of the Danube
The Imperial Gardens  
and Treasures Tour
September 18 - October 1, 2016

Featuring the Imperial worlds of the
German and Austro-Hungarian Empires
Visit Hungary, Austria,
the Czech Republic, and Germany

Tour highlights include:
Budapest - Enjoy a guided tour of this beautiful city on the Danube; visit a botanical garden; spend a day in the Puszta - land of the Hungarian cowboys and be treated to an equestrian show and gypsy music   
Vienna - From Budapest, we will travel up the Danube by hydrofoil boat to Vienna where you will see the famous Lipizzaner Stallions, the Schönbrunn Gardens, and enjoy a concert of Strauss and Mozart at the  Schönbrunn Palace  
Berlin's River Spree
Cruising on Berlin's River Spree
Prague - We then travel north to Prague by way of the scenic Wachau Valley. Tour Prague, its famous castle, the Charles Bridge, and magnificent gardens. End the day with a three-hour cruise on the Vltava River! 
Berlin - On the way to Berlin, we will stop at the city of Dresden. In Berlin, relax on a cruise on the River Spree, enjoy a candlelight dinner and concert at the Charlottenburg palace, and take a walking tour of Berlin. You can even opt to join Andre and Claire on a visit to the largest private botanical garden in Europe.
Andre will give a series of gardening presentations throughout the trip.

Space is limited to 42 persons so this trip will fill up fast!


Our Friends and Sponsors 
Pond-a-Monium 2016