May E-News from Viette's                                      Volume 10: No. 5

Lori Jones, Editor                                                                                                      May/2014

Peonies are the highlight of the May gardens!April Showers
Bring May Flowers!

The end of April brought us
quite a bit of rain ...

probably much more than anyone wanted!
 But, the peonies and iris are just
beginning bud up and soon the
display gardens will be a mass of blooms!
Plan a visit to see the show!
Peony display beds
Peony display beds in mid-May when they begin blooming
Iris display beds

The iris display gardens are  

vibrant with color in May.

Quick Links
Plant of the Month
Peony Gay Paree is one of Andre's favorites!
Peony 'Gay Paree' is one of
Andre's favorites!
Paeonia hybrids - Herbaceous Peony

Peonies are the "aristocrat" of the perennial garden with their showy profusion of beautiful flowers in the spring. They are reliable bloomers and will provide beautiful bouquets of wonderful fresh cut flowers. Peonies are very long-lived and become even more spectacular with age.
Types of peonies
There are two types of peonies; the more familiar herbaceous peonies that die back to the ground each winter and the woody stemmed tree peonies, Paeonia suffruticosa. Read more about tree peonies.
Herbaceous Peonies
Herbaceous peonies usually bloom for four to six weeks in May and early June. They produce large flowers that may be either single, semi-double, or fully double depending on the cultivar. Learn more about peony flower forms.
Peony President Lincoln
'President Lincoln' is a beautiful single red form
Peonies bloom best when planted in full sun, however in warmer zones, afternoon shade will protect the flowers from excessive heat and prolong the bloom.
peonies 3-4 feet apart so they have plenty of air circulation. This will help reduce disease problems. We also recommend that you do not mulch peonies as they can be prone to crown rot.
A beautiful vase of cut Peony 'Gay Paree'
A beautiful vase of Peony
'Gay Paree' cut flowers.
Cutting Peony Flowers
For use as a cut flower, cut the peony stems when the first petal breaks from the bud. Do not cut more than half of the blooms from a plant and always leave at least the bottom two leaves on the stem.

Care of Peonies
Fertilize peonies in the spring and fall with Espoma Plant-tone.
Peonies are susceptible to botrytis blight and other fungal diseases so keep a close watch in the spring and spray with a fungicide like Mancozeb, Daconil, or copper fungicide if necessary. Read more about botrytis blight.
The best time to divide and transplant peonies is in September through October or November. Read more about dividing peonies.
At Viette's, we take peony orders from spring through fall and dig them fresh for shipment or pick up in late September - October.
Some varieties are available in pots for purchase in the Garden Center this spring.

Come for a visit!
Peony Isani Gidui
Peony 'Isani Gidui' is among the many peonies available in our Garden Center this spring.
Join Our List

Join Our Mailing List
Pruning Spring Blooming Shrubs  
Azaleas can be moved in fall, late winter, or early spring.
As soon as your spring blooming shrubs finish blooming is the time to do any pruning.

Azaleas - After the blooms fade, prune 2 to 3 inches off the branch tips that flowered. If you want to prune the shrub to make it shorter, cut 1/3 of the oldest branches back 12 inches and prune the remaining stems creatively to produce an attractive layered look.  
Watch Mark's video tip on pruning Azaleas.
Rhododendrons - Carefully remove the dead blossoms without damaging the small leaf buds that have formed just behind them. If your rhododendrons have gotten too tall, use the pruning method mentioned above with the Azaleas to bring them back down to size.

Forsythia - Prune Forsythia right after the blooms fade to shape them up, thin them, and remove old wood. Take the oldest branches right back to the ground - do not leave a stump or undesirable new growth will develop.
Watch Mark's video tip on pruning Forsythia.

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
Having trouble
getting through on
the radio?
isit our Discussion Board for answers to your gardening questions. Use the convenient search key to see if we have already addressed your problem!


Don't see the answer? Post your question!


It's EASY, just register  

as a member.  


Don't forget to provide your city and state so we can better answer your question.  

Tip of the Month 
Garden Tips for May

May is when the gardening season begins in earnest here in the Shenandoah Valley and in many other locations across the country. Days have become longer and warmer and even the nighttime temperatures have warmed up. 


Below are a few tips to get your gardening season off to a bright start. 


Insect Pests:
bagworm case

Bagworms are beginning to hatch and this is the easiest time to control them - when they are young! Bagworms are destructive insects that attack many deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs. Young bagworm caterpillars feed on needles and leaves and a large infestation can lead to almost complete defoliation of trees. Some of the more common evergreen host plants include arborvitae, fir, hemlock, juniper, pine, and spruce. Deciduous host plants include black locust, honeylocust, sweetgum, and sycamore.  

  • Spray with Bonide BT Thuricide (Bacillus thuringiensis) a bacteria which infects and kills the young caterpillars.

Fall cankerworm; Joseph Berger, Cankerworms, a.k.a. inchworms, will be hatching out soon if they haven't already. These small caterpillars don't build webs like the tent caterpillars do. They move from tree to tree on silken strands devouring leaves and chewing holes in young fruit. Controls for cankerworms are similar to those recommended for the tent caterpillars:  

  • Bonide Thuricide (Bt), Bonide Captain Jack's Deadbug Brew, or Bayer Advanced 12 Month Tree & Shrub Protect & Feed II

Snails love hosta Slugs and snails really like the recent wet weather we've been having and they'll be having a field day feasting on our plants! Damage can be seen as holes in the leaves of hosta, which they especially like, and other perennials and annuals. Slugs and snails can be controlled safely (even around children and pets) using:

  • Bonide Slug Magic pellets or Bayer Advanced Slug & Snail Killer Bait which contain iron phosphate.  

Always read and follow the label directions when spraying any pesticide. 


Disease Problems:

Cedar apple rust gall Cedar-Apple Rust - Watch for those funky-looking cedar-apple rust galls on your eastern red cedars. They will probably be appearing soon with all the wet weather we have had in the last few days. If you have susceptible apple trees or crabapples, be prepared to protect them with a fungicide spray as soon as you see the fleshy tendrils growing from the galls on the cedars. Once the symptoms appear on the apple trees (yellow spots and rusty lesions on the apple leaves), fungicides will not be effective. When the tendrils on the galls have shriveled up and dried, fungicide applications are no longer necessary.
Recommended fungicides for rust diseases include: 

  • Bonide Liquid Copper, Bonide Orchard Spray, and Bayer Advanced Natria Disease Control.

Botrytis on a peony flower bud Botrytis blight appears as a grayish or brown powdery mold covering flower buds, leaves, and stems. It affects many different perennials but is especially common on peonies. Botrytis overwinters in dead leaves and other plant tissue so it is important to remove all plant debris from the garden in the fall. If you notice botrytis on buds, leaves, or stems, carefully remove the infected plant tissue, place it in a bag and discard it in your trash. Never do this while the plant is wet or you risk spreading the disease to other healthy plants.  

  • Spray with a fungicide such as Bonide Mancozeb, Fungo-nil, or copper fungicide.  

Always read and follow the label directions when using any fungicide.


In the Vegetable Garden:
Growing Tomatoes -
Tomato variety Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables grown in the home garden. They are popular because, not only are they delicious, but they are relatively easy to grow and can be grown almost anyplace where there is a nice patch of full sun. You don't even have to have a big garden space to grow tomatoes; they can grow successfully anywhere you can fit a large container - a deck, terrace, patio ... 
Just provide them with good soil, full sun, water, a stake for support, and a little food every so often and you will be rewarded with lots of tasty tomatoes.
Reducing Tomato Disease
  • The best way to reduce the disease problems is to plant disease resistant tomatoes. Heirloom tomatoes, while very flavorful, are sometimes not as disease resistant as the hybrid varieties and are susceptible to anthracnose, verticillium, fusarium, and alternaria (early blight).
    • Choose varieties with V, F, FF, N, A, and/or AA after the name.
  • Allow plenty of space for each tomato plant.
    • Tomatoes should be set 30 to 48 inches apart in a row with the rows spaced 48 inches apart. It's very tempting to put tomatoes closer at planting time, but if you get them too close you'll only increase the chance of disease. Wide spacing allows more air circulation and reduces disease problems.
  • Keep your tomato plants fed and watered. Healthy, robust plants are better able to withstand disease. 
    • Use a slow release organic fertilizer like Espoma Garden-tone or Plant-tone at planting time to nourish young tomatoes. Tomatoes demand lots of fertility once the fruit sets, but too much early in the season will grow a large plant but with fewer tomatoes.

    • Water your plants thoroughly but not too often (twice per week should suffice at first) and try to water early in the day so that plants will dry off before evening.
  • Mulched tomatoes grown on trellises
    Mulched tomatoes will grow up on these tall trellises
    Mulching your tomato plants
    with 2"-3" of pine needles or another type of mulch will help reduce the incidence of fungal diseases by preventing soil which may be laden with fungal spores from splashing up onto the foliage.
  • Staking, trellising, or caging your tomato plants will keep them off the ground and less exposed to soil borne pathogens.
  • Keep a careful watch on your tomato plants and remove lower leaves and branches that are yellowing or turning brown. To combat fungal diseases, alternate spraying every two weeks with Bonide Liquid Copper fungicide and either Mancozeb or Daconil. Always read and follow the label directions.
  • Tomato blossom end rot Once your tomatoes begin to form, watch for signs of blossom end rot. Blossom end rot is caused by a lack of calcium uptake in tomato plants which is exacerbated by dry soil conditions. 
    • Mulching with pine mulch helps retain moisture and also helps maintain an even level of soil moisture.  
    • If you notice blossom end rot, spray with Bonide Rot-Stop according to the label directions. This can also be sprayed on cucumbers, melons, and peppers. 
Join Mark Viette at the Augusta Co-Op
Saturday, May 3 - 9:00am - 12:30pm
Augusta Co-Op - Staunton, VA  
Mark Viette
Join Mark Viette in the
Lawn and Garden Section!

Mark will be available to answer your gardening questions and help you with your gardening needs. Bring your questions!

Plus ...
See the fantastic results of using Blue Ridge Compost for your vegetables and blooming flowers! Grow record-breaking vegetables and eye-popping flowers!
Test Drive Power Equipment before you buy at the Stihl Demo Tent!  Play with new chainsaws, trimmers, and other power equipment models before you buy!   
Augusta Co-Op, Staunton is located at: 
1205B Richmond Road, Staunton,VA
(540) 885-1265 

Click for details!   

From the Viette's Views Blog ...
   04-24-2014 14:33:57 PM
Dandelions are popping up all over in the fields near Viette's. I guess spring is really here! The sight of these cheery yellow "wildflowers" reminded me of one of my favorite posts on the Viette View's blog. I am re-posting it today as a fun (and hopefully informative) spring read. Happy spring - Enjoy!  ...� 
If you enjoy our newsletter, please pass it along to your gardening friends!


Why Don't My Peonies Bloom?
Peony Henry Bockstoce
There are several reasons why peonies fail to bloom. Read on for some tips ...


If NO buds appear: 
  • They may be planted at wrong depth.
  • Competing with roots of trees and or shrubs
  • Over-fertilized with Nitrogen
  • Plants too young and immature
  • Plants may be too large, old, or overcrowded 
  • Planted in too much shade  


If buds appear but flowers do not develop:  
  • Flower buds killed by late frost 
  • Growing in too much shade 
  • Disease - botrytis or another disease 
  • Nematodes  
  • Over-watering 
  • Poor drainage 
  • Plants undernourished 
  • Excessively hot weather

In most cases, the problem can be corrected by adjusting your feeding practices or digging, dividing, and/or moving your peonies in the fall to give them a more favorable location or to rejuvenate the clump.


Spraying with a fungicide can help control disease problems 


Environmental conditions such as the occurrence of late frosts or excessive heat during bud formation cannot be controlled and you just have to hope for more favorable weather the following season. 

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