March E-News from Viette's                             Volume 10: No. 3

Lori Jones, Editor                                                                                            March/2014

Helleborus in early spring
will be here before you know it!
Are you ready to
get into the garden?
Soon the days will become warmer, the spring bulbs will start to pop up, and the
buds will begin to swell and burst open to greet a
beautiful new spring season! 
Quick Links
Plant of the Month
Some Pulmonaria have beautiful variegated foliage.
Pulmonaria -
Beautiful spring blooming perennials
Pulmonaria are wonderful early blooming perennials for a woodland garden or a shady to part shade border garden. Like Heuchera, they have been rather extensively hybridized for more and more striking foliage. The plain green leaves of the past have been transformed into beautiful foliage that is spotted and slashed with varying degrees of white or silver making the plant sparkle even in the shadiest corner of the garden. An added benefit -- they are deer resistant in most areas! 
Pulmonaria 'Majeste' has solid silver leaves
Pulmonaria 'Majeste' has beautiful solid silver leaves

Beautiful blooms
In early spring, arching stems rise from the rosettes of attractive foliage producing clusters of bell flowers in shades of blue, pink, or white. These lovely flowers are welcome companions to the colorful early spring flowering bulbs
 like daffodils and tulips. 
Pulmonaria begins to bloom in early spring
Beautiful Pulmonaria welcomes spring with colorful flowers.
Versatile in the garden
Pulmonaria grow 8" to 15" tall with flower stems reaching a few inches above the foliage. They are wonderful for planting in the woodland garden under deciduous trees and shrubs. The showy leaves of the variegated forms make them suitable as specimen plants. They combine well with hosta and Heuchera as well as woodland ferns, Epimedium, and Astilbe.


Their relatively fast growth rate also makes them an excellent choice for an attractive shady ground cover. They look striking when planted in drifts with spring bulbs or lining a meandering woodland path.

Pulmonaria blooming in early spring
Pulmonaria are perfect for woodland gardens

Pulmonaria perform best in full or part shade in rich, moist but well-drained soils. They do not like hot afternoon sun and will usually wilt under these conditions. Keep well-watered during hot dry summers to maintain fresh, perky foliage.

Exciting Cultivars
Pulmonaria 'Bertram Anderson' is an excellent choice for southern gardens where the climate tends to be more hot and humid. This cultivar has bright blue flowers and long narrow green foliage splashed with silver.
Pulmonaria 'Dark Vader' is a beautiful cultivar with a cool name!! Attractive dark green foliage is covered with contrasting silver splotches. Clusters of  purple-blue and pink flowers rise over the clump in early spring.
Pulmonaria 'Raspberry Splash' forms an upright clump of narrow green leaves heavily spotted with silver. Bright raspberry-pink flowers bloom profusely in the spring!
Pulmonaria 'Raspberry Splash'; Photo courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden
Pulmonaria 'Raspberry Splash'
Pulmonaria 'Gaelic Spring' is a new cultivar with broad silver splashed lime green leaves. Lovely blue flowers fade to pink. 
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Don't Miss This!
Majestic oak
Grow 2014
A Celebration of Trees

March 8th
8:00 am - 3:30 pm 
VMI campus, Lexington, VA 
Join us for Grow - 2014:
A Celebration of Trees,
a premier horticultural symposium in 2014.
Featured speakers are two renowned tree horticultural experts:
Michael A. Dirr, diverse author, plant innovator, gifted teacher and speaker.
Nancy Ross Hugo, author and columnist, skilled horticulturist, educator and speaker.

A special bonus speaker will be Vincent J. Dooley, devoted horticulturist, author, speaker, gardener and, oh yes, football coach.
The symposium will be held on the campus of Virginia Military Institute in the recently constructed Marshall Hall: Center for Leadership and Ethics.
Grow 2014 is sponsored by the Lexington Horticultural Symposiums, a consortium of like-minded plant enthusiasts in Lexington, Virginia. Symposium proceeds will benefit the Boxerwood Nature Center and Woodland Garden.
For more information
and to register
for this exciting symposium visit the Grow 2014 website.
Start Seeds Indoors
Flats of tomato seeds
Freshly planted flats of tomatoes and green peppers
For many areas, the time to start seeds is here!


Why start seeds indoors? 

Starting seeds indoors allows you to have more control over the growing environment. In addition, certain pest and disease problems that plague young seedlings in the garden are avoided when plants are started indoors. 


Remember to harden off transplants before they are planted out in the garden.


Cool-season vegetables to start indoors: Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, head lettuce, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts

Warm-season veggies to start indoors: Tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, celery

You need to provide
a good light source for your seedlings once they germinate and you must check your seedlings each day to be sure the planting medium does not dry out.

Click for more helpful tips on starting seeds indoors.
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"
or listen live from our flagship station WSVA.

You can also 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 tell us where you live (city and state) so we can provide a more accurate answer to your question.  


Tip of the Month
A Diet for Plants 


Good organic soil More and more these days we are becoming increasingly conscious about proper nutrition and what we put into our bodies; but what about our plants?
Most of the nutrients needed for the growth and development of plants are absorbed from the soil by the roots. Over the seasons, these soil nutrients become depleted and must be replenished or our garden plant health will decline.       

Understanding Plant Nutrients
There are 17 chemical elements known to be essential for plant growth, flowering, and fruiting.
The primary macronutrients, nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), are used in the largest amounts by plants and are thus prone to deficiency in soils. These nutrients are the primary ingredients in most garden fertilizers and the percentages of each are prominently displayed on the bag as the N-P-K numbers. These percentages are always presented in the same order - nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium.
Nitrogen is required for healthy vegetative growth (leaves and stems) and is especially important in young plants. High levels promote dark green leafy growth but not fruits and flowers. Thus a fertilizer higher in nitrogen is great for lawns and leafy vegetables but disastrous when you are trying to grow tomatoes!
Phosphorus is important in all functions of plant growth but especially for root development and growth, and in the production of flowers, fruits, and seeds. Starter fertilizers, which can be used when transplanting trees, shrubs, and perennials, are much higher in phosphorus than nitrogen and potassium. They stimulate root growth and help avoid transplant shock. "Bloom booster" fertilizers with 50%-60% phosphorus help promote flower bud formation.
Potassium is important for the overall vigor of plants. It promotes disease resistance, root formation, and cold hardiness. Plants deficient in potassium will have weak roots and stems. 
A complete fertilizer supplies all of the primary macronutrients in varying amounts. Depending on your needs, you might pick one with higher nitrogen, higher phosphorus, or higher potassium.
  • For lush lawns choose a fertilizer higher in nitrogen as in 32-2-8 or 16-4-8.  
    • With the recent concern about excess phosphorus washing into our surface and groundwater, more and more lawn fertilizers are being formulated without a phosphorus component. Now you are more likely to find lawn foods with an analysis of 32-0-4 or 18-0-3 which would actually be classified as an incomplete fertilizer. 
  • "Bloom booster" fertilizers and "starter fertilizers" are higher in phosphorus; for example 10-20-15, 10-25-12, or 15-30-15.
Espoma Potash (0-0-60)
A balanced fertilizer
supplies equal amounts of each of the 3 nutrients. These fertilizers, such as 10-10-10, are often used for general applications.
Single element fertilizers
(straight or incomplete fertilizers) supply only one of the primary nutrients, e.g. Espoma Urea (45-0-0), Triple Super Phosphate (0-45-0), or Potash (0-0-60).
The secondary macronutrients
are calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulfur (S). These nutrients are very important to plants but are used in smaller amounts than the three primary macronutrients.
Micronutrients, also known as trace elements, are not nutrients of lesser importance to plant health but those that are required in minute quantities. With the exception of iron and manganese, micronutrients are seldom deficient in our garden soil, however, some become unavailable to plants when the soil pH is either too high (alkaline) or too low (acidic). Maintaining your soil pH between 6.0-6.5 will keep these nutrients available to the plants. Some fertilizers are fortified with micronutrients.
Did You Know?
Choosing a Fertilizer: Organic or Synthetic   
There are several ways to improve the fertility of your soil but the most common way is to apply fertilizers, either organic or synthetic (chemical fertilizer). There are advantages and disadvantages to using either form, however, in Andr�'s opinion, organics are the way to go.  
Espoma Plant-tone
Espoma Plant-tone (5-3-3)
Organic fertilizers
such as the Espoma "Tones" release nutrients slowly over time. They rely on soil organisms to break the nutrients down into a form that the plants can use. Because they are slow release, they are applied less often than chemical fertilizers. Organic fertilizers are usually applied once in the spring and again in the fall. Organic fertilizers rarely burn the roots or foliage of your plants.

Synthetic fertilizers
generally provide nutrients in a form that is available to the plants right away; they don't have to be broken down by soil organisms
first. Although there are some slow release synthetic fertilizers, most are water soluble and release nutrients quickly. This provides a quick boost to the plants. Unfortunately, these readily available nutrients can leach out of the root zone fairly quickly so these fertilizers must usually be reapplied more frequently than organic fertilizers. In addition, excess nutrients that the plants aren't able to absorb are more likely to leach into the groundwater. Synthetic fertilizers are usually more concentrated than organic fertilizers and must be applied carefully to avoid damage to growing plants.
More Benefits to Organics  
Organic fertilizers add all important organic matter to the soil, thus improving soil structure. Remember, good soil structure improves drainage in clay soils and increases the water-holding capacity of sandy soils. Some organic fertilizers including the Espoma "Tones" add beneficial microbes and mycorrhizal fungi as well as nutrients to the soil. The benefits of mycorrhizal fungi in garden soil are becoming increasingly recognized worldwide.
Espoma Bio-tone
Espoma Bio-tone
Why add mycorrhizals?
Mycorrhizal fungi form a symbiotic relationship with plant roots to improve the uptake of water and nutrients. Tremendous numbers of mycorrhizal threads attach to the roots of plants and then fan out into the surrounding soil. These "extensions" of the root system exponentially increase the area that a plant can exploit for the raw materials needed for growth. The mycorrhizal filaments capture and assimilate nutrients, minerals, and water which can then be transferred to the plant. This relationship has been shown to greatly increase plant tolerance to drought stress and reduce transplant shock. In addition, mycorrhizals are known to secrete chemicals which dissolve hard to capture nutrients like phosphorus and iron, making them more available to plants. They even produce antibiotics which attack and kill many disease organisms that enter the "root" zone! Cool stuff!
Espoma has now incorporated mycorrhizal fungi and other beneficial microbes into many of their organic potting mixes and garden soils. The addition of Myco-tone, a proprietary blend of 11 different strains of mycorrhizae, has been proven to promote root growth, increase water uptake, and reduce drought stress and transplant shock.  
MACEventsDon't Miss this exciting Show!
PA Garden Show of York

A little bit of Spring in the midst of a cold winter!

PA Garden Show of York
February 28th - March 2nd

York Expo Center, York, PA
Come, relax and have FUN at the PA Garden Show of York! Bring the whole family. When you're at the show, expect the unexpected and enjoy the thousands of flowers, dramatic waterfalls, colorful and unique garden designs, decorative walls, walkways and patio features. Spend some time with expert landscape contractors to plan out your own outdoor living spaces. 
Mark Viette
Join Mark Viette at the
PA Garden Show of York 
Join Mark Viette
at the show for two different
gardening seminars.

, February 28th at 6:00 pm
   "Color & Design in the Garden"
Find the best performing plants for the right place and learn how to blend them all together. Mark will give out 50 bare root Viette hybridized daylilies to attendees.

Saturday, March 1st at 2:00 pm 
   "Easy Garden Makeover"
Do you have an overgrown, weedy and neglected garden? Are your shrubs blocking your windows or walkways? Mark will show you how to rejuvenate and renovate your garden to give your gardens a brand new look. Proper trimming, pruning, thinning and fertilization of your trees, shrubs and flowers will be discussed. Mark will bring 50 bare root Viette hybridized daylilies to be given out to attendees.  
Purchase tickets online and save! 
Visit PAGSY for more information 

On the Viette's Views Gardening Blog 

  02-19-2014 15:16:27 PM

Ever go to water your houseplants and see a cloud of tiny black flies skimming over the surface of the potting soil? These pesky critters are probably fungus gnats. Fungus gnats are common pests of indoor plants. They are not only annoying but they can damage to your houseplants, vegetable seedlings, and greenhouse plants. Fungus [...]...�


Bluebird   02-13-2014 18:25:00 PM

What a beautiful snow we had last night! It started out yesterday evening and continued all night.  We woke up to 15" of beautiful snow this morning. It continued to snow lightly most of the morning but stopped for a while in the middle of the day. It has just now begun to snow again [...]...�


   02-04-2014 16:06:36 PM

What is the story on spreading Coffee grounds for compostcoffee grounds in the garden? This has been the subject of much discussion in the gardening world. Some say they're great and some say they're good but with a word of caution. Recently a question was posted on our Discussion board asking about spreading coffee grounds in a raised [...]...�

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Your March "To Do" List!
March is a wonderful time to be in the garden!
The days are beginning to get warmer and after a long winter, it just feels good to be outside working in the soil again. Here are some tips for getting your beds in tip-top shape for the coming growing season.   
Clean your perennial beds
  1. Rake old folliage and other debris from your garden in early spring.
    Rake old foliage and other debris from your garden.
    Rake leaves and debris from your garden beds.

    It is much easier to do this now before your spring bulbs come up and flower or the new growth begins on your perennials.
  2. Remove last year's dead foliage from hosta, daylilies, iris, and peonies. Clear this from the garden - do not compost it as it probably harbors insects and disease. Many compost piles do not get hot enough to kill these pests and diseases.
       Watch Mark's video tip. 
  3. Cut Liriope back before the new growth begins in spring.
    Cut Liriope back before the new growth begins.
    Trim back the the winter ravaged foliage of evergreen perennials
    such as Helleborus, Epimedium, and Liriope. The fresh foliage of the new season will soon be poking up and it is much easier to give them a haircut before the new growth begins. This is especially true for Liriope. Once these begin to grow in the spring, it's difficult and time consuming to trim the old foliage. Watch Mark's video tip. 
  4. Trim the winter damaged foliage of boxwood branches (browned or whitened foliage) back to live growth in mid-March.
  5. Cut back ornamental grasses and other perennials left standing in the garden through the winter. Watch Mark's video tip. 
Early spring rejuvenation pruning
  1. American holly pruned hard
    American holly pruned to bare branches
    March is the time to do major heavy pruning of overgrown shrubs
    such as holly, boxwood, azalea, rhododendron, lilac, and yew. Instead of tearing them out and replacing these overgrown shrubs, cut them back hard now while they are still dormant. Because these plants have dormant buds on the interior bare wood close to the main stem, they can be pruned heavily until just bare branches remain or you can even cut them back to one to three feet above the ground. Check Mark's pruning videos. 
  2. After severe pruning, fertilize your shrubs with Holly-tone, triple phosphate, and green sand according to the label directions.
Early spring thinning of trees and shrubs
  1. If they need thinning, you can thin out some branches of summer flowering trees now, but do not remove more than 20% of the live branches. Remove crossing branches and all dead and damaged wood.
  2. Forsythia blooms
    Forsythia blooms
    You can also thin out some branches of forsythia, quince, and other spring flowering shrubs early this month while they are still dormant. Do not remove more than 10% - 20%.
    DO NOT shear them
    (give them a haircut) or you will loose the spring bloom. Any major pruning or shearing should be done right after they finish blooming.
    Watch Mark's video tip.
  3. Wait until April to cut back Buddleia (butterfly bush) and Caryopteris.
Get a jump on pests and disease
  1. When nighttime temperatures are forecast to remain above 40 degrees F. for 2-3 days, spray your fruit trees, roses, and other ornamental trees and shrubs with Bonide All Seasons Oil to smother overwintering insects, eggs, and immature insect Peonies emerging in springstages.
    Watch Mark's video tip.
  2. If your peonies were affected by botrytis last year, spray the emerging shoots with a fungicide like Bonide Mancozeb, Bonide Copper Fungicide, or Daconil.
    Always read and follow the label directions!
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