Gardening Tips for Protecting Flowers, Controlling Bindweed, and More

Fine Gardening – Issue 209
pink umbrella over pink flowers

They’re bloomin’ in the rain – Winning Tip

My ‘Apricot’ chrysanthemums look gorgeous until the first rainfall when their beautiful flowers droop and decline. To prevent that, I clipped an old umbrella to two stakes to cover the flowers. Now I can enjoy them for weeks longer.

—Wendy Lagozzino, Seattle

No longer bound by bindweed

For many years I fought unsuccessfully to control field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) in my perennial beds. Now I do the following: I wait until the plant has made quite a long vine so I can pull it out away from the perennial it has climbed. Then I roll it up, stuff it into a plastic sandwich bag, spray in some Roundup, then seal as much of the bag as possible. The combination of the spray, sealing off air, and the heat generated inside the bag does the trick! I have left the bags in place over the winter and have found no regrowth the following spring.

—Marilyn Parchert, Illinois City, Illinois

Where did I see that plant photo?

plant photos and descriptions cut out and glued into a notebook

Fine Gardening is full of gorgeous photos of plants that I would love for my garden. My only problem is that unless a particular plant is featured on the cover, I can’t remember the issue and the page number to find it later. I thought about cutting out the pictures from the magazine, but I didn’t want to damage my copies. My solution was to make a color photocopy of the plants that caught my eye, cut out the pictures and the description, and add them to my gardening journal, along with the issue and page number details. Now when I do my spring planning in January, it will be easy to refer back to the articles featuring the highlighted plants.

—Brook Morse, Prospect, Kentucky

3D is better for garden planning than 2D

I gave up making garden plans on paper because it was hard for me to envision the 3D view from a plan. Instead, I use stand-ins. I push in a shovel or tall stake where a tree or upright shrub might go. Then I place buckets and pots for larger perennials. Lawn chairs make mock shrubs, and other people can pretend to be trees. With this “garden” in place, I carry a cup of tea to the kitchen window and make a first inspection. Does it all line up well? I shift a few things. I sip. I have a look from the mailbox and shift things again. Eventually I have things positioned optimally from all the important view lines. Then I mark the spots and begin planting.

—Peg McCann, St. Joseph, Michigan

Strawberries from seed

Two summers ago when I lived in southeastern Pennsylvania, I sprouted seeds from grocery-store strawberries. I chose the largest specimen, peeled the skin with a paring knife, and allowed the peels to dry on paper towels. When they were dry, I dropped a dozen tiny seeds in a pot with a 50/50 mixture of moist perlite and potting soil. I covered the pot with clear plastic wrap and placed it on a sunny windowsill. A month later, tiny seedlings covered the soil surface. I repotted two plants, and in late winter I moved the pots outdoors to a protected location. When the soil was completely thawed, I moved the plants to the garden. Over the year each plant produced at least 50 new plants and a batch of autumn berries.

—Mary Crum, Fort Myers, Florida

Dog-crate plant stand

many container plants on top of a dog crate used as a dog stand

My dog doesn’t need his crate anymore, so I repurposed it as a plant stand. It holds up to 10 medium to small pots and provides great drainage. In addition, it blends seamlessly with the full plant display. I put trailing plants in front, and no one all summer noticed that it was a dog crate.

—Thomas Wolf, Queens, New York

Photos: courtesy of the contributors

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