Q. I planted, by seed, a big container of annual flowers in April. Nothing has happened! I see no signs of baby plants popping up. Did I do something wrong? – F.P., Albuquerque
A. I can think of two different troubles to cause the seed you planted to not grow.
First, I’m hoping that you’ve kept the containers watered. Seeds won’t germinate if left dry. On that note, when you’re watering, it must be offered gently. A hard stream of water could be dislodging the seed, keeping it too unsettled.
My next thought is, how deep the seeds were planted? If you covered the seed with a hefty layer of soil they just might be planted too deep and can’t find their way to the surface.
I suggest resowing, but try this. Wet the soil in the pot. Next, rough it up using a small hand rake, or even your fingers, making fairly shallow furrows in the soil.
Dampen the soil again, then sprinkle the seed concentrating it into the furrows and then just tamp it down firmly. The furrows, as you tamp it down, will collapse giving the seed just enough coverage to keep them safe and snug in the soil. They’ll be close enough to the surface to feel the warmth of the sun and germinate.
When you do water be gentle. Use a watering can as opposed to water shooting out of the end of a hose.
I really think that your first round of seed planting was too deep, and with a bit of modification to your planting technique you can get a next round of seed to “pop!”
Q. I am so ready to place the hibiscus I brought in for the winter back outside. Do you think it’s safe enough, temperature wise, to do that? – N.S., Albuquerque
A. Well, I don’t own, nor want, a crystal ball to tell the future, but given that we’re snuggled in the middle of May, I’d say go ahead and get the hibiscus back outdoors.
But please, be a weather temperature watcher and be ready to offer the plant protection if it does get really chilly again.
Have you offered the hibiscus a bit of a haircut yet? I’ve always trimmed mine back about a week before they are taken back outside so any new growth is more able to handle the environment.
If you take the hibiscus, full of what I’ll call indoor growth, you can bet that old leaf is going to freak out and to a certain extent, suffer. Giving it a good pruning first will be easier on the hibiscus.
Remember since it is outside it might use more water than it was used to getting inside. I do know that any temperature chillier than the mid-40s is cold for a hibiscus, but they are a truly resilient plant, so as long as you are going to stay responsible for its health and welfare, go for it.
Q. I want to garden but buzzing bugs really scare me! I get very nervous about getting stung. Is there a “gardening secret” you could share with me so I don’t have to deal with buzzing bugs? – G.F., Albuquerque
A. I mean no offense but I’m going to bet it’s you that is inadvertently attracting the buzzing bugs.
First, how do you dress when gardening? Are you showing off in a brightly-colored print blouse?
Well, you look like a flower and need to be investigated. Try wearing white or light tan clothing.
It could also be your scent. No, you’re not stinky, in fact if you wait to shower until after your gardening chores are done, all the better. I’m going to bet that you go out all fresh, having washed your hair with a scented shampoo, rubbed on some scented body lotion and maybe a scented deodorant, perhaps even applied some perfume, because that’s how you get ready to face the world.
You smell like a flower, so of course the buzzing bugs are surely going to investigate.
Then, think about your clothes again. Is the laundry soap or fabric softener you use scented? There you go walking into the outdoors smelling like something that should be offering a buzzing bug lunch.
Pick a selection of “gardening” clothes to wear specifically when you plan on being in the garden and don’t use any scented soaps or fabric softeners on them.
If you change those two things when you’re headed out, being no scents on you or your clothing, I’ll bet you aren’t pestered nearly as much by buzzing bugs, and will have a much nicer experience while you’re out there Diggin’ In.
Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send garden-related questions to Digging In, Albuquerque Journal, 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109, or to email@example.com.