NW Flower and Garden Show—Ciscoe and Meeghan

2011   Seattle’s famous plant expert Ciscoe Morris and Meeghan Black took questions from the audience for an hour and covered a variety of plant topics with insight and humor.   Conifers can lose branches if they are over-shaded, so try Hinoki Cypress, which can take shade and still look great.  Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘verdoni’  is a beautiful golden variety.  When young, witchhazels won’t drop their leaves in the fall and they even keep sticking into the spring and look ugly.  Prune them off until the plant is mature and can take care of this clean-up job on its own.  Sometimes when an early freeze comes, like our November freeze, many trees won’t drop their leaves either and they stick on all winter.  Blueberries like full sun and well-drained soil with tons of peat moss to absorb moisture.  Fertilize this fruit in April with an organic rhododendron food and make sure there are two varieties to cross-pollinate, for bigger, better fruit.  Peonies like lots of compost, full sun and really good drainage.  Never plant them too deep.  If the new sprouts coming up are under the soil, the peony may never bloom.  Someone asked how to get rid of horsetail and the reply was “move!”   They did say that if you plant some vigorous perennials over the horsetail, such as hardy geraniums, the horsetail will eventually get shaded out.  Also if you keep mowing it every two weeks, the horsetail will ultimately die off.  This also goes for other nasty weeds like blackberry, ivy and morning glory.  People always ask how to get rid of weeds.  They are looking for a magic potion, but the answer is usually the same:  pull them!  Ciscoe uses white vinegar on a warm dry day to kill weeds.  He also suggested the more good plants you have, the less weeds will grow in the shade, so keep planting!  Someone asked why their flowering currant was dying in the summer.  The reply was that Ribes sanguineum is a native plant and is used to what mother nature gives it, which is not much water in the summer.  Too much watering will kill it quickly.   Crape myrtle can be a gorgeous ornamental flowering shrub, but try the varieties with the Indian names, they are less prone to disease.  Pruning hydrangeas can be tricky.  For mopheads, cut 1/3 of the canes to the ground.  Prune last years growth back a few buds, and this will ensure blooms which occur on old wood.  Just a little bit of this and a little bit of that from the flower show!

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