Tips on protecting gardens during storm season

Storm season can be stressful for many reasons, but for Kansas gardeners, protecting their plants is a priority.

With Kansas’ storm season in full swing, Kansas State University horticulture expert Ward Upham has tips on how to protect and recover gardens from severe weather damage.

“We are entering storm season and various areas of the state will likely have high winds, excessive rainfall and hail,” Upham said.

Upham’s recommendations include:

Heavy rain

“The force of rainfall pounding on the soil can result in a thick crust that prevents seed emergence and partially blocks oxygen from reaching roots,” Upham said. Correcting this issue is as easy as lightly scraping the soil surface after it has dried. Upham cautions about deep tilling as it could damage young, tender roots.

Standing water

“Standing water cuts off oxygen to the roots, which can result in plant damage if it doesn’t drain quickly enough,” he said. Plants can sometimes handle 24 hours of standing water, but hot weather following the rainfall can cause the water to become hot enough to ‘cook’ the plants.

“There isn’t much that can be done about this unless a channel can be cut to allow the water to drain,” Upham said.

Hail damage

Hail damaged plants should recover quickly as long as only the leaves were damaged. If stems and fruit were damaged the situation may become more serious.

“The plant can recover from a few bruises, but if it looks like the plants were mowed down by a weed whip, replanting is in order,” Upham said.

Leaning plant

“Either wind or water can cause plants to lean,” Upham said “They should start to straighten after a few days.” He does not recommend trying to bend them back as the plants often break easily.

Upham and his colleagues in K-State’s Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources produce a weekly Horticulture Newsletter with tips for maintaining home landscapes. The newsletter is available to view online at https://hnr.k-state.edu/extension/info-center/newsletters/index.html or can be delivered by email each week.

Interested persons can also send their garden- and yard-related questions to Upham at wupham@ksu.edu, or contact your local K-State Research and Extension office.

  • Story by Emily Halstead, K-State Research and Extension news service

Master Gardeners offer class on climate change

The Wyandotte County Extension Master Gardeners are holding “Climate Change and You” at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, April 7, via Zoom.

The presenter, Frank Reilly, is an environmental scientist and principal in the Reilly Group, a senior consultant for Logistics Management Institute, and is a certified Master Gardener in Stafford County, Virginia. In the past 10 years he has focused on climate change impact prediction and assessment.

His presentation does not deal with the politics of climate change, but rather with specific advice gardeners can use to prepare themselves, their yards and their community for dealing with changing weather patterns.

Participants will learn how to think about plant choices that are sustainable in the landscape and benefit their home landscape. They will also learn how to plan for changes that can increase storm damage and storm debris; for shifts in temperature that may bring release of new pests and diseases, and for changes in the amounts and timing of precipitation.

Reilly previously presented this talk at the 2021 International Master Gardener Conference, and has adapted it to address specific concerns of those in the middle of the USA.

There is no fee to participate in this class; however, pre-registration is required to obtain the link to the Zoom presentation. Registration is at https://tinyurl.com/climatechangewyco

Take a color-themed approach for more attractive arrangements

This floral arrangement combines burgundy colored Tamburo dahlia with the peach hues of HS Date, Maarn, Linda’s Baby and Belle of Barmera dahlias. (Photo courtesy of Longfield-Gardens.com)

Gardening

by Melinda Myers

Growing dahlias is a must for anyone who loves cutting and arranging flowers. But there are hundreds of beautiful dahlia varieties to choose from and that can be overwhelming. To make the selection process easier, choose compatible colors that will look good together in the garden and in arrangements.

The combination of peach and burgundy is both striking and sophisticated. Peach-colored flowers add a fresh and soothing feel to the garden. Dahlia American Dawn is a blend of peach, mango, and papaya with plum-purple highlights. Good partners include other varieties in the same warm, sunset tones, such as dinnerplate dahlia Belle of Barmera, decorative dahlia Great Silence and ball dahlia Maarn.

Planting dahlias in a perennial garden ensures non-stop color from July into October. The fluttering, melon-colored blooms of HS Date work particularly well, due to this variety’s maroon foliage and open growth habit. Complete your peach and burgundy theme with the dark-hued flowers of Rip City. These large, velvety flowers are almost black in the center and soften to wine-red toward the petal edges. Add ball dahlia Jowey Mirella for blooms that are smaller in size yet equally striking.

For another eye-catching color combination, narrow your selection to dahlias with purple and hot-pink flowers. Historically, purple was associated with royalty, spirituality, and knowledge. While pastel purple evokes a sense of calm and serenity, deeper tones add drama and excitement. Dinnerplate dahlia Lilac Time is an heirloom variety with fluffy, lavender blooms that can measure eight to ten inches across. Be sure to also include flowers in juicy grape and violet hues such as dahlias Thomas Edison, Cartouche and Purple Taiheijo.

Complement these moody purples with vivid pink dahlias. Burlesca is a cute little pompon dahlia with tightly rolled petals that reveal hints of peach, burgundy and violet. Fascination’s rose-pink, semi-double flowers contrast beautifully with the plant’s dark foliage and the blossoms are irresistible to bees and butterflies. Ball dahlia Rocco is an all-star variety that is long lasting in both garden and vase.

If you prefer pastels to brights, choose dahlias in shades of pale yellow, soft pink and cream. The enormous flowers of dinnerplate dahlia Café au Lait are a must. Complement them with ball dahlias such as peachy Linda’s Baby or buttery Boom Boom yellow. Decorative dahlia Fluffles has taffy-pink petals that fade to white, while Milena Fleur’s are a mélange of pink, peach and pale butterscotch.

When you start with flowers in compatible colors, designing floral arrangements becomes so much easier. You’ll have all you need to quickly create a centerpiece for any gathering, an impressive bouquet for your own home, or an informal handful of blooms to share with friends.

For more tips about cut flowers, read the Longfield Gardens article How to Design a Cutting Garden (www.longfield-gardens.com).

Melinda Myers is the author of more than 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio program. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and was commissioned by Longfield Gardens for her expertise to write this article. Her web site is www.MelindaMyers.com.