Skip Menu

Return to Skip Menu

Main Navigation

Return to Skip Menu

Main Content

P. Diane Relf

Title Summary Date ID Author(s)
Annuals: Culture and Maintenance

Annual flowers live only for one growing season, during which they grow, flower, and produce seed, thereby completing their life cycle. Annuals must be set out or seeded every year since they don't persist. Some varieties will self-sow, or naturally reseed themselves. This may be undesirable in many flowers because the parents of this seed are unknown and hybrid characteristics will be lost. Plants will scatter everywhere instead of growing in their designated spot. Examples are alyssum, petunias, and impatiens. Some perennials, which are plants that live from year to year, are classed with annuals because they are not winter-hardy and must be set out every year; begonias and snapdragons are examples.

May 1, 2009 426-200
Asparagus

Environmental Preferences

LIGHT: Sunny.

SOIL: Well-drained, deep sandy loam.

FERTILITY: Medium-rich.

pH: 6.0 to 6.7

TEMPERATURE: Cool (60 to 65°F).

MOISTURE: Average; a flush of spears often follows a soaking rain.

May 1, 2009 426-401
Beans

Environmental Preferences

Light: sunny

Soil: well-drained

Fertility: medium rich

pH: 5.8 - 7.0

Temperature: warm (65 degrees - 80 degrees) except fava beans

Moisture: average

May 1, 2009 426-402
Building Healthy Soil
Caring for the garden soil should be as important to home gardeners as it is to farmers. Improving the soil structure is one of the most important aspects of soil care, and adding organic matter is the most effective way to accomplish this. Organic matter also helps maintain the pH balance of the soil and adds nutrients.
May 1, 2009 426-711
Calibrating Your Lawn Spreader

There are two basic types of fertilizer spreaders for use on the home lawn: the drop and the broadcast.

The drop type spreader (shown at left) "drops" a set rate of fertilizer. This type is best suited for a limited space in order to avoid wide dispersal on sidewalks and driveways. The amount of fertilizer that is spread depends on the opening setting, the type of fertilizer used, and the speed at which the spreader is pushed.

May 1, 2009 430-017
Care of Specialty Potted Plants

Improper water and light,and excessive heat are the leading causes of failure in caring for gift plants. These plants are grown in greenhouses, where the nighttime temperatures are cool, light is adequate, and the air is moist. When they are brought into a dry home, where the light is poor and the temperatures are maintained for human comfort, results are frequently disappointing. Do not expect to keep a gift plant from year to year. Enjoy them while they are attractive and in season, and then discard.

May 1, 2009 426-101
Cole Crops or Brassicas


All of the following crops are members of the cabbage family. It is best not to plant cabbage family crops in the same spot year after year, since diseases and insect pests will build up. Rotate crops within your garden.

Broccoli

Environmental Preferences

LIGHT: Sunny.

SOIL: Well-drained, high organic matter.

FERTILITY: Rich.

pH: 6.0 to 6.7

TEMPERATURE: Cool (60 to 65°F).

MOISTURE: Keep moist, not waterlogged.

May 1, 2009 426-403
Cucumbers, Melons and Squash

Environmental Preferences

LIGHT: Sunny.

SOIL: Well-drained; moderate-high organic matter.

FERTILITY: Rich.

pH: 5.5 to 7.0

TEMPERATURE: Hot (65 to 80°F).

MOISTURE: Keep moist, not waterlogged; mulch helps maintain moisture.

May 1, 2009 426-406
Daylilies in Virginia

Daylilies are good plants for the beginning gardener because they are relatively maintenance free. Daylilies are not true lilies (genus Lilium). They belong to the genus Hemerocallis, from the Greek words meaning "day" and "beauty" or "beautiful for a day." This is appropriate because each blossom typically lasts no more than a day. Each plant produces an abundance of buds, however, so the total blooming time of a wellestablished clump may be 30 to 40 days.

May 1, 2009 426-030
Environmental Horticulture: Guide to Nutrient Management

Plants need 17 elements for normal growth. Carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen are found in air and water. Nitrogen, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, and sulfur are found in the soil. These six elements are used in relatively large amounts by the plant and are called macronutrients. There are eight other elements that are used in much smaller amounts and are called micronutrients, or trace elements. The micronutrients, which are found in the soil, are iron, zinc, molybdenum, manganese, boron, copper, cobalt, and chlorine. All 17 elements, both macronutrients and micronutrients, are essential for plant growth.

May 1, 2009 426-613
Establishing Lawns

Producing quality lawns in Virginia can be challenging. Geographically, Virginia is located in what is known as the transition zone for turfgrasses. This means the climate can be hostile to both cool-season grasses (Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue) and warm-season grasses (bermudagrass, zoysiagrass). However, with proper cultural practices, a healthy lawn can be established and maintained.

Turf may be established from seed, sprigs, plugs, or sod. The method depends on the grass species desired, the environmental conditions, time constraints, and financial considerations. If possible, use only certified seed and sod. The same requirements for soil preparation apply for all methods.

May 1, 2009 426-718
Fall Vegetable Gardening

By planning and planting a fall vegetable garden it is possible to have fresh vegetables up to and even past the first frosts. At the time of year when retail vegetable prices are on the rise, you can be reaping large and varied harvests from your still- productive garden site.

Many varieties of vegetables can be planted in mid- to late sum- mer for fall harvests. Succession plantings of warm season crops (such as corn and beans) can be harvested up until the first killing frost. Cool season crops (such as kale, turnips, mustard, broccoli, cabbage) grow well during the cool fall days and can withstand light frosts. Timely planting is the key to a successful fall garden.

May 1, 2009 426-334
Fertilizing the Vegetable Garden

The amount of fertilizer to apply to a garden depends on the natural fertility of the soil, the amount of organic matter present, the type of fertilizer used, and the crop being grown. The best way to determine fertilizer needs is to have the soil tested. Soil testing is available through your local Extension agent, through private labs, and with soil test kits which can be purchased from garden shops and catalogs.

May 1, 2009 426-323
Flowering Bulbs: Culture and Maintenance

"Bulbs" is a term loosely used to include corms, tubers, tuberous roots, and rhizomes as well as true bulbs. This publication will refer to all of the above as bulbs. Many vegetables are propagated from or produce edible organs of these types (e.g., tuber, Irish potato; tuberous root, sweet potato; rhizome, Jerusalem artichoke; bulb, onion).

May 1, 2009 426-201
Growing Azaleas and Rhododendrons

The spectacular spring flowers of azaleas and rhododendrons make them among the most popular garden shrubs. However, azaleas and rhododendrons are shrubs for all seasons. Throughout the summer and fall the leaves add a pleasing, deep-green color to the garden. Some deciduous azaleas add bright fall color before the leaves drop. In winter, some varieties stand out with large, evergreen leaves.

May 1, 2009 426-602
Home Hydroponics

Hydroponics is often defined as "the cultivation of plants in water." Research has since determined that many different aggregates or media will support plant growth; therefore, the definition of hydroponics has been broadened to read "the cultivation of plants without soil."

May 1, 2009 426-084
Home Landscape Practices to Protect Water Quality

In Virginia, we rely on reservoir systems, wells, and other sources for our freshwater. In recent years, our previously plentiful clean water supplies have been threatened not only by overuse, but also by contamination. Pollutants are carried down with water soaking through the soil to the water table. Runoff (water that does not soak into the ground) flows over the surface, often taking soil and polluting chemicals with it into lakes and streams.

May 1, 2009 426-723
Landscaping for Less in the Landfill

Virginia is rapidly running out of landfill space. Fifteen to twenty percent of solid waste sent to landfills is comprised of leaves, grass clippings, and other yard wastes. Gardeners can plan their landscapes to produce less yard waste and use what is produced around their homes to enhance yards, gardens, and soil.

May 1, 2009 426-716
Leafy Green Vegetables

Environmental Preferences

LIGHT: Sunny, tolerates shade; prefers shade in summer

SOIL: Well-drained, loose loam

FERTILITY: Rich

TEMPERATURE: Cool (60 to 70°F)

MOISTURE: Moist, but not waterlogged; frequent, light waterings

May 1, 2009 426-408
Managing Winter Injury to Trees and Shrubs

It is often necessary to provide extra attention to plants in the fall to help them over-winter and start spring in peak condition. Understanding certain principles and cultural practices will significantly reduce winter damage that can be divided into three categories: desiccation, freezing, and breakage.

May 1, 2009 426-500
Minimum Chemical Gardening

Home gardeners often use more pesticides per square foot in their gardens than farmers do in the fields, thinking that if a little is good, more will be better. This is a serious mistake, and a misuse of pesticides. Over-use of pesticides has a number of adverse effects: it makes your food less safe to eat, especially if there are residues at harvest time; it makes handling the plants more dangerous; beneficial insects, earthworms, birds, even pets may be harmed or killed along with the "bad guys;" each time the gardener sprays, she or he is exposed to the dangers of inhalation or absorption of the toxin; pesticides used near water may contaminate the water supply; continuous use of certain pesticides may induce resistance in the pests, thus requiring the gardener to switch to more toxic substances; some pesticides do not break down easily and can remain in the environment for years.

Oct 12, 2010 426-366
Mulches for the Home Vegetable Garden
Mulching is a practice adaptable to nearly all home gardens. To mulch is simply to cover the soil around plants with a protective material, organic or inorganic.

Using a mulch can help you and your garden in many ways. Mulches reduce weed growth by making conditions unfavorable for germination of weed seeds and by providing a physical barrier for emerging weeds. A good mulch layer can save many hours of laborious weeding. A thick layer of organic mulch material is especially effective in reducing the number of annual weeds in the garden, since they have difficulty penetrating such a layer. Some perennial weeds may also be suppressed in this way if they are small, but often dandelions or other taprooted weeds will eventually find their way through the mulch. These are easy to spot, and since the soil stays moist beneath the mulch, they are easy to pull. Rhizomatous grasses will often make their way through organic mulches as well, but often the rhizomes will be on or near the soil surface and will be easy to lift out. Black plastic and thick layers of newspaper are often better mulches for controlling perennial weeds.

May 1, 2009 426-326
Mulching for a Healthy Landscape

For as long as trees have grown in forests, leaves and needles have fallen to the ground and formed a natural protective layer over the soil. This same protection can be given to the plants in our landscapes by mulching. Mulching can make a big difference in the success of your landscape. Mulches conserve soil moisture, allowing you to water less often; keep down weeds; reduce erosion; keep plant roots cool; provide winter protection; and make your yard more attractive.

May 1, 2009 426-724
Onions, Garlic, and Shallots

ENVIRONMENTAL PREFERENCES

LIGHT: sunny (green onions tolerate partial shade)

SOIL: well-drained loam

pH: 5.5 to 7.0

TEMPERATURE: cool (45 to 60°F) during develop ment; medium hot (60 to 75°F) during bulbing and curing

MOISTURE: moist, but not waterlogged

May 1, 2009 426-411
Perennials: Culture, Maintenance and Propagation

Perennials are plants that live year after year. Trees and shrubs are perennial. Most garden flowers are herbaceous perennials. This means the tops of the plants (the leaves, stems, and flowers) die back to the ground each fall with the first frost or freeze. The roots persist through the winter, and every spring new plant tops arise. Any plant that lives through the winter is said to be hard

May 1, 2009 426-203
Pest Management for Water Quality

Research has shown that consumers find reading and understanding the label to be the most difficult aspect of applying pesticides. However, an understanding of the label information is essential before work begins. The label printed on or attached to a container of pesticide tells how to use it correctly and warns of any environmental or health safety measures to take. Read the label when you purchase a pesticide and again before mixing or applying it. If you are confused about any part of the label, consult your Extension agent or a representative of the company that makes the product. Many pesticides now list a toll-free number for consumers. The label includes specific information that you should be aware of and learn to understand.

May 1, 2009 426-615
Planning the Flower Border

Much of the excitement of creating an herbaceous border lies in its great flexibility of design. In form, placement, and selection of plants, the contemporary border follows few rigid rules and allows fullest expression of the gardener's taste.

May 1, 2009 426-202
Plant Propagation from Seed

Sexual propagation involves the union of the pollen (male) with the egg (female) to produce a seed. The seed is made up of three main parts: the outer seed coat, which protects the seed; a food reserve (e.g., the endosperm); and the embryo, which is the young plant itself. When a seed is mature and put in a favorable environment, it will germinate, or begin active growth. In the following section, seed germination and transplanting of seeds will be discussed.

May 1, 2009 426-001
Planting Trees

Aesthetics. Trees are creatures of beauty and grandeur. They offer beauty in each season with their form, bark, foliage, flowers, fruit, and sometimes fragrance.

In addition to their seasonal variations, they change in size and character over time. Some trees will become quite large and are magnificent just for their size, irrespective of their species.
May 1, 2009 426-702
Potatoes, Peppers and Eggplant

Environmental Preferences

LIGHT: Sunny.

SOIL: Well-drained with moderate organic matter.

FERTILITY: Medium-rich.

pH: 4.8 to 6.5

TEMPERATURE: Cool (55 TO 65°F).

MOISTURE: Uniform moisture, especially while tubers are developing.

May 1, 2009 426-413
Propagation by Cuttings, Layering and Division

Asexual propagation is the best way to maintain some species, particularly an individual that best represents that species. Clones are groups of plants that are identical to their one parent and that can only be propagated asexually. The Bartlett pear (1770) and the Delicious apple (1870) are two examples of clones that have been asexually propagated for many years.

The major methods of asexual propagation are cuttings, layering, division, and budding/grafting. Cuttings involve rooting a severed piece of the parent plant; layering involves rooting a part of the parent and then severing it; and budding and grafting are joining two plant parts from different varieties.

May 1, 2009 426-002
Reducing Erosion and Runoff

Soil erosion occurs when soil particles are carried off by water or wind and deposited somewhere else such as into a stream or at the bottom of a bay. Often soil particles are carried by runoff, water that does not soak into the ground, but flows over the surface and runs to another area - such as into stormdrains, streams, or lakes. In addition to soil sediment, runoff can wash fertilizer and other pollutants along with it. Sediment makes up most of the pollutant carried by runoff, however, and most of the phosphate and pesticides entering Virginia's waters are attached to these sod particles. Therefore, controlling erosion will make a significant contribution to the control of water pollution.

May 1, 2009 426-722
Root Crops

Environmental Preferences

LIGHT: sunny

SOIL: well-drained, deep loam, free of rocks

pH: 5.5 to 6.5

TEMPERATURE: cool (60 to 65°F)

MOISTURE: moist, but not water logged

May 1, 2009 426-422
Season Extenders

To get the most out of a garden, you can extend the growing season by sheltering plants from cold weather both in early spring and during the fall. Very ambitious gardeners harvest greens and other cool-weather crops all winter by providing the right conditions. There are many ways to lengthen the growing season, and your choice depends on the amount of time and money you want to invest.

May 1, 2009 426-381
Seed For The Garden

Choosing and purchasing vegetable seeds is one of the most enjoyable gardening pastimes. Thumbing through colorful catalogs and dreaming of the season¼s harvest is one way to make winter seem a little warmer. Seed purchased from a dependable seed company will provide a good start toward realizing that vision of bounty. Keep notes about the seeds you purchase - their germination qualities, vigor of plants, tendencies toward insects and disease, etc. From this information, you can determine whether one seed company is not meeting your needs, or whether the varieties you have chosen are unsuitable for your area or gardening style. For example, if powdery mildew is a big problem on squash family plants in your area, the next year, you may want to look for mildew-resistant varieties.

May 1, 2009 426-316
Selecting Landscape Plants: Broad-Leaved Evergreens

There are a large number of highly ornamental broad-leaved evergreens. However, many of them require special attention if they are to develop into attractive, long-lived plants.

Wide fluctuations in temperature, prolonged dry periods, drying winds, and bright sunshine are not ideal conditions for most broad-leaved evergreens, yet these conditions frequently occur in Virginia. Good soil preparation and a carefully selected location will help ensure the success of these plants. However, the year-round beauty and special effect that they give to the landscape make them well worth the extra care needed to grow them.

May 1, 2009 426-607
Selecting Landscape Plants: Conifers

Conifers, also known as narrow-leaved or needled evergreens, are planted primarily for the attractiveness of their evergreen foliage. The variety of sizes, shapes, and colors available contributes to their popularity.

Conifers range in size from prostrate plants growing only a few inches tall to large trees. Shapes include flat ground covers; horizontal spreaders; upright, pyramidal forms; and even weeping and contorted forms. Foliage color ranges from a gold and cream variegation to all shades of green, gray-green, and blue-green.

May 1, 2009 426-605
Selecting Landscape Plants: Flowering Trees

In the home landscape, flowering trees are secondary in importance to shade trees. The basic elements of framing, background, and shading are provided by shade trees, while flowering trees provide showy and unusual features with their floral beauty and seasonal interest. In addition, many flowering trees have colorful or interesting fruits which may be edible or attractive to birds.

May 1, 2009 426-611
Selecting Landscape Plants: Rare and Unusual Trees

There are many tree species that can be successfully grown in Virginia, but are rarely seen in our landscapes. Although not ordinarily recommended or readily available, these trees may be useful to carry out a specific landscape theme, to substitute for an exotic type which is not locally adapted, or may be prized for unusual form, flowers, fruits, bark, or foliage.

May 1, 2009 426-604
Selecting Landscape Plants: Shade Trees

Trees are the basic element for any landscape plan. They set the stage for the entire home grounds design. The type used and their location determine to a great extent what other plantings are appropriate. Providing shade usually requires tall, sturdy, long-living species. Density of foliage, which determines the amount of shading, is important. A tree such as a Norway maple will produce a very dense shade that prevents other plants from growing under it, while a honey locust will produce a light partial shade which is not a hindrance to other plants growing below it. Deciduous trees should be used to shade the south windows of a home in the summer, thus allowing the sun to penetrate in the winter.

May 1, 2009 426-610
Selecting Turfgrass

A quality lawn results from using the right grass species and/or variety, proper planting and establishment, and sound management. Planting the right turfgrass for your site reduces the need for pesticides. The most important step for the homeowner is selecting the proper turfgrass for the situation.

May 1, 2009 426-719
Small Fruit in the Home Garden

The small fruits offer advantages over fruit trees for home culture. They require a minimum of space for the amount of fruit produced and bear one or two years after planting. Also, pest control typically is easier than with most tree fruits.

Success with a small fruit planting will depend on the attention given to all phases of production: variety selection, soil management, fertilization, pruning, and pest control. Plant only what you can care for properly. It is better to have a well-attended, small planting than a neglected, large one.

May 1, 2009 426-840
Sprouting Seeds For Food
Seeds themselves are a very nutritious form of food because they contain proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and oils that a beginning plant needs to grow. Many of these constituents are increased greatly when the seeds are sprouted.

If their presence in restaurant salad bars and in grocery stores is any indication, the popularity of sprouts is increasing. It's very easy to grow your own sprouts at home with a minimum of supplies.

May 1, 2009 426-419
Storing Pesticides Safely
Storage Tips
The proper storage of pesticides, both synthetic and botanical, in and around the home is important for many reasons, including protecting human health, preserving the environment, and maintaining chemical effectiveness. One way to minimize storage problems is through good planning.

Buy only the amount of pesticide that you need for a specific job or for the current growing season. The smaller-volume containers, even if more expensive ounce for ounce, may in fact be the "best buy" in the long run by eliminating waste and the need for storage space. If you need to store pesticides on your property, follow these guidelines - for safety's sake!

May 1, 2009 426-705
Sweet Corn

Environmental Preferences

Light: sunny

Soil: deep, well-drained loam

Temperature: warm (60 to 75 degrees F)

Moisture: average

corn.gif

Culture

Planting: seed after danger of frost is past; extra-sweet varieties should be planted when soil temperatures reach 65F.

Spacing: 9 to 12 inches x 24 to 36 inches; minimum of three rows side by side (preferably four rows) to ensure good pollination.

Hardiness: Tender annual

Fertilizer Needs: heavy feeder; sidedress when plants are 12 to 18 inches high with 3 tablespoons 10-10-10 per 10 feet of row.

May 1, 2009 426-405
The Art of Bonsai

Bonsai is an art form that stems from ancient Asian culture, originating in China and developed by the Japanese. In the 13th century, the Japanese collected and potted wild trees that had been dwarfed by nature. These naturally formed miniatures were some of the first bonsai.

May 1, 2009 426-601
The Value of Landscaping

Enhancing our Environment

  • Plants protect water quality. Proper landscaping reduces nitrate leaching from the soil into the water supply. Plants also reduce surface water runoff, keeping phosphorus and other pollutants out of our waterways and preventing septic system overload.
  • Proper landscaping reduces soil erosion. A dense cover of plants and mulch holds soil in place, keeping sediment out of lakes, streams, stormdrains, and roads; and reducing flooding, mudslides, and duststorms.
  • Plants improve air quality. One tree can remove 26 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually, equaling 11,000 miles of car emissions. Landscape plants, including shrubs and turf, remove smoke, dust, and other pollutants from the air. One study showed that I acre of trees. has the ability to remove 13 tons of particles and gases annually.
  • Landscaping lowers summer air temperatures. According to the EPA, urban forests reduce urban air temperatures significantly by shading heat sinks such as buildings and concrete, and returning humidity to the air through evaporative cooling. Trees shading homes can reduce attic temperatures as much as 40 degrees.
  • Landscaping conserves natural resources. Properly placed deciduous trees reduce house temperatures in the summer, allowing air conditioning units to run 2 to 4 percent more efficiently, but allow the sun to warm the house in the winter. Homes sheltered by evergreen windbreaks can reduce winter heat loss and are generally warmer than homes without such protection. By using trees to modify temperatures and protect against wind, the amount of fossil fuels used for cooling and heating is reduced.
  • Landscaping screens busy streets. Well-placed plantings offer privacy and tranquility by screening out busy street noises and reducing glare from headlights.
May 1, 2009 426-721
Tomatoes

Environmental Preferences

LIGHT: Sunny.

SOIL: Well-drained, loam.

FERTILITY: Medium-rich.

TEMPERATURE: Warm (70° to 80°F).

MOISTURE: Moist, but not waterlogged.

May 1, 2009 426-418
Trees and Shrubs for Overhead Utility Easements

Trees are valuable assets in commercial, private, and public landscapes. Trees add aesthetic beauty, modify and enhance the environment, serve architectural and engineering functions, and increase property and community economic values. These same trees that enhance landscapes, however, are a major challenge for utility companies. Most people have grown accustomed to reliable, uninterrupted electric, telephone and cable service in their homes and offices. Unfortunately, trees are one of the major causes of power outages in areas of overhead utility lines due to direct tree contact with lines, or to trees or tree limbs falling on the lines.

May 1, 2009 430-029
Using Compost in Your Landscape

Compost is produced when organic matter, such as garden and lawn waste, is broken down by bacteria and fungi.

When added to soil it improves soil structure; sandy soils will hold water better while clays will drain faster. Compost also promotes a biologically healthy soil by providing food for earthworms, soil insects, and beneficial microorganisms.

May 1, 2009 426-704
Vegetable Gardening in Containers

If you don't have space for a vegetable garden, consider raising fresh, nutritious, homegrown vegetables in containers. A windowsill, patio, balcony, or doorstep can provide sufficient space for a productive container garden. Problems with soil-borne diseases, nematodes, or poor soil can also be overcome by switching to container gardening.

Grow vegetables that take up little space, such as carrots, radishes, and lettuce, or crops that bear fruits over a period of time, such as tomatoes and peppers, for best use of space and containers. Dwarf or miniature varieties often mature and bear fruit earlier, but most do not produce as well overall as standard varieties. With increasing interest in container gardening, plant breeders and seed companies are working on vegetables specifically bred for container culture. These varieties are not necessarily miniature or dwarf and may produce as well as standard types if cared for properly.

May 1, 2009 426-336
Vegetables Recommended for Virginia

Table of vegetable recommendations for Virginia.

May 1, 2009 426-480
Weeds in the Home Vegetable Garden

The most common definition of a weed is a plant out of place. Many plants that are considered weeds in the vegetable garden are beneficial wildflowers in other settings. Some, such as the Venice mallow (or flower-of-an-hour), morning glory, and even thistles, have flowers that rival those intentionally planted in flower beds. Unfortunately, some of the plants, while attractive in the wild, are too aggressive for use in the home garden and can take over the landscape. Seeds of even very obnoxious wild flowers may be sold occasionally, so care must be used in the selection of wildflowers vs. weeds.

May 1, 2009 426-364