Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Spring Bulbs; Dividing Perennials; Recluse Spiders

It's that Time of Year Again

Time for the kids to go back to school, and time for us to think about what we hope to have happen in our gardens next spring. This is the time of year for cutting back perennials, dividing them, and planting your spring bulbs.

Tulips and Daffodil Bulbs

If you want more color in your early spring garden be sure to buy your spring flowering bulbs now and get them in the ground. It's best if they are planted about 6-8 weeks before a heavy frost so the roots can be established. The soil is best if it is loose and well-drained. They prefer dry or sandy soils. If you have heavy clay soil you can add peat moss, well-rotted compost or humus for improvement. These additives will help as well if you have sandy soils. Never deliberately water a bulb bed unless it is a newly planted one. The new bed will need water to establish the roots and start growing. Wet soil leads to fungus and disease that can rot bulbs. Tulips also prefer a site with full or afternoon sun. After blooming, cut off the dead flowers, but never cut the foliage down until it starts turning yellow. Most tulips are NOT as long-lived as we would like them to be and some people plant them as annuals. Don't be too disappointed if your tulips start dying out after a few years. Also, plant your bulbs in clusters for the best visual effect. Try to avoid planting them in a straight line.

Tulips Website:
Daffodils: Have very similar growing conditions as the tulips. American Daffodil Society Website:

Spring Flowering Bushes and Trees 

If some of your spring flowering bushes and trees do not bloom for you it could be that you are trimming them at the wrong time of year. Do not prune spring flowering bushes like forsythia, lilacs, azalea, rhododendron, and hydrangea (big leaf) until after they bloom in the spring. If you trim them in the fall or early spring you are probably cutting off their buds that have already been formed on the wood.

Dividing Perennials 

This is a good time to start dividing your perennials. Don't be afraid to split up some of them. Several of them do better when they are separated, and it will increase your number of plants. If you find that your perennials are not blooming well, or if the blooms are smaller or if the centers of the clumps are dying out, it could be because they are too crowded. It's best to divide spring and summer blooming perennials in the fall, and fall bloomers in spring. By dividing the plant when it is not flowering, all the plant's energy can go into the root and leaf growth. Allow about 4-6 weeks before the ground freezes for the plants to become established. If you divide in the spring, allow enough time for the roots to get established before hot weather settles in. Spring division is better done in the early spring when the tips of the growing plant have emerged. If you divide your plants in spring they may not bloom that year or might bloom a little later than usual. Never divide perennials on hot and sunny or windy days. Wait until a cloudy day with rain in the forecast. And be sure to water your newly planted divisions regularly if rain is not in the forecast.  Most perennials should be divided every 3-5 years. Some plants, like bleeding hearts, hostas,  and peonies may never need to be divided unless you want more plants. Plants that are growing and blooming well are ok to be left alone.
Here is some more information on how to divide your perennials. And this site also contains an excellent table (at the bottom of the page) for When and How to Divide Common Perennials:BHG Gardening- Dividing Perennials

Brown Recluse

Brown Recluse Spider

I decided to include this information on the Brown Recluse Spider because it was recently reported as biting a person in the Adirondacks (see link below). There are four known spiders to be dangerous to humans: the brown recluse, the black widow, the hobo or aggressive house spider, and the yellow sac spider. Within this select group, only the brown recluse and the black widow spider have ever been associated with significant disease and very rare reports of death. Brown recluse spiders are native to the Midwestern and Southeastern states. Documented populations of brown recluse spiders outside these areas are extremely rare. In recent years controversy has arisen over the appearance of brown recluse spiders in California and Florida. 

It is most likely found in the following areas: attics, basements, closets, ducting and registers, storage boxes, folded linens and clothing, barns, sheds, rock crevices, woodpiles and other dark areas.


As per eMedicineHealth: Brown recluse spider bites often go unnoticed initially because they are usually painless bites. Occasionally, some minor burning that feels like a bee sting is noticed at the time of the bite. Symptoms usually develop two to eight hours after a bite. Keep in mind that most bites cause little tissue destruction.
Victims may experience these symptoms:
  • severe pain at bite site after about four hours,
  • myalgias (muscle pain).
Initially the bite site is mildly red and upon close inspection may reveal fang marks. Most commonly, the bite site will become firm and heal with little scaring over the next few days or weeks. Occasionally, the local reaction will be more severe with erythema and blistering, sometimes leading to a blue discoloration, and ultimately leading to a necrotic lesion and scarring. Signs that may be present include:
  • blistering (common),
  • necrosis (death) of skin and subcutaneous fat (less common), and
  • severe destructive necrotic lesions with deep wide borders (rare).
If you have the above symptoms and suspect a spider bite you should medical attention as soon as possible. 

Erie County Person reported as having been bitten by a brown recluse spider while visiting the Adirondacks: (

Here is an article on the Brown Recluse:

Before and After Pictures of Deer Damage

Overnight the deer ate all the flowers off this petunia planter. I orginally took this picture to display another one of my husband's creative ideas. He had cut an old apple tree down that was rotted and the inside was mostly hollowed out from the problem. The next morning when I went out to look at it all the flowers were gone off it (see picture below). We've been spraying the flowers using Deer Off, but must have missed this planter.


Take lots pictures of your gardens. With today's technology it doesn't cost a lot of money to take pictures. Save them in folders on your computer or on a memory stick and you can compare them from year to year. I was looking back at some older pictures where I had planted a lot of impatiens and they looked beautiful. They added a lot of color to a rather shady area. I ended up filling in that area with perennials and daylilies because I had a problem with rabbits and deer at that time (apparently I still do, too). I might try adding some impatiens again next year in that same spot. You will also find how your gardens mature and change over the years as well. It's also nice to browse through them during the winter snow storms, too. hahaha


  1. Great Job on the Blogging! Really enjoy reading it! Keep it up! :)

    1. Thanks so much Martha! It's been fun and I'm so enjoying sharing what I know about gardening with others. I'm open to suggestions too!

  2. Was looking for this in my mail, it may come later today. So I'm very glad you include the URL in the Home page posting to click on. Absolutely a super blog site and I hope to never see that Recluse.loll I'm glad you put up the comparison penny, so we can see the size of it. This is the first picture I've seen that actually helps a person see the size. Great reading and looking forward to all of them Sue.

    1. Thanks Cheryle, I hope to offer information that some people might not be familiar with. And I'm trying to be informative as well by adding links that back up the information I'm sharing as well as offering people more information on the subject if they are interested in it. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Sue your info is great and the pictures are wonderful. You have such a green thumb and with the help of Ted and his camera I am enjoying receiving your blg each week. Keep up the good work!! Linda

    1. Thanks for your nice comments Linda! Glad you are enjoying it! It's great to be able to share this information in a format that's easy for people to access.

  4. Sue,
    I'm so excited to see the blog about perennials! Sharon and I were just talking about this with my hydrangeas - never separated these, though, thanks!


  5. Hi Patty, You're very welcome! If your hydrangeas are big you might have a big root ball to split up so be prepared. You can divide it into several sections after you dig them up. Glad you like the blog!