Nighttime, when the lilies come out

Garden Q&A

August 18, 1996

I can't wait to come home from work and unwind beside my water garden. But my hardy waterlilies are closed by late afternoon. Is there any way to prolong their blooming time?

Night-blooming tropical waterlilies would be perfect for your water garden. Blossoms remain open from late afternoon until midmorning of the next day. Many are fragrant, their sweet scent perfuming the night air. They also make wonderful cut flowers.

Tropical waterlilies are not cold-hardy, however, and should be considered annuals. Look for Missouri or Sir Galahad if you want to buy a white lily; Emily Grant Hutchings, H. C. Haarstick or Red Flare if you want a rose or red display, and Mrs. George Hitchcock if you'd like your flowers to be pink.

There is a fine white substance covering the leaves of my dogwood tree. What is this, and how do I slow its growth?

The white covering is caused by a fungus called powdery mildew. With the humid summer we've experienced, susceptible plants will be afflicted with it.

The disease is not lethal; however, it has become more widespread in recent years. Under severe conditions new leaves become twisted and distorted.

The fungus overwinters in leaf buds. If you see powdery mildew starting on your plants, prune off affected areas and dispose of the leaves in the trash can. Control severe powdery mildew by spraying the tree's foliage with an appropriate fungicide.

In your future seed or plant purchases, look for dogwood varieties that are mildew-resistant. Plant them in full sunlight and space them far enough apart to allow good air circulation.

My day lilies have finished flowering for the season. I would like to divide them to share with friends. Can I do that now or should I wait for the leaves to turn yellow?

Good question! Most perennials should be divided or transplanted either in the spring or fall but never in the summer. The stress caused by summer heat makes it hard for them to survive transplanting. Day lilies, however, are sturdy plants and can survive being divided in summer. Don't cut back the foliage though. The plants need green leaves to make food for winter storage. Keep them well watered if the weather is dry. Remove foliage only after all the leaves have yellowed.

Garden tips are provided by the Home and Garden Information Center of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Maryland. For additional information on the above or other gardening questions, call the center's hot line at (800) 342-2507.

Checklist

Visit your local garden center now to discover trees that bloom from mid-to-late summer. Spring-flowering trees are rather common in the landscape. For a difference, add a tree that blooms in July or August to your garden.

Continue to deadhead your annuals. For you new gardeners, this means removing spent flowers to prevent seed production. An annual that's not producing seed will keep blooming until frost.

Deadhead your perennials also -- the seed heads as well as the stems to which they are attached. This will redirect energy from seed production back to the plant.

Pub Date: 8/18/96

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