Water just-planted mums according to weather, soil conditions, planting spot

Backyard Q&A

In The Garden

September 26, 2004|By Jon Traunfeld and Ellen Nibali | Jon Traunfeld and Ellen Nibali,Special to the Sun

How often do I water mums, which I just planted around my trees? They have direct sunlight.

Chrysanthemums need rich, moist, well-drained soil. The amount of water varies greatly depending on 1) the weather conditions, 2) the composition of your soil (clay soil requires less watering than sandy soil) and 3) the type of tree. Some trees' roots, such as Norway or Silver maples, are especially greedy and will take nutrients and moisture from the surrounding soil, thus more watering is necessary. When rain is not sufficient, supply enough water to maintain damp but not wet soil, about the consistency of a wrung-out sponge. Dry, sunny, and / or breezy days will dry soils more quickly.

I found a black widow spider in my foyer this week. Should I be concerned? I am almost always barefoot and have had arachnophobia since childhood.

Our only poisonous spider, black widows are not exactly uncommon in Maryland, but they are very shy, hiding in dark closed areas, and for that reason, they are seldom encountered. They do not build a big orb web. You will probably not step on one, but you could reach into a dark hidden spot and encounter one. For that reason, you may want to give your home a good fall cleaning, throwing out unnecessary items that might provide hiding areas. Vacuums are handy for cleaning up suspected spots. Spiders are beneficial predators, and their presence means that other insects are in the vicinity providing their meals. Please read our online spider publication.

Checklist

1. Pick those last tomatoes of the season that haven't ripened and put them in a bag with a banana or apple and they'll slowly ripen in your kitchen.

2. Trees are typically fertilized after they drop their leaves in the fall, not in the spring. However, mature, healthy shade trees do not need to be fertilized at all.

Jon Traunfeld, regional specialist, and Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, work at the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center. The center offers Maryland residents free gardening information and answers to plant and pest questions. Call the center's "hotline" at 800-342-2507 (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.) or e-mail questions to www.hgic.umd.edu. (You can also download or order publications and diagnose plant problems online).

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