Dianthus may survive in unheated garage, but impatiens won't

GARDEN Q&A

Garden Q&A

December 24, 2005|By JON TRAUNFELD AND ELLEN NIBALI | JON TRAUNFELD AND ELLEN NIBALI,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

I am overwintering some dianthus and impatiens plants in my house, but I would rather keep them in my unheated garage (with no or very little sunlight). Will they survive?

For the dianthus, it depends on what species you have. The common dianthus grown as an annual, D. barbatus (Sweet William), is actually a short-lived perennial that can take somewhat colder temperatures and may be able to weather your garage.

Impatiens would not survive your garage. They need temperatures above 50 degrees and full sun. Water only when the soil is dry. New plants can be started from cuttings taken in late winter and moved outdoors after danger of frost is past.

We cut a blue spruce Christmas tree at a reputable tree farm from the exact field as last year's tree. At home, we cut an inch off the trunk, immediately put it in water and kept it watered. It's in the same spot in our house as other blue spruce have been, but this one is dropping tons of needles, leaving bare branches. If you touch a branch, it drops all its needles. I've never had this happen!

Your Christmas tree was under some sort of stress before it was cut. Growers face difficult challenges from Mother Nature, such as too little rain and too much rain, compacted soils, deer feeding, and insect and disease problems.

Checklist

Avoid using chemical fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorus to melt ice around your home.

Jon Traunfeld, regional specialist, and Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, work at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, which offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's' hotline at 800-342-2507 (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.) or e-mail plant and pest questions through the Send a Question feature at hgic.umd.edu.

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