A watering guideline and more gardening tips this week – Orange County Register – Advice Eating

1. Divide and repot cymbidium orchids. Although cymbidiums bloom in winter, their flowers can continue to develop until April, but they’re usually ready by May. Remember that a Cymbidium flowers best when crowded, so it should fill the pot completely before dividing it. Cymbidium flower spikes grow from pseudobulbs that protrude above the soil surface, and each pseudobulb flowers only once. However, the spent pseudobulbs will still store food, so when dividing your plant you need to be careful to replant them as well. To be safe, add four of these spent onions for every three onions with green sprouts. Soak your plant before dividing and repotting. If growing in a plastic pot, you may need to cut the pot into pieces to extract the orchid. Remove dead roots and split the root mass with a knife or other cutting tool dipped in isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. Place each section in a pot that is just an inch or two larger than the diameter of its root ball. Use small pieces of redwood bark as a rooting medium and soak well after repotting is complete. If you start fertilizing in June, you should see some blooms next winter.

2. In Southern California, plants grow fastest in May and therefore fertilization is necessary to keep up with their growth. Fertilize summer-blooming bulbs with a balanced fertilizer—where the three numbers (representing the percentages of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) on the fertilizer product, separated by dashes, are equal or nearly equal. Fertilize blueberries, azaleas, camellias, hydrangeas and nasturtiums with a product made for acid-loving plants. All summer vegetables benefit from an admixture (applied topically around the plant) of aged manure or compost. If citrus trees or gardenias have leaves with green veins but yellow spaces or some other irregular color, apply liquid fertilizer through the foliage. Most houseplants also respond well to a balanced fertilizer as long as it’s formulated for houseplants, while African violets and orchids benefit from fertilizers blended for their specific bloom needs.

3. Snails are gone from most boroughs of Los Angeles and Orange County. However, they can still be found in less populated wilderness areas, where coyotes prey on wildlife (squirrels, rats, possums, and raccoons) that snails otherwise appear to have brought under control in recent years. One way to combat the pesky brown snail is with carnivorous snails, whose tiny 1-inch (2.5 cm) conical shells resemble shells (home to sea snails) found on the beach. Decollete snails feed on young brown snails and their eggs. The only problem is that all ISPs that grow cleavages are currently out of stock. I imagine an enterprising human could do well with mass producing these carnivorous mollusks. I have found that consistently hand picking every morning for two to three weeks is an easy way to control snails. You can also lay boards in your garden; Snails stick to the underside of the boards from where you can dispose of them in the trash. There are also snail hotels and snail saloons, fishing gear available through the rinconvitova.com website.

4. When we have “May gray” conditions – where a layer of sea hovers above or overcast skies prevail in the morning – powdery mildew proliferates on rose bushes. To counteract this, hose down your roses early in the morning to knock off powdery mildew spores. Powdery mildew spores germinate in morning dew which settles on the leaves and remains there for four hours, so in the absence of morning sun on an overcast day, spore germination is likely. You can prevent powdery mildew, rust and black spot fungus on roses by applying BioAdvanced Rose & Flower Care, which also contains fertilizer, every six weeks. Once plants are affected by powdery mildew, you can apply neem oil or ultrafine oil to mitigate its presence. Finally, you can make your own anti-mold spray from a formula consisting of a tablespoon and a half of baking soda, a tablespoon of dish soap, and a tablespoon of vegetable or cooking oil. Dissolve this mixture in a gallon of water and spray on your rose petals once a week.

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