Gardening in Interesting Times: More Ideas from Experts

Hosta society experts answer questions at Plant Society Day at Gertens yesterday.

Yesterday the Minnesota State Horticulture Society hosted its annual Plant Society Day at Gertens in Inver Grove Heights. Several specialty societies were represented at the event and it seemed a great time to get more advice from experts about the best approach to gardening this very early, very warm spring.

Mary Don Beeson of the Garden Club of Ramsey County told me that she has been working in her perennial beds this past week. Because of the lack of snow cover, many perennials heaved out of the ground due to lack of snow cover, so she spent some time pushing them back, fixing edging that had heaved and giving everything a good long drink of water. The extended drought seems to be more of a concern with these top-notch gardeners than the early spring. If we do not get some good soaking rains this week, consider hooking up the hose and watering all your plants — they’ll be grateful.

Speaking of rain, Lisa Williams-Hardman, membership guru at MSHS and a great gardener, told me she thinks that some decent rain will create a burst of green in Minnesota gardens in the next couple of weeks. Like several others at the Plant Society Day, Lisa does not expect severe cold again. In fact, she was one of several people who told me they doubted the temperatures would drop below 30 again this spring.

I checked with experts from both the Minnesota Rose Society and the Twin Cities Rose Club about how to handle roses. If you have tea roses, floribundas or other more tender roses and you tip them over winter, just leave them where they are, according to the folks from the Minnesota Rose Society. They will not be harmed staying underground another three or more weeks, and if weather turns cold, they will be secure there. Chris Poppe of the Twin Cities Rose Club covers her roses with bags of mulch and a blanket for winter. She has removed the blanket and is slowly uncovering roses to give them some air. If your roses are out, Chris and fellow rose grower Carole Smuda suggest that you water them well and consider spraying them with Wilt-Pruf, an anti-transpirant. The real danger to drought-stressed plants is the wind, Chris noted, which may dry them out further.

The folks at the Minnesota Hosta Society table noted that while some hostas were beginning to emerge, most were still underground. Careful clean up while trying not to step into the gardens too much and water is the way to go. Gregg Peterson of the society said that people who did not water well into the fall last year — like into November — have a greater chance of losing plants, especially newly planted shrubs and trees.

My take-aways from talking with the plant experts: go slow, get out the hose and hope that Mother Nature doesn’t zap us with some extra cold weather.