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Around the Yard

May 04, 2000|ROBERT SMAUS

Things to do this week:

* Cut back delphiniums. Delphiniums will flower in spring and again in late summer if you cut back the tall spikes after the spring bloom. Frank Reinelt, the late originator of today's delphinium strains, had this advice in his 1965 catalog: "After flowering, water should somehow be withheld and the flower stalks cut off, leaving the foliage standing until new growth commences from the ground. When the new shoots are advanced the old ones can be cut out and another heavy feeding of quick-acting fertilizer applied." Start watering when the new growth appears. The summer flower stalks will be shorter than spring's, but there will be more of them and they will be every bit as pretty.

* Don't feed stressed plants. There is a common misconception--partially gleaned from television ads--that if a plant is suffering, it needs fertilizer. This is seldom the case and fertilizing may in fact kill the plant. When plants are stressed, leave them alone. Try to correct the growing problems, but be assured that they seldom have to do with fertilizer.

At this time of year, newly planted things may temporarily dry out (even if the surrounding soil is wet), or they may stay too wet. Check the roots to see how moist the plants are and adjust your watering practices, but don't fertilize. If pests have caused problems, don't fertilize. Fertilizer is for plants that are healthy and actively growing, not for plants that are sick or diseased. It is not plant medication.

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