Spring disease strikes gardeners

By Kalona News
Posted 3/25/99

The arrival of spring often brings on the disease “Iwannagarden nowus.” This affliction is brought on by seed catalogs, garden equipment displays and above freezing temperatures. Is there nothing …

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Spring disease strikes gardeners


The arrival of spring often brings on the disease “Iwannagarden nowus.” This affliction is brought on by seed catalogs, garden equipment displays and above freezing temperatures. Is there nothing that someone can do to help? When will the suffering end?

Never fear! There is help in overcoming this condition. There are several tender perennials that must be planted each spring. To get an early jump on the gardening season, try starting tender perennials inside. Tender perennials are readily available to consumers in most garden centers and other retailers that have a garden section. As well, last year’s tender perennials in storage can be checked for viability and potted up. This article will focus on a few tender perennials that can be started indoors in late winter or early spring.

Calla lilies add a tropical look to our gardens. Native to South Africa, calla lilies grow from underground stems or rhizomes. Calla lilies require a well-drained medium that is high in organic matter content. The optimum pH of the medium should be 6 to 6.5. Before planting your rhizomes, inspect them to see that there is no mechanical injury or soft rot problems. When planting, it is recommended to cover the rhizome with roughly one inch of soil. Water thoroughly after planting. From then on, keep the planting medium only slightly moist. Caution should be taken not to let the potting soil dry out completely. Upon transferring the plants outside, a location with moist soils and partial shade is important.

Tuberous begonias grow from tubers. A medium composed of peat moss and perlite is the best. The tuber usually has a concave and a convex side. Plant the tuber so that the convex or rounded side is planted down, leaving the concave or scooped-out side up. Cover the tubers with a little soil when planting. Medium temperature should be kept at 68 to 75 for sprouting to occur. Once growth has emerged, put pots in a sunny location in the house. Plants should be kept evenly moist, but now wet. The best site outdoors to transplant tuberous begonias would be a protected site from wind with partial shade.

Caladium has beautifully colored leaves of white, green, pink or red. Start these tubers in March. A six to eight inch diameter pot works best. Plant the warty side up and cover with about two inches of soil. The medium should be kept moist during rooting. Supplying bottom heat of 75 to 80 F is essential to initiate sprouting of the tubers. Outdoors, plant caladium in a partly shaded location with moist well-drained soil.

Dahlias are one of the most colorful, spectacular flowering plants. Late March is a great time to remove your tuberous roots from storage, divide and pot up. Eight-inch pots work best to accommodate the large tuberous roots. Cover the tuber with an inch of medium leaving the crown exposed on the surface. The medium should be well drained and kept on the dry side until active growth occurs. If not, soft rot tends to set in quickly. Dahlias grow well in full sun, but require an inch of water a week.

Before planting your tender perennials outside, harden or acclimate them to outdoor conditions for several days. Initially put them in a shady, protected location, then gradually expose them to longer periods of sunlight. After the plants have been acclimated, plant them in their appropriate location.

So, to cure the “Iwannagarden nowus,” just apply work clothing and pot up tender perennials. The tender perennials will provide colorful foliage and flower displays in summer.