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Volume XVII, Issue 2 - January 8 - January 14, 2009
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The Bay Gardener by Dr. Frank Gouin

Start Cuttings for Spring Color

You don’t need to be a botanist to propagate fushia

Do you have fuchsia? Do you want more?

If so, now is the time to take cuttings and grow your own, for fuchsia is a long-day plant.

Cuttings are easy to root either in water on in sand on a windowsill facing north. In water, change the water two to three time each week until there are roots. In sand, simply fill a flowerpot with sharp sand, moisten until you see water drip from the bottom of the container and stick the cuttings in the sand. Cover the top with a clear plastic bag and seal the bag to the pot with a rubber band.

Make cuttings at least three inches long with at least two sets of leaves. Longer cuttings will generally root better and faster. You do not have to treat the stem of the cuttings with a rooting hormone.

Do not expose the cuttings to direct sunlight.

When roots are an inch long with at least three per cutting, they are ready to be potted. Roots grown in water will likely be brittle and need to be potted carefully. Those rooted in sand will tend to be thicker and tolerate more abuse.

The rooted cuttings will branch better in more sunlight. But give them no light during the evening and night. Since fuchsia is a long-day plant, exposing the plants to ceiling or reading lights will force them to initiate flower buds and retard their growth. The more vegetative growth you can force your fuchsia plant to produce during short daylight hours, the more flowers it will produce once it starts flowering naturally during the late spring and summer.

Sex Among Hollies

Q Is there a way to tell which hollies are female and male when they are absent berries. I’m referring to smaller, just starting plants? I have volunteers in my yard and would like to transplant a female to a specific place.

–Melinda Zimmerman, Holland Point

A Some people claim they can identify female plants from male plants when hollies are young, but I have never been able to until they flower and I examine the flowers.

Test Soil Before Fertilizing

Q What should I do to help boost or rejuvenate my garden this winter? Size is about five to six feet by 30 feet or so. I grow mostly peppers, tomatoes and squash. The sun hits this area for only five hours or so a day in the afternoons.

P.S. I bought some figs off you at the Deale Thursday Farmers’ Market this past summer: Very good figs!

–Mark Zilliox, by email

A If you want to give your garden a boost next spring, spread about a one-inch layer of Leafgro, Chesapeake Green or Chesapeake Blue compost over the surface and spade it in. In the meantime, take some soil samples and send them to A&L Eastern Agricultural Lab and have your soil tested.

Q I want to fertilize my trees — crabapples, dogwoods, spruce, cryptomerias, pines, birches — both existing and new plantings. What would you recommend?

–Missy Jones, by email

A Why do you want to fertilize them? Are they not growing well? What do your soil test results indicate? I cannot make fertilizer recommendations without a soil test.

Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at frgouin@erols.com. All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address.

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