, Salem, MA


March 28, 2014

North Shore Gardener: A natural root growth stimulant


A: Pachysandra is a splendid choice for a shady area, and it’s easy to propagate. Your neighbor is most generous, and your clipping won’t hurt her plants at all.

Pots of soil and flats are often used when starting pachysandra, but the easiest way is to clip a bunch of a half-dozen tips about eight inches long, bunch them together with a string or rubber band, and root them in water. At this time of year, you’ll have strong roots in about eight weeks. Then, they can be planted directly in their permanent place in the garden. Plant about 10 inches apart, and in a few years, they will fill the space. If you have enough plants, you can plant closer to fill the space sooner.

Q: I saved all my big, beautiful tuberose begonia bulbs last fall. When would be the best time to plant them? (They really got big!)

A: In order for them to bloom before late summer, tuberose begonias should be started indoors about now. They will need two months of lead time before they are put outside in containers or gardens.

Unpack your bulbs and pot them individually in a rich composted soil or peat moss. Gently press each bulb into the soil so they are barely covered. If you have dozens of bulbs, it is faster to plant them in a flat of peat.

The most often-asked question about tuberous begonias: When you plant, which end goes up?

Sometimes, you can see tiny pink sprouts already growing as you take the bulbs out of storage, and sometimes, you can’t. Here’s an easy way to remember: Plant them “cup up.” If you happen to make a mistake, the smart little bulb will send the sprout around the bulb and to the surface. As the sprouts grow, fertilize on a regular schedule.

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