And what about those numbers? What do they mean? These numbers stand for the percentage of nitrogen, phosphate, and potash or potassium in the fertilizer, and are always given in that same order — always nitrogen first, then phosphate, then potash. Keep this in mind when you compare sizes and prices of fertilizers. As an example, 100 pounds of 10-5-10 would always contain 10 pounds (10 percent) nitrogen, 5 pounds (5 percent) phosphate, and 10 pounds (10 percent) potash or potassium. See? It’s almost easy!
Q: What is the best way to cut back my peonies now that the flowers are starting to die?
A: Cut just the dead flower heads after they’ve bloomed, but allow the foliage to grow all summer. In the fall, when hard frost has killed the greenery, clean out the bed thoroughly to prevent the old mulch from becoming a warm place for the winter. After a hard frost, cut back remaining foliage to about 4 inches high for the winter. Remember to remove and destroy all dead leaves and stems to prevent disease.
Q: When can I cut the old stems from all of the spring bulbs? I tied the bunches of foliage together like a teepee thinking they would look nicer over the summer, but now they look like mush or slime.
A: It’s time to gently clip the leaves from your spring bulbs. The leaves have been growing and conserving energy for next year’s crop, but now they have turned brown and their job is done for another year. Gently remove the now-soggy leaves by hand, or cut them about 4 inches from the ground. If you wait long enough, they will gently pull out without cutting. But can you stand looking at those mushy yellow leaves for another month?
Q: My hosta has come out with damaged leaves. Is it bugs? Could I have cleaned out too early this spring and accidently “frozen” the young plant? The rest of my perennials were fine. I’ve got to divide some of them this fall. Will I be transplanting bugs as well?