Spring flowers are some of the most beautiful and appreciated blossoms. After we dig out from a season of snow, we can count on all that moisture to bring us a glorious array of varieties and colors. And, they arrive before the Japanese Beetles! (More on that later.)
No garden should be without peonies. Once planted, they can live for decades with very little attention and have a wide range of bloom times so that you could have fragrant bouquets for up to 7 weeks. Petal colors range from white to yellow, coral, pink purple and red in delicate single layers or lush doubles.
Heirloom varieties have heavenly fragrances and are less expensive. Hybridization has created plants with stronger stems, but little fragrance. ‘Hot Chocolate’ is a late mid season fragrant Japanese type. ‘Eden’s Perfume’ is considered one of the most fragrant peonies, with a Damask rose fragrance.
Root stock peonies are planted in the fall and may take a year or two to produce flowers, but then keep going for 50+ years. Potted plants from a local nursery bloom this year. Plant with a little bone meal and compost in a location with 6-8 hours of sun. They don’t like to be moved, so picking the right spot and amending the soil are keys to success. After that, just cut the foliage to the ground in fall, add a layer of mulch and know that the cold weather is helping create blossoms for another year.
Back to the Beetles…they are here to stay. There is no known way to totally eradicate them right now. Reproduction rates may stabilize, however. The best control still is early morning flicking into a cup of soapy water. Traps that you may have seen hanging in trees around the neighborhood are only causing us all more problems. Beetles travel up to 5 miles. The traps just bring more bugs to our neighborhood. Putting the traps in the parkways doesn’t remove them from your garden. The parkways aren’t watered as much as your lawn probably is and don’t have the delicious variety of plants – Japanese Beetles are known to munch on over 400 species. Females repeatedly tunnel into your lawn over a two-to-three week period and lay up to 60 eggs each. The more you water and the shorter your grass, the happier they are. July and August are very hot months for us, but if you can cut your watering a little and let your grass grow to 3 inches, it will be harder for them to get down where they need to go. There is a biological grub control that can be applied in late summer to fall that will kill only scarab beetle larvae: grubGONE! Ask about it at your nursery or click beetlegone.com.
Remember to protect bees and other pollinators when choosing chemical controls in all areas of your garden. In the meantime, enjoy the crocus, tulips, daffodils, hellebores, allium, iris and peonies, beetle free.