Ask the gardening expert
Thursday, August 30, 2012
I tend a honeysuckle that is climbing a west-facing brick wall, so it receives afternoon sun. It has bloomed for three or four years in a row, but for the past couple of years, it has produced a lot of vine and leaves, but no bloom. I waited until early spring to prune it rather than doing it in the fall, but it still didn't bloom. Some other plants -- just some annuals that I fertilize regularly -- have been planted in front of it. Am I doing something wrong?
I can see two problems with your honeysuckle.
The first is you're over-fertilizing your plant, so it is vigorously growing vines and leaves at the expense of blossoms. The second is that some plants such as honeysuckle will bloom on stems produced on old wood, so pruning in the fall will remove the older shoots where the next blooms are being formed.
The time to prune blooming plants, whether shrubs or vines, is right after a bloom period but before they began to form next year's blooms.
Water your honeysuckle regularly in the spring and summer, but withhold fertilizer until it perks up and begins blooming again. The regular fertilizing of the annuals causes the honeysuckle to grow too many vines and leaves, but no flowers.
I have seeds for flowers and vegetables, and ornamental cabbages that I bought this summer. If I plant them in late August or early September, will that give me color in my fall garden? And, are there any new mum colors on the market?
I'm afraid that late August would be a little late to start plants from seed for fall color. Remember that in the fall, the daylight hours are growing shorter, so you need to add a little time onto the seed packet's listed days to maturity.
In the spring, it might take a plant 10 weeks to flower, but in the fall it might take 12 weeks or more. That said, there are a number of plants that will provide nice fall color.
Mums, of course, are the classic fall plant, and ornamental cabbages are popular, too. Both of these are commonly available as transplants or potted plants in late summer. Many annual and perennial varieties of asters flower in the fall. Winter pansies love the cooler weather of fall and will often overwinter to provide early spring color, too. Snapdragons and calendula might produce a second flush of bloom in cooler fall weather.
Ornamental chard, kale and flowering cabbages are durable fall-weather plants, and they come in some interesting colors. However, I would suggest that you hold off buying flowering cabbages, kales and others related plants until the days are cool. They cannot endure hot days of early fall, and often wilt in the heat.
Celeste Lindsay is a WSU master gardener. Send questions to email@example.com.