Trim tips 
on flowering
 almond bush

Last fall all of our chrysanthemums (most of which were planted about 15 years ago) died. They were in different areas of the garden, and the other plants that were in with them were not affected. I have loved all of the fall color and really missed it.

I would like to plant more mums, but am afraid to until I find out what killed the original ones. I would appreciate any help you could give me.

— Dru

We really don’t see all that many problems with mums. Aphids can crop up occasionally, but they wouldn’t kill the plant. Root feeding insects or root diseases would probably show some effects on the nearby plants. The same is true for watering problems, fertilizing issues or the effects of misplaced weed killers.

I do know that mums do best if they’re divided on a regular basis. Dividing is simply the process of digging up the whole clump of the plant and cutting it into smaller pieces and replanting. This gives the plant more space to grow. It kind of gives the plant a new lease on life with improved vigor, growth and flowering.

Some perennials can grow just fine for literally decades without dividing, but mums aren’t like that. They’ll often die off in the center of the clump with a ring of shoots coming from the edge of the clump. I think mums are best when they’re divided every three to five years. The best time to do it is early in the spring before they’ve shown much growth. Before replanting, take the opportunity to improve the soil by spading in some Soil Pep or other decomposed organic matter.

I have a beautiful flowering almond bush and it’s grown very large, about nine feet wide by six feet high, and I definitely want to prune it down. Can I do this now without affecting next year’s bloom? If not, when should I do it?

— Rita

Pink flowering almond blooms on old growth. That means the plant sets flower buds in late spring for the following year. Any growth you prune back now will reduce the flower you’ll have next spring. That’s not necessarily the end of the world; I just wanted you to know what would happen.

The “textbook” answer is that you should prune plants like this back immediately after they bloom in the spring. Personally, I think the plant responds better if you do the pruning in late March, knowing you’ll reduce the bloom a bit but that it will come back and then some the next year.

 

I received Indica azaleas for my birthday. I was wondering if I can transplant them outside. If so, when is the best time of the year to do so?

— Faye

I’m afraid they’re not cold hardy plants. Southern Indica azaleas are considered hardy to 20–25 degrees only. Though they are a bit more heat-tolerant than other azaleas, they would still struggle with our heat and dryness. I’d consider them strictly a houseplant.

They want very bright indirect light and be careful with the watering. They like regular moisture, but will quickly die if kept too wet. Allow the soil in the pot to dry just a little bit before soaking them again.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, bookcliffgardens.com. Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506; or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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