Q We started seeds of dwarf dahlias indoors in February so we could transplant them outdoors as soon as possible. My question is, will these plants have formed tubers by fall so we can dig them up and store over winter, then replant next spring? S. C. Princeton, N. J. Your growing season is long enough for the dahlias to form tubers.Skip to next paragraph
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For three years we have had seed-grown dahlias (started in February, planted outdoors in May, and kept growing until late September) form tubers before frost came along to stop their growth.
We still start some from seeds, even though we keep the tubers over and have enough to share with friends. Q From time to time in gardening articles I read references to ``deadheading.'' Since I am a relatively new gardener, I do not know what this means and would appreciate being enlightened. K. M. Washington, D.C.
Simply stated, deadheading means removing spent flowers from plants so they cannot go to seed. The term is very common among folks who grow azaleas and rhododendrons, although it can apply to any plant.
The emphasis is on removing the flower head below the ovary, as soon as it begins to wilt after pollination. The purpose is to keep seeds from forming, which purportedly takes strength from the plant and can offset next year's bloom. Q I have about 20 evergreen trees scattered unartistically around the front of my property. These include pines and spruces. Many are 12 to 15 feet high. Do you think, with the help of a good yard worker, we could prepare new holes, then dig the trees and move them to new locations? Soil is somewhat rocky and claylike. Should anything be added? B. P. Mount Airy, Md.
It is important to dig trees with enough root ball to sustain top growth. Hand-digging and moving trees the size you mentioned would be almost impossible. With the number you have to move, we recommend you hire a professional with a tree-moving machine, such as a Vermeer. The operator will dig holes with large mechanized spaces, then lift out each tree with the same machine and transport it intact to each new hole.
Considering your soil, you may want to mix some organic matter (peat moss, rotted manure, compost, etc.) with a few shovels full of soil and throw it in the bottom of holes before placing trees. A liquid feeding a week or so later is a good idea.
Trees should also get a thorough weekly watering during summer, and more often if you have a real hot, dry spell.
If you have a question about your garden, inside or out, send it to the Garden Page, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, Mass. 02115. Doc and Katy Abraham are nationally known horticulturists.