Learning to Grow

— Written By

It’s that time of year again when the days are longer, warmer and the weather invites us out into our gardens. 2018 was not a forgiving year for our plants. In Wilmington, 23 inches of rain fell at the airport during Florence which was the single largest rain event in Wilmington’s history since 1877! Precipitation totaled 102 inches for the year. Many folks lost trees, shrubs, and perennials from too much moisture.

The good news is that it is a new year and a great time to replace those plants that were lost. The annual Extension Master Gardener℠ Volunteer Association of New Hanover County plant sale is a perfect place to shop. Over 2,000 plants are grown in house for the sale. Plants are grown from seeds, plugs, cuttings and divisions. It is quite a commitment to raise these babies into healthy retail-ready plants that can be replanted at their new residence.

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Propagation is in full swing in January when seedlings are planted watered, pinched, fertilized and spaced. It may not be a glamorous job but it is an incredible learning experience for the thirty extension master gardener volunteers who are enrolled in this advanced training.

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To limit the spread of diseases and insects I suggest you diversify your gardens rather than planting the same plant all along your property line. Diseases and insects are host specific so if all the plants you select are from the same genus and species they will all be susceptible to the same diseases and insects. Interspersing plants with varying leaf textures creates a beautiful and eye-catching border and keeps diseases and insects from spreading from plant to plant.

Image of Ken Campbell

Stop by the New Hanover County Arboretum on April 11–14, 2019, to find a great selection of plant material to fill in those empty spots in the garden, get your tools sharpened or buy an originally designed trellis that the carpenters of the arboretum built!