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NEW VIDEO: How to Read Plant Labels

Ever take a closer look at the label on the plant you're about to purchase? Don't forget to use this important tool that's going to help you "Become a Smarter Gardener in 2019"! Planting a tree, shrub, perennial, annual can sometimes be complicated...and this information will help you site and care for the plant so it has the greatest chance to succeed.

Take a few minutes to watch this Extension Video Guide to reading plant labels. You'll be glad you did!

Who regulates plant labels?  In our state, the Minnesota the Department of Agriculture regulates what information is required on plant labels. Plants have a tough time growing in Minnesota’s rigorous climate, and sometimes so do we!  Our winters are rough and many plants will not survive in Minnesota’s USDA Hardiness Zones as follows:

Zone 3 (minimum winter temperature of -40°F); Zone 4 (minimum winter temperature of -30°F); and in the metro and far southern MN, Zone 5 (minimum winter temperature of -20°F).�…
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Wildflower Feature of the Month: Virginia Bluebells

We're starting something new in Yard and Garden News! Every few weeks during the summer we will feature a different wildflower. We're kicking off this new series with one of our favorite spring ephemerals!
Wildflower Feature for May Virginia bluebells, Mertensia virginica, is so impressive as a wildflower that when my husband first saw them in the woods he said, ”Who planted these?” Showy but brief, these blue, then purple and finally pink flowers form in clusters at the ends of 2 foot tall stems with lush foliage. Flowers are tubular and pendulous on plants 12-30 inches in height.
Where to find them Native in central and southern Minnesota, and most states east of the Mississippi, this hardy wildflower, is a nice addition to shady garden sites.  In the wild it is found in shady to semi shady sites in wooded areas or at the edge of woods.

A true spring ephemeral, Virginia bluebells grow very early in the spring, flower before most trees have leafed out, and then completely di…

Myth or miracle: Coffee grounds, eggshells, and Epsom salts?

Every once in a while, it's good to take a step back and think about what we add to our gardens and why. Some things we add are helpful, some are neutral, and some can even be harmful to your soil or plants. Let's take a look at three common "remedies" and talk about why they may or may not be helpful in the garden.
Remedy #1: Used coffee grounds will lower soil pH Coffee grounds can be beneficial to your soil, but not because they lower pH. Coffee grounds contain carbon, nitrogen, and other compounds that feed soil organisms. Cultivating a robust and diverse population of soil microbes is the foundation for healthy soil - and healthy plants! Soil organisms then transform these nutrients into chemical forms that plants use for growth.

Coffee grounds can also contain compounds that help suppress some plant disease-causing microbes. However, coffee grounds have not been shown to have a consistent effect on lowering soil pH. But don't give up on coffee grounds in t…

Time to start thinking about watering - at last!

Dare I say that spring has finally arrived? With the warmer weather comes the important task of assessing watering needs of your landscape plants. How, when and why you water depend on several things and it's our responsibility as gardeners and plant owners to provide adequate moisture to plants if Mother Nature isn't helping out.

Our Extension webpage Water Wisely provides some great information. Here are a few tips:
Know your plants and their water requirements Plants can grow in many conditions when given good care. When it comes to buying a new plant, it's important to know the kind of growing conditions you can provide for it. The growers' plant tags provide a lot of information about the growing needs of plants.  Your zone? Check USDA Cold Hardiness Zones mapPlanting space available should match size of full grown plantSun / shade - full sun 6+ hrs, part sun/shade 3-6 hrs, full shade less than 3 hrsSoil type - clay, sand, loam (the best!) Soil texture matters!  S…

Don't treat Japanese beetle grubs during spring

Spring is finally here but some gardeners are already thinking ahead to summer and what steps they want to take to protect their plants from Japanese beetles. For those thinking about treating grubs now to reduce Japanese beetles later, don’t do it, it isn’t effective.

Unfortunately, grubs are too large to treat now. The best time to treat Japanese beetle grubs is July through mid-September when they are small or moderate-sized. As they get larger, it is more difficult to kill them and by fall it is no longer practical to manage them. When spring arrives, these grubs are definitely too large to control.

Even if you could effectively treat grubs in the spring, this does not have any impact on how many adult Japanese beetles you will see later. This
is because Japanese beetle adults are good fliers. They
can travel up to several miles and can easily enter your property from adjacent areas.

However, do treat grubs to protect your lawn from damage. If your lawn has suffered …

NEW VIDEO: How to Transplant Seedlings

Got some seedlings to transplant? Get some tips on great techniques to use as you baby these seedlings a little bit longer before they go into the garden!

Extension Educator Julie Weisenhorn walked viewers through the process on Facebook Live from the greenhouses on the University of Minnesota-St. Paul campus. Take a look!

Tune in for UMN Extension Yard & Garden's next Facebook Live on Monday, May 6th at 11 a.m. Julie will show you how to prepare a raised garden bed for planting. Make sure you tap "Follow" on our Facebook page...and it will alert you when the broadcast will begin.

Author: Gail Hudson, Extension Communications

Become a Smarter Gardener in 2019: Pick plants that will THRIVE, not just survive!

Today is a lovely, early spring day in central Minnesota and I am thinking about my garden--what I want to keep, what I want to change and what I want to plant. With winter a recent memory, Minnesota gardeners are more than ready to invest in plants at this time of year and get back out in the garden.

Let's visit three key points to choosing plants that will THRIVE and not simply survive.
Match plant needs to site conditions1. Choose plants with growing needs that match the kind of soil and amount of light you have available.

Avoid plants that need rich, moist soil if you have sandy soil. Blooming plants that require full sun (8+ hours of sunlight per day) will not bloom as well in shadier conditions.  Most plant tags are written by the grower and provide the basic growing conditions for the plant, so it's important to read a plant tag before you buy the plant and determine if you can honestly give this plant the growing conditions it needs to thrive. If you are not sure, ask …