Stop and smell the perennials

Check out these events

Molbak’s Woodville presents “Small Space Gardens and Decorationg Balconies, Decks” at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 22. No registration is needed and the event is free. Learn great ideas for downsizing.

Check out “Garden Tips for Western Washington” for free at noon on Sunday, June 24, at the Auburn’s Farmers Market.

The third week of June is a good time to appreciate all the perennial flowers that bloom. Visit a local show garden and you’ll be impressed with tall and spiky delphiniums, lush hosta plants and vibrant ornamental grasses.

In the vegetable garden, continue to plant beans and greens to extend the harvest. Once you harvest fresh peas and the vines start to yellow you should rip the pea vines from the ground. The warmer weather will make peas susceptible to viral and other diseases. Cool season crops such as peas and lettuce do best in late spring and early summer.

Your questions

Q. Can I grow hosta in containers? How big of a pot? What type of soil and how much fertilizer? I am downsizing to a condo with a deck but want to take some of my plants with me to grow in pots. My outdoor space is mostly shaded.

N.B., Kirkland

A. Hosta can be happy in containers and the size of the pot should relate to the size of the hosta. Some dwarf hosta such as the tiny “Mouse Ears” variety with six inch leaves can grow in a 4 to 6-inch wide container. The larger hosta such as “Sum and Substance” grows 3-feet tall and 6-feet wide. Give this monster a container at least 12 inches deep. Foliage plants like hosta are not heavy feeders so an application of slow release plant food once a year is good enough. Hosta like moist soil so adding a scoop of compost to the potting soil will mean less need to water your potted hosta. Potted perennials like hosta will adjust well to deck life. Visit me at Molbak’s Nursery at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 22 for more small space gardening ideas.

Q. I love the flowing look of Japanese Forest Grass and (I see) from your images on Instagram and Facebook that you grow this graceful grass in containers. Is this because it can be an invasive spreading grass? I have a small shade garden and do not want it to take over.

T.J. Puyallup

A. No, I consider Japanese Forest Grass or Hakonechloa macra a well behaved, shade loving grass that spreads politely when given moist soil. It can be happy for years in a pot and the grassy blades are over one-foot long and spill dramatically from the sides of the pot. It does not reseed all over like some ornamental grasses, so this is one I recommend for small gardens. The vibrant golden color of the foliage looks great sprouting from deep blue or black pots. I also use it along the edge of shaded beds to spill over onto the lawn in the summer. This lazy gardening technique hides the border of the lawn so you don’t have to keep edging.

Q. There is spit on my roses. I have never seen this before. Please advise.

A. No worries. Sometimes spit happens due to a bug that hides inside its own protective bubble of saliva. This spittle bug does not cause much damage and will mature and leave your plants alone in just a few weeks. You can get rid of the spittle with a strong blast of water and observe the small green bug hiding inside.

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