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Episode 44 – How to pamper your plants, a revolutionary rose, and an interview with Dr. Judson LeCompte

Ground Breaking Banter - Rick

Why not give your plants a spa day?

A day spent pampering your plants isn’t just for houseplants in spring after a long winter indoors – you can give your garden plants the spa treatment as well.

Right off the bat, let’s get to Epsom salts. If you listen to everything you read online, giving your plants Epsom salts is nothing short of a miracle, but the reality is that doing so is likely wasteful at best and harmful at worst. First of all, don’t overlook the fact that “salts” is right there in the name, and everyone knows how harmful salts can be to plants and soil. Epsom salts are no different, and any time you apply them, you are literally salting the soil. Salts are generally only held weakly in the soil so rinse out easily with enough irrigation or rainfall, but there’s still no reason to harm your soil like that. Second, the nutrient that Epsom salts provide – magnesium – is rarely deficient in most plants grown in gardens and landscapes, and adding more of it doesn’t mean the plant will store it, or become super-powered – it will just rinse away because there’s only so much magnesium that a plant can take up and metabolize. Finally, an excess of magnesium will induce a calcium deficiency that can lead to other plant problems. Plant nutrients, which are chemical elements, exist together in the soil, and if one gets way out of proportion, it can create chemical bonds that make it impossible for other nutrients to be taken up by the plant. And that’s the case of magnesium and calcium. This effect is often compounded by the “they’re harmless!” messaging of Epsom salts, and the desire for people to think they’re pulling a fast one on “Big Fertilizer.” The simple fact is that unless you have soil test results showing a deficiency of magnesium in your soil, you should not apply Epsom salts. Even if your friend/grandmother/neighbor swears by them. Even if you see it on social media. Save the Epsom salts for your aching bones at the end of a day of gardening, and let nature take its course outdoors.

From jet baths to hot stone massages to mud baths, watch on YouTube below to learn how you can give your plants an ultimate spa day.

Why: Roses have a reputation for being fussy, but At Last rose is one that won’t need a spa day! Why? Because At Last rose is self-cleaning. That means that when its blooms fade, its petals don’t stick on the plant in a big, ugly, brown clump. Rather, they fall off the plant elegantly, creating a beautiful carpet of peachy petals on the ground surrounding it. It’s also a disease resistant landscape rose that is less susceptible to powdery mildew, black spot, and other blemishes that can plague roses. Its name, At Last, comes from the fact that it is one of the first roses to combine the landscape-worthy, easy-care performance of a landscape or shrub rose with the beauty, color, high petal count, and fragrance of old-fashioned roses. In other words, finally – At Last – there’s a rose that does it all.

Who: This beautiful rose came to us from the late Colin Horner of the UK. Though he has sadly left us a few years ago, his incredible work breeding beautiful, easy-care roses means his spirit lives on every time you plant one of the varieties he developed. 

How to grow: Like all roses, full sun is essential for best performance and disease resistance. That means at least six hours of bright sun each day. You should also provide good air circulation by spacing it at least 4′ away from other plants and buildings, and avoid overhead watering as well as watering at night. Though it is disease resistant, it can still get Japanese beetles. The good news, though, is that because it is such a vigorous bloomer and flowers all summer long, if you can bring yourself to do it, you can cut the whole plant back once the Japanese beetles start flying. They are most attracted to the flowers, so by removing them, they’ll have less reason to visit. Keep the plant well-watered and perhaps give it a dose of fertilizer. It will spend the prime of Japanese beetle season growing out of this impromptu hair cut and will form new flowers just in time for them to disappear. It’s not an ideal solution, but if you are trying to grow roses without chemical treatments for Japanese beetles, it may be the right solution for you.

If you’d like to add At Last rose – or any of the 320+ Proven Winners ColorChoice Shrubs – to your garden or landscape, you’ll find a list of local retailers here

Gardening Mail Bag - Stacey

Do you have a question for us? We’re happy to help! E-mail us or use the contact tab above.

Branching News - Rick

In this episode, we’re excited to introduce Dr. Judson LeCompte, Plant Development Manager here at Proven Winners ColorChoice Shrubs, as our guest. We talk to him about his role, of course, but we also learn from him more about the differences between gardening in the South and the North. Judson is a native Alabaman who has lived and gardened throughout the South but now lives in Michigan. Join us on YouTube, below, to get his perspective on gardening both here and there, hear about his favorite plants, and his work traveling the world for new shrubs for Proven Winners.

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