KC Gardens

Answering your gardening questions from asters to zoysia

Dennis says: Fertilize your roses, but follow updated guidelines

Want more flowers on your rose bushes? If so then you need to provide them an extra boost through fertilization. Proper fertilization develops strong vigorous canes that will end in a big fat plump bud with a nice flower.

Most local soils have plenty of phosphorus and potassium, so the recommendation of using a balanced fertilizer such as 13-13-13 or 10-10-10 is outdated. The old recommendation was to apply about 1/2 cup of this type of fertilizer per plant 3 to 4 times per growing season between mid-April and mid-August.

Newer recommendations are more environmentally friendly, as it reduces the use of unnecessary fertilizer containing phosphorus and potassium. Nitrogen, the first number on a bag of fertilizer, is the key nutrient for established roses. Using a higher rate of nitrogen and low amounts of phosphorus and potassium are best. Examples of fertilizers to use are 27-3-3 or 25-5-5.

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9 hours ago

Looking for some evergreen trees and shrubs for a woodland setting

(To see an answer to this question, click on Read More.)

Dennis, I've appreciated your tips and guidance for years.

We live in Red Oak Hills, just west of 435 and Shawnee Mission Parkway. I need to add a few evergreen trees/shrubs to my woodland, very sloped backyard and would like your recommendations for small evergreen trees that will survive in this area.

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12 hours ago

What happens to my seeds after heavy raid and cold temps?

Hi there! I have just sown zinnia and alyssum seeds in my flat bed... And since then it's been pouring really heavy: (and temperatures going to plunge tonight!) Will the seeds germinate or just rot? I also have a few gladiolus bulbs planted. What's going to happen to them? Thanking you in advance! Rumkie


The rain over the weekend was greatly needed as we have been on the dry side. The cold snap is really not that surprising as we still have about a 50% chance of a frost. Seeds germinate based on several factors. One of the most important is soil temperatures. Since it has been so cool many warmer loving plants such as zinnias will not germinate. The fear is that they will sit in the cool and moist soil and rot. Time will tell whether your planted seeds will germinate or rot. They will not grow until the soil warm sufficient to promote germination. This soil temperature issue is important to remember as plant growth is a function of not only air temperature but also soil temperatures.

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14 hours ago

How do you control weeds in newly seeded grass?

I have new seeded grass and weeds are starting to grow. What shall I use to control weeds and not kill the grass. Webb


Whenever soil is disturbed the result is weeds. There are two types of weeds that you will be dealing with. One is the broadleaf weeds such as dandelions, henbit and chickweed. Many of these are starting to flower now. If the grass was seeded last fall and you have mowed the new grass a couple of times than any of the broadleaf herbicides will work. If the grass was seeded this spring then at this point timely mowing is your friend. Most broadleaf herbicides cannot be safely applied until the new seedling grass has been mowed at least twice.

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14 hours ago

How can I revitalize a weeping cherry blossom tree?

I have an established weeping cherry blossom tree in my front yard (west facing). It appears to have had better days. I think the drought a couple of summers ago damaged it. We lost one of its large limbs several years ago in a storm. Now that its flowering again, we're noticing that a good many of the tendrils are dead, though most are still alive and flowering. Is there anything I can do to help revitalize the tree/make sure that it's healthy? Thanks, Zach


Weeping cherry is a beautiful tree with its graceful branches. It has such a nice soft pink flower in the spring. The problem is that weeping cherries are not very happy in our climate. Ornamental cherry trees do best in cooler climates with even moisture. Unfortunately in our climate because of the uneven weather patterns this tree has a shorter life span. Simply put is a short-lived tree. Ten to twenty years is probably a good life. That is unless it has excellent care. Weeping cherries do not thrive under drought conditions and branch dieback as you describe is typical. The best line of defense is to always treat this tree with “kid gloves.” By that I mean water on a regular bases to stave off drought, mulch around the tree to keep the roots cool and plant in a location out of the hot and drying summer winds.

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14 hours ago

Where can I find this crab grass product?

Trying to find Dimension by Dow grab grass product but no luck. Do you know where that product can be purchased in the KC area? William


I think you may be making it more difficult than it needs to be. Dimension is the common name and a lot of time is not spelled out on the label. Try this method – look at the ingredient label on the bag, the section in very small letters that is hard to read. Look for the word Dithiopyr. Dithiopyr is the active ingredient in the product called Dimension. I have seen this product at full line garden centers to small and large box stores. Hope this helps – Dennis, Johnson County Extension

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14 hours ago

Julie Robinson starts seed library to facilitate home gardens

Julie Robinson is the manager of the Ruiz branch of the Kansas City Public Library. Robinson is heading up a new seed library program that allows patrons to “check out” packets of flower, herb and vegetable seeds and, at the end of the growing season, “return” seeds collected from the plants they grew.

A kickoff event is 2 p.m. May 3 at the Ruiz branch, 2017 West Pennway. Star reporter Mike Hendricks and his wife, Roxie Hammill, authors of “Mike & Roxie’s Vegetable Paradise,” will talk about growing food in an urban setting. This conversation took place at the library.

How did you get the idea to start a seed library at a book library? Are you a gardener?

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By CINDY HOEDEL. 4 days ago

How late can I plant florabunda roses this spring?

How late can I plant florabunda roses this spring? We are having our house painted the last week in May, and my husband thinks we should wait until after the painters are finished so they don't get paint on them, as the flower beds that they will be planted in are right up against our house. Also, how often do I feed/fertilze them once I get them planted? - Lisa


Roses should be planted as early as possible in the spring, but you have a special situation. I would wait to put in the rose until the house is painted. You can plant a container grown rose almost any time, but special care should be taken to prepare the bed, mulch and provide adequate water all season long. When you plant the rose, use a starter fertilizer. Here is the link to the KSU bulletin on rose care, which includes more information, including the fertilizing schedule: Click here. Good luck. - Carole-Johnson County Extension Master Gardener

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5 days ago

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About the Blog: Send us your questions

Kansas City can be a challenging area for gardeners and homeowners with lawns and landscaping. We're here to help with resources, advice and answers. Email us questions at kcgardens@kcstar.com and you'll get answers from Johnson County Extension Master Gardeners and other experts.

Our bloggers

Dennis Patton
Patton is a Johnson County Extension horticulture agent and majored in horticulture at Kansas State University. He calls himself a plant geek and says his own garden is one of dreams and hope. Patton enjoys perennials and says if he had the time, hecould envision a large vegetable garden.

Carole Brandt
Brandt has been a Johnson County master gardener since 1990 and works on the Master Gardener hotline, which gives her an opportunity to research a great variety of garden questions and learn from all the people who contact her.

Craig Nienaber
Nienaber is a Star Metro editor and author of “Flower Gardening in Kansas City,” a book that profiles more than 20 of the area’s best gardeners. Each year, he tries to make his Shawnee yard a little bit better and keep it from backsliding.