NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

March 27, 2013

Tim's Tips: Gypsum can stop effects of ice melt

Tim's Tips
Tim Lamprey

---- — This week’s column will cover some odds and ends of things you need to know about gardening.

With this being the week of Easter, many of you will give or receive flowering plants as gifts. The traditional Easter plants are the Easter lily and various spring flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and hyacinth. Easter lilies are bulbs too. Some people will plant them outside and some will have luck getting them to bloom again later in the season and for years to come.

All of the Easter plants are forced bulbs. This means that the bulbs were planted into pots, and then subjected to a period of cool temperatures before getting placed in warmer conditions to bring the plants into bloom.

Once you have purchased your plants, you will want to keep them in bloom for the longest period of time possible. The tulips, daffodil and hyacinth will bloom faster and go by flower faster if you keep them warm.

Household temperatures in the upper 60s and into the 70s will make the flowers go by faster. If you couple this with constantly keeping the soil moist, the flowers could be done in just a couple of days. The secret to keeping these plants in bloom longer is to keep them cool and keep the soil a bit on the dry side. Easter lilies will do best if they are kept a bit on the cool side and have their soil evenly moist.

Since we had quite a bit of snow and cold temperatures, many of you have used ice-melting products on your driveway and walkways this winter. Cities and towns also applied ice-melting products on the roads. As the snow and ice melts, it, along with the remaining product is plowed back and often winds up on the lawn adjacent to the road. It will eventually get into your lawns and flowerbeds as the snow melts this spring.

These products can damage the roots of your lawn, and the other plants that are exposed to the residue. But there is a way you can prevent the damage caused by these ice-melting products. If you apply horticultural gypsum to the soil after the snow melts, the gypsum will neutralize the build-up of these products and prevent the damage to the roots of your lawn and other plants.

The gypsum works best if you apply it as soon as possible. Once the plants show signs of damage, it may be too late for it to be effective. Make it a point to apply gypsum to those areas exposed to ice melting products.

Every year as the snow melts, the spring flowering bulbs such as tulips and daffodils begin to put up their new growth. When this happens, we usually have some very cold weather. People get concerned that the cold temperatures will damage the new growth. However, these plants are extremely hardy.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is www.Harborgardens.com. Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to ndn@newburyportnews.com, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.