, Newburyport, MA

May 8, 2013

May plants should be able to survive frost

Tim's Tips
Tim Lamprey

---- — Early Sunday morning, many of you awoke to find frost on the lawn. This re-enforces the point I have been making that you cannot rush the season by planting warm-weather vegetables or flowers that can be killed by a frost. There are vegetable plants and flowers that you can plant that will survive a frost. If you are buying plants in early May, it is always better to ask if the plants can survive a frost. You can always cover your plants, but that is a lot of work to cover them at night and then to remove the covering in the morning.

Dandelions have been popping up in many yards. The yellow flowers look pretty, and they become the bouquet of choice for young children who are picking flowers to give to Mom. The dandelion plant does spread its seed all over the lawn when those flowers finally go by. You can kill the plant with an application of a broadleaf weedkiller. If you fertilized your lawn in early April, you can apply a combination weedkiller plus lawn fertilizer. This type of product is best applied early in the morning when the weeds are damp from the dew that settles on the lawn. The reason for this is that the weedkiller needs to stick to the weed and to eventually be absorbed into the leaf and to then be carried down to the roots. The weedkiller destroys the roots. After this product is applied, you do not want to have rain or watering for a period of 24 hours. If this were to happen, the weedkiller can be washed off the leaves.

If you have applied lawn fertilizer less than a month ago, you do not want to use a weedkiller and fertilizer combination. The reason is that you would be applying too much fertilizer over a short period of time. This could lead to you damaging the grass. You can apply a liquid weedkiller to the weeds. This type of product comes in a ready-to-use package, or you can apply a concentrated product that is diluted with water and applied with a hose attachment sprayer, or it can be put into a tank-type sprayer and applied directly to the weeds. If you are using a liquid spray, you must be very careful not to apply the liquid on a windy day. Wind can carry the product onto other plants in your yard. Over the years, I have seen many cases where plants were damaged by applying liquid weedkillers on a windy day.

Mother’s Day is this Sunday. If you are going to give Mom a flowering hanging basket, make sure to give her a container of plant food to go along with it. Hanging baskets are raised in greenhouses where the plants are fertilized on a regular schedule. This is the reason why the plants look so good when you buy them. If Mom does not keep up with feeding the plants, pretty soon, the flowering will stop on the plant.

I received an email from Donna in Newbury. She is having a problem with her viburnum plants. The plants wind up being defoliated each year. The culprit may be a caterpillar. An application of a product called BT when the leaves first open and then another application in seven to 10 days should kill the caterpillars and save the plants from losing their leaves again this year.

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


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