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Oriental poppies need sun

BY KEITH STANGLER

Q. I have oriental poppies that grow well but do not flower very much. They get sun in the afternoon after about 2 p.m. Should they be moved?

A. Move them to a sunnier location -- full sun. Transplant in spring before May or in August.

Q. What are some nice ornamental grasses that I might add to a perennial garden?

A. Feather Reed Grass (Calamagroatis acutifolia) produces a nice, formal vertical affect, growing 6 to 7 feet tall. Minnesota Pampas Grass (Miscanthus senesis) is hardy to minus 30 degrees F, grows 5 to 7 feet tall with large, silvery plume-like flowers. Blue fescue grows only 10 to 12 inches tall, has stiff, silvery blue foliage and is evergreen, but may not be quite as winter-hardy as some taller grasses. Ribbon grass (Phalaris arundinacea, variety picta) grows 2 feet tall and is extremely winter-hardy. Give this guy plenty of space, as it is very aggressive with a spreading habit.

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Q. Why do peonies several years old fail to bloom?

A. The following are all reasons for peonies failing to bloom: planting too deep, too much shade, poor drainage, lack of fertilizer, lack of adequate moisture, injury to buds by late frosts. In addition to the above, roots in need of dividing can also be a cause. So, if none of the other causes seem to be the one, consider dividing them next fall in September.

Q. We have a narrow space (maybe 15 inches) between the walk and the house. One side faces west and another faces north. What can we plant there so that we have more than just gravel?

A. Snow on the Mountain, also called Gout Weed, will do well in the shade. It grows to 12 inches tall and forms a very dense ground cover crowding out the other vegetation. Several varieties of speedwell would work well in the sunny, hot side.

Q. Is this too early to start sweet Spanish type onions indoors?

A. Sweet Spanish types, Bermuda types and red burgundy types should be started now as they take a long time to mature. Start them indoors and grow them in a cool, bright room (room temperature should be 50 to 60 degrees F.)

Keith Stangler has 35 years experience as a horticulturist. For comments or questions call (507) 285-7739 or 1-800-562-1758.

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