Garden Tip: Deadheading sticky rhodo blossoms

by Leslie Cox; Monday; June 11, 2018

Rhododendron 'Anna Rose Whiney'Deadheading a rhododendron can be quite a chore at the best of times…especially if it is a tall one like our beautiful ‘Anna Rose Whitney’. And we have two of those!

Not only is ‘Anna Rose Whitney’ very tall, but the spent blossoms are very sticky. So sticky, they cling to your gloves, or bare hands if you prefer to deadhead without gloves.

One solution we have found is to don a pair of disposable gloves and slather our fingertips with Vaseline. Works like a dream…the spent blossoms don’t stick at all. However, there is one caveat…you have to keep re-applying more Vaseline.

There is a second solution which I have just recently discovered…deadhead the sticky rhodo blossoms on a rainy day. Preferably after it has been raining for a while and the shrub is thoroughly wet.

I usually stick to inside chores on big rain days in consideration for my arthritis. However, I was falling behind on garden chores so suited up into rain gear and ventured out to tackle some deadheading on the rhodos. I started with a non-sticky rhodo and then moved on to ‘Anna Rose Whitney’ right next to it…without switching to disposable gloves and Vaseline. What a pleasant surprise to find the spent blossoms were not clinging to my garden gloves! (If I could ignore the soaking I was getting from the rain, that is!) Seems wet gloves, as yucky as they are to wear, work every bit as well as Vaseline!

Happy deadheading on those rhodos!

Garden Chores: October

In the vegetable garden:

  • It’s apple season! Store your harvest at 0 °C to 7 °C (32 °F to 45 °F). Some varieties will keep longer than others, so check regularly to ensure they are not spoiling.
  • Make sure to dry your beans well before storing in a moisture-proof, airtight container for making those soups and chili dishes over the winter.
  • Make sure your onions are dry and wiped clean of all dirt. Store away from apples and potatoes where it is cool and dry. Again, some varieties are better keepers than others.
  • Root Crops. Clean your potatoes, carrots, beets, etc. of any soil. Store in a cool, dark place. If you clip the tops off of your carrots, beets, parsnips, etc., they will stay fresher longer. (Some people like to store their root crops in sand-filled tubs.)
  • Squash and pumpkins should be washed with a 10 % bleach solution and wiped dry thoroughly for storing. They should be stored at 10 °C to 15 °C (50 °F to 65 °F).
  • And for goodness sakes! Plant that garlic now!


In the perennial garden:

  • Time to dig up the tender plants for storing, such as dahlias, canna lilies, begonia tubers, etc.
  • Right time to plant the spring-flowering bulbs, if you did not get this done last month. Put markers of some sort where you have planted your bulbs and late-flowering perennials. That way you will not dig them up in your spring enthusiasm.
  • Still time to divide and move those overgrown perennials.
  • Get on with the fall clean-up schedule in the garden. Cut back those herbaceous perennials which are dying back, such as hostas. Put any plant debris which is showing signs of serious disease such as botrytis in the garbage, or on the burn pile.
  • Those piles falling leaves. They are a wonderful, protective mulch for any borderline hardy perennials you may have snuck into your landscape design. Leaves are also great for protecting soil erosion from winter rains.
  • Good time to start some paperwhite bulbs indoors now.
  • If you have kept last year’s poinsettia, and stored it in a dark closet, now is the time to bring it out into the light so it will produce those lovely, colourful bracts at Christmas.
  • Check your climbing roses are securely tied to their trellis so as not to risk any broken branches during the winter storms.
  • Put your garden furniture under cover to ensure longer life.


Posted on September 28, 2017

8 Houseplants with Beneficial Air-purifying Qualities

by Leslie Cox; Saturday; September 23, 2017

If you are a plantaholic like me, then you are already familiar with the many benefits in surrounding yourself in greenery…both outdoors and in.

But if you are not much of a gardener, you need to know there is a positive in placing at least three or four tropical-type plants throughout your home. Bottom line…air purification.

Depending on the furniture you own and the cleaning products you use, there could quite possibly be some not-so-very-nice toxins floating on the air currents inside the house. Certain plastics, for instance, emit a toxin called xylene into the air. The same toxin is found in some solvents.

Placing one 12-inch (30 cm) sized potted plant from the following list for every 100 square feet (9 sq m) of space in key rooms…living room, dining room, den, rumpus room…will go a long way to making your most used living spaces a healthier environment for you and your family.


  1. Aglaonema spp. – Chinese evergreens
  • removes benzene, formaldehyde, and other toxins
  • oxygen content in emissions is high
  • does well in low light levels, but variegated cultivars need more sunlight
  • needs good drainage


  1. Chamaedorea seifrizii – bamboo palm; reed palm
  • removes formaldehyde
  • natural humidifier
  • prefers bright, indirect light
  • needs regular water


  1. Dracaena fragrans ‘Compacta’ – compact cornstalk dracaena
  • general air purifier
  • removes formaldehyde
  • tolerates low light levels well
  • reasonably drought tolerant


  1. Dypsis lutescens – areca palm; bamboo palm; golden cane palm
  • one of the best overall air purifiers
  • prefers partial sun and well-draining soil
  • reasonably drought tolerant


  1. Ficus elastic – rubber tree; rubber plant
  • removes formaldahyde and other toxins from the air
  • oxygen content in emissions is high
  • prefers filtered light and rich soil
  • quite drought tolerant


  1. Ficus maclellandii – banana-leaf fig
  • general air purifier
  • prefers indirect sunlight
  • do not overwater


  1. Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’ – Boston fern
  • removes formaldehyde
  • natural air humidifier
  • prefers bright light but will tolerate lower light levels
  • prefers regular water


  1. Phoenix roebelenii– pygmy date palm; miniature date palm
  • removes formaldehyde and xylene (chemical found in plastics and solvents)
  • prefers sun but will tolerate partial sunlight
  • regular water
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