Question: We really look forward to seeing the hummingbirds arrive each spring. Are there specific plants that we can put in our garden to attract them?
Answer: Hummingbirds are attracted not only to sunny areas, but also to red objects. Select plants with red flowers when possible. The following plants are recommended and will do well in our coastal climate:
Trees: Flowering crab, Hawthorn and horse chestnut
Shrubs: Butterfly bush, flowering quince, flowering currant, azaleas, weigela and lilac
Vines: Trumpet creeper, clematis, honeysuckle and yellow jasmine
Flowers: Garden phlox, bee balm, hardy fuchsia, hardy hisbiscus, hollyhock, geraniums, rose mallow, coral bells, red hot poker, tiger lily, columbine, larkspur and sweet William.
You can further increase the hummingbird population in your garden by avoiding the use of insect sprays or pesticides on or around hummingbird feeders. Apply petroleum jelly on the wire from which the which the feeder hangs to discourage stinging insects or ants attracted to the sugar solution.
Question: We over-wintered our fuchsias and geraniums as you suggested last fall. Can we put them outside now?
Answer: No! However, the middle of March is a good time to bring both fuchsias and geraniums out of winter storage, revive them and get them started again. With fuchsias, prune the tops to the extent necessary and then knock them out of their present containers and repot them. Use fresh soil and new containers that are larger than those you removed.
Immediately after replanting, water the plants well and keep them moist to promote growth. As soon as good growth is underway, feed them regularly (about twice a month) with a balanced fertilizer. Keep the plants in a sunny, protected location until all danger of frost has passed.
If you carried over geraniums, this is the time to get them revived as well. Prune away and discard any spindly, weak growth. Give the plants sufficient light and feed them regularly with a balanced fertilizer. They should be re-potted in new soil and held in a protected location until there is no longer the possibility of damage from frost.
Question: We could hardly wait for our daffodils to begin blooming and apparently neither could the slugs. The flower buds are being devoured before they even open. Our neighbor told us there is a new slug control product on the market that is not poisonous to either dogs or cats who may inadvertently ingest it. Have you heard about this material?
Answer: The new slug control material being marketed under a number of trade names contains iron phosphate as the active ingredient. You might think of it as the "ultimate diet food" for slugs. After eating the bait, the slugs almost immediately stop feeding so that no further plant damage occurs. The slugs appear dry and then visibly lose weight. Their mucus is sticky and they seem unable to produce it in abundance. Finally after three to six days, they begin to die.
The material is safe to use around dogs, cats and other household pets, including birds and wildlife when used according to labeled directions. You can find this material in your favorite nursery or garden center under a number of trade names including Sluggo* and Escargo*.
(*Reference to commercial products or trade names is provided for educational purposes and is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by WSU Cooperative Extension is implied.)
EDITOR'S NOTE: For answers to local gardening questions, contact Master Gardener Rachel Gana at 642-8723 or e-mail her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.