Garden FAQ

Common Plant Questions Answered

3 questionsThere are many questions that perennially come up in gardening. Here are some that are answered right on the page, and some links to my pages that answer those questions in more detail.


Q: When to plant daffodils and tulips in Ohio?

A: As with the rest of the country, the best time for planting spring blooming bulbs in Ohio is Fall, starting in September.

Spring blooming bulbs like tulips, daffodils, alliums, fritillarias, the Madonna lily, and most of the minor bulbs should experience some cold and dormancy, and should always be planted in the fall season. You can start as early as late August, although late September is ideal. For many of these bulbs plant them right up until hard frost freezes the ground.

About Tulips and Daffodils

Q: Why won’t my bulbs bloom?

A: The reasons are varied. Ask a set of questions: is the area too shady? (most bulbs need plenty of sun) Have they become overcrowded with lots of leaves? Time to divide. Is their spot boggy and poorly drained? The bulbs may have rotted.Review the growing requirements for growing bulbs, and pick a new spot or give them more room to thrive, if that is the apparent answer.

Dutch Bulb Tips

More Dutch Bulb Articles to answer your FAQ

Herb FAQ

Q: What is Basil’s cold tolerance?
A: Basil, Ocimum basilicum, is a tender plant that suffers when the temperatures drop into the range of 40 ° Fahrenheit or  Celsius 4°. A frost will kill this herb plant.

Q: What if my Basil is bitter?
A: Usually a bitter taste is due to allowing the basil to bloom. cut off those flowering shoots! Or it might just be that variety you planted isn’t the taste you wanted. I like Thai basil, but you can try different ones to see which flavor you like the best.

Q: Should herbs be fertilized?
A: Although they might be tolerant of a bit of neglect, you should fertilize them. Yes, especially if grown in pots.

My Ten Favorite Herbs In The Herb Garden

Q: How do I grow herbs?
A: Choose a sunny spot with good drainage, dig up the soil and add some compost; choose your herb plants or seeds and plant.

Start Your Own Herb Garden

Q: What herbs come back each year?
A: Dill, Camomile, Cilantro, all tend to reseed and grow in my zone 5 garden. For you it will depend on the zone and whether the conditions suit the plants.


Q: What does “hardening off” mean?

A: The process of getting tender indoor grown plants used to outdoor conditions is called hardening off. To learn more, see the Spring project page, below.

Spring project page: Things To Do in Spring

Q: What does “in situ” mean?

A: The short answer is that the seeds are sown directly in the ground. The advanced method of doing so is explained in Planting Seeds In Situ.

Q: How closely should I plant annuals?

A: Give transplants room to grow, depending on the final size of the plant. When buying flats of annuals, the markers usually have spacing info included. When planting seeds, the plants come up thickly and must be thinned outRemoving excess seedlings after sprouting. Don’t be merciful at this stage, plants won’t grow well if too crowded.

How to plant those flats of annuals

Discover More About Annual Plants


Q: When to transplant peonies?

A: The best time for transplanting peony plants is late summer, in August and September.

How to transplant peonies

Q: How often should I divide plants?

A: It depends on the plant. Some short-lived perennials should be divided more often. Some like peonies or hostas resent division and should only be lifted and divided for more plants or if they are not thriving in their position. Check cultivation instructions for the particular plant.

But generally: when overcrowded and not blooming well; when central crown becomes woody and starts to die out or plant no longer fits well in its allotted growing space.

Primer on Perennials
Q: My flowers aren’t blooming, why not?

A: there are many reasons this might be the case, with the most common reason being not enough sunlight. Another consideration is that perennials take longer to come to blooming age than annuals, which by nature are one season plants. A perennial may take one or even two years to actually bloom for you.

Overcrowding is another reason they do not bloom well. Try dividing, or perhaps the plants need fertilizing. Be sure to use fertilizers which have the right formulation for blooming plants. Look at the N-P-K numbers, try something like 10-52-10, where the middle number is larger. For organic growers add a type of bone meal.


Q: When should I prune a Mugo pine?

A: The right time is when the new spring growth begins. The ends of the branches called “candles” should be cut in half.

If you cut off the ends of old growth, they will not grow back. So be sure to trim the candles every growing season to keep mugos in shape.

Mugo Pines

More info on pruning mugo pines at Ilona’s Garden Journal.
Photo of forgotten pruning

Q: When should I prune a spring blooming shrub?
A: The right time to prune shrubs which flower is right after their bloom. New growth will produce blooms for next year. If you wait too long you rish removing buds for next season’s bloom.