Ask the Gardener: Shrubs, bulbs, shallots & more

Posted on: October 29, 2019 | Written By: Doug Oster | Comments

Everybody Gardens editor Doug Oster gets asked a lot of questions. A lot. And he doesn’t mind offering gardening advice. But rather than just limiting those answers to the person who asked, we thought it might be a good idea to share that wealth of knowledge with everybody.

There are three ways to send in your questions:

  • Email askdoug@535mediallc.com
  • Submit your question on our “Your Garden” section of our site
  • Send us a message on Facebook.

(The questions may be lightly edited for grammar/clarity/etc.)

Question 1: Shrub suggestions

Cornelia: We removed the previous owner’s overgrown landscape and planted three graham blandy boxwoods. Can you recommend ideas for bushes/shrubs or plants for this north-facing area? We would like to fill in the area because it looks bare right now. The deer do not eat our graham blandys.

Doug: I’m including some ideas for deer resistant shrubs, but that area would be perfect for snowdrops, glory of snow, pushkenia and daffodils which the deer don’t prefer. They are planted now. There’s a specific combination that I’ve fallen in love with. It’s a variety of glory of snow called ‘Violet Beauty’ planted in consort with puskenia. They will form a nice colony of spring blooms and are beautifully matched. The bulbs are small, so they are easy to grow.

Here’s are some ideas for perennials and shrubs for that area and lighting. Take a look at them online and see what you think:

  • ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea
  • Viburnum (many, many cultivars)
  • Pieris japonica
  • ‘My Monet’ Weigela (and others)
  • ‘Golden Vicary’ privet
  • White snowberry

There are many other shrubs too if you poke around.

  • Anemone (windflower)
  • Ornamental grasses
  • Salvia
  • Liriope
  • Bleeding heart
  • Agastache
  • Hellebore

Question 2: Bulbs in containers

Karen: I love to plant bulbs for spring. Have you ever planted bulbs in container pots and will they come up in the spring?

Doug: It’s a little harder to plant in containers. Get the soil moist, but not dripping. Then add your bulbs. Start with tulips at the bottom, then daffodils, crocus and snowdrops. You layer them bottom to top. Put the container in the garage or somewhere else it won’t get rain and snow. Then in March, bring it back out.

Question 3: Planting shallots

Frauke: Should shallots (for planting) be from a nursery like garlic so that they are not treated against sprouting?

Doug: Yes, it’s better to get them from a nursery as we would know they are for planting as opposed to eating. They could be treated with an anti-sprouting agent or might not be hardy for our climate.

houseplant

Question 4: Unknown houseplant

Shelia: Can you tell me what this is? It’s full of buds I got it in a basket when my mom died, and it’s over a year old. Does it need to be moved to a bigger pot?

Doug: I’m not familiar with that houseplant, but most are all treated the same. It looks like it’s happy and you are keeping it on the dry side, which is important. I would gently remove it from the pot and take a look at the roots. If they are circling and crowded, go up one more size on the pot.

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Doug Oster is manager and editor of Everybody Gardens with a passion for gardening and a love of sharing is experiences with other gardeners. You will also find Doug’s gardening contributions in the Tribune-Review each week. He’s an Emmy Award winning producer, television host and writer. Oster is co-host of The Organic Gardeners Radio show every Sunday morning at 7 a.m. on KDKA radio in Pittsburgh. Oster’s Outstanding Documentary Emmy was awarded for Gardens of Pennsylvania, a one hour special he conceived and produced for the PBS affiliate WQED. Doug appears every Thursday morning on KDKA-TV’s Pittsburgh Today live at 9 a.m. “Gardening is fun, he says, enjoy every day spent outside tending vegetables, flowers, shrubs and trees.”