Today: Jan 23 , 2020

Rain Blesses and Stresses

08 September 2016  
Watters is full of blooms and color!

Too much rain can stress and kill plants.  Sick plants show their autumn colors before other plants do, indicating that they need our help. Tips to bring sick plants back to good health.  

Watters Weekly Garden Classes

Sept 10 – Wildlife & Bug Prevention – What's Eatin' Your Garden? Late summer is the peak of the bug season, with intense pressure from the furry visitors in the yards. We have the solutions. Students start with javalina and pack rats, then quickly move to the best solutions for grasshoppers and tomato worms. You can have a nice yard with these easy-to-use tips and a few key plant choices. Frustrated gardeners will have all the advice they can mustard and all Free.

Sept 17 – Western Natives & the Water-wise Landscape. Native plants are unique, hardy and some so unusual gardeners will marvel at how to use them. It all comes down to companion planting. We cover native trees, native shrubs, native flowers and native vines that all adapt so well they need no care after establishment. Students will be a native pro after this class. We stock up on extra natives before this class. Join the water-wise fun.

Sept 24 – Mountain Appealing Shrubs – Shrubs are the backbone of a good design. They provide essential structure, beauty, fragrance and color with a great variety of shapes. Rock landscapes without shrubs tend to look strange, immature and lacking. Learn how to use shrubs to create simple but effective planting combinations for a design impact that will WOW all four seasons of the year. Free to gardeners that want more from their yard.


Oct 1 – Container Designs – Easy as 1-2-3. The fall plants have arrived, and this is the month to transition from summer blooming flowers to winter hardy pansy, viola, mums, kale, dusty miller and more. Expect inspirational color from your container gardens right through the holiday season to come. Students learn the best soils, foods and flowers that keep on blooming. Bring your empty containers and experts will be on hand after the class to help personalize your style. All Free:)

Oct 8 – Trees – Choosing, Using & Planting Techniques. Privacy, shade, color, evergreen and blooms. We cover trees from every angle, especially small gardens, including trees for country gardens and trees for difficult sites. Trees for blossom, bark, fruit and colorful autumn foliage. With so many choices picking the perfect tree can be overwhelming, but not after this class. Our entire horticultural team will be on-hand after the class to help with individual tree situations. Free tree planting guide to students after this class.

Traditionally, by the end of September we slip out of the monsoonal pattern and back to our normal, “spotty” rain cycles.  However, this year’s overabundant rains have made the next four weeks critical for gardeners.  This is the season plants are most ‘talkative’, and gardeners should get to know their “language”.

Although October through November is our normal period for plants to show their exuberant colors, some plants declare themselves earlier.  In doing so, they are “speaking” to alert us that they are struggling.  In that respect they are somewhat like the gardeners who care for them.  When we humans feel ill, we put ourselves to bed until we feel better, then indulge ourselves with appropriate sustenance until our aches and pains subside.  Showing early fall colors means that sick plants are putting themselves “to bed”,  much earlier than their other, healthy, partners in the yard.  

When a plant shows its fall colors weeks before any other plant in the neighborhood, it is screaming for help from its caregiver. Plants in the yard can lose root mass because of very wet conditions.Although grubs and pocket gophers can be the culprits that induce root loss and plant stress, root loss usually is caused from having been planted in very heavy, rocky soils that can't breath properly during monsoon rains.    Plants that show abnormally early autumn colors most likely are the victims of these stresses.  Seasoned gardeners know that the cure is administered in two easy steps.

Step number one is “Soil Activator”, which encourages a plant to generate deeper roots as it repairs damage.  This is the equivalent to chicken soup for you and me.  This ‘chocolate for the soil’ fertilizer will regenerate dead soil around sick plants so they will want to send out new root hairs, those precursors to healthy roots.  Even plants that are not sick will enjoy this soil nutrient by showing off deeper, more vibrant autumn colors towards the end of the year. 

Step two is just as simple:  in one month follow up the soil activator with a natural plant food.  Please stay away from synthetic foods for sick plants.  They are much too strong for struggling plants and are dangerous to birds and pets.  I developed a fertilizer called “All Purpose Plant Food” 7-4-4 that really helps both newly-planted and sickly plants.  (Note: Put plants to bed for the winter with this all natural food and you will have set the stage for some energetic spring growth next year. ) 

Grubs and pocket gophers are more difficult to handle than soil that is too wet.  Gophers are easy to spot by their exit tunnels of mounded dirt. These underground rats live to eat the roots off of our plants!  For a personalized gopher solution contact me or revisit the gopher garden column: “Keep Gophers from Devastating Landscapes”

Grubs are white 'C'-shaped insects that can attack and kill plants, trees, and shrubs by the dozens.  Because they eat new root hairs as they grow from a plant, grubs literally starve their hosts to death.   Fortunately, the solution to eradication is very easy.  Kill grubs by applying “Grub Killer” during the next monsoon rain.  As the grub killer moves through the soil it eliminates grub activity and keeps this misery-inducing creature away for the rest of the year.  In one month follow up with the “All Purpose Plant Food” to set the stage for healthy, vibrant spring growth.  

If you are not sure why a plant is stressed enough to be showing its autumn colors early, apply both Soil Activator and “All Purpose Plant Food”.  These two products will ensure that better plant health will develop for the next spring season. 


Plant of the Week – Dazzling Stacy mums are the best selling variety of mum. They have an exceptionally long bloom time and enjoy local garden hardiness. This garden mum glows yellow with a halo of fiery orange around each daisy-like flower. This big bold perennial is perfectly shaped and adds color in autumn when few flowers are in peak bloom. Mums prefer an autumn planting into their gardens.   They love showing off in containers, and are a spectacular sight when sharing space with Purple Prescott Pansies.



Facebook 'Go Live' – Can't make it to a class? We stream these garden classes live through the Watters Garden Center Facebook page. Like our page and watch at your convenience! 

Until next week, I'll see you here at Watters Garden Center.
Ken Lain, the Mountain Gardener

Ken Lain is attracted to sunshine, beauty, happiness, success and health through gardening, and wishes to point the way to others. Throughout the week Ken can be found at Watters Garden Center located at 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd, Prescott, or contacted through his web site at