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Perennial salvias need to be deadheaded

Question: Am I supposed to deadhead or prune ‘Merleau Blue’ salvia• If yes, where on the flowering portion do I cut?

Answer: You should deadhead all perennial salvias, including ‘Merleau Blue,’ to promote more flower production. Just follow each flowering stem from the top down to the first branching point where new buds should be forming. Cut the stem off just above the branching point. I deadhead my salvias three or four times during the growing season, and they bloom from June through September.

Question: We just had a bunch of deer-eaten yews taken out from in front of our house. Now we need to plant something else there and I need it to be something Bambi doesn’t like (at least not as much as he liked the yews!). I’d like it to be evergreen. Flowers would be nice, but my heart isn’t set on them. I just want something that will look decent year-round. Help!

Answer: While there are some evergreen shrubs that are less prone to deer browse, no plant is 100 percent deer-proof. Plan to cover your shrubs each winter with black plastic deer netting (available at local garden centers) and spray them with deer repellant every week or two during the growing season (my personal favorites are Plantskydd and Tree Guard brands). The deer clearly have a feeding habit established at your place and you have to work to break them of it by being religious about protecting your plants.

Here are the shrubs I would recommend you plant: Boxwood, Pieris japonica, Andromeda, Cotoneaster, bird’s nest spruce, junipers or Mugo pines are your best bets. The Pieris and Andromeda are the only ones with noticeable flowers, but the rest are beautiful without them. All these plants are regulars at your local garden center so finding them shouldn’t be too difficult. Buy healthy potted or balled-and-burlapped specimens and plant them in early September. Keep your new shrubs well watered through the winter and all of next season.

Horticulturist Jessica Walliser, co-author of the book “Grow Organic,” can be heard from 7-8 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio’s “The Organic Gardeners.” You can also find her teaching at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, where she has been a faculty member for more than 12 years.

Send your gardening or landscaping questions to [email protected] or The Good Earth, Tribune-Review 503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor, D.L. Clark Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15212


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