May 2013

Survival tips for the growing season

Tomato, pepper and cucumber transplants are among the vegetables that don’t like cold soil. Plant these outdoors around Mother’s Day. © Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

As we head into prime planting season, here are a few things to keep in mind.


When potting up containers, use a high quality potting mix. This is usually a soilless mix with vermiculite, finely shredded organic matter and other ingredients that promote drainage. Potting mixes also are light weight. Since the mixes are soilless, be sure to fertilize regularly, according to the product label directions.

Containers have three basic elements: thriller, filler and spiller. The thriller is the largest or most dramatic plant, frequently the centerpiece or backdrop. Fillers are moundy-roundy and help fill gaps. Spillers cascade over the edges of containers.

Vegetables and Herbs

Don’t push planting. Warm season vegetables, such as tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers and peppers, are not happy in cold soil. Wait until May 10 (or Mother’s Day) to plant these crops and to sow seeds for green beans, corn, squash and pumpkins.

Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is extremely sensitive to cold temperatures. It’s ok to plant parsley (Petroselinum crispum), sage (Salvia officinalis), thyme (Thymus) and other perennial herbs outdoors now.


If a perennial or ornamental grass has all of its new growth around the perimeter of a dead or sparse center, that’s a signal it needs to be divided. Lift the plant and slice off the healthy growth to transplant. Discard the dead center.


If you fertilized the lawn in fall, you probably won’t have to fertilize in spring or early summer. Doing so will increase mowing duties. Try to keep the lawn at about 3 inches high.

Annuals and Tropicals

Some annuals tolerate the cool temps of spring, but others, such as impatiens (I. walleriana) and geraniums (Pelargonium) do not fare well. Wait until mid-May to plant tender annuals and tropicals.

Try Something New

Lastly, try something new, whether it’s a vegetable or herb you’ve never grown, or a new perennial or annual. Trying new things in the garden keeps us growing.

24th annual Orchard in Bloom celebrates 90th anniversary of The Orchard School

May 2, 2013
6:00 PMto8:30 PM
May 3, 2013
10:00 AMto6:00 PM
May 4, 2013
10:00 AMto6:00 PM
May 5, 2013
11:00 AMto4:00 PM

What: 24th annual Orchard in Bloom. In honor of the 90th anniversary of The Orchard School, the theme is Growing to Learn. Proceeds benefit the school and Indy Parks. The unique partnership between The Orchard School and Indy Parks has raised more than $1 million in the last decade to support outdoor education at Orchard and Indy Parks. Holliday Park, specifically, has received $200,000 for new and innovative outdoor educational programs for all of Central Indiana which have touched the lives of hundreds of area children in public and private schools, as well as their families and senior citizens. The Orchard School’s Outdoor Education Coordinator Diana Shellhaas is the 2013 Honorary Chairperson. The truly amazing thing about this event is the work and spirit of the volunteers, including parents and community members. It’s a massive undertaking and one done extremely well.

Landscape designer Gus Lemcke incorporated Orchard in Bloom's 2012 edible theme into his tabletop arrangement. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday, May 3 and Saturday, May 4; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, May 5, 2013. Preview Party, 6 to 8:30 p.m., Thursday, May 2, 2013.

Where: Holliday Park, 64th Street and Spring Mill Road, Indianapolis. No parking allowed in park or vicinity. Free parking and shuttle service at Second Presbyterian Church, 7700 N. Meridian St.

Admission: $10 in advance, available at Marsh Supermarkets, The National Bank of Indianapolis branches, The Orchard School and the Holliday Park Nature Center. Tickets are $12 at the gate the days of the show. A three-day ticket is $15. Children 14 and under are free.

Speakers: Garden and Natural Living Symposium, includes Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, the Hoosier Gardener, who will speak about edible landscapes (times to be announced). Other seminars and demonstrations by landscapers, green-living experts, garden specialists and more.

Other info:

‡The Garden Pavilion showcases innovative gardens, featuring edible landscapes, created by renowned local landscape designers. Their theme this year for landscapers is “Growing to Learn” in honor of The Orchard School’s 90th anniversary.

Microgardens feature landscape ideas for smaller spaces.

Garden and Natural Living Symposium speakers and events will occur throughout the weekend and will feature landscape specialists, green-living experts, and garden specialists.

The annual Containers In Bloom competition is back and puts garden club experts, individuals and students to task in a container gardening competition.

The Exhibition Tents delight shoppers with more than 100 local and regional vendors, selling handcrafted tools, garden furniture, herbs, blooming plants and flowers, artwork and more. Look for featured vendors offering products made from repurposed or recycled goods.

The Children’s Area offers outdoor fun to entertain and enlighten the younger set. Kids can grow their own salad, plant a pizza garden, or simply play in the kids’ tent.

The Garden Café offers tasty meals and snacks and will feature natural and organic products.

The Planting of the Orchard Arboretum, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., April 26, Arbor Day, The Orchard School.

Chef Showdown, May 2, during the Orchard In Bloom Preview Party

Run for the Bloom, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. May 5, The Orchard School.

Featured artist: Douglas David, owner of Douglas David Cottage.

Sponsors: The Bank of Indianapolis, Indy Parks and The Orchard School.