Sally Cunningham, The Buffalo News
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Sally Cunningham

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When is it time to take the houseplants outside? It’s not about the calendar. It’s about the weather, especially nighttime outdoor temperatures. Most houseplants are comfortable when night temperatures remain above 55 degrees. Many survive lower temperatures, but some plants do not. Each genus has its own limits of tolerance. Timing is also about you – how warm…

Every year I am amazed to witness the speed of changes in the garden in spring. Especially this season, on the rare days when cold and rain turn to warm and sunny, the plants appear to be producing leaves and shoots at record rates. We may spot a few failures – plants that could not tolerate soggy conditions – but most plants should look lush and green as the rains …

Mother’s Day calls for flowers, and your choices are many: the old classic orchid corsage, a bouquet of cut flowers, or the popular spring baskets of violas, fragrant Lobularias or myriad other container plants. For something more lasting for Mother’s garden, thousands of you are likely to choose a rose. No flower elicits nostalgia and tender memories quite like a r…

After a rainy period weeds come out easily, and there’s no better time than now to get ahead of the problem. The old adage – “One year’s seeds, seven year’s weeds” (English proverb) – quite like Ben Franklin’s “A stitch in time saves nine,” is relevant. Weeding now will prevent mass reproduction and save you from future back strain and aching hands. …

Like most gardeners last Sunday, I imagine, I was outside for as many sunny hours as I could manage, doing spring yard and garden tasks. Most of us don’t need lists: We just go out there. Even without a plan, what-to-do leads us forward. It was a joy to clean up the deck, patrol the yard for branches, and to make a small start in flower, fruit and vegetable beds. As a…

Piles of brush, leaves and sticks are mounting at curbsides all over Western New York (and in many other regions). I understand people’s urge to clean up after winter leaves its debris behind – fallen leaves, dead branches, and trees knocked down after windstorms. But it is disturbing to me, at an elemental level, to see so much organic matter pushed to the curb whe…

Learning directly from impassioned teachers is still better than all that Google and websites can offer. At least that is my experience from attending seminars and conferences in the gardening and landscaping world. It was obviously true for the 50-some attendees who came to hear Roxanne McCoy teach "Creating a Cutting Garden" at Lockwood’s Greenhouses last Saturday. …

When it comes to kids, I think that very few of us – gardeners or simply grown-ups – are really experts on how to share our love of gardening or nature. We’re lucky we have elementary school teachers who know how to engage children in science topics, and what material is suitable at what age. We’re lucky to have our Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens with…

How interesting it was last weekend to meet hundreds of you at Plantasia, the garden and landscape show of PlantWNY. I began to make notes, collecting questions and looking for trends. Then I asked other landscapers, experts, and “plant people” what questions they were hearing. At risk of sounding overly proud of the Western New York horticultural community, I wi…

The 2017 Philadelphia Flower Show theme was “Holland: Flowering the World.” It was my favorite and one of the best ever according to many. Imagine walking among 30,000 tulips all in bloom, under a floating floral canopy, and passing a 30-foot windmill – with light show and music performed on the hour. My band of travelers had left a blizzard-riddled world the day bef…

Pruning is, in my opinion, the landscape job that more people do badly than any other task. (Watering is a close second.) Many homeowners do it poorly – typically flat-topping shrubs that don’t deserve it – and often at the wrong time of year. Some untrained landscapers might prune poorly as well. The educated landscaper (CNLP) has been trained in correct pruning …

Gardeners are eager for spring, no doubt, but we must restrain our impulses to uncover the plants, pull back the mulch, and walk around the garden. You do not have to tie yourself to the living room chair, however. Some early yard and garden tasks and preparations are best done in March and many people miss the moment. Let’s get going on the early season planning and …

Last week the shorts and tees came out of the dressers. Joggers jogged and dogs ran in the parks. Some people as well as plants became confused. Is it spring already? While the record-warm days of mid-February felt great for most people, it was not a good thing from a horticulture perspective. Wine grape producer Rick Walker commented: "The winter weather certainly has …

Winter is a great time to learn, plan and review, so I am presenting some basic gardening principles and practices this month. Most recently – if you missed a Friday – I covered groundcovers and vegetable gardening, especially the timing for spring planting and what to grow from seeds or seedlings. This week the topic is basic perennials: what everyone should know t…

Sometimes I teach vegetable gardening, as it was my original gardening passion and the topic of my first book writing for Rodale. I have learned to clarify some basic premises to make vegetable gardening easier for new gardeners or the experienced-but-confused. One of the most helpful things to understand is which plants are worth starting from seed, and which ones do best…