Binetti: Prepare raspberry plants for next year

August 21, 2013 

Got raspberry plants? This is a good week to prune the canes of your raspberries so they’ll avoid disease and produce more berries next summer.

If your raspberries bear in June, cut the canes that already gave you fruit all the way to the ground. For everbearing raspberry varieties cut back the canes only by one half. You can also snip and clip off dead and faded blooms from all your flowering plants.

Deadheading spent blooms not only keeps the garden tidy but discourages insects and pests. Summer deadheading is a task that offers instant gratification and is used in horticultural therapy to calm and quiet the mind. Watering potted plants on a warm summer evening is another healthy sedative for the busy brain. No wonder some health care providers use gardening as the prescription for better sleep and improved health.

Question: I heard you speak at a garden show and you said there were two months when every gardener should bait for slugs. Of course I have forgotten which two months. P.L., Enumclaw

Answer: The answer is the “A” months of August and April. I heard this gardening tip for the first time early this spring and tried it. You won’t have total slug control, but if you only want to invest in slug bait twice a year, April and August are the months to be a slime buster.

Q. What is the name of the tree that has needles like a fir tree but turns bright yellow in the fall? I am pretty sure all the needles fall from the tree in the winter. Also, when can I plant this tree if I find one at the nursery? S.S., Puyallup

A. You must be thinking of the Western larch (Larix occidentalis) and nothing looks as spectacular in an open lawn as this majestic native tree in golden autumn splendor. The needles do fall from the tree in winter but they make a great mulch and do not need to be raked. You can find this tree at local nurseries. Potted larch trees can be added to the landscape any time of the year — as long as you remember to water after planting and for a few months until the tree roots are established.

Q. I love the look of authentic clay flower pots. They do seem to dry out quickly however. How to do you keep them watered? C., Email

A. We must be kindred spirits in our love of clay pots but I confess I only plant drought-resistant succulents and geraniums in my clay pots and never rent the space to heavy drinkers. Once a clay pot dries out, the best way to save the wilting plant is to immerse the entire pot up to its rim in water so that the clay can absorb the moisture from the outside and the inside. Many of the large pots that I use may look like terra cotta but are actually light-weight look-alikes that conserve water. Even the queen of England has abandoned the tradition of real clay pots in some of her large country gardens. Fall is a good time of year to score great prices on garden pots.

Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of several books. Reach her at

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