Now is the time to repot those houseplants

Q. I have a lot of houseplants. I have just started repotting the ones that will benefit from it and still have lots to do. I’m curious if there is a date when I should have this project done by? – HG, Albuquerque

A. I’ll suggest that you aim to complete your repotting by the end of July this season. After all, we have officially entered summer and, imperceptibly, the daylight will start to lessen bit by bit each day until December’s solstice.

By getting the chore completed by the end of July, all of your plants will have ample time to settle into their new surroundings and still have time to add plenty of new growth for you, since there will still be a lot of light.

So continue to stay busy and tend to your houseplants. Both you and they will appreciate it.

Q. Last week you offered lots of advice on taking care of the “inherited” Bermuda lawn. Your advice sounded good and now I wonder if it will apply to my bluegrass lawn. – LK, Belen

A. Since your lawn consists of bluegrass, no, not all of my suggestions will apply as to how I believe you need to take care of it.

Yes, you should have given the bluegrass a thorough raking in mid-March and I know you’re watering it if it’s still green and growing for you.

You have a completely different animal by growing bluegrass. It’s considered a cool season grass, not a warm season grass like the Bermuda previously discussed.

Being a cool season turf its growth patterns are a tad different. I’m hoping that when the lawn was started there was a stout investment in the “foundation” by having added gobs and gobs of organic matter – manure, finely milled compost, etc. – to give the turf a healthy environment in which to thrive.

The first fertilization of a bluegrass turf area is usually done in late March to mid-April. It’s recommended to fertilize every six weeks from the first fertilization until late September, offering the last fertilization to a cool season lawn by mid-October in these parts.

I will strongly suggest that you do not fertilize a cool season turf with a high nitrogen content fertilizer during the heat of the year. To me, it’s counter-productive.

Think about it, a cool season turf is most actively growing when it’s cool. During the heat of the year, late June through the end of August, it’s hot here. Granted the lawn is green, but it probably isn’t growing much.

By nature it doesn’t want to, and I don’t care how much nitrogen fertilizer you put on a cool season turf during the heat of the year, it probably won’t grow rapidly. Survive sure, but grow really actively, no.

During the heat of the year, I’ll suggest a fertilizer that contains more phosphorus in the mix, or at least one that contains a slow-release nitrogen formula.

All that said, how can you tell if it’s time to water? Do a step test. Walk all over the lawn. Then go get some iced tea or pluck a few weeds in the garden. When you come back in fifteen to thirty minutes, if you can still see the impressions you left on the lawn, then it’s time to water. If there is no sign, meaning the grass blades have perked back up, then they contain enough water and all’s good.

Just remember to do your watering first thing in the morning so the turf is able to stand up to the heat of the day.

Next, remember to raise the mower deck before you mow the lawn during the summer months. You want to leave the grass blades at least three inches long. Keeping the blades longer will help shade the ground level, helping to keep your cool season turf a bit more comfortable during the heat of the growing season.

I suggest you spray under the mower’s deck after each mowing too. Keeping the mower blade housing clean helps eliminate any chance of spreading disease.

So yes, tending a cool season type lawn is different. Fertilize with the proper product, keep the turf watered when it needs it and enjoy walking through your cool, long-bladed bluegrass all summer long.

Happy Diggin’ In.

Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send garden-related questions to Digging In, Albuquerque Journal, 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109, or to

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