Master Gardener Programs & Getting Help with Plant Pests and Diseases in Washington DC Metro Area

Just updated the information on these two pages on my website: Master Gardener Programs in the area and Plant Pests and Diseases. If you are interested in becoming a Master Gardener check out this page, there are several programs in the area. As the gardening season progresses and you need help with plant pests and diseases, look to these resources in the Washington DC metro area.

Gardening-Related Media in the Washington DC Metro Area

I updated my page on local gardening media in the Washington DC metro area on my website, This is traditional, not social, media. If you are new to the area or new to gardening check out the gardening columns in the Washington Post, the gardening shows on television and radio, two magazines, and my newsletter, Pegplant’s Post.

Twitter Chats: Online Garden Parties

Participating in a gardening twitter chat is a great way to learn and meet new people. A twitter chat is like attending a party where 20 people are standing in the living room talking generally about the same thing. I visualize them standing because usually a chat is for one hour, which goes by fast.

There are several gardening-related twitter chats, each with their own formats differ. Some have predetermined questions while others have a theme for the day.  In some chats, the moderators compile the conversation like a transcript to be viewed later. Twitter chats also can have guests for a particular topic or collaborate with sponsors for giveaways.

Twitter chats are free and open to anyone who has a Twitter account. The more people are participating, the more often messages are posted, and the faster it seems to move. Messages can appear very fast so you have to really stay focused on the conversation. If you are new to Twitter, it may be helpful to first read as people type. There is no need to actually tweet a response. As you feel more comfortable, jump in and respond when you can. Some people post photos but that is optional.

Sometimes during a chat, a few people seem to get off track, as if they walked into the kitchen, looked out the window, and started discussing the weather. To keep track of the actual chat, it is useful to use tweetdeck or Using the hashtag, these are able to order the tweets so you only see the tweets relevant to that particular chat. These tools help to focus on the chat for the hour instead of seeing all of the tweets from all of the people you are following.


#gardenchat, 9-10 pm EST, weekly, hosted by Bren Haas @BrenHaas


#treechat, 2-3 pm EST, every 2 weeks (#treechat and #plantchat alternate), hosted by Corona Tools (@Coronatools)

#plantchat, 2-3 pm EST, every 2 weeks (#treechat and #plantchat alternate), hosted by American Horticultural Society (@AHS_gardening) and Corona Tools (@Coronatools)


#landscapechat, 2-3 pm EST, weekly, hosted by Corona Tools (@coronatools)

#seedchat, 9-10 pm EST, weekly, hosted by Growing North @growingnorth

#groundchat, 8-9 pm EST, weekly, hosted by Cristina da Silva @CristinaGardens


#herbchat, 2-3 pm EST, weekly, hosted by Geri Laufer @gardengeri

#growingnorth, 9-10 pm EST, weekly, hosted by Growing North @growingnorth

Growing Daffodils: Gold Investments for Your Garden


British Gamble is a Division 1 daffodil, with a pale pink, broad, showy cup

Daffodils are great investments for your garden. For very little money, you can plant daffodil bulbs in the fall and enjoy their bloom every spring for years to come. Reliable and dependent, these sunny flowers can be used to landscape your garden or cut for indoor flower arrangements.

Cultural Requirements

Daffodils are long lasting and are not bothered by deer or other animals. They can be divided to increase the numbers or simply left in place. Bulbs are available at local nurseries in the fall or through mail order catalogs. Select large healthy bulbs and plant about 5 to 6 inches deep and apart. Daffodils can be planted in the garden bed, in large swaths for a naturalizing effect, under a deciduous tree, or in containers with other bulbs. One caveat is that after the daffodils bloom, the leaves must be left in place until they yellow so you may want to think about disguising the foliage with other perennials. Do not fold the leaves down, tie with rubber bands, or cut until they are so yellow they detract from the garden’s beauty.

Dutch Master, the classic Division 1 daffodil

Daffodils prefer full sun but will tolerate part sun (a half day of sun). They are not particular about soil but because they are bulbs the soil has to drain well to avoid rot. When planting, apply a balanced fertilizer. On an annual basis apply a low nitrogen fertilizer in the spring and fall. Daffodils do not need to be divided, they multiply naturally, but they can be dug up and divided if you want to increase your number of bulbs. Division should occur after the blooming period, when the leaves yellow. Dig up, divide, and replant immediately if possible. If not possible, store the bulbs in a dry area with good air circulation until can plant in the fall.  If you see a decline in blossoms after several years of growing, you can also dig up and divide daffodils because the bulbs may have increased to the point that they are too crowded.

Daffodil Societies and Shows

While most people are familiar with the foot high daffodil with large yellow blossoms, there is a wide spectrum of colors, sizes, and bloom times. In fact the spectrum is so great that daffodils have been categorized into 13 divisions and there are thousands of cultivars. The divisions below illustrate the diversity but for more information contact the American Daffodil Society or a local daffodil society.


In the foreground is Katie Heath, Division 5, and in the background is Pink Charm, Division 2

In the Washington DC metro area, there are three daffodil societies, each with their own spring shows that are open to the public. If you want to know what to plant this fall, visit these shows to see how the flowers will look, meet other daffodil enthusiasts, learn best cultivars for this area, and identify additional resources for purchasing bulbs. There also are local garden clubs that have their own daffodil shows such as the Garden Club of Virginia Daffodil show in Richmond, VA, on March 28; and the District II Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland Daffodil show in Severna Park, MD, on April 9-11. The website provides a listing of local daffodil festivals and areas that have substantial daffodil collections.

Daffodil Divisions

One flower to a stem (corona is the center trumpet or cup)

  • Division 1: Trumpet: corona not more than one-third the length of petals
  • Division 2: Large cupped: corona more than one-third but less than equal to the length of petals
  • Division 3: Small cupped: corona not more than one-third the length of petals

One or more flowers per stem

  • Division 4: Double: many petals
  • Division 5: Triandrus: pendulous blooms, petals turned back

One flower per a stem

  • Division 6: Cyclamineus: petals turned back significantly and flower at an acute angle to stem

Several flowers per a stem

  • Division 7: Jonquilla: petals spreading or reflexed, usually has fragrance
  • Division 8: Tazetta: stout stem, petals spreading but not reflexed, usually has fragrance, have minimal to no chilling requirements, this is the division for paperwhites, which often are forced indoors

Division 9: Poeticus: white petals, short corona with green or yellow center and red rim

Division 10: Bulbocodium hybrids, one flower per stem, petals very small compared to a large corona

Division 11a: Split cup collar

Division 11b: Split cup papillon

Division 12: Other types

Division 13: Species or wild variants

Mary Gay Lirette, a Division 11a daffodil, has flowers that open with a yellow cup that turns salmon and folds back

Local daffodil societies and shows (open to the public)

The Washington Daffodil Society will have their spring show on April 14 & 15, 2018, at the Alexandria Scottish Rite, 1430 W. Braddock Road, Alexandria, VA.

The Maryland Daffodil Society   will have their spring show on April 17 & 18, 2018, at The Shops at Kenilworth, 800 Kenilworth Drive, Towson MD.

The Virginia Daffodil Society will have their show on March 31 & April 1, 2018, at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond, VA. This society does not have a website but the contact person is Jennifer Potter,


All photographs are courtesy of Brent and Becky’s Bulbs

Snowdrops: From Simple Flowers to Complex Collections

galanthusThe common snowdrops are popular, spring blooming bulbs that are easy to grow. After planting the small bulbs in the fall, in masses or drifts for the best effect, you will be rewarded with small, white bells in the midst of winter. Here in the mid-Atlantic area, the common snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) blooms any time from January through March. Sometimes they push through the snow or a carpet of brown leaves under trees.  Hardy to USDA Zone 4-7, they prefer cool weather, partial shade, and rich soil. They are not fazed by deer but may get relocated by squirrels. By late spring, the green, strap-like leaves die back and the bulb lies dormant during the summer.

Snowdrops seem so simple, so humble, like servants to queen daffodils and regal tulips. Here in America we give them a nod as a small sign that spring will come soon. In Great Britain, however, snowdrops enjoy a cult status. The English have been breeding snowdrops extensively since the Victorian area, yielding over a thousand cultivars. They quite literally put these small perennials on pedestals and table top arrangements during judging shows and grand events.

To me they all pretty but look similar. To a galanthophile each flower is distinct and beautiful. Galanthophiles collect the cultivars, some of which can be costly. They may also collect other Galanthus species — there are about 20 species that vary in bloom time and size.

Here in this country, we are not able to access a wide variety but a good source for many snowdrop cultivars is Carolyn’s Shade Gardens in Pennsylvania. Another source is to visit a private garden or sale such as David Culp’s annual Galanthus Gala which will be on March 3, 2018, in Downingtown, PA. David, a well-known breeder, lecturer, and author, has a collection of snowdrops, among other plants, in his gorgeous gardens at Brandywine Cottage. The Galanthus Gala is open to the public, registration is required, and includes speakers and other plant vendors.

Subscribe to Pegplant’s Post: Free Online Gardening Newsletter for Northern VA, MD, and DC Area

To celebrate the beginning of the 2018 gardening season, I am launching Pegplant’s Post, an online, subscription-based newsletter. Pegplant’s Post focuses on gardening in the Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC area. Every month this timely, local newsletter will be delivered directly to your e-mail box free of charge. Subscribing to Pegplant’s Post ensures that you will receive Peg’s Picks of:

  • Monthly events. Plan your social life with gardening events in the NoVA, MD, DC area. Depending on the season, there can be over 100 events, many of which are free.
  • New books. Stay abreast of gardening trends and practices with newly published books. Use this list for ideas of gifts to buy for birthdays and holidays.
  • Tips and advice. Learn timely tips and advice relevant to the current gardening season in our area.
  • Giveaways. Enter the monthly giveaway contest to win items such as seed packets, books, tools, and plants.
  • Articles from Catch up with articles from my website,, about plants, gardens, and resources.

Visit and enter your e-mail address in the “subscribe” field on the right column. Pegplant’s Post will be issued on the last weekend of the month.


Happy Valentine’s Day!

valentines day