for a more beautiful garden
Perennials, Annuals, and Bulbs:
Resist the urge to plant during warm
spring weather. Temperatures can vary widely from day to day in the
spring. It is not unusual to have a few days in the 70ís followed by
cold 40 F temperatures. Our average date of last frost is around May 15,
but you should always be prepared to cover newly planted plants during
spells of cold weather.
- If your houseplants or any seedlings you may have
started are becoming leggy, Thatís a classic sign that they are not
getting enough light. Suspend a simple fluorescent shop light 6-8 inches
above the leaves or your plants.
- Start seeds of warm-season plants, including tomatoes, peppers,
eggplant, marigolds, zinnias and petunias, indoors for transplanting
later to the garden
If cold frosty nights should bother
your plants, never use plastic sheets as a frost protector. Use either
cloth sheets or newspaper. Try if possible to prevent any of the
covering touching the plants.
Its not a good idea to try to protect
exposed and opened blooms of daffodils, tulips. or hyacinths from the
cold since the weight of the covers will damage the flowers. Opened
flowers can withstand a few degrees of frost, while buds should be able
to cope with 20 degree temperatures.
Control iris borer by cleaning up and
destroying the old foliage before new growth appears
Remove mulch from roses and perennial
flowers if they begin to sprout.
Ornamental grasses: Cut down the old,
dead grass from all of your ornamental grasses. Use hedging shears.
Harden off summer bedding plants. They
must be slowly aclimatized to outside conditions. Do not place outside
if there is risk of frost.
Caladiums and Tuberous Rooted Begonias
can be started indoors in pots of moist sphagnum peat and soil mix; then
plant them outdoors in May. Make sure soil temperatures are kept above
When chrysanthemums show signs of
life, dig up and divide large plants. Discard woody portions and replant
divisions 12 to 15 inches apart
Harden off transplants started earlier in spring before planting
outdoors gradually expose the young plants to outdoor conditions of
wind, brighter sunlight and lower moisture.
Vegetables and Herbs
outdoors for the following crops: beets, carrots, chard, kohlrabi, leaf
lettuce, mustard, onion sets, parsnips, peas, potatoes, radish, spinach
vegetable crops to help control pests, disease and to keep the soil in
can be planted this month include parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage, mint,
oregano, tarragon and dill. Wait until May to plant basil; it won't do
well until the soil has warmed up and night temperatures are
felt collars around young cabbage plants to protect the roots from being
attacked by root flies.
testing info click
- Prepare your garden soil for planting.
Dig or till the soil at least 8-12 inches deep. Do not dig soil when it
is wet. Soil tilled when wet will dry into clods of concrete. Check soil
before digging by squeezing a handful in your hand. If it crumbles
easily between your fingers, go ahead and dig, but if it stays in a
ball, allow the soil to dry an additional couple of days
- Look for termites, carpenter ants, and
box elder bugs which emerge on warm days. Check for cankerworm masses on
maples, oaks and flowering fruit trees. Look for eggs masses of tent
caterpillar , gypsy moth and bagworm on trees and shrubs. Be sure to
remove and destroy any you find.
- Get your containers ready for
planting next month. Salt-encrusted clay pots can be soaked in a
solution of 10 parts water to one part chlorine bleach for about a week
to remove the salt and disinfect from diseases. Scrub pots and hanging
baskets and stock up on potting mix (choose a blend of perlite,
vermiculite, and peat moss) in preparation of planting containers
- Watch out for tent caterpillars in
cherries, crabapples and plums. When the caterpillars are small (less
than 1" long), you can spray with an organic product such as Thuricide
or BT. These products are only toxic to caterpillars. If you wait until
the caterpillars are longer than 1", however, you will need to spray
- Fertilize woody plants before new
growth begins. Two pounds of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet
should be sufficient
Plant or transplant asparagus and rhubarb crowns. For best plant
establishment, do not harvest until the third year after planting
- Check the brackets used for hanging
baskets. Once the flowers are in full bloom and compost is moist they
will become much heavier.
Shrubs and Trees:
- Spring is pruning time. Correct
pruning of spring flowering shrubs will provide more blooms and keep the
plant healthy. Lilacs, forsythia and spireas should be pruned two weeks
after blooming. Shrubs that bloom in the spring need all summer to
produce flower buds for next year
- Late March and early April is a ideal
time to transplant shrubs and trees. You can move shrubs and trees as
soon as the soil is workable, but before buds have swelled or broken
- Check upright junipers and red cedars
for the brown galls of cedar-hawthorn/apple rust. They will be mingled
with the leaves and resemble brown golf balls. Warm spring rains cause
them to ooze orange gelatinous "horns" which spread spores to apple,
crabapple and hawthorn. Remove these galls before they erupt to limit
the spread of spores
- Plant and transplant trees and shrubs
as soon as the soil is dry enough to be worked. Bare root specimens
should be planted before they break dormancy; balled-and-burlapped and
containerized stock can be planted anytime during the growing season.
After planting don't forget to water well and mulch!
- Prune evergreens (except pines). Keep
the pruning cuts within the green (foliage) parts of the plant. If
cutting goes back into bare branches it is sometimes difficult or
impossible for the plant to re-grow from the old growth
- Pines will produce new candle growth
from terminal buds later this spring. In some cases, a pine that looks
brown now may look much better when the new growth emerges. Take a wait
and see approach with pines; do not prune them now, as the terminal buds
will be removed and no new growth will occur on that branch.
- Azaleas will be blooming this month.
Remember not to fertilize azaleas until after they have finished
- The last Friday in April is National
Arbor Day. Plant a tree, or support an organization which does.
- Don't forget to water plants under
overhangs. Water new plantings and blooming rhododendron regularly. Feed
Rhododendron right after they bloom. Nitrogen is required but not
- Time to plant fruit trees and grapes.
Some fruit trees need a pollinator (two different kinds that bloom at
the same time).
- Prepare lawn for the mowing season.
Rake away all twigs and debris. Have the lawn mower blades sharpened,
replace the spark plugs and change the oil.
- Nowís the time to get the mower out of
the shed, make sure it starts and is ready to go when you need it in the
next few weeks. Be sure to sharpen the blade and make sure the mower is
working well mechanically. You should begin mowing at 3 inches or so
once the grass plants start to grow and reach about 3.5 or 4.0 inches
tall. This normally happens well before most of us start mowing because
we see mostly brown leaf blades and we donít think the lawn is growing.
However, grass plants grow from the bottom up where the new green leaf
material elongates near the soil, pushing the older brown leaf material
up into view. The first mowing generally will remove almost all of the
old brown leaves revealing a nice green lawn below. Though none of us
want to do it, itís better to start mowing your lawn too early than too
- Prevent crabgrass and other grassy
weeds before they start by applying a pre-emergent herbicide before the
ground temperature reaches 55įF (i.e., before the yellow forsythia stops
blooming and before the lilacs blossom). Crabgrass is an annual weed
that re-seeds itself each year. It is difficult to control once it is up
and growing, but a pre-emergent herbicide will kill the seed as it
germinates. If you plan to reseed bare areas in your lawn, use a
pre-emergent specifically labeled for new lawn establishment.
- Avoid applying nitrogen-based
fertilizers when your lawn is dormant and has not greened-up; the
growing stimulant provided by the nitrogen could end up encouraging the
growth of broadleaf weeds or other unwanted grasses in your lawn. Allow
the grass to green up, grow, and be mowed once or twice before applying
fertilizer in late April or early May
- You may have grubs if there are lots
of birds feeding on the ground in your yard; if you have patches of
brown grass that pull up easily; or if you've spent the time and energy
to dig down a foot and have found adult grubs.
- Repair bare spots in the lawn. Work up
the soil well in these areas incorporating some granular fertilizer,
too. Sprinkle on a good seed mix of bluegrass and fescue. Rake lightly
to mix seed with soil. Tamp to assure seed-soil contact. Mulch lightly
with straw. Keep well watered for two weeks until all the seed has
- A popular gift plant, the Easter lily,
needs bright, indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight and keep the soil
moist. After blooming, it can be planted in a sunny spot in the garden
after danger of frost is over, where it will bloom next year
- Longer days and higher light intensity
means indoor plants will begin growing faster. Start fertilizing again
using a half strength solution every other watering. Prune hard now to
stimulate new, bushier growth.
- Repot houseplants. Repot your
houseplants when roots grow through the drainage holes, when the soil
mass is filled with roots, when new leaves are smaller than usual or
when the plant wilts between waterings
Remove leaves and debris from ponds.
Inspect The Pond Take a careful look around your pond. Make
sure there has been no winter damage to the pond or any of the
components. Repair or replace as necessary.
Start Pump If your pump has been off for the winter, spring is
the time to start it back up. Most people do this when the water
temperature increases to around 50 degrees.
Test Water Begin testing the pond water again. Of particular
importance are ammonia and nitrite levels. Both of these should be zero.
Perform partial water changes if either test gives a reading other than
weather means your fish are now or soon will be ready to start eating
again. Until the water temperature is consistently above 50 degrees,
continue to not feed the fish. Once the water temperature is into the
50s you will want to feed a food designed for spring and fall. As the
water temperature reaches into the 60s it will be time to feed your
regular summertime fish food.
the water temperature reaches into the 50s it will be time to get the
survived the winter ready for a great year ahead. This is the time we
begin fertilizing the plants. Also, for maximum performance, it may be
necessary to divide some of these plants. If the plants are too crowded
in their pots, they will suffer and their growth and flowering potential
have a backyard garden pool, now is the time to clean it and refill it
with fresh water. You can plant hardy water lilies from now until May.
Birds in the Garden
Put out the hummingbird feeder towards the
end of the month. Use a 1:3 ratio of sugar to water (ex. 1 cup of sugar
to 3 cups of water). Boil for 3 minutes. Cool and serve. Some say to
switch to a 1:4 ratio after the first couple of feedings
Birds will be ready to start nesting this
month so if you want them in your yard you will need to have your bird
houses cleaned of last yearís nests and placed out in the yard. Check
your dryer vents as it is a tempting place to put a nest. Cover your
chimney to prevent birds, bats, squirrels and even raccoons from nesting
in your house.
Place birdhouses built this winter outdoors
this month. Birds will begin looking for nesting sites soon
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