♦ Be aware that a brown plastic material that looks and feels like natural burlap, but does not break down in the soil, may be used to wrap root balls of B & B plants. Synthetic materials enclosing the roots of trees and shrubs must be completely removed to ensure success of the transplants.
♦ Propagate deciduous shrubs, such as forsythia and winter jasmine, now by ground layering.
♦ Give your roses a starter application of complete fertilizer.
♦ Cut back butterfly bushes to 1/3 desired height.
♦ Fertilize spring bulbs after they bloom. Do not remove leaves until they turn yellow.
♦ Prune crape myrtles only removing the old flower heads. Do not cut back to the same spot each year as it creates a weak joint and the branches can split and fall in the summer with the additional weight of heavy flower heads. Remove sprouts at the base of the tree.
♦ If you have left a few inches of plant stems on your perennials to ID the plant’s location cut them back before the new growth emerges. It is also a good time to cut back the tattered foliage on evergreen ferns and perennials.
♦ Cut foliage off tattered liriope.
♦ Start fertilizing pansies and winter annuals with houseplant fertilizer.
♦ Divide daylily and Hosta clumps when the leaves just start to emerge from the ground, so you don’t damage the new growth.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
♦ Don’t rush to remove mulch from strawberries. Leave it over your plants to protect them from late cold spells. When plants start to grow, the mulch must be removed to allow leaves to develop in the light. If leaves develop under the mulch, they will become etiolated (blanched) and yellow from lack of chlorophyll, and may burn and die when exposed to the sun.
♦ Begin summer vegetable seedlings inside now.
♦ Spring applications of pesticides should be made on peaches, apples and pears. Correct timing for spraying depends on the stage of development of flowers. Check the label and follow the directions.
♦ Lettuce is very sensitive to low pH. Lime should be applied to the soil if the pH is below 6.0.
♦ If your garden is on a hillside, plant across the slope (not up and down) to help hold moisture in the soil and reduce erosion.
♦ Plant seeds of root crops, such as carrots, beets, radishes and parsnips, in your garden.
♦ Do not add lime to the area for potatoes. The lower pH helps control scab.
♦ One way to avoid the danger of unusually cold nights is to set water-filled plastic jugs around each seedling. Warmed by the sun, these will radiate heat all night, preventing cold damage.
♦ Place bird houses outdoors early this month. Birds will begin looking for nesting sites soon and the houses should attract several mating pairs. Ideally, houses erected on smooth metal poles where predators cannot climb are most often selected, but placement on top of fence posts or in trees will usually suffice.
♦ Put out hummingbird feeders in mid-March.
♦ Re-pot houseplants that have grown too large for their containers. Cut back leggy plants to encourage compact growth.
♦ Root the cuttings in moist media to increase your supply of plants.
♦ Houseplants can be watered more frequently with the onset of spring and new growth. Start fertilizing houseplants now for good growth.