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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Spring Has Sprng

We did not have a lot of really cold weather this winter, so the clean-up of frost and freeze damaged plants is not as daunting as in past years.  We did have freezing temperatures one night in mid February and one in early March that damaged a few plants in my yard and that will require some corrective pruning.


There is still time to prune any shrubs or hedges that have grown too tall or large for their location. Viburnum and Ligustrum can be pruned back by about one third.  This is also true for dwarf Yaupon hollies.  This is also good time to shape any plants that have become leggy.  Remember, Crape Myrtles do not require the drastic pruning that we so often see.  They will bloom quite well with just a light pruning to remove crossing or rubbing branches and dead twigs in the interior of the plant. 

Disinfected pruning tools after each use by dipping the cutting surfaces in a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water or rubbing alcohol (70%) from the drug store (does not require diluting).  If you have a lawn service that does your pruning, ask that they disinfect their tools prior to using them in your yard. 


I saw some new research from the University of Florida on nutrient needs of lawns in Florida on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Q5QOL_WU1Q) that states that you should not apply fertilizer to lawns before April and no later than early October.  So I am not recommending fertilization of lawns in March.  Shrubs, palms and other ornamental plants can be fertilized now with a 100% slow release formula of 8-0-12 that also contains minor nutrients.  Palms especially need this type of fertilizer to ward off nutrient deficiencies. 


If you are planning to grow some veggies this spring, those that can be planted now include: beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, summer squash, tomatoes and watermelon.  Those of us living near conservation areas or Brooker Creek Preserve have a real problem with critters eating veggies.  I grow tomatoes, peppers, beans, chard, broccoli, and eggplant in pots inside my pool screen enclosure quite successfully.  Veggies like cucumbers and squash that need a pollinator to move pollen from male to female flowers do not work inside the screen unless you want to become the pollinator with a small artists paint brush. For more information on growing vegetables, go to: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/VH/VH02100.pdf

Other chores:

Don't be tempted to scalp the lawn to remove the grass that has turned brown.  You can damage the lawn by removing living growing points that are protected by the brown grass blades.  Those brown blades will decay back into the soil.

Give your winter annuals, such as snapdragons, petunias, pansies or geraniums, a light pruning and balanced slow release fertilizer.  You should see a new flush of bloom that lasts into May.  This is also a good time to divide perennials and do any transplanting of shrubs or flowers that you want to move to a different location.  Remember to provide plenty of water for several weeks after transplanting.

Add a fresh layer of mulch once all spring clean-up has been completed.  Be careful to keep the mulch a couple of inches away from the base of plants and not more than two to three inches deep.  You do not need to remove old mulch, just add the fresh mulch to the top.  The old mulch will continue to decay and add needed organic nutrients to the soil.

Be on the lookout for aphids, mealybugs and whiteflies.  They are attracted to the succulent new growth on plants in the spring.  A good shot of water from the hose will knock aphids off, or try Neem oil. Neem is a least toxic alternative to chemical pesticides.  Spray in the evening when bees are less active.  Also, see if there are beneficial insects like ladybugs and green lacewings already feeding on them.  They could be doing the job for you.

1:27 pm edt          Comments

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Pampered Gardeners LLC * Oldsmar, FL * USA *  Phone: 727 483-3783 * pam@pamperedgardeners.com