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Survival techniques for certain plants provide that they be dormant during harsh weather and they grow and thrive during good weather. Problems arise when the weather becomes similar to springtime conditions and the plants respond by initiating new shoots, buds, leaves, flowers, etc.
Even in the winter months, it is refreshing to see signs spring is just around the corner with the early indicator plants such as the yellow flowering forsythia, the purplish pink saucer magnolia, the multicolored hyacinths, daffodils and crocus. These early blooming plants help to bring new life into our late winter landscapes and people also start thinking about spring and what they need to do for their landscapes.
What to Plant
You may continue to plant larkspur, poppies and dianthus. In mid-March, plant coreopsis, cherry laurel and southern magnolia and vegetables such as: broccoli, beets, cauliflower, and cabbage. Containerized roses can be planted anytime between March and May. This is the beginning of the next best time to plant ornamental shrubs and trees.
What to Prune
Prune deciduous spring flowering shrubs after flowers fade; quince, spirea and forsythia all flower on old growth. Do not prune shrubs that haven’t bloomed yet such as azaleas and Indian hawthorns. Prune roses before bud break.
Toward the end of the month, prune freeze-damaged oleanders in coastal regions. Plants in the mountain and Piedmont areas may be about two weeks behind that of the coastal plains. Adjust pruning strategies accordingly. Heavy pruning and rejuvenation pruning of summer blooming shrubs can be done now. On Rabbiteye blueberry bushes, prune to maintain 6-9 branches per plant.
What to Fertilize
The winter has been cold and there is no telling what weather patterns we will have ahead of us. Typically it is best to fertilize most ornamental plants around April 15. You may apply bulb fertilizers according to label directions after bulbs emerge. Wait on other ornamentals until April. If you have not already fertilized pecan, do so now at your earliest convenience.
Check for tea scale on camellias; scale on euonymous and spider mites on juniper. Spray roses for black spot every 7-10 days. To control sooty mold, scale, mealybugs and spider mites, use insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Always check label recommendations.
If pre-emergent herbicides were not applied in late February, make sure to make applications prior to the dogwood bloom. Irrigating during warm, dry and windy weather with low relative humidity levels will prevent turf grasses from dehydrating. Do not irrigate every day. Overwatering can lead to many different problems. Mow lawn as grass begins to green-up.
Divide and transplant perennials such as chrysanthemums, primroses, irises, violets, Shasta daisies and daylilies. Daylilies can be divided and transplanted any time of the year.
Plant a tree for Arbor Day. Arbor Day is always the first Friday after March 15.