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Spring is here…maybe. We are almost passed the deadline for frosty temperatures. That does not mean it won’t happen, it just means it typically does not freeze after April 15. One year, we had a frost in mid-April and I had to cover a field of perennials I was growing at the time. The plants would not have died but the frost would have damaged all the new foliage and set the plants back by a month or more.
Check with your local weather station for the long-term forecast and wait for warmer night temperatures before planting tender annuals such as impatients. Petunias, snapdragons and dianthus can all tolerate cooler temperatures.
While we wait for warmer temperatures it is a good time to divide perennials such as hostas, shasta daisies, liriope, dianthus and phlox. After a good rain, go out in the garden and pull weeds before they get a chance to seed themselves and take over your whole yard. It is much easier to pull the weed, root and all, when the soil is moist. If you have an interest in propagating, try your hand at layering. Simply bend a lower stem from an existing azalea, hydrangea, kerria, or forsythia to the ground and pin it in place with a bent wire, rock or brick. By late summer, the stem will have rooted and can be snipped away from the mother plant. Tada! You have a brand new plant.
Our warm season grasses such as Bermuda grass, centipede and St. Augustine are coming out of dormancy and can be planted now. If you have centipede grass, keep the grass mowed to no longer that 1-1/2 inches. Never burn off centipede grass to remove excess thatch. Do not apply nitrogen at this time. If you have St. Augustine grass, mow at 2-1/2 inches and leave clippings on the lawn. Wait until May, or two weeks after green-up, to apply fertilizer. Bermuda grass should be mowed to one-inch when the lawn first turns green, leaving clippings on the lawn. Clippings provide fertilizer as it breaks down. You can apply 1/2 to one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet several weeks after the full lawn turns green. Typically, after two or three good mowings, you should be able to put down nitrogen.
Keep an eye out for garden pests. Check you camellias and euonymus for scale. Tap your junipers and spruces with a pencil against a blank piece of paper and see if you spot any spider mites. When you see the webbing, it can be too late. Start your roses on a spray program. To avoid severe black spot and powdery mildew, spray roses with a fungicide every 7-10 days. Keep an eye out for aphid activity; they will usually hang out on the buds of the rose.
Visit local garden centers, arboretums or botanical gardens to get great ideas for your garden. Take full advantage of the Extension Master Gardener plant sale April 7, 8 and 9 at the Government Complex in Bolivia.