March garden tips from Wayne Gruber and Sharon Fister of Gardens on the Prairie

2013-03-14T11:41:00Z March garden tips from Wayne Gruber and Sharon Fister of Gardens on the PrairieWayne Gruber | Gardens on the Prairie nwitimes.com
March 14, 2013 11:41 am  • 

CROWN POINT | March can be a bit cold and wet for major work, but here are a few things you can do in those areas that are dry enough.

Walk around your garden and take notes on what needs to be done. Use this list to prioritize tasks. Penciling these tasks in on a calendar will help you stay on top of things throughout the year.

Reset and re-mulch perennials that have heaved out of the ground during the winter months.

Remove winter mulch, leaves, and debris piled up in areas planted with bulbs. This should be done on a cloudy day so that tender, pale growth is not burned.

Rake lawn areas, removing leaves, twigs, & debris. Check for snow mold, which forms under snow or matted leaves. Rake infected areas to dry out.

Cut back ornamental grasses and other perennials that were left up for winter interest before new growth begins. Tying twine around large bunches of ornamental grass before cutting them makes this chore easier and a lot less messy! Electric hedge shears work well for cutting large ornamental grasses.

March is a good time to prune some things. It can be tricky, so here are some quick tips to remember throughout the year:

•Fruit trees should be pruned while dormant.

•Spring blooming plants such as forsythia, rhododendron, weigela and lilac should be pruned immediately after flowering.

•Summer flowering shrubs should be pruned before they leaf out.

•Paniculata hydrangeas such as limelight, quickfire and little lime can be cut back by one half to two thirds. For best results, make a 45 degree cut approximately a quarter of an inch above a healthy bud. Be sure to choose a bud that’s angled away from center of the plant. This will help to avoid crossing, crowded branches.

•Macrophylla hydrangeas such as endless summer, twist & shout and blushing bride can be cut down to live tissue or four to five inches.

•Beautyberry may be cut back to approximately 10 inches tall.

•Most spiraeas can be cut back to a few inches. Bridal Wreath is an exception to this rule.

•Roses should be pruned when the Forsythia blooms. For best results, make a 45 degree cut above a healthy green bud, angled away from center of plant as detailed above.

•Plants that are prized for their fruit (Viburnum, Hawthorne) should be pruned after the fruit drops.

•Avoid pruning Oaks and Elms from mid April through mid July.

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