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Spring coming, time to think about gardening

By Terri Vandiver, 02/23/18 10:02 AM



PRESCOTT – Although unpredictable weather is the norm in our area, hopefully we have seen the worst. With that in mind, February and March are the months to gear up for Spring and accomplish many garden and landscape chores.

Pruning is very important this time of year. There are several basic pruning rules for hybrid tea roses to follow. First, remove any canes/branches that are growing horizontally. This includes anything that is growing in towards the center of the rose bush or crossing over another branch. Next, cut out all branches that look dead or diseased. Your roses need good airflow so don’t be afraid to open up the middle of your rose bush which will result in a healthy bush. You should now have 6-8 good strong healthy canes left. Cut those canes down to height of 8-18-inches . Before you cut, find an outward facing bud on each cane and prune just above that bud. Make a 45-degree angle cut. This will encourage water to drain away from the bud to prevent rot. Climbing roses should be pruned after they flower the first time of the year. Prune out about one third of the older canes close to the trunk, but avoid cutting below a graft union.

Make sure you rake up all pruned clippings and fallen leaves getting rid of diseased spores or insect eggs or larvae. Begin fertilizing only after steady night temperatures of upper 40’s feeding with a granular rose bush food. Be sure to water deeply the day before. Newly planted roses can be fertilized once they are established about 3-4 weeks after planting. Knockout roses and climbing roses may have a different set of instructions because they bloom different. The knockout roses need to establish itself before you fertilize. Fertilize this rose after the bush has gone through one bloom cycle. Just remember, different types of roses have specific needs so just be sure to read the instructions for care.

Another Arkansas native plant we all love and desire is the hydrangea. It sets its flower buds in the fall. The dried flower heads are not only beautiful, adding interest to your garden, but also beneficial in protecting buds from frost damage so don’t get scissor happy. Hydrangeas begin to put on new growth in the winter when we have a few days of warm weather. This can be a problem because Sometimes a late cold snap freezes them back. Don’t be too quick to cut. We can hope that the new growth was only nipped, and that the stalks were not damaged. But, Since Hydrangeas set flower buds in the fall, and if the branches were frozen enough you have to prune back to ground level, you just won’t have any flowers this year. To be on the safe side, wait to see where it begins to leaf out. If it is on the branches, you are safe. If it only leafs out at the base of the plant, the branches are probably dead and will not produce any flowers this year. If it looks like it survived and beginning to bud, then prune it back to just above the bud or new leaf growth. Big leaf and other hydrangeas should also be rejuvenated when the plant is dormant by pruning out 3 to 5 of the oldest stems.

Other spring gardening jobs include pruning crape myrtles, summer blooming shrubs, and fruit trees. Remember when pruning, some bloom on new wood while others bloom on old wood. Pruning at the wrong time will not necessarily kill the shrub, but it could wipe out a season’s worth of blooms. Some common shrubs that are flowering now or soon are redbud, flowering quince, winter jasmine, spiraea, and forsythia – should be pruned after flowering. You can also get ahead of those weeds by pulling or spraying before they bloom, especially stickerweed and spurwood. Now is also the time to spray for insect problem areas with a dormant oil, such as Neem Oil, which will smother overwintering insects such as aphids, scales, mites, and their eggs. You can find this at your local gardening store.

The Nevada County Master Gardener group will be celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year and will have a special recognition at its annual gardening show, “A Time to Till”, and back with us as our guest speaker is Chris Olsen on April 14. Mark your calendars for this big event. We will have our greenhouse plants for sale, and the vendors back this year! More details about this exciting event to come next month. Until then, happy spring cleaning from your Nevada County Master Gardeners.