- Bernie Miller - Chester Heights Resident
5 Horticultural Pointers for Early Spring
There is never quite enough time between waiting for Spring and gardening season being in full swing!
Check out these 5 gardening tidbits from Chester Height's very own gardening expert, Mr. Bernie Miller
(1) Roses: Late February and the month of March are considered good times to for pruning rose bushes. The idea is to prune before the roses start to send out new shoots. As you cut branches look to cut directly above a growth point that points out. Cutting above a growth point that points inward will make for a dense rose bush but you will end up with trouble with black spot and will lose many leaves because the leaves did not get enough air to dry out quickly. Many home owners have planted "Knock Out" roses because they are more resistant to black spot. Without pruning this variety of rose can reach 8 feet tall so for most homes pruning is suggested. (2)Peonies: Remove all of last years stems and leaves that are brown and limp. Do not place these leaves in a compost pile. This clean up should be done before you see the peonies start to send up new growth this spring. Sprinkle some granular garden fertilizer (5-10-5 or 5-10-10) on the soil to give the plants a boast. Autumn is the best time to divide or move this plant. (3) Forsythia: You can take cuttings of the stems to bring inside now to have spring arrive in your house early. Place the cut stems in room temperature water and within a week to two weeks the stems should bloom. Outside it is best to shape/prune forsythia bushes immediately following their bloom period and this will prevent you from cutting off next springs blooms. Forsythias bloom on new growth. (4) Tulips: They are so wonderful to purchase a bouquet of cut tulips and bring them home. A friendly reminder that tulips will grow over an inch a day and will lean towards the light source. That means that if you are making a flower arrangement for a special event that you do not want to place the tulips in the arrangement too early because they will grow on you and change your arrangement. (5) Basil: It is so tempting to purchase basil plants and want to place them in the ground at the same time you are planting the rest of your flowers and vegetables. Hold off on planting basil in the ground until the soil has warmed up because the basil will sulk when it's roots are cold. Another option is to plant it in a container and keep indoors near the window or sliding glass door and then place outside when the temperatures are higher. Basil is very easy to grow from seed and cheaper than purchasing plants especially if you like to make pesto. Wait until the temperatures warm up in June and plant directly into the soil or into a container. Within a week the seeds will germinate and will grow quickly if we have a heat spell. New potting soil has a limited amount of nutrients included so it is recommended to either add a slow release fertilizer to the soil or water with a water soluble solution of fertilizer.
AND don't forget NOW is the time of year to check out your flower and seed catalogs catalogs and make plans for spring. Most of the companies have their catalogs online so it is easy to place an order. Remember to look at the plant description to determine how many weeks in advance the seeds need to be planted if you are starting the plants inside. Our last frost date is supposed to be May 15 but due to climate warming we can get away with putting many plants in the ground anytime after May 1.Placing seed and plant orders now will guarantee that they will not run out of the plant you just have to have.catalogs and make plans for spring. Most of the companies have their catalogs online so it is easy to place an order. Remember to look at the plant description to determine how many weeks in advance the seeds need to be planted if you are starting the plants inside. Our last frost date is supposed to be May 15 but due to climate warming we can get away with putting many plants in the ground anytime after May 1.
Placing seed and plant orders now will guarantee that they will not run out of the plant you just have to have.