Gardening Tips

In The Garden – March- April gardening tips

Helpful tips for gardening in the Triangle.

Flowers

• Pull weeds in your flowerbeds now before the weeds take over.

• Yes, you can plant your Easter lilies outdoors. Fertilize the flowers when they fade and then transplant them in your garden. They will bloom in mid-summer instead of spring.

• When selecting summer annuals, look for short, bushy plants with green leaves, well-developed root systems and more buds than flowers. Wait until after danger of frost (approximately April 15) before planting annuals in the garden.

• Plant summer-flowering bulbs like iris, lilies and dahlias after the end of March.

• Deadhead the blooms of spring blooming bulbs, but wait to clean up the foliage until after it has turned brown. Don’t cut the green leaves since these provide food for next year’s blooms. Fertilize with bone meal after the bulbs have finished blooming.

Fruits and Vegetables

• Plant blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and muscadine grapes in late March or April. Fertilize berry plants and fruit trees.

• Plant potatoes, onion sets, kale, leaf lettuce, radishes, sugar snaps, broccoli and similar members of the cabbage family. These vegetables can withstand a light frost without damage.

• You can direct seed sweet corn, pole beans, lima and snap beans, cantaloupe, cucumbers, summer squash and watermelons after April 15. Wait until the end of April to set out peppers and eggplant.

Lawns

• Apply pre-emergent herbicides for control of weedy grasses such as crabgrass.

• Do not fertilize warm-season grasses at this time. Resist all advertisements and wait until after the grass is completely green before fertilizing.

• Cool-season lawn mowing season starts as it warms up. Mow at a height of least 3 inches, preferably 3-1/2. Don’t take more than one-third of the grass blade off when you mow. Leave grass clippings on the lawn. They return nutrients to the soil and reduce the need for additional fertilizer

Trees and Shrubs

• Complete any major pruning of fruit or shade trees in March. Do not prune spring blooming plants until after they have finished blooming. Remember to pick up the camellia flowers after they drop to prevent camellia petal blight.

• Shape up evergreen shrubs in April, but avoid shearing, which encourages dense growth on the outermost part of the plant, Hand prune from within, cutting back the longest shoots to a point where they join a main branch.

• Evergreens, conifers, camellias, dogwoods and azaleas need acid-loving fertilizer

Insects

• Watch for cutworms and aphids in the garden.

• Treat for cool season mites on junipers, arbor vitae, other conifers, azaleas, hollies, and camellias. These mites are often only noticed after the damage is done (interior browning of foliage in early summer) and when the pests are no longer present. If present, they will be very active in March. Spray as needed.

For a complete list of garden maintenance activities, visit the NC Cooperative Extension web site at www.ces.ncsu.edu.

For lawn care go to the NC State Turf Files at www.turffiles.ncsu.edu.