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Green Thumb Tips

Echter’s Plant Doctors are available during store hours seven days a week to answer
your gardening questions. For accurate diagnosis, it helps to bring in a sample.
 

Flower Gardens
Watering plants that have been recently planted outdoors is tricky. The rule is to water them in thoroughly after they are planted. Then watch the area next to the edge of the original soil ball to see if it is getting dry. You want to encourage the roots to move out into the surrounding soil to get water without letting the original soil ball get too dry. Reduce the watering frequency with time, but water thoroughly each time you water. Don't just wet the surface of the soil.
 
An easy way to harden plants that are going outdoors is to cover them with Plant & Seed Guard for a few days after you plant them. You can use wire supports if necessary to hold the fabric away from the plants. Attach it to the ground with wire staples. It’s re-usable.
 
Pot dahlias now and keep them indoors until later in May. This will give them a good head start and they will bloom earlier after putting them outside.
 
Plant gladioli, lilies, cannas, callas, ranunculus, crocosmia and other summer blooming bulbs toward the end of April. Plant pansies between the bulbs to give you early color.
 
Fertilize your spring-flowering bulb plants after the blooms have finished with Gro Rich Rose & Perennial fertilizer. Don't remove the leaves until they have turned brown. Green leaves help build strength in the bulbs for next year.
 
Place your plant supports into position early. If you wait until they really need support, it may be difficult as the plant will be too large. This is especially true for peonies.
 
When you hand water, use a nozzle with a shut-off or trigger nozzle that stops the flow of water when released so you don't waste water.
 
Before transplanting, be sure that your plants are not dry.
 
Flowering annual starts which can be planted out in early April after “hardening them off” are alyssum,
dusty miller, sweet peas, anchusa, larkspur, centaurea, pansies, dracaena, and snapdragons.
 
 
   Pinch back your annuals to promote stronger, bushier plants and more flower production.

 

Perennials & Roses & Vines
Spring is the best time to divide perennials that bloom in mid or late summer such as asters and chrysanthemums. Wait until September to divide early spring-flowering perennials like bleeding hearts and peonies.
 
Plant wildflower seeds in April. Improve your soil before planting by raking in either peat moss or compost
or a combination of the two.
 
Add some spice to predictable bulb and perennial beds by broadcasting seeds of annuals like larkspur, cosmos, poppies, bachelor buttons or other annuals among your established plants.
 
 
Trees & Shrubs
April is the best time to plant new trees and shrubs. Improve the soil first with compost and/or peat moss. Then apply MYKE Tree & Shrub Transplanter and water in with Root Stimulator, both of which reduce transplant shock and stimulate root growth.
 
When planting large trees, stake them for the first year. Use 2” wide staking straps around the tree. Do
not use wire, twine or rope on the tree itself. Place the stakes 2-3 feet away from the tree, tie the strap
to the stake and leave a little slack. Let the tree sway slightly to develop roots and caliper.
 
Start your fertilizing program for roses, trees and shrubs when the leaves appear on the branches.
Protect your ash trees from Emerald Ash Borers. Use Ferti-lome Tree and Shrub Systemic Insect Drench for easy-to-use systemic protection from insects all year long. Follow the label directions and just mix it with water in a watering can or bucket and pour the solution around the base of trees or shrubs.
 
If you don't have room for two different fruit trees for cross pollination, try one of our 4-in-1 apple, pear
or sweet cherry trees for a great crop of fruit. There are four different grafts on one tree.

Are you tired of raking up crabapples in the summer? Spray crabapple trees with Monterey Floral Growth Regulator at mid to full bloom. This will prevent the fruit from forming.

Deep-root waterers get water under the lawn which is useful for trees, shrubs and roses. Some of these tools also have a container for dissolving fertilizer pellets to feed your plants right at the roots.
 
Before transplanting, always make sure trees and shrubs are not dry to help avoid transplant stress.
 

Vegetable Gardens
Keep an N-sulate cover handy for unexpected frosts after your garden is planted. It will keep the frost off new seedlings as they emerge from the soil.
 
Mid-April is the time to set out broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, Swiss chard, radicchio, and Brussels sprouts plants. Be sure to “harden them off” first.
 
Enjoy an earlier growing season by four weeks by setting out Season Starter plant protectors in April. You can set tomatoes and pepper plants inside them ten days after initial setup of your Season Starter. The setup period allows the soil beneath the solar shelters to warm to a temperature suitable for plant growth.
 
If you are having trouble growing plants in your gardens, have your soil tested. We can test your soil for nutrient deficiencies for a nominal fee. We can let you know what to do to improve your soil for more flowers and vegetables.
 
Vegetable gardens benefit from watering at ground level, instead of watering overhead. Watering with soaker hoses helps to prevent many diseases and insects.  
Floating row covers help eliminate cabbage loopers on cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.  Keep your cover handy in case there is a cold snap for any newly planted vegetables and flowers.


Lawns
April is a good time to seed or overseed lawns. Use a good grass seed and apply New Lawn Starter fertilizer after the seed is sown. Keep the area moist even after germination. Do not apply a pre-emergent crabgrass control before or after seeding, as this will prevent grass seed germination. Sod is an easy alternative to seeding.

Keep your mower blade sharp. Dull blades can invite lawn diseases to enter grass blades. Bring your rotary mower blades into Echter’s for sharpening. You can bring them in on or off the mower.
 
Use a rain gauge to measure the amount of water you are putting on your lawn. Apply 3/4” to 1” slowly enough to evenly soak the lawn without running off the area.
 
Birds
It's spring cleaning season even for birds. If you haven't cleaned your bird houses this year, clean them
out and then spray them with a bird feeder cleaner before the new birds arrive.
 
Continue feeding the birds at your feeders. Seed-producing plants are just beginning to grow and there
are now more birds competing for the depleted wild seed supply. Give them a supply of water also
.
 

 

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