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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
Wait until danger of frost has passed before planting tender plants. Frost blankets can help protect your plants from unexpected late freezes.
 
Pinch back your annuals at planting to promote stronger, bushier plants and more flower production.

More on Planting and Caring for Annuals and Vegetables

Annuals, vegetable plants and roses, selected from inside our greenhouses should be “hardened off” before planting outdoors. This is done by exposing the plants to the hot sun and drying winds gradually until the plants are fully acclimated.
 
Summer-blooming bulbs like dahlias, gladioli, cannas and lilies can be planted outside now. If you started these bulbs inside and they are now up and growing, keep your frost blanket handy to cover them if there
is a hard freeze predicted.
 

Container Gardens
Plant your hanging baskets and container gardens now to give them a good head start. By June they should be well established. Keep an eye on the weather and bring your baskets and containers inside if the weather gets cold.
 
If your outdoor hanging baskets and planters have dried out too quickly in the past, mix granules of Soil Moist (a polymer) into the media of your container gardens and hanging baskets before you plant. This will help retain water for the plants to use as needed. We've added polymers to Echter’s Container Mix so you can reduce the frequency of watering.
 

Perennials & Roses
Prune back hybrid tea roses, floribundas and other everblooming roses to 10" in early May. Also, prune out any dead, diseased or weak canes. 
Do not do a heavy pruning on climbing roses. Prune only those canes which are broken or dead.
 
Deadhead, (cut off the old flowers) on daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and other spring-blooming bulbs, but
don't remove foli
age until after it turns yellow. The foliage is making nutrients for the bulbs for next year's show of color.
 
Weeds take nutrients from the soil and away from your desirable plants. The smaller the weed, the easier
it is to remove. Pulling them early will keep them from producing and spreading seeds.


Put up plant supports now for perennials that need to be staked, like delphiniums, peonies, yarrow, etc.  Before you know it these plants will be too tall to do it easily.
Speed up the warming of the soil in your perennial and bulb beds by removing the mulch from around the plants.
 
Vegetable Gardens
Before rototilling your garden, be sure the soil is on the dry side. Add compost and/or peat moss to the garden and work it all in.
 
Check the "When is it safe..." link mentioned above to our Frost Hardiness Chart which will enable you to judge when to plant your vegetable starts.
For anything that you plant outside early this month, make sure that you have a frost blanket handy for those sudden and unexpected cold snaps.
 
Never cut rhubarb stalks off the plant. Instead, hold the stalk near the base and give it a slight twist as
you pull it away. Rhubarb flowers may be pretty, but they take away nutrients from the stalks. As soon
as these flower stalks appear, prune them to the ground.

Lawn Care
Those impossible weeds like bindweed, dandelions and thistle in your lawn can be controlled with
Ferti-lome's Weed Out or Weed Free Zone. These are the most effective weed killers you can buy.
Mow your lawn during the day or early evening when the grass is dry. Never mow when there is moisture
on the blades. This encourages the spread of disease and causes the clipping to clump. 
Now is a great time to reseed the bare spots in your lawn. Rake the areas thoroughly, scatter the grass seed and water it in, so that the seed can settle into the loose soil.  Keep the seed moist until it has germinated. Fertilize with New Lawn Starter. Do not use a high-nitrogen fertilizer or a fertilizer with weed preventer in the areas where you have seeded.

Echter's Grass Seed Blends

 
If you had disease problems in your lawn last year, apply Ferti-lome F-Stop or Scotts Lawn Fungus Control as a preventive measure.

Trees & Shrubs
LilacsPrune off old lilac flowers just below the flower right after they bloom. Trim out a couple of the thickest branches all the way to the base to help keep the lilac full
and well shaped. Prune other early-flowering shrubs after their blooming time as well.
Did you have worms in your apples last year? Help prevent these nuisances by spraying your apple trees with Bonide Fruit Tree Spray. Spray your fruit trees as soon as the flowers fade to control insects early. Another preventive measure is
to rake up weekly all the apples which fall to the ground.
 
 
Pine CandlePines put out a thick shoot, (called a candle) from the end of the branch each spring. To control the height of mugo pines and have denser plants, use your fingers to break (do not cut) the candles in half before they turn green and the needles begin to separate. Do not remove the whole candle.
 
Fertilize your trees and shrubs early in May. There are several ways to fertilize:
1) Use a Ross Root Feeder with the appropriate fertilizer pellet to get the solution right down to the roots. 2) Use a topical granular around the plants and water in. 
3) Use slow-release fertilizer and work it into the soil around each plant. This feeds them for several months. 

Indoor Plants
Turn your houseplants a quarter turn periodically to keep the growth from leaning toward the window and the light.
 
Fertilize your indoor plants twice a month with Jack's Classic Houseplant Special. A good fertilizing program will help your houseplants get their good spurt of new growth this spring.
 

Wildlife
Plant a trumpet vine or honeysuckle to attract more hummingbirds. Stop by our customer service desk for
a list of other plants which attract “hummers”.
   

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