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
Plant begonias, dahlias
and cannas in pots inside to give them a head start. Leave them inside until
mid-May. You will have flowers much earlier.
sweet pea seeds now, using an inoculant for better germination and
- Perennials & Roses & Vines
trees, shrubs and annuals are able to thrive with less irrigation. We
are calling those
plants X-rated. (X is for xeric which means dry). To
be x-rated, established plants need 1 inch of water
or less each week to
thrive. Check our website for a list of X-rated plants. We also have a
list in a brochure which also gives you guidelines for xeriscape
divide crowded perennials late this month if new growth is evident. Proper soil preparation is essential for good growth after replanting.
Lily bulbs can be planted outdoors as soon as the ground can be worked
for blooms in late June through September.
Cut back old stalks from your perennials, so you can enjoy the new
foliage and flowers. Cut back ornamental grasses as low as possible so
the old foliage won't detract from the new growth.
Trees & Shrubs
Early March is the best time to prune deciduous trees and shrubs. You can
see the branching structure. (Some exceptions are birch, maple, walnut, and
elm. These should be pruned mid-summer.) Remove
dead, dying, or unsightly parts of the tree. Remove branches that are
crossed against each other. Use a pole pruner to reach branches up to
about 15' off the ground. Pruning paints and wound dressings
are NOT recommended on the pruning cuts.
fruit trees before they leaf out. There is less danger of spreading disease. Pruning assures
good air circulation for better fruit production. Examine
apple, pear, hawthorn, crabapple trees and cotoneasters for evidence of fire
blight. The leaves remain on the branches and the branches will look
scorched. Prune out infected branches and sterilize your pruners, loppers or
saws between every cut. While these plants are in flower prevent this
disease by spraying Ferti-lome Fire Blight Spray.
new shrubs and trees very little for the first two years. Your plants
need to establish a good root zone, and the more top growth (leaves
and branches) the plant has the more the plant can produce its
food to grow. Look for these three things when pruning – dead
branches, broken branches and branches that cross over and rub on
- If your lilacs, honeysuckle or any
other shrubs are really overgrown, prune out two or three of the oldest,
largest stems using a lopper or a pruning saw. This will rejuvenate these
- Trees, shrubs, vines
and roses have deeper root systems and should be watered for a longer period
of time and less frequently than shallower rooted plants such as perennials
and annuals. Do not water if the ground is frozen.
- Suffocate overwintering
insects, like aphids, spider mites and scale on trees and shrubs by spraying
- Don’t be in a hurry to
remove the mulch around roses and in perennial beds. We could still have
some harsh weather.
Remember to rotate your vegetable crops each year. Plant each variety of
vegetable in a different part of your garden than you did last year
spinach, peas, Swiss chard, radishes, turnips, parsnips, carrots, kale,
lettuce, leeks, rutabaga, onion seed and sets, bare root strawberries,
asparagus, and potatoes directly into the garden if soil temperature is at least 40
- Now is the time to start broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi,
onion, alyssum, lobelia and pansy and geranium seeds inside for planting out
later in the spring. Start tomatoes and peppers inside now to be planted out in late May.
- Vegetable gardens benefit
from watering at ground level, instead of watering overhead. Watering with
soaker hoses helps
to prevent many diseases and insects.
- When starting flower and vegetable seeds indoors, use clean
new containers and a good seed-starting
mix in order to prevent disease problems.
- Give asparagus beds a good layer of compost or cow manure. You will have much
larger and better production.
- Prune out raspberry canes
which produced fruit last year. (They
will have a papery gray bark and traces of where the fruit attached.) Leave the canes which didn’t bear for this
If you saved seeds
from previous years, plant a few seeds in small pots. Label and test to see
if they will sprout.
- Plan to grow one new vegetable you haven't
tried before. It will create renewed interest in your garden,
might find a new favorite.
- Rototill or turn over your gardens when the soil is fairly dry. Add organic
matter like Canadian sphagnum peat moss and/or compost to your gardens before rototilling.
earthworms can be a nuisance for some, they are of great value in keeping
soil aerated. Earthworms take organic matter from the surface and drag it
down into the soil, thus making them great little composters.
- Core aerate your lawn before you fertilize
in the middle of April. This helps to
promote deep root growth by providing oxygen and moisture to the roots. You can leave the plugs on the
lawn as they will compost back into the soil.
- Overseeding a thin lawn can begin as March warms up. Rake areas to be seeded
to expose the soil.
Seed these areas with a good quality grass seed and keep
moist until well germinated
- We do not normally recommend power raking, but hand thatching is very
beneficial for the lawn. It allows good air circulation and can prevent many
diseases of the grass.
- If you had disease problems in your lawn last year, apply Scotts Lawn Fungus
Control when grass greens
up as a preventive measure.
- Once snow has melted
off your lawn, check the turf in shaded areas for snow mold, a fungus that
white to pink in color and grows on the surface of the grass blades. If
you see snow mold, lightly rake the affected areas and dispose of the
debris. Exposure to light and air will normally dissipate the snow mold.
The grass will grow out from the crown of the plant as spring progresses.
If the turf becomes patchy, you can overseed the area. There is no
effective chemical control.
- Indoor Plants
- March is a great time to transplant houseplants into the next-sized larger
pot. Use a good well-drained houseplant potting mix.
- Prune back leggy
houseplants now before the spring flush of growth.
- As days grow longer, houseplants resume active growth and benefit from
applications of fertilizer like
Jack's Classic Houseplant Special.
- You can help birds
with their nests by providing a mesh bag near bird activity areas outside,
filled with pieces of thread, string, yarn or lint from your dryer. Also
leave small piles of twigs to help them in their nesting process.
- Put up birdhouses
this month in preparation for new arrivals this spring. Birds are very
specific about the size of the entry hole. Be sure you have the right-sized
entry hole for the birds you want to attract.
Also remember to clean out and
sterilize last year’s houses.
- Bring smaller twigs of crabapple, cherry, forsythia, quince and pussy
willow into the house. Place them in
a vase of water and you will have spring
flowers in a few days.
- Has your compost pile stopped “cooking”? Reactivate the microbes
this month with a prepared compost maker product and get that
decomposition started again.