April 13, 2011
IT’S TIME TO PLANT PANSIES
We are approaching mid April. The days seem to be warming up, but the nights are still cool. The trees and shrubs are springing back to life after a winter we would all like to forget. We need to push on so here is your list of chores for this week.
This past weekend was the first weekend that we had a lot of pansy plants to sell. Many people were buying plants, but some were afraid that it was too early to be putting the plants outside. Pansies are probably one of the most cold tolerant of the spring flowers. I have seen years where they get covered with snow or exposed to freezing nighttime temperatures. Yet, the pansies snap right back. They are great plants for putting some early color in your window boxes and all your other planters. The new varieties will keep on blooming until the heat hits in June. All that they require from you is to have the spent flower blossoms and their stems removed and to have you fertilize them on a regular basis. If you do these two things, along with “as needed” watering, they will bloom like crazy all through early spring.
Many people have been asking about planting grass seed. The soil temperatures are still cold. Grass seed will not sprout until the soil temperatures warm up a lot more than they are now. Yes, you can put down the grass seed now. However, you run the risk of having the seed float away if we get any torrential downpours of rain. The seed probably won’t rot, but the longer it sits on cold ground, the more likely it is for something to go wrong. People want a date when it should be OK to plant the seed. The answer is that it is up to Mother Nature to decide that question. Once you see the grass really growing in your neighborhood, then it is time to plant. I have seen years when mid April is fine for planting grass seed and I have seen a year where mid May was the right time to plant grass seed. It all depends on the weather.
If you have been getting ready to fertilize your trees, shrubs and perennial plants, remember that your spring flowering shrubs should be fertilized after they flower. You can apply a bit of fertilizer to help to get them back to life, but it is better to fertilize them later in the season. This is very important when it comes time to fertilize your rhododendrons, azaleas and your other spring flowering evergreens.
Perennials are showing up in the garden centers. Customers are a bit leery about planting perennials now due to the cold weather. For the most part, perennials will be fine if you plant then now. Like trees and shrubs, they are very cold tolerant and they actually do better when they can get a root system out into the soil before the heat of the summer arrives. To help to get that root system out into the soil, always use a plant starter fertilizer when you plant your perennials.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week