51 March 11, 2009

I don’t think I am alone in wishing that there was no snow on Monday. It always amazes me that we can have 60 degree temperatures one day and snow the next day.


March is a month that holds the promise of spring. We did have a nice weekend after all. Yet our plants have not really come to life at this point in the season. While my wandering mind thinks of it, I would be willing to bet that there are people who noticed that their daffodil bulbs are putting up green growth in the flower garden. Many people think that the snow will hurt that new growth. Don’t worry about the snow on the shoots of the spring flowering bulbs. The snow won’t bother the plants.


After the snow melts, March becomes the time to think about preventing fungus diseases and insect damage on your plants.

During the fall, fungus diseases go dormant and form spores. Spores are like”eggs” that are waiting to “hatch “as soon as the right conditions happen in the spring. Some insects lay eggs that over winter. In some cases, the insects find a good place to hide in the nooks and crannies of the trees and shrubs. At this time of the year, you can control many of these overwintering diseases and pests by using a dormant spray.


Dormant sprays are used…. When the plants are dormant! All kidding aside, dormant sprays are applied in late winter or early spring. It is important to apply the sprays before any growth emerges on the plants. You also need to have temperatures above 40 degrees for the dormant sprays to work. If you want to cut down on the number of insects and or diseases in your garden, this is what you will need to do.

To control insects on woody plants, you will apply horticultural oil. This product may also be called dormant oil. It is mixed with water and sprayed onto your plants. Fruit trees and rose bushes are just a couple of the plants that will benefit from an application of this oil. The oil is sprayed onto the plants when the temperatures are above 40 degrees and hopefully when there will not be precipitation for 24 hours. This allows the oil to soak into all the hiding places and coat the insect and their eggs with oil. The coating of oil kills the insects and any eggs. The oil flows best when the temperatures are above 40 degrees. At lower temperatures, the oil may not get into all of the hiding places and may not kill off the pests that have the real good hiding places.


Fungus disease spores settle into all those hiding places too. To control the spores of the fungus diseases, you use a product called lime  sulfur spray. Just like the oil spray, it needs to be applied before new growth appears and at temperatures above 40 degrees.  The lime sulfur spray should be applied to fruit trees, ornamental flowering trees, rose bushes and any deciduous plant that had a problem with fungus disease last summer. It should not be used on evergreens.

By using these 2 sprays, you can cut down on many of the insects and diseases that will attack your plants in the new growing season. Will it stop all the problems that you will have in the garden? Probably not. But it will give you a head start on having fewer problems in your yard.


Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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