Dirt on Gardening

Gardeners do a lot of gardening in the spring.

Spring is when I field the most gardening questions. Spring is also the time when there is a lot of work to be done in established garden beds, and it’s when many gardeners start new beds.

Gardeners must also accept that there are some things that can be done later in the season if the spring gardening chores are too numerous to complete.

Early spring is the time to fertilize garden beds. A time-release fertilizer can fertilize for about three months, and an additional application in July will keep your beds well-fertilized through autumn.

Plants that still have old growth should be cut back. However, in late spring, use extra caution when cutting back plants so that new growth is not damaged. Dead leaves and branches on evergreen plants should be removed. Liriope, commonly known as monkey grass, should be cut back or mowed each spring.

If you have perennial plants that you want to dig and transplant in a new location or dig and divide, spring is a good time to do so. Perennials that will be moved or divided should have three to four inches of growth prior to moving them. If they are taller, remove some of the growth prior to transplanting. If your transplants are going into an established bed, add a little compost to the new planting.

If you have weeds that are taking over in the perennial bed, a non-selective, non-residual herbicide can be applied directly to the weeds. Use caution when applying herbicide, using it only on calm, non-windy days. Additionally, the herbicide will not be effective until the weather warms and the weeds are actively growing.

Weeding is very important during the early weeks of spring because the perennial plants have not filled in enough yet to smother the weeds as they begin to grow. Later in the season, as the perennials get larger and larger, they will help hold some weeds at bay.

When the weather begins being consistently warm, it’s okay to prune asters and chrysanthemums.

Remember, these flowering perennials will need to be pruned about three times until about mid-July to prevent the asters and mums from blooming prior to the fall months.

Stake any plants that tend to topple over as they mature. Place the proper type of stake over or around the plant, allowing the plant to grow through the stake.

Planting in garden beds can be done through summer, but spring is an ideal time because there’s usually enough moisture. It’s important to ensure that new plantings get about an inch of water weekly for proper establishment.

Questions or comments related to gardening? Contact Joleen at missourigardener@hotmail.com

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