If you’re wondering when to apply fertilizer, it’s still a little early to fertilize trees, shrubs, and grasses. Mid to late March is soon enough to fertilize trees and shrubs. Fescue lawns should be fertilized in April and summer lawns are fertilized at green up (May).
Base any fertilization on a soil test. Take samples from several different spots within a particular area and mix it together. Bring a pint sample of dry soil in plastic sandwich bag to Cooperative Extension office for processing. Samples are mailed to the University of Arkansas Soils Lab in Marianna, Arkansas. Free test results will be mailed to you within three weeks.
It’s time to prune fruit trees! If you have just a few trees you can wait to prune them until just before blooming. You could prune all fruit trees now except for peaches. If we get a serious cold snap, exposed wounds on peach trees can result in some major damage, so it’s best to prune them just before bloom.
Peach leaf curl is a fungus disease with symptoms (puckering and reddening of leaves) appearing in late spring to early summer on peaches and nectarines. To prevent this disease, spray trees with a fungicide before bud swell (could be as early as mid-February some winters). One application of Bordeaux mixture, copper octanoate, copper, ziram, chlorothalonil, or calcium polysulfides applied as soon as possible when temperatures are above 40 degrees F, will prevent this problem this year. Be sure to read and follow label directions.
Most summer and fall blooming perennials can be divided and replanted any time this month. Give extras to your garden friends.
You have time to control weeds in your bermudagrass lawn. An herbicide containing glyphosate (example – Roundup) can be used on dormant bermuda lawns in February when temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit for winter weed control. Make sure your bermuda lawn is completely dormant or you will damage it.
September to October is the optimum time to establish tall fescue lawns. If you missed that window, an early spring seeding (late February through March) can be a reasonable second choice. Tall fescue is the only choice we have for a shady lawn grass.
Locate the garden near a source of water. Carrying buckets of water can be a real turnoff to even the most passionate gardener. Remember, a vegetable garden needs at least six hours of full sun each day.
Make sure that you have cleaned up the spent foliage and debris from last season in your vegetable and flower gardens. Consider using a dormant or horticultural oil on fruit trees, grape vines and scale infested shrubs. Check label for application instructions on dormant and horticultural oil.
Azaleas get hit hard every year with lacebugs. These sucking insects can wreak havoc on an otherwise easy to care for plant. Without care, the leaves can become bronzed by late summer, and a few plants have been killed by these insects. Lacebugs don’t become active until April or May-depending on the spring we have. You can begin to monitor for them, and spray as needed, but a newer product may take away any worries. Imidacloprid applied in February or early March, can give you full season control.
This winter, remove bagworm bags from shrubs which were infested this past summer. Eggs were deposited within the bags by female worms, shortly before they died. Physically removing and destroying the bags will reduce or eliminate problems this summer.
Remove the dead stubble off of ornamental grasses before they resume growth.
Late this month or early March prune summer flowering shrubs and hedges. Spring blooming shrubs such as forsythia and azalea should be pruned immediately after flowering.
Prune your climbing roses that bloom throughout the season, Knock-Out and Hybrid Tea roses late this month or early March. However, wait until after blooming to prune your climbing roses that only bloom once. Also wait to prune any other roses that only bloom in the spring until after they bloom.
Mulch strawberry beds now with straw. Keep the straw off the crowns. The straw will keep fruit from touching the soil and rotting.
Soak roots of bareroot trees overnight and then plant the following day. Do not fertilize the first year after planting.
There are no real advantages to pruning back the canopy of ornamental trees after planting. Detrimental effects have been found from this practice including the inability for new roots to grow until shoot growth has recovered. Unless diseased or broken branches exist, leave the plants alone.
For more information, contact the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension office at 870-425-2335.