Spring Gardening Tips
Get started by cleaning up the garden; rake leaves and cut back any perennials still standing. Do most of your pruning now; however, do not prune anything in bloom or with flower buds. Spray fruit trees and roses with dormant oil and lime sulphur to reduce the risk of diseases forming later.
March & April
Be aware of the weather, and if the forecast calls for cold temperatures or frost, protect your hanging baskets and planters by covering them or bringing them inside. Any plants you buy from a greenhouse need to be hardened off – place them outside during the day and bring them in at night or place them outside in a sheltered spot for a few days before planting.
Pruning in Spring
Most pruning should be done in February, except with early flowering shrubs which can be trimmed back after they finish blooming. Cut off broken or damaged limbs and branches from your trees and shrubs. Cut seed heads off your bulbs but leave the foliage alone until it turns brown. Lightly prune groups B & C (large flowering types) Clematis if they start to get too big. Cut down deciduous grasses like Miscanthus & Ribbon grass. However, take care with cutting back evergreen grasses as they can take years to grow back – try combing out the dead leaves instead by hand or with a rake. It is also time for pruning Hydrangeas: lightly prune above a healthy set of buds after the threat of frost is over.
Primulas & Winter Pansies
Now is the time to replant your winter flowering Primulas and Pansies in a moist, part sun environment such as a woodland border. Primulas are well partnered with Hostas or Astilbe, for as the Primula goes dormant these perennials come up and cover them and next spring as they die down your Primulas are set to re-bloom.
Trim back your Pansies and Violas, pinch off the seed heads, and move them to a moist, part shade area for fall blooming.
What can you plant?
Once the frost has passed it is safe to plant perennials, shrubs, summer flowering bulbs, sweet peas and hardened off annuals. Summer flowering bulbs should be planted in succession (every 1 or 2 weeks) to extend the blooming time. Bulbs should be planted in groups of 5 or more to give a better visual effect. Small summer bulbs are good for planting in difficult areas such as under evergreen trees or around tree roots.
Lift and divide your perennials and thick clumps of bulbs. Also place peony rings, tomato cages and stakes in now so the plants grow up around their supports, allowing for a more natural look.