In the Garden Blog
Cincinnati's Garden Blog
Spring Garden Tips
Here in Cincinnati, it’s time to garden. We are already getting a lot of gardening questions. Here are some answers and some essential spring garden tips to have your spring garden look incredible!
“I see forsythia is blooming. Is it too late to apply the pre-emergent to our lawn and landscape?”
Nope! But definitely a sign it needs to be done soon! Look at Fertilome All Seasons Lawn Food Plus Crabgrass and Weed Preventer for the lawn, and Dimension for the landscape beds. Want to stay more natural? Consider using Milorganite for the fertilizer and Corn Gluten for the pre-emergent (works for both lawn and landscape beds).
“There is a new blueberry I read about this winter that fruits a couple of times during the season. Do you know anything about it and its name?”
Yes, and we are privileged to have some for sale at the Outlet this spring. It’s a part of the Brazelberry series, and called “Perpetua”. Perpetua is a true double-cropping blueberry that sets one crop of fruit in mid-summer, and then flowers and fruits a second time to provide ripe fruit in the fall. The leaves are dark green, somewhat shiny, and curly or twisted in the spring and summer, turning to deep reds and greens in the winter. The new canes are bright yellow and red in winter. Perpetua has smallish berries that are mild and sweet. I haven’t grown it yet, but certainly looking forward to trying it! Find out more!
“I didn’t prune my Knock Out roses yet and they’re leafing out. Is it too late to prune?”
Nope! Go right ahead and cut them back to the desired trimmed height. As we get more into April, feel free to give them a feeding of Espoma’s RoseTone.
“I couldn’t help but notice the wonderful show of flowers this spring by the magnolias. I’m familiar with the larger saucer magnolia, but what were the smaller growing magnolias with the more upright / darker purple flower? They were spectacular!”
Yes, the magnolias gave a great show, including the saucers and the star magnolias. But the ones you’re speaking of are probably ‘Jane’ or ‘Ann’. Smaller, more upright growers, early flowers that are more upright than saucer-like, and yes, lovely deeper purple-based long petals.
“We had rust and maybe other leaf diseases on our apples and crabapples last year. Can I spray them to prevent the leaf diseases from happening again this year?”
You can, and those would be repeated applications of a fungicide such as ‘Fungonil’ or ‘Mancozeb’, right after they finish flowering, and every 2 weeks or so for several more sprayings, again as a preventative. In some seasons, even with the sprays it’s tough to control some of the leaf diseases, but worth the try. Note: if planting new crabapples, look for selections that are more disease resistant.
“This Spring, when should we plant our veggies ?”
Personally, I have always suggested making sure the soil temperatures are 45 degrees or warmer before getting started. And make sure the soil is not too wet when you attend to work or till it. Cool-season veggies include peas, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, turnips, beets, potatoes, onions, radishes, cabbage, several Asian greens, and more. Do remember these can also be grown in containers.
“Is it too late to overseed some bare areas in the lawn?”
No, not at all. The goal is to have the new grass seed in contact with the soil so it’s ready to grow when the temperatures are right. Remember, the seed must be in contact with the soil to germinate, so rake those bare areas before seeding to help expose the seed to the soil. You could also slice the seed if needed. Feed the areas with a starter fertilizer to get those seedlings off to a good start.
“We have thought about trying our hand at growing a couple of apple trees, but our yard is small. Would the semi-dwarf apples work for us?”
Yes, they would, as they could reach 12-15 feet high and wide. For apples that would take up even less space, take a look at the ‘Urban Apples’. These are upright columnar growing, getting 3-4 feet wide and maybe 8-10 feet or so tall. I grew this type of apple several years ago in very large containers and they did great. But perfect for smaller narrow gardens and easier to maintain. And yes, growing apples will require regular maintenance. But the results can be very tasty.
“When it gets close to 50 degrees, I have seen some bees flying around. What do they eat this time of the year?”
Great question! During those early warm days of late winter and spring, honeybees do a ‘poop’ flight to go to the bathroom and clean up a bit. Dandelions can be one of their first early sources of food, so if you have dandelions in your yard or garden, let them flower first for the bees, then do something about the dandelions later. You can also help by putting out your hummingbird feeders (take off the bee guards) and letting them feed on the sugar water until the hummers show up. Make yourself a promise that you’ll do all you can to be ‘bee-friendly’ in your yard and garden this year!
“ What’s the best way to get rid of wild onions or garlic?”
Maintaining a thick healthy lawn is the first defense. Then if they do pop up, physical removal works nicely, but make sure you dig out onion bulbs, roots, and all and pitch. Leave anything behind and they can re-grow. The other option would be an herbicide, and Bonide’s Weed Beater Ultra does a nice job on wild onions even with the cooler temperatures. Bruise the foliage before you spray, and it may take a couple of apps, but that should get them. Oh yeah, one last point. They’re very edible (as long as you didn’t spray them first). Seriously.
“When applying my landscape beds pre-emergent, do I need to put it on top of the mulch, or underneath the mulch?”
That’s a great question! And the answer depends on the situation! -If it’s bare soil and you’re mulching for the first time, apply to the soil first, then mulch. If your budget allows, a second application on top of the mulch will be helpful for weed seeds blowing into the mulch. -If you’re simply top dressing or freshening existing mulch, apply before you add the new mulch. -And if you’re already mulched and ready to go, simply apply to the top of the mulch. And in all cases, make sure that it gets watered in!
“I have chickweed, henbit, and another white flowering weed growing in my landscape beds and thin areas of the lawn. What should I spray them with to get rid of them?”
Use a rake and rake them out before they flower and set seed. Those started growing last fall, so not letting them seed is the first step. Using a pre-emergent herbicide in the landscape beds next fall will help control some of the seeds from growing. And get the lawn thicker. Thicker lawn and those winter annual weeds can’t grow there. By the way, the 3rd weed you mentioned – I’m guessing it’s Hairy Bittercress. Google and see! But forget the sprays, just rake or pull them out. By the way, once again, the chickweed is very, very edible!
Cincinnati Gardening Made Simple! Have a question? Ask the garden experts!