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March Gardening tips

Clemson University March Garden and Yard tips:
Chris's corner:
If you haven't done it yet, prune summer flowering plants and trees such as crape myrtles, spireas and butterfly bushes. Do it now before you see any new growth starting!
Do a soil test if you didn't do one in the fall. This is especially important on new ground and beds.
Scale insects are a major pest (especially on the coast,) and the spring is an ideal time to battle them. A dormant oil or neem oil does an excellent job and is a very safe choice. Be sure to cover the entire plant if possible. Apply dormant oils twice in the spring if you have high scale infestations such as tea scale on camellia.
Do not fertilize warm season lawns now! Wait until the end of April or first of May so the fertilizer can be fully utilized. Waiting to fertilize will also protect tender growth against late frosts. When should you apply pre-emergent weed control? This depends. The best rule of thumb is to apply your first round of pre-emergent herbicide when the forsythia blooms. If you are not familiar with forsythia, it is one of the first things that blooms in late February to early March. It has striking yellow flowers all along the woody stems. Pre-emergence herbicides provide 60 to 75 days of residual control and require repeat applications for long season control. Be sure to read labels for precautions to prevent damage to the roots of trees and shrubs.Typically, this application of pre-emergent is going to be used to control grassy weeds such as crabgrass. The second round of pre-emergent can be applied as early as May (for sandbur control) or as late as August or September (for fall broadleaf control).  With so many products on the market, it's hard to go by brand name alone. You do not need to use a "weed and feed," or fertilizer plus weed control, in February or March. Warm season lawns DO NOT need fertilizer until around the first of May, all you are doing is fertilizing weeds and possibly doing major damage to your grass. For pre-emergent grass control and some broadleaves, products containing benefin, benefin plus trifluralin, bensulide, dithiopyr, pendamethalin, oryzalin, or prodiamine are recommended. As with all chemicals, always read the label for special weather or soil conditions. Do not overseed, however, if you apply pre-emergent.
Watch out for areas in the lawn where you see tunnels about the width of your finger that cause the ground to be soft and spongy. You may have an area where mole crickets are abundant. Use a soapy- water flush to bring them to the top for a proper identification, and then treat with an approved insecticide. Follow the label carefully to be sure the product is applied correctly to achieve best control.
Fertilize shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer when new growth starts to appear. Base your fertilizer type on your soil test results.
Summer and fall flowering bulbs can be planted after the threat of freeze has passed. These bulbs can be divided as soon as eyes have sprouted. 
March is a good time to transplant small shrubs. 
If perennials need dividing, do this when new growth first appears.
Don't be too anxious to cut back plants such as oleander that received winter damage, wait until mid April.
Plant bare root rose bushes and replace mulch. Also, prune your roses early in March before buds break. Established hybrid tea roses should be thinned to three to five canes, 15 inches in height. Begin your spray program once growth begins.
Apply mulch as needed to maintain a two to three inch depth. Do not pile around tree trunk. Mulching is just one way to conserve water this summer.
Check shrubs for winter damage and prune dead and weakened wood.
Do heavy pruning on overgrown shrubs just before new growth begins. Prune using both heading-back and thinning cuts and maintain the plant's natural growth habit.
Prepare your vegetable garden when soil is not too wet to work.
Using soil test recommendations, work in fertilizer, lime and lots of organic matter.
Cool-season vegetables such as lettuce, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, English peas, onions, radishes and spinach can be planted in March.
Get a head start on spring by hand-pulling weeds like chickweed and henbit in your beds.
Remove the flowers of spring-blooming tulips and daffodils after they fade to prevent seed formation. Leave the foliage on the plant for at least six weeks after bloom is finished or until they turn brown. This allows the energy from the leaves to build up the bulb for next year's bloom.
Prune most spring-flowering shrubs, trees and vines after they finish blooming.
Hummingbirds are returning from Central America as we move into April. Clean, fill and reset feeders outdoors. If the birds are attracted now, you will see them all summer long if you keep feeders filled. Keeping the feeders clean and fresh is a must! Mold and bacteria growth in the nectar, as well as fermentation caused by yeasts can be harmful to your Hummingbirds!!!
Happy Spring!!!

February Garden tips and chores

February Garden tips and chores:
For those of you who want to do it yourself here are some excellent tips for February. For those of you who need help, Gardens By Design is only a phone call away!
It's time to Prune your Crape Myrtles!
February garden tips from Clemson University!!!

Chris's Corner!

Pansies and Snapdragons;
Deadhead blooms that have lost their luster. This will promote the plant to produce more blooms.
Create full, bushy pansy plants by pinching off spindly plant legs.
Remove any foliage that is damaged or starts to curve.
Feed every two weeks with a liquid 15-30-15 plant food. Wet the soil with plain water prior to applying the fertilizer.
Cover pansies that are in the ground with pine straw prior to a hard freeze.
Cut Flowers for your home! Bring in forsythia and winter honeysuckle before they bloom and they will open with the warmth of your home. Change their water regularly and enjoy their beauty!
Fertilize most trees and shrubs by month’s end, except spring flowering shrubs, those you fertilize right after blooming so you don't force them open. Blooms do not like frost!
Most ornamental trees, shrubs and grasses can be pruned this month except fruit trees, Junipers and conifers. Remember, don’t prune spring blooming shrubs (like Azaleas) until
right after they bloom, otherwise you’ll be cutting off buds that start growing soon after the previous bloom. 
At the end of the month, you can cut some unruly groundcovers back like liriope and mondo grass (not dwarf). A lawn mower can be used at the highest setting.

Don’t cut flowering leafless shrubs until after blooming or else you’ll be cutting off flower buds about to open.
Now is the time to prune existing roses back to within 12-18” height. For the more cold hardy roses like ‘Knockout’ you can leave more of the rose bush intact and just prune off the cold-damage and smaller braches to keep the shape and in control.
If it’s a climber, you can leave main the body of rose on the trellis and just cut the smaller runners and limbs back to main trunk if you like. 
A general rule of thumb, you prune species that bloom after May by end of February and those that bloom before or during May soon after they bloom. 
Good Luck! Feel free to email me with any questions or concerns.


October garden tips and chores

October garden tips and chores from Clemson University

Its time to plant winter color!

In the garden, Pansies and Snapdragons are used to brighten up early spring or fall and winter gardens. They can hide the dying foliage of early spring bulbs and are excellent in containers to add a bit of color to porches or decks in cool weather. Children love the "faces" on pansies, so they are excellent choices for a child's garden. Pansies are edible and can be used to decorate cakes or added to salads. Snapdragons make good cut flowers and Pansies are charming when dried and used in crafts.

October chores

Right now, in your garden, there are thousands of seeds just waiting for you to harvest them. As you stroll through the garden in the next few days, you’ll notice that all of your annuals and perennials are producing brown seed heads (seed pods). Inside those drying seed pods are hundreds of seeds for next year. Why buy seeds already packaged for around a buck a piece when you can harvest your own seeds, from your own garden; and it’s easy.

October is the best month to transplant Perennials. Enrich beds with organic soil amendment.

Lift and store Begonia, Dahlia and Gladiolus.

Mark dormant bulbs so they won't be destroyed when ground is prepared for spring planting.

Be ready when the shipments of bulbs such as Crocus, Daffodils, Irises, Day lilies, Freesias, Hyacinth and Tulips arrive at nurseries; then plant immediately.

Early shopping guarantees best selections.

Water well to encourage root development and cover with plenty of mulch.

Keep Marigolds blooming until the frost arrives. Feed, water and pick faded blooms. Shelter frost-tender plants or cover winter cuttings.

Lift and divide plants that have finished blooming. Divide and re plant... Daisies, Callas, and Day lilies every few years for best bloom. 

Plant for fall and winter color

Plant balled-and-burlapped and container fruit trees

Prune frost-sensitive fruit trees

Plant or repair lawns

Plant ornamental grasses

Sow seeds for frost-tolerant perennials

Plant fall- and winter-blooming perennials

Prune fall-blooming shrubs and vines just after bloom

Plant seedlings of cool-season or winter vegetables

Sow seeds for cool-season or winter vegetables

Remove suckers from Roses. Spray or dust Roses to discourage mildew.

Winterize, protect or lift tender perennials for winter storage.

Clean up the planting areas as you harvest fruit, flowers, vegetables. Rake up fallen leaves and fruit. Compost all disease- free organic refuse. Destroy all disease infected refuse.

Protect container plants for winter. Mulch tender plants that can't be moved.

Continue watering lawns, trees, shrubs, vines and all new plantings until the rains come. Don't forget to water plants in sheltered areas. Well-watered plants survive freezing temperatures better than dry ones.

Prune trees and shrubs so that the air can flow through them freely in winter.

Cover open compost heaps with plastic when there are signs of heavy rains.

Set out a dish of beer for your slugs now. Remove dead slugs daily.

Have fun with pumkins, goards and squash! What a wonderful way to decorate your garden porch or patio! 

Just when you think it’s all over, many varieties of Camellia Sasanqua will begin to bloom giving your landscape an magnificent show of color. And then something “berry” interesting reveals itself in the landscape; bright colorful berries that are finally exposed and getting the attention they deserve. Nature just won’t quit; first beautiful bulbs open the show in spring, then giving way to the performance of colorful summer flowers; followed by beautiful fall foliage that takes center stage; and finally, the last show are berries, beautiful berries,in the rich colors of royal purple, fire engine red, orange-orange, canary yellow, white;... 


There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October." 
~ Nathaniel Hawthorne


June garden tips

What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.  ~Gertrude Jekyll

Temperatures really begin to heat up in June and that typically marks the end of the planting season in this region. But continue to check out clearance sales for garen plants there are often good deals to be had!
Be sure and add organic matter to your soil as you plant, it will improve your ground over time and help get your new plants off to a great start.
Unless your area experiences unseasonably cool, moist conditions, your spring-blooming bulbs' foliage should be yellowing. Add the leaves to your compost pile once they have turned yellow and pull out of the ground with no resistance. Don't remove the leaves before this, however -- otherwise your bulbs may not perform as well next year.
If you haven't already mapped out your garden'sspring bulb display, do so now. That way you can know exactly what bulbs you'll want to purchase this fall and where to plantthem so they'll look good next spring.
Heat-loving summer bulbs are coming into their own. If you haven't planted any yet, get them in the ground now.

Watch for chinch bugs in St. Augustine grass. 
Watch for signs of garden pests -- if you catch them early, you can usually keep them from becoming an epidemic that ruins your yard.
Lacebugs are a big problem on azaleas, though you don't usually notice the damage until August or September. But now's the time to attack them. Look at your azalea's leaves for black spots on the bottoms and the black-and-white insects on the leaf tops. Spray with neem oil, insecticidal soap, or a similar product to keep them in check.
Examine junipers, birches, cherry and arborvitae for bagworms and other leaf-eating caterpillars, then treat with Bacillus thuringiensis as needed. Keep an eye out also for aphids and other small sucking insects, as well as whitefly. Spider mites can be treated with pyrethrums, an extract from mums.
Powdery mildew on Crapemyrtles: If you have been paying close attention to your crapemyrtle foliage lately, you've probably noticed that the disease has already started. According to the 2007 Ag. Chemicals Manual, Banner MAXX or Bayleton are the recommended fungicides. Consider using resistant cultivars. The following are resistant; "Biloxi", "Byers Standard Red", "Byers Wonderful White", "Miami", "Osage", "Seminole", "Tuscarora", "Tuskegee", "Yuma" and "Zuni".

Keep an eye out for containers of standing water in your garden -- they may be breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Change the water in your birdbaths daily and use environmentally friendly mosquito-control products in water gardens
Now is a good time to stroll around the landscape and be observant. Look at the new growth on the trees and shrubs. There should be several inches on the ends of the branches. (The new growth generally follows flowering, on spring flowering plants.) This growth is an "indicator of progress". Also look at the tops of old shade trees in the yard. There should be foliage all the way to the tips. If the ends are bare, there may be some future, serious problems. 
Finish planting summer color beds. Don't take any shortcuts in the soil preparation stage. In order to maximize top growth and flowering performance, there has to be good root establishment and growth. This will only occur in well tilled, organically amended beds.

A watering schedule is a must!
Add a rain gauge to your irrigation system or in your garden to monitor the water amount. Most plants need at least 1 inch a week. Clay pots need watering almost every day.

Avoid watering roses over the top. This can add to problems of black spot. Keep a watch out for this fungus.

Before going on vacation:
Check all plants for disease or insects and treat as needed.~ Clean all weeds so you don’t come home to a jungle. ~ Arrange for someone to water or keep an eye on things if you have an irrigation system.

Begin making cuttings from azaleas, hollies, cotoneasters and other shrubs.
Pinch off dead flowers to promote more flowering.
Make sure your mulch is about 2-3 inches thick. Keep the mulch away from the trunk of the trees, shrubs and other plants.
Cut back and thin out diseased or spindly branches of spring flowering shrubs.
Now is the time for pruning roses after they have bloomed. Cut back at least to the full 5 part leaf.
Begin planting fall-blooming perennials now.
Fertilize Bermuda, St. Augustine and Zoysiagrass at the recommended rate.

Clemson University June Garden and Yard tips:


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