APRIL AND MAY TIDBITS
PLANT- Plant red or orange flowers to help attract the hummingbirds if you want them to come. There are many annuals, perennials and woody plants they like. Just to name a couple, begonia, zinnia, impatiens, lantana, bottlebrush, hibiscus, and honeysuckle.
Plant herbs such as thyme, safe, parsley, chives and basil. Some shrubs are azalea, honeysuckle, lilac, red weigela, beautybush, coralberry, New Jersey tea and Siberian pea shrub. Start planting out warm season annuals such as impatiens, marigolds, petunias, sunflowers, zinnia, lobelia, and allysum. Finish planting summer flowering bulbs like tuberose, gladiolus, dahlias, and callas. Plant chervil, coriander, dill, rosemary, and summer savory outside after the last spring frost.
*If you make a layout of your flowerbeds as your current plants are coming up, you will know where you can plant your spring flowering bulbs in the fall or where you have room for annuals etc. This will make for a continuous blooming show. This will also help you to divide your overcrowded beds (if they are) and give everything room to grow and mature.
Hydrangea is a plant that is not only a great gift by its self, but also transplants well into your yard for added interest. Hydrangeas are a plant that it’s bloom color is dictated by the soil PH level. If you have an alkaline soil you will most likely have Pink flowers or you can work lime into the soil to encourage Pink blooms, and vice versa if you have an acidic soil you will most likely have Blue flowers or work aluminum sulphate into the soil to encourage Blue blooms. If you have a white hydrangea, it won’t be affected by the soil PH. They prefer a well-drained soil with full sun to partial shade.
March was the last threat of frost for us here so your frost tender plants would be fine outside now. These would include any citrus, geraniums, hibiscus, Mandevilla and bougainvillea you have kept inside for the winter.
FERTILIZE – Start feeding your potted plants every two to three weeks with liquid fertilizer at half the strength. You can fertilize most everything right now except the spring flowering shrubs like azaleas, camellias, and rhododendrons until they have finished blooming. You can use an acid based fertilizer. Apply a high nitrogen fertilizer (a good mix would be 16-4-8) to your summer lawn (St Augustine, Zoysia, Bermuda and Centipede) to encourage a healthy looking yard. Roses have a need for feed; they want to be fertilized regularly. Use a high nitrogen fertilizer ever 4 to 6 weeks as the new growth starts after they flower. If you are finding moss in your lawn, try adding Lime as your soil’s PH level is low.
*Quick tip: on your fertilizer bag there will be 3 numbers printed such as 10-10-10 or 15-0-15. These numbers represent the Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium proportion of each in the fertilizer. I read somewhere (loosely translated) this cute way to remember what they are for: N (nitrogen) for the green; P (Phosphorus) is for the bloom; K (potassium) is for the roots or all over body of the plant.
PRUNE – Don’t forget, prime time to prune your azaleas, camellias, and all other blooming shrubs, are when flowering is finished before new buds are set on. Prune spring-flowering shrubs and trees when they are finished blooming too. Once new growth begins on your trees/shrubs, cut back any twigs damaged by the frost, to the green wood. Cut back ornamental grasses right before new growth and your evergreen grasses can be trimmed to remove the brown leaves and leaf tips. Remove any sucker growth from your fruit trees as they appear.
WATER – Everything loves water, especially your potted plants if they are sitting in the sun on the patio/deck/porch. The pot retains the heat of the sun, and the soil will dry out faster than the ground would. Regularly feel the soil for dampness to make sure you don’t over water. Consider purchasing a hose end shut-off valve. This way you can shut it off when you move around the yard and also you won’t have to leave the water running as you walk to the hose bibb to shut it off. With the excess rain we’ve had, it is important to let your existing yard dry out, only water newly planted sod or plants.
PEST CONTROL – You can use a strong stream of water (or a safe soap product) to wash away the aphids from your plants to keep them from taking over your plants. Begin watching roses for black spot fungus disease (black spots on the leaves that get worse. You will need to use a fungicide, as recommended for the your product, about every 7 to 10 days a good spraying should control it.
LAWN – Replace any dead or damaged spots in the lawn with plugs or pieces of your existing grass type. Keep your lawn watered well if the weather is dry, you can safely apply ¾ to 1” of water at each watering as needed. Watch your grass. If the blades fold in the evening you should water the next morning, usually between 4am and 9am are ideal times when the season temps have gotten hot (over 80 degrees). You shouldn’t need to water more than twice a week. If the season temps are milder (less than 80) water about once a week. If you have a new lawn installed, water frequently but lightly for the first two weeks. You can gradually decrease to a normal cycle once it has begun to take root. If you have uneven areas, try using sand to fill in right over the grass, being careful not to completely cover the grass blades (no more than an inch at a time). Resist the urge to cut your grass low, this only exposes more of the soil/roots to the sun and that opens up the possibility of weeds popping up and increases the water evaporation causing more dryness to your grass. Consider moving your St Augustine at about 2” to 3”, or Centipede at about 1 ½”. Recycle your grass clippings by allowing them to stay where they lay. If you remove the clippings and don’t allow them to decompose back into the soil, you are removing some of your fertilizer as it is in/on the blades you cut. Regular grass cutting doesn’t cause a thatch to build up, as you aren’t cutting off 3 and 4 week old long blades.
MISC – Keep your weeds under control. Most weeds are an annual and will go away if not allowed to go to seed. Mulch or pine straw help to discourage weed growth, so consider them for your flowerbeds. Remove any spent blooms if you don’t want to save them for seeds, to aid in your plants health as it consumes the plant’s energy. In some plants it aids to promote more blooms for the season.
With all the pruning, plucking, picking, and weeding you will have an abundance of resources for your compost pile. If you haven’t begun one, now is a great time. Turn it frequently and keep it damp to promote the breakdown.