Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Western Mountains and High Plains

March, 2006
Regional Report

Plant Bare-Root Plants

Early spring is the best time to plant bare-root trees, shrubs, hedges, roses, raspberries, strawberries, asparagus, and many other plants. After you make your selections, or once they arrive in the mail, plant in soil prepared with compost or a combination of compost and sphagnum peat moss. Set the plants at the proper depth and water in thoroughly. Spread a light mulch, 1 to 2 inches deep around the plants to retain moisture and prevent the soil from baking and cracking.

Start Seeds

Get ready to start seeds indoors if space is available and you have a good light source. Many kinds of seeds can be started four to six weeks prior to planting outdoors. Clean old seed-starting containers with a warm solution of liquid bleach and water. Use nine parts water and one part chlorinated bleach. This disinfects the containers and reduces seedling diseases. Use a soilless seed-starting mixture in containers. A source of bottom heat will result in better germination. You can set containers on top of the refrigerator or hot water heater. Heating cables offer an economical source of warmth, too. Check daily for germination, and bring to bright light at the first signs of seedling emergence.

Prune Fruit Trees and Vines

The best time to prune apples, pears, cherries, plums, and grapes is mid to late spring. This timing is more in line with the plant's growth cycle, and the trees or vines will be ready to more quickly close or "heal" pruning wounds. You can still see the structure and framework of the tree and accomplish proper thinning. Pruning paints are unnecessary so don't waste your money or time applying them to cut areas.

Use Horticultural Oil to Control Scale Pests

One of the most effective times to apply dormant oil sprays and refined horticultural oils is early spring prior to bud and leaf expansion. Trees and shrubs that are infested with oyster shell, pine needle, San Jose, elm, and tortoise scale can be treated with a horticultural oil, which is very safe and effective against both the egg stage and early crawler stage of these pests. Check for crawler emergence by periodically shaking infested branches over a sheet of white paper and looking for moving specks. Treatments are most effective at the onset of this pest's hatching period.

Control Mites on Lawns

The warm weather last fall, coupled with dry winter weather in many areas of the region, has increased the incidence of clover and brown wheat mites feeding on lawn grasses. Banks grass mites can also cause damage to lawns on south-facing slopes, around the base of evergreens, and in other dry sites. To prevent severe damage from these pests, be vigilant and water dry areas. Contact a professional if the problem is severe.


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