Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Upper South

March, 2006
Regional Report

Soak Seeds With Hard Seed Coats

For seeds with a very hard coat, such as sweet peas and morning glories, soaking them overnight in lukewarm water, perhaps with a tiny bit of water-soluble fertilizer added, helps them to germinate faster. But don't leave them in water any longer or they may rot.

Go on a Nature Hike

Check newspaper listings for local native plant, botanical, or birding societies or other plant-related organizations that are offering nature hikes to view spring wildflowers. Often called ephemerals because the plants die back by midsummer, spring wildflowers are one of the most glorious aspects of our native woodlands. Enjoy them but never pick the flowers or dig up the plants. If you desire to grow them in your yard, find a nursery that propagates them and don't purchase wild-harvested plants.

Tend to Roses

If a heavy, deep mulch was applied around roses last fall, remove it now. Prune any dead canes and trim the remaining healthy ones to 18 to 24 inches, pruning so that the buds point to the outside of the plant. If your rose fertilizer does not contain magnesium, then apply 1 tablespoon of epsom salts around each plant now, then repeat once a month for four months. This helps roses produce more shoots from the base of the plant, plus it increases plant vigor.

Prune and Shape

Shape and trim spring-flowering shrubs as soon as they finish blooming. Remove winter kill on all shrubs and trees. Clematis have somewhat specific pruning requirements, depending on variety, so check which variety you have. Trim semi-hardy shrubs, such as butterfly bush and caryopteris, back to live wood.

Give Houseplants TLC

Even indoors, plants are responding to the longer days, so houseplants will benefit from fertilizer. Use either a water-soluble fertilizer or one that is scratched into the potting soil. This is also a good time to repot houseplants. Often at this time of year houseplants show evidence of pests. On warm days, take them outside and spray with water or treat with a nontoxic insecticide.


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