Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Northern & Central Midwest

March, 2007
Regional Report

Cut Down Ornamental Grasses

Don't wait to cut down your ornamental grasses. Although the standing foliage helps insulate the crown through the winter, it can delay growth by as much as three weeks in spring. So cut back the foliage to about 4 to 6 inches before growth resumes.

Cut Back Butterfly Bushes

Although in more southern states butterfly bushes can become large shrubs, in the northern Midwest the stems often die back partially or completely. Regardless of how much of the stem survives, butterfly bushes look best when cut back to 10 to 12 inches in the spring.

Prune Out Witches Brooms on Honeysuckles

Prune out and burn or bury the brown, shriveled "witches-brooms" on honeysuckle. The aphid that causes these spends the winter in these growths and begins feeding on new growth at bud break in spring. These aphids are hard to control since untreated honeysuckles are everywhere, so consider replacing honeysuckles with plants with fewer pest problems.

Turn That Compost Pile!

With the weather warming, take advantage of a nice day and go outside to turn the compost pile. This will get it "cooking" again, and you should soon have black gold for the garden. Also, this may help you resist the urge to start working the soil too soon.

Check for Snow Mold

Check lawn areas where the snow cover lingered longest for snow mold fungus. Also, you may find meadow mouse tunnels in the browned grass. Instead of panicking, simply rough up the affected area with a rake to encourage the adjacent healthy grass plants to fill in.


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