Tips for MARCH
» Plant these annuals early in the month for spring color: petunias, larkspurs, foxgloves and stocks. Other annuals such as marigolds, celosia and wax begonias may be planted late in the month.
» Plant tomatoes, peppers and eggplants from 4-inch pots after March 15th. Plants should be hardened off (gradually exposed to outside conditions) before putting in the ground.
» Plant warm-season vegetables – beans, corn, squash, melons and cucumbers starting mid-month.
» Plant herbs in raised beds with soil amended with organic matter. Harden off plants before planting.
» Plant perennial flowers in amended well- drained soil. Know each plant’s prime blooming season, height, width and color to ensure season-long color. Mulch new plantings.
Fertilizing and Planting
» Feed fruit trees, perennials, annuals, ground covers and vines with a lawn fertilizer (3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratio).
» Fertilize tomatoes and most other vegetables every other week for productive and vigorous plants.
» Manually thin the fruit on peaches, pears, plums and apples to 5-6 inches apart early in the month.
» Prune spring-flowering shrubs and vines soon after flowering. Keep the natural shape of the plant in mind as you prune, and avoid excessive cutting except where necessary to control size. Deadhead roses and other reblooming plants.
» Allow foliage of daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs to mature and yellow before removing.
» If frost or freeze is predicted, cover tender vegetables and annuals with frost cloth. It can make a 6 to 8-degree difference.
» Beware of close-out sales on bare-root trees as survival rate is low when planted this late in the season. Spend a little more on container-grown plants.
» Control black spot, powdery mildew and thrips on roses with an appropriate fungicide or systemic insecticide. Use a stream of water or insecticidal soap on aphids.
» Apply pre-emergent herbicide on lawns to control broadleaf and grassy weeds if needed. A “weed and feed” fertilizer is not recommended because it is too early to fertilize lawns.
» Install drip irrigation in your vegetable garden for increased production and water efficiency.
» Consider shade-loving plants where turfgrasses won’t grow. Ornamental trees, shrubs, ferns, ornamental grasses and groundcovers are good solutions. Check the plant tag for light requirements before purchasing.
Tips for APRIL
» Plant warm-season annual flowers. For sun (6+hours per day): angelonias, copper plants, firebush, lantana, moss rose, purslane, pentas, ornamental sweet potatoes and zinnias. For shade (less than 4 hours per day): begonias, coleus, impatiens and perilla. Select short, compact plants.
» Plant okra and southern peas (black- eyed peas, etc). Squash, cucumbers and melons can still be planted.
» Many herbs can also be planted from transplants (dill, parsley, fennel, mint, oregano and thyme).
» Now is the best time to plant Bermudagrass and St. Augustine grass sod. Grade and smooth area prior to installing sod to ensure good soil contact. Keep moist until roots are established.
» Seeded varieties of Bermudagrass may be sown starting mid-month. Keep soil moist until seed germinate and grass has established a good root system.
» Select caladium tubers now, while ample stocks are available, for May planting.
Fertilizing and Planting
» Apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer to established lawns. Use product containing at least half of its nitrogen in slow-release form.
» Mow common Bermudagrass at 1½ inches and St. Augustine grass at 2½ inches. Frequent mowing with sharp blades will keep an established lawn thick and healthy; but avoid removing more than one-third of the leaf surface each time.
» Fertilize roses every 4 to 6 weeks from now to September. Start with a balanced fertilizer, then apply ammonium sulfate or other high-nitrogen fertilizer as new growth appears, following a flowering cycle.
» Check new plant growth for aphids. A few can be tolerated but large numbers should be controlled. Washing them off with a strong spray of water may be all that is necessary for control.
» Eliminate fire ants in your landscape by broadcasting labeled bait while temperatures are between 70 and 90 degrees. If fire ants are still present after using bait, treat the individual mounds with appropriate insecticide. Contact the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – Ellis County at 972-825-5175 for more information.
» Look for rose rosette disease. New growth on diseased roses exhibit elongated/enlarged canes, reddish leaves and stems, and excessive thorns. Remove and destroy infected plants and roots immediately. There is no proven control for this fatal disease.
» Soil purchased for use in beds, low areas and containers should be examined closely. Nutsedge and other weeds are often brought into the yard through contaminated soil sources.
» Watch newspapers and other media for information regarding wildflower trails, garden tours and plant sales.
» Installing a new lawn? If so, consider seeding a native grass mixture. It will require less mowing, fertilizer and most importantly, less water.
» Design your vegetable garden in blocks, not rows, to shade roots and reduce evaporation. Group plants with similar water needs to maximize supplemental irrigation.