“Spring is the awakening of the earth. March winds are the yawn of the morning. Lewis Grizzard. “A perfect spring day! Enjoy it while it lasts because you don’t know what’s coming. Marty Rubin. “It’s the scent of March: rain, loam, feathers, mint.” Lisa Kleypas. “The first spring flowers always make my heart sing.” S. Brown. “Mars is an example of the beauty of new beginnings.” Anamika Mishra. “Spring shows what God can do with a dull and dirty world.” Virgil A. Kraft.
Spring is fast approaching, but beware of the cooler temperatures coming this weekend and the cooler temperatures that will come with Easter in mid-April. It’s time to get outside to play in the dirt, plant or do whatever else you feel like doing this time of year. Here are some things to consider as you return to the landscape this month.
Bedding plants: Choose your annuals and perennials wisely. Read the label carefully for planting instructions, cultivation and exposure. Also, the color and size will affect your choices. Make sure that all 30 and 40 degrees are passed before transplanting. After transplanting, trim existing flowers from plants to ensure better nutrient uptake for vegetative growth and healthier plants. The next batch of flowers will be more attractive with beautiful curb appeal. Easter is April 17, so we will have cooler temperatures en route.
Citrus: Wait until the last frost has passed before planting citrus. If you’ve done your shopping, acclimate these plants in your carport or garage to protect them from the cold until their planting time arrives. Also, after all 30 years have passed, remove any dead limbs that were killed during the cold winter.
Groundcover: These are perfect plants to introduce in areas especially where grass is difficult to establish and maintain. Be aware of the needs and growth rate of your choices. Some groundcovers should only be used on large areas due to their rapid growth. Again, read the label for specific information, especially sun/shade requirements. Also, remember that some ground covers can shelter snakes, rodents and other vermin. Do not use invasive ground covers.
Herbs: Select the ones you want to grow from herbs such as basil, dill, catnip, chamomile, chives, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, sweet fennel, sweet marjoram, thyme, among others. Use of these plants in the landscape should be based on available space, companion planting or social distancing, site conditions and personal preference.
Knockout Roses: If you haven’t done so already, it’s prudent to cut your knockout roses down to around 12 inches in height with limited canes for new growth. After pruning, apply a knockout rose fertilizer at the rate listed on the label. These fertilizers will contain approximately 3% nitrogen, 4% phosphate, 3% potash, 9% calcium, 0.5% magnesium, 1% sulfur and possibly colony forming units of bacteria, endomycorrhizae, ectomycorrhizae and archaea.
Labels: As you frequent local garden centers, always read the labels on plants, fertilizers and pesticides before buying. This strategy will help you become better informed about various gardening items and help you make smarter purchases.
Sago palms: Be aware that this plant is deadly for dogs. Its nut-like dried seed contains toxins that cause liver and kidney failure in your pet. There is no antidote for these toxins, so drugs to remove them from the liver are the only alternative with only a 50% survival rate at best.
Spring Cleaning: It’s time to throw out the old and bring in the new. It’s time to refresh your landscapes and give them a new sense of existence and curb appeal. It’s time to remove dead branches and prune some plants. It’s time to replenish the mulches and pressure wash your homes. It’s time to clean out your nesting boxes and feeders. It’s time to plant.
Wildflowers: Wildflowers for sun or shade include flame azalea, wild columbine, dogtooth violet, liverwort, greater lobelia, and wild blue phlox. Wildflowers for sunshine include Aaron’s stem, bird’s foot violet, blueberries, butterfly weed, evening primrose, fire rose, southern harebell, pitcher plant, queen anne, shooting star, knotweed, turkscap lily, stiff verbena, yellow-eyed grass, among others.
Wildflowers for shade include trailing strawberry tree, white baneberry, beardtongue, bugbane, cardinal flower, fairy bells, fairy wand, moss flower, galax, false goat’s beard , dwarf crested iris, lady’s slipper, Oconee’s bells, yellow fringed orchid, snowy orchid, fringed phacelia, spiderwort, Solomon’s seal, toadshade, Greek valerian, green blackbird , wild ginger, wintergreen, among others.
Several wildflower seed mixes are available for the Southeast (with up to 26 species included), as well as a native wildflower seed mix (17 species including scarlet sage, blazing star, wart among others), a dry-zone wildflower mix with 25 different species, an annual wildflower seed mix, a deer-resistant wildflower seed mix, a butterfly-hummingbird wildflower seed mix and many others. A common mix for Georgia includes white yarrow, blueberry, pigeon pea, lanceolate coreopsis, plains coreopsis, larkspur, California poppy, annual gaillardia, blue eye, poppy, black-eyed susan, blue salvia and crimson clover.
Always think about native and long-lived plants in the landscape and give them a higher breeding priority than exotic and naturalized plants. And remember, one gardener‘s weed is another gardener’s flower; just be aware of the level of negativity and invasiveness of certain plants and avoid using them in the landscape. Landscaping is a matter of personal choice. However, these choices should be based on plant knowledge and awareness, as well as an understanding of sustainability, invasiveness and design. Learn what to use and what not to use. Talk to your specialists, garden club friends and master gardeners about the possibilities.
“My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts are higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9. “Did I not command you? Be strong and brave. Don’t be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9. “O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and I will praise your name, because in perfect fidelity you have done marvelous things, things planned for a long time. Isaiah 25:1.
Eddie Seagle is Sustainability Auditor, Golf Environment Organization (Scotland), Agronomist and Horticulturist, CSI: Seagle (Consulting Services International) LLC, Professor Emeritus and Honorary Alumnus (Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College), Professor Emeritus for Teaching and apprenticeship (University System of Georgia) and short-term missionary (Heritage Church, Moultrie). Address your inquiries to [email protected]