Salisbury Press

Tuesday, February 25, 2020
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY DIANE DORNOrnamental grasses can become very unsightly. They can be cut back at any time. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY DIANE DORNOrnamental grasses can become very unsightly. They can be cut back at any time.

Growing Green: Sharpen your pruning shears

Friday, March 1, 2019 by LEHIGH COUNTY EXTENSION Special to The Press in Focus

For the avid gardener, there are always things to keep you busy. Even during the coldest part of winter, there are still things that can be done to keep your gardening habit going.

Here are some activities to keep you occupied as we anticipate the arrival of Daylight Saving Time, March 10, and vernal equinox and the first day of spring, March 20:

Start slow-growing flowers, such as garden verbena and ageratum.

Rinse houseplants under your shower or place in a tub and use a sprinkling can.

Bring geraniums out of storage, cut them back by half, water well, and set them at a bright, cool window.

Force branches of flowering shrubs near months’ end. Take cuttings of forsythia, spirea, pussy willow and Japanese quince.

Take cuttings of houseplants for summer containers. Consider ferns, begonias, philodendron, spider plant, or Sansevieria (snake plant), which can be incorporated into a shade container.

Sharpen pruning shears.

Prune fruit trees, brambles, grape vines, and late summer-blooming shrubs.

Prune broken tree and shrub branches so they don’t rip off in windy conditions.

Destroy spotted lanternfly egg masses. If you see egg masses, scrape them off, double bag them and throw them away. You can also place the eggs in alcohol or hand-sanitizer to kill them. In order to kill the eggs, it is critical that you “pop” the eggs if you are not double-bagging them or putting them in alcohol or hand-sanitizer.

In mild weather, press back into place plants that heaved out with the frost.

Cover exposed crowns and roots of irises, peonies, pansies, and perennials with a non-packing type mulch material. Reapply mulches that have blown away in winter winds.

Continue to pull winter weeds.

Stay off frozen or muddy turf. Foot traffic can injure grass and damage soil structure.

When shoveling snow, pile it on perennial beds as long as it wasn’t salted. It will help protect your plants.

Purchase a soil test kit and take a sample as soon as the ground is not frozen.

Check summer bulbs in storage regularly for rot or decay; discard those affected.

When snows are heavy, knock off accumulated snow from evergreens and other woody plants. Brush upward to reduce damage. Prop up ice-covered branches until they thaw. Allow the ice on branches to melt on its own.

Arborvitae and other columnar evergreens can be protected from splitting in heavy snows by wrapping the plant with rope to pull branches together.

Build new compost bins or repair old ones. Turn and consolidate compost piles to prepare for the new season.

Place bird feeders no more than 20 feet away from cover, such as trees, shrubs or brush so birds will feel protected. Provide a water source, such as a heated waterer, fountain or birdbath, if there is no natural water source nearby.

In late February or early March, if soil conditions allow, take a chance sowing peas, spinach and radish. If the weather obliges, you’ll be rewarded with extra early harvests.

Finally, dream of warm temperatures, blue skies and your gardens in full bloom.

Information: Lehigh County Extension Office, 610-391-9840; Northampton County Extension Office, 610-813-6613.