Take time to enjoy the first day of spring, March 20. It has been a long winter in comparison to 2012. In my yard the earliest daffodils, Lenten Rose (Helleborus), bluebells and crocus are blooming. Soon the forsythia will brighten the yard with its yellow flowers. However, the cold and rainy weather have caused the early spring cleanup to be delayed. Don’t wait too long! Make your list of spring cleanup activities — pruning back vines, shrubs and trees; preventative sprays on fruit trees, brambles and grapes; planting of potatoes (remember today is St. Patrick’s Day) and a few other early garden crop; reseeding of lawns and just raking out the dead plant material around the garden beds. Ohio State University Extension has many factsheets explaining how to care for plants. Access them through our website www.ohioline.osu.edu.
Rose growers, whether you have just a couple or a few dozen, now is the time to trim most of them back. The exceptions are old fashion shrub roses (Rosa rugosa, Thomas Graham series), tree rose and climbing roses as they bloom off the canes that grew last year. Light pruning can occur to bring the roses in bounds, however too much pruning greatly reduces these exception roses’ bloom for the current year.
Hybrid teas, floribundas, grandifloras, polyanthas and minatures can be pruned back to 12-15 inches (minatures even more- 6-9 inches) as this year’s blooms are borne on current year’s growth. Check your roses for any dead wood and prune these canes back first. Look for rose stem borer holes and rose galls and cut these out, too. Clean up any old leaves and haul them away. If your rose garden is getter shadier due to surrounding tree growth consider pruning back the tree lower branches. Roses need ample light; a minimum of eight to ten hours per day. Remember to start your fertilization, insect and disease control schedule.
There is still time to prune your summer flowering shrubs like Rose of Sharon (thin branches, cut back) and butterfly bush (cut back to six inches from ground). Evergreen shrubs like yews, junipers and arborvitae can be pruned back now and again in early June. Spring flowering shrubs like forsythia, pussy willow, quince, and lilacs should be pruned just after they bloom so new growth produced will have sufficient time to grow and set flower buds for next year’s bloom. Clematis vines can be pruned with spring flowering ones (i.e. Jackmanni- common deep blue) pruned lightly now and summer blooming ones can be pruned within six inches as they bloom on this season’s growth. Check out our OSU factsheet on clematis.
Are you interested in renovating, planting, or caring for your lawn this spring? The Meigs County Extension office is a holding a lawn clinic on March 20 beginning at 6:30 p.m. at our office located at the Meigs County Annex, 117 E. Memorial Drive Pomeroy (next to Holzer Clinic Meigs Branch). We will cover the basics in seed selection, soil preparation, planting, fertilizer, weed control and mowing. The cost is five dollars per family to cover the handout.
Hal Kneen is the Athens/Meigs County Agriculture & Natural Resources Educator, Ohio State University Extension.