Northern & Central Midwest

March, 2004
Regional Report

Time to Prune Fruits

Early March, before buds swell, is an ideal time to prune fruit trees. First, sharpen your tools. Then prune out suckers and water sprouts. Remove any diseased or dead branches. Next remove crossing or rubbing branches, and finally prune to open up the crown to light.

Prune Roses Early

As soon as the forsythia begins to bloom, prune your roses. Remove dead wood and damaged branches on shrub roses. Then prune each branch lightly to shape the plant. Hybrid teas and grandifloras should be cut back to green healthy tissue or to about 12 inches.

Get the Perennial Garden Ready for Spring

In the perennial garden, gently press back into the soil any perennials that heaved over the winter because of freezing and thawing. As the weather warms, pull the mulch away from perennial crowns and store it at the sides of the bed for later in the season. Remove dead foliage carefully to avoid injuring the new growth.

Take Care of Ornamental Grasses Early

Cut back perennial ornamental grasses as soon as the snow is gone. If done early, you can simply gather up the dry foliage and cut it at the base with pruning shears or hedge shears. By waiting until later in the season, you risk clipping off the newly emerging grass shoots.

Get an Early Start With Summer-Blooming Bulbs

Start your summer-blooming bulbs indoors now so they will bloom early in the summer. Plant them in sterile potting soil, water well, and keep them warm until growth appears. Then move them into a bright window or under lights. Move them outdoors after all danger of frost has passed.

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