Pacific Northwest

April, 2005
Regional Report

Buy Healthy Bedding Plants

When selecting bedding plants from garden retailers, choose those that are short and stocky and have not yet begun to bloom. They will transplant more easily and produce a stronger root system. If the plants come from a greenhouse and have not been hardened-off or acclimatized to the outdoors, do this yourself by exposing the plants to progressively longer periods in outdoor conditions over the course of 4 or 5 days, bringing them indoors at night. Transplant into the garden after this hardening off process.

Stay Ahead of Weeds

Warm temperatures can make weeds pop up in lawns and flower beds at an alarming rate. Young annual weed plants can be easily eliminated from flower and vegetable gardens by hand-pulling. They are easy to remove from moist soils and before the roots have a chance to grow and anchor in. I take a scuffle hoe on my daily walks through the garden and use it get rid of weed seedlings.

Divide Perennials

As the weather permits, lift and divide fall asters, chrysanthemums, and other perennials that bloom in late summer and autumn. Be sure to add a generous amount of compost to the soil in both new and old planting beds before replanting the divisions.

Check for Aphids

When leaves unfurl in early spring, you can bet aphids will be there dining on the tender new growth. Take the time to examine your plants for early infestations, and hose the critters off with a strong stream of water from the hose. Ladybugs will arrive later in the season to help keep aphid populations under control.

Prune Early-Flowering Shrubs

Flowering quince and forsythia can be rejuvenated by removing three to five of the older stems all the way to the ground. This will encourage healthy new growth and allow more sunlight into the center of the shrub. Your shrubs will be more attractive and produce more flowers next season.

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