Northern & Central Midwest

April, 2006
Regional Report

Stake Your Perennials Early

Don't wait; stake tall perennials before they reach 6 inches tall or you will have a difficult time. Starting May 1, pinch back late-summer and fall-blooming perennials, such as chrysanthemums and asters, about every two weeks until the middle of July. This keeps them stocky and full.

Keep an Eye on Water Needs of Containers

Even though we are not in the heat of summer yet, keep an eye on flowers in containers and windowboxes. Water daily if needed, and once every two weeks fertilize with a dilute solution of fish emulsion. Make sure to water the soil before fertilizing. Water-conserving granules mixed into the soil can help it hold water.

Provide Water for Migrating Birds

Migrating birds are on their way through the Midwest, so make sure to provide water. A gentle dripper in a shallow birdbath will attract warblers, tanagers, orioles, and buntings to the yard. Make sure to keep the birdbath clean and the feeders well stocked.

Plant Trees and Shrubs

There's still time to plant trees and shrubs, but not move them from one location to another. Try to pick a cloudy day, and avoid the hottest time of the day. Water plants thoroughly once they are planted, and mulch immediately with an organic mulch about 3 or 4 inches deep.

Prune Spent Lilac Blossoms

After lilacs bloom they will benefit from a gentle fertilization and pruning. Prune off the spent flowers and trim back any diseased or crossing branches. Make sure they are well mulched and given an inch of water a week. Next year you should have plenty of beautiful blossoms.

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