New England

March, 2007
Regional Report

Cut Back Ornamental Grasses

Before new growth begins, cut back the dried stalks of your grasses. For large clumps, tie the stalks in a bundle to make the clipping easier. Electric hedge trimmers make quick work of the task.

Fertilize Spring Bulbs

As your tulips, daffodils, and other spring bulbs emerge, fertilize them to help nourish them for next year's flower show. A granular bulb fertilizer or a general fertilizer with a ratio of about 5-10-10 or 10-10-10 will do the job. Don't use bone meal in spring because it doesn't provide enough nitrogen and potassium, plus it invites curious canines who might dig up the bulbs in their enthusiasm. Avoid fertilizing during or after flowering because the bulbs will be going dormant and will be less able to take up nutrients.

Fertilize Roses

After spring pruning, fertilize roses to encourage strong new growth. Specialized rose fertilizers do make a difference. Some people also swear by an addition of Epsom salts to the soil around roses at planting time and every spring. Others recommend a different source of magnesium such as Sul-Po-Mag, which also contains sulfur and potassium and breaks down more slowly.

Remove Strawberry Mulch

Check strawberry plants twice a week for signs of new growth. As soon as you see sprouts, remove the hay or straw mulch and spread it in the rows to help control weeds. A topdressing of an inch or two of compost will give plants a boost.

Control Crabgrass With Corn Gluten

Before annual crabgrass germinates this spring, spread corn gluten pre-emergent herbicide/fertilizer with a lawn spreader. The corn gluten suppresses seed germination and also provides nutrients to the grass. Use the blooming time of forsythia to signal that it's time to spread the crabgrass control.

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