Middle South

March, 2008
Regional Report

Remove Strawberry Mulch

Check strawberry plants for signs of new growth. As soon as you see sprouts, remove any straw mulch you applied as winter protection, moving it into the rows to control weeds. Apply a topdressing of compost around the plants, then reapply a thin layer of straw to keep developing berries off the ground.

Prune Crape Myrtles

Crape myrtles can be grown as single or multistemmed small trees or allowed to become shrubby, depending on how you choose to prune. The multistemmed, small tree form is probably the most popular and versatile form. Prune crape myrtles with a light hand, removing inward-growing branches and sucker growth around the base. This allows the tree to develop its natural graceful form.

Trim Liriope

Remove tattered leaves from liriope plants growing among other perennials. If you have a large planting used as a ground cover, set your mower blade on high and mow right over it all. Attractive new foliage will soon hide the stubs.

Plant Asparagus

Plant asparagus crowns in an 8-inch-deep trench that is wide enough to accommodate the root system of the crowns. For each plant, create a small mound of soil and spread the roots over the mound, taking care that the buds are pointing upward. Cover the crowns with 2 inches of soil. As the plants grow, continue pulling the soil around the plants until the trench is filled. Don't harvest any spears this first year. You can take a few next year, but it's best to wait until asparagus plants are at least three years old before beginning to harvest in earnest.

Leave Spring Bulb Foliage

No gardener likes the look of dying bulb foliage, but it's important to let it die back naturally so the leaves can photosynthesize and replenish the nutrients stored in the bulbs. Remember, the bulbs must have the energy to remain dormant underground for the next ten months so they can resprout next spring. Once the foliage has completely yellowed, it's safe to trim it back. Consider planting daylilies or other early-emerging perennials to hide the declining foliage.

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