Lower South

April, 2008
Regional Report

Prune Spring-Blooming Shrubs

Now that azaleas, spirea, quince, and other spring bloomers have stopped blooming, go ahead and do any light pruning needed to maintain a desirable form to the bush. Then fertilize them lightly and mulch the soil to get them ready for the summer months ahead. This way, their new growth will have time to mature and be ready to set buds for next year. Keep the natural shape of the plant in mind as you prune, and avoid excessive cutting except where necessary to control size.

Don't Let Weeds Get Ahead of You

Start weeding early in the flower and vegetable gardens. Young weeds are easier to pull, and doing so is less disruptive to the roots of garden plants. Weed competition with small plants can delay flowering and reduce production. Now that the weather has warmed, go ahead and add a few inches of mulch to shade out weed seeds.

Thin Fruit On Trees

Fruit-bearing trees usually set more fruit than they need. Excessive loads can result in small inferior-quality fruit and broken branches. Thin peaches to 6 inches apart and plums to 4 inches apart. Thin apples and pears to one per cluster.

Gradually Move Houseplants Outdoors

Start acclimating houseplants that live outdoors during the summer to their new environment. Begin by moving them out to a very shady location for a few hours a day. Remember, the shadiest outdoor location is probably much brighter that the brightest indoor location. Gradually increase their exposure over a few weeks until they are acclimated enough to stay outside.

Get Ready to Fertilize Turf

Once you have mowed your lawn grass twice (mowing weeds doesn't count), it is actively growing and can use a boost from some fertilizer. This is about mid-April in most of the Lower South. If we fertilize too early, the winter weeds will be the main beneficiaries, and nutrients can wash away or otherwise be lost before our sleepy-headed southern turf wakes up enough to need it.

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