Pacific Northwest

April, 2009
Regional Report

Deadhead Flowering Bulbs

Spring-blooming bulbs should be deadheaded so that the bulb can focus on gathering nutrients from the existing foliage instead of making seed. The foliage will strengthen the bulb so that you will have a gorgeous display for next year's spring garden. Once the foliage begins to turn yellow, withhold water. The fading foliage can be bundled with rubber bands for a tidier look. Remove when the dry foliage pulls easily from the soil.

Prune Spring-Blooming Shrubs

Prune spring-flowering shrubs, including Japanese quince, forsythia, lilac, spiraea, and honeysuckle, after flowering. Cut out dead, insect-infested, and diseased branches. Canes that are crowded or crossing can be thinned out to allow more light penetration and encourage a more vigorous bush. To renovate older shrubs, remove about one third of the oldest branches to the base. After pruning, lightly cultivate an all-purpose, 5-10-5 plant fertilizer around shrubs and water in thoroughly.

Early Intervention Will Keep Weeds to a Minimum

Following all the rain, weed seeds will germinate rapidly. Don't let up on pulling or digging young weed seedlings. With moisture in the soil, it's much easier to yank weeds up, roots and all. Prevent weeds from producing seed heads and you'll greatly reduce a severe weed invasion.

Monitor Container Gardens

Tend container gardens carefully. Small pots may require water daily, large pots only every other day. It's a good idea to check soil moisture regularly. Since constant watering will leach out nutrients, fertilize every few weeks with a soluble plant food. A timesaving method of fertilizing is to incorporate a 10-15-10 slow-release fertilizer into the soil so nutrients will be available as the plants need them. If planting new containers, add some water-absorbing polymers to the potting mixture so you'll need to water less often.

Control Fungus Gnats

If you've had trouble with fungus gnats (small black flies that emerge from potting soil in indoor plants), try topping the potting soil with a decorative layer of gravel. The gravel prevents the gnats from laying their eggs in the moist potting soil, so the population of adult flies will eventually be reduced.

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