Northern & Central Midwest

April, 2011
Regional Report

Soak Bare Root Plants Before Planting

Soak bare-root perennials, shrubs, and strawberries in a bucket of warm water before planting. Choose your planting site carefully, and dig a hole big enough to accommodate all the roots without crowding. Fill the hole after planting with the same soil you removed, and water well to remove any air pockets.

Divide Perennials

If perennial blooms were sparse last year, think about dividing to rejuvenate them. Spring bloomers should wait until fall, but summer and fall bloomers can be divided now. Simply take a spade and split the crown. Then remove only half the plant and fill the hole you left.

Wait on Summer Bulbs

Don't be too quick to bring out summer bulbs that you've started indoors. Frost and cold will damage them quickly. Wait until the weather has settled into warmer nights in May. Keep in a sunny windowsill until then, and don't forget to keep them evenly moist.

Stake Perennials

Even though it may seem early, put your perennial stakes in place. The spring will come on quickly and it's impossible to stake after the plants are six inches tall without damaging them. Collect twiggy branches and insert them in the ground just outside the crown for the most natural looking staking system.

Harden Transplants

Begin hardening off transplants of cold-weather vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Chinese cabbage. After hardening, these plants can go into the garden even though you may still have several frosts. Transplant on a cloudy, calm day if possible.

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