Western Mountains and High Plains

March, 2014
Regional Report

Plant Bare-Root Plants

Early spring is the best time to plant bare-root trees, shrubs, hedges, roses, raspberries, strawberries, asparagus, and many other plants. After you make your selections, or once they arrive in the mail, plant in soil prepared with compost or a combination of compost and sphagnum peat moss. Set the plants at the proper depth and water in thoroughly. Spread a light mulch, 1 to 2 inches deep around the plants to retain moisture and prevent the soil from baking and cracking.

Start Seeds

Get ready to start seeds indoors if space is available and you have a good light source. Many kinds of seeds can be started four to six weeks prior to planting outdoors. Clean old seed-starting containers with a 10 percent bleach solution. Use a soilless seed-starting mixture in containers. A source of bottom heat will result in better germination. Heating mats offer an economical source of warmth, but you can also set containers on top of the refrigerator or hot water heater. Check daily for germination, and move to bright light at the first signs of seedling emergence.

Prune Fruit Trees and Vines

The best time to prune apples, pears, cherries, plums, and grapes is mid to late spring. Pruning just before plants begin growing actively means pruning cuts will heal faster. You can also see the structure and framework of the tree more easily before leaves emerge, making it easier to decide what to cut. Don't cover pruning cuts with paint or sealer. It's not necessary and may actually interfere with good healing.

Spray Horticultural Oil to Control Scale Insects

To control scale insects on fruit trees and other woody plants, apply horticultural oil sprays in early spring prior to bud and leaf expansion. Pick a day when temperatures are above freezing, plants are dry, and rain is not in the immediate forecast.

Control Mites on Lawns

Clover, brown-wheat, and Banks grass mites feeding on turf grasses can cause damage in early to mid-spring in warm, dry areas of lawn, especially near house foundations, on south-facing slopes, around the base of evergreens, and in other drought-susceptible sites. To prevent severe damage from these pests, be vigilant and water dry areas in fall and winter as well as spring.

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