Northern & Central Midwest

April, 2014
Regional Report

Stake Your Perennials Early

Don't wait; stake tall perennials before they reach 6 inches tall or you will have a difficult time. Starting May 1, pinch back late-summer and fall-blooming perennials, such as chrysanthemums and asters, about every two weeks until the middle of July. This keeps them stocky and full.

Provide Water for Migrating Birds

Migrating birds are on their way through the Midwest, so make sure to provide water. A gentle dripper in a shallow birdbath will attract warblers, tanagers, orioles, and buntings to the yard. Make sure to keep the birdbath clean and the feeders well stocked.

Cut Back Ornamental Grasses As Soon As Possible

Cut back ornamental grasses as early in the month as you can manage. They are attractive left standing over the winter, but the foliage should be cut back to about 4 to 6 inches in spring before the new growth resumes. Leaving the old foliage can delay growth by as much as three weeks.

Prune Spent Lilac Blossoms

After lilacs bloom they will benefit from a light fertilization and pruning. Prune off the spent flowers and trim back any diseased or crossing branches. Make sure they are well mulched and given an inch of water a week. Every few years remove some of the oldest stems as close to the ground as possible and thin out the younger wood in the center of the plant. Next year you should have plenty of beautiful blossoms.

Spray Dormant Oil On Fruit Trees

When those precious warm days appear in April, be ready to spray fruit trees with dormant oil for insect control. Dormant oil goes a long way toward keeping populations of aphids, mites, and other insects in check. There is even some evidence that the oil may help protect against fungal diseases.

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