Fellow gardening enthusiasts, it is time to begin preparing your gardening beds for spring (hoorays heard all around!)! There are several simple steps you can take now to prepare your garden for its spring debut, and we are laying them out for you in today's blog post!
1. Rake out any leaves and debris from your gardening beds. These items can harbor unwanted insects, mold, and potential disease for your plants. By raking out your gardening beds, you are clearing the slate and beginning this upcoming planting season fresh and new. Even if you do not plan to plant new this spring, you should take the little extra time to do this thoroughly. It is a great first step to preparing your plants and gardening beds for spring.
2. Use dormant oil. Dormant oil is a safe, nontoxic, organic horticultural oil that is used to spray trees and shrubs to get rid of any larvae, eggs, or insects that will cause harm to that plant. Dormant oil is safe for pets and children to be near and is not harmful to bees and other pollinators. Mid-late February is an excellent time to spray this on all of your trees (evergreen and deciduous alike- even without leaves on your deciduous plants) as well as your shrubs. It is especially necessary for fruit trees, as it will repel the insects who like to harm those trees. We offer a good variety of horticultural oils here at the nursery and will direct you on how to use them effectively.
3. Prune deciduous trees, shrubs, and ornamental grasses in mid-late February, EXCEPT spring-blooming shrubs and trees. Wait to prune spring-flowering shrubs and trees until right after they have bloomed (such as the 'Kwanzan' Cherry tree above!). Some examples of spring-bloomers include Forsythia, Flowering Quince, Loropetalum, Snowball bush, Azaleas, Rhododendrons, ornamental Cherry trees, and Redbud. You will want to prune these later in spring after they have finished blooming. Do not wait too late into summer to prune them, or in many cases, you will accidentally be cutting off their blooms that are already forming inside their stems for the following spring.
Also, wait to prune your evergreens until March. The reason for this is because we may still get cold weather and, although evergreens do undergo seasonal changes in winter, they are not completely dormant during winter like deciduous plants are. You do not want to prune them and then they begin to flush out new growth, followed quickly by a cold snap (which we all know happens when the weather becomes fickle in late winter to early spring in Middle Tennessee!).
The rule about Roses is to prune them when Forsythia begins to bloom, which, depending on weather, may be late February or early March. We have another blog post dedicated to Rose pruning right here- check it out for more information!
4. Start fertilizing trees and shrubs in mid-late February, weather-dependent. If our temperatures are staying mild in the next couple of weeks, you may begin fertilizing. If we are having intense cold temperatures or ice, hold off until it becomes mild again. When it comes to fertilizer, there are many great ones on the market to choose from. There are also difference purposes for the type of fertilizer you choose. A great, basic, all around fertilizer, such as an 8-8-8 is an excellent choice for late winter/ early spring fertilizing.
The numbers on fertilizer bags represent the ratio of what each element provides to the plant and soil. It is a trio of numbers, with the first representing nitrogen, the second representing phosphorus, and the third representing potassium. An easy way to remember the benefits that each provides is to remember: up, down, and all around. Nitrogen (1st number) helps the plant above ground with growth. Phosphorus (2nd number) encourages strong and deep roots. Potassium (3rd number) assists the plant in all areas of health. If you are in doubt over what to choose in a fertilizer, we recommend a high quality fertilizer with equal numbers. This will aid your plants in every way as they wake up from winter's dormancy.
5. Think about what you'd like to plant this spring! If you are planning to plant new trees or plants, begin dreaming about it! Our Pinterest boards have many ideas to get you started, and a stroll around the nursery at this time of the year is always a great idea. When you come to the nursery during winter, you are able to see plants as they will look at their least "showy" time of the year. There are, actually, many plants that provide winter interest! Adding some of these intermingled in your garden among beautiful spring and summer bloomers will help you have all-year interest in your gardening beds, which you will enjoy (especially during the cold and barren winter!).
Examples of plants that add winter interest can be seen in our YouTube video here.
Taking these steps before spring will help your plants begin to wake up and help give them a good start to a beautiful, fruitful spring, summer, and fall. We are always happy to answer your gardening questions! Subscribe to us on YouTube and follow us on Facebook and Instagram for gardening tips and plant information!