Spring is almost here and many gardeners have been prepping their gardens for spring planting. Did you know there are several steps you can take now to help keep harmful insects and disease away from your flowers and trees later this spring and summer? In this blog post, we will talk through many of those simple tips.
Rake out your gardening beds, removing all debris and leaves under your trees and plants.
Leaves can harbor pests and fungus. Taking a little time to simply rake out your gardening beds will not only make them healthier, but cleaner-looking, also.
Clean all of your gardening tools.
If you didn't clean your gardening tools at the end of fall, now is the time to do so. Disease can be easily spread in a variety of ways, including unclean tools. This includes cleaning and inspecting all gardening tools for any signs of damage, rust, and age. The transition from winter to spring signals an excellent time to thoroughly clean your gardening tools. Simply cleaning your tools in a mixture of diluted bleach with water will ensure that your tools are disinfected and ready for a new season of gardening.
Spray all your plants and trees with dormant oil.
Also known as horticultural oil, this is an all-natural product that eradicates harmful insects and their eggs. It is safe to be sprayed near children and pets, and also does not harm pollinators. It can be sprayed on any deciduous and evergreen plants. Dormant oil needs to be sprayed at this time of the year on a day where there is no rain in the forecast for at least 48 hours. It does not need to be sprayed in temperatures below 40 degrees or above 70 degrees. Do not spray above 70 degrees or it will burn the plant and cause it harm. Dormant oil is an application that should only be applied once in late winter, before deciduous plants begin to leaf out a lot.
(shown above: 'Autumn Belle' Encore Azalea)
Later in spring, you will need to check for bagworms on evergreens.
Bagworms like to show up in late May and if left untreated, wreck havoc on many different types of evergreens throughout the summer. Late May and early June are the best times to spray ingestible insecticides to get rid of bagworms. The easiest way to rid your plant of these pests is through an insecticide that contains spinosad, permethrin, sevin or malathion. Spraying this in late May ensures that you will spray while the worms are feeding, eradicating them early on and ensuring your plant suffers the least amount of damage. We offer malathion at the Garden Center. You can also spray dormant oil on any evergreens in late winter to also deter bagworms.
If planting new plants this year, research disease-resistant varieties.
Some varieties of plants are more prone to disease than others. Of course, this doesn't mean you can't also enjoy plants that are a bit more susceptible to disease! Having many plants that are, for the most part, disease-resistant (and then just a few that you also love but are more prone to certain disease) can help keep your garden easy to care for and more enjoyable, especially if you are short on time.
There are certain plants that were originally thought to be very disease-resistant, such as Knockout Roses, which are getting Rose Rosette- a disease that can affect any rose but is currently hitting Knockouts hard. It is causing Knockouts to lose their abundance of flowers and get a spindly, thorny look to them. Although there is currently not a cure for Rose Rosette, there are a few things you can do to help prevent it on your roses:
1. Prune your roses in late winter to early spring with clean gardening tools.
2. Give your roses plenty of space to grow.
3. Rake out under your roses in late winter. Remove all cuttings and dispose of them.
4. Do not use leaf blowers around your roses. This disease is spread through the air.
We are happy to talk with you more about disease prevention at the Garden Center! We look forward to seeing you this spring.