Bartlett on Gardening: March Madness

The calendar says that it is almost spring, but frost won't be out of the forecast until mid-April. Fortunately there is plenty of work for gardeners eager to spend warm days out of doors.

The remnants of last year's growth can be removed from perennials. A weed whip makes quick work of this job. Assess winter kill and plan replacement plants. This is also the time to divide late summer and autumn bloomers. These plants like to become established before hot weather arrives. Allow daffodil foliage to yellow, feeding the bulb for next year's flowers.

It is not too late to start seeds indoors for mid to late April transplanting. Cool-season vegetables can be planted directly into the garden this month. Carrots, lettuces, greens, peas and radishes can handle a little frost but not summer heat.

Houseplants respond to the lengthening days by growing. Fertilize with a product formulated for their needs. Continue to use the product as directed on the label until September, when decreased light levels cause growth to slow for winter.

Rose with rosette disease

Apply a pre-emergent herbicide around shrubs, trees and perennials before renewing their mulches.This dramatically reduces the need to weed. Mulching is a great way to conserve water. As mulch decomposes, it adds organic matter to the soil. There are many benefits from this one gardening practice.

Mid-March is the perfect time to prune the roses and give them their first fertilization of the year. Ruthlessly remove any bushes that show signs of rose rosette.This viral disease has no cure and will spread to all your roses if not dealt with promptly.

The main symptom is red deformed foliage. The virus is spread by microscopic mites. Take care to remove the entire root system of infected plants before replanting. Disinfect the tools used and bag the diseased plant before placing in the trash.

It is time to tune up the lawn mower and begin another season of turf care. If you have cool-season grass, apply one half of the recommended fertilizer now and the other half in one month. Wait until April to fertilize bermuda or Zoysia turf. Go ahead and apply pre-emergent herbicide this month. Turf grasses need an inch of water weekly. Irrigate to supplement rainfall throughout the growing season.

Welcome spring! It is great to be back out in the garden.

Master gardener Ann Bartlett never lets lack of familiarity with a plant stop her from trying it in the ornamental beds around her home.

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