Remember, when you shop for your plants this season, we are fortunate to have many small local nurseries from which to choose. Many times the selection, quality, and service may be better than the larger chain stores.
Extras - Insecticidal Soap Concentrate, Yellow Sticky Traps, Bamboo and Metal Stakes in various sizes.
Clematis 'Niobi' Loves Growing in a Large Container. Provide Support in the Center of Container.
Tasks To Do
Irrigation - Flush drip irrigation systems (open the ends of the lines and let water flow through for a few seconds) and check that all emitters are working properly. If you have too many emitters to check them all, keep a close eye on your plants throughout the season. By noticing changes in your plants early on you can adjust the irrigation before it's too late. Visit The Gardening Tutor Vimeo or YouTube channels for more irrigation tips.
Pest Management - Did you set out your yellow jacket trap yet? Since it was so warm in Sonoma County in February it may be too late to catch the queens but if you plan to entertain outside in the summer, now is the time to set out your trap. Protect plants (especially vulnerable new plantings) from snails, slugs, earwigs, cutworms and sowbugs. Watch for ants climbing up the trunks of plants (especially shrubs and trees). Ants are usually a sign that you have some aphids, scale, or other insects that the ants use for a honeydew food source. Controlling the ants helps beneficial insects manage the pest insects. Controlling ants with bait is preferred over using spray. Consider what pets are in your yard when deciding how to control ants. Sometimes a strong spray from the hose can knock pests like aphids off of plants, stepping up to insecticidal soap would be next. The soap must land on the pests to kill them.
Pruning - Many Salvias can be pruned this month to encourage full plants with lots of flowers. Avoid shearing Salvia greggiis as this quickly creates woody stems inside the plant instead of lush, green leaves throughout. Watch The Gardening Tutor Video: Shearing Plants to Encourage Flowers or Foliage. Tip prune Fuchsias as the stems grow in as this makes more stems (which means more flowers!). Remove spent flowers from Lilacs being careful to leave the new buds just under the old flowers (the remaining buds will be the new flowers next year).
Planting – We are entering our warm season here in Sonoma County. Pansies, Iceland Poppies, Sweet Peas, and Calendula (among others) are ‘cool season’ annuals. If you need quick color for a party go ahead and plant some pansies; however, for color in your garden throughout the summer plant ‘warm season’ annuals starting this month. Once frost season has passed (frost season usually ends from mid to late April in Sonoma County) it's time to start planting your ‘warm season’ annuals such as, Celosia (Cockscomb), Cosmos, Lobelia, and Salpiglossis sinuate (painted tongue) and Sunflowers. If your garden tends to get frost, plant warm season annuals and other tender plants closer to the end of April.
Tomatoes – Buy Tomatoes plants in April while the selection is good and plant out in the garden once the possibility of frost is passed. Grow sturdy tomatoes by planting them deep (this means to plant the root ball lower than it is in the nursery pot. Remove the lower leaves before covering that part of the stem with soil). In this way, the plant will put out more roots for better water and nutrient uptake and the plant will stand stronger.
Dahlias - Dahlias like a rich, well draining soil. Adding aged compost into the soil (amending) at planting time will help improve drainage. In addition, use compost as a thick mulch on top of the soil. Also, if the mature size of the Dahlia will be tall, place a stake just to the side of the tuber/s when you plant. Or at least mark that spot so you can install a stake later without injuring the tuber. There is more to know about growing Dahlias. Contact Mary for a Consultation/Tutoring today.