Slowly but surely, temperatures outside are warming and spring is on the horizon. The change might have you thinking about your garden, especially those popular spring bulbs.
You may already be seeing some flowers from early spring bloomers, like snowdrops, winter aconite or Siberian squill. The best part of this time of year is that, for now, all you need to do is enjoy the flowers. Later, you’ll want to clean the plants up a little bit, but be sure the plant has gone fully dormant first. Don’t remove any green foliage, and let it die back naturally.
If you didn’t quite get your bulbs planted in time for spring this year, you still have time to plant bulbs for summer blooming plants, like lilies and gladiolus. Once the ground thaws, you can plant the bulbs.
You can also start thinking about planting spring bulbs for next season. Be sure to plant them somewhere where the soil drains well because if they get too wet, the bulbs can rot. Bury bulbs two to three times as deep as the bulb’s height.
Elsewhere around the garden, it’s a great time to do a few chores, like pruning, before spring officially begins. In deciduous trees, now is a great time to get a good view of a tree’s structure. Focus first on removing dead wood back to the trunk or nearest healthy branch union. This is also a good time to address any structural issues, such as branches that are crossing or rubbing and undesirable limbs. Remember to prune conservatively, and ensure that you make good branch collar cuts — the removal of limbs is a source of trauma for a tree. If you are unsure, consult a local ISA certified arborist.
It’s also a good time to inspect all plants to look for signs of disease or fungal decay. Again, if you suspect a problem, or aren’t sure what to look for, consult a local certified arborist.
And don’t forget to water plants, as the St. Louis area is prone to extended drought periods and dry winters. Use warm spells to give your trees and shrubs a good healthy drink. For deciduous trees, keep the soil moist, not saturated, to ensure better health for roots. This is especially imperative in evergreen species such as pine, arborvitae, and boxwood, which are extremely subject to drying out.
You can visit our website for more gardening help, or call our Horticulture Answer Service at (314) 577-5143. Master Gardners are available by phone from 9 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday.
Public Information Specialist
Cover photo: Marissa Billmeyer