Welcome to the third instalment of twelve monthly blogs that will cover some of the many key tasks that will need to be undertaken throughout the year.
- Mow the lawn on dry days (if needed)
- Protect shoots from slugs
- Prune roses
- Divide overgrown perennial clumps
- Plant summer flowering bulbs
Spring is coming! Spring usually arrives by mid-March and the often sunny days provide the opportunity to complete a wide range of tasks. Some examples would include -preparing seedbeds, sowing seeds, cutting back those winter shrubs and generally tidying up around the garden.
The best time to start mowing usually is between March and October. Mowing is the most frequent, and most important task when it comes to maintaining healthy lawns. Ensuring the cutting height and mowing frequency is right will also make a massive difference to the appearance of your garden.
95% of the slugs in your garden can be found underground. Slugs can cause a lot of damage throughout the year on a wide range of plants, but it’s the seedlings and new shoots of spring that are most at risk.
Control- Slugs are so overabundant in gardens that some damage will have to be tolerated. It’s impossible to completely eradicate these pests but controlling them is essential. Fortunately, some measures can be taken to help protect your most vulnerable plants and minimise the damage caused by these pests.
Non-chemical control Biological control options such as ‘Nemaslug’ are specific to slugs and snails and have no adverse effects on other animals. This product contains microscopic worms that work by entering a slug’s body and infecting it with a bacteria that causes disease and then death. All you need to apply this option is a watering can with a Course rose attachment.
Other preventive measures include:
- Encourage predators into your garden, these include -birds, frogs, toads, hedgehogs, slow-worms and ground beetles.
- Place ‘Slug Traps’.
- Place copper tape around pots.
- Regularly rake the soil and remove fallen leaves in winter to enable birds to eat the exposed slug eggs.
The following steps will help to improve the health and lifespan of your rose & are suitable for all roses.
How to prune:
- Cut no more than 5mm (¼ in) above a bud, slope cuts away from it, this prevents water from collecting on the bud. Do this with all cuts, whether you are deadheading, removing deadwood or doing your annual prune.
- Keep cuts clean and your secateurs sharp. Use loppers for larger stems.
- Cut out dead, spindly and crossing stems. Well-spaced stems will allow air to freely flow.
- On established roses, Remove old wood as well as any old stubs that have failed to produce new shoots.
- Prune all newly planted roses hard to encourage vigorous shoots (Not suitable for climbing or shrub roses.)
Climbing or rambling Rose
- If your rose only has one thick old stem going into the soil, then it is essential to not cut back too hard as the rose may not be able to regenerate. In this case, the best practice is to instead remove between a third and a half.
- For roses with many stems try removing one or two of the older stems close to the base.
Shrub or Bush?
Identifying your rose:
- Prune two or three stems as close to the ground as you can.
- Shorten remaining stems by a third and a half
- If your rose responds next season with lots of vigorous regrowth & plenty of flowers, then the chances are you have a Floribunda or Hybrid tea bush.
- If this is not the case, then it’s more likely a shrub type rose.
Regularly dividing perennials will ensure healthy and vigorous plant growth that will continue to bloom year after year. It also gives you the chance to multiply your plants. Most perennials will benefit from being divided every two-three years, dividing perennials will help maintain the health and vigour of your plant.
Examples of plants that can be divide– Agapanthus, Anemone, Aster, Bergenia (elephant’s ears), Convallaria (lily-of-the-valley) Crocosmia, Dierama, Delphinium, Epimedium, Eryngium (sea holly), Euphorbia, Gentiana (gentian) Geranium, Helianthus, Hemerocallis (daylily), Hosta, Iris, Lychnis, Lysichiton, Lysimachia, ornamental grasses, Primula (primrose) Ranunculus (buttercup), Salvia, Sedum, Verbena, Zantedeschia (arum lily).
When To Divide:
- Divide summer-flowering plants in spring or autumn when the soil is dry enough to work. In wet autumns, delay until spring. Spring is also better suited for more delicate plants.
- Many spring-flowering plants are best divided in the summer months when they produce new roots.
It is possible to successfully divide plants at almost any time of the year, as long as they’re kept well-watered afterwards. However, for the best chance of division success, it is advised to wait until they are not in active growth.
How to divide perennials
- Gently lift with a garden fork, working outwards from the centre to reduce root damage. Shake off any excess soil to make the roots visible
- Some plants, e.g. the Ajuga (bugle), will produce individual plantlets that can be replanted.
- Small, fibrous-rooted plants such as Epimedium, Hosta and the Heuchera can be pulled gently apart to create small clumps for planting.
- Large, fibrous-rooted plants, e.g. the Hemerocallis (daylily), will need two garden forks inserted into the centre back-to-back. You can then use these as levers to loosen or break the roots into two sections. These can be divided more than once.
Make sure you plant your divided plants asap and water them well. Make sure they don’t dry out while they get established, it is also advised to use slug and snail control during this process.
Bulbs & planting
Bulbs are perfect for adding a splash of colour during the spring months.
When To Plant Bulbs
Autumn – Spring-flowering bulbs, such as Crocus, Daffodils & Hyacinths, should be planted by the end of September, Tulips can be planted in November. Hardy summer-flowering bulbs, like Lilies, Crocosmia and Alliums, in September and October
Spring – Tender summer-flowering bulbs, should be planted in early spring.
Missed planting your bulbs?
It’s easy to forget about those lost bulbs at the back of the shed. If you have found yourself missing out then the best thing you can do is get them in the ground or potted up asap. If you leave them for the correct time, later will eventually deteriorate.
Discard any soft or rotten bulbs first. Some bulbs can last longer than others (Tulip compared to Daffodil, for instance) so this may be a bit hit and miss. You might find that they don’t perform as well as expected in their first year but if they’re a type of bulb that bloom year after year then they should get better the second or third time around. Adding a well-balanced fertiliser during planting will help them recover.
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