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Saturday, April 7, 2012


GREEN THUMB ALERT--Wally Kearns at Evergreen Nursery was kind enough to share a few fundamental Spring gardening starter tips. “Spring is the time to add color and texture to your garden because now is the time when the largest variety of blooming annuals, shrubs and vines available,” he insists.

Work in the garden — April is a good month to plant new shrubs and hardy perennials and to prepare for the coming summer. Keep roots cool and weeds down by applying mulch around flowers and vegetables, particularly azaleas, berries, camellias and clematis, which have more shallow root systems. Plants will benefit from a dose of an all-purpose fertilizer such as Gro-Power. Tie clematis and other vines to supports.

Planting and transplanting — Buy new fuchsias and hanging baskets now so they’re established before the hot weather. Prune and shape them. Water with collected rainwater, which is lower in salt than most irrigation water. Banana, bougainvillea, hibiscus, lantana, Natal plum and New Guinea impatiens can be planted as soon as the weather is warm enough. Beautiful lavender, white or pink wisterias are in bloom now and can be trained as a climbing vine or a dramatic small tree.

Bedding plants — Pick up economical 4-inch 8-packs of warm-weather annuals such as ageratum, asters, begonias, coleus, dahlias, dianthus, impatiens, lobelia, marigolds, nemesia, petunias and zinnias.

Vegetables and herbs — Plant seeds of string beans, beets, carrots, corn, cucumber, eggplant, leaf lettuce, melon, parsley, parsnips, pumpkin, radish, spinach, tomatoes and squash. Stake peas.

Fruiting plants — Plant strawberries. Thin over-bearing citrus, apple, peach and other fruit. Citrus and avocado trees need half their annual doses of nitrogen now — give one pound per inch of trunk diameter. If leaves are yellowish with green veins, work iron chelate into the soil.

Roses — Rose bushes are at their peak now. Disbud and strip bad leaves. As they complete their cycle, prune moderately to encourage more blooms. Spray for fungus and insects every 4 to 6 weeks as needed through September.

Lawns — Both warm- and cool-season grasses can be fed with a high-nitrogen fertilizer or ammonium nitrate. Feed when the ground is moist but the grass is dry, and then water thoroughly. Plant cool-season grasses such as fescue now. This is a good time to reseed.

Houseplants — Finish repotting older plants to give them fresh soil. Give them a dose of an all-purpose fertilizer a couple weeks later. Wipe leaves. Move outside in a protected area to catch a light, spring rain.

Bulbs — Cannas, dahlias, gladiolus, tigridias, tuberoses, and tuberous begonias can be planted now. Remove flowers and withered foliage from daffodils. Cut to strengthen buds for next year.

Some specific plants — Start feeding and watering cacti and succulents as they may be starting to send out new growth. Choose from a variety of exotic plants and plant them in drier parts of the yard with rockrose, oleander and rosemary.

Pest control — Snails, slugs and aphids do most of their damage now to soft, new growth. Bait or handpick snails and slugs. Spray aphids with the hose or a solution of one tablespoon of non-detergent soap per gallon of water (in the morning so plants are dry before the heat of the day).

Weeding — Doing your major weeding now, before roots have time to establish themselves and while the weather is still moderate, will save a lot of time and work later on.

Water — As the weather warms, water trees and shrubs deeply. Water in the morning so you won’t encourage pests and diseases. Evaporation and risk of sunburn is minimal in the early hours.

Evergreen Nursery/Two locations
13650 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley
3231 Oceanside Blvd., Oceanside

Note: This article first appeared in the April 2, 2012 edition of San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles free weekly e-Club, a free service to the public that offeres garden, interior design and cooking tips. Sign up for weekly tips at

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