March 10, 2009

Spring Fever Advice

H ere in zone 6 we are having what I like to call a spring teaser. The temperature has been in the high 60’s and 70’s for nearly a week, Bradford pears are in full bloom, daffodils are prolific everywhere and perennials are peeking out from under the leaves.

We all know that we are not done with cold weather. Our last predicted frost date is April 20 but that doesn’t stop those of us with spring fever from getting out and working so hard we think we won’t be able to get out of bed the next day.

If you did what I did this week and raked the leaves off the Iris, mums and herbs don’t get too hasty. Leave a light cover of leaves over the new growth to provide frost protection and also a little shade for the tender new growth. I have 30 trees in my acre backyard so you can imagine how deep the leaves get. You can see how tall our trees are from this picture taken from my street out front. I leave the leaves on my flower beds over the winter and rake them off fairly early so they don’t completely smother the new growth.

I discovered something I’ve never seen in my Iris bed this week. The plants were completely covered with Aphids! I’ve never had Aphids on my Iris and never seen this many. They were too thick to douse with water – I had to resort to Sevin dust. They were almost gone the next day. I thinned out the plants, something I should have done in the fall. I think overcrowding may have exacerbated the problem.

Tip: Even though most garden books say transplant Iris in the fall, I’ve has success in moving them in the spring before they bloom or early summer after blooms have faded. A good way to mark your iris color or variety if you move them after they bloom is to write the color or name on a large leaf of each plant with an indelible marker.

I’d like to hear what your spring fever cures are – please leave a comment.

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