Spring To-do list

The weather may still have a st­ing in its tail, but Septem­ber 1 is usu­ally con­sid­ered the first day of spring – and we have work to do! Sow­ing, plant­ing, feed­ing, tak­ing cut­tings, and pest and weed con­trol are part of the spring gar­den’s to-do list. Sched

NZ Gardener - 365 Days of Flowers - - The Spring Garden -

WHAT TO PLANT NOW

• Sow or plant ager­a­tums, alyssum, ama­ran­thus, Ammi ma­jus, asters, bal­sam, bells of Ire­land, Cal­i­for­nia pop­pies, car­na­tions, cat­mint, celosias, chrysan­the­mums, coleus, co­re­op­sis, corn cock­les, corn­flow­ers, cos­mos, di­anthus, echi­nacea, ev­er­last­ing daisies, ger­beras, gode­tias, globe ama­ranth, gyp­sophila, hon­esty, im­pa­tiens, lark­spurs, lavat­era, lo­belias, marigolds, nas­tur­tiums, petunias, phlox, por­tu­laca, prim­u­las, Queen Anne's lace, rud­beck­ias, salvias, snap­drag­ons, stat­ice, sun­flow­ers, ver­bas­cums, ver­bena, wall­flow­ers and zin­nias.

• Note: Whether you sow seed or plant pun­nets of seedlings will be dic­tated by your cli­mate. Wait till the risk of frosts has passed for most an­nu­als. In early spring it's best to sow in trays in­doors, but later in the sea­son you can sim­ply scat­ter seed di­rectly in your gar­den.

• To en­sure a con­stant show un­til au­tumn, es­pe­cially if pick­ing, sow a batch of an­nu­als ev­ery 3-4 weeks.

• Plant dahlia tu­bers in an open, sunny po­si­tion with shel­ter from wind and a com­post-en­riched soil that is free-drain­ing. The ground shouldn't be overly rich or you might en­cour­age soft, sappy growth that breaks eas­ily and at­tracts dis­eases.

• Plant sum­mer bulbs like glad­i­oli, tuber­ous be­go­nias and lilies af­ter the risk of frosts has passed.

BEDS AND BOR­DERS

• Sow wild­flower mead­ows. Spray off grass and weeds first or they may out­grow your wild­flow­ers. Spray with Roundup or or­ganic Na­ture's Way Green­scape, then lightly cul­ti­vate the soil (to 50mm for sandy soil or 100mm for clay soil) and let it set­tle. Wait a cou­ple of weeks for residue weed seeds to ger­mi­nate, then spray again. When they die, rake the sur­face. Mix seed with coarse sand (one part seed to roughly 15 parts sand) to get even dis­tri­bu­tion and sow. Lightly rake or water the seed into the soil. Keep your seed bed moist un­til seedlings are grow­ing well.

• Stake peren­ni­als at plant­ing to avoid cri­sis and dam­age later on from wind and rain.

• Tidy ex­ist­ing peren­ni­als by re­mov­ing old leaves. Lay down slug and snail bait to keep pests away from new shoots.

• Set up ir­ri­ga­tion or check ex­ist­ing sys­tems for leaks. Lay mulch in late spring to con­serve soil mois­ture dur­ing the drier months to come.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

• Feed pot­ted flow­ers with a hand­ful of slow-re­lease fer­tiliser and water in. Re­fresh pot­ting mix now too. • Yel­low­ing gar­de­nias that have had a rough time in win­ter will re­spond to Ep­som salts. • Feed lawns. Noth­ing sets off a flower bor­der like a lus­cious green lawn.

• Give roses a feed now. If the food is aged, or­ganic and smells foul, your roses will love it. Sheep pel­lets are su­perb. If you're near a beach, there's noth­ing bet­ter than sea­weed or sea­grass, but spread it out, hose it down to re­move some of the salt and leave it for a few days be­fore you chop it up and put it on your rose beds.

• Bulbs don’t need fer­tiliser to flower. Ap­ply spe­cial­ist bulb food af­ter they've bloomed – that's when they store food to form next year's flow­ers.

SNIP, SNIP

• Dead­head roses in late spring, af­ter the first flush of blooms.

• As a gen­eral rule spring-flow­er­ing shrubs should be pruned – for shape, vigour and to en­cour­age new growth – im­me­di­ately af­ter they've fin­ished flow­er­ing.

• Tidy up sasan­qua camel­lia hedges, daphne and for­sythia as well as scented boro­nia.

• Re­sist the urge to tie the dy­ing fo­liage of bulbs in knots or mow off the tops of bulbs nat­u­ralised in your lawn. While it's green, the fo­liage is still pho­to­syn­the­sis­ing and feed­ing the bulbs be­low.

FREE PLANTS

• Early spring is your last chance to di­vide peren­ni­als be­fore they romp into growth, es­pe­cially hostas, se­dums and cam­pan­u­las. Use a spade or knife to split your plants.

• Fuch­sias and pelargo­ni­ums will root read­ily in a jar of water.

• Har­vest helle­bore seed and re­mem­ber it is al­ways best to sow it fresh. Seedlings will bloom in two years.

“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” MARK TWAIN, TOMSAWYER,DE­TEC­TIVE

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