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  • March garden tips & tasks

    If your fescue lawn looks a little skimpy, overseed early this month. Fescue grows best when the weather is still cool.

    Clip dead stems from perennial herbs – thyme, sage, lavender, rosemary. Pruning encourages vigorous new growth.

    Prune nandinas, flowering quince and other airy shrubs by reaching in and removing about a third of the branches at ground level.

    Remove mulch or leaves that may be covering perennials in garden beds.

    Prepare a new garden bed: Have the soil tested (check with your county’s Extension service). Remove grass and dig or till soil 8 to 10 inches deep and mix with soil amendments and organic matter to improve drainage.

    Add fertilizer lightly to perennials as soon as you see new growth. Too much fertilizer may result in lanky growth.

    Herb transplants that don’t mind cool weather -- parsley, cilantro, sage, oregano – can go in the ground now.

    When you cut daffodils to bring inside, cut the stems at an angle and place them in water right away. Change the water in the vase daily to keep them fresh longer.

    Save the date - Middle Tennessee garden events

    The Perennial Plant Society's annual Plant Sale will be April 8, opening at 9 a.m. at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The sale offers newly released and hard-to-find perennials from top local nurseries -- more than 450 varieties of perennials, vines, grasses, shrubs and annuals. The event supports local scholarships for Tennessee horticulture students and monthly gardening programs, open to the public, at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. For information visit www.ppsmtn.org.

    The Herb Society of Nashville's annual Herb Sale will be April 29, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The sale will offer heirloom vegetables, rare varieties of perennial and annual herbs, handmade pottery herb markers and more. To learn more, visit herbsocietynashville.org.

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Dividing daylilies

When is the best time to separate Stella De Oro daylilies?

‘Rosy Returns’ is a good choice for a repeat blooming daylily.

Early spring and fall are good times to separate and replant all types of daylilies, including Stella De Oro and other repeat-blooming varieties.

Daylilies (the botanical name is Hemerocallis) are blooming beautifully in gardens in Middle Tennessee. The ‘Stella De Oro’ variety, which is what you usually see growing in sweeping yellow masses around office buildings and in grocery store parking lots, seems to be the most common, but there are other wonderful repeat bloomers to consider. (By the way, you may see this variety spelled ‘Stella d’Oro’ elsewhere. I’m using the same spelling as the American Hemerocallis Society.) ‘Happy Returns’ is also yellow, but a softer, creamier shade than the brassy ‘Stella de Oro.’ ‘Rosy Returns’ has dramatic rose-pink flowers. There are several more.

The repeat bloomers are great because, unlike most other daylilies that bloom for a few weeks and are gone, repeaters will come back throughout the summer — though never as lovely as this first flush of blooms.

Experts at the National Arboretum say that most varieties can go for four or five years before they need to be divided. Others also note that repeat bloomers may tend to form bigger clumps, and may need to be divided more often.

When the time comes to divide them, use a garden fork to loosen the soil around the clump, and pry the clump of roots out of the ground. Divide it by pushing two garden forks back to back down into the center of the clump and push the handles apart to separate the roots.

To replant divisions, dig a wide, shallow hole and place the rootball into the hole. Backfill with soil and tamp it into place, then cover the soil with an inch of mulch. Water thoroughly. You can cut the foliage back to about 12 inches.

 

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