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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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When daffodils don’t bloom

QUESTION: I have a lot of daffodils that shoot up nice and green, but some varieties don’t bloom as well as they once did. What do they need? Some of these have not been in the ground very long.

Daffodils 2We’re coming into prime-time for daffodils. The early varieties have bloomed and sailed gracefully through Middle Tennessee’s March cold snap. Of course you’d like to continue to enjoy as many blooms as you can.

The web site of the American Daffodil Society has a long list of reason daffodils may not bloom. See if any of these conditions may affect your flowers:

Too much shade: Daffodils should be planted in an area that gets at least a half-day of full sun, or more, if they are planted in partial sun.

Crowded conditions: After bulbs have been growing in the same place for many years, they may need to be dug up and divided. They divide themselves every year or two, and the clumps of bulbs compete for food and space. They respond by ceasing to bloom. After the foliage turns yellow later this spring, dig the bulbs, separate them, and replant them about 6 inches apart, 6 inches deep.

Fighting for food: Bulbs that are planted under evergreen trees or with other fast-growing plants may be competing against those plants for the available nutrients in the soil – and losing. The result would be weak plants and no flowers.

Impatient gardener: If you were too quick to cut down the foliage the previous year, the bulbs may not have had time to replenish themselves enough to flower. The ADS explains that daffodils replenish their bulb for about six weeks after they bloom, and the leaves should not be cut off or tied up (which blocks the sun) until they turn yellow.

In general, daffodils need well-drained, slightly acidic soil in a sunny location, and plenty of water while they are growing. They benefit from a top-dressing of 0-10-10 or 0-0-50 fertilizer, but avoid high nitrogen fertilizer, which promotes foliage growth at the expense of blooms. The right growing conditions result in a beautiful, daffodil-filled spring.

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