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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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Plant your Easter lily

QUESTION: Can I plant my potted Easter lilies outside? When? What is a good location?
Easter lilyYes, you can plant Lilium longiforum (the botanical name for the Easter lily) outdoors for it to bloom again next year – and the next and the next. You shouldn’t put it in the ground until after the chance of frost has passed, but care of the bulb should begin while you still have it in the house.
Indoors, keep the plant in bright, indirect light and away from cold drafts and heat sources. Water it when the soil feels dry, but don’t overwater. The blooms will last longer if you remove the yellow anthers – the pollen pods – in the center of each flower. Remove the blooms as they wither.
When it’s time to plant, cut off any old flowers that remain but leave the stem and leaves. Select a sunny location with good drainage, plant the bulb (stem and leaves attached) at the same depth it grew in the pot and water it well. The stem and leaves will die back in the fall, and at that time you can cut it at soil level and cover with mulch. It should come back next year, so remove the mulch when it begins to grow next spring.
Remember, too, that the lilies available at Easter were forced into bloom at that time; the lily’s normal bloom time is not until summer, so don’t expect your lily in the garden to bloom before then.
By the way, some experts recommend not planting Lilium longiforum in the same bed with other lilies, as Easter lilies may be susceptible to a variety of diseases that may be transmitted to other varieties.
This lily, with it’s large trumpet-shaped flowers, is also known as Bermuda lily. The cultivar most commonly grown for markets in the U.S. is ‘Nellie White,’ named for a lily grower’s wife.

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