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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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Amaryllis start-up time

When should I start new amaryllis bulbs in pots to have them on display through the winter?

'Flamenco Queen' amaryllis is from Colorblends.

‘Flamenco Queen’ amaryllis is from Colorblends.

Start potting them up now! The big, luxuriant amaryllis flowers generally begin to bloom six to eight weeks after the bulb is placed in potting mix and watered. Start several bulbs at weekly intervals, and you can have those tropical blooms on display from the December holidays on through winter.

An amaryllis is a large bulb, so select a pot that is a little larger and has a drainage hole. Add good quality potting mix to the container along with the bulb (pointed end up, of course), leaving about a quarter to a third of the bulb exposed. Water it well and place it in a spot that’s warm and sunny. You probably won’t need to water again until the soil feels dry, or when you begin to see growth from the top of the bulb.

Amaryllis comes in a range of colors, from white to soft pink to blazing red, bi-colors, giants and miniatures, some with double flowers — sure to brighten up any winter day. The  amaryllis pictured here is ‘Flamenco Queen’ from Colorblends, a Connecticut-based flower bulb wholesaler that sells direct to home gardeners.

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