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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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Poinsettia season

I bought a large, beautiful poinsettia for the holiday that I’d like to keep as long as possible. How long will it last? I’d like to keep it growing until spring and plant it outdoors when the weather is warmer.
Poinsettia

To keep a poinsettia looking its best through the holidays, here are the basics: Place it in a spot in the house that gets indirect light in a room that’s not too warm – 68 to 70 degrees is best. Make sure it’s not near heating vents or in a place where there’s a cold draft. Keep the soil moist, but don’t let the pot sit in water. In fact, if there is a foil wrapper around the plastic pot, remove the wrapper when you water to let it drain. When a poinsettia wilts, that may be an indication that it’s staying too wet.
If you take care of it, the poinsettia should last through the holidays and well beyond.

Poinsettia is a tropical plant, native to Mexico, so don’t be in a rush to get it outside. As spring approaches, cut it back to about eight inches tall and fertilize with an all-purpose plant food. After there is no longer any danger of frost, re-pot the poinsettia and set it outdoors, or plant it in the ground where it will grow into a nice, interesting green plant that will last until the first frost.

What we think of as poinsettia flowers are technically bracts, or modified leaves. The yellow flowers are in the center of the bracts. Some gardeners are able to “re-bloom” a poinsettia plant, but it takes patience and impeccable timing to provide the right conditions of light and dark needed to produce the colorful bracts.
Want to know more? The University of Illinois Extension offers a wealth of interesting information about this tradition of the season at its Poinsettia Pages.

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