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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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Dig and divide Daisies, Susans

When is the best time to divide and replant black-eyed Susans and Shasta daisies, in the fall or spring?
black eyed susans

If Shasta daisies and black-eyed Susans are crowding out other plants in a perennial bed, you can dig and divide them in the fall to rejuvenate them.

Both have a tendency to grow thin at the center of a clump of plants, and especially for black-eyed Susans, garden author Troy Marden, in his Southern Gardener’s Handbook, suggests digging vigorous plants from the edges of the clump and transplanting them back to the middle, so that the clump remains full.

Editors of the Southern Living Garden Book suggest this method for digging and dividing perennials: use a shovel or spading fork to cut into the soil 6 – 12 inches beyond the plant’s perimeter, then dig under the roots and lift the clump out of the ground. Tease some of the soil from the root ball, then pull the clump apart, or cut it into sections using clippers or a sharp-bladed shovel. Trim damaged roots, stems or leaves, then replant the divisions.

If you’re moving divisions to a new bed, it’s best to have the bed prepared before you dig them up. Both plants thrive in full sun in well-drained soil that is kept evenly moist. Black-eyed Susans are especially durable once they are established.

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