Coastal Region- Christopher Burtt
- Spring is here, and that means lots of things can be done in the garden.
- Begin to apply fertilizer where needed based on soil test results. If a soil test has not been done, be sure to have one done to better guide the fertilizer needs of the plants.
- Start scouting the garden consistently, looking for any signs of disease, insect infestation, or nutrient deficiencies.
- Prune any spring flowering shrubs that have finished blooming. This includes Azaleas, Spirea, and Forsythia, as well as others. Also, look for branches on trees and shrubs that are not flushing out, as this may indicate disease or dead branches, which can also be removed.
- Tender annuals can go in the ground now to fill in areas between shrubs and trees and liven up the garden for spring. You can also plant a variety of perennials.
- Many warm-season vegetables can go in the ground now the last chance of frost has passed. Be sure to plant vegetables according to the recommended planting date.
- Turfgrass should be greening up, so start scouting for any problem areas. Do not apply fertilizers containing Nitrogen yet. Post-emergent herbicides can be applied once the turf is fully out of dormancy. Turf can be sprigged or sodded now as the soil temperatures warm. Seeding should wait for soil temperatures to get above 70 °F.
- Winter weeds are mature now, and many are in flower. To reduce their spread, cut off their flowers before they produce seed. The best method of controlling weeds in garden beds is to remove them consistently and often to stay on top of it.
- With the emergence of new growth and the applications of fertilizer, water needs will increase. Monitor the rainfall and supplement where needed.
- Be sure to water in the morning and avoid wetting the leaves of plants to avoid disease.
Midlands Region- Carmen Ketron
- Prune shrubs that bloom on old wood as they finish spring blooming. Plants that flower in the spring or prior to May should be pruned immediately after flowering because most of these shrubs produce the following year’s blooms during the summer. Waiting to prune spring-blooming shrubs until the summer will result in cutting off many of the flower buds for the following spring. Use proper techniques when pruning.
- Start turning your compost pile to activate decomposition. As temperatures warm up, it is important to move materials from the outside of the pile to the center of the pile to encourage heat transfer and the breakdown of organic matter. If you don’t have a compost source, now is a great time to start a compost pile. If a traditional compost pile does not suit your situation, worm composting or lasagna gardening may be a good alternative.
- Start transplanting your warm-season vegetable starts now. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, and other greens can all be set out. Make sure the young plants are properly hardened off before putting them out in the garden.
- Direct seed warm-season vegetables into the garden soil. Cucumbers, leeks, potatoes, sweet corn, radishes, summer squash, turnips, and rutabagas can all be seeded in April.
- Mulch around plants as needed. Mulch around trees and shrubs for an attractive look that reduces watering needs and suppresses weed growth. Caution: Avoid creating mulch volcanoes.
- As early vegetables start being harvested, now is the time to get your canning equipment out to “put up” the bounty of produce. Did you know your local county Clemson Extension office checks pressure canning dial gauges for a nominal fee to ensure the dials are properly working? South Carolina residents can contact their local extension office to check availability and make an appointment to have dial gauges tested. The cost is $6 per dial.
Upstate Region- Millie Davenport
It is Spring! And I am so excited to get back into the landscape to clean and update my landscape beds. But, oddly, as excited as I am, I realize this month also consists of a lot of “hurry up and wait” due to our unpredictable weather. So keep an eye on the weather forecast; our region’s last frost usually occurs between mid-April to mid-May.
- After the fear of frost has passed, it is safe to plant summer flowering bulbs. This past winter, I spent time online looking at colorful dahlias, daylilies, crinums, and bearded irises. I wanted to add all of these beauties to my landscape. Lucky for me, I have my pocketbook to keep me in check! The ideal soil temperature for planting most summer bulbs is 55 °F. However, tender bulbs such as caladiums and tuberous begonias should not be planted yet. It is best to wait until the soil temperature has reached 70 °F, around May 1st.
- Speaking of the last frost, this is the time to plant the warm-season vegetable garden, starting with cucumbers, squash, and melons. When sowing seeds and planting transplants, allow proper spacing for each plant; see Table 2 in our Planning a Garden fact sheet for more details. Also, it is too easy to plant more than you can manage (speaking from experience). So, be realistic about how much time you can dedicate to the garden. Also, consider how you will use each crop. Will you eat it fresh, freeze it, or can it? *Hold off planting okra, sweet potatoes, and southern peas until the soil is warmer in May.
- Mulch is critical for keeping weeds at bay, cooling the soil, and retaining moisture. But when it comes to mulch, MORE is not better. Keep the mulch layer at 2 to 3 inches deep and no more. Mulch applied too deeply can reduce soil oxygen levels, causing plant roots to suffocate.
- Hold off on fertilizing your warm-season lawn until it has fully greened up. This is usually around May 1st.
- Houseplants can safely be moved outdoors once the fear of frost has passed. Watch the forecast and move them back inside if temperatures become too cool (50 °F). They will need to be acclimated to the outdoors, which is done by gradually exposing them to the outside environment. Start by placing them in a deeply shaded area for a few days and gradually move them to an area with brighter light. Keep in mind the ideal light requirements for each houseplant species.