Holidays can bring back memories from years past. Valentine’s Day always made me think of little hand-decorated paper bags in school to collect classmates’ Valentines and a favorite candy, Conversation Hearts. St. Patrick’s Day involved wearing green (or forgetting and being pinched). And finally, April Fool’s Day, was the day my mother would tease us with putting “grown up” cereal onto of our favorite kid’s cereal. While these holidays can bring back memories, as an adult these holidays remind me about important activities for my lawn and landscape.
Valentine’s Day is the time to use a pre-emergent herbicide on lawns to prevent weed seeds from germinating to manage future summer weeds. Often residents may look for a weed-and-feed to accomplish that task of managing weeds for their lawn, but that is not the product to use. It’s too early to fertilize your lawn in February. When you choose your pre-emergent herbicide, read the product label and follow instructions. Make sure to look for possible reapplication dates.
The next Valentine’s Day task is pruning roses. We have several rosarians who are Master Gardener Volunteers who prune their roses and often the roses in our demonstration garden around February 14. You can also prune your crape myrtles on this holiday. Read the blog about the correct way to prune crape myrtles to avoid crape murder.
Finally, for Valentine’s Day (and anywhere from February to March) perhaps you have a few muscadines. This are a treat even with the seeds and thicker skin. But you need to prune your grapevines in February – which is much easier without the leaves! You are removing last year’s fruiting wood back to a spur with two to four nodes (areas where buds are located). Those buds break and grow into new fruiting vines. Here is a bit of reading from University of Florida IFAS Extension which includes images: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/hs100.
St. Patrick’s Day
St. Patrick’s Day is a great day to begin pruning for the home gardener who has a difficult time with brown on landscape plants that may have become the dominant leaf color due to cold damage. It’s always difficult for a northern gardener, myself included, to leave brown, but it is best for the plant until we get past any possible freezes. The brown helps to protect buds and crowns until you get past that danger of damage. Often things that have been killed back may come back from the crown if killed back. So, prune back the damage on St. Patrick’s Day, and provide your plant(s) a bit of time to see if they regrow. For those of you that have planted tender plants, hopefullly the winter will be mild so you won’t experience significant brown in your landscape!
April Fool’s Day
April Fool’s Day – Hopefully, you have not been fertilizing your lawn this winter. Lawns cannot benefit from fertilizer while that lawn is dormant. April Fool’s Day (or late March) is when you can fertilize your lawn. You should ensure that you are not using weed and feed. You should choose a slow-release fertilizer for lawns that often have low or no Phosphorus. Get your soil tested now so you can fertilize according to soil test results. Contact your Extension Office to find out how to get your soil test kit. You have time to get results and can be ready to go. In the meantime, remember that you do not need to fertilize your lawn from October until end of March (or April Fool’s Day) because your lawn is dormant.
After Halloween (when you have 5 consecutive days around 50 to 60 degrees F, is the time to apply a pre-emergent to prevent weed seeds from germinating to manage future winter weeds. The same principles of not using weed and feed, and reading and following the pesticide label apply here too.
Hopefully, as you remember these holidays, you’ll also remember those tasks to accomplish in your lawn or landscape.