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Breaking Bud

Okame Cherry Trees are one of the first to bloom in spring.

Breaking Bud

Few things rival the joy of new green growth, spring flowers, and baby birds! Spring is a most joyous time of renewal and rebirth. It’s a time of great inspiration – and often our busiest time for landscaping! With so much a-buzz, there’s a lot to think about and even more to do! Here’s what you need to keep in mind.

Dormant Oil

Late winter or early spring is the best time of year to apply a dormant oil to prevent pests. A dormant oil is a highly refined petroleum product that we apply to our landscape shrubs and trees to control aphids, spider mites, and scale in susceptible plants. The oil acts by suffocating the insects, and is generally considered to be a safe practice when applied correctly. Always follow the label when applying pesticides.

Average Date of Last Frost

In our area the date of average last frost is April 15th. What does this mean? It means that while we can begin planting hardier materials once the ground warms up in March, we don’t want to take our chances with summer annuals until after the date of last frost – which is typically tax day. Of course, weather varies from year to year, so it’s important to pay attention to your local 10 day forecast.

Timing is Everything; What Plants to Prune Now

Some of these plants you may have already given an initial shape up to earlier in the year. Now’s the time to go back and prune back any wild hairs. For some plants, this might be the first and/or only time you prune all year! Timing is crucial for plants – this way you can best assure your plants bloom and fruit beautiful every year.

Arborvitae – May/June

Azalea – May/June

Barberry – May/June

Boxwood – April/May/June

Camellia – April/May/June

Cherry Laurel – April/May/June

Crabapple – May/June

Dogwood – June

Euonymous – April/May/June

Forsythia – April/May/June

Holly (Evergreen Shrubs) – June

Ligustrum – April/May/June

Magnolia – May/June

Mahonia – May/June

Maple – May/June

Pieris – May/June

Pine – April/May/June

Quince – April/May/June

Redbud – May/June

Rhododendron – June

Serviceberry – April/May/June

Spirea (Spring Blooming) – May/June

Spruce – May/June

Viburnum – May/June

Wax Myrtle – April/May/June

Weigela – May/June

Witchhazel – April/May/June

Yew – May/June

Pruning Hydrangeas

These special flowering shrubs deserve a little bit more of our attention when it comes to pruning. Why? Because there are five different species we commonly use in the landscape, and they have different pruning requirements. The last thing any of us want to do is prune off our Hydrangea’s flowers! Knowing whether it sets its flowers on old wood or new wood is the key to proper Hydrangea pruning. New wood means it blooms on the current season’s growth. Old wood means blooms off the previous year’s growth.

Hydrangea arborescense – Blooms on New Wood. Prune Fall-Winter. Can be deadheaded after blooming to encourage longer bloom time.

Hydrangea macrophylla – Blooms on Old Wood. Prune right after blooming, before it sets next year’s buds.

Hydrangea paniculata – Blooms on New Wood. Prune Fall-Winter. Can be dead be deadheaded after blooming to encourage longer bloom time.

Hydrangea quercifolia – Blooms on New Wood. Prune Fall-Winter. 

Hydrangea serrata – Blooms on Old Wood. Prune after blooming, before it sets next year’s buds.

Make Sure to Mulch!

Why is it important to mulch your landscape beds? Mulch acts as a weed control, conserves soil moisture, keeps soil from overheating, prevents soil erosion, promotes root growth, and ensures overall health. We recommend 3” of shredded hardwood mulch around all newly installed plantings, and a top dressing of 1-2” of mulch each year. 

Hot Tip

Apply a weed preventer (pre-emergent) to your beds if you’re having spring mulch put down or around March 15th. Once activated by watering, it forms a weed control barrier in the top layer of soil or mulch, preventing weed seeds from germinating.