After mid-month, once danger of frost is past, nighttime temperatures are above 50 and soil temperatures are above 60, it’s time to:
Transplant tomatoes and annual flowers.
Direct seeding of beans, cantaloupe, corn, cucumbers, pumpkin, squash and watermelon.
Plant Bonnie herbs.
Plant seeds of lima and snap beans, peppers, cucumbers, jicama, summer squash and summer melons.
Move summer-flowering bulbs like dahlias, lilies and gladiolus outside to their summer locations.
Plant basil beside or among your tomatoes. Basil is known to repel thrips, flies, hornworms and aphids. Basil also acts as a natural fungicide.
Sow seeds for cool-season crops, including peas, lettuce, spinach, carrots, beets and turnips, before the heat of early summer arrives.
Plant Bonnie cool-season crops such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and onions.
If your space is limited, consider growing vegetables in containers. Containers require less time, water and effort than a larger garden.
Seeds of amaranthus, celosia, cosmos, marigold, portulaca, zinnia and other warm-season flowering annuals can be sown directly in the beds where they will grow.
Plant strawberries, blackberries and other small fruit.
If you want to relocate daffodils, it is OK to dig them after they have bloomed. Do not remove leaves. Replant them as you would any other transplant and allow the leaves to die down on their own.
It is time to feed your fruit and nut trees, vines and bushes, such as blackberries, grapes, and blueberries. (Be careful! Blueberries are very shallow rooted.) Figs, maybe the easiest fruit crop, do not need fertilizing or special care.
Fertilize lawns so spring rains can water it into the ground.
A good schedule to follow for fertilizing Bermudagrass, zoysia grass and St. Augustine grass is the "Major Holidays Rule." Divide your total nitrogen requirement for the year by four. Put down this rate of nitrogen on or near each of the four holidays: Easter, Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.
Roses have high-fertilizer requirements. For most soils, use a complete fertilizer for the first application just as new growth starts, then use ammonium sulfate or another high-nitrogen source, every four to six weeks, usually just as the new growth starts following a flowering cycle. For organic sources, use cottonseed, rotted manures or alfalfa meal.
As soon as azaleas and camellias have finished flowering, apply an acid fertilizer at the rate recommended. Don’t over fertilize as azalea roots are near the surface and damage can occur. Water thoroughly after fertilizing.
Apply a trowel-full of wood ashes (not charcoal ashes) and one of manure or compost a few inches from the base of your peonies. If your peony refuses to bloom, it is either planted too deeply or set in a too-shady location.
Fertilize houseplants as new growth appears. Follow label directions.
Remove flowers and flower buds on new plants to give plants a chance to be established.
Complete pruning to remove dead and injured branches from trees and shrubs.
Prune paniculata hydrangeas and Hydrangea "Annabelle" (not moptop blue hydrangeas).
Cut Buddleia (butterfly bushes) to eight to 12 inches from the ground. It doesn’t take them long to fill out with fresh new growth and cutting them back will give you bigger and more abundant flowers through the season.
Remove winter-damaged ground covers with trimmers or shears.
Allow foliage of spring-flowering bulbs to ripen and yellow or brown before cutting back. Leaves make the food reserves stored in the bulbs that bring next year’s flowers.
Prune grape vines to remove dead or weakened limbs. Repair trellises as needed.
Climbing hybrid tea roses may be pruned as soon as they complete flowering.
Take cuttings for new plants from azaleas, carnations, chrysanthemums, fuchsias, geraniums and succulents.
In the spring, trees and shrubs in containers need to be repotted or root pruned every three to five years.
Prune, repot and clean houseplants as needed.
As you do your spring planting, be sure to plan how you will water this summer and how much time you will have for watering each day. Place those plants requiring the most water closer to the house.
Hanging baskets may need to be watered as often as twice a day in the heat of summer.
Consider a soil additive like Soil Moist Granules to help retain moisture in your containerized plants.
Read and follow label instructions on approved pesticides.
Do not plant your tomatoes in the same place year after year (also don’t plant them after their relatives like peppers, potatoes and eggplants). Diseases can easily build in the soil, so make sure to rotate your crops – even on a small scale.
The new generation of slug baits is effective, tasty to slugs and not toxic to children, pets and wildlife. Old-style baits are based on a chemical called metaldehyde. Dogs are especially attracted to these pellets and will seek them out even if scattered around the garden. Baits developed in the last few years such as Sluggo are based on iron phosphate, a compound not really toxic to anything except slugs and snails. Iron phosphate baits will stay intact for a week or two before they break down. If you protect the bait from rain and irrigation, it will last even longer. Irrigate before applying bait to bring slugs and snails out of hiding. Timing is key to achieving the most effective control. Apply baits in the spring and early summer when slugs and snails are most active. Then apply again when egg laying starts with autumn rains.
Continue to spray rose varieties susceptible to black spot, using a spray recommended for fungus control every seven to 10 days. Many of the old garden roses and some of the newer ones have considerable resistance to black spot.
Rake away old foliage from iris and dispose of it. Eggs of the iris borer overwinter on old foliage and you must get rid of the debris now before the eggs hatch.
Botrytis is a fungal disease that causes blackened spots on buds, leaves and stems of many perennials including peonies. If you noticed this disease on your peonies last year, spray with a fungicide like Bonide Mancozeb, Bonide Liquid Copper or Daconil.
Soil purchased for use in beds, low areas and containers should be examined closely. Often, nut grass and other weeds, nematodes and soilborne disease are brought into the yard through contaminated soil sources.
Weed. Weed. Weed. Pull them out before they flower. It’s easy to pull weeds now while the soil is damp and gruesome later when the roots are glued into dry earth.
Review plans in your garden journal. If you don’t have one, start one. Sketching garden plans, taping photos, marking the date and weather conditions in a notebook will help you decide when to tackle some of your gardening chores next year.
Put a note-taking station in your garden shed or garage for shopping and "To Do" lists.
As mowing becomes necessary, be certain the blade is sharp to prevent tearing the grass tips.
Before you work in your garden, make sure the soil is dry enough to crumble in your hand. If it’s too wet, wait for it to dry out.
Edge beds and paths as needed.
Refresh paths as needed with bark, gravel, etc.
If you have tall perennials, it’s time to think of giving them a helping hand with a stake or support. Small tomato cages work for peonies and dahlias.
Keep the row covers handy in case frost is in the forecast!
Mulch garden beds 2-3 inches deep. Keep mulch away from the base of plants.
Turn new clay pots upside down and use them as pedestals for already mossy pots. The moss will spread more quickly and turn the new pot into an attractively aged one.
If you can, divide perennials before new growth appears. Once the new growth appears, you can still divide, but it just won’t be as tidy. Remember the general rule about transplanting perennials: dig those that flower in the summer in the spring and those that flower in the spring in the fall.
Hummingbirds begin to appear this month in the southern part of Alabama and the panhandle of Florida. Clean the feeders and hang them for the "early birds."
If you haven’t already, remove mulch from strawberries. You still might want to have row cover fabric handy just in case you need to protect the blooms from a late frost.
Remove any protective winter covering you provided for roses such as mulch, compost or specialized rose cones. Keep the covering nearby in case of late freezes.
Harden off transplants started indoors earlier by gradually exposing young plants to outdoor conditions of wind, sunlight and lower moisture.
Mulch ornamental shrubs to conserve moisture, to keep cool in summer heat, to control weeds, maintain soil moisture and to give a neat appearance. Pine straw is ideal mulch.
Turn the compost pile as often as you can for a wonderful amendment to your garden soil!
Spring can be a crucial time for songbirds. They have just flown from who-knows-where during migration and now they have to lay claim to breeding territory, mate, build a nest and then care for their babies. Natural sources of food may not yet be available or easily accessible. Keep the feeder full!