Blackwelder column: Time to prune roses, fight wild garlic

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 8, 2012

SALISBURY — Daylight savings time begins Sunday and many people will be spending more time in the evenings working outdoors. Recent rains and warm temperatures have kindled growth, providing many opportunities for gardeners. Below are a few gardening questions posed to Cooperative Extension.
Q: I have some type of grass that comes up every spring in my shrubs and edge of lawns. It is rather short bunching grass that has a lot of seed heads. Can I put something down to kill it?
A: You have Poa annua or annual bluegrass. It is a common grassy weed that germinates in the fall and dies in early summer. There is no effective control for the weed now. Using a pre-emergence herbicide in early fall before temperatures start to cool is the best method of control for this weed.
Q: How do I kill wild onions in my yard?
A: The wild onions are most likely wild garlic. Most of the broadleaf lawn weed killers with 2,4-D will eliminate the weed. Herbicide applications 10 days apart usually give satisfactory results. Pre-measured hose-on weed control herbicides work well for those with small lawn infestations.
Q: Is now a good time to plant cool season vegetables?
A: Yes, as soon as the soil dries, plant cool season vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, beets, potatoes, onions and other cole crops. Vegetable transplants are now available at retail garden outlets. Keep an eye on the weather. These can tolerate a few days of cold, but will not survive bitter cold temperatures.
Q: Is now the time to prune roses?
A: Yes, most rose types need to be pruned in early to mid-March. Make sure your pruners are sharp. Normally wound dressings aren’t recommended on shrubs, with the exception of rose pruning. Use a wound dressing or Elmer’s glue to seal off the cuts to prevent infestation of borers and other insect infestation. The Rowan Rose Society will be pruning roses this Saturday morning at the Triangle Rose Garden on West Innes Street starting at 8 a.m. Bring your pruners and gloves for on-the- job experience.
Q: Is it too late to spray dormant oils on fruit trees?
A: It depends. If the trees are showing bud color then yes, it is too late. Avoid spraying if weather is warm or extremely cold.
Darrell Blackwelder is the County Extension director with horticulture responsibilities with the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Learn more about Cooperative Extension events and activities by calling 704-216-8970, Facebook or online at