What’s going on in the late winter garden

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 1, 2013

SALISBURY — March is generally the month when homeowners increase work in lawns and gardens. Those with questions can email Darrell_Blackwelder@ncsu.edu for faster and more complete information. Email has become an efficient method of communicating gardening questions to Cooperative Extension. Attaching pictures of insects or diseases helps determine problems and provide solutions. Below are questions posed to Cooperative Extension over the past few weeks.
Q: I have a small camellia my mother rooted for me and I would like to transplant the plant to my home landscape. When is a good time to transplant camellias?
A: Now would be a good time to transplant. Wait until the soil dries up a bit and you can move the plant to another location.
Q: I want to core-aerate my yard now when I over-seed, but I have heard it’s not recommended in the spring. Is this accurate?
A: Under normal circumstances, I would recommend core aeration only in the fall and every other year, but if your lawn is extremely weak or non-existent, it is often the best method of getting fertilizer into the root zone. Coring allows fertilizer and seed to penetrate without plowing. Don’t forget to add straw mulch to conserve moisture.
Q: My parents have a very old scuppernong grape vine and I would like to prune it correctly. It has not been pruned in many years. What is the best way to prune an overgrown grape vine?
A: In most situations it’s almost better to start completely over with new vines. Severely pruning may delay harvests for years or may kill the plants outright. If the vine is an heirloom, you may want to propagate and start the new vines correctly pruned. Grapes need to be pruned annually to maintain growth for maximum yields.
Q: Is now the time to apply dormant oils to my fruit trees?
A: Yes, dormant oils and/or liquid lime-sulfur are sprayed on trunks and scaffold limbs to control mites, scales and some fungal diseases. Apply these pesticides when temperatures are above 40 degrees and below 65 degrees. Avoid applications when buds have swelled and are showing flower color.
Q: Is it too late in the winter to mow my liriope?
A: No, liriope is actually a lily and a very tough plant. Mowing in the spring is generally recommended to rejuvenate growth and remove growth damaged by cold, insects, etc. Make sure your mower blade is sharp and mow the plants at least 4 inches high.
Darrell Blackwelder is the County Extension Director with horticulture responsibilities with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County.Call 704-216-8970.