Above-average temperatures lead to home, gardening questions

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 4, 2023

February is a transition month when homeowners ponder about their landscape for the upcoming spring. It’s too cold to do outdoor chores, but the periods of unseasonable warm weather have homeowners asking about upcoming maintenance chores. Below are a few questions friends and neighbors have asked over the past few weeks.

Question: The gardenia bush on my deck looks very bad after the extreme weather we had a few weeks ago. Will the gardenia come back to its normal growth this spring?

Answer: A there are many factors that will determine if the gardenia will come back to its normal growing condition. Some of the newer cultivars are cold hardy while older types are prone to winter kill. Often, damage is not visible until later in late spring or early summer. You will have to wait until spring when new growth normally occurs. I predict many of the older gardenia varieties and other spring blooming shrubs will be severely damaged or killed outright by the extreme temperature dip.

Question: Is now a good time to prune old English boxwoods?

Answer: Wait a few more weeks until mid March. Most of the extremely cold weather should be over by mid March avoiding the likelihood of cold damage.

Question: My pansies look pretty bad right now. Can I fertilize them now?

Answer: Pansies need to be dead headed and fertilized now, but don’t fertilize them during periods of warm weather above 60 degrees. Fertilize them in cool weather with liquid bloom booster fertilizers. Unseasonably warm weather triggers aggressive growth promoting stretched growth and become weak.

Question: Is now a good time to apply pre-emergence herbicides on my lawn for crabgrass control?

Answer: It’s a little early for your spring application. Early March is actually the best time to apply pre-emergence herbicides. Make plans to make another application again in May to have full season crabgrass control.

Question: We had some trees cut down and the limbs were ground into wood chips as mulch. Can I use this in my beds?

Answer: Technically you can use green wood chips as mulch, but green wood chip mulch, as does any type of wood, attracts termites. So be careful locating green mulch near your foundation. It’s best used in walkways, paths, around trees, etc. If possible, compost the material if you prefer to use it as mulch.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu.