Roses and border feeding are my main focus this week, but there's still a spot of pruning to be done to get more blooms!
In the veg patch, I'm trying to warm the soil up for an earlier start, and I'm keen to get some summer bedding plants underway using plug plants from my local garden retailer. As the earliest bulbs fade, I also want to save and spread them for an even better show in future years.
1. Transplant your bulbs
- Forced Hyacinth bulbs are going over now but don't bin them! After they finish flowering, they gradually harden them off and then plant them in the garden to flower and thrive for many years to come.
- Lift crowded clumps of snowdrop bulbs when they have finish flowering. Carefully divide them up and replant immediately. Be careful; snowdrops hate to have their roots broken. However, this is the best way to get them to establish and spread.
A clump of snowdrop bulbs after flowering and now ready to split and replant
- You should cut all dead growth off herbaceous perennial plants now before the new shoots start to come through.
_Hylotelephium_ 'Herbstfreude'(was Sedum) at the end of winter
- Ornamental grasses look great in winter but, as new growth appears or the tops keel over, you need to cut the dead stalks back hard. Only cut the dead bits from those varieties that are evergreen. Some, such as Stipa oat grasses, are best raked through to remove just the old dead leaves.
Miscanthus grasses ready to be cut down
- Most Clematis should be pruned this month.
- Cut back clematis that flower after midsummer hard, as these only produce flowers on new shoots.
- You can lightly prune varieties that flower before midsummer to about 75 cm from the base. These often have a pair of fat buds at this height - you should cut just above these.
- Finish off by scattering a general fertiliser around the root zone. Rose fertiliser is excellent for this, but there are specialised Clematis feeds around!
Find out more!
Pruning above a pair of fat _Clematis_ buds
Pruning other Climbing Plants
- If winter flowering Jasmine has already finished blooming, shorten young side shoots back to about 5 cm and cut out old wood.
- You can also cut back any summer flowering Jasmine at this time of year. Both types bloom best on newly produced wood.
Summer flowering jasmine
- The primary time for pruning Wisteria is in summer, but you can cut last year's new wood back to just 8 -10 cms now if you wanted to improve blooming.
Find out more!
3. Feeding plants
- If you can get it, surround your roses with a generous layer of well-rotted manure. Avoid putting it in direct contact with the stems.
- Liberally dress them too with balanced rose fertiliser, and prune them if you haven't already done it.
General border, window box and hanging basket care
- Now is the time to apply a general fertiliser to all your borders. Use blood, bone meal, fish, Growmore or Vitax Q4.
- Winter pots, window-boxes and hanging baskets will be lacking feed after all the winter rain. Use a liquid feed such as Miracle-Gro or Phostrogen to give them a boost.
A window basket filled with pansies, ivy and cyclamen
Browse window boxes on Candide.
4. Plug bedding plants
- Bedding plants are in garden centres now, so take some home and grow them in cell packs.
- They can even be grown on a bright windowsill.
- If they get 'leggy' and are stretching up for light, don't be afraid to nip the tops out to encourage them to branch out more.
- Rotate your plants regularly so that one side isn't always getting the best light.
Kindergarden Plants plug plant fuchsias
5. Prepare beds and borders
- Cover a patch of cultivated soil in your veg patch with a sheet of clear polythene.
Clear polythene soil cover
- This cover will trap in the heat so that you can get sowing outside earlier.
- An important tip: wait until you see weed seedlings emerging before sowing. They will tell you when the soil is warm enough to sow and plant tender plants out!
- If you didn't get around to splitting clumps of perennial plants in the autumn, don't worry, as you can do this now. Replant the younger material from the edge and discard the older centres.
Splitting a plant in two with two garden forks back to back