Simple Gardening Tips for Spring

Foliar Feeding

  • Plants can take up food through their green leaves and stems. Dilute liquid feed by twice the recommended volume of water to avoid burning the leaves. Spray a good quantity on to  the leaves later in the afternoon is more effective. Bulbs like Crocus and Daffodills benefit as they are building up reserves for next year. Stressed and weak plants will probably pick up after a foliar feed  but thick leaved plants are less receptive to feeding this way.

Frost Damage

  • Hardy shrubs that have had the leaves browned off by frost damage will recover all being well. My hydrangeas have been frosted despite leaving the old mopheads on for a bit of winter protection. I will trim the brown very lightly to avoid damage to the buds. Other shrubs can be trimmed back to the healthy shoots or leaves but if another heavy frost is likely I would leave the trimming job or protect with horticultural fleece. My Pieris japonica have been damaged but the new red leaves should still perform.
  • It is still too early to sow half-hardy annuals as even cold weather will kill them off. Hardy annuals should be acclimatised to cold and wind gradually. This gardeners call  ‘hardening off’ and is done by bringing plants into exposed areas during the day and moving them indoors or protecting them at night.

Staking and Supporting

  • Tall growing herbaceous shrubs may need staking or supporting particularly if they get top heavy. I have a bed of Peonies that are brilliant when the flowers open but the flowers are prone to droop with the weight after a bit of rain. I support the stems through a wide mesh so they can grow through and the leaves cover the mesh. Added to this I put in link stakes to surround the Peonies supporting all the stems. Campanulas need some support and the Oriental poppies can be blown over too easily. Single stems can be supported by pea-sticks or a string framework.
  • For natural support you can grow your own stakes from Hazel or even Bamboo. I crop both plants to give me plant supports and canes. Despite this I need wire for Raspberries and tannalised (treated wood) stakes for larger shrubs and trees.

Quick Pruning

  • Just a reminder to prune after spring  flowering. In some cases this is little more than deadheading as with Rhododendrons. With other shrubs like Forsythia and Ribes it is necessary to be more brutal to keep plants in shape and encourage future flowering.

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