Pruning shrubs – Shrubs that bloom on a current season’s growth or that do not produce ornamental flowers are best pruned now. Don’t prune spring-flowering shrubs now.
Here are three ways to prune, Ward Upham of K-State says:• Thin out branches from a shrub that is too dense. Remove most of the inward-growing twigs by either cutting them back to a larger branch or cutting them back to just above an outward-facing bud. On multi-stemmed shrubs, the oldest canes can be completely removed.
• To reduce height or keep a shrub compact, remove the end of a branch by cutting it back to a bud. Don’t cut branches back to a uniform height, because that results in a witch’s-broom effect.
• For multi-stem shrubs that have become too large, with too many old branches to justify saving the younger canes, cut all stems back to 3- to 5-inch stubs. This is not recommended for all shrubs but does work well for spirea, forsythia, pyracantha, ninebark, Russian almond, little leaf mock orange, shrub roses and flowering quince, Upham says.
New forsythia cultivars – While forsythia bushes provide a welcome dose of yellow flowers in early spring, the shrubs can be scraggly the rest of the year, Cheryl Boyer of K-State points out. But “I really like some of the new cultivars that are small and have stout, upright stems with quite large flowers. These cultivars make excellent specimen plants, particularly for early spring interest,” Boyer says. She lists these examples:
Forsythia x intermedia Kolgold (Magical Gold) has extra large (quarter-size), rich golden-yellow flowers and grows 4 to 5 feet tall and wide.
Golden Peep (Courdijau) forsythia is a smaller, more compact form (1½ to 2½ feet tall and wide) with bright yellow flowers and yellow to purple fall color as a bonus.
A trio of introductions from Proven Winners: Show Off (Mindor), Show Off Starlet (Minfor6) and Show Off Sugar Baby (Nimbus). All three are compact; Show Off grows 5 to 6 feet tall, but the second two are dwarfs – Starlet grows 24 to 36 inches tall and wide, and Sugar Baby grows 18 to 30 inches tall and wide.
Plant – Bare-root plants. Hillside Nursery reports that all its bare-root plant material in now. As well as:
Cabbage, broccoli, endive, cauliflower, lettuce, potatoes, radishes, onions, peas, spinach, strawberries, rhubarb, turnips and beets. Be sure the soil is dry enough to be crumbly before you plant. Ward Upham of K-State gives these tips for planting:• Fertilize vegetables before planting, working the fertilizer into the soil. It is best to have a soil test done first to be sure what the soil needs, but failing that, use a vegetable fertilizer at the suggested rate.
• Plants that are coming outdoors from indoors should be gradually exposed to the wind and cold, and this can take as long as a week. This is the time, when the soil is cool, to use a root stimulator or transplant solution to water in the plants. Use about 1 cup of solution per plant.
• Onions are usually grown from sets (small bulbs) or plants. Plants are usually better labeled by variety than sets, Upham says. “Onions can be planted thickly if young plants are harvested for green onions so that the remaining onions are thinned,” he says. “Those left to develop bulbs will need to be about 4 to 6 inches apart. Onions are shallow rooted, so be sure to water if the weather turns dry.”
Weed – This is a note to self. Note weeds as soon as they appear – and yank.
Apple sprays – Most apple trees are susceptible to cedar apple rust and apple scab, and they must be sprayed with the fungicide myclobutanil (Immunox) labeled for fruit trees every seven to 10 days during April and May to prevent the diseases, Upham says. (Resistant varieties include Liberty, Jonafree, Redfree, Freedom, Williams Pride and Enterprise.) An insecticide must be added to the mixture after petal drop to prevent damage from codling moths that cause wormy apples. Methoxychlor or malathion can be used as the insecticide, but do not use any insecticide during bloom in order to protect bees, Upham says.
National daylily hybridizer in town – Paul Owen, owner of Slightly Different Nursery in Polkville, N.C., will be in Wichita on Monday for a talk and an auction of some of his recent introductions. Owen will be the guest of the Wichita Daylily Club, and his program, at 7 p.m. at Botanica, is free and open to the public. Owen strives to hybridize daylilies that can take Northern cold, that are drought resistant and that rapidly rebloom. He’s known as an entertaining and knowledgeable speaker. His website: www.slightlydifferentnursery.com.
New plant selections talk – Dan Parcel of Kaw Valley Greenhouses will be at Botanica on Wednesday to talk about this year’s new plant selections. His lunchtime lecture, at 12:15, is included in Botanica admission.
Easter Sunday at Bartlett Arboretum – Bartlett Arboretum in Belle Plaine will be open Easter Sunday, with an ecumenical sunrise service, free and open to the public, at 7 a.m., and vintage jazz by Nouveau Quintet from 2 to 5 p.m. Luciano’s will have Italian cuisine available for sale in the afternoon. The concert is $5 at the gate.
Tulips, Fairies & Friends – The Easter bunny will be at Botanica on Saturday for the second installment of Tulips, Fairies & Friends. The event is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Saturday through April 13. Today’s other activities include a fairy-inspired egg hunt starting at 10 a.m., the MGM Fairy Dancers teaching and performing fairy dances, and a tulip scavenger hunt. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for children ages 3 to 12.
Harvey County Home & Garden Show – Garden seminars, home and garden vendors, a farmers market, an art show, door prizes, and a magazine and book sale will be part of the Harvey County Home & Garden Show on April 6 and 7 at the National Guard Armory, 400 Grandview, in Newton. Admission is $1; free for children 12 and younger. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 6 and 1 to 5 p.m. April 7. Kids can attend a gourd-birdhouse-making class at 2 p.m. both days, and there will be a youth butterfly garden class at 11 a.m. April 6.
Here is the seminar schedule:
9 a.m.: Frustrated With Fescue? by Butler County extension agent Larry Crouse
10 a.m.: Beautiful Plants That Need Less Water, by Scott Vogt of Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Hesston
11 a.m.: Hellebores: The Gardeners Dream Plant, by master gardener Helen Pauls
Noon: Soup It Up! (how to grow, freeze and use produce to make soup), by master gardener Gerre Brown
1 p.m.: Attracting Bees and Butterflies, by Kay Neff of Neff Family Farm
2 p.m.: Planting a Succulent Dish Garden, by master gardener Lisa Barland
3 p.m.: Watering Plants and Not Your Sidewalk, by Riley County extension agent Greg Eyestone
4 p.m.: Fantastic Fragrant Shrubs, by Riley County extension agent Greg Eyestone
1 p.m.: Plant Mafia! (plants that are incompatible), by Lee Llammas of Harvest Greenhouse and master gardener Becky Freund
2 p.m.: Landscaping for the Birds, by Geary County extension agent Chuck Otte
3 p.m.: Hummingbirds of Kansas, by Geary County extension agent Chuck Otte
4 p.m.: The Coolest Way to Compost! by Harvey County extension agent Scott Eckert.
Bartlett Arboretum concert – Rhonda Vincent, the “queen of bluegrass,” will perform at Bartlett Arboretum in Belle Plaine at 4 p.m. April 7. Gates open at 3 p.m., and the tickets are $10. You can also buy a season ticket to all 10 Treehouse Concerts at the arboretum this year for $75. More information: bartlettarboretum.com.