Early blooms announce a possible early start to spring

Tomorrow is one of those special days where beautiful flowers and horticulture add to the celebration.  Flowers have played a key role in showing love for centuries.  Beautiful cut or potted flowers are a great way to say “I Love You” to your favorite Valentine.  Whether it is long stem red roses, a pot of blooming tulips or daffodils, a cute African Violet or a mysterious and enchanting orchid or bromeliad let flowers help you express your love and affection on Valentine’s Day and throughout the year.

The days are growing longer and the early signs of spring are all around us as the yellow forsythia flowering shrubs start to bloom. The daffodils have already stretched from the ground and are getting ready to unfurl their yellow trumpet flowers to announce the early arrival of spring.  We are running a couple of weeks early at this point but still have a high risk of hard freezes for about another 8 weeks.  If you want to do some food gardening you can already be planting cool season veggies like seed potatoes, onion plants, onion sets and many of the green leafy crops like cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, swiss chard, kohlrabi and lettuce or root crops like radishes, turnips and carrots.  This is a great time to plant asparagus, rhubarb and horseradish as well as strawberries, blackberries, grapes, gooseberries, raspberries and blueberries.

For those of you that want to control crabgrass, sandburs, summer grasses and broadleaf weeds this is the optimum time to apply the pre-emergent herbicides or weed killers.  You can get these products as a weed killer only or available mixed with lawn fertilizer as a weed and feed type product. For years we have advised to apply these from when the forsythia start to flower to when the Redbuds are done flowering. The forsythia are in bloom and spring is running early so you need to apply these products sooner rather than later as most will only kill the weed seeds as they germinate.  Once weeds have germinated the pre-emergents are not effective except for formulas that contain Dimension or Sulfentrazone that are still effective on some weeds after germination while the weeds are still very young and small.  In a normal year crabgrass and summer weeds will germinate from mid March to early May so applying your pre-emergents from now until mid March will allow the products to provide the most effective “birth control” for crabgrass and weeds.

Look for a herbicide or weed and feed product that contains prodiamine (Barricade), Dimension, Team, Balan or Treflan to give you good control of crabgrass and most weeds in your lawns.  Versions of the Dimension, Treflan and Gallery can even be applied to ornamental flowerbeds and container gardens to give pre-emergent weed control in those areas.  Remember to read and follow the directions and not to use a herbicide any place you plan to plant new seeds for at least the next 6 to 8 weeks.  Visit with your local nurseryman for help in picking out the right pre-emergent for your lawn and flowerbeds.

The Oklahoma Horticulture Society will have Felder Rushing, a very entertaining horticulture speaker, Sunday afternoon, February 26th at 1PM at the Education Building at the Oklahoma City Zoo. This is free to the public.

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