Four “P’s” of late February – Pruning, Pre-emergents, Preparation, and Planting!

This is the four “P” season, time to prune, pre-emerge, prepare and plant in the Oklahoma garden. We have had unseasonably warm weather the last few weeks as Oklahoma does on occasion and already have daffodils blooming, a few fruit and ornamental trees in flower and buds popping on many other plant materials. This is a good season to prune trees, shrubs and most everything except spring flowering shrubs and fruit trees as pruning those now will result in reducing your early season harvest of flowers or fruit. When pruning trees and shrubs first prune out any dead wood or branches. Then prune to shape the tree or shrub as you hope to size or shape it. There are also many plants, like roses that respond well to harder pruning where you cut back the canes or braches to stimulate new energetic shoots from down low on the bush. Remember the new growth will usually come out from a bud or joint just below your cut. If you pay attention to the location of the bud on the joint you can even predict the direction of the new branch to assist you in shaping and directing the plant. Use clean and sharp cutting tools to make a clean cut instead of smashing or ripping the cut which will require longer for healing.

If you hate to fight weeds and want to reduce your weed pulling frustration in your lawn or your flowerbeds, later in this growing season, this is the time to apply pre-emergent herbicides for control of warm season weeds and grasses. We usually apply different products on the lawn and in the flowerbeds. You need to identify your type of lawn grass to make sure you select the best herbicide to spray or spread as granules. Make certain not to use a pre-emergence herbicide on lawn or flower bed areas where you plan to sow seeds or if you have plants you like that come back from seed each year. These pre-emergent weed killers work by killing the seed as they start to germinate. Some pre-emergents kill grass seeds, others kill broadleaf weeds and some work on grasses and broadleaf’s. None can tell the difference between good seeds and bad seeds so do not use them where you plan to sow good seeds. Most pre-emergent’s work for four to twelve weeks after you apply them to your lawn or flowerbeds. They work best when watered in well after application. There are post emergent herbicides you can apply after the warm season weeds and grasses have germinated but they are more selective and more likely to burn or damage plants you don’t want to damage.

The third “P” is for preparation. We can already plant trees, shrubs and cool season crops this is the time to take soil tests, create new flowerbeds, add peat moss, compost or other organic matter to your existing flowerbeds before the main planting season for warm season crops. This is a great time to get your containers cleaned up, filled up with good soil and ready for planting. You can do a spray of dormant oil to help control scale and other pests before the season starts on your shrubs and trees.

We have entered the planting season and can now plant bareroot fruit trees, grapes, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb and horseradish. We can plant Irish potatoes, onion plants, onion sets and seed or plants of lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and many other green leafy crops or root crops like radishes and carrots.

Take advantage of the pretty days to escape your cabin fever and get outside in your yard and engage in the four “P’s” of late February – pruning, pre-emergents, preparation, and planting.

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