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Lower Midwest: March/April Gardening

A Kansas Master Gardener shares tips and gardening news for early spring
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A common question

It’s a beautiful day, what can I do in my garden this afternoon?

Answer: Spring cleaning! Gardeners in Kansas City are impatient to get back into their gardens after a long, cold winter. March teases us with occasional days of warm, sunny weather, but real spring is still a month away. March is the month for garden clean up. Trim back the dead flower stalks on perennials, rake up leaves and plant debris that has not decomposed over the winter and prune trees and shrubs that don’t flower in the spring. Wait to prune spring flowering plants like crab apples, redbuds, forsythia and lilacs until after they flower.

The oddest question

What is the fluffy blue and white stuff growing on the mulch in my flower bed?

Answer:  Lint from the clothes dryer. Time to clean out the dryer exhaust tube!

To-do list for March and April

  1. Clean up debris—dead flower stalks and plant materials, excess leaves that haven’t composted over the winter.
  2. Prune trees and shrubs—except for spring flowering shrubs.
  3. Transplant trees, shrubs and roses that need a better spot in the garden.
  4. Fertilize all the flowerbeds with their once-a-year dose of 1 pound nitrogen per 1000 square foot.
  5. Plant bare-root roses.
  6. Go shopping! Nurseries are stocked and ready for business. Online sources begin delivering plants ordered over the winter.
  7. Plant trees, shrubs, perennials.
  8. Set out the patio furniture.
  9. Clean, repair and fill birdbaths and fountains.
  10. Enjoy and deadhead the daffodils.

Recent gardening trends

Kansas City gardeners are looking for easy-care roses. There is a great interest in roses that will bloom and look beautiful all summer without needing routine pesticide and fertilizer treatments. Roses in the Knockout family and other shrub roses are replacing the traditional hybrid teas in many gardens.

About Laura

I have an extensive garden with informal, cottage-style mixed plantings of trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals that provide year-round interest and flowers from March through November. I specialize in roses, and am a certified Consulting Rosarian with the American Rose Society.

I am married to a retired business man who is a ham radio operator. I have one grown daughter, step-daughters and six grandchildren. I also have two cats whose job it is to keep the rabbits and chipmunks out of my garden! When I am not gardening I sing in a professional-level community choir called the William Baker Festival Singers. We specialize in a capella sacred choral music, folk songs and spirituals.

Kansas Master Gardeners