Spring gardening after historic low temperatures

Tom Terry
Master Gardener
If you plan to cut back your Liriope, also known as ‘Monkey Grass' or Lily Turf, March is the time to do it.

Once again it is time to begin Master Gardeners’ weekly gardening articles in the Shawnee News-Star. We appreciate the opportunity to share some suggestions for gardeners to consider. As we approach spring, remember that winter is not over. I recall a snow storm occurring at the end of spring break that delayed opening because the parking lots were full of snow and a snowfall and freeze in the middle of April. Keep those possibilities in mind as you begin doing your spring tasks.

Oklahoma State University horticulturists have issued a caution about pruning shrubs until a little later in March. Because of the severity of the freeze, it is difficult to know how much it affected these plants.

Some of you may recall that I suggest that you prune your Liriope and Mondo grasses so that you will have fresh growth that is not overwhelmed by previous year’s growth. In some cases you can mow the grass, keeping the setting high enough so that you don’t affect the roots. You can also use a weed eater or pruning shears. The end result will be a planting of fresh growth without brown leaves. This is a matter of choice. If you do choose to trim do it early enough to avoid cutting the new growth causing blunt ends.

Special reminder: Don’t prune spring blooming shrubs such as flowering quince, azaleas, and forsythia until after they bloom. Also avoid pruning hydrangeas that bloom on old wood. If you do prune hydrangeas complete the task by the end of July.

If you didn’t have a chance to prune your roses in February plan to do it in the next few weeks to avoid cutting new growth that will soon be beginning. This is a good time to do selective pruning of deciduous shrubs as well as evergreen shrubs. The Oklahoma State Extension Office has a Fact Sheet, “Pruning Ornamental Trees, Shrubs, and Vines.” The Number is HLA-6409. It is available online or at the Extension Office at Acme Road and West MacArthur streets.

The OSU Multi-County Master Gardeners have a work morning scheduled for Saturday, March 6. During that time the workers will prune the Ornamental Grass bed and the Butterfly Garden in addition to selective pruning of shrubs around the building. If you would like to see the results of their work you might stop by Saturday afternoon or Sunday or later in the week and walk around the grounds to get some ideas.

The last few months have been difficult, experiencing an ice storm, the snow blizzard and more. Let us hope that the spring and summer will bring more “normal” weather. If it doesn’t we will have to adjust our efforts.