It's finally spring, so get some plants in the ground

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With the weather finally warming up, the plants are showing all their spring colors and new growth. So, let us start by pruning our spring flowering shrubs like azaleas. Give them a good pruning now, as any new growth will need to be touched up again by mid-June.

We also can remove some of the extra breaks on our crape myrtles in a way that the growth will be on the outside of the limbs. Consider leaving three to five new limb breaks per limb that was cut back this early spring.

At the same time, you may see some white-grayish powder on the new growth of your crape myrtles. That is powdery mildew and needs to be sprayed with a fungicide to control the problem and not hurt the new growth as it is developing.

Other plants that are affected by powdery mildew are dogwood and Gerber daisies, so treat them to reduce the problem before it starts.

Continue to plant annuals and perennials to the garden to add color now and later. If you have places where containers are needed, plant them with varieties that will take the sun or shade conditions where they will be.

At the same time, get those last hanging baskets hung to add color to porches or balconies.

For the vegetable garden, when the soil temperature reaches 60 degrees, it is time to plant green beans, squash, tomatoes, radishes, beets and carrots. As the temperatures continue to warm up, plant peppers and warm season crops like lima beans, Southern peas, cucumbers and running squashes.

You will also be planting herbs toward the end of the month. Remember that herbs like cilantro, chives and basil will need to be planted in large quantities, as you will use them up rapidly. If you do not want to plant that many so early consider making several plantings over the course of the next couple of weeks.

Remember mowing at the proper height is very important to help the grass maintain a healthy vigor. We see many times where St. Augustine is cut too short when it should be cut at around 4 inches high especially if it is under shady areas. Most of our other grasses are cut around 1 1/2 to 2 inches high.

We are seeing mole cricket activity, so treat them now before they start laying eggs. If you still have a few weeds developing, consider treating them before they get too established for the summer.

If the weather stays dry, remember to water only once or twice a week so the roots stay deep and strong and we do not develop disease problems.

Edward Poenicke is a retired Chatham County extension agent. This article is provided in collaboration with Lawn Doctor of Beaufort County.

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