Spring officially arrived Wednesday and the chorus of spring flowers is now several weeks into its annual show. We have already enjoyed the crocus and daffodil bulbs. The ornamental pears and apricots are just finishing their show. We now have the orange and red flowers of quince, the bright yellow flowers of forsythia, the enchanting flowers of peaches, plums and crabapples. Every week will unveil a new performance from our spring flowering bulbs, shrubs and trees. This is a great way to observe what flowers and trees you enjoy in parks, commercial plantings and other yards to help you select plants for your yard.
We still have a couple of weeks left when we might get a frost or freeze so it is wise to wait to plant warm-blooded annuals like begonias, marigolds, impatiens, tomatoes and peppers until mid-April. Wait to plant hot-blooded crops like caladiums, sweet potatoes, periwinkle and okra until May 1 when night temperatures have heated up.
We are in the stretch run for planting cool season veggies so you want to get your seed potatoes, onions, lettuce, Swiss chard, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli planted as soon as possible so they can mature before summer heat. We are in the final stretch of the time to apply pre-emergent weed killers if you want to control crabgrass and other summer weeds before they germinate. These will work best if applied before the redbud trees are finished flowering. You can apply these pre-emergents as a weed killer only or as part of a weed and feed product that will also fertilize your lawn. There are also several good pre-emergents you can apply over flower beds to reduce weed problems. For flower beds, use products containing Dimension or Treflan right away to kill those summer weeds before they come up. Do not use pre-emergent weed killers where you plan to sow grass seed, flower seed or vegetable seeds in the next couple of months as they cannot make the distinction between what you think are good seeds and bad seeds.
Now until mid-May is the best time for planting tall fescue grass to establish a lawn in your shady areas. There was a limited fescue seed harvest in Oregon last year so you may not find the specific variety you have used in the past but there are still many good varieties that have been tested at OSU and the other regional land-grant universities for our hot, dry climate. Your nurseryman can help you select the best variety of fescue or rye grass for your application. All new plantings of seed or plants need water to get established and we are still very dry, so you will need to assist your new plantings with water anytime we are not blessed with regular natural rainfall.
As we watch the flowering shrubs and trees produce their spring flowers and see the parade of buds swelling and then producing leaves on our other deciduous trees and shrubs it often motivates us to plant new trees and shrubs. This is a great time of year to plant new trees and shrubs for your long-term enjoyment and beauty. Most nurseries have their largest selection of the year in the spring season so the odds are good you can find the trees or shrubs you want and do your part to plant for the future.
Rodd Moesel serves on the Oklahoma Horticulture Industrial Council and the Oklahoma State University agriculture dean's advisory committee. He is a former president of the Oklahoma Greenhouse Growers. Email garden and landscape questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.