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Plant Spring Bulbs

Daffodils are one of the earliest spring bulbs. Deer won’t touch them because they’re toxic. Other spring bulbs are more enticing to deer and rabbits. Cut daffodils will harm other flowers if put in a mixed vase arrangement, but they smell lovely by themselves. Interestingly, their stems are aeronautically dynamic – they bend and twist with the wind, but only break under great pressure.

 

The bulbs double every 2-3 years and if you want to keep them blooming, divide every 4-5 years after the foliage dies down, in late spring or early summer. Do not remove foliage until it has completely died down, since it provides food for the bulbs.

 

https://s3.wp.wsu.edu/uploads/sites/2073/2014/03/Daffodil-Delights.pdf

 

https://pubs.extension.wsu.edu/propagation-of-plants-from-specialized-structures

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Photo by Dvortygirl, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Divide daffodil bulbs every four to five years.

Trim Spring-Flowering Shrubs

After your heather stops blooming, keep it trim by giving it a light shearing. Cut spent flowers back to green growth to keep the plant from getting leggy. Avoid cutting into brown woody growth, as it may not regenerate. Heathers like acid soil, so plant them with other acid-loving plants.

 

https://s3.wp.wsu.edu/uploads/sites/2073/2014/03/Planning-A-Heather-Garden.pdf

Monitor Fruit Trees

Many insects will infest tree fruit during flowering. Of particular concern are coddling moths and apple maggots. Commercial orchardists are very concerned about home growers who do not monitor and control for these insects.

 

Fruit from the western side of Washington state is under quarantine and it is illegal to take fresh fruit out of the area. HORTSENSE has guidance for control of tree fruit insects and diseases.

 

https://pubs.extension.wsu.edu/codling-moth-and-your-backyard-fruit-tree

 

https://pubs.extension.wsu.edu/protecting-backyard-apple-trees-from-apple-maggots

 

http://hortsense.cahnrs.wsu.edu/Search/MainMenuWithFactSheet.aspx?CategoryId=3

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Photo used with permission

Monitor apple trees closely for any sign of webs forming in the branches.

Protect Tender Plants and Flowers

Plant dahlias (and other tender bulbs and plants) after the danger of frost has passed, which in our region is usually around Mother’s Day, but earlier if it’s been an early spring.

 

https://s3.wp.wsu.edu/uploads/sites/2073/2020/09/Dahlia-Delights-Bold-Summer-Blooms.pdf

 

Harden off annuals and vegetables raised indoors before planting them in their summer location. Acclimate them over several days to the brighter light, cooler temperatures and wind of outdoors. Move them outside during the day and return them to a sheltered location at night, or indoors if frost threatens. Start with a shady area out of direct sun for several hours, increasing their early morning or afternoon sun exposure over several days. Mid-day sun is usually too intense and will sunburn the young plants. This process may take 7-10 days.

 

Your vegetables, fruit trees/bushes and newly established plantings need 1” of water per week. If it isn’t falling from the sky, you’ll need to irrigate. Water deeply once per week to encourage deep root growth, instead of a lighter watering more frequently. Water early in the morning to allow the plants’ tops to dry and avoid making an environment for fungal development.

 

For plants on drip irrigation, remember that roots of established plants extend out from the trunk or stem 2-3 times the width of the plant's drip line. Any plants in containers will need daily watering.

 

https://pubs.extension.wsu.edu/home-vegetable-gardening-in-washington-home-garden-series

Support the Pollinators

Most people think of bees or bumblebees when they think of pollinators, but hummingbirds, butterflies, moths, bats, and even beetles and flies can be pollinators too. The hairs on bees and bumblebees makes for efficient pollination, but pollination occurs whenever an animal visits from flower to flower. Pollinators are gathering nectar, pollen and insects for themselves and the plants get their pollen transferred between plants.

 

Pollinators need food all the time, not just when we plant, so plan for flowers available throughout the growing season. Choose a wide range of wildflowers, include flowers with open centers, with tube flowers for hummingbirds, white flowers for moths, red and orange flowers for bees and butterflies, and stinky flowers for beetles and flies.  Finally, providing a water source like a bird bath will be visited by more than birds.

 

https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/em9289

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Photo used with permission

Pollinator-friendly perennials are planted near fruit vines and vegetable bed.

Authored by Katie Reid Levine, Island County Master Gardener
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