Margaret Murphy, ISU Extension and Outreach Horticulture Educator/Regional Food Coordinator
March is one of my favorite times of year. It’s the time we begin the transition from winter to spring. In March we might get lucky and see the first of the early spring bloomers bravely poke its head up out of the chilled ground and add a bit of spring-cheer to the landscape. March also offers us the opportunity to head outdoors – on those welcomed days of above freezing temperatures – to get a little spring pruning done. It is also the time of year to take in some fun at garden shows.
If you grow summer and fall-bearing raspberries, now is a good time to prune them. Remove all weak, diseased, or damaged canes at ground level leaving the most vigorous canes. Also, prune out any cane tips that have died due to winter injury. If you’re looking for detailed information on how to prune raspberries, Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach has a handy guide that can be found online at www.extension.iastate.edu/publications/rg501.pdf.
Grape growers too will want to head out to prune grapevines between now and early April. Prune grapevines every year to get maximum yield and to allow for adequate vegetative growth for the next season. If pruning grapevines seems like a daunting task, take a look at ISU Extension’s publication Pruning Grapevines – it will help get you started. (It’s available at www.extension.iastate.edu/publications/rg502.pdf). If you’re thinking about adding grapes to your landscape this spring, we also have a publication called Growing Grapes in the Home Garden filled with great information on what cultivars grow well in Iowa, when and where to plant, and how to care for your vines (you can download it for free at https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/Growing-Grapes-in-the-Home-Garden).
Many shade trees and ornamental shrubs can be pruned now as well as. For more in-depth information on pruning times and techniques, see publications Pruning Trees: Shade, Flowering, and Conifer (https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/sul5-pdf) and Pruning Ornamental Shrubs (https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/Pruning-Ornamental-Shrubs).
All of these publications are also available through your local county extension office.
While you’re outside pruning, cut a couple of young, healthy branches from a favorite spring-flowering tree or shrub. Place them in a vase for forcing blooms indoors and enjoy some early springtime color. Try it with crabapple, flowering quince, red twig dogwood, honeysuckle, forsythia, lilac, or mock orange.
March also brings garden shows
Garden shows offer a fun-filled, information-packed opportunity to gather new ideas for the upcoming growing season. A great kick off to the gardening season is the Siouxland Garden Show. It begins on Friday, March 28 and goes through Sunday, March 30. It’s located at the Sioux City Convention Center. This show offers plenty of educational seminars, how-to sessions and make-and-take workshops. Admission is $5 for one day, $9 for a two-day pass and $12 for a three-day pass. Children 12 and under are admitted for free. Hours are Friday 10 a.m. -8 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information on the show presenters and schedule, visit the Siouxland Garden Show website www.siouxlandgardenshow.org.
If you find yourself in the Sioux Falls area that weekend, check out their lawn and garden show at the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds. The Sioux Falls Lawn & Garden Show also runs March 28 through March 30 and offers landscaping and garden displays plus many educational seminars and hands-on demonstrations. There is also the annual nature photo contest. Times are Friday noon – 9 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. -7 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults and free for children 13 years and under. Check out the Sioux Falls Lawn & Garden Show 2014 Facebook page for more information on speakers and presentation times.
Both shows will have Master Gardeners available to answer lawn and garden questions and vendors that specialize in lawn and garden care and décor.