Monday, April 29, 2013

Pruning, Planting, Fertilizing

Such a busy time of year for the great outdoors here in Cobb County! Vegetable gardeners will have begun planting their summer crops within the last week or so; seedlings are coming up; early-flowering shrubs like azaleas will need to have any pruning done very soon; and the warm-season lawns (Bermudagrass, Centipede, Zoysia, St. Augustine) should have any needed fertilizers applied within the next several weeks.
Zucchini seedlings emerging.                               PHOTO/Amy Whitney

Vegetable gardeners who would like to verify that planting time is now for most of the summer crops can check UGA's Vegetable Planting Chart. The planting dates on the chart are for middle-Georgia, so the dates should be adjusted by a week or two for Cobb County.

With regard to pruning the azaleas, UGA's Frank Watson reports in the 25 April issue of FACES that azaleas should be pruned "now, after they have bloomed, to allow the plants to prepare for blooming next year."

Watson's article explains the two pruning techniques typically applied to azaleas - thinning cuts and heading cuts:

"Thinning refers to the complete removal of branches back to another branch or main trunk. Thinning is used to remove leggy branches that extend beyond the canopy of the plant, to reduce the size of the plant or to remove any damaged or diseased wood. Thinning can be done any time of the year without significant impact on flowering, growth or cold hardiness

"Heading refers to the cutting back of a branch, not necessarily to a side branch. Vigorous new shoots will emerge within 6 inches of the pruning cut. Heading is usually done with three goals in mind: to reduce the size of the plant, to increase the number of branches or to rejuvenate old, overgrown plants. Severe pruning of old, overgrown plants to within 6 to 12 inches of ground level is a common type of heading."

For more information, refer to Watson's article "Azalea Bloom Show is Over so It's Time to Prune and read UGA's "Selecting and Growing Azaleas."