University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
REMOVING SUCKERS AND OTHER MARCH
Charlie Nardozzi, Senior
Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont
Sowing vegetable seeds indoors,
unwrapping roses, and removing suckers from fruit trees are some of the
gardening activities for this month.
If you wrapped or otherwise protected
your roses for the winter, begin unwrapping them in late March. Do this
gradually, so the plant awakens slowly as the weather warms. Begin by removing
whatever you used to protect the top of the rose, and gradually remove the
protective mulch. Wait until May to prune any “dead” stems, as they eventually
may recover and sprout.
To get an early harvest of lettuce and
other greens, dig out a large shallow container and sow some seeds. Grow them
indoors until the weather warms enough to put them outside during the day. Keep
cutting leaves from the outside of the plants to prolong the harvest. Or you
can sow seeds for a mesclun mix and cut off the leaves when still young. They
will regrow for another harvest in a few weeks.
By the end of March you can sow broccoli,
cauliflower, and cabbage seeds indoors under lights. These cool-loving crops
will need about six weeks indoors before they are ready to be transplanted
outdoors two weeks before your last frost date. Keep seedlings moist and in
good light (grow lights are best), and fertilize when they get two sets of
leaves so they will be strong and
stocky by the time you set them in the garden.
Spray horticultural oil on fruit trees,
such as apples, plums, and cherries, to smother any overwintering insects.
Choose a calm day when temperatures are above 40 degrees F, and be sure to
cover all sides of the branches. You also can apply it to evergreens to control
spider mites and other insects. Carefully follow the instructions on the label
for proper usage and appropriate plants.
Suckers or shoots that sprout from the
base of crabapples and other fruiting trees will rob the trees of energy
needed to form fruit, so don’t let them grow unchecked. Pull them off if
possible because this reduces their regrowth more than cutting them, but use
whatever method you need to.
If suckers, check the trunks to make sure
there is no damage that may cause these shoots.
Trunk damage may be from chewing by mice, holes from woodpeckers looking
for insects, or sunscald. Especially on
young trees with thin bark, sun on the frozen bark in winter can cause it to
expand and crack. Canker disease can
enter and cause sunken and darkened areas. If any of these problems, removing
suckers and keeping trees healthy is the easiest way to help them recover.
Other gardening activities for this month
include attending a flower or garden show, visiting a maple sugarhouse, taking
mowers for tune-ups, stocking up on gardening supplies before the season rush,
buying some cut daffodils to brighten up gray days, and starting some flower
seeds such as snapdragons and petunias indoors under lights.
Return to Perry's Perennial