Signs of spring growth

Bermuda grass rhizomes and stolons pull up easily this time of year.

Hasn’t it been gorgeous weather? I love when it warms up in February.

We only had a few freezes, so the ground won’t take too long to warm up. In fact, it looks like many perennials have already begun to wake up. So keep your eyes open and don’t blink too much, you may miss things.

“Miss what?” you may be asking. Many plants are waking up this time of year. First, look closely at the mountain laurels. They are beginning to bloom, and if you blink, you may miss it. And don’t forget to smell the flowers. There’s nothing quite like it. Watch for the bridal wreath spirea. Their snow-white clusters are phenomenal.

You might notice red bud trees starting to bloom. This will not last long either, but these are more noticeable because the leaves aren’t present to hide the beautiful pink hues. If you are lucky enough to already have one, take a step back and look at the shape of your red bud. It is a good time to see the bare branches and prune to the shape you desire.

Since the weather is warm, you may find yourself out raking leaves. Watch for the new growth that is beginning to emerge from the base of your plants. Be gentle as you rake so you don’t damage new growth.

If you choose to begin clearing your flower beds of debris using your hands, keep an eye out for snakes. Use a rake or stick to rustle around to scare them off, and wear gloves and long sleeves for added safety.

Another thing to watch for is any damage or broken branches. Prune these cleanly. Also, as new branches sprout out from the ground, nip those off if you don’t want or need any new thickness. Cutting these back will save the plant energy for the branches you do want.

I also cut off old bloom stalks and seed pods, which look unsightly to me, and trim off frost-damaged branches.

As you are cleaning up and getting ready to spread mulch in your bedding areas, watch for plants that have rooted their branches or seeds that germinated and created new plants. This is common. Many times, I’ll choose to keep the newer plant and pull or dig up the older, larger one. This created new spacing and you get a fresher, newer plant. Get up as many roots as possible.

It is also a great time to watch for the dreaded, invasive Bermuda grass runners that have invaded your flower beds and are just now greening up. Pulling them up is fairly easy right now. The soil is still moist from all the rain, the ground is softer, and the stolons and rhizomes this grass forms don’t have a tight grip yet.

Darla Horner Menking is an outdoor enthusiast and Herald correspondent. Contact her at

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