In the wake of a mild winter and warm start to spring, Azaleas, rhododendrons, perennials and a number of other seasonal flowering plants are coming early to Long Beach, and local nurseries and florists are forewarning gardeners of precautions they may need to take when considering the fast approaching planting season.
Leeanne Seile Kraus, owner of Atlantic Nursery in Freeport, explained that while the warmer season appears to have a positive effect on our flowers, trees and plants, there are some things you may need to watch out for this spring.
“What people have to pay attention to is that we had a dry winter,” Seile Kraus said. “Things may require water sooner because we’re not getting rain and because it’s so warm, things are blooming faster than usual.”
She explained that while flowering trees such as plums and cherries may open up faster and stay open longer than normal, they aren’t expected to last as deep into the spring as they have in years past.
“They have a certain amount of bloom period,” she said. “Since the blooms open up earlier, they might not open as long into the season.”
Conversely, Sean Newman, manager at A&T Garden Center in Island Park, thinks that with the warmer weather there isn’t as much to worry about as people think, explaining that soil traps in the moisture.
“The dry season shouldn’t effect us too much,” Newman said. “If we had a dry summer and a dry winter then it would be a different story, but the ground we’ve been working with is nice and wet.”
Although Newman reassures his customers the ground is moist enough for plants, he does warn those living on Long Beach that sandy soils need special treatment no matter what the seasonal conditions.
“They need to prepare the soil,” he said. “Every time you dig a hole you should add a little bit of peat moss, some compost and a little top soil to help mend the ground from what nutrients are lost in the winter.”
Joe DiDominico, co-owner of Dee’s Nursery in Oceanside, suggests adding peat moss, good fertilizer and gypsum to Long Beach soils to help repair from last year’s flooding caused by Tropical Storm Irene.
“Since there was lots of flooding in the fall, consider adding gypsum to help correct salt damages,” DiDominico said. “Definitely add fresh top soil and that will mend the soil as well.”
According to DiDominico, people can begin planting their pansies, bulbs and other cool weather crops. He also suggested that gardeners begin preparing their soils earlier for their vegetable gardens.
“Crops like lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, herbs, cabbage and peas are in season,” he said. “I think you’ll be able to put your tomatoes in the ground sooner this year too.”