Phipps recommends:
Cornelian Cherry Dogwood

Month-by-Month Calendar of Gardening Tips

You're a gardener 12 months a year. Let us help you get the most from your passion with this season-by-season guide to better yields and greater enjoyment.


  • Go through that stack of gardening catalogs and place orders now for seeds. You'll get them in time for starting indoors.
  • Take a walk around your garden and re-plant any perennials that have heaved out of the soil due to the freeze/thaw cycle.
  • Use sand to provide traction on walks. Use de-icing compounds only if absolutely necessary.


  • Start seeds of perennials. Some may bloom the first year if started early enough.
  • Bring in branches of Cornus mas, Cornelian cherry dogwood, and put it in a vase to bring a touch of spring indoors.
  • Order a new perennial or shrub to try this year.


  • Plant annuals in the garden in mid-May; be prepared to cover them on cold nights, especially if you plant earlier.
  • Plant tomatoes and peppers in the garden toward the end of the month.
  • Try self-watering containers, available in many mail order catalogs and at some local garden centers. These will give you a bit of a cushion when you aren't home to water every day. Remember, in most cases, the bigger the better.
  • Plan to incorporate more sustainable practices into your garden this year. A good step is to grow "the right plant in the right place."


  • After planting, apply a 1 – 2" layer of organic mulch such as compost. Be sure to keep the mulch away from stems.
  • Pull weeds as soon as they appear to keep from getting overwhelmed.
  • For best results with container plantings, use larger containers and add organic matter such as compost to the soil to increase its water-holding capacity. Self- watering containers with their own reservoir will decrease watering frequency.
  • Visit a local farmers' market and eat seasonally. Try something you haven't eaten before. The farmers will be happy to tell you what to do with their produce.
  • Order bulbs from catalogs now for the best selection for fall planting. They will be shipped at the appropriate time for planting.


  • Harvest vegetables as they are ready and enjoy! Try some new recipes. This is a great time to get in the habit of eating the recommend servings of fruits and vegetables.
  • Purchase bulbs locally as soon as they are available. Plant fall blooming crocus and colchicum now for bloom next month.
  • Mow the lawn high: 2½ - 3" through the hot, dry summer season. This will encourage deeper rooting and help to shade out weeds.


  • Pick all green tomatoes before the first frost, and ripen them in a cool location inside.
  • Plant spring bulbs; be sure to try something new along with the old standbys.
  • Start a compost pile with fallen leaves for a great soil amendment next year.
  • Cut back and discard foliage from peonies to minimize potential botrytis on next year's foliage.
  • Don't cut back grasses; enjoy their form in the garden throughout the winter.
  • Make a list now of gardening chores you need to perform in early spring and beyond. You may forget all your great ideas over the long winter.


  • Plant pea seeds in the vegetable garden and sweet pea seeds in the flower garden on St. Patrick's Day.
  • Now is the best time of year to complete major pruning on shrubs. Thin out multi-stemmed shrubs for increased air circulation. Remove tallest stems back to a Y to reduce height.
  • Bring in and force branches of forsythia and quince.


  • Start seeds for most annuals and vegetables.
  • Cut ornamental grasses back to 2-4 inches by mid-April.
  • Rake leaves and fallen twigs from the lawn. Put them in a compost pile.
  • Apply corn gluten to the lawn as an organic pre-emergent weed control.
  • Plant pansies for early color in the garden.
  • Sharpen mower blades for a clean cut.
  • Begin to plant perennials in the garden.
  • Plant hardy vegetables in the garden, including lettuce, cabbage, peas, onions and leeks.
  • As spring bulbs finish blooming, allow their foliage to die back naturally. The leaves need to carry out photosynthesis, making food to provide energy for next year's bloom.


  • Water deeply and infrequently for best results. Most plants need 1" of water per week. Established trees and shrubs should be able to go for weeks without supplemental water, especially if they are mulched.
  • Container plantings may need watered daily.
  • Start broccoli seeds for a fall crop.
  • Take the time to pick flowers from your garden to enjoy inside or on the table for a picnic.
  • Remove spent flowers to prolong blooming of most plants.


  • Has your garden passed its peak? Add fall-blooming plants for a boost. Asters and flowering kale and cabbage are readily available now. Pansies will do well as the weather cools down and bloom late into the fall.
  • Continue to water and weed as necessary through the fall.
  • Take notes on what you want to try next year. What needs to be moved or divided? Which plant would work perfectly in that certain spot?
  • Allow some flowers to go to seed to provide food for birds.
  • Purchase spring bulbs as early as they are available for best selection.
  • Bring houseplants back inside before temperatures drop. Wash off with a strong spray of water from the garden hose first to remove any possible insect pests.
  • Plant new lawn areas, over-seed, aerate or de-thatch the lawn now; it's the best time of year for these projects.

November & December

  • When purchasing holiday plants, be sure they are completely covered before quickly taking them to you car. Do not leave plants in your car while you finish shopping; they will likely freeze.
  • Place poinsettias, and other blooming holiday plants, in bright light, away from drafts, and keep the soil evenly moist.
  • Plant paperwhite bulbs for blooms in 4 to 6 weeks, perfect to enjoy yourself, or to give as gifts.
  • Amaryllis bulbs will grow quickly and produce large, beautiful blooms, usually in 6 to 8 weeks.
  • Cut branches of evergreens, berried shrubs and ornamental grasses to spruce up your window boxes and add to your holiday decorating inside and out.