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Horticulture Helpers in our area

The Horticulture Committee of The Elizabeth River Garden Club serves to bring timely and pertinent growing information to club members through programs, displays, posters, handouts and notices in the monthly Newsletter.

Members of ERGC mostly live in Portsmouth and Chesapeake, which is in USDA Plant Zone 8a; a few members live further west and may be on the fringes of Zone 7b. All this falls within the warmest growing region in the state of Virginia. Many plants can be grown here that do not thrive in the colder parts of VA and some plants that prefer the cooler zones of the state do not grow well here. Keeping this in mind, the Horticulture Committee attempts to regionalize the information.

With this in mind, below is a list of local places where more information can be obtained:

Horticulture Helpers in our area

Norfolk Botanical Garden –

Fred Huette Center –

Hampton Roads Agricultural Research & Extension Center –

Chesapeake Arboretum –

Portsmouth Virginia Tech Extension Office –
Cyndi Wyskiewicz, Horticulturist

Chesapeake Virginia Tech Extension Office –
Mike Andruczyk, Horticulturist

Chesapeake Master Gardeners –

Bowman’s Garden Center –

McDonald Garden Center –

Smithfield Gardens –

Gardening Checklist – Month by Month


Deadhead perennials and remove ugly brown foliage and stems.
Divide and replant bearded iris, discarding “mother bulb” that has already bloomed.
Stop pruning shrubs & trees at the end of this month.
Stop fertilizing shrubs, perennials & trees at the end of this month.
Apply pre-emergent herbicide to lawn to prevent annual bluegrass & winter weeds.
Apply pre-emergent herbicide to weed-free ornamental beds; water well after application.
Start fall vegetables from seed – lettuce, beets, broccoli, kale, collards, spinach, parsley.
Start or add to compost pile.


Plant new shrubs, trees, perennials, grasses & groundcovers now thru spring; (wait until spring for very tender plants like Oleander or Gardenia).
Sow seeds of larkspur, columbine, Queen Anne’s Lace, Ammi, Orlaya, &/or Money Plant for spring blooms.
Plant fall blooming bulbs like Autumn Crocus, Sternbergia, Cyclamen hederifoilium.
Start or maintain Fescue lawn.
Fertilize Fescue lawn.
Test soil for vegetable garden and add lime if needed (takes 6 months to change pH).
Start or add to compost pile.


Divide spring blooming perennials if needed.
Plant pansy plants now thru November for winter/spring blooms – fertilize with Osmocote.
Apply dolomitic lime around peonies, bearded iris, lilacs, as these plants like a more alkaline soil than we have in our area (unless you have oyster shells in your yard).
Apply lime around Big-leaf Hydrangea macrophylla if you want the blooms to be pink.
Watch for moles & voles in garden and treat as needed.


Fertilize Fescue lawn between Thanksgiving & Christmas.
Plant spring blooming bulbs between mid-Nov & late January.
Look for aphids on perennials, roses & vines and treat.
Start or add to compost pile.


OK to prune trees & shrubs after a hard killing freeze & plants are dormant.
Pluck boxwoods for decorations & to open “breathing spaces” in bush.
Cut Hellebore foliage to the ground before the buds start to emerge so the blooms will be more visible at Bloom time.
DO NOT do this to the ones with stalks (Helleborus foetidus – Bear’s Paw).
start cutting back perennials & grasses that have turned completely brown (except for more tender ones).


Cut back perennials that have turned brown except for the most tender ones.
Peruse garden catalogs and web sites to see what new plants are on the market.
Start or add to compost pile.


Weed ornamental beds and apply pre-emergent herbicide and water in.
Harvest decomposed material from compost pile & topdress shrubs, perennials, trees, grasses.
Prune everblooming roses around mid-Feb.
Plant out starts of cool season vegetables – onions, potatoes, lettuce, peas, broccoli, kale, beets, Swiss Chard, & spinach.
Plant early tomatoes outdoors using a Wall-O-Water.
As the weather warms, look for aphids on perennials, roses & vines.
Start or add to compost pile.


Apply pre-emergent herbicide to lawns for crabgrass prevention; repeat in 90 days.
DO NOT FERTILIZE Fescue lawns in the early spring.
Mid-March – Cut back more tender perennials such as Lantana, Salvias, Ginger Lily.
Prune trees if needed.
OK to prune shrubs that bloom on new growth like Oleander, Butterfly Bush, Rose Of Sharon, Crape Myrtles, etc.
Cut back Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ and Hydrangea paniculata types as much as desired.
When pruning Big-leaf Hydrangea macrophylla, do not remove all of previous season’s new growth, as this is where the blooms come from.
Fertilize shrubs, trees, perennials, grasses, groundcovers.
Excellent time to do “rejuvenation pruning” to overgrown broadleaf or deciduous shrubs (cut back as far as desired before new growth starts & fertilize).
Start or add to compost pile.
Watch for slugs from now thru the growing season and treat as needed.
Mow (high setting) or weed-eat broadleaf evergreen groundcovers such as English Ivy to keep in bounds; fertilize afterwards.
Shape any plants that need it to keep them in bounds. Avoid pruning plants into unnatural looking box and/or meatball shapes. Coniferous evergreeens should not be pruned back to ”wood only.”
Limb up or “cloud-prune” overgrown shrubs if that would look good.


Plant out annuals that can take cool temperatures like petunias, lobelia, allysum, nasturtiums, geraniums & most herbs now and watch for late frosts.
Start or maintain warn season grass lawns (bermudagrass, zoysia, centipede, or St. Augustine).
DO NOT FERTILIZE Fescue lawns in the early spring.
Check boxwoods for leaf miner and other insects and treat if needed.
Plant summer-blooming bulbs such as dahlias, cannas, gladioli, etc.
Prune spring-blooming deciduous shrubs after they finish blooming, removing the older canes to the ground.
Deadhead Hellebores before they drop their seeds unless you want more plants.
Prune reblooming azaleas as soon as the first blooms fade.
Prune once-blooming roses such as Lady Banks after it finished blooming.
Whack in half with pruning shears: mums, sedums, asters, goldenrod, Helianthus  sunflowers and other late blooming perennials.
Start or add to compost pile.


Plant heat-loving annuals out now – basil, zinnias, impatiens, marigolds, pentas & caladiums, along with tropicals.
Fertilize Fescue lawn around Memorial Day.
Divide fall blooming perennials if needed.
Plant tomatoes, okra, eggplants, peppers, and heat loving vegetable seeds.
Watch for bagworms and spider mites in the garden, especially on conifers.
Watch for scale insects, especially on broadleaved plants.
Treatment must be done while they are in crawl stage (May & June).
Start or add to compost pile.


Prune spring-blooming azaleas by the end of this month so they have time to set buds for next spring.
Check boxwoods for Volutella stem blight, which causes dieback.
Check for Japanese Beetles on roses and certain trees & shrubs.
Cut Columbine foliage to the ground for improved summer appearance.
Continue to prune and shape shrubs & trees as needed thru the growing season.
Deadhead perennials throughout the summer to keep them looking fresh and for continued blooms.
Watch for Leaf rollers on Cannas and treat.
Shear Spiderwort to the ground after the blooms have faded.
Start or add to compost pile.


Cut back Oakleaf Hydrangea when flowers are past peak (they will set next year’s buds in summer).
Deadhead Dahlias and Tall Phlox to keep them blooming.
Whack in half with pruning shears: mums, sedums, asters, goldenrod, helianthus and other late blooming perennials.
Keep young growth on wisteria cut back until late August.
Start seeds of calendula (pot marigold) and cosmos for late fall blooms.
Start or add to compost pile.