Perennials: Stake peonies and delphinium while the stems are still short. Fill in with new perennials. Divide chrysanthemums. Pinch back growing tips when plants are 6 inches high and again when side branches are 6 inches long. Continue pinching through July 15.
Flowers: Scented geraniums can take a light frost. Marigolds, salvias, petunias and dusty millers can also get a head start if they are planted now. Look for volunteers surviving the winter and replant in a desired place.
Vegetables and fruits: Begin a spray program for fruit trees with information from Cornell Cooperative Extension. Spray for “petal fall” when 75 to 90 percent of petals have fallen. Espaliered or cordoned fruit trees are beautiful and useful in a small space. When purchasing fruit trees, be aware of their pollination needs. This information is available with the purchase of the tree. With blueberries, you need at least two.
Trees and shrubs: Deer damaged plants will respond to extra care including fertilizing, mulching and watering. Deer munching causes the visible shredding of the branches, which must be cut back to live wood. Prune rhododendrons, mountain laurel and other damaged plants 2 inches or so below chewed areas.
Lawns: If your lawn gets a treatment for crabgrass, now is the time.
Houseplants: To combat aphids, spider mites, scale and mealy bugs without chemicals, mix 1 to 3 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid in 1 gallon of water. Fill a spray bottle and test a small portion of the affected plant. If no damage shows in a few days, spray the tops and undersides of the leaves.
General: Growing plants in dense shade is difficult, but under deciduous trees before they leaf out or on the east or north of a building can be more successful.
Susan Henry, master gardener with Cornell Cooperative of Westchester