Last chance this year for spraying or...

Last chance this year for spraying or pruning before trees leaf out. Many dormant sprays (those for peach-leaf curl, for example) would burn any new leaves that had emerged. That's why it is important to spray now. Last chance also for planting spring-blooming bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Make sure that the bulbs are in good condition. Planted this late they will bloom late, of course, so let's hope that we don't have a hot or windy spell at blooming time, or the blossoms won't last long. Planting in the spotty shade of a deciduous tree that is just leafing out may be of help.

A rule of thumb among gardeners is to feed all the lawns in early spring. At this time, winter rye and bluegrass will benefit from an extra shot to keep them in prime condition. On the other hand, Bermuda and St. Augustine grasses that have been dormant all winter will green up much more quickly if they're fertilized now.

Tigridia are showy summer bulbs that resemble tulips; their flowers are bowl-shaped and, like tulips, come in many colors. The flowers are covered with leopard-like spots; nevertheless, a confused botanist named the flowers in honor of tigers instead. Each bright flower on the 18-inch stem lasts only one day, but for weeks, other blooms will follow on the same stem. Plant them now, under about two inches of soil. They like some sun, rich soil, water and good drainage.

Tuberoses ( Polianthes tuberosa ) are now available as tubers in nurseries. Since we are relatively near their native Mexico, they can be permanent in our gardens. The waxy, white flowers that grow along a stem are extremely fragrant. It takes only one stem to perfume a room. Like many other Mexican bulbs (dahlias and tigridias are two that come to mind), tuberoses are dormant in the winter and grow during the summer. In Mexico, this is the season when most of the rainfall occurs; here in Southern California, we water them heavily to make up for that rain. In addition to lots of water, they like sun and a rich diet. A variety called the Pearl has a double flower, and the Mexican Single has, logically, a single flower.

Winter weeds will soon be seeding. Get rid of them before they spread their plentiful seed all over the place. Any lawn fertilizer with a weed preventive should be applied right now. It will work on the summer-weed seeds as they germinate, which will be soon. (Be sure to use the proper product.) Some herbicides kill the germinating seed; others work on the more mature foliage of growing plants.

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