You can now plant any shrubs, trees, or perennials, but wait until late May to plant tender annuals and vegetable starts and tropical plants. Spray emerging tulips, hyacinths, trilliums, and other plants deer nibble with a repellent. To find out how to get your soil tested by the UMass Extension, visit soiltest.umass.edu.
One small correction from last week: I identified a rhododendron pest as a black vine beetle, instead of by the actual name, black vine weevil (Otiorhynchus sulcatus Fabricius).
Side note: I will be giving a free lecture on “The Future of Native Plants in a Warming Climate” at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Blue Hills Trailside Museum, Route 138 in Milton.
Q. Are there any roses that can thrive with less sun?
A. Don’t even think about growing roses in a shade garden. But there are varieties that will bloom with a little less than the recommended five to six hours of sunlight. In general, choose old garden roses, roses with a single row of petals, shrub roses, or floribundas (which produce clusters of classic roses) in paler colors that will glow in shade.
Good rose varieties for less than full sun include easy Carefree Wonder, a pink rebloomer; any of the Knockout rose strain; Ballerina, a fragrant pink hybrid musk that can be trained as a 6-foot climber; climbing pink New Dawn; F. J. Grootenborst, a tough hybrid Rugosa shrub with bright red flowers; white Iceberg floribunda; and Grus an Aachen, an antique salmon pink floribunda that only grows 3 feet tall, making it a good choice for a flower border.
If fragrance is important to you, look for David Austin’s pink Sharifa Asma, antique pink climbing Madame Alfred Carriere, or white Marie Pavie. And don’t forget golden Julia Child, a 2005 introduction with petals like butter. The best time to plant roses is now through the end of May, or in September through early November.
Q. Can you tell me how one actually overseeds? Use a spreader and just lay down seeds over the grass? Appreciate your help.
A. Overseeding is a fast, inexpensive way to help bring your lawn back without tearing everything out and starting over. Do it April through early May or September through early October. Start with several bags of soil or compost raked a quarter inch deep over the patchy spots where you will be planting grass seed. Choose a variety of grass seed that is 99 percent weed free and shade tolerant if your lawn is shady. Buy a variety that can stand up to foot traffic if kids play in your yard. Use a spreader for the seeds if you can. Rake the seed into the soil. Keep it constantly moist for one to two weeks or until the seedlings are 2 inches high.