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First, I just want to thank all of you for making our “Spring into Gardening” day such a success. It seems like this Special Event just gets better and better. I was not able to attend the event this year, as I had a little bronchitis so stayed home. First time I have ever missed though!

We were so fortunate to have such a lovely place as the Lifespan Center to hold our conference. I hope you were able to fill out the evaluation sheet, as this will be a big help for planning next year’s event. For those of you who were not able to attend this conference, but have some ideas on what you would like us to do to in the future, just let us know. We appreciate any feedback you might have.

Another area I would like to say thank you is to those of you who take to time to call the Extension office with a question or comment concerning this column. Since the authors of this column are volunteers, your interest is what motivates us to bring all these interesting facts and ideas to you. This is just one area where University of Illinois Master Gardener volunteers contribute to educating you, the public, about plants such as annuals and perennials, vegetables, and plants in the landscape. Therefore, keep those questions coming. Know that we are learning something new all the time too.


Q: Why do the flowers on my daffodils become smaller each year?

A: The plants are overcrowded and need divided. The daffodil produces many new bulbs each year and after four or five years becomes overcrowded.

Q: What’s the difference between a narcissus, daffodil and jonquil?

A: Narcissus is the botanical name for daffodils. Daffodil is the common English name for the genus narcissus. The names Narcissus and daffodil are interchangeable. Jonquil is just one small group or type of daffodil bulb in the genus of narcissus.

Q: I need to move some of my spring bulbs. When can I do that?

A: Anytime in the spring is good if you are careful to dig a large enough root ball, so as not to disturb the threadlike roots. However, it’s usually best to wait until the foliage dies back naturally. The dormancy period for spring bulbs is summer, not winter.

Q: Do perennial flowers need any attention this time of year?

A: Carefully remove any mulch that was placed around perennials to protect them during the winter. Don’t be alarmed if no new growth is evident; many plants are slow to emerge in the spring. Unprotected plants or those sensitive to temperature extremes may have damage to the crowns or the plants may have “heaved” from alternate freezing and thawing. Before removing any plants, wait for temperatures to warm to see if any growth appears.

Q:  What shall I do for soil that grows annuals and perennials too large and weedy, but weak-stemmed?

A: It probably would be best if you used less nitrogen in the soil and more phosphorus and potassium. Use a 0-10-10 fertilizer, or something similar, 2 lbs per 100 sq.ft. for one or two applications during the growing season.

If you have other questions about your garden or landscape, feel free to contact a Master Gardener volunteer at the University of Illinois Extension office in Charleston at 217-345-7034. You can also check out the many horticulture webpages at the U of I Extension’s website by visiting And be sure to like the Master Gardeners’ Facebook page, at


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