What to do for mixed borders, perennial herbaceous plants and grasses.
It is time to clean up to encourage vegetative growth. This operation can be undertaken at the beginning of the month in milder areas, while it is better to wait for the third decade in the North and in mountain areas. Mulch based on leaves or other vegetable residues must be removed; at the base of the plants we will still find a little of the soil conditioner that we had spread in the autumn: we will incorporate it to the soil with a light mulch, adding a slow release fertilizer.
It is also time to cut the dry or ruined vegetation of the previous year at the base, especially the lively and graminaceous plants: the first warmths will induce the production of new shoots. We can also start with the new plants: the risks of frost and excessive humidity should gradually be reduced.
We also proceed with the division and replanting for too large tufts or with aged portions.
Sowing of annuals and perennials
From January to March the best results are obtained with annual sowing. Starting early gives the advantage of having early blooms, but particular attention must be paid to the minimum temperatures necessary for germination. Another aspect that should not be underestimated is the quantity of light: thin and clear plants are often obtained, unable to support and grow further. So let's remember, as soon as we see the first leaflets, to move the trays in an extremely bright area, possibly a windowsill facing south. The practice of topping is fundamental: it slows down growth, but allows the setting and copious blooms.
We can also sow perennials bearing in mind that to obtain good sized specimens you will have to wait at least the following spring: the ideal is instead to proceed in autumn (recommended period also for biennials).