Lower South

August, 2005
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

'Mutabilis' Rose
Old garden roses have the reputation of being able to not only survive but thrive despite the stresses of pests, diseases, and our southern climate and soils. When it comes to foolproof resilience, few can compare to 'Mutabilis'. Dating back to before 1894, this China rose produces single blooms all season that start out sulfur yellow and change with time to orange, pink, and finally crimson. In full bloom the bush looks like it is covered with multicolored butterflies, earning it the nickname of "The Butterfly Rose." Bronze-colored new growth is also very attractive. 'Mutabilis' is very disease resistant and can be grown without protective sprays. Give it full sun for best results, although unlike most roses it will take some shade. Allow it plenty of room to grow as 'Mutabilis' will reach 4 to 6 feet in height and width, forming a beautiful shrub worthy of a place in the landscape.

Clever Gardening Technique

Shading New Seedlings and Transplants
We have to begin our fall gardens when the weather is brutally hot. New seedlings and transplants need a break from the sun but not total shade to help them transition to their new home. One technique is to open tomato cages to form a "C" shape and lay them down the row creating a Quonset-type cage. Then use a narrow strip of shade cloth or row cover attached over the top with clothespins to provide a little shade. Orient it to shade the plants primarily during the noon to late-afternoon period.

Another technique is to take cuttings from shrubs and stick them in the ground on the southwest side of the plants so they lean in over the plants. These make a great shade "lean-to" that provides needed respite from the summer sun.

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