Upper South

July, 2006
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Summersweet
Scenting the garden during July and August, summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) is a decidous native shrub that adapts well to the garden, both sunny and shady. The sweetly fragrant flowers may be white or pink, in spikes 2 to 6 inches long, and are attractive to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. The densely rounded shrub has lustrous, dark green, 2- to 4-inch-long leaves that turn golden yellow in the fall. Summersweet grows best in evenly moist but well-drained, slightly acid soil, although it will tolerate a wide range of conditions. The species can grow to 8 feet tall and wide, spreading slowly by suckers, and is hardy in USDA Zones 3-9. 'Hummingbird' and 'Sixteen Candles' are cultivars that grow 2 to 3 feet tall with white flowers. 'Pink Spires', 'Rosea', and 'Ruby Spice' have pink to rose flowers and grow 6 to 8 feet tall. 'September Beauty' is slightly shorter with late-blooming white flowers.

Tool or Gardening Product

Espoma Fertilizers
Often there is a disconnect between what we want to do and what we actually do. Sometimes gardeners often want to use organic fertilizers but don't know where to find them. In recent years, one brand has answered this call by being more widely distributed, not only in garden centers but even in discount department stores. The Espoma Company has been a manufacturer and marketer of natural and organic-based plant foods for 75 years. Although Espoma does sell individual fertilizer ingredients that are organic, such as bone meal, corn gluten, and cottonseed meal, it is the "Tones" -- such as Plant-tone, Rose-tone, etc. -- that make fertilizing with a organically based fertilizer so easy.

These fertilizers are blends of long-lasting organic materials that break down slowly for steady, continuous feeding, along with faster-acting minerals. Not only do they contain the three essential plant nutrients -- nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium -- but they also have twelve other nutrients. In addition, they add organic matter to the soil, are low in salts so they won't burn, and are ready to use. For more information about these fertilizers, as well as how to find a local source, go to: http://www.espoma.com.

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