Coastal and Tropical South

January, 2009
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Weigela
This grand old lady from grandmother's garden has undergone an elegant makeover in recent years, and if you haven't seen the results, do take a look. I'm quite fond of 'Wine and Roses' (W. florida 'Alexandra') for its burgundy leaves and sweet pink tubular flowers. It is deciduous, so is not a replacement for evergreen burgundy lorapetalum. But as an addition to beds with spireas or in front of tall evergreen sasanquas, it's a natural. Its medium texture and plentiful flowers plus lovely leaf color all summer are eyecatching and it's easy to grow. Just provide richly organic, well-drained soil and don't let it dry out in summer.

Tool or Gardening Product

Insecticidal soap
Long a standard for organic gardeners, this product should be in every garden shed. But not everyone knows what it is, or why works. This "soap" is a mixture of potassium salts or sodium combined with fatty acids, and works by melting insect eggs and young bodies. Once it's dry, it is no longer effective. The mixed news about this fact is that while it soon becomes nontoxic to people and pets, it also has no residual effect on the insects, either. That's why insecticidal soap is usually recommended to be used at 8-day intervals to control aphids and similar soft bodied bugs -- it controls the ones it hits today, then another bunch that have hatched out in the intervening days.

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