Coastal and Tropical South

October, 2011
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Red Ginger
For showy flowers all year in the Tropics, summer and fall along the Coasts, I love red ginger, Alpinia purpurata. Native to the South Pacific, this reedy plant is erect with leaves that unfurl in one dimension. This effect creates a vigorous look, rather like some corn plants, and it is easy to achieve. Plant in soil that is rich in organics and drains fairly well to sustain this ginger. It appreciates lots of water in sunny sites and rewards with abundant flowers in its second year.

Clever Gardening Technique

Efficient Weeding
Everyone says that it is easier to pull weeds out of damp soil, and that is true. If a clump of soil pulls out with it, conditions are too wet for hand pulling. But it may be your best chance to use a long, sharp tool such as a dandelion digger that can reach down where long roots lurk. Use it to cut deeply into soil and lift out entire root systems that resist pulling or hoeing out. This tool and others with long, serrated sides work to rogue out dandelions, yes, but also other weeds. Damp soil weeding works for plants that have tap roots such as the rampant reseeder Queen Anne's lace and plants that spread underground like the clerodendrum known as cashmere bouquet or Mexican hydrangea.

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