Southern Coasts

February, 2004
Regional Report

Pamper Bare-Root Plants

They tempt us from nursery aisles and catalogs – bareroot roses and fruit trees looking so ready to grow. Don't waste a minute once you get them home. Unwrap completely, and soak in a bucket of warm water overnight. Plant immediately after hydrating, prune lightly, and begin fertilizing and watering regularly.

Make New Garden Beds

If the soil is dry enough so you can dig a shovelful of soil without making a sticky mess, it's time to dig or till a new bed. Over 4 inches of native soil spread a total of 4 inches of different types of organic matter (compost, leaf mold, manure), and a dusting of garden lime and cottonseed meal.

Rejuvenating Evergreens

If ever there's a time to shear evergreen shrubs, it's now. Holly, yaupon, ligustrum, cleyera – if it's leggy, missing leaves in the interior, or is too tall, prune to rejuvenate and prompt new growth. Shrubs will survive removal of as much as one third of their height and width.

Give Seedlings Good Light

Now that those seedlings have started to sprout, be sure they get enough light. Plants that are leggy in the starting tray were either too crowded or too shaded, or both. Keep a grow light source just inches over the plants and raise it as they grow. Fertilize weekly.

Caring for Camellias

It's the height of the season for viewing, cutting, floating, and planting Camellia japonica, the winter corsage flower of the south. After flowers finish, rake up those that fall to prevent petal blight, fertilize, and spray the bushes with an ultrafine oil spray to prevent or control scale.

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