Upper South

April, 2004
Regional Report

Fertilize Trees and Shrubs

Trees and shrubs often do just fine with little additional feeding, but moderate annual feedings do encourage healthy plant growth. For deciduous trees, use a pound of a balanced plant food, such as 5-10-5, for each inch of trunk diameter, starting at least 12 inches from the tree trunk. For shrubs, use 4 pounds per 100 square feet of area. Needled evergreens thrive best with a high-nitrogen fertilizer, such as 10-6-4. For broad-leaved evergreens, use a special acid-formula fertilizer.

Plant Lilies

Dozens of new lily types have become available in the last decade, with a wide range of colors and markings, plus heights ranging from only 18 or so inches tall to over 5 feet. Many of them also are deliciously fragrant and make great cut flowers. Lilies grow best in deep, well-drained soil that has plenty of organic matter incorporated. Plant lily bulbs 8 inches deep.

Take Perennial Cuttings

Although most people think of propagating perennials by dividing them, many can also be increased in number with stem cuttings. Some to consider include asters, chrysanthemums, dahlias, delphiniums, heleniums, lobelia, lythrum, phlox, pinks, and sedums. Use 4- to 6-inch pieces with several leaf nodes. Remove lower leaves, dip the lower end in rooting hormone, insert in moistened sand or potting mix, and loosely cover with plastic.

Interplant with Radishes

When planting beets, carrots, parsnips, and salsify seeds, sprinkle in a few radish seeds. The radishes will come up quickly and mark the rows for cultivation, plus the radishes will help to loosen the crusted-over soil, and you'll be able to do some natural thinning when the quickly maturing radishes are harvested. Thin out the other vegetables as they emerge so plants are spaced several inches apart.

Kick-Start Transplants

To get the best growth from flowers and vegetables that are to be transplanted into the garden, feed them with a water-soluble fertilizer solution several days before transferring from pots or flats into the garden. Be sure to water plants well the day of transplanting, and try to pick a cool, cloudy day when rain is expected. If weather is sunny and hot, cover transplants with cardboard boxes to provide shade.

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