Tropical South

May, 2004
Regional Report

Turn a Tree into a Trellis

If you have a tree or large shrub that refuses to bloom, or that is expendable, plant your favorite vines to climb up and over it. I would have taken my pomegranate out because it blooms but bears no fruit. But the plumbago was growing up into it and I didn't want to disturb that. Then I added a gold vine. Now I have a fairly neat shrub that is blooming with three kinds of flowers -- blue, orange, and yellow -- with green and brown butterfly-like seedpods as well.

Plant Those New Additions

If you have a lineup of new plants in pots waiting (I always do) to be planted in the ground or in larger containers, get busy and move them. They will do much better and take less watching and watering in this dry weather. Also, use mulch, even over the soil in containers, to conserve moisture.

Replant Gift Mums

Chrysanthemum gift plants can be set out in the garden where they do well as a rule, blooming in both spring and fall each year. If there are several plants in a pot, divide them and put them in sun or partial shade about 12 to 18 inches apart. Keep them pinched back to make them bushy until August. These are reliable and easily multiplied by cuttings. But they still take more watering, pest control, and pinching than they do in cooler climates.

Water As Needed

This is our driest time of year, and plants are in full growth. So check containers and newly set plants daily or every two days at least. But don't water what is thriving without it, especially trees and shrubs. The only exception might be fruit between the bud and harvest stage when water can make a great difference.

Rip Out and Replace

Remove any of the winter annuals, such as pansies and nasturtiums, whenever they start to look bad. This varies with place and plant, sun and shade, and it is hard for some of us to do, but gardens can look seedy if we don't. The sooner we plant the new annuals, the sooner they will fill in with color.

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