Mid-Atlantic

May, 2004
Regional Report

Tie Up Tomatoes

If you plan to cage or stake your tomatoes, it's high time to tie them up before they become uncontrollably large. Otherwise, apply a generous layer of mulch and allow them to sprawl over it. The mulch will help keep the fruits clean.

Go Tropical

Many flowering tropical and semi-tropical plants do well in outdoor containers for the summer. Tropical hibiscus, lantana, jasmine, and mandevilla are perfect for the patio or deck. Keep the soil evenly moist and fertilize regularly for best results.

Remove Basal Rose Canes

Roses often send up vigorous, new, basal canes in early summer. These come from above the graft or bud union and grow quickly upright. Sometimes the rootstock sends up sucker growth at this time of year, too. The sucker's foliage looks different as do its coloring and thorns. Remove these stray suckers right away.

Take Tip Cuttings

June is a good month for taking and rooting tip cuttings of many shrubs and perennials. Take a 4- to 6-inch-long cutting, remove the lower leaves, and plunge it into slightly damp, soilless potting mix. Enclose in a plastic bag to maintain humidity and set in a bright location out of direct sun. Check weekly for roots.

Smother Weeds

If your flower garden is overrun with crabgrass and other annual weeds, try smothering them with a layer of newspaper topped with several inches of organic mulch, such as shredded or chipped bark. Not only will the weeds die out from lack of light, but the mulch will help keep the soil evenly moist during the summer months and will add organic matter to the soil when it rots down.

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