Tropical South

June, 2004
Regional Report

Create Temporary Shade

Help your herbs through the summer by moving in some temporary shade. I have fruit trees that I grow in large pots year-round because they are of marginal hardiness. In pots I can either bring them inside or turn them over and cover them on the ground when frost comes. Now moving them into the herb garden gives the fruit trees more sun and the herbs some needed shade. Another idea is to plant temporary shade in the herb garden with such plants as pigeon peas or chaya or any vine on a trellis. Come fall, you can prune these back or move them out to give your herbs more sun again.

Harvest Summer-Sensitive Herbs Now

Now is the time to harvest and dry or freeze up to 1/3 of the foliage on any of these plants. That will help the plant survive and you'll get good use from foliage that would otherwise be likely to wither away. Also take a few cuttings and put them in the shade for the summer. Again, they may not grow much, but they will give you a new start come fall. It is a good idea to take cuttings of any plant that is thriving.

Move Container Plants to More Shade

One way to get some of the fussiest herbs through the summer is to move them into clay pots for the best possible drainage. Then put the pots where they will get morning sun but afternoon shade, and
only a drift of rain. Under the porch or carport roof may work well.

Preparing Plants for Your Vacation

When you go away in hot weather, group your container plants together in the shade to make it easier for someone to water them and so they will dry out less often. When you get back, gradually move those plants back into the sun. There is no problem moving plants from sun to shade, though they may get a bit leggy if they don't get enough light.

Be Ready to Turn Off Automatic Watering Systems

As soon as Nature turns on the summer rains, you can turn off any automatic watering systems unless they are covering container plants only. There are very few days when we need to water
anything else during Florida summers. At those times when we go two or three days without a shower, get out the hose or dip in the rain barrels and water any newly set plants. The lawns will easily survive until the next rain. So relax and enjoy and don't waste our most important resource.

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