Upper South

June, 2004
Regional Report

Use Soaker Hoses

Watering flower beds and borders with a soaker hose is more efficient than using a sprinkler or traditional hose, plus it helps to prevent water splashing from the soil onto the foliage and spreading fungal diseases. Since many plants thrive when the soil throughout the root zone is kept evenly moist, a heavy mulch placed over the soaker hose further improves water conservation. When purchasing a soaker hose, check to see that it is not so stiff that it's difficult to use. A simple drip irrigation system is another option.

Divide Bearded Iris

To get new iris plants as well as to open up overcrowded beds, divide iris now. Make clean cuts through the rhizomes with a sharp knife, and cut foliage back to 3 to 6 inches. Remove and discard diseased foliage. Let the cut dry naturally for a day or two, or dust with lime. Work 1/2 cup superphosphate deeply into the soil before replanting. Place a fan in the direction of the desired growth, and cover the rhizomes with 1/4 inch of soil.

Spray Fertilizer

Although most of the nutrient needs of plants are met by absorption through the roots, the leaves can also absorb fertilizers to some extent. Fish emulsion and liquid seaweed, either alone or in combination, are particularly beneficial as a foliar feed for plants now. Not only do these provide a boost of extra nutrition when plants are growing at a maximum rate, they also repel some harmful insects.

Caring for Strawberry Beds

Now that June-bearing strawberries have finished bearing, prolong the life of the plants by cutting off the plant tops without injuring the crown. Then remove enough plants so the remaining ones are spaced 12 inches apart. Fertilize with 1/2 pound of 5-10-10 per 25 square feet of bed. Weed and apply a mulch to conserve moisture and reduce weed growth. Plan on starting a new strawberry bed about every three years.

Replenishing the Asparagus Bed

Stop harvesting asparagus by the end of June to allow plants to build up growth for next year. Leave the fern-like foliage alone until fall, when it can be cut down. Side-dress asparagus beds with a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, at a rate of 2-1/2 pounds per 100 square feet of bed. Keep beds weeded and mulched throughout the summer. Fertilize again in early fall.

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