Upper South

February, 2005
Regional Report

Check On Perennials

Heavy rains can cause puddles to form around perennials, which can freeze and damage plant crowns. A simple way to prevent damage is to dig a small drainage ditch to carry water away from the plant. Alternate periods of freezing and thawing can partially heave plants out of the ground by the frost action. Check on them periodically and, during spells of warm weather, gently push them back into place.

Prune Grapes

Grapes need annual pruning to maintain production as canes that have fruited will not fruit again. Fruits form on buds that arise from the previous season's growth. Most garden grapes are pruned to the four-arm Kniffen system. In this system, canes that have fruited are removed, and four replacement canes are chosen from each renewal spur for tying to the support wires, and these are trimmed back to ten buds. These are the canes that will bear fruit this year. Another four canes are cut back to form renewal spurs for the following year.

Force Flowering Branches

Cut branches of spring-flowering shrubs, such as forsythia, pussy willow, flowering quince, and shadblow, about five weeks ahead of normal flowering time. Immediately place the branches in about 12 inches of water and leave in a cool garage for four or five days before bringing into a warmer room. Arrange in a vase and place in bright indirect light. And don't be surprised when the pussy willow develops roots!

Create Containers

Certainly, there is no lack of containers that you can purchase, but why not create one-of-a-kind pots for your garden this year? Use acrylic craft paints to decorate clay or plastic pots. Cover a clay pot with broken dishes or tile. Most craft stores have all the supplies necessary. Or, utilize some of the leftover pots from nursery plants by spraying them with one of the textured paints that resemble stone.

Propagate Geraniums

Take cuttings from geraniums brought indoors last fall so that you'll have even more to plant outdoors this spring. Cut about 3 inches (or five leaf nodes) from the tips of shoots. If shoots have buds or flowers, remove them, as well as the lower leaves. Dry them overnight, then place the cuttings in a sterile growing medium, such as equal parts of perlite and vermiculite. Water well, but don't let the pots stand in water. Mist the cuttings daily and place in bright indirect light with 60 to 65 degrees F. and good ventilation.

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