Coastal and Tropical South

March, 2006
Regional Report

Help Annuals Withstand Cold Snaps

Petunias and other annual flowers may get zapped by cold spells, even in our regions. When freezing temperatures are predicted, water annuals well and wet the leaves late in the day to protect them. Once thawed, clip off leaves or stems that froze or flopped over so the base can resprout.

Make Way for Cool Additions

These flowers are ready for planting now in containers and garden beds: dianthus (both tall and short types with green leaves), snapdragons, pansies, violas, candytuft, and geraniums. They grow their best when planted as early as possible. Prepare potting mix by adding half as much organic matter as you have volume of soil, and mixing well before planting.

Keep Moving Plants In and Out

The northern range of the southern coast zone has its challenges this time of year: moving plants in and out as cold weather threatens and then abates. The cold is almost over, so don't slip up now. Put some wheels on those containers, if needed, so you can move them a few more times.

Resist the Snip

When cold snaps seem to take a toll on plants, curb the urge to prune right away. A week after the weather warms, you can cut back cannas, gingers, and birds of paradise to green stems. But even this pruning is optional, especially if freezing temperatures are expected again.

Pruning Banana Plants

Two tips for those blessed with banana plants: If they never freeze, cut back as needed to tidy up or control height. After a stalk bears fruit, it's done, so cut it down completely. The majority of stalks will freeze or die back, and should be cut back once mushy.

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