Lower South

March, 2006
Regional Report

Move Houseplants Outdoors

After a long winter indoors, our houseplants could use a rejuvenating period with a little more light. Start moving those that prefer higher light levels to a very shady outdoor location during the warmer part of the day. Gradually increase their exposure over a few weeks until they can stay outside.

Plant Warm-Season Veggies

It's time to plant our warm-season veggies (tomatoes, beans, eggplant, peppers, melons, corn, cucumbers, squash) in the south. Actually tomatoes need to go in ASAP or the heat of summer will arrive before they can set a good crop. For most other warm-season veggies, this is prime time. Wait a few weeks for heat-lovers like okra and Malabar.

Get Ready to Fertilize Turf

Once you have mowed your lawn grass twice (mowing weeds doesn't count), it is actively growing and can use a boost from some fertilizer. This is about mid-April in most of the lower south. If we fertilize too early, the winter weeds will benefit the most, and excess nutrients can wash away before our sleepy-headed southern turf wakes up.

Watch for Aphids

Aphids are already appearing en masse on tender new growth. Check your plants for these congregating pests that suck the juices from leaves and stems. A few can be tolerated, but large numbers should be controlled. A strong blast of water, insecticidal soap, or lightweight horticultural oil (not dormant oil) are some low-toxicity options.

Make Last Pruning Cuts on Trees

Although most pruning is done in late winter, you can still make a few minor cuts in those landscape trees to brighten a shady area. As the years pass by, the trees get larger and the shade denser to a point where grass and some plants will no longer thrive. A judicious cut here and there to remove low-hanging limbs or crowded overhead branches can increase light intensity enough to do the trick.

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