Coastal and Tropical South

April, 2006
Regional Report

Fertilizing Tomatoes

Right now, while tomatoes are actively growing, get your fertilizer program together. In containers, keep a soluble formula close by and use it weekly. For garden-grown plants, it's the same program, unless you have worked in a granular vegetable garden food. In that case, use soluble every other week.

Try New Pepper Varieties

Plant peppers now that soils have warmed up. The array of plants at garden stores is impressive, so stretch your repertoire. Sweet peppers keep getting better, from green bells to the colorful ones so pricey at the store. Plant more than you need, because once you roast a few, you'll want more.

Pamper Azaleas

Salt-damaged azaleas may have bloomed, but they need special attention if they are to survive long term. Look for splits in the bark and branches that have not leafed out or bloomed. Prune those out first, then shape a mound by taking off a few inches all over. Fertilize lightly, and keep watered.

Don't Overdo Mulch

It's tempting to try and bury potential weeds in mulch, especially when we have so much in our own yards. But limit its depth to about 2 inches or less. More mulch than that can actually absorb most of the water intended for the plant, and too thick a layer can limit air circulation around plants.

Prune Fatsias

Shiny leaves shaped like stars and sparkly flower clusters make fatsia a garden celebrity. But when new growth comes on in spring, the rest of the plant can look pretty shabby. Don't be afraid to prune it to shape or shorten it. This vigorous plant will respond quickly with more new growth.

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