Middle South

April, 2006
Regional Report

Plant Herbs in Containers

Place a few pots filled with your favorite herbs in a sunny spot as near as possible to your kitchen door. That way, you'll be more likely to harvest a few basil leaves to garnish freshly sliced tomatoes, or some rosemary for a pasta dish. Mix and match herbs and annual flowers in the containers for beauty and convenience.

Choose Compatible Plants

If you plant more than one type of herb or flower in a container, make sure they have similar cultural requirements. For example, sage, thyme, and portulaca grow well together because they all like full sun and very well-drained soil that is allowed to dry out somewhat between waterings. Basil, on the hand, likes moist soil, and so do nasturtiums. Plus, nasturtium flowers and leaves are edible and add a peppery accent to salads.

Add Fragrance with Scented Geraniums

Rubbing the foliage of scented geraniums releases its aroma. So plant them where you'll be tempted to pluck a leaf or inadvertently brush against them. Scented geraniums are available in an astonishing range of scents, from floral to spicy to fruity. Drop a leaf or two into your iced drink to enhance its flavor and aroma.

Acclimate Houseplants to Outdoor Conditions

If you move your houseplants outdoors for the summer, remember to acclimate them slowly. Gradually expose them to increasing amounts of sun and wind over the course of several weeks. Most houseplants -- even sun-loving ones -- will prefer light afternoon shade. Houseplants that are used to low-light conditions should be kept in the shade outdoors.

Use Potting Soil in Containers

Use purchased potting soil, or a mix of potting soil and soilless seed-starting mix, in containers and window boxes. Adding some compost will provide a long-lasting source of nutrients. Avoid using soil from the garden because it may contain insects and disease organisms, and may not drain well. The roots of container-grown plants are confined so you'll want to give them optimum conditions from the start.

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