Lower South

May, 2006
Regional Report

Shear Flowers for More Blooms

Annual and perennial flowers can start to get floppy or leggy about this time of the season. Wait until they have completed a flush of blooms, then use shears to cut them back by about a third. This will encourage side shoots, resulting in bushier plants and more flower buds. Repeat this process through the summer to keep them beautiful and to bring on more cycles of bloom. Fertilize lightly after each shearing.

Renew Color Beds

Those cool-season flowers are looking pretty ragged these days and could use a change out. Pull out spent plants and rework the beds by mixing in a few inches of compost. This will get those beds ready for planting with heat-tolerant annuals like zinniass, begonias, pentas, portulaca, torenia, cleome, impatiens, and coleus.

Watch for Squash Borers

Squash vine borers attack plants and cause entire sections to wilt and die almost overnight. Look for the orange and black moths that appear wasp-like, sitting on the leaves. Swat or capture the moths early in the day. Check plants for the pinhead-sized amber eggs. Rub off any you find. If you see greenish brown gooey material coming from a hole in the vine, split it lengthwise and destroy the larva inside.

Collect Wildflower Seeds

Our spring wildflowers are setting seeds now. If you have a mini meadow area or other area with wildflowers, avoid mowing them until they have had a chance to disperse their seeds. If you want to save seeds, collect the seed structures as they begin to turn brown and place them in a tall, open paper sack to dry. This way, when the pods open, the seeds will stay within the sack. Many types can fling seed quite a distance!

Start New Mums From Cuttings

This is an excellent time to propagate your favorite chrysanthemums from cuttings. Take 4-inch cuttings and remove the leaves on the lower half of the stems. Dip in a rooting hormone and place in a 50:50 perlite and peat mixture. Cover with a clear lid and place in a bright area out of direct light. Keep moist but not soggy. As soon as the cuttings are rooted, dig up the parent plant and discard.

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