Middle South

September, 2006
Regional Report

Repot Houseplants

Houseplants that spent the summer outdoors may benefit from repotting now. Gently remove a plant from its container. If the root ball is more root than soil, it's time to repot. You can either prune the rootball slightly to keep the plant small and return it to its original container with some new potting soil, or upgrade it to a larger pot. While you're repotting, check and treat for pests.

Start Planting Bulbs

Start planting spring-flowering bulbs, including tulips, crocuses, hyacinths, and daffodils. If you can't plant bulbs right away, store them in a cool, dry place. You can plant right up until Thanksgiving, but it's preferable to plant earlier so the bulbs' roots have a chance to grow.

Propagate Creeping Phlox

Fairly nondescript for most of the year, creeping phlox really pulls out all the stops for its annual spring flower show. Set out new plants now, or divide and transplant your existing clumps. They'll settle in this winter and burst forth with color in spring. Creeping phlox is especially lovely in rock gardens and draping over stone walls.

Dig Sweet Potatoes

Harvest sweet potatoes before the first frost because as the soil temperature cools, so does their shelf life. Gently brush off excess soil (don't wash), then place them in a warm (85 degrees F), airy place for about two weeks to cure them. Curing heals any surface wounds and allows the sweet potato to convert some of its starch to sugar. Then store them in a cool, dry place where temperatures remain above 50 degrees.

Freeze Warm-Season Crops

Enjoy the flavors of fresh-picked produce all winter long by freezing corn, peppers, beans, and tomatoes now. You can freeze whole ears of corn, but if freezer space is at a premium, cut the kernels off first. Consult a book or Web site (such as Clemson's Freezing Fruits and Vegetables, http://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheets/HGIC3063.htm) for specific information on freezing each crop.

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