Lower South

January, 2007
Regional Report

Select Bare-Root Plants Early

When the new shipments of bare-root fruit-bearing plants, roses, and other ornamentals arrive at local garden centers, the best are often quick to go. Select your plants early when selection is still good. Then get them planted promptly to have the best chance of success.

Prune Deciduous Trees and Shrubs

Late winter is pruning season for our woody ornamentals, with the exception being plants that only bloom in the spring. Use sharp pruning tools to make clean cuts. Do some learnin' before you head out to prune. There are plenty of helpful online sites to guide you in proper pruning techniques. Properly pruned plants grow into stronger, healthier ornamentals.

Top-Dress Lawns with Compost

A 1/3- to 1/2-inch covering of finely screened compost will provide a boost to your lawn when spring arrives. This thin layer will add a little nutrition to the soil as it releases its nutrients, and it can help deter weeds in thin areas of the lawn. It takes about 1 cubic yard to cover 1,000 square feet at the proper depth.

Start Seeds On Time

Read seed packets for the length of time from seeding to transplanting to help determine when to start seeds indoors. Plants that love cool conditions can be planted indoors now. Those that are frost sensitive need to be seeded about four to eight weeks prior to the last average frost date, depending on how fast they grow to a transplantable size.

Clean Up Around Fruiting Plants

Prune out dead and diseased branches in your fruit trees, vines, and bushes. Remove any old, dried fruits from last season, including those on the soil surface. These are sources of infection for this spring's crop. A little sanitation goes a long way toward reducing disease problems.

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