Middle South

March, 2007
Regional Report

Prune Back Ornamental Grasses

Many gardeners leave the dried foliage and flower stalks on ornamental grasses to provide winter interest; however, now's the time to trim them back. The tools required depend on the size of the plants. Low-growing liriope can be mowed; you'll need pruners for larger plants. Some gardeners even resort to a chainsaw for the largest clumps. The new growth will soon hide the stubs.

Plant New Shrubs

Shrubs add a new dimension to flowerbeds, so plant a selection now. Mix flowering shrubs, such as hydrangeas and azaleas, with evergreens, such as junipers, to create an attractive mixed border. Take care to match the mature size of the shrub to the site. A young shrub might look small now but make sure you know how it will look in a few years.

Start Tomatoes and Peppers

Start seeds of tomatoes and peppers indoors. Take advantage of the wide selection of seeds available and plant some disease-resistant hybrids and some especially flavorful heirlooms. Wait to transplant these heat-lovers outdoors until a week or so after your average last frost date, taking care to harden them off first. Be prepared to cover them should a late cold snap arrive.

Plant Peas, Greens, and Potatoes

Sow shell, snap, and snow peas now for a classic springtime treat. Check seed packets and provide a trellis or fence of adequate height. Potatoes are surprisingly easy to grow. Purchase seed potatoes from a supplier or plant organically grown ones from the market. Commercial potatoes are sometimes sprayed with a sprout inhibitor. Try some red- or blue-fleshed varieties, too.

Don't Crowd Roses

Many perennials and annuals complement roses, but plant only low-growing ones near the shrubs. Roses benefit from lots of sunshine and good air circulation, both of which will be hindered by tall neighbors.

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