Upper South

April, 2007
Regional Report

Divide Late-Summer Perennials

Every three years or so, it is advisable in spring to dig, divide, and replant perennials that bloom after the middle of June, including asters and chrysanthemums. Working from all four sides, dig the entire clump with a spading fork. Shake off as much of the soil as possible, then loosen the mass of roots, carefully separating the plant into three or four parts. Or, if necessary, use a knife to cut the roots into portions. Replant and monitor soil moisture for several weeks until new growth is established.

Plant Gladiolus

To have gladiolus flowers for cutting over a long period during the summer, it's a good idea to make a number of plantings at two-week intervals. Set the corms 3 or 4 inches deep and space them 6 inches apart. Other tender bulbs, such as montbretias and tigridias, can also be set out now. Most of the tender bulbs need full sun and well-drained soil enriched with organic matter.

Keep an Eye on Watering

Although there is usually adequate rainfall in spring, it still is important to pay attention to newly planted trees, shrubs, flowers, and vegetables, especially if there is a lot of wind, which can dry plants and soil quickly. Check plants frequently until you see new growth. When watering, use a watering can or hose-end sprayer that provides a soft, gentle flow of water. This allows the water to soak into the soil rather than running off.

Start a Rhubarb Planting

Rhubarb offers the perfect spring pairing with strawberries and is easy to grow. A perennial, rhubarb lives for 10 years or more in the garden. Four plants is usually enough for a family, and the roots may be found at garden centers or by mail-order. Select a site in full sun with good drainage. Enrich the soil with composted manure. Space plants 3 feet apart and set the roots so the buds are 1 to 2 inches below the soil surface. Among the best varieties are 'Valentine', 'Crimson Cherry', and 'Canada Red', also known as 'Chipman'.

Add a Rain Barrel

Watering lawns and gardens accounts for a large proportion of domestic water consumption. Rain barrels decrease this demand, reduce runoff to storm sewers, and lower your water bills. Plus, rainwater contains no chlorine, lime, or calcium and has little sediment or dissolved salts. Consider adding at least one rain barrel to a downspout on your home this year. Most units provide protection for pets and children, allow for overflow, and have a place to hook up a hose or fill a watering can.

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