Middle South

May, 2007
Regional Report

Plant Gladiolas

If you want outrageous blooms for bouquets, you can't go wrong with gladiolas. They're available in an astounding array of colors, and the blooms last for a week or more in bouquets, since the flowers open sequentially from the bottom up. Plant glads in an area sheltered from strong winds, and choose a variety of early, mid, and late-blooming types.

Decorate with Annual Vines

Adorn unattractive chain-link fences with fast-growing vines, such as morning glory and cardinal vine (both Ipomea species), canary creeper (Tropaeolum peregrinum), Spanish flag (Mina lobata), scarlet runner bean, and hyacinth bean (Dolichos lablab). All are fast growers that will cover a lot of area in a short time.

Minimize Deadheading

If you're tired of picking spent flowers off your annuals, look for varieties described as "self-cleaning." Million Bells (Calibrachoa), begonias, impatiens, lobelia, coleus, and alyssum all benefit from occasional pinching, but they don't need the frequent deadheading required by petunias.

Prune Rhododendrons

If you want to prune your rhododendrons, do so just after blooming. Otherwise, you risk damaging the developing buds for next year's flowers. Some gardeners remove spent flowers to encourage the shrub to put its energy into producing new flower buds rather than seeds. To do this, carefully break off faded flowers at the base.

Try Scented Geraniums

The scents available in scented geraniums are remarkable and include rose, citrus, coconut, and nutmeg. The scent is carried in oil glands on the leaves and is released when foliage is rubbed. Plant scented geraniums where passersby will brush against them and release their fantastic scent.

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