Lower South

May, 2007
Regional Report

Wean Spring Transplants Off the Water Hose

Begin to wean those spring transplants off the frequent watering schedule used to help them get started. Deep, infrequent soakings will help them develop an extensive root system and be more resilient in the summer heat. This is also true of newly established sod.

Shear Flowers

Annual and perennial flowers can start to get floppy or leggy about this time of the season. Wait until they have completed a flush of blooms, then use shears to cut them back by about a third. This will encourage side shoots, resulting in bushier plants and more flower buds. Repeat this process through the summer to keep them beautiful and to bring on more cycles of bloom. Fertilize lightly after each shearing.

Tidy Up Spring Bulbs

Spring bulbs have just about completed their period of replenishing their food reserves to get ready for next year. Allow the foliage to turn yellow before removing it. If you want to rework the beds and need to remove the bulbs, you can do so when the foliage dies back. Dig up the bulbs and allow them a week or so to dry in a shady location. Then cut away any roots or foliage and store them in a cool, dry place for fall planting.

Keep an Eye Out for Scale

Watch for scale on fruit trees and many woody ornamental plants. These pests are difficult to control and often require both dormant-season treatment and periodic summer sprays of an appropriate product to prevent outbreaks. The parts of plants where you noticed scale infestations in the winter should be watched and retreated as needed with carefully directed summer or horticultural oil sprays, not dormant oil.

Don't Drown Your Plants

Unless a plant is designed to grow in a bog, be careful not to overwater. Many of our southern plants are able to take the saunas of summer as long as their roots are moist but well aerated. Soggy soil + hot weather is the kiss of death for many plants. Give them a good soaking and then allow the soil to dry a bit before watering them again. As the soil dries and water moves out, air is pulled into the soil to replace it.

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