Middle South

May, 2007
Regional Report

Mulch Around Trees

Maintain a circle of mulch around trees and shrubs. It will not only help control weeds and conserve moisture, but will also prevent damage from lawn mowers and string trimmers. The mulch should be just an inch or two deep so roots don't smother. Keep it a few inches away from trunks, too.

Pinch Back Annuals

To promote bushiness, pinch back the growing tips of shrubby plants, such as zinnias, petunias, coleus, cosmos, chrysanthemums, asters, and basil, to promote bushiness and improve flowering. Removing the tips of shoots encourages lateral branches to develop.

Make Successive Plantings

As the weather warms up, cool-weather crops like spinach, lettuce, and radishes will start to bolt or turn bitter. Plan to pull the plants and replace them with fast-growing, heat-loving crops like chard, bush beans, and basil. Come fall, you can go back to the cool-weather crops.

Shade Air Conditioners

Plant shrubs or trees to shade your window air conditioners. You'll dramatically improve the efficiency of the units and reduce their energy consumption. Evaluate your overall landscape to determine what plants are best. You may want a small deciduous tree on the southeast side, for example, and an evergreen on the southwest to block an unpleasant view.

Bring Amaryllis Outdoors

If you are trying to save an amaryllis in the hopes of it reblooming next winter, you can bring it outdoors for the summer. Place it in a shaded spot and water and fertilize it, allowing it to grow all summer. Before the first frost, bring it indoors and allow the soil to dry to induce dormancy for about two months. Then begin watering again and you should have blooms in another few months.

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