Middle South

November, 2007
Regional Report

Plant Amaryllis Bulbs Properly

Amaryllis bulbs grow best when planted in containers that are just an inch or two larger in diameter than the bulbs; plants may not bloom in oversized pots. Heavy pottery containers will be less likely to topple when these top-heavy plants come into bloom. Be sure pots have drainage holes, and set the bulbs so at least one third sits above the soil line.

Tidy Up Perennial Beds

After foliage is killed back by frost, tidy up dormant perennials by trimming stems back to 3 to 6 inches. Don't cut back all the way to ground level -- leave some stems to help insulate the plants' crowns. Once the ground freezes you can apply a layer of mulch to protect against alternating freezing and thawing, which is often more damaging to plants than severe cold.

Sow Early-Blooming Annuals

Sow early spring-blooming annuals, such as sweet peas, larkspur, nigella, and bachelor's buttons. Plants grown from fall-planted seed will bloom earlier than plants from spring-sown seed, so you'll get a longer season of flowering before plants begin to wither in the summer heat.

Prepare for a Living Christmas Tree

Consider displaying a live, balled-and-burlapped Chirstmas tree this year. Dig the planting hole now, then cover the backfill soil with straw and a tarp so it doesn't freeze. Plan to keep the tree indoors for just a week or ten days so it doesn't break dormancy and begin to grow.

Avoid Overwatering Houseplants

Houseplant growth will begin to slow as the days grow shorter. Take care not to overwater plants. A good rule of thumb is to check the soil and water only when it's dry down a half inch or so. Water the plant thoroughly and allow excess to drain. Plants in large containers may need water as infrequently as once a month, so always check soil moisture before watering.

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