Coastal and Tropical South

January, 2008
Regional Report

Plant More Trees

As the various observances of Arbor Day approach, make plans to plant a new tree. If your new lot is a former pasture, plant a legacy shade tree like catalpa or live oak. Small gardens usually have room for 12-foot-tall trees like loblolly bay (Gordonia) and lemon or purple bottlebrush.

Watch for Camellia Petal blight

Rain has been mostly abundant, and that means better conditions for petal blight in camellias. Watch for browned petal edges as the flowers begin to open, though they may drop immediately when they do. Pick flowers regularly; float the beauties and dump the damaged. Rake up fallen flowers right away.

Gather Seed-Starting Supplies

Seed-starting time is here, so stock up on pots. The decision about whether to use peat pellets or peat pots depends on your watering habits. Pellets are ready to water and plant, but easy to overwater. Peat pots must be filled with packaged seed-starting mix and dry out more readily. Use whichever suits your style.

Caring for Potted Topiaries

Gifts of topiary such as rosemary and holly grace tables in December, but they can turn brown in January. Lack of sunlight and humidity are usually to blame, so move the plants outdoors in good weather. Prune off any dead areas, and remember: frequent trimming keeps their new growth coming. Always water sparingly.

Root African Violets From Leaves

Gesneriads like African violets and gloxinias can be propagated from leaf cuttings. Cut off a leaf at the main stem, roll the cut end in rooting hormone, and stick it into a small pot of potting mix. Put pot and all into a plastic bag. Keep the bag slightly open, water lightly, and look for tiny plants in six weeks.

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