Coastal and Tropical South

February, 2008
Regional Report

Pruning Shrub Roses

Except for climbing roses, it's time to prune! Cut hybrid teas back to 2 feet and three to five canes. Start on shrub types by reducing the height of vigorous growers by half their overall size, less aggressive ones by one third. Remove anything twiggy or dead; reduce the number of canes by half.

Fertilize Bulbs

As spring-flowering bulbs poke their noses up, fertilize with an organic or slow-release formula. A complete fertilizer, either balanced (with equal parts N, P, and K), or a flowering formula (such as 5-10-10) will give them what they need now, and throughout the season.

Plant Trees and Shrubs

Plant trees and shrubs now, when rain is plentiful and temperatures mild, to give root systems their best chance to form their alliance with the soil food web in their new locations. The microbial growth is triggered by the presence of roots, so get started now, before top growth starts.

Plant Corn Early

Good timing can avoid insect infestations, especially in corn. Seeding in late February or early March gets plants up and growing before mama moth lays eggs of corn earworm. Variety matters! Choose sweet corn varieties such as 'Aztec', 'Bonanza', and 'Merit'; and supersweets 'Honey-N-Pearl' or 'Summer Sweet'. Go extreme with sugar-enhanced 'Ambrosia' sweet corn.

Prepare Planting Beds

When it's time to plant, it's late to make the new bed, so get busy. Dig a shovel's depth of native soil, then add 4 to 6 inches of organic matter, a dusting of lime, and an inch of sharp sand if your soil is heavy. Mix well and plant in a month.

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