Middle South

February, 2008
Regional Report

Begin Dividing Perennials

Now is a good time to divide summer- and fall-blooming perennials. There are two ways to divide perennials. Dig up the whole plant and separate the rootball into sections, taking care that each section has some buds or shoots. Or cut sections from the edge of the clump while it is still in the ground. Note that some perennials are up and growing, while others won't begin to sprout for a month or more.

Harden Off Transplants

Acclimate greenhouse-grown transplants of cool-season crops, such as broccoli, over the course of a few weeks before setting them into the garden. Begin by placing them in a sheltered spot during the day and bringing them in at night. Then gradually increase their exposure to sun, wind, and cool temperatures. Once they're in the garden, be prepared to cover them if a hard freeze threatens.

Fix Low Spots

Check yard for areas where water pools after a rain. Fill the low spots with topsoil and then plant grass -- or use this as an opportunity to start a new garden. Another option is to plant water-loving plants in the low spot. Make sure the land slopes away from your foundation, too.

Stratify Seeds

Some perennial seeds need a cold period, called stratification, before they will germinate. Place the seeds with some clean, damp peat moss or soilless potting mix in a small plastic bag. Seal it, label it, and chill it in the refrigerator. Different species require different chilling periods, from a few weeks to a few months.

Prune Back Ornamental Grasses

If you left your ornamental grasses intact last fall, you can go ahead and prune them back to a height of about 6 inches now. If you remove the old growth before new growth starts, you won't risk damaging new sprouts. Add prunings to the compost pile.

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