Lower South

May, 2008
Regional Report

Rejuvenate or Replace Cool-Season Color Plants

In cooler areas of the landscape, cool-season flowering annuals such as pansies, snapdragons, stock, and calendulas can be revived for another bloom cycle if you cut off old blossoms. For most of the lower south they are fading fast with the arrival of hot weather. It's time to clean out the beds and plant summer-flowering annuals.

Making More Mums for Fall

This is an excellent time to propagate your favorite chrysanthemums from cuttings. Take 4-inch cuttings and remove the leaves on the lower half of the stems. Dip in rooting hormone and place in a 50:50 perlite and peat mixture. Cover with a clear lid and place in a bright area out of direct light. Keep moist but not soggy. As soon as the cuttings are rooted, dig up the parent plant and discard.

Plant Heat-Tolerant Veggies

Okra, sweet potatoes, southern peas (black-eyed, crowder, purple hull, zipper cream), Malabar spinach, vegetable amaranth, and other hot-weather veggies thrive in the heat of our southern summers. Plant them now in a sunny garden spot and mulch the area well to deter weeds. Keep them well watered as the hot weather increases their need for moisture.

Putting Spring Bulbs to Bed

Spring bulbs have just about completed their period of replenishing their food reserves to get ready for next year. Allow the foliage to turn yellow before removing it to tidy up the planting bed. If you want to rework the beds and need to remove the bulbs, you can do so when the foliage dies back. Dig up the bulbs and allow them a week or so to dry in a shady location. Then cut away any roots or foliage and store them in a cool, dry place for fall planting.

Watch for Fruit Rots on Squash

Rainy weather and overhead sprinkling brings on attacks from Choanophora fungus, a fruit rot that begins at the "belly button" where the bloom was attached and progresses through the fruit. Fungicides can help prevent it but are usually not needed unless the weather stays rainy for extended periods. Pick and discard affected fruit promptly as a sanitary practice to discourage its spread.

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