Middle South

April, 2009
Regional Report

Coax an Easter Lily to Bloom Again

Don't discard your Easter lily (Lilium longiflorum). Instead, enjoy its blooms again next year by planting it in the garden. To do so, remove the plant from its pot and cut off spent blooms, then select a sunny, well-drained location. Place it, with soil and roots attached, several inches below the natural soil level and mound additional soil around the stem for stability. Feed with the plant with slow release fertilizer and water during dry spells. In future years, the lily will bloom in summer.

Sow Seeds to the Right Depth

If you're often uncertain if you've sowed medium or large seeds at the right depth, use a ruler to ensure accuracy. Place the seeds on top of the soil, then use the end of a ruler to push the seeds into the soil while measuring the correct depth, be it a quarter of an inch, an inch, or somewhere in between. Then, cover the seeds with potting mix or garden soil.

Leave Daffodil Foliage Intact

I often see daffodil foliage that is tied with rubber bands or braided, but these practices are detrimental to the long-term health of the plants. During its short life span, daffodil foliage needs maximum exposure to sunlight to carry out photosynthesis and feed the bulbs for next year's blooms. Let the leaves remain upright and intact, cutting and removing them only after they have died.

Plant a Cutting Garden

Find an out-of-the-way space to plant a cutting garden where flowers are for making bouquets rather than viewing in the landscape. Choose a wide variety of easy-to-grow annuals and perennials, such as daisies, coneflowers, salvias, celosia, marigolds, zinnias, cosmos, and lilies. Give the same attention to preparation as you would any flower garden, digging deeply and amending the soil, but free yourself from the urge to keep the bed tidy.

Improve Crop Yields

You can improve the yield of crops by adding plants with blue blooms, a color that attracts bees, throughout the vegetable garden. Two plants that work especially well for this purpose are the blue-flowering herbs borage and anise hyssop. Pole beans, in particular, seem to benefit, producing straight and well-filled pods rather than the pinched or twisted pods that indicate poor seed set.

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