Middle South

June, 2009
Regional Report

Pinch Rhododendrons

As rhododendrons finish blooming, pinch off the growing tips of limbs that have a single bud. In response, the plant will set multiple buds, resulting in fuller shrubs with more blooms. This practice is especially beneficial to small, young plants.

Protect Hands

I'm not a fan of gardening gloves and do without whenever possible. To afford some protection to hands and fingernails, however, I scrape bar soap under my nails and coat my hands and wrists with petroleum jelly before heading outside. The soap keeps dirt from packing under nails while the petroleum jelly prevents skin from drying and chapping. Cleanup is easier, too.

Remove Dead Tree Limbs

Inspect trees, especially small ornamental varieties such as Japanese maples, for leafless limbs. If a limb doesn't have leaves by now, chances are they're not coming back. Prevent future breakage and possible insect and disease problems by pruning away the dead wood. Take care to leave the limb collar intact, making a cut that is not quite flush with the trunk, so the cut heals correctly.

Fill Grass Ruts

Fill grass ruts and low spots in your lawn with a mixture of half top soil and half sand. For quick recovery, water well and then sweep away excess mix so the tips of green grass blades are visible. To completely level the soil, a second or third application may be required.

Root Coleus

Coleus, for either sun or shade, are among the easiest plants to root. If you need a larger supply of this plant for your garden, take 3-inch stem cuttings, strip off all but the top three leaves, then stick in water or potting medium. When rooting in water, separate cuttings into individual containers (such as baby food jars), or roots will become hopelessly entangled. Keep those stuck in growing medium (vermiculite, perlite, or sand) moist and humid until roots are established.

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