Middle South

June, 2009
Regional Report

Build a Pocket Pond

Create an easy-care, small pond with about 15 square feet surface area to grow hardy water lilies, lotus, and cannas. Dig the pond no more than 15 inches deep, spread a pond liner, and fill with water. Skip the pump, using aquatic plants to maintain water quality and goldfish to eat mosquito larvae.

Boost Butterfly Numbers with Host Plants

Butterfly host plants are ones that butterflies lay their eggs on and that larval caterpillars eat. Each species of caterpillar prefers a particular host plant. Some, such as the larvae of the black swallowtail or the cabbage white, will eat a wide variety of plants. Others will eat only one type and will die if the species-specific host plant is not available. In my summer garden, I grow a several host plants, including parsley, dill, fennel, false nettle, milkweed, and passion flower.

Take Cuttings to Propagate Shrubs

By late June, the new growth on shrubs should be perfect for taking cuttings. Propagate roses, spirea, hydrangea, azaleas, and any number of other woody plants by selecting semi-mature wood and taking a cutting about 3 inches long with disinfected pruning shears. Remove all but a few leaves, dip the cut end of the stem into a rooting hormone powder, and stick several cuttings in a large pot filled with growing medium. Place the container in a shady location and cover loosely with plastic to keep moist. When rooted, transplant cuttings to individual pots and gradually adapt plants to normal growing conditions.

Ready the Garden for Vacation

Whether or not you have a friend to lend a hand, help the garden hold its own while you're on vacation by harvesting vegetables, pulling weeds, adding mulch where needed, and cutting back annual flowers such as marigolds, zinnias, and petunias. Prune roses, too, and fertilize for a fresh wave a blooms when you return. Group houseplants and other low-light containers in a shady location and move sun-loving containers to a spot with morning light and afternoon shade. The day before departure, cut the grass and water everything deeply. Even if you've had recent rains, extra moisture will ensure the garden's beauty and productivity while you are away.

Remove English Ivy from Trees

Once established, English ivy grows quickly and densely and can create problems if allowed to grow up trees. Abundant ivy foliage can conceal pest and disease problems, trunk or limb injury, or rotting wood. Once it reaches tree tops, ivy can shade out tree leaves and cause decline or even death. To protect tree health, remove ivy completely or limit its growth to a low level.

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