Middle South

August, 2009
Regional Report

Propagate Herbs for an Indoor Garden

Late August or early September is a great time to start a collection of herbs to grow indoors during the cool season. Take cuttings of woody plants and sow seeds of dwarf basil, dill, and parsley. Grown in pots, the herbs can remain outside until early October, then brought indoors to bask near a sunny window.

Dry Amaryllis Bulbs

If you have potted amaryllis bulbs, stop watering them and put them in a dark, dry, and cool location (at least 60 degrees F). Leave them dormant for eight to ten weeks, then trim away dead foliage. To begin the blooming process, bring the bulbs back into warmth and light, repot the bulb in fresh soil so its top third is above soil level, and begin to water. Keep the soil moist but not wet and place the pot in a bright location. Bulbs should bloom in about six to eight weeks.

Mulch with Moderation

Mulch is good for gardens. It controls weeds, minimizes evaporation, and moderates soil temperature. But some gardeners and landscapers are killing trees and shrubs by using it too liberally over roots and around trunks. To prevent decay and disease problems, keep mulch pulled away from trunks and layer it no more than 3 inches deep.

Recycle Basket-Weave Flats

Basket-weave flats can be used for a number of small chores around the garden. They can be employed to dry herbs and flowers or provide a bit of protection to new seedlings. They make a useful sieve when sprinkling an area with a small amount of compost, or a handy container for rinsing dirt from vegetables and fruits. Layered with newspaper and filled with potting soil, they're also perfect for growing seedlings.

Reduce Work with Low-Maintenance Plants

If your garden requires too much coddling, reduce work by replacing prima donnas with easy-care trees and shrubs. These plants won't need frequent pruning, are generally disease and pest resistant, don't break easily in ice or wind, and don't litter the landscape with messy seeds, hulls, pods, or fruits. A short list includes Ginkgo (male only), Japanese zelkova, American holly, Eastern redbud, oak, viburnum, witch hazel, beauty bush, aucuba, pieris, abelia, and shrub roses.

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