Middle South

February, 2010
Regional Report

Avoid the Paper Chase

Do the planet a favor by shopping local or on the internet for seeds and plants for the upcoming growing season. Most mail order companies also have websites on which you can view and order their products. Because most catalogs are not printed on recycled paper, and because they use additional resources for production and transportation, it makes good environmental sense to have your name removed from as many mailing lists as possible.

Divide Late-Summer Perennials

Perennials that bloom in the second half of summer are best divided in early spring. Among the list of those that prefer to dug and divided every other year you'll find chrysanthemum, Japanese anemone, aster, obedient plant, and black-eyed Susan.

Prune Grape Vines

Mature grapes should be cut back until there is little left except the trunk, two branches (each wired in an opposing direction), and about a dozen lateral buds. It seems harsh, but aggressive pruning will ensure the best harvest. Bunch grapes fruit on new wood, and the best way to get new growth is to prune away the old stuff.

Root Tuberous Begonias

Gardeners who want tuberous begonias for summer-flowering should start tubers indoors in the next few weeks. Combine three parts potting soil and one part sand for a growing medium and start tubers in shallow pans or pots. Plant tubers hollow side up, spaced 3 to 4 inches apart, and then cover with a half inch of mix. Water sparingly and grow in bright, indirect light until ready for transplanting.

Cut Back Ornamental Grasses

It's important to cut back ornamental grasses before new growth begins, or you risk nicking the tops of new shoots and marring their beauty in the season ahead. When cutting tall grasses such as pampas grass and maiden grass, the job will be easier if you use a bit of twine to bundle the blades together before you begin. Cut short grasses, such as liriope, with a lawn mower raised to its highest setting.

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