Middle South

March, 2010
Regional Report

Prune Forsythia After Bloom

Now that the earliest days of spring are past and forsythia has shed its golden bells, it's time to prune these robust shrubs. Avoid shearing them into cramped little balls, however. Instead, preserve their fountain shape by getting down on hands and knees and removing the oldest one-third of their branches, using sharp loppers to cut them as close to the ground as possible. When pruning is complete, mulch around the plant to help suppress weeds and retain moisture.

Plant a Dogwood Tree

Did you know that the berries of dogwood trees are eaten by thirty-six species of birds? There are plenty of other reasons to plant dogwoods too. They are beautiful in every season and make excellent understory trees for shady areas. In fact, they do their best photosynthesis in 60 to 70 percent shade. Plant them in broad, shallow planting holes, then mulch and keep the soil lightly moist throughout the summer months. Red-flowering selections are often favored by gardeners, but the whites will bloom earlier and are more tolerant of both cold and drought.

Clean the Air with Houseplants

After years of research, NASA scientists have confirmed that houseplants can remedy the indoor pollution that causes allergic reactions and illness. In fact, just two houseplants every 100 square feet will remove enough toxins to cure the phenomenon called Sick Building Syndrome. Plants that top the list of air purifiers include Boston fern, English ivy, peace lily, rubber plant, dracaena, and bamboo palm.

Let the Grass Grow

As outdoor temperatures begin to heat up, let your cool season grasses grow longer. Adjust lawn mower blades so they are 3 to 4 inches above the ground, or even a bit higher as summer takes hold. The height of the blades is proportional to the length of the roots and deeply rooted grass will be more drought tolerant.

Thin Seedlings with Scissors

Exuberant sowing of small seeds, such as those of lettuce, carrots, and radishes, will lead to a thick mob of baby plants that must be thinned. Pulling and tugging on the tiny seedlings can injure those you intend to leave in place, however. Avoid this problem by using small scissors to cut the extra plants down to soil level.

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