Lower South

May, 2010
Regional Report

Brighten Shady Areas With Color

Put some color in shady areas of the landscape this summer. Now is a good time to plant caladium, impatiens, begonia, pentas and torenia in well prepared shady areas. Mix a couple of inches of compost into the soil and water the new plants in with a dilute fertilizer solution.

Shear Flowers for More Blooms

Annual and perennial flowers can start to get floppy or leggy about this time of the season. Wait until they have completed a flush of blooms. Then use shears to cut them back by about a third. This will encourage side shoots resulting in bushier plants and more flower buds. Repeat this process through the summer to keep them beautify and to bring on more cycles of bloom. Fertilize lightly after each shearing.

Put Spring Bulbs to Bed for Fall

Spring bulbs are completing their period of replenishing their food reserves to get ready for next year. Allow the foliage to turn yellow before removing it to tidy up the planting bed. If you want to rework the beds and need to remove the bulbs, you can do so when the foliage dies back. Dig up the bulbs and allow them a week or so to dry in a shady location. Then cut away any roots or foliage and store them in a cool, dry place for fall planting.

Watch For Fruit Rots On Squash

Rainy weather and overhead sprinkling brings on attacks from Choanophora fungus. Decay begins at the "belly button" were the bloom was attached and progresses through the fruit. Fungicides can help prevent it but are usually not needed unless weather stays rainy for extended periods. Pick and discard affected fruit as a sanitary practice to discourage its spread.

Mulch Plants to Beat Weeds and Heat

Mulch planting beds as well as new shrubs and trees to protect the soil from crusting, discourage weed seeds and reduce soil temperatures. Think of time spent mulching as paying off many times over in time saved over the course of the summer watering and pulling weeds!

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