Middle South

June, 2010
Regional Report

Give Houseplants a Vacation

As soon as nights are warm on a regular basis, you can take houseplants outside for a summer vacation. Any change is always a shock, so start plants in deep shade and then move them into brighter indirect light, little by little over a couple of weeks. Most will prefer at least partial shade throughout the summer, especially in the heat of the day. A few, such as cacti, bougainvillea and citrus trees will enjoy several hours of sun.

Care for Culinary Herbs

Cut chives back to the ground as blooms begin to fade to rid the plant of woody flower stems and to stimulate new growth. Fertilize lightly after cutting back. Other succulent herbs will also benefit from a bit of fertilizer, as well as plenty of water. Tough herbs such as rosemary and thyme will want less water and no synthetic fertilizer. Instead, feed them with a light top-dressing of compost.

Pinch Rhododendrons

As rhododendrons finish blooming, pinch off the growing tips of limbs that have a single bud. In response, the plant will set multiple buds, resulting in fuller shrubs with more blooms. This practice is especially beneficial to small, young plants.

Divide Underperforming Daffodils

If your daffodils didn't live up to expectations this spring, it may be time to dig and divide over-crowded clumps. Wait until the foliage is spent so the bulbs are fed for next spring's flowers, then lift them with a garden fork. Improve the soil with compost or soil conditioner, then replant some of the bulbs, placing them twice as deep as the bulb is tall. In spring, topdress with a 5-10-10 fertilizer just as the leaf-tips emerge.

Improve Crop Yeilds

You can improve the yield of crops by adding plants with blue blooms, a color that attracts bees, throughout the vegetable garden. Two plants that work especially well for this purpose are the blue-flowering herbs borage and anise hyssop. Pole beans, in particular, seem to benefit, producing straight and well-filled pods rather than the pinched or twisted pods that indicate poor seed set.

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