Upper South

July, 2010
Regional Report

Try Conifers in Containers

Add year-round appeal to your home's entrance or to a patio, deck, or terrace with container plantings of conifers, such as junipers, spruces, pines, firs, or arborvitae. You can use any type, be it mounding, bushy, columnar, or weeping, but the key to success is to choose conifers that are hardy to at least two zones colder than where you live. For instance, if you live in Zone 6, choose a conifer hardy to Zone 4.

Experiment with Late Peas

Although not the easiest of fall crops to grow, peas are a welcome addition to the fall kitchen. Try both "regular" green peas as well as snow and snap peas. Sow seeds 70 to 90 days before the first frost date in your area. Cool the soil before planting by laying old carpet or boards on the soil for a week or so before planting. Plant seed 1 to 2 inches deep, mulch around seedlings, and water in the late afternoon on very hot days.

Grow Summer Lettuce

Having fresh, crisp, mild-flavored lettuce in the middle of summer is not an impossible task. First, choose heat-tolerant varieties. For looseleaf lettuce, try 'Thai Green'. Good romaines include 'Diamond Gem', 'Jericho', and 'Green Towers'. With butterheads, consider 'Buttercrunch', 'Capitane', 'Cobham Green', 'Esmeralda' and 'Optima'. Provide afternoon shade or use shade cloth and mulch.

Divide and Replant Iris

If your bearded iris have become overcrowded or aren't blooming well, then they may need dividing. Usually, this is best done every three to five years. Dig up a clump and separate the rhizomes. Trim the foliage to 6 to 8 inches and select the strongest, healthiest outside pieces of rhizome to replant. Discard the older rhizomes or ones that show signs of borer damage. Set the rhizomes in the ground, just barely covering them with soil. Water well.

Make More Flowers

Perennials that are capable of either reblooming or continuously flowering will be more likely to do so if they are cut back as the flowers fade, then fertilized, mulched, and watered. Try this with delphiniums, summer phlox, spiderwort, gaillardia, achillea, coreopsis, and salvias. Petunias and other annuals that are beginning to get a bit leggy and bedraggled also respond well to a trim and feeding.

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