Coastal and Tropical South

February, 2011
Regional Report

Perk up Pansies

The annuals planted since last fall -- pansies, violas, snapdragons, and other overwintering flowers -- are ready to bloom now. February conditions have them growing in high gear and your job is to fertilize them and to water if needed. Slow-release fertilizers are good, but if flower buds are too few and leaves are small, use a soluble or other fast-acting formula now. Refresh mulch if it has matted or washed out, and remember to pick off flowers as they fade.

Divide to Multiply

The traditional garden rule is to dig and divide perennials in the season opposite their bloom, but most of us tend to do the jobs more randomly. Do yourself a favor and look at your fall blooming perennials now. Get to work on blackeyed Susans, coneflowers, Joe Pye weed, perennial sunflowers, autumn clematis, and any others that bloom after July. Be sure each new plant has some green stems, crown, and roots to survive.

Grow Healthy Seedlings

Getting the seeds to sprout indoors is the first step to growing your own vegetables and flowers. But once they're up, light is the limiting factor in growing perfect transplants. If yours are under an artificial light source, keep a close eye on the seedlings and adjust so they stay three inches below the bulbs. If you start peat cups on a windowsill, light management is more difficult. Elevate the pots if necessary to catch the most sunshine and rotate them for even growth. Be sure to turn the plants around completely every other day so they do not stretch towards the window.

Use Blue Tones in the Garden

Color choices can affect or reflect your mood. That's why crisp daisies are associated with freshness in ads, and small kitchens are often painted sunny yellow. Add blue blooms in the shade to cool the impact of stronger colors in mixed flowerbeds. Blue Stokes' asters and pale blue iris softens the impact of yellows and reds to create a nicer scene. However, it's also true that visually, blue recedes first as sunlight dims, so be sure to plant more or larger blue flowers with other colors.

Recycle Bulbs

When the lovely pots of holiday gift bulbs begin to die down, go ahead and plant them in sunny garden beds for rebloom next year. Whether you've got amaryllis, narcissus, or hyacinths in a pot, make room for them in a well-drained soil. Don't cut the leaves down until they turn brown because they're feeding the bulbs. The bad news is that tulips do not recycle because our summer conditions are too hot to produce bulbs that will rebloom.

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