Middle South

March, 2011
Regional Report

Select the Right Tulip for Cut-Flowers

Tulips offered by florists are sometimes called French tulips, but are actually Dutch-produced bulbs grown in southern France or northern California. If you want to grow some of these shapely flowers with strong stems and a long vase life in your home garden, look for 'Menton' (apricot pink), 'Avignon' (warm red with a yellow base), 'Renown' (carmine red), 'Maureen' (white) or 'Mrs. John T. Scheepers'(yellow).

Divide Hostas

Pay attention as shoots emerge from your clumps of hostas, to see which can be divided this year. Start by looking for a group of shoots that seem a bit removed from the others and dig away enough surface soil so you can see where the root mass seems to divide naturally. Use a large knife to separate the division from the parent plant, and then dig it out and transplant it to a new location. Add good garden soil mixed with compost to fill the hole left behind, and to give the remaining plant a nutritional boost.

Pick the Best Annuals and Perennials

With the spring shopping season just around the corner, it's time for a review on picking new annuals and perennials for the garden. First and foremost, start by checking for good health. Eliminate any plants with obvious bug infestations, spotted or withered leaves, and bare stems. To get the best bang for you buck, look for plants that fill the pot but aren't too big for their container. If unsure, tip the plant to check for healthy roots that reach towards the pot edge but don't circle around. Finally, whenever possible, choose plants that have not yet bloomed, as making flowers taxes a confined root system. Plants that are making seed are even less desirable.

Harden Off Seedlings

If you've started seedlings indoors, remember the tender stems and leaves of these plants are easily damaged by sun and wind when first moved outdoors. To "harden off" your seedlings (make them gradually tougher), give them increasing amounts of exposure each day. Or, keep them in a protected space for a week or so, providing morning sun and afternoon shade. Be sure to bring them back inside, however, if the weather turns unseasonably hot or cold or if a heavy rainstorm threatens.

Remove Burlap From Root Ball

When adding balled and burlapped trees and shrubs to the landscape, it's always best to remove both the covering and the string or wire that holds it in place. Though a single layer of old burlap can rot away quickly, many coverings now include plastic fibers or have been treated with rot-resistant chemicals so they last much longer.

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