Upper South

June, 2011
Regional Report

Give Iris a Boost

Cut a bouquet of the large German iris, if they haven't all already finished blooming. As all the buds are finished on a flower stem, cut it off. When flowering is done, top dress around iris with a balanced fertilizer, applying 4 ounces per square yard. If you plan on expanding your plantings of iris, prepare the soil now, digging well-rotted manure or compost into a well-drained, sunny site. You'll then have a place ready when the iris are best divided in July or August.

Plant Warm-Season Vegetables

Although the usual time for planting warm-season vegetable crops in our region is in early May, the recent cool nighttime temperatures may have set them back. By now the soil has thoroughly warmed, finally making it ideal for planting sweet potatoes, okra, sweet corn, squash, beans, peppers, and tomatoes. If you planted some of these earlier, consider making a second planting. When planting seeds, keep the soil moist until they germinate.

Repot Houseplants

Houseplants respond to the season, just as other plants do. With the increased light and temperatures, they are entering their own time of best growth, which makes it a perfect time to repot into larger pots. Choose a pot no more than several inches larger than the one in which the plant was previously growing. Loosen the roots, especially if the plant is potbound, as this will encourage new root growth. After repotting, keep the potting soil evenly moist and place the plant in bright indirect light until new growth starts, then it can be moved to brighter light, if you desire.

Prepare for Container Care

Pots of annuals set around the deck or patio are one of the pleasures of summer, but for them to remain their most beautiful until frost requires care and attention. Container plantings need regular watering, so make sure hoses and are in good working order. If you don't already have a hose reel, consider investing in one. Alternatively, make sure you have a good, sturdy watering can. Regular feeding is needed for exuberant growth and flowering. Either apply a slow-release fertilizer to the container or use a water-soluble fertilizer at the manufacturer's recommendations. It's also a good idea to keep a small pair of pruning shears or scissors handy to easily remove faded flowers or to shape plants as the season progresses.

Sow Annual Flowers

It's not too late to sow seeds of annual flowers, like sunflowers, cosmos, nasturtiums, and zinnias directly into the garden. You won't have blooms quite as soon as if you'd started your own transplants or bought them, but they'll still provide plenty of blooms in your garden as well as in bouquets this summer. If you have annuals that went to seed, like love-in-a-mist, larkspur, or nicotiana, transplant some of the seedlings in other areas around your yard.

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