Middle South

February, 2012
Regional Report

Look for the Latest Pulmonarias

For a shade perennial that has both fabulous flowers and foliage, consider the many excellent cultivars of pulmonarias produced in recent years. These plants offer increased leaf contrast and superior flower size and color, as well as resistance to powdery mildew. My favorites include 'Silver Shimmers' with long silver leaves and big blue flowers; 'Trevi Fountain' featuring silver-spotted leaves and dark blue flowers; and 'Emerald Isles' with silver spots on bright green leaves and clusters of pink flowers that fade to blue.

Encourage Development of Moss

To encourage moss on rocks, terracotta pots, or other objects in a shady garden, mix buttermilk and a clump or two of existing moss in a blender to make a slurry that can be painted on your moss-worthy items. Then, keep the environment moist until a green cover begins to form.

Attract Toads

If slugs and snails are getting the best of you and your garden plants, try attracting toads with a rent-free home and swimming pool. An upturned clay pot with a broken rim "door" makes the perfect abode, while a sunken pie plate, located nearby, provides the finishing touch.

Select Low-Light Herbs for Shade

Contrary to popular opinion, not all herbs need full sun. Some, such as mint, curly parsley, lovage, and perilla, will grow in partial shade or relatively low-light conditions. When dealing with northern exposures, plant them against a wall for reflected light.

Create Shade for Propagation

It's true that seedlings need light, but few can take full sun exposure. If your propagation area doesn't provide a favorable amount of filtered shade, create your own by placing a lattice panel over an open framework, such as six or eight cinderblocks set on end for extra height. After tying the lattice to the blocks, use the shady area to start seeds, root cuttings, nurture transplants, and bring along seedlings started indoors.

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