Upper South

May, 2012
Regional Report

Plant Summer Crops

Although there may still be an occasional cool night, summer crops like bean, okra, squash, and cucumbers can now be safely planted. This year besides your tried-and-true favorites, be sure to experiment with some different varieties. For instance, grow some of the tiny, thin French green beans or the Italian heirloom summer squash. Or try the old-fashioned yellow crookneck squash for it's great flavor. To have plenty of green beans over a long period, plant short rows every two weeks.

Be Patient with Spring-Blooming Bulbs

The foliage of daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs may flop over, but leave the foliage intact until it withers and turns yellow in order for the bulbs to develop flowers for next spring. Don't bend the leaves over and tie with rubber bands. Usually by July 4th, the foliage has yellowed and can be cut off. Do remove any seedheads that develop now.

Plant a Cutting Garden

Fresh bouquets are one of the bonuses of growing your own flowers. Besides the cut flowers that perennials provide, annual flowers offer a wide range of colors and types. Set aside some of your garden for rows of taller-growing zinnias and marigolds, love-in-a-mist, cornflowers (also called bachelor's buttons), cosmos, snapdragons, and sunflowers, as well as bulbs like gladiolus.

Give Houseplants a Summer Vacation

Given a location with filtered sunlight but not direct sun outdoors during the summer, houseplants will respond with renewed growth and vigor. Even if they've been in a brightly lit location indoors, the light outdoors is much brighter, so choose a time when the weather will be cloudy to move them outside so that they can adjust. If moved to a too bright spot, the leaves will sunburn. This is also a great time to repot as needed. Be sure to keep them watered and fertilized this summer.

Add Summer Bulbs

The bulbs that thrive in summer gardens, sometimes referred to as tender bulbs, are a great addition to the garden. These include cannas, caladiums, rain lilies, dahlias, and gladiolas as well as others. Some of these may need to be started indoors, while others can be planted directly into the garden. Most of these will need to be dug up in the fall and stored in a frost-free spot this winter, but gardeners are finding out that some will overwinter outdoors.

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