Coastal and Tropical South

August, 2012
Regional Report

Buy Spring Bulbs

When you see the Dutch bulb displays at the garden center, think of places in your landscape that need a bright flash in late winter. Order or shop locally for your favorites. If you like tulips, choose midseason bloomers in a rainbow of colors but leave the late season tulips for folks further north. Buy enough Dutch irises to plant weekly and so have stems to cut for weeks in the spring. Add hyacinths and daffodils for color and great fragrance and make space for grape hyacinth, too.

Divide Perennials

Some perennials do best if they are divided in summer. Shasta daisies will stop flowering if you do not divide their clumps every other year. About every three years, you will find crowding in Easter lily, canna, liriope, ajuga, and blackeyed Susan. Louisiana iris begin their new growth year next month and should be in their new beds by then.

Plant Autumn Colors

Gardeners sometimes shy away from the host of mums and fall asters that are arriving at the garden centers and farmers' markets this month. I say we should embrace them, in part because many are grown locally and the farmers need our support. Plant right away and keep them watered and groomed by removing old flowers as they fade to make room for more. In a few weeks you will find calendulas to add to the bed for their bold daisy shapes that keep blooming for months. Also called pot marigolds,you can grow them from seed or start with small plants, in beds or containers, but only over the winter in our regions.

Consider Lawn Options

Now is a fine time to plant seed or sod of St. Augustine, Bermuda, and Buffalo grass, the most popular warm season lawns. Install new lawns or repair worn out areas this month by preparing the soil so that it is organic, fertile, and well-drained, as well as sloped properly. A lawn that slopes towards the house, driveway, or even a garden path will channel water in that direction and you do not want that. Clear out the weeds, till and rake the area, plant, and water well. Do not let new lawns or repairs dry out before they develop a good root system and get growing.

Choose Seaside Hedges

It can be difficult to create a sustainable landscape on the Coast if you try to use plants that thrive inland. Salt tolerant alternatives are abundant, beginning with pittosporum for sun and flame of the woods for shadier spaces. Give up on azaleas where salt spray will damage them and plant oleander or Indian hawthorns instead. You'll enjoy flowers and better looking foliage with less maintenance. Add textural contrast with century plant and yucca. If you need strong bulk in the hedgerow, choose wax myrtle.

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