Middle South

November, 2000
Regional Report

Cut Back Mums


Once the chrysanthemum blooms turn brown, cut back the plants that are well established as perennials in your garden, leaving behind 4-inch stubs. Throw a 2- to 3-inch layer of pine straw or loose bark mulch over the plants to protect little shoots that emerge early from winter's cold weather.

Erect Tunnels


Spinach, arugula, hardy lettuce, and kale will survive winter in style if you cover plants with a ventilated tunnel or row cover made of clear plastic. Make support hoops out of half-inch-thick PVC pipe, drape the plastic over the hoops, and hold the edges down with heavy boards or landscaping timbers.

Forcing Hyacinths


I like to keep hyacinths at nose level, so I force mine in pots for a fragrant winter treat. I barely cover the bulbs with potting soil, dampen them well, and then move the pots to an unheated garage (out of the reach of mice) for a winter chilling period. I bring them indoors just as the Christmas decorations are due to be returned to storage for a January flower show.

Naturalize Muscari


Some people think they're weedy, but I think grape hyacinth bulbs are an outstanding addition naturalized in any lawn. I especially like them mixed with turf-type fescue grasses under tall shade trees. They look best when planted in masses. I plant them by the hundreds for the best show. Foliage stays green through winter, and purple flowers are produced in early spring.

Raking Leaves


The leaves are almost all down, so you have no more excuses. Unless you have a woodland yard, rake up your leaves and collect them in a wire bin for composting or shredding to be used as mulch on the perennial garden. Left on your lawn, they will block sunlight that the grass needs and weaken the lawn. Left on your walkway and deck, they will get tracked into your living room or be slippery during rains.

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