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The Black and Bloom salvia is one of the first summer perennials to start blooming. This tough plant survives and thrives in hot summers. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
July 10, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Home gardeners in Mississippi need colorful plants that hold up to the hot conditions we have every year. One group of plants that is a great choice for summer color is salvia, which includes both perennial and annual top performers.

The annual Salvia Splendens, as the name suggests, can't be beat. It is commonly called scarlet salvia, but it comes in a variety of bright colors.

Christine Coker, a horticulture specialist with Mississippi State University, began sowing the seeds for her career in elementary school as a 4-H member. Now, she helps put food on Mississippians’ tables with her research and Extension projects.
July 5, 2017 - Filed Under: Commercial Horticulture, Women for Agriculture, Food, Flower Gardens, Vegetable Gardens

BEAUMONT, Miss. -- For 16 years, Christine Coker has been doing what she loves: putting food on people's tables.

"In college, I really liked the study of plants, but I knew I wasn't going to be the world's greatest botanist," she said. "What I really wanted to do was feed people."

Moss rose is a great summer selection with blooms that resemble tiny roses and succulent foliage that withstands the heat. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
July 3, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

I really like to the flowering annual purslane in our hot summer landscapes. It's a vigorous, low-growing plant that forms a colorful carpet with succulent foliage.

But I plan to write about that wonderful plant in the future. Today, I want to extoll the virtues of one of its cousins: moss rose.

Moss rose has fleshy, succulent foliage that helps it hold up to the summer heat. The 1-inch-long, cylindrical foliage is bright green and arranged in clusters on the stems.

Colleen Wilkins, owner of Sunnyside in Natchez, gathers ideas while visiting the Southern Heritage Garden at the Vicksburg National Military Park on June 13, 2017. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Bonnie Coblentz)
June 30, 2017 - Filed Under: Agri-tourism, Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

VICKSBURG, Miss. -- The Southern Gardener, Gary Bachman, would like to see Mississippi's historic bed and breakfast owners step up their game in the garden.

"What is your budget for your landscape and labor costs? Do you serve anything you grow and use your own flowers?" Bachman asked owners at a recent Mississippi State University Extension Service workshop. "I want to show you how, with minimal effort and minimal out-of-pocket expense, you can get a good return on investment from the landscape of your historic properties."

The Kong coleus has massive foliage and thrives in shady areas of the landscape. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
June 26, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

With summer officially here and hot and humid weather firmly in place, many gardeners -- myself included -- like to look at a pretty landscape, but don't really want to get out and do much work in that same landscape.

So selecting plants that look good without much work pique my interest. One plant that doesn't disappoint me is Sun coleus.

New Guinea impatiens are strictly shade-loving plants that can complement their sun-loving cousins, the SunPatiens. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
June 19, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Summer officially begins this week, and there are so many great plants we can grow during this season. But I really miss one that we can't grow in the summer: annual impatiens.

I always have impatiens in my late-winter and early-spring landscape. I've tried to oversummer some -- in the same manner as we overwinter plants -- in the shady areas of my garden, but this experiment is always met with bitter disappointment.

But all is not lost because I can grow SunPatiens, one of my favorite summer-flowering plants.

Containers can be planted at any time of year. This summer combination has tall Salvia Playin’ the Blues in the back, Gaura Karalee Petite Pink providing interest in the front, and Supertunia Bordeaux filling in all the extra space. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
June 12, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Once we get into the summer months, it can be hard to plant and be successful with in-ground landscape beds. But I've found that putting together container plantings gives me a way to add variety to my garden and landscape, even when it's really hot.

Once you start gardening in containers, you’ll find it's never too late in the season to try something new. You may even join me in doing most of your gardening in containers all year.

But let's just start with one container and see how it goes.

A member of the snapdragon family, the Serena Angelonia will grow to 1 foot tall and spread up to 14 inches. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
June 5, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Whenever I see Angelonias in a landscape, I'm reminded of my other favorite flowering annuals for the cool season: snapdragons.

Angelonia, a member of the snapdragon family, thrives in the full sun during the summer heat and humidity. This stamina is a requirement for our Mississippi gardens and landscapes and why I consider it one of the best plants for my hot summer garden.

Although common in Southern landscapes, the Lady Banks rose dates back to the late 1790s and came from China. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
May 26, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

I wrote earlier about my 40-year struggle with growing roses. But during that time, there was one rose that was a great performer for me: a climbing rose called Blaze.

Real gardeners know the work is hard, but they consider sweat equity a reasonable price to pay to be able to enjoy their landscapes. (File Photo by MSU Extension)
May 22, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

In early April, my wife and I had the honor of being part of the 2017 Garden Clubs of Mississippi Spring Pilgrimage, as our little urban farm was one of the tour's stops. It was a treat to open our doors to allow more than 170 visitors to peek behind the curtain at how we garden.

Annual flowering vincas perform well in the landscape and in containers. This Mediterranean Hot Rose has a spreading growth habit that allows it to spill over the edge of a hanging basket. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
May 15, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Now that our gardens and landscapes are heating up, it is the perfect time to plant annual flowering vinca. This beauty provides hot summer color you just can't beat.

Annual flowering vinca is a solid performer in Mississippi gardens, so I always make sure to plant some in my landscape.

Botanically speaking, annual flowering vinca is Catharanthus rosea. In garden centers, the pot tags sometimes call it Madagascar periwinkle.

Both butterflies and aphids are attracted to tropical milkweed in droves. While unsightly, aphids don’t seem to impact growth and flowering. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
May 8, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

It's all the rage to plant butterfly gardens in our home landscapes. This is especially true when we consider the Monarch butterfly, which is said to be under stress from disappearing habitats.

One of the best butterfly-attracting plants for the home landscape is butterfly weed, known botanically as Asclepias. Butterfly weed has a great trio of advantages: it is low maintenance, deer resistant, and attractive to Monarchs and other butterflies.

Don’t mulch trees like this. Mulching offers significant benefits, but a layer should only be 2 to 3 inches deep and pulled away from the tree trunk. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
May 1, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Driving around town this weekend, I enjoyed all the work fellow gardeners have been doing in their yards. I thought our early spring weather brought out the best in our landscapes, but then I saw it.

I couldn't believe my eyes, but there they were: mulch volcanoes.

It's been a couple of years since I've seen a real doozy of a mulch volcano, and I realized again what my duty has to be. I have to convince people that mulch volcanoes are bad for our trees.

Also called the African marigold, various series of the American marigold can range from 15 inches to 3 feet in height. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
April 24, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

After being laid up for the last few weeks recovering from a knee replacement, I've really enjoyed finally getting out and picking up some heat-loving summer annual color. The first flat of bedding plants I put in the cart contained marigolds.

I know some gardeners may think marigolds are too easy, but that's exactly what I want from my summer landscape beds.

The ornamental sweet potato is a go-to choice for large areas that need some kind of colorful ground cover. It is a great plant for massing and comes in a wide variety of colors and textures. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
April 17, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

One of my favorite things to do in the spring and early summer is visit my local garden centers. At this time of year, the sheer number of flowering annuals can easily result in sensory overload.

I wander through the aisles and benches almost in a hypnotic trance, and I always leave with a vehicle full of colorful beauty. By the time I get home, the color high has started to wear off, and I have to decide where to plant the new arrivals.

Superbells Supertunias such as these Tropical Sunrise selections have tremendous growth potential and funnel-shaped flowers that add pizazz to the landscape. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
April 10, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

One thing I dig about the summer season is the selection of annual color available for the garden and landscape.

I think most of my readers know I really like Supertunias. Besides their tremendous growth potential, I think what I like best are the flower shapes. There's something about a funnel-shaped flower that adds a little extra pizazz to the landscape.

The Golden Silk Orb Weaver is found all along the Gulf Coast, as well as Central and South America. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
April 3, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

I don't claim to be an entomologist, but I do find the insects and spiders we see in our gardens to be engaging.

I ran into one interesting bug early one summer morning the first year I moved to Mississippi. I was strolling along my fence under the overhanging trees and walked right into the web. It was one of those moments when all of my latent karate moves were put on display.

Supertunia Royal Velvet combines perfectly with Supertunia Honey for a beautiful hanging basket. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
March 27, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Now is the time to start planting annual color for summer. If I could plant only one group of annuals, it would have to be the Supertunias, as I can’t do without these flowering beauties.

For the past several years, I have watched and written about these fantastic garden performers. Whether used as spreading plants in the landscape or as container and hanging basket plants, Supertunias have performed well in Mississippi.

Indian hawthorns are typically small shrubs, but the Rosalinda selection can grow up to about 15 feet if left unpruned. It produces bright-pink flowers in late spring and early summer. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
March 21, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Azaleas have been magnificent this spring. I love seeing the mounds of pink, red and white flowers dotting our Mississippi landscapes. But to tell you the truth, I've been waiting for another of my favorite spring-flowering shrubs that doesn't get as much attention: the Indian hawthorn.

Lichen are an unlikely combination of fungi and algae living in a symbiotic relationship on the bark of plants. This type of lichen resembles highly branched balls of fuzz. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
March 13, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Spring is always a busy time in my garden and landscape, as I'm sure it is in yours. It's when we start walking around and planning what we're going to plant this year, but it's also a time when landscape damage is most noticeable.

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