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Purple viola flowers grow in a container.
November 20, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

The last two weeks, I’ve told you about two of my top three cool-season flowering bedding plants. Today, I’m going to complete the trifecta with another plant everyone should have in their landscape: the viola.

Violas may have smaller flowers than their cousin, the pansy, but they’re maybe even tougher and more tolerant of cold, winter weather than pansies. These plants are beautiful massed in landscape beds, and they can be great performers all the way to Easter.

A close-up of white and pink dianthus blooms.
November 13, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Even though the air is still warm in many parts of Mississippi, it’s time to plant annual winter color. Last week, I wrote about pansies being a great color choice. Another sure-fire pick is dianthus.

A close-up of a pink pansy with a dark maroon blotch in the center.
November 6, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

These days, I have to wear my hoodie sweatshirts and long pants for anything below 60 degrees. But the falling temperatures also signal something great: racks and racks of great, cool-season color as pansies fill local garden centers.

A head of cabbage grows in the center of a gorgeous red cabbage plant.
October 30, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

This year, I’m getting an early start on my ornamental kale and cabbage planting for the fall.

A couple of weeks ago, I found these plants being marketed in variety packs, so I picked up a selection of kale and cabbage. What an easy way to select plants for your landscape this weekend.

Confederate rose is an heirloom plant that blooms prolifically in late summer and fall.
October 23, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens
I have weekly favorite plants, as you may know, and one of my favorites started blooming in earnest over the last couple of weeks. The sheer number of flowers on the Confederate rose makes this plant a must-have in our Mississippi landscapes.

Confederate rose is sometimes called Cotton rose and Cotton rosemallow. Despite the references to cotton, this plant is actually a hibiscus that originated in Asia.
American beautyberry, a native shrub with tiny flowers and prolific berries, is excellent in home landscapes.
October 16, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens
After cleaning the mess from Hurricane Nate, I had the chance to participate in two outstanding field days in Mississippi and Louisiana. I really enjoyed the plantings at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station and the Mississippi State University Truck Crops Branch Experiment Station in Crystal Springs.

These events inspired me to share ideas over the next several weeks for great plants to put in your garden and landscape that you will enjoy next fall.
 Several blue containers in this colorful landscape garden are blown over after heavy storm winds.
October 9, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

While Hurricane Nate was obviously not in the same class as Katrina, the last hurricane to hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast, it did provide gardeners a lesson in getting their landscapes ready before a storm.

I know it’s a bit backwards to wait until after the storm to make a list of tips to get your garden ready ahead of time. But this was the first hurricane I’ve experienced since moving to the Gulf Coast, and I’ve been thinking what I could have done better in advance.

October 6, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Landscape and Garden Design, Landscape Management, Environment

Gardeners can purchase hard-to-find native plants during the Crosby Arboretum’s popular Fall Native Plant Sale.

The semiannual sale will be Oct. 21 and 22 at the arboretum. It begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. Arboretum members can enter at 9 a.m. Admission is free.

Toucan Rose canna flowers in a garden landscape with shades of pink and dark red are brightened by sunlight.
October 2, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Cannas are commonly grown as large-specimen plants and look fantastic mass planted in landscapes. Their tropical-looking foliage lends bold texture to the space until the flowers steal the show from summer through fall.

In fact, the cannas I have planted in my Ocean Springs landscape right now are looking the best they have so far this year.

Backlit Gulf Muhly grass glows like a rich, pink cloud in this landscape.
September 25, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

I know some homeowners who look at ornamental grasses and wonder what is the big deal; these plants are only grass. But when fall rolls around, many of these naysayers change their opinion 180 degrees.

Fall is a great time to appreciate ornamental grasses, as their flower plumes, actually called inflorescences, really pop out in their full glory.

One of the best and showier grasses is not a selection that was bred for any particular characteristic. I’m talking about Gulf Muhly grass, a Mississippi native grass that really struts its stuff in the fall and winter.

Red, green, and yellow pods on a Chilly Chili plant, a colorful pod producer without the heat.
September 18, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Late summer and early fall are among my favorite times of the year because the ornamental peppers are starting to really color up.

More and more fellow gardeners are jumping on the bandwagon and planting these beauties in their landscapes. These plants are hot -- in landscape character and accent -- and they carry the garden through the fall season and maybe beyond.

Most ornamental peppers begin setting fruit as the temperatures rise, so the best show is always saved for late summer and continues through the fall as they keep producing. This means you need to set these plants out in the late spring.

A Lycoris, pink/red flower with no foliage, better known as the spider lily or naked lady.
September 11, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

This is the time of year many gardeners have been waiting for all summer.

If you’re thinking about the cool front that blew through this past weekend, I’m afraid you’re incorrect. What I’m talking about is the emergence of naked ladies in gardens all across Mississippi.

I’m talking about the seemingly magical plants known botanically as Lycoris. Common names include magic, surprise or resurrection lily, but some gardeners simply call them nekkid ladies.

These Lucky Pink pentas offer a rich pink color on branching, compact plants.
September 4, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens
I’m often asked which flowering plants I think are best for our landscapes and gardens. This is not a simple question!
 
Through the Southern Gardening column and television program, I try to highlight great garden plants. Of course, these flowering plants happen to be my current favorites. That means my list of favorites is in a constant ebb and flow, as many readers know.
 
Today, I want to tell you about a landscape star that is shining brightly while others have faded pretty badly as we near the end of the meteorological summer. Today’s star is the penta. The reference to stars is very apt, as one common name for this plant is Egyptian Star Cluster.
August 29, 2017 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens, Herb Gardens, Vegetable Gardens

CRYSTAL SPRINGS, Miss. -- Home gardeners and horticulture professionals can learn about the latest plants, research and gardening techniques during the 39th annual Fall Flower & Garden Fest on Oct. 13 and 14. 

These Daybreak Charm Supertunias are thriving in a basic, 25-gallon container that has been dressed up with vertical wooden slats. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
August 28, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

This year has been a challenge in my home landscape and garden.

First, we have had a lot of rain: more than 93 inches and counting collected in our Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network rain gauge. If you’re interested in being a volunteer rain reporter for them, go to http://www.cocoraahs.org for more information. I’ve seen so many waterlogged landscape beds and lawns that just won’t dry out.

The second big challenge was the heat. When it’s not raining, the high temperatures and humidity have maintained heat indexes that make me -- and many others gardeners -- just stay indoors. Surely that yard work can be put off until October.

But I’ve taken the steps to make my gardening an easier chore

The hot-pink flowers of Fireworks gomphrenas have little, yellow tips that capture the essence of a celebratory explosion. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
August 21, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Last week, it was extremely hot in the trial gardens at the South Mississippi Branch Station in Poplarville while we were shooting new TV segments of Southern Gardening. While my crew and I were literally wilting in the heat and humidity, there was one group of plants that seemed to be taunting Mother Nature to bring it on.

That plant was gomphrena, and I'd hate to meet it in a dark alley.

Tropical hibiscus, such as this Cajun Creole Lady (top left), require consistent moisture. Although Cajun Peppermint Patty (top right) flowers bloom for just one day, the plants produce flowers from spring until fall. Tropical hibiscus, such as this Cajun Dixieland Delight (bottom left), produce flowers with spectacular colors and combinations. The dark green and glossy foliage of tropical hibiscus such as this Cajun Rum Runner (bottom right) provides a nice background for the colorful blooms.
August 14, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Lately I've been singing the praises of having hardy hibiscuses in your landscape. Who can resist the colorful flowers that are literally the size of a dinner plate?

But the tropical hibiscus deserves at least equal praise. Today, I want to tell you about the Cajun hibiscus series, because these plants produce some of the most beautiful, complex and mesmerizing color combinations. These flowers also can be huge, with some exceeding 9 inches in diameter.

August 11, 2017 - Filed Under: Commercial Horticulture, Flower Gardens, Landscape Architecture

VERONA, Miss. -- Mississippi State University experts are hosting a Mississippi Medallion Program Aug. 24 in Verona to demonstrate how these top-performing ornamental plants can be used in home gardens.

The event runs from 9:30 to 11 a.m. at the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center. The presenter will be Geoff Denny, horticulture specialist with the MSU Extension Service.

Meyer lemons, a cross between a lemon and an orange, are thin-skinned and sweet. They can be grown in Mississippi landscapes. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
August 7, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Although we’re in the middle of a blazing hot summer, I find my gardening thoughts wandering to the coming fall season. You may think you know why I'm looking forward to the cooler weather, but the main reason is that the citrus in my home grove will start to ripen.

While August is too early to think about harvesting fruit, it is time to start thinking about planting your own citrus. You can plant citrus in the ground or, my preferred method, in containers.

The combination of flower and foliage colors on Summerific Perfect Storm (left) is as dramatic as a summer thunderstorm. Although a compact-growing selection, the huge flowers can exceed 9 inches in diameter. The star of my late-summer garden is Summerific Cherry Cheesecake (right), which blooms for a month with 7- to 8-inch-diameter flowers. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
July 31, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

I think hardy hibiscus is one of those must-have summer plants that we can count on to brighten our gardens and landscapes after a long, hot summer. But these plants are a well-kept secret to many gardeners.

Hardy hibiscus is very different from tropical hibiscus.

Hardy hibiscus is winter-hardy, and the foliage is not as glossy as the tropical varieties. But a trait the two varieties share is their bright, beautiful, gaudy flowers. These enormous flowers add value to our late-summer landscapes.

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