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Purslane such as this Mojave Mixed selection thrive in patio containers and hanging baskets that take advantage of its spreading and trailing growth characteristics. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
July 24, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Purslane has long been regarded as a garden weed, and it's no wonder: A single plant can produce more than 50,000 seeds. I've seen purslane growing in coarse gravel and cracks in concrete. If the area is moist, you can find purslane, and I have removed many as weeds.

But I’m having a change of heart. Purslane is one of the older plants I'm interested in adding back to my coastal Mississippi landscape and garden. It's a succulent that thrives in high summer temperatures, and that makes it a perfect flowering annual for our hot and humid summers.

Gardeners sometimes use heavy pruning to control crape myrtle size and shape, but these goals are better achieved by choosing the right plant to fit the space. This Bourbon Street Dwarf Crape Myrtle is an excellent choice for a small area. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
July 17, 2017 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Landscape and Garden Design

There is one plant that absolutely is the flower of the South: the crape myrtle. Who can resist the colorful flower clusters on display from early summer through late fall?

The spectacular flowers are actually large panicles, or branching clusters composed of many small flowers. These panicles can be more than 8 inches long, and colors range from white, to shades of pink and purple, to rich reds. There are even bicolor flowers like my favorite Pink Peppermint.

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."

Ann Rice remains grounded after more than three decades in the Mississippi State University Extension Service Soil Testing Laboratory. Retirement will allow more time for her to spend in the garden on her family farm in Oktibbeha County, Mississippi. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Linda Breazeale)
June 27, 2017 - Filed Under: Soil Testing

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- When Ann Rice leaves the Mississippi State University Extension Service Soil Testing Laboratory on June 30, she will conclude an educational 35-year career filled with unusual requests and interesting discoveries, some of which were about herself.

"When I didn’t have confidence in myself, others did," Rice said. "I never thought I could be a leader, but sometimes, I have had to step up and take the lead, like in the organic matter and plant tissue divisions."

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.

Fall armyworms plague many Mississippi pastures, lawns and sports fields, but vigilance and prompt treatment can limit their damage. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Blake Layton)
June 23, 2017 - Filed Under: Insects-Crop Pests, Insects-Home Lawns, Turfgrass and Lawn Management

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Although 2016 brought unusually heavy infestations of and damage from fall armyworms, vigilance and prompt treatment can limit damage this year.

Blake Layton, entomologist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said fall armyworms were a problem in commercial hayfields, home lawns, sports fields, golf courses and commercial landscapes last year.

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.

Warren County Master Gardener Yolanda Horne checks on worms living in a plastic bin on June 13, 2017. The worms were part of an exhibit on composting at the Know Your Roots: Grow Your Business workshop in Vicksburg, Mississippi. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Bonnie Coblentz)
June 16, 2017 - Filed Under: Agri-tourism, Community, Master Gardener, Lawn and Garden

VICKSBURG, Miss. -- Mississippians from a wide variety of backgrounds spent a day thinking of new ways to use landscapes and gardens to bring more profit and better value to agricultural enterprises and historic homes.

Know Your Roots: Build Your Business brought 29 participants together for the daylong workshop June 13 at the Southern Cultural Heritage Center. Sandy Havard, Warren County agent with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, coordinated the event.

June 14, 2017 - Filed Under: Forages, Lawn and Garden, Natural Resources

NEWTON, Miss. -- The Mississippi State University Extension Service invites anyone interested in growing the state wildflower, Coreopsis, and other beauties to the July 13 Wildflower Field Day.

The event will be at the Coastal Plain Branch Experiment Station in Newton and will include morning seminars and an afternoon field tour. It is sponsored by Keep Mississippi Beautiful, which is providing lunch.

Topics include native seed production, backyard habitats and milkweed management. Speakers are MSU Extension Service specialists and an industry representative.

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.

The deer tick and the American dog tick, shown here, are two of the five most common tick species found in Mississippi. The state is home to about 19 tick species. (File photos by MSU Extension Service/Blake Layton)
June 9, 2017 - Filed Under: Insects-Human Pests, Insects-Pet Pests, Insects-Home Lawns

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- While hunting, working in the yard or garden, taking early morning walks or hikes, or just cruising around the property on all-terrain vehicles, people are likely to pick up ticks in some fashion.

Ticks are typically found in areas of dense vegetation and along game or human trails. Contrary to popular belief, they do not typically live in trees.

Termites swarming on this decaying tree stump are a healthy part of nature, but homeowners must take steps to make sure they do not infest houses. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Linda Breazeale)
June 7, 2017 - Filed Under: Household Insects, Termites, Insects-Pests

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The Mississippi State University Extension Service judged that the most economically important insects in the state should have their own website.

The site, https://extension.msstate.edu/termites, is the go-to place for information on termite biology, identification and control. The site describes the different species of termites found in the state and provides answers to common questions about the pests.

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.

May 25, 2017 - Filed Under: Soils, Soil Testing

New manager of operations Keri Jones recently joined the Mississippi State University Extension Service Soil Testing Laboratory, and she's ready to enhance the unit's efficiency."

"My primary goal is to provide accurate soil analysis in a timely manner," said Jones, an Extension associate who has worked in the MSU Department of Plant and Soil Sciences since 2016. "I hope to improve the overall efficiency of the lab as well as update soil nutrient application recommendations."

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.

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