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A small bush with bright red leaves contrasts against a rock-filled garden.
January 15, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

The weather to start 2018 has certainly been crazy. We had more than a week of temperatures in the mid-20s (Freezemageddon) followed by a week of moderate, more normal January temperatures. Now, we’re freezing again this week.

January 11, 2018 - Filed Under: Specialty Crop Production, Local Food System Economies, Herb Gardens, Vegetable Gardens

CARRIERE, Miss. -- The Small Farm Training Center will host the Alliance of Sustainable Farms field day on Jan. 19 in Hancock County.

Farm operators Terry and Elicia Sheldon, along with student apprentices who live and work at the center, will show attendees their techniques for growing organic produce.

Purple pansy flowers and leaves are drooping and covered with a layer of frost.
January 8, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

What a crazy week we had to start off 2018 as “Freeze-mageddon” came blowing through with several nights of temperatures in the 20s or worse across the state.

I’ve been hearing and reading comments about the extreme cold we’re experiencing and how unusual it is. But to tell you the truth, these temperatures are not that unusual. 

January 8, 2018 - Filed Under: Vegetable Gardens

VERONA, Miss. -- Produce growers can enhance their operations through an upcoming workshop hosted by the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

The 2018 North Mississippi Fruit and Vegetable Growers Conference will be held at the MSU Agri-Center in Verona Feb. 8-9.

January 8, 2018 - Filed Under: Trees

RAYMOND, Miss. -- Landowners with an interest in the forestry industry are invited to attend the annual conference of the Professional Arborist Association of Mississippi.

The 2018 annual conference will be held at the Eagle Ridge Conference Center in Raymond Jan. 25-26.

Three varieties of milkweed grow in four containers inside a greenhouse at the Mississippi State University South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station in Poplarville.
January 5, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Landscape and Garden Design, Environment

Mississippi gardeners who plan to incorporate more pollinator plants into their landscapes can consider native milkweed and begin gathering seed for indoor propagation.

This crape myrtle shows the smooth tops of crape myrtles that have been sliced through knobby ends.
January 1, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

As gardeners make New Year’s resolutions for their landscapes in 2018, I want to encourage all of them to resolve to correctly prune crape myrtles from this day forward.

In the current vernacular, severe pruning of crape myrtles is called “crape murder,” reflecting the seemingly random nature of the pruning cuts. To me, this type of pruning is very unattractive in the landscape.

A bouquet of small, orange and yellow flowers.
December 25, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

For the last Southern Gardening column of 2017, I want to take a look back at some of my absolute favorite plants from my home landscape this past year.

I have been talking for several years about what fantastic garden performers Supertunias are. But my absolute favorite -- and it has been my favorite for several years -- is Supertunia Vista Bubblegum. This plant is so reliable it was chosen as a Mississippi Medallion winner in 2012.

A man’s hand reaches into a bouquet of bright yellow flowers.
December 18, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

If you’re thinking about gardening this Christmas holiday season, it’s probably about poinsettias and other decorative indoor plants. I’m right there with you, as I’m looking at a bookcase lined with red, pink and white poinsettias as I sit here writing.

But a plant that I just love for spring and summer landscapes is rudbeckia, which you probably know as Black-eyed Susans.

Orange vine flowers resembling black-eyed Susans straddle the top of a wooden gray fence.
December 11, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Most folks have poinsettias and entertaining on the agenda during the holidays, but for this week’s column, I want to highlight a plant that has been an outstanding performer for me all year.

It took this past weekend’s hard freeze to finally shut down my black-eyed Susan vine (I’m going to use the abbreviation BES for this flower), known botanically as Thunbergia alata. For many gardeners, in their experience this is traditionally a basket plant that deserves to be grown more often.

red poinsettias
December 4, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

It seems like I've seen Christmas decorations in stores for at least a couple of months. They really accelerated after Halloween, completely ignoring Thanksgiving, which was when I noticed early poinsettias out in force.

Along with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, the appearance of these poinsettias means we are in the full swing of the Christmas season.

In my opinion, the poinsettia is the quintessential Christmas plant. With its brightly colored bracts, it is a plant truly full of holiday cheer. I think most people will agree that the poinsettia is second only to the Christmas tree in essential Christmas season decor.

Four stone statues are seen representing ancient Greek goddesses.
November 27, 2017 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends got me thinking about traditions and beliefs, some popular in the distant past but gone by the wayside today.

In agriculture, some of the most popular myths revolve around the changing seasons.

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.

November 16, 2017 - Filed Under: Smart Landscapes

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Home gardeners and landscape professionals are invited to the first Mississippi Smart Landscape Symposium at Mississippi State University to learn how to design and manage low-maintenance landscapes.

This full-day training course will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 26 in the Bost Extension auditorium at MSU. The event is hosted by the MSU Extension Service.

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.

A brown marmorated stink bug with numerous small spots on its body and two white lines on its dark, brown antennae sits on top of a red and yellow apple.
October 30, 2017 - Filed Under: Fruit, Household Insects, Insects-Pests

Brown marmorated stink bugs took up residence in the Northeast nearly 20 years ago, but established populations of the destructive pest are now confirmed in the Southeast, including two reports in Mississippi.

Blake Layton, an entomology specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, is asking homeowners and producers to report any sightings of the insect. These insects are on a different level than other stink bugs in the South because of the damage they cause in fruit and the issues they cause when they invade buildings, he said.

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.
A small brown bat looks into the camera as it hangs upside down.
October 20, 2017 - Filed Under: Insects-Human Pests, Insects-Pests

 Mississippi’s climate is ideal for a wide range of insects, many of which make nuisances of themselves when they gather outside buildings.

Blake Layton, an entomologist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said homeowners can take steps to minimize their houses’ attractiveness to insects.

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